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Used Ford For Sale

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Shareholders look for the exits.

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Yesterday's session was a pleasant surprise although not on par with the scene in the movie "Spartacus" when all the slaves attempted to receive punishment intended for the leader of their revolt. The good news of the session, however, had to do with fending off a revolt.

Crude Loony Season

On Capitol Hill the message that aimed to levy profit windfall penalties (taxes) on big oil companies was defeated, falling nine senators short of the 60 needed to move the bill along to debate. Crude oil was weakening before the votes were counted but I think it was clear that it wasn't going to pass and that may have played a role in the retreating of the price. Sure, the jawboning of the dollar played a pivotal role, too. I think also the fact that Friday's high wasn't eclipsed may have been seen as a sign by many to take some profits off the table.

Let's not forget that crude has stumbled over the last few weeks only to stage remarkable moves higher so shorts shouldn't get too comfortable. By the same token this is loony season with crude. In some ways it might be better that it zooms to $150.00 a barrel but at that point all the experts would trip over themselves to ratchet the target higher.

Ford Tough?

Speaking of tripping over themselves, shareholders in Ford (F) bolted for the would-be exits, via the tender offer from Kirk Kerkorian. It boggles the mind to know that half the shares outstanding would prefer to be sold, particularly if they could fetch $8.50 a share. There has to be a psychological study in that mix. Something along the lines of the fight or flight (flee) syndrome. Certainly all the shareholders are miserable, even those that didn't offer up their shares.

Certainly the news on Ford doesn't speak well of leadership at the company. Just imagine if shareholders had the final say in CEO Alan Mulally's pay package. Actually, this company's performance and the $28 million Mulally got in just his first four months on the job feed into the grassroots movement to let shareholders decide on executive pay. Of course the $28 million is misleading as the company had to compensate the new CEO for monies lost by transitioning from his previous job at Boeing (BA). Still, it's the ultimate insult for any CEO when half the shareholders try to jump ship. I wonder if every shareholder of publicly traded companies were offered a 38% premium for their shares how many would sell? I bet 1/3 but probably a lot more.

Where's the Market?

On the topic of leadership, where is it in the stock market? The hot sectors gave up gains yesterday and while the financials held up better than pre-open expectations, nobody would say they're going to grab the rally baton and lead the way. (I must admit, however, I was very impressed with the action in Washington Mutual (WM) and I wonder if something is brewing there… nah, the world hasn't gone that mad, has it?) So this is the predicament of the market; it's dazed and confused and looking for a spark. Yet, there's a certain will of the market to hang in there. Of course all this means is that money on the sidelines is just going to be tougher to lure into the fray and there's more risk to the downside than to the upside.

Today we get the Fed Beige Book which measures economic conditions in each of the twelve Federal Reserve districts. In the last report, 3/4 of the districts reported softer economic conditions.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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