Barron's Recap (3/31/12): What a Power Shift in Congress Would Mean for Investors
This weekend in Barron's online: what a shift in power in Congress would mean for investors, the prospects for Franklin Resources and for independent refiners in the Midwest, and an interview with America's preeminent forensic accountant.
“Power Shift” by Jim McTague. Whether or not President Obama keeps a hold of his job in November, Barron's predicts a big change in Congress. An analysis of this fall's 33 Senate races sees the GOP poised to take away at least three seats from the Democrats, who have led the chamber since 2006. That would give the Republicans a 50-49 advantage. Barron's also sees the GOP strengthening its hold on the House by picking up at least one seat. All that is good news for investors. Energy and Defense will benefit from the change. Government spending will be cut, and most individual tax rates will remain where they are.
“Franklin Is Right on the Money” by Lawrence C. Strauss takes a look at the prospects for 65-year-old money-management firm Franklin Resources (NYSE: BEN). The mutual-fund juggernaut has recovered nicely from the dark days following the financial crisis of 2007. This year, shares have surged 28%, to $123, and some on Wall Street expect it to rise to the mid-$140s within the next year. Advantages include a bullish backdrop for equities, the strong performance of its funds, and Franklin's exposure to multiple asset classes and a global customer base. Based on 10-year returns, the company finished first in Barron's most recent fund-family ranking, and some of its funds have been in the top quartile in their Morningstar categories.
In “Waiting and Hoping” by Andrew Bary, the focus is on a promising drug from a little-known U.S. biotech company. Eteplirsen could be the first effective treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. AVI BioPharma (NASDAQ: AVII) has completed a small but critical clinical trial for this drug, and preliminary results of the trial are expected by late April. The particular form of muscular dystrophy that Eteplirsen is intended to treat is a fatal genetic disorder that affects more than 30,000 people in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. DMD develops in early childhood and over time robs patients of muscle strength, usually resulting in death by age 30. Victims of the disease -- as well as AVI BioPharma -- have much riding on the outcome of this trial.
“Going with the Flow” by Bill Alpert suggests that such midcontinent independent refiners as HollyFrontier (NYSE: HFC), CVR Energy (NYSE: CVI), Western Refining (NYSE: WNR) and Delek US Holdings (NYSE: DK), which have benefited while production in the heartland has risen faster than the inland crude can be piped to available refineries, could see a reversal of their fortunes with new pipelines that will carry landlocked crude to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Shares of refiners in the Midwest plunged last November when it looked like a reversal of the flow in the northbound Seaway pipeline would alleviate a bottleneck for inland crude.
Howard Schilit, perhaps America's preeminent forensic accountant, is interviewed in Vito J. Racanelli's “A Financial Sleuth Finds a World of Abuses.” Schilit, the author of the best-selling Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks & Fraud in Financial Reports, was instrumental in highlighting the importance of forensic accounting to institutional investors during the booming stock market of the 1990s and early 2000s. Schilit retired five years ago, but he is now back in the saddle and busier than ever.
- “Seeking Alpha” by Steve Garmhausen. A profile of the James Balanced: Golden Rainbow Fund.
- “Gravitational Shift,” an editorial commentary by Thomas W. Hazlett.
- “Stocks Up 12%, Best Quarterly Start Since 1998” by Vito J. Racanelli.
- “The Equity Rally Has Room to Run” by Jonathan Buck.
- “For China's Airlines, Demand Will Stay Aloft” by Kopin Tan.
- “A Chance for the SEC to Step Up” by Steven M. Sears.
- “Riding the Slide in Natural Gas” by Dan Strumpf.
- “Bernanke the Booster” by Randall W. Forsyth.
Columns in this weekend's Barron's discuss:
- Spain's economic troubles
- Who is buying insider shares
- S&P 500's performance sans Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL)
- Forecasting the S&P 500
- Salesforce.com's (NYSE: CRM) social networking offering
- And more ...
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