Money Minute: Retailers Ready for Black Friday Deals; Will Interest Rates Head Higher?

Black Friday is drawing near, and so too are some big deals on electronics.

walmart retail black friday deals
Frederic J. Brown, AFP/Getty Images
Leading retailers are preparing for battle. They plan to slash prices on some sought after consumer electronics. Best Buy (BBY) and Walmart (WMT) both say they're prepared to sharply cut prices, especially on televisions. Walmart is offering a 32-inch flat screen for $98. It's ordered 65 percent more TVs than last year to have in stores for Black Friday. Meanwhile, Target (TGT) and other retailers vow to match prices on many items.

Here on Wall Street, the focus is on Ben Bernanke, who delivered one of his last major speeches Tuesday night before stepping down as Fed Chairman. He indicated the Fed will keep interest rates near zero for years to come, even if the unemployment rate falls to its target level.

For the second day in a row, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) topped 16,000 Tuesday, only to fall back below that milestone level. The Dow fell 9 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 4 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) dropped 17 points.

You're probably familiar with the Apple (AAPL) store, but how about the Google (GOOG) store? The Internet search giant is opening six showrooms to promote its Nexus tablets, Chromebook computers and other products for the holidays. And even if you're not interested in those items, you might want to try this out: each store will have a large snow globe so you take pictures covered by fake snow.

Microsoft (MSFT) Chairman Bill Gates says the company's board is making good progress in its search for a new chief executive. But Gates choked up at yesterday's annual shareholder meeting when he talked about his long-time friend and successor, Steve Ballmer, who announced three months ago that he plans to retire.

And the reclining chairs say La-Z-Boy (LZB), but the stock says race ahead. Shares of the furniture maker are set to rally after the company beat earnings expectations and raised its dividend.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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Money Minute: Retailers Ready for Black Friday Deals; Will Interest Rates Head Higher?

Satellite radio has never been more popular. There are now 23.9 million subscribers after the parent company of Sirius and XM closed out 2012 with 2 million more accounts than it had when the year began.

However, Sirius XM lost its longstanding CEO late last year, and a media conglomerate has acquired a controlling stake in the satellite radio provider -- events that have triggered uncertainty. 

Still, Sirius XM is a company that has been consistently profitable and generating growing amounts of revenue and free cash flow on its own. And, auto sales also remain strong: Those represent the largest source of new subscribers for Sirius XM, as most of its users tune in through car factory-installed receivers.

A few years ago, Nokia was the undisputed top dog in mobile phone handsets. The Finnish company was a global juggernaut at a time when consumers were swapping beepers -- remember those? -- for wireless phones.

But the market has evolved repeatedly since then. Cheaper feature phones have been replaced by smartphones that run apps and surf the Web, and Nokia has been slow to embrace the platforms that matter. Obviously it couldn't put out an iPhone, but it also wasn't able to match Samsung's early push into Android devices that are now globally popular.

Nokia is accepting billions to back Microsoft's fledgling Windows Phone mobile operating system, but the stock has been stuck in the single digits for more than two years.

It isn't easy being a regional telco, offering up landlines, Internet, and cable TV to rural markets.

A big draw for investors in Frontier Communications is its meaty dividend payout. Even after slashing its quarterly rate from $0.1875 a share to $0.10 a share last year, the stock's still yielding 10 percent. The large dividend is significant, since shorts actually have to cover that when it gets paid out.

Analysts see revenue and profitability continuing to decline here, and pessimists are holding out for more dividend cuts in the future.

The old "Intel inside" ads came out at a time when PC sales were booming. Manufacturers were hopping on Intel microprocessors to power desktops and laptops, only turning to smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) when they wanted to show Intel that they weren't entirely dependent on the chip giant.

But the tech world have taken an "Intel outside" approach in recent years. PC shipments have fallen for two years, and Intel's efforts to get its chips into the smartphones and tablets that people are actually buying haven't been effective enough to offset its declines on the PC side.

The poster child for the "too big to fail" banking giants is starting to bounce back.

Bank of America stock hit a fresh 52-week high this month, and regulators finally eased up on the bank after it cleared its stress test. That freed Bank of America to return more of its money to shareholders beyond its token quarterly dividend of $0.01 a share, and the financial services giant's first move was to declare a huge share repurchase program.

As long as the housing market holds up and the general state of corporate America makes lending money to companies a smart bet, Bank of America will do just fine. Shorts, naturally, don't see it that way at all.

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