Sunday, February 27, 2011

Advantage View:Inside Saudi Arabia

Robert W. Jordan,former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia,has been assessing the kingdom's position in the recent wave of change sweeping the Middle East.King Abdullah is seen as a very sincere,non-corrupt ruler by his people.
We do need to carefully watch the middle class and the jobless.That could percolate over the next several years.Fifty percent of Saudis under 18 have poor prospects,but the people are impressed by the kingdom's investments in infrastructure.
There is tremendous liquidity in the Middle East,but Iran's hands are at work in the Yemen,Bahrain and Lebanon troubles.
The oil field security in Saudi Arabia is good.Overall,the business view is positive.
In Bahrain,it appears the king and crown prince will likely survive.They appear to have gotten a grip on the troubles,the former ambassador feels.
Mr.Jordan is currently Partner in Charge of Middle East Practice at law firm Baker Botts LLP.The firm has offices in Abu Dhabi,Dubai and Riyadh,Saudi Arabia.
Although a Saudi Arabian firm has created two exchange-traded funds based on the country's Tadawul stock market,they are not traded on U.S. exchanges as of yet.The Gulf Cooperation Council etfs are only available ex-Saudi Arabia.
iShares MSCI GCC Countries ex-Saudi Arabia(IGCC)

Bullish on Bahrain

Talal al Zain,Chairman of Gulf Air and CEO of Mumtalakat,Bahrain's 9 billion dollar sovereign wealth fund,says the country already started on democracy 10 years ago.We're classified as the number 10 freest market in the world,with an excellent educated population.
It is 100% business as usual now-in spite of the Pearl Square protest.The bulk of the people support the al Khalifas as rulers in a constitutional monarchy,which we already have started.
Mumtalakat will continue to grow the wealth of the Bahraini people.I can tell you we will continue the improvement we have already started, Zain promised.
The island nation is a key U.S. ally,hosting the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.Its Shiite majority,inspired by the Egyptian revolution,is pushing for more of a say in the Sunni minority government.
Market Vectors Gulf States Index ETF(MES)

Professional&Executive Event:Diversity Job Fair

Diversity Job Fair will be held Tuesday,March 1 from 10am-3pm at
Embassy Suites Crystal City
1300 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington,VA 22202
Bring your resumes.
Those exhibiting include:
American University
Hilton Worldwide
Mass Mutual Financial Group
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
New York Life
State Farm
Verizon Wireless
A minimum of a 4 year degree is required.For more information,visit
Also visit to register today.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bristol-Myers/Pfizer Drug Apixiban Superior to Aspirin For AF Patients

A Phase 3 trial of the Bristol-Myers Squibb/Pfizer oral medication apixiban showed that,for atrial fibrillation patients unsuitable for a vitamin K antagonist such as warfarin,apixiban is superior to aspirin at reducing the risk of stroke or systemic embolism without a significant increase in major bleeding(annual event rate of 1.6% for apixiban versus 3.7% for aspirin).
The study also showed that apixiban was superior to aspirin at reducing the composite of stroke,systemic embolism,heart attack or vascular death for AF patients versus aspirin(annual event rate of 4.2% for apixiban versus 6.7% for aspirin).
Atrial fibrillation is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia.It afflicts about 5.1 million Americans and more than 6 million Europeans.About 40-50% of AF patients are considered unsuitable for vitamin K antagonists because of the risk of bleeding and incompatibility with other medications.
Lead investigator Dr.Stuart Conolly,MD,professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton,Ontario,said the risk of stroke or systemic embolism is of great concern for patients with atrial fibrillation,especially because AF-related strokes are particularly devastating.Given the significant number of patients who are not eligible for vitamin K antagonists,it is especially important to have potential new treatment options that are both safe and effective.
Pfizer and Bristol-Myers have been in a worldwide collaboration to develop and commercialize apixiban since 2007.
Bristol-Myers Squibb(BMY),Pfizer(PFE)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Insurance CEO Tackles Inflation

Edmund "Ted" Kelly,CEO of privately held insurer Liberty Mutual Group,sees high single digit inflation in the 2014-15 time frame.We're in hard assets such as oil and gas,mining and minerals to protect ourselves.
Cheap money is pumping up the financials and making credit too available,and we're concerned about it.
We very much like China,Vietnam,Thailand,Brazil.We're strong on the Iberian Penninsula-Spain and Portugal-as well as Turkey and Poland.What we have seen in China is a remarkable ability to manage the economy,Mr.Kelly noted.
Liberty Mutual does not intend to go public anytime soon,in light of commercial insurers cutting prices recently,which tends to devalue insurance company stock.

Advantage View:Evaluating This Bull Market

We are seeing bullish sentiment extremes,and this shows that the bull market is unsustainable,according to Walter Zimmerman,Chief Technical Analyst at United ICAP.We are likley to see the highs for the year this month.Be wary of any sudden moves to the downside.
Everyone is long,waiting for the next rally.Everyone is already in the market.All the mergers are also a sign.It's not just individuals that are bullish.Historically,market tops have been marked by big financial mergers such as the recently announced Deutsche Boerse-NYSE/Euronext or the CME-NYMEX tie-ups.
United ICAP is a technical advisory service and inter-dealer energy broker.It provides analysis to the energy industry,as well as the average trader and investor.

Anne Arundel Community College Jobs

Anne Arundel Community College has several faculty openings for fall 2011.The School of Arts&Sciences needs English(multiple positions)and History faculty.Business,Computing&Technical Studies needs CyberCenter and Computer Technologies faculty.
AACC was named a 2010 Great College to Work For by The Chronicle of Higher Education.Located in Arnold,Maryland,it is convenient to Washington and Baltimore.Bring your experience and passion for teaching to Anne Arundel Community College.For further information and to apply,visit their web site at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Inside the Deal,Weighing the Investment:Danaher and Beckman Coulter

Danaher,the Washington,D.C. diversified technology company,is acquiring biomedical testing firm Beckman Coulter for 83.50 a share.Beckman Coulter develops,manufactures and markets products that simplify,automate and innovate complex diagnostic systems and research instruments.These products are used by hospitals and clinics to diagnose,make treatment decisions and monitor patients;and by research establishments to study the causes of diseases and possible therapies for them.
Danaher CEO H.Lawrence Culp,Jr. described Beckman as an iconic company with a great brand,broad reach and technology leadership;well-positioned in the markets it serves.It will be an excellent complement to Danaher's Life Sciences and Diagnostics platform,Mr.Culp believes.
An industrial conglomerate,Danaher's portfolio of products-in four segments and seven platforms-test,measure,identify,control,manipulate and detect for a number of industrial and professional applications,from dentistry and inventory to auto repair.Most notably,Danaher owns the Craftsman hand tools brand.
Danaher(DHR),Beckman Coulter(BEC)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Empire State Building Photo, New York Wallpaper – National Geographic Photo of the Day

Empire State Building Photo, New York Wallpaper – National Geographic Photo of the Day

Advantage View:Best Dividend Sectors

In 2010,stocks with the lower yields fared best,says Pankaj Patel,Managing Director for Quantitative Strategy at Credit Suisse.This should reverse in 2011.
The formula is to combine high yield and low payout ratio.That means yields greater than 1.5% and payout ratios less than 50%.Sectors with such a good current profile include consumer staples,health care,industrials,materials and energy,in Mr.Patel's opinion.
A low payout ratio indicates a good prospect of a company continuing to pay a dividend for an extended period.
From its 450 offices,Credit Suisse provides Private Banking,Investment Banking and Asset Management around the clock worldwide to corporate,institutional and affluent individual clients.It is also a retail bank in Switzerland.
Credit Suisse(CS)

Deutsche Boerse/NYSE:Inside the Deal

The advanced merger talks between Deutsche Boerse,owner of the Frankfurt stock exchange,and NYSE/Euronext,have been turning heads on a number of fronts.The proposal,in which DB would acquire a controlling 60% stake in NYSE,would allow for eliminating redundancies in their cost base,pointed out Ed Ditmire of Macquarie Group.They would be in the best possible position to move in tomorrow's businesses,and in a pivotal position to capitalize.
Profitable,robust exchanges can help investors in the most difficult situations.The merger should lead to a 20% increase in profits.
To be sure,the deal will be examined on many,many facets.After all,it means selling a financially strategic asset to foreign owners,albeit friendly German ones.New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports the deal.Ultimately,it will be seen as good for investors,Mr.Ditmire predicted.The huge exchange will be near the top along with CME Group,Hong Kong and Singapore.
Duncan Niederauer would continue to be the NYSE/Euronext chief executive.
Macquarie Group is a full service financial firm with 300 billion dollars U.S. under management.Founded in Sydney,Australia in 1969,it employs 15,500 people worldwide.
Macquarie Group Limited(MQG),NYSE/Euronext(NYX)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Fog Is Lifted:Egyptian Military Declares Intentions-plus an update

The Egyptian military has declared it will only rule until democratic elections have been held.It also promised to honor all existing treaties,including the peace treaty with Israel.
The army has long been closely associated with the U.S. military,sending several soldiers to the U.S. for training.Indeed,Egyptian troops fought in the anti-Iraq coalition in the Gulf War of 1991,in which,during the administration of President George H.W. Bush,the U.S. and its allies drove Iraqi invaders out of Kuwait.
Admiral Michael Mullen,Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,is headed to the region to assess the situation.He will be the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the Middle East since the uprising.
In Tahrir Square on Saturday,the army moved quickly to arrest three ruffians who were raising a ruckus,rushing several troops in to confront them.In general,the day passed peacefully as many internal tourists made a pilgrimage to the site of the historic events shaping their nation.Former demonstrators helped the army remove debris and barricades from the area,and women began sweeping up the trash that had accumulated over the course of the uprising.
Saturday is a day off for most Egyptians.
Update:Traffic began flowing through Tahrir Square again Sunday in Cairo,and most shops on the square reopened for business.Protest leader Wael Ghonim urged demonstrators to return to work,and many of them apparently have done so,as the crowds thinned markedly.
The miltary said it would rule for six months.During that time,a committee would revise the constitution,which the people will get to vote on upon completion.No ministers unacceptable to the people would be appointed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Speaking For Themselves:Arab Intellectuals React to Egypt's History-plus the stock market response

