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Business Briefs

For Monday, September 16, 2013

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:


NYSE pioneer leaves $100K for her dogs

NEW YORK » The will of the first woman to become a member of the New York Stock Exchange has left $100,000 for the care of her dogs.

Documents made public Friday in Manhattan Surrogate Court show Muriel "Mickie" Sie­bert also requested that her pets not be left alone for long periods during the day.

Siebert died last month at age 84. She was founder and president of a brokerage firm that bears her name.

Most of her nearly $50 million estate she left to the Muriel F. Sie­bert Foundation, which promotes finance education. She left $1.5 million in a trust for her sister; money and jewelry to friends; and airline miles to the executors of her estate.

Hotel magnate Leona Helmsley left $12 million to her dog Trouble after her 2007 death.

Regulators close Texas, Connecticut banks

WASHINGTON » Regulators have closed banks in Texas and Connecticut, bringing the number of U.S. bank failures to 22 this year.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday it has taken over First National Bank, based in Edin­burg, Texas, and The Community's Bank, based in Bridgeport, Conn.

The failure of the two lenders is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $645.3 million combined.

U.S. bank failures have been declining since they peaked at 157 in 2010 in the wake of the financial crisis and the Great Recession.

Hispanic-owned firms may double to 3.2M

NEW YORK » The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. is expected to nearly double this year from 2002. That's the finding of a study released Friday by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Geo­scape, a company that provides demo­graphic data.

The study, which analyzes U.S. census data and other information, pro­jects there will be nearly 3.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the country in 2013, up from nearly 1.7 million in 2002.

The study also forecasts that the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in what it calls the South Atlantic region — Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, the Caro­linas, Georgia and Florida — will surpass the number in the Pacific region, which includes the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii.

The study pro­jects that there will be more than 866,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in the South Atlantic this year, compared with nearly 796,000 in the Pacific.

The surge in Hispanic-owned businesses reflects the rapid growth of the Hispanic population. The number of Hispanics counted in the U.S. census in 2012 was 53 million, up 2.2 percent from the previous year.

MAKING CENTS

Funds boost cash assets by selling pricey stocks

 

NEW YORK » Sell high.

That's what managers of some mutual funds say they're doing after watching stock prices soar. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has surged nearly 50 percent in the last two years and nearly 150 percent since the market's bottom in March 2009.

That's led managers, particularly those who look for stocks that are cheap relative to their earnings, to sell some of their stocks and wait for prices to fall before buying again. If they're right, they'll have protected their investors and have more cash with which to buy stocks on sale. If they're wrong and stocks keep rising, their investors will miss out on the gains.

"We've made some money, and we're taking some chips off the table," says Sandy