Fiscal Cliff Good for Beer Sales?


By all appearances, investors should be rejoicing today, as positive news on both the jobs and retail fronts points to continued gains. Yet they aren't. Approaching the halfway point in the trading session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 16 points, or 0.12%.

Data released this morning showed that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week fell for the fourth straight time. According to the Labor Department, weekly applications dropped by 29,000 to a seasonally adjusted 343,000. This is the lowest rate in two months and the second lowest this year.

Additional data released today showed that retail sales grew in November by 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted $412.4 billion. While this represented a 3.7% year-over-year increase, it nevertheless came up short of the 0.5% sequential advance predicted by economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

In terms of individual companies performing well today, as my colleague Dan Caplinger noted earlier this morning, shares of Best Buy are up sharply today on rumors that its founder, Richard Schulze, will make a buyout offer for the ailing electronics retailer later this month. The company has been struggling lately to compete with the likes of, which can sell products at lower prices because it doesn't have the added overhead of bricks-and-mortar locations.

Shares of Clearwire are up sharply for the same reason. It was announced this morning that Sprint, the nation's third-largest wireless carrier after AT&T and Verizon, is seeking to acquire the remaining 50% of the company that it doesn't already own. According to an analyst at Evercore Partners, the move would give Sprint a "tremendous asset in deep spectrum."

Finally, shares of Boston Beer are also up considerably after the maker of Sam Adams raised its earnings guidance for 2012. Earnings per share are now expected to come in at $4.30 to $4.60 a share compared to the company's prior estimate of $3.80 to $4.20 per share. Not to mention, if the fiscal cliff isn't solved, these figures could increase further as Americans seek to drink away their memories of the people they elected to serve them.

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