Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday Morning Pop

Morning News of Note:
  • ELOS: Co announces the publication of clinical data on its VelaSmooth system in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. This study found that the VelaSmooth by Syneron and its unique elos technology provided safe and effective treatment of cellulite to study participants. 90% of the study participants had an overall clinical improvement in the appearance of their cellulite after treatment with the VelaSmooth.
  • UNH: A Big Insurer Bets on Hot Trend: Shopping Around for Health Care UnitedHealth's New Products Drive Patients to Make Medical-Spending Choices Protest by St. Louis Doctors In its three decades, UnitedHealth Group Inc. has helped drive some of the biggest shifts in the U.S. health-care system -- and made hefty profits doing so. Now the big health insurer is at the leading edge of the latest trend sweeping the industry: so-called consumer-driven health care. The principle of consumer-driven plans is that people will shop for the best care at the lowest price if they have to pay more of the cost themselves. The idea is a response to traditional plans in which employers pay most of the bill after modest deductibles and co-pays, leaving consumers with little incentive to curtail their medical spending. (Full Story) WSJ
  • Homebuilders: Home-Builders' Stocks Lose Curb Appeal As Interest Rates Climb Higher, Investors Become More Skittish Despite Likely Profit Gains Major home builders are expected to report yet another quarter of stellar earnings this week. But those figures are unlikely to revive the builders' slumping share prices. That is because a number of analysts and investors have concluded that the house party is ending. Few expect a widespread drop in home prices. Even so, the boom of the past decade is running up against some big obstacles. They include rising interest rates, regulatory concerns about loose mortgage-lending standards, swelling inventories of unsold homes and growing skittishness among consumers. (Full Story) WSJ
  • CD: CD announced that its Board of Directors has approved a plan to separate Cendant into four independent, publicly traded, pure-play cos -- one each for CD's real estate, travel distribution, hospitality and vehicle rental businesses. Following the proposed transaction, CD's shareholders will own 100% of the equity in all four cos. The transaction is expected to be effected through three 100% spin-offs in the summer of 2006.
  • WMT: Wal-Mart Stores-WMT Sees October SSS up 2%-4%

Market Comments: The market is getting a really strong bounce so far this am. I have mentioned repeatedly that markets that open higher and then sell off later in the day are clear signs of underlying weakness. So I am not too happy about the early strength. Let's just hope the market can maintain some momentum until the close, which is still a lifetime away.

Energy stocks seem to be finally catching a bid. I have to think that the weakness in the group last week was exacerbated by the whole Refco disaster. Brokers and housing stocks are also up nicely so far, with the SMH (semis) the only index in the red.



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