COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

You can't really blame investors for being cautious. Stocks started the month of December with a slight loss -- 60 points on the Dow Industrials -- despite some good news from the auto industry. Sales last month topped 1.1 million units, the best November since 2007. It is estimated as many as 30,000 new vehicles were purchased during the month to replace cars and trucks destroyed during Hurricane Sandy along the eastern seaboard.

******

Commodity prices are taking a pretty big hit this morning. Aggressive selling in Asia is pushing down gold prices by $27 an ounce to $1,693. Oil is also lower, off $1.32 to under $88 a barrel.

******

The strike by clerical workers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors has moved into a second week. While there are only 800 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union directly involved in the dispute, another 10,000 union workers at the harbor have refused to cross the picket lines and, as a result, ships loaded with merchandise headed to stores for the holidays are anchored off the coast or diverted to other ports in northern California or Mexico. The strike could result in about a billion dollars a day in lost revenues to the region.

******

I've been reporting in this column about companies that are paying forward their dividends into the remaining days of 2012 in order to avoid potentially higher taxes if Congress and the administration fail to act on the "fiscal cliff" before the start of the new year. Many companies are moving up the distribution date from January to the end of this month and some are also announcing special dividends to investors in 2012. Well, the directors at Oracle have decided to double down, moving up the payment of the next two quarterly dividends from 2013 into this year. The one guy who is likely to benefit from this action is CEO and co-founder Larry Ellison. However, the statement from the software company said, "Oracle's CEO and largest shareholder did not participate in the deliberation or the vote on this matter."

******

Now that Mitt Romney has some time on his hands, he is quickly going back to work. The former governor and, of course, Republican nominee for president, has decided to rejoin the board of directors for Marriott International, the lodging company that operates more than 3,700 properties worldwide. Romney has served on the board two other times. "We are delighted that Gov. Romney has agreed to rejoin our board. We will benefit from his tremendous energy and capability to guide long-term success in an increasingly complex business environment," said chairman J.W. Marriott.

******

Banks are getting increasingly more profitable. A report from the FDIC this morning said insured institutions reported profits of $37.6 billion in the third quarter, a 6.6 percent increase over the same period a year ago. Year-over-year profits have increased for 13 consecutive quarters while the number of banks on the "Problem List" fell below 700 for the first time in three years. "Signs of further progress were evident in a number of indicators, such as loan growth, asset quality and profitability," said chairman Martin Gruenberg.

******

One of the best events of the year takes place today at the Town & Country Hotel. The San Diego BBB will present its 2012 Torch Awards for marketplace ethics to companies in the region that represent the best of local businesses. The event also awards scholarships to students from local high schools who have written essays on business ethics. I have the honor of emceeing today's event, as I have done for the past 15 years. Also, the BBB is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year.

Leave Your Comment

Comments are moderated by SDDT, in accordance with the SDDT Comment Policy, and may not appear on this commentary until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting. Also, due to the volume of comments we receive, not all comments will be posted.

SDDT Comment Policy: SDDT encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. All comments should be relevant to the topic and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. You are solely responsible for your own comments, the consequences of posting those comments, and the consequences of any reliance by you on the comments of others. By submitting your comment, you hereby give SDDT the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying and other information you provide via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. SDDT Privacy Statement.

User Response
0 UserComments

Leave Your Comment

Comments are moderated by SDDT, in accordance with the SDDT Comment Policy, and may not appear on this commentary until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting. Also, due to the volume of comments we receive, not all comments will be posted.

SDDT Comment Policy: SDDT encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. All comments should be relevant to the topic and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. You are solely responsible for your own comments, the consequences of posting those comments, and the consequences of any reliance by you on the comments of others. By submitting your comment, you hereby give SDDT the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying and other information you provide via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. SDDT Privacy Statement.

Subscribe Today!