There is, of course, an irony in Bank of America calling anyone else an “underperformer.” But in the Wall Street Journal, David Benoit writes: “Takeover rumors typically work as a stock booster but the real-life talk of a buyout is no longer providing any lift to the electronics maker, says Bank of America. BofA had previously removed its rating from retailer’s shares because they ceased to trade on fundamentals amid all the buyout talk. But now the shares are once again trading on fundamentals, no longer accounting for the possibility of Best Buy’s founder and former chairman Dick Schulze completing a buyout, so BofA has put a new rating on the stock: underperform. The BofA-Merrill analysts do not expect an offer to materialize from Schulze. And even if one does, the analysts don’t expect it to match the $24 to $26 a share he was considering months ago. For that reason, the analysts expect the board to reject the offer.”
So, keep that in mind when you read … Chris Burritt at Bloomberg saying: “Best Buy Co. (BBY), the world’s largest electronics retailer, rose the most in four months after the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported founder Richard Schulze will offer to take the company private by Dec. 15. The shares climbed 19 percent to $14.44 at 10:31 a.m. in New York after earlier rising as high as $14.45 for the biggest intraday gain since Aug. 6. Richfield, Minnesota-based Best Buy fell 48 percent this year through yesterday. Schulze will submit an offer to the board before the Dec. 16 deadline, the newspaper reported, citing a person it didn’t name. The bid will be about $5 billion to $6 billion, the Star- Tribune said.”
Here is Stribber Thomas Lee’s story.
Prepare to dig deeper for juice. Dave Shaffer of the Strib says: “Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota will pay higher electric charges next month. The state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved a $250 million, or 9 percent, interim rate hike starting Jan. 1. For a typical residential customer, the increase will be about $9 per month. That rate will stay in effect while regulators review Xcel’s request for an even larger rate increase — $285 million, or 10.7 percent, in 2013. That process could take much of next year.” Better factor that into the Tesla you were going to buy the missis for Christmas.
U of M football fans did their share for the school’s bottom line. The AP says: “Beer and wine sales topped $907,000 in their first season at the on-campus University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, with beer sales trouncing earlier projections, yet university officials say the trouble some feared never materialized. … Campus Police Lt. Erik Swanson said the stadium saw less trouble this season than in any of its previous three seasons. There were 56 incidents requiring enforcement action this year, down 10 from a year ago and down nearly 50 from 2010. One potential reason, Swanson said, is that previous years, fans knew they couldn’t drink inside the stadium, so some arrived already drunk. This year, knowing they could get alcohol inside, fans arrived in a better state, he said.”
Foreclosure activity in Minnesota continues to decline, says Jim Buchta of the Strib, based on the most recent numbers: “Foreclosure activity in Minnesota and most states across the U.S. fell slightly last month, a sign that improvements in the economy and a stabilizing housing market are starting to ease stresses on homeowners. Across the country, foreclosure filings, including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, fell three percent from October and 19 percent from last year. That was the 26th consecutive month of annual declines. At the same [time], bank reposessions increased in Minnesota and across the country as lenders worked through their back-log of properties that have already been through the process.”
What kind of a Grinch rips “The Hobbit”? The Strib’s Colin Covert, that’s who. Says Covert of the opening volley in the next trilogy: “[Y]ou endure this monstrously overproduced misfire with the numb apathy of a prisoner slowly throwing a ball against a cell wall. It’s a husk with the superficial features of a “Rings” movie but none of the energy and heart and wit — an unexpected journey, indeed. … The finale’s arrival is welcome both for the relief it grants and a line of dialogue that shall forever be enshrined in the Unintentional Irony Hall of Fame. Their trials done for the moment, Bilbo chirps, ‘I do believe the worst is behind us.’ Here’s hoping.” Critics! Although, I believe somewhere on a screen not so far, far away, the “The Return of the King” is still struggling toward its ending.
Didn’t Newt Gingrich and Our Favorite Congresswoman both campaign on the promise of $1.90 gas? Well … they’ve still got a buck to go. John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune says: “Gas prices were reported as low as $2.94 per gallon of unleaded regular at several stations across central Minnesota this morning, according to minnesotagasprices.com. The statewide average today was $3.12 per gallon, down from $3.23 just last week, $3.24 a month ago and one year ago. Drivers are seeing significant relief since late summer, when gas prices were as high as $3.97 across the Northland. And there doesn’t seem to be any reason gas prices should go up much in the near future, Gail Weinholzer, director of public affairs for AAA Minnesota-Iowa, told the News Tribune.” Does Ford still sell the Excursion?
Today … We’re No. 1! Bob Shaw of the PiPress writes: “A greater percentage of residents volunteered in Minneapolis-St. Paul in 2011 than anywhere else in the country, according to a recent survey. The findings came in a report called “Volunteering and Civic Life in America,” by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The report said 37 percent of Twin Cities residents volunteered at least some time to a nonprofit organization. Other high-ranking cities were Rochester, N.Y., 35 percent; Seattle, 33 percent; Salt Lake City, 33 percent; and Jacksonville, Fla., 32 percent.” Dead last at #50 and #51? New York and Louisiana.
The desire “to get a better view” has led to many a mishap. Today a Pipestone, Minn., man … fell into a smokestack in Chicago. CBS News says: “[T]he 23-year-old from Pipestone, Minn., was visiting the city with his girlfriend when he climbed up the smokestack on the Hotel InterContinental to get a better view. He apparently slipped and fell into the smokestack, falling about 22 feet before striking an angle in the structure about 24 stories above Michigan Avenue. Authorities said he called his girlfriend from inside the smokestack once he fell and was communicating with her at the beginning of the rescue. Firefighters responded at about 1:00 in the morning, but lost communication at around 4:15 a.m. and pulled him out about 45 minutes later. ‘It took four hours and the coordination of more than 100 firefighters and paramedics to reach him,’ said Michael Fox, the Chicago Fire Department’s chief of special operations. … After cutting a hole into the smokestack below the man, fire crew inserted wood beam to prevent him from falling. ‘We had to cut a hole in the duct work and then slide him down the duct work’, Fox said. ‘It turned very precarious, because two feet after where we made the hole was a drop that would have went 42 floors into the basement.’ “