Aetna Becomes Obamacare Dropout; Warren Buffet Takes a Big Bite Out of (the) Apple; TJX: Don’t Discount the Discounter

See ya!

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case it wasn’t entirely clear how some big insurance companies feel about Obamacare, perhaps Aetna might shed some light for you. The healthcare insurer is dropping out of the exchange in 69% of its counties. It’s dropping out of 11 of 15 states after eating $200 million in pre-tax losses during its 2Q. Of the 838,000 Affordable Care Act policies it has, 20% will be adversely affected. Aetna, which is the nation’s third largest insurer, isn’t the first health insurance company to do this. United Healthcare Group already dropped out of Obamacare exchanges and as did Kaiser, with more expected to follow. Whichever side you fall on in terms of the Obamacare debate matters not. It’s arithmetic that’s at play here. Aetna argues that they were losing big money to make the Obamacare policies work. Not enough healthy people were signing up and too many unhealthy people were. The premiums that healthy folks pay were/are intended to offset the large cost of the the unhealthy. Unfortunatey, things didn’t work out that way. The Departement of Health and Human Services was supposed to figure out ways to fix that issue. While its says it did, insurers say it didn’t – or at least, not enough. If you’re really bent on having Aetna insure you and your state’s just been dropped by it, you might want to consider moving to Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska and Virginia. Those states will still be offering policies from Aetna in 2017. Well, at least for now they will be.

Well, if Warren Buffet’s Doing it…

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Image courtesy of hywards/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Berkshire Hathaway’s very own oracle is taking a much bigger chunk out of the not-so-proverbial apple – the one based in Cupertino, that is. Warren Buffet upped his stake in the tech company by a substantial 55%. That’s in direct contrast to his fellow billionaire’s recent actions. George Soros just chucked his Apple stake out the window over concerns in China, or rather concerns about China’s policies regarding the iPhone maker. However, there’s a chance he’ll re-invest down the road. Activist investor billionaire Carl Icahn also ditched his Apple shares back in June. When he did this, shares of Apple had taken a slight dip, at which point Warren Buffet swooped in and increased his stake. Now his total stake of 15. 2 million shares is valued at about $1.7 billion. Shares of Apple, by the way, are up 14% since June. Incidentally, Wal-Mart didn’t fare so well as far as Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio is concerned. The Oracle of Omaha cut Berkshire Hathaway’s stake in the world’s largest retailer by 27%, keeping it at just over 40.2 million shares. But Warren Buffet has had Wal-Mart in its portfolio a decade now and while his stake might be reduced, it’s probably still not going anywhere. For now. Curious what else Berkshire Hathaway has sitting in its very lucrative portfolio? Coca Cola, American Express, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Heinz, Wells Fargo…to name but a few.

Who you calling off-price?

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Macy’s and friends might be bemoaning the state of the retail landscape. But they won’t get much sympathy from discount retailers T.J. Maxx. Its parent company TJX Cos came out with its second quarter sales results that had the retailer beating predictions.  But all was not perfect from the company that also owns Marshall’s and HomeGoods. It put out a bit of a bleaker picture for its third quarter that caused shares to fall today, despite its stellar performance.  In all fairness, that depressing and most unimpressive outlook is primarily because TJX Cos is waging war against a strong dollar. Besides, the company is giving out wage increases, so its hard to be mad at a company whose fiscal prowess is taking a hit for a very noble cause. There is even a silver lining – the company is turning out to be a big draw, luring shoppers away from malls with its deeply discounted merchandise on major name brands. Profit for TJX Cos was $562.2 million with 84 cents added to shares, while analysts only predicted 80 cents per share.  A year ago at this time, the company picked up $549.3 million with 80 cents added to shares. The stock is up 17% since January.

 

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Can You Afford Not to Care? Gettin Riggy With It and McCoffee=McFree

Do you even (Obama) care?

Image courtesy of koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you haven’t heard, though judging by the media bombardment I don’t know how that would even be possible, today is the very last day to sign up for open enrollment of Obamacare…whoops! I meant affordable health care on Healthcare.gov. It should be duly noted, however, that after passing the Affordable Care Act, I have yet to speak to anyone who finds their health care remotely affordable. If you’re just now getting around to it then good luck. You’re going to need it. Earlier today the site was down for almost four hours. Fraught with a variety of glitches, Healthcare.gov enrollees encountered a “virtual waiting room” while others were told to leave their email addresses and would get “invited back” to enroll. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Then there were lots more who couldn’t even log on to the site. Oh so many many jokes and so very little time. I would love to hear some of yours. If you think the tax penalty is way more affordable than the alleged affordable care – $95 per adult and $47.50 per child –  just know that the penalty could also be 1% of your applicable income which can translate to a very unaffordable number for you.

The Stock Market’s what?!

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Stock market’s rigged,” says author Michael Lewis, whose explosive new book “Flash Boys” accuses a group of Wall Street insiders of rigging the stock market. “Flash Boys” tells the story of how high-frequency traders make billions via computerized trading. But how is this trading different from all other trading? For instance, these flash traders, are able to manipulate the market by figuring out what you’re going to buy, drive the price up and then sell it to you. Kind of like fortune telling except the fortunes are real (and so is the telling, for that matter) and you’re not the one making the fortune. All this takes place in seconds – actually less. But is it legal? Yes, but only because it’s so complicated. If it weren’t so complicated, it probably wouldn’t be allowed. Go that? Neither did I.

Bring on the McBattle…

Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It matters not how you feel about McDonald’s but rather how you feel about coffee since they are giving it away in April. It’s part of the first-ever National Free Coffee Event. It’s also probably part of the National Fast-Food Breakfast Wars (I made that one up) as McDonald’s and Taco Bell battle it out to feed you in the mornings. Taco Bell has a new breakfast menu that they’ve been heavily promoting and McD’s is a bit worried about it (not that they’ll ever admit that). So to take a big bite out of that south of the border momentum, McD’s is hoping to lure you with free coffee and then reel you in for breakfast. But you better hurry for your McD’s buzz as the promotion ends April 31.