The broad indexes ended with slight gains, as shares of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ - Get Report) rose 3% to close at $14.16, amid rumors that activist investor Carl Icahn was building a position in the company's shares.
HP on Nov. 20 shocked investors by announcing a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss of $6.9 billion, or $3.49 a share which included an $8.8 billion write-down of goodwill, related to its purchase of Autonomy in August 2011 for $11 billion. The Autonomy purchase was the centerpiece of former H-P CEO Leo Apotheker's decision to transform the company from being primarily a hardware maker to becoming a software and consulting firm, the way International Business Machines (IBM) did.
While there's no telling what sort of strategy Icahn might demand of Hewlett-Packard, Richard St. recently wrote that the IBM model might not be such a bad idea.Investors on Monday, were, of course, continuing to wait for President Obama and the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives to move forward with a budget deal to avert the Fiscal Cliff. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) had nothing to say about his meeting with President Obama, while the President in Detroit that he would not compromise on his insistence for a tax rate increase for couples earning more than $250,000 a year.
Sandy, a Sale and Another Sale
American International Group late on Friday announced that its "preliminary estimate" of losses from Hurricane Sandy would be $2.0 billion, net of reinsurance, or $1.3 billion after taxes. The company also said it expected to contribute $1 billion in capital to its AIG Property Casualty unit, after the unit had paid $2.4 billion in dividends to the holding company through the first three quarters of 2012. AIG also said on Friday that the P&C unit had $49.6 billion in capital and that the parent company had total equity of $102.4 billion. AIG on Monday announced a deal to sell "up to a 90% stake in International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), a non-core asset," to a group of investors led by Weng Xianding, the chairman of New China Trust Co. Ltd. for roughly $4.75 billion.