February turned out to be a turnaround month for the stock market with the S&P 500 returning 4.3% for the period and hitting an all-time high during mid-day Friday. The index settled back a bit in late-day trading on Ukraine worries and cuts in fourth quarter estimates for domestic economic growth. For the year, the broad market average is up 0.6%. There were a number of buttonwoodproject new 52-week highs set during the week including conservative candidates CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS – $73.62) and software and cloud computing provider Oracle (NYSE: ORCL – $39.37); income choices DuPont (NYSE: DD – $66.72) and French energy giant Total, SA (NYSE: TOT – $64.97); and aggressive picks Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW – $49.23), DIRECTV (NASDAQ: DTV – $78.05), telecommunications company Harris Corp. (NYSE: HRS – $74.23), crane and food service equipment manufacturer Manitowoc (NYSE: MTW – $31.28) and Teva Pharmaceutical (NYSE: TEVA – $50.70). CVS, DTV and HRS managed “all time” highs and Teva was at a three-year peak (see below). And Kimberly-Clark and Royal Bank of Canada boosted their dividends for shareholders by 3.7% and 6%, respectively adding to long-term total return value for the income-minded investor.
Hitting the rumor mill, 3M Co. appears to be working with Goldman Sachs to sell some underperforming components of its electronics business. The targeted units, which may include connectors, electrical tapes and terminator products, produce around $1 billion in sales and will be sold separately as there is no clear buyer for the units in its entirety, according to reports. The combined sale value of the business units in question could fetch up to $1 billion, although neither 3M nor Goldman is confirming the story. Finally, speculation surrounding a possible acquisition of the Israeli-based generic-drug maker Teva Pharmaceutical intensified following the appointment of a new CEO. Investors are buying up the stock amid hopes the company may consider a buyout offer of all or part of its businesses, especially as cheaper versions of its multiple sclerosis drug, Copaxone, grab market share.
And Tuesday is Mardi Gras, a harbinger for spring. Enjoy!