What's Important in the Financial World (12/18/2012)

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IBM 5 in 5

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) put out its "5 in 5," detailing five important features computers will have in five years. The IBM forecast indicates computers could be nearly human by 2018. That means millions of jobs could be lost. Or perhaps computers will just be able to love one another, love humans and pets. IBM Chief Innovation Officer Bernard Meyerson, who wrote the new analysis listed the advances computer companies will make as they launch new product:

Touch: You will be able to reach out and touch through your phone
Sight: A pixel will be worth a thousand words
Hearing: Computers will hear what matters
Taste: Digital taste buds will help you to eat healthier
Smell: Computers will have a sense of smell

At least readers of the "Next 5 in 5″ are allowed to vote their opinions or, of course, in the age of nearly human computers, join the debate on Twitter. #ibm5in5 Free speech is still allowed. At least for now.

Christmas at McDonald's

Some people have objected to the fact that McDonald's Corp. (NYSE: MCD) will keep many of its locations open for Christmas. Apparently, this breaks with a tradition of giving people the day off. McDonald's reasons that Christmas might be one of its busiest days, as people without Christmas dinner stream to its locations. The objections are misplaced, at least to the extent that some McDonald's workers need the money that comes with the extra day on the job. And those employees likely get time-and-a-half and free food. McDonald's joins a list of other major retailers of goods and services that will be open every holiday. Some workers will object. They would rather be at home with loved ones. But work at the low-wage level is hard to find. Better to work on Christmas than not work at all.

Boeing Dividend Boost

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), increasingly unloved by Wall St. because of problems with its 787 that might make the plane dangerous to fly, has decided to entice holders to keep their shares, or new investors to join the company's list of owners. The aerospace firm will increase its dividend by 10% from 48.5 cents and will renew its $3.6 billion share buyback initiative that was initially approved in 2007. What Boeing will not do, but investors would have liked, is move the dividend into 2012 to help owners avoid increases in the taxes on dividends, which might change if Congress and the White House set new rates. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney said:

Strong cash generation, consistently solid core operating performance and a positive growth outlook enable us to take these steps to deliver value for our shareholders. As returns accelerate on the investments we made in innovative new products, we plan to continue our balanced cash deployment strategy, increasing returns to shareholders, investing in our core businesses and our workforce, and maintaining a strong balance sheet with healthy credit ratings.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: BA, IBM, MCD