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Billionaires Hammered on Positions
Billionaires Hammered on Positions

Billionaires are getting hammered with huge losses with positions taken a beating, from prior quarters. After the end of the prior calendar quarter - a deadline that falls on Tuesday - institutional investment managers have 45 days to disclose their equity holdings with 13f filings. Judging by the tepid performance of the stock market during Q2, many high-profile stocks are imminently likely to have taken a hit. On May 15, Berkshire Hathaway Inc's (BRK.A) (BRK.B) Warren Buffett reported that he bought 10 million shares of General Motors Co. (GM) in Q1 and watched as the stock plummeted by 23% in Q2. Billionaire George Soros’s Soros Fund Management LLC in Q1 bought into J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and watched as J.P. Morgan Chase slumped 22% and Goldman Sachs shed 23% during Q2. Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, an activist hedge fund manager, was holding large positions in J.C. Penney (JCP) and Citigroup (C) by the end of March and watched J.C. Penney give up 34% and Citi shed 25% over Q2. John Paulson’s hedge-fund firm, Paulson & Co., reported stakes in Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Caesars Entertainment Corp. (CZR) in May and watch Bank of America give up 15% and Caesars shed 23%. Paulson, who also holds a sizeable stake in the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) saw it give up 4.3%. Lingering European uncertainties attributed to losses taken by hedge funds in Q2.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that wholesale prices rose a 0.3% in July after seasonable adjustments, with food prices rising 0.5% and energy prices falling 0.4%. The producer price index has risen 0.5% in the past year striking the lowest annual rate since October 2009. Core PPI - which excludes food and energy prices - rose 0.4% in July. Core prices are up 2.5% in the past year striking the smallest year-over-year rise since last June.

To settle charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission, on Tuesday, Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) agreed to pay more than $6.5 million in fines after the firm's brokerage unit improperly sold investments tied to mortgage-backed securities without understanding their complexity or disclosing the risks to investors. The money will be placed into a fund for the benefit of harmed investors, per the SEC. "Municipalities and other non-profit institutions were harmed because Wells Fargo abdicated its fundamental responsibility as a broker to have a reasonable basis for its investment recommendations to customers," said Elaine Greenberg, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division's Municipal Securities and Public Pensions unit.

Sales at U.S. retailers increased 0.8% in July to a seasonally adjusted $403.9 billion, after three consecutive monthly declines, per estimates from the Commerce Department on Tuesday. Compared with July 2011, retail sales are up 4.1% and in June, retail sales rose a downwardly revised 0.7% compared with a 0.5% decrease originally reported. Sales are seasonally adjusted, but are not adjusted for price changes. Retail sales account for nearly half of total consumer spending and nearly a third of final sales in the U.S. economy. Consumer spending decelerated to a 1.5% annual growth rate in Q2 from a 2.4% pace in Q1. Retail sales for July rose 0.8% to $330.2 billion - excluding a 0.8% increase in motor vehicles sales - resulting in stronger expected gain. On the month, sales at gasoline stations rose, up 0.5% as prices at the pump increased. Retail sales rose 0.9% in July excluding autos and gasoline. Sales reports for July: motor vehicle sales rose 0.8% in July; furniture store sales rose 1.1%; electronics and appliances stores sales rose 0.9%; building materials and hardware store sales rose 1.0%; sales at general merchandise stores rose 0.7%; sales at clothing stores rose 0.8%; sales at stores catering to leisure-time pursuits such as hobbies, sports and reading rose 1.6%; sales at health and personal-care stores expanded 1.1%; sales at food and beverage stores rose 0.3%; sales at restaurants and bars rose 0.8% and sales at non-store outlets such as catalogs and online stores, rose 1.5%.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that inventories at U.S. businesses rose by only 0.1% in June compared with a 0.3% rise in May. Striking the biggest monthly drop since March 2009, business sales fell sharply lower by 1.1% in June. The inventory-to-sales ratio which is an indication of demand, increased to 1.29 in June from 1.27 in May, striking the highest ratio since November 2009. Retail inventories were up 0.6% in June compared with a 0.8% decrease in sales. Inventory-to-sales ratio in retail rose to 1.38 in June from 1.36 in May striking highest level since October 2010.

Groupon Inc. (GRPN) tumbled sharply lower Tuesday, down 27% into late afternoon trading, striking a record low of $5.46 on the day amidst very heavy trading volume. By 3:30pm ET, over 58million shares had already traded hands on the heals of disappointing Q2 results. Since its initial public offering price of $20 from November, shares have been hammered lower by over 70%.


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Aug 14, 2012


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