OK, what's wrong with this picture? After three straight winning sessions to close out last week, the markets roared forward again today: The Dow gained 378 points, and the Nasdaq, S&P 500, and FOOL 50 had similar 4%-5% gains.
Most of the financial media will be guessing whether this marks the start of a new bull market, or if it's just another false bear rally. We would, too, but we don't know the answer. And neither does anyone else, frankly.
Money manager David Dreman recently challenged a writer to show him a successful, consistent market timer. "Not one of them has ever survived," he said.
And you know what? He's right. So rather than trying to time entry and exit points, we'll hope for the best, expect the worst, and stick with our Foolish investing principles.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Signs of a Rebound
- Quote of Note
- Debt Rising for Retirees
- Shameless Plug: Rule Your Retirement
- Wrestling for Answers
- Discussion Board of the Day: World Wrestling Entertainment
- Quick Takes: Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, Delta , more
- And Finally...
of a Rebound
When times are bad, one of the first belt-tightening measures for many companies is slashing advertising budgets. Conversely, when a rebound seems near, you can expect ad spending to pick up. And thus it's interesting to look at recent earnings reports from the nation's largest newspaper publishers.
Aside from the political spending, CEO Douglas McCorkindale indicated advertising was beginning to rebound across the board for Gannett's higher-rated television stations. On the newspaper side, local ad spending was up 3%, but national classified sales dropped 2%. And, if USA Today is any indication, some of the hardest-hit sectors aren't yet seeing daylight. The paper's third-quarter results "continue to reflect, in part, lower demand for financial and technology-related advertising."
In summary, it appears smaller, localized businesses are beginning to accelerate ad spending, along with retailers and auto makers nationally. But while these areas see better times ahead, most of the tech and financial sectors don't, and are maintaining defensive postures.
"The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future." -- Stephen Ambrose (1936-2002)
College kids, stranded travelers, and Sex and the City stars aren't the only ones that consider a credit card their lifeline. The silver-haired set relies on plastic now more than ever.
A decade ago, just 18% of Americans over the age of 65 carried an outstanding balance on credit cards, according to SRI Consulting Business Intelligence. Today, nearly half of all card-holding seniors carry unpaid balances month to month.
Though their debt levels lag behind the junior set, the amount of money the elderly borrows is creeping upward. The average credit card balance for senior citizens is around $2,000, compared to the average balance of $3,224 carried by whippersnappers ages 25 to 34. And it's only a matter of time before their debt levels mirror one another. Credit Card Nation author Robert Manning told The Mercury News that the use of credit by senior citizens will eventually be no different from that of the general population.
It's not keggers or kicky Prada pumps driving Grams and Gramps into debt. Necessities such as prescription drugs and groceries -- and even doling out money to struggling relatives -- are behind the rising rate of debt among the elderly. With health-care costs on the rise, and interest rates on income-preserving investments such as CDs on the downslide, items that were once well within their fixed-income budgets have become unaffordable. And the picture doesn't get any clearer as the aging population lives longer, outliving their retirement savings.
For those whose income-earning years are but a fuzzy memory, it can be hard to find ways to cut back -- or earn more. And the temptations of borrowing are ripe -- especially if you own your home and have a good, long-standing credit history. Still, the same rules of credit management we preach to the young apply to senior citizens:
- Spend less money than you bring in.
- If you must carry a balance, negotiate a lower interest rate with your lender, or find a better deal.
- Lay out a plan to pay off your debts. Our Get Out of Debt Guide can help.
- Check out our Rule Your Retirement Online Seminar -- it's not too late to turn your finances around.
Ask mom, er, Junior for a loaner -- or consider other sources to supplement your income.
Looking to retire in the next 10 years? Recently retired? Our Rule Your Retirement online seminar will help you account for all your unexpected costs -- including insurance, emergencies, and market dips. And we'll make sure you've got enough left over for all the fun and folly that we hope is part of your retirement. Classes start Nov. 14. Sign up today!
These are the dark days of wrestling. When World WrestlingEntertainment
Last night, the company revealed it will post a loss for its fiscal second quarter. While the wrestling promoter faults a litigation charge for the shortfall, it can't deny it has real problems that need to be addressed.
The same platform that launched careers is now caught between The Rock and a hard place. Turnout at its live events and television ratings have been weak. The pay-per-view monster might as well be branded pay-per-few these days.
With the company expecting to report no more than $390 million in revenue in 2002, it will mark the second consecutive year the top line has dipped. Earnings will fall for the third year in a row, too, as it pegs fiscal year operating income to come in between $27 million and $29 million.
But if the temptation here is to tag out and short the living daylights out of the stock, consider that WWE still sports a sparkling balance sheet, with $4 a share in cash. It has been trimming its overhead in recent quarters, too. While Raw on Viacom's
Are the McMahons clever enough to script a turnaround? That remains to be seen, but don't call the Undertaker just yet.
Can the McMahons catch lightning in a bottle again? Does ECW hold the key to the company's revival, or will it go in a new direction? All this and more -- in the World Wrestling Entertainment discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Move over General Electric
Don't lose your launch over this, but AOL Time Warner
There will be "No More Tears" at Johnson & Johnson
You can drive a Chevy to the levy, but the Chevy's not dry. General Motors
Airline stock pessimism may be losing a bit of altitude, as Delta
There's greenery in the forest. On the heels of strength in its antidepressants Lexapro and Celexa, Forest Labs
Today on Fool.com: Amazon responds to Tom Jacobs' ESO evaluation.... Matt Richey investigates more small caps showing strong valuation, in Part 2 of his series.... Keeping your money safe for retirement, in Fool's School.... The Fool Community discusses Kindergarten options.... And the Post of the Day: Philip Morris.
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim