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Ticker Shock: Intel, Bank of America Down, Not Out

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Wednesday's top stories and stocks with potential to move.

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I conveyed some of my thoughts regarding Steve Jobs' health condition in this column yesterday, but I feel like continuing my rant just a bit today. Here are some more reflections on the topic:

1. The guy has a condition - he told us so.

2. I think investors should generally be more focused on the company's earnings prospects going forward than on Jobs' health.

3. Hold the emails, people. I realize that Jobs has played a big role in Apple's (AAPL)success and that his absence would certainly be felt. But I think the company has evolved over the years and is -- dare I say -- larger than the man in the black turtleneck.

4. It's frustrating, because -- regardless of what I said in numbers 1 through 3 -- I suspect that there'd be a fair amount of selling if Jobs did end up leaving the job.

Asian markets ended up a bit of a mixed bag. The Hang Seng was off north of 3%. The Nikkei was up more than 1%. European stocks, however, were showing me some red earlier this morning. Here in the US, we're currently trading lower.

Here's what's got my eye on this fine Wednesday morning:

Bank of America (BAC):
CEO Ken Lewis is recommending that no bonuses be given to top executives this year -- including Lewis himself -- since "he expects the bank's final results to be below expectations."

Frankly, I'm not concerned whether or not Lewis nails down a bonus. What I was focused on was the bit about the earnings. At present, analysts are looking for $0.15 in the fourth quarter and $1.23 for the full year.

Of course, I don't where the actual number will come in, or the details. But I can tell you this: I'm not hopping aboard this train and crossing my fingers. I want to hear what these guys have to say in a little more detail when the numbers are released in late January. Stay tuned.

Alcoa (AA):
The well-known aluminum company seems to be breaking out a steel axe.

At least, that's how I view the release sent out after the closing bell yesterday, in which it said it's trimming more than 13,000 jobs. It also indicated that its capital expenditures will be 50% lower than 2008. In short, these are some big moves. The release indicated that the company expects $900 to $950 million in after-tax charges for the fourth quarter.

Do I think this is a good move?

Absolutely. But at the same time, I'm not scooping up shares based on this news. Instead, this is one that I'm going to keep on the radar screen. The shares are currently trading lower.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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