If you're feeling down this week, take my hand as we go over some of the more uplifting headlines of the week. Yes, it wasn't all layoffs, missed earnings, and guidance knockdowns this week.
1. For whom the Toll tolls
I've been so critical of homebuilders in recent years, that I owe it to Toll Brothers
Toll's funding source is unclear, but it appears that no one is offering mortgage rates that attractive. If Toll is subsidizing the dirt cheap financing it could backfire, but it's going to give the company a huge advantage in wooing potential homebuyers over existing home real estate agents that can't play that game.
There are plenty of catches to the deal, including 20% down payments, a sparkling credit score rating, and a cap on the size of the loan itself, but it's a more appealing way to move dormant properties than simply slashing prices.
2. No more tears
In a softening economy, you have to make the most of what you've got. Johnson & Johnson
J&J cut costs and also got a favorable assist from its share buyback efforts. It's also projecting essentially flat earnings growth this year. In a soft market you have to applaud the relative winners, though, and J&J is that genie in the baby shampoo bottle.
3. The price hike is right
Raising subscription rates is a dicey move in this economy, but it's just what the doctor ordered for Sirius XM Radio
Is the move going to cost Sirius XM some subscribers? Undoubtedly. However, by telegraphing the mid-March hikes, it will prompt existing subscribers to pay up for lifetime subscriptions or to prepay for a few years to lock in the old rates. Since Sirius is a company that is desperately scrounging for cash to pay off many of its creditors this year, this is a great step to avoid bankruptcy without violating the FCC-mandated rate freezes on Sirius XM's more conventional pricing plans.
4. Big Blue is not so blue
IBM is a great proxy for the state of corporate spending. That would make the top-line slip the only metric that matters, but good luck trying to tell IBM shareholders that. The stock climbed 12% higher on Tuesday on the news.
This isn't a political column. This isn't a political website. I would sooner huff than Huffington. However, Tuesday's inauguration of President Obama did have a few favorable implications for some public companies:
- Content-delivery network Akamai
(NASDAQ:AKAM)reported a peak of more than 7 million active streams through its network at 12:15 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday. Gee, isn't that when Obama was delivering his speech?
Research In Motion
(NASDAQ:RIMM)is also ready for its close-up, after reports surfaced indicating that Obama will be allowed to keep his BlackBerry after all. I'm not sure how much the free advertising is worth for gadgets that Obama routinely uses, like his BlackBerry or his Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)iPod, but four years of freebie product placement has to be golden.
Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. Akamai Technologies is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is an optimist at every turn. He's the inspiration for The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" song. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.