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Ticker Talk

March 03, 2000|Bloomberg News; Times Staff

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) climbed $1.56 to $50.56 on the New York Stock Exchange after the world's largest retailer reported strong February sales, raised its quarterly dividend and got an analyst upgrade. The dividend, payable April 10 to holders of record March 17, was upped to 6 cents a share from 5 cents. The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain's stock was raised to "strong buy" from "outperform" by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Meanwhile, an analyst at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown recommended several other retail stocks in new coverage: Williams-Sonoma Inc. (WSM; $31.44, down $1.06) was called "buy," with a $37 target; Linens 'N Things Inc. (LIN; $21, up $2.13) was rated "strong buy," with a $30 target; Cost Plus Inc. (CPWM; $22.22, up $3.50) was called "strong buy," with a $28 target; and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY; $27.25, up 50 cents) was rated "strong buy," with a $38 target. . . . Vanguard Group, known for its low-cost index mutual funds, plans to open two actively managed stock portfolios--including a growth fund that may give Vanguard shareholders more exposure to technology stocks than they've been accustomed to. Vanguard said it filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the Vanguard Growth Equity Fund. Simultaneously, Turner Investment Partners filed a proxy statement with the SEC to propose reorganizing the $270-million Turner Growth Equity Fund into the new Vanguard offering. Turner Growth Equity gained 53.6% in 1999 thanks to a more than 50% weighting in tech stocks. Vanguard also plans to launch Vanguard U.S. Value Fund.

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