Arab intellectuals in the United States have been responding to the historic events in Egypt.Ashraf Hegazy,the son of an Egyptian diplomat who is Executive Director of the Dubai Initiative at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs in the Harvard Kennedy School,dismissed President Hosni Mubarak's speech on Thursday.I heard nothing new.It's not what the military has been saying all day.It's very dangerous.
The protesters have been calling for a 20 million person march on Friday.That creates a really volatile situation.There might be some major action by the military between now and then.I would question Mubarak's state of mind.At this point,he's digging in his heels,saying he won't leave Egypt alive.
It's certainly possible for him to be arrested by the military.He said he would delegate some of his powers,but he kept referring to himself as part of the transition process.At some point,everyone around him will realize they can't keep following him.I think the people will accept military control during a transition,said Ashraf Hegazy,a scholar in the fields of adaptive leadership and negotiation frameworks in the Middle East.
Aladdin Elaasar,award-winning journalist and author of "The Last Pharaoh of Egypt:Hosny Mubarak" and "Silent Victims:The Plight of Arab and Muslim Americans in Post 9/11 America,"thinks the Egyptian people are very resourceful.This is a new,different generation.Young people make up 60% of the Egyptian population,but the other generations have joined with them.They all have a common demand:the end of this brutal regime.
It was a disaster in the making,the huge gap between the super-rich and the super-poor,40% below the poverty line and 20% unemployment.This is why there are some authoritarian regimes seeing a threat for themselves by what's happening in Egypt.
I think Mubarak's days are numbered.It's just a matter of time,Mr.Elaasar believes.
Asian markets fell on the news,as did U.S. stock futures.
The Egypt exchange traded fund rose 0.45% on Thursday.The fund is nicely diversified,covering industries from banking to food and steel.
Market Vectors Egypt Index Etf(EGPT)
Update:The Egypt exchange traded fund rallied Friday,adding 7.81% by midday at the news of Hosni Mubarak's resignation.The broader U.S. stock market was up a little,rising about 0.25%.
The military has indeed assumed control of Egypt-for how long is not clear yet.What is clear is that the army will expect Egyptians to go back to work and school beginning this weekend.The promising economy can't take much more protesting and celebrating.It's also probable that certain forces of instability in the region are pondering the events in the context of achieving their own goals,which raises a flag of caution amid the euphoric scenes.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Advantage View:The Outlook For Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate investment trusts have done very well the past year.Brian Stutland of Stutland Volatility Group thinks they continue to do well.
Although rising long term yields may challenge commercial REITs,foreign investors may help boost commercial real estate.Watch the yield on the 30 year Treasury bond.
The commercial real estate supply is starting to come off the market,pushing prices higher.That would tend to favor commercial REITs such as Boston Properties and Brookfield Office Properties.
Stutland Volatility Group creates wealth by capitalizing on market volatility,using options to control risk and grow assets.It is based in Chicago.
Boston Properties(BXP),Brookfield Office Properties(BPO)

Advantage View:Investing In Inflationary Times

With the recent surge in commodity prices,investors may be wondering what their next move should be.In evaluating a company as a possible investment during such times,you must ask how much their input cost is as the cost of final goods;and whether they can pass this cost on or are vulnerable to rising commodity prices.
RiverFront Investment Group sees energy and mining companies as winners in inflationary scenarios.They also like Monsanto,since farmers will plant more crops during such times,and Monsanto produces the seed they need.McDonald's benefits because,with groceries more expensive,McDonald's is more competitive for your food dollars.Commodity firms such as Exxon Mobil would also do well.
Equities in general are an inflation hedge.For goods traded on the global marketplace,we do have inflation issues there,and that's where I would focus,says Doug Sandler,Chief Equity Strategist at RiverFront.
RiverFront Investment Group is an independent,SEC-registered investment advisor,providing asset management,investment advice and leading edge market insights.They are located in Richmond,Virginia.
Monsanto(MON),McDonald's(MCD),Exxon Mobil(XOM)

CoStar Research Jobs

CoStar Group,a NASDAQ-listed company,is hiring Research Associates and Research Managers for their state of the art Washington,D.C. headquarters.They need enthusiastic,customer-focused people for their dynamic,fast-paced industry.
CoStar is the #1 commercial real estate information company,producing and maintaining the largest and most comprehensive database of commercial real estate information.They also analyze and forecast commercial real estate markets.
CoStar offers base pay plus performance compensation;extensive paid training;company subsidized health benefits;and a 401(k) with company match.For more information,visit COSTAR.COM/CAREERS
CoStar Group(CGSP)

