Liquid Courage Needed!

is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.”

— Alvin Toffler

this date in 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,
prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating
liquors for beverage purposes,” became law. Given the earnings showing thus
far, it’s a damn good thing we repealed that amendment, as many of us will need
some form of liquid courage to face our tech portfolios this morning.

morning, the Labor Department reported consumer prices rose
at the smallest pace in 2001 in three years due to the cheapest energy in 15
energy prices obviously contributed to this positive report and battered bulls
are hoping against hope that the lack of inflationary pressure means the

Federal Reserve, which meets for a two-day meeting in two weeks (Jan. 29-30),
has room to give another quarter-point cut.

other factors that help the bulls case are that light sweet crude is down under
$20 a barrel and this morning’s Industrial Production report
showed a decline of 0.1% in December, which represented the fourteenth decline
in the past 15 months. Let’s hope
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, (D-SD)
understands that the economy needs more than interest rate cuts and talk to get
back on track.

our earnings scorecard looks like this:

  • 32
    companies beat lowered Street estimates

  • 10
    have met those lowered estimates

  • 8
    have now fallen short of what should have been the easiest earnings season
    in recent history

to First Call, a service that reports on corporate earnings estimates by Wall
Street analysts, the fourth-quarter saw 608 earnings warnings, down 30% from the
third-quarter’s 868 earnings warnings and down 32% from the second quarter high-water mark of 882 companies pleading
mea culpa.

it’s not surprising that gaming stocks in general, and Harrah’s
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in particular, have been among the few sectors posting
positive results. Call it escaping from reality, call it love of gambling, call
it whatever you want, the result is that more Americans are pushing quarters into
slot machines and playing blackjack at casinos despite intense competition from
the Internet and offshore exchanges. It makes one wonder just how big the gaming
market really is as both the “net and illegal wagering volumes” can
only be estimated.