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Ticker Shock: National Semiconductor Amplifies Good News

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

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Eight years ago today I was in the World Trade Center (the concourse level on the first floor), when the first plane hit. I made it home, unlike so many others that day.

Many people I've come across since have asked me if the experience changed my life in any way. In many respects, it hasn't. But in some ways, it has. I find myself doing certain things I'd never done before. It may sound silly, but the truth is that since that day, almost every time I hug my wife goodbye, I smell her hair. I get up early on the weekends to make sure I spend as much time as possible with the kids (who get up at the crack of dawn). I worry less about what other people think of me, and more about taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. I don't work till 9 p.m. every night. No matter what I'm paid, it's not worth it. Time with the family is what matters most to me.

Of course, by that same token, there's been a certain sadness in my heart since that day. Sadness, in that I survived and some people I knew did not. Sadness that my kids have to grow up in a world with lunatics that target innocent people.

With all that said, I'm sure my sorrow pales in comparison to that of the families who lost loved ones. It's those people who my heart goes out to today, and those people that every American should think about today -- even if just for a second.

Asian stocks were a mixed bag overnight. The Hang Seng rose 0.44% while the Nikkei sank 0.66%. European stocks were, however, in positive territory earlier this morning. And here in the US, we're currently trading higher.

Here's what I'm seeing today:

National Semiconductor
(NSM):
The California chipmaker was out with its first-quarter numbers. It put up $0.13, whereas the estimate I'm seeing was $0.07. Furthermore, it managed to beat on the top line, too.

Some thoughts:

1.
I'm a bit more optimistic than the last time I wrote on the company back in the early part of June. The top-line beat really captures my attention, as does the nice little bounce in gross margin it experienced from the fourth quarter.

2. I'm liking the dividend. It's like a little extra salt on a large basket of french fries.

3.
The estimate for this year and next has edged up a little bit over the last 30 days, which is nice to see, too.

But I'm not jumping up and down about all this because at the end of the day, the $0.40 it's expected to put up this year isn't that great, and it's unclear whether the $0.70 it's expected to put up next year is doable. So like a deer in headlights, I'll just stay put on the sidelines.

Morgan Stanley (MS):
Time for a little fishing?

Looks like John Mack is going to turn over the reigns to James Gorman come January, though Mack will stay on as chairman.

My thoughts:

1.
Mack was a terrific chief executive, and it's too bad he's going to go. But Morgan Stanley is bigger than that one man.

2. With regard to the bigger picture, I'm more optimistic about its prospects than I was at any point over the past year or so. But though this may sound a tad cliché, I think the stock price has come a little too far too fast. To be certain, I feel the same way about the financials in general. Two or three years down the line, the stock will probably be trading higher than it is today. But I'd still rather wait for a bit of a pullback before doing anything. Call me old-fashioned, but I still think earnings mean something.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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