George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

April 24, 2015

It only took 15 years. Yes, the Nasdaq Composite Index closed at a new all-time record high yesterday. Unlike the Dow industrials and S&P 500, which have been hammering out record closes on a regular basis over the past few years, it took a decade and a half for the tech-heavy Nasdaq to finally return to the peak that it hit just before the dot-com bubble blew up. The index went into a freefall after peaking in 2000 above 5,000, falling to about 1,300 just three years later. To be sure, the Nasdaq today is much different from 15 years ago, when it was populated with companies including Pets.com and others that were simply shell companies.

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It only took 15 years. Yes, the Nasdaq Composite Index closed at a new all-time record high yesterday. Unlike the Dow industrials and S&P 500, which have been hammering out record closes on a regular basis over the past few years, it took a decade and a half for the tech-heavy Nasdaq to finally return to the peak that it hit just before the dot-com bubble blew up.

Today, the Nasdaq is being led by companies including Amazon.com and two other Seattle-based businesses. The online retailer last night reported strong Q1 sales and revenue, and the shares are a new all-time high, up $58 to $488 in early trading. Founder Jeff Bezos happens to own about 84 million shares of the company stock and, as a result of today's gains, his net worth has soared an additional $4 billion. Jeff is having a very good day.

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Of course, there are people out there who hate the likes of Jeff Bezos, an entrepreneur who took a tremendous leap of faith when he decided to take retail to the Internet. He could have just as easily lost everything but instead changed the way people shop. An article written by Rex Nutting at MarketWatch.com -- owned by the Wall Street Journal -- is headlined, "How the stock market destroyed the middle class." In summary, it says people such as Bezos have prospered at the cost of others.

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I also wonder what Rex thinks of the janitor in Vermont who died recently and left $8 million to two local charities, money he obtained by living a frugal life and investing his meager income into conservative, dividend-paying stocks. Stop being a hater, Rex.

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Also helping to lift the Nasdaq today are shares of Microsoft, which also topped expectations with its Q1 report last night. The stock is trading up 7.5 percent in early activity. Microsoft is also a component of the Dow industrials.

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Another Nasdaq stock being celebrated by investors today is Starbucks. The shares are up more than 4 percent after reporting that sales at U.S. stores rose by 7 percent in the past quarter as food sales jumped 16 percent, led by an increase of 35 percent in breakfast items. Speaking yesterday on CNBC, CEO Howard Schultz said it was the best "non-holiday" quarter in the history of the company. Starbucks also opened 210 new stores in the first three months of this year to bring its global total to more than 17,000. Not bad for a company that started with one location across the street from Pike Place Market in Seattle.

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If you were one of the millions who put in an order for the new Apple Watch on April 10, you will want to keep an eye out today for a delivery truck to bring a package to your door. Today is the first official day for the devices to be delivered to the people who went online to make an early purchase. However, it may take quite a bit longer to fill all of the existing orders, possibly into June, and there is no idea when you will be able to go into an Apple store and walk out with an Apple Watch on your wrist. A private survey estimates that Apple will sell 20 million watches in 2015. Interestingly, this is the first launch of an Apple product without the usual long lines of people camping out in front of stores to be the first owners.

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The Padres limp home today after dropping the last two games of the series with the lowly Colorado Rockies. Too bad, it would have been nice to have a little momentum as they take on the dreaded LA Dodgers starting tonight. Should be a great series with big crowds at Petco.

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