The market limped in to the close today as the dip buyers were somehow distracted by the jump in new claims for unemployment which were so far from analyst guesses that they were perhaps a Nassim Taleb-ian black swan (as opposed to a Natalie Portman-to-lesbian Black Swan), the continued rise of commodity prices (as companies get ready to exclaim “we don’t need no stinking margins”), and the news of Mt. Etna blowing again (which makes it the biggest thing to blow since Veronica Bottoms).

With macro news continuing to show little to no improvement (unless you count a lower labor force participation rate, falling inventories, and an increase in meth users as improvement), Money McBags remains very cautious about buying any dips as cognitive dissonance is not his preferred investing strategy (you all know Money McBags is more of a bottoms up investor than he is a top down investor anyway).  The point is, Money McBags gets that the market offers some inflation protection especially since bonds are deader than the Lebanese government or Alan Greenspan’s reputation as the “Bernanke Put” floods the market with dollars and keeps interest rates lower than Uma Thurman’s boobs, but at some point people need to get the fuck back to work because even the tiniest prick can pop a stimulus inflated bubble economy.

As for actual data today, as mentioned above, first time claims for unemployment were announced and they rose to 445k while analysts guessed they would fall by 5k to 405k (or by 4k if one wants to use the non-upwardly revised number in the B(L)S’ weekly game of “psych“) and it was the biggest rise in 6 months.  The good news though is that it gives people more free time to buy the dips.  That said, the most disturbing part of the number was that non-seasonally adjusted claims (and if it were Money McBags, the season he would use to adjust claims would be saffron) was 770k, which was the highest it has been in a year and as good a sign for a real recovery as a “bridge out ahead” sign was for Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969.

In other macro news, U.S. producer prices climbed 1.1% in December after a 0.8% rise in November, but luckily core inflation was up only .2% so the Fed can sleep easy tonight (as long as they don’t have to buy any necessities like food, gas, or shovels to clear the snow in the morning).  Honestly, judging inflation by using core inflation (and thus taking food and energy out of the equation) is like is like judging Andrew Johnson’s presidency by taking all of his policies out of the equation (you know the ones where he basically negated any gains from the Civil fucking War, so well done you fucking asshat) or judging a Jay Leno monologue by taking all of the jokes out of the equation (and see, that’s funny because as far as Money McBags can tell, there are no jokes in a Jay Leno monologue).

And the macro news kept coming as the trade deficit narrowed to a 10 month low thanks to exports rising as a result of a weaker dollar and pre-orders for Faye Reagan‘s new release Bottomfeeders.  Finally, home foreclosures topped 1MM for 2010 with the lucky 1MMth foreclosed on homeowner winning an all-inclusive night’s stay at their local YMCA where they are free to contract all of the scabies and old man smell they want (unfortunately, trips to the bacteriologist are not included).  But none of that mattered to Benny B who got his Fed on again today at a Small Business Forum in Washington DC co-sponsored by the FDIC, CNBC, and the ATC.  Benny B stepped away from his cauldron long enough to say that 3% to 4% growth is likely this year (and he can have the B(L)S goalseek to prove it) but that won’t reduce unemployment “at the pace we’d like it to” before mumbling “or at all.”

Internationally, Spain sold some fucking bonds (well $3.9B of five-year bonds to be exact) at a yield of 4.54% which was 97bps more than the previous auction in November, but 33bps below expectations and 400bps below a healthy fucking market.  That said, it gives Spain at least one more month as a contributing member of the global ponzeconomy to enjoy some tapas and milkshakes with Helen Lindes.

Also in Europe, the ECB kept rates on hold as inflation concerns were overshadowed by renewed debt tensions and something called selective memory.  Of note though was that this was the first time the ECB governing council included a representative from new euro member Estonia, and for those of you unfamiliar with Estonia, it is just north of Latvia, its capital city is called Tallinn, it likes long walks on its oil shale deposits, and if you get it drunk enough, it will whip out pictures of its large Peipus (or Peipussee in German).

As for the market, MRK was down ~6% after they dropped their trials of blood clot drug Vorapaxar which in turn clogged up their hopes for revenue growth.  Vorapaxar was thought to be a multi-billion dollar drug and was a big reason for MRK’s $41B acquisition of Schering-Plough in 2009, so um, oops.  The problem is that the drug was found not to be safe for stroke patients, which in turn gave investors a stroke, thus lowering the drugs potential market opportunity even more.

Elsewhere in the market, SAP SAPeed on guesses as the stock surged ~6% after the firm reported a 27% increase in software revenue driven by business demand, Infosys infosucked after the Indian firm’s profit grew 14% but was below guesses due to the strength of the Indian rupee, and Marathon Oil ran all day after it announced it would move its refinery and pipeline operations into a separate company which continued the trend of large break ups including Motorola, ITT, and the zodiac.

In small cap news, COOL continued to rise after Tuesday’s announcement that they shipped more than 500k units of something called Zumba Fitness for the Nintendo Wii where players burn calories through dances such as the meringue, salsa, and daggering,  Money McBags wrote about COOL quite a bit at the beginning of 2010 and was right that it is a terribly run company but now that they have a supposed hit, there might be some value here (though the company has mastered the concept of unprofitable growth).  Unfortunately, Money McBags does not know the economics of what selling 500k units does for the bottom line in terms of margins etc., so he has no idea how to translate this news and whether COOL may actually be a buy, but he hopes to get some clarity in their call (and this is why professional investors can kick the shit out of regular guys like Money McBags because they can just pick up the phone and talk to COOL’s CFO to figure that shit out).

Also, on Monday a Money McBags favorite, QCOR, pre-announced that Acthar prescriptions for MS grew only 9% sequentially and 66% y/y while also warning that profits will be down due to investing in doubling their sales force (something Money McBags already pointed out, and he already pointed this out too).  Anyway, Money McBags was expecting closer to 20% sequential growth and has ~$1.5MM of extra costs baked in to his Q4 numbers so if he lowers the growth rate to 9%, he gets to ~$.18 eps.  For 2011 his guess is ~$.90 eps and that is the important number because no one really gives a shit about this Q4 given that the company has said they are in sales force growth mode.  So QCOR is trading at ~17x Money McBags 2011 guess (and that guess may be low if their NS segment gets any kind of traction, of course it may be too high if MS only grows 9%, but whatever) which is no longer that cheap so if you’ve been in since Money McBags first started writing about this company when it was half the price it is today, you should definitely take some off the table.  Q4 is going to suck so take your profits and buy back if you want when the stock sells off since it has had a monster run and is due for a bit of disappointment.

And yeah, Money McBags is aware that he used a very similar headline in August, but there is something about the classics.

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