Egypt Edition:Banks Reopening,More Talks On

Starved for cash since January 27,two days after the uprising began,Cairo residents and businesses visited banks that reopened on Sunday.One bank had a line of about 50 people outside the door.Businesses had complained that they needed to withdraw money to repay their creditors.The central bank did impose some limits,however,restricting the amount individuals can withdraw,but not businesses,according to Ahmed Ismail,manager at Abu Dhabi National Bank.
Christians planned to celebrate Mass in Tahrir Square Sunday in remembrance of those who died in the course of the protests,and Muslims said they would form a protective ring around the Christians.The UN estimates up to 300 people were killed in the uprising.
The Muslim Brotherhood said it would meet with Vice-President Omar Suleiman,having earlier declined to do so till Mubarak resigned.The Muslim Brotherhood is an umbrella group of Islamists who favor conservative sharia law for Egypt,but insist they are democratic in pursuit of their goals.
In general,much of the populace is getting restless and more determined to return to work on Sunday,the first day of the work week in predominantly Muslim countries such as Egypt.From fishermen to bankers,they feel the reform process is underway enough now and they need renewed cash flow in order to survive.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Egypt Edition:Cairo Calm,Talks Underway

A much-reduced group of protesters continues to demonstrate in Cairo's Tahrir Square Saturday night,still waving Egyptian flags and listening to speeches as they mill about.About 4-5,000 of these opposition members hold on to their central position.At one point,the army commander dropped by and told them they had been heard;it was time for them to go home.They chanted that they would not go home until Mubarak resigns.
Although Mubarak has not resigned as President,the leadership of his ruling National Democratic Party has-including Mubarak's son,Gamal.The new leader of the party is Hossam Badrawi,an M.D. and medical school professor with a reputation as a liberal and education reformer.He also said it was time the protesters went home.
Some opposition members have been talking with the Vice-President,Omar Suleiman.They are looking for a way to ease Mubarak out of power.Other opponents refuse to negotiate,however,until President Mubarak resigns.
Cairo's courts are slated to reopen tomorrow,and traffic is moving again outside of Tahrir Square.
Tahrir Square Cairo Egypt

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Egypt Edition:Thunderheads Over Tahrir,Americans Unaccounted For

The fate of hundreds of Americans who told the State Department they wanted to leave Egypt was unclear as of Thursday night/Friday dawn Cairo time.About 3,000 Americans intended to escape the mounting xenophobia in the Egyptian capital,yet only 2300 have been flown out so far.Some may have gotten out on their own.
Some Americans have been injured,but they are being helped,either in Cairo or in another country they escaped to,a State Department source said.
Not only journalists are being roughed up by President Hosni Mubarak's plainclothes cronies.Foreigners in general fear for their lives.Black-clothed security forces are being seen driving around in armored personnel carriers.These riot squad types had not been evident to this point.
The Egyptian economy relies on foreigners in the form of tourism and foreign direct investment in the country.
The roughing up of journalists is a worrisome sign of a looming large-scale crackdown,CNN's Hala Gorani believes.Dr.Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies also fears an Egyptian Tiananmen Square,referring to the notorious Chinese crackdown on dissenters in 1989.Wednesday night we saw the cruelty of the regime.It became a very different story,a fight for Egypt.Mubarak is hunkered down.It became a civil war between the regime and its people,the Lebanese-born son of Iranian Shiites feels.
Nile TV anchor Shahira Amin resigned in protest at the government's heavier hand.She was told to read press releases from the Interior Ministry and focus on pro-Mubarak forces.
All I was thinking about were the peaceful demonstrators making legitimate demands.They've made us all very proud.I just couldn't betray them by being part of the propaganda machine,Ms.Amin said.She had been chastised in the past for making Egypt look bad.Nile TV broadcsts only in French and English,being aimed at Egypt's educated elite.The Egyptian population is 35% illiterate.
Update:The feared crackdown has not in fact materialized as night has fallen on Egypt Friday.The largest crowd of the week is still chanting,waving flags and hearing speeches in Tahrir Square in Cairo,underneath Mubarak hung in effigy,as well as in Alexandria.Sporadic conflict between pro and anti-Mubarak forces did occur,with the pro forces driving the anti back toward the square.On another occasion,a large white van drove insanely into the crowd.Other than that,the mood is being described as cheerful for the moment,but for how long will the army be neutral?The crowds are also being described as self-sustaining,and whether the military can stand being seen as ineffectual forever is a major question.