Alan Greenspan & Co. stood pat today, keeping the federal funds target rate at a four-decade low of 1%. The low-interest-rate environment continues to make it challenging for those seeking safe income on their cash. In a Fool poll over the past 24 hours, 41% of respondents said they stashed away more than six months' worth of living expenses -- just in case. Kudos on the fiscal responsibility.
If you're looking to earn a little interest off your cash cushion, visit our Savings Center for some ideas.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Fed Holds Steady, Market Snoozes
- Quote of Note
- Schering-Plough's Pain
- Happy 10th Anniversary, Fool!
- Marvel Soars
- Discussion Board of the Day: Intel
- Quick Takes: J.C. Penney, Coca-Cola, Verizon, more
- And Finally...
Fed Holds Steady, Market Snoozes
As expected, the Fed's Open Market Committee (FOMC) today held steady on its 1% target for the federal funds rate. Unlike last month's frenzied anticipation ahead of its June 25 meeting, there was no fuss over what the Fed might do today. Everyone expected it to stand pat, and it did.
It may have been the least eventful FOMC meeting in recent memory. Neither the bond nor stock markets had much of a reaction to the news.
In a virtual re-hash of the June 25 policy statement, the Fed today said the "upside and downside risks to the attainment of sustainable growth for the next few quarters are roughly equal." In other words, it continues to not have a clue where the economy is really headed. This is not mere cynicism -- how else can the Fed's statement be interpreted?
It also stood by its view that "the probability, though minor, of an unwelcome fall in inflation exceeds that of a rise in inflation from its already low level." So, the Fed is still primarily concerned about not enough inflation. This view, perhaps concerning in and of itself, looks especially suspect in light of recent action in the bond and commodity markets.
Since the June 25 meeting, the 10-year Treasury yield has shot up an incredible 110 basis points. Clearly, the bond market is no longer worried about deflation. Similarly, the Philadelphia Gold/Silver Index has also been in rally mode of late, having risen 12% in the past two months. Rising metal prices are another harbinger of inflation, not deflation or disinflation.
In sum, today's meeting was a non-event, except perhaps as a sign that the market is no longer taking its cues from the Fed.
Quote of Note
"Every fortune ever made in finance has rested on a simple premise. Those with the most information make the most money. That edge, knowing what others don't, is priceless." -- Paul Gibson, Bear Trap: Why Wall Street Doesn't Work
The drug company's suffering through a world of hurt, caused in large part by increased generic competition and the conversion of allergy remedy Claritin from prescription to over-the-counter status. Its first and second quarters brought brutal results, with dramatically reduced revenues and earnings.
Back in May, Schering-Plough announced that it won't produce enough cash from operations to adequately fund its domestic working capital needs, capital expenditures, and dividend payments for the rest of this year and possibly beyond. The situation hasn't improved, and the company reiterated the same message again today.
Given that its current $0.17-per-share dividend costs the company $250 million a quarter, that's a logical place for Schering-Plough to save some dough. The board has asked CEO Fred Hassan to review the firm's finances from top to bottom, and the dividend could eventually be on the chopping block.
For now, Schering-Plough's not saying one way or the other whether a reduction or elimination of its dividend is on the horizon.
If it reduces or eliminates its dividend, that'll be just one more cause for investors to stay away. The main reasons for investors to keep their distance -- the company's weak drug pipeline and continued pain from relentless competition -- are as present as ever.
Happy 10th Anniversary, Fool!
It's The Motley Fool's 10th anniversary this month and we're celebrating it by sharing 10 Ways to Make More Money Now!
Motley Fool Stock Advisor
recommendation Marvel Enterprises
Marvel's total revenues jumped nearly 27% to $90 million. Licensing revenues grew like kudzu to $57 million from $17 million.
Down on the bottom line, the company earned $32.8 million, or $0.42 a share. In last year's Q2, it netted just $4.4 million, or $0.10. Marvel's incredible earnings growth from $4.4 million to $32.8 million year over year demonstrates how profitable those licensing sales are.
Luckily for David Gardner, who wrote back in May that he'll dine on a Fool's cap if Marvel doesn't produce more than $80 million in net income for 2003, the company has made almost $74 million in its first two quarters alone. Given that it raised expectations for its third quarter and full year today, it'll undoubtedly surpass David's $80 million milestone.
When it was first recommended over a year ago in the July 2002 issue of Stock Advisor, Marvel was a business still polishing its post-bankruptcy reorganization and garnering no Wall Street respect. David rightly recognized Marvel's promise and potential back then.
Since he first featured it, the company's up 293.28% for Stock Advisor subscribers. David re-recommended it in the December 2002 issue, and the stock is up 144.80% since. To say that it's outperformed the market would be like saying the Hulk's green.
The good times aren't stopping here for Marvel. It's looking forward to more licensing revenues and to the 2004 movie releases of The Punisher, Spider-Man 2, Blade 3, and Fantastic Four.
Discussion Board of the Day: Intel
Is the chip business really a cutthroat island? Is Intel's dominance a sure thing or will AMD
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Department store J.C. Penney
Consumer products company Clorox
Today on Fool.com:
- For updated stories throughout the day, bookmark our ever-changing News section.
- Do Americans prefer stocks of great companies? In many cases, it appears not.
- ImClone, Hope, and Me: Fool Paul Elliott acknowledges a debt to Sam Waksal et al.
- XM and Sirius Get Busy: Tom Jacobs puts XM Satellite and Sirius to the Rule Breaker test.
- Money Memories: Dayana Yochim has a telling flashback to childhood.
- Selena Maranjian offers up her Top 10 moments on the Fool discussion boards.
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Paul Elliott, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Reggie Santiago, Kate Southerland, Dayana Yochim