Rob Black & Your Money April 11 Apple Being Sued, Disney "Avengers News" & Sliding Gas Prices

By: Rob Black - Wed, 11 Apr 2012 18:25:05 -0800

Winner:  Stocks Halt Five-Day Decline

Stocks advanced, halting a five-day decline for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, after Alcoa  reported an unexpected profit.

Alcoa, the first company in the Dow Jones Industrial Average  to announce quarterly results, climbed 6.2 percent.

 A measure of 11 homebuilders in S&P indexes jumped 4.8 percent as Wells Fargo said a survey of sales managers showed 63 percent of the respondents reported better-than-expected orders.

It’s always nice to see the first company out of the box with an earnings surprise. It’s time to see how this progresses and reassess when to put some money back in.

Winner: Gasoline May Have Peaked on Sliding Demand

Gasoline pump prices may have peaked for the year as demand slides, job growth slows and crude prices moderate.

Regular gasoline, averaged nationwide, has fallen five straight days to $3.915 a gallon, the longest streak since December, after surging 20 percent and peaking at $3.936 on April 4.

 Americans have purchased 5.3 percent less gasoline so far this year than in 2011, data from credit-card receipts analyzed by MasterCard’s SpendingPulse showed yesterday.

Gasoline was the best-performing asset in the first quarter, but the sentiment is turning. For the time being, our view is that it has probably peaked.
Loser: U.S. Sues Apple For eBook Pricing

Apple and two publishers, Macmillan and Penguin, were accused by the U.S. Justice Department of conspiring to fix prices of digital books to undermine’s dominance of the industry.

Three other publishers, CBS’sSimon & Schuster, Lagardère’s Hachette Book Group and News Corp’s HarperCollins, also named in the government’s antitrust lawsuit, settled their cases.

When Apple came out with the iPad in 2010, it let publishers set their own prices for e-books as long as it got a 30 percent cut and the publishers agreed to offer their lowest prices through Apple.

Sales of e-books rose 117 percent in 2011, generating $969.9 million.   By eliminating printing and shipping costs, digital versions generate higher profit margins than physical copies.

Winner: Disney Plots ‘Avengers’ Blitz

Walt Disney, after losing $200 million on the sci-fi film “John Carter,” is mounting a superhero-style marketing campaign to ensure its next big-budget movie, “Marvel’s The Avengers,” is a blockbuster.

The company’s interactive unit designed an online game, the parks division covered a Florida monorail in ads and the Disney XD cable network is running an “Avengers” cartoon, all to help boost awareness of the film, which opens May 4 to kick off Hollywood’s summer box-office season.

A lot is riding on “The Avengers,” the first Marvel film Disney has marketed since buying the comic-book company for $4 billion in 2009.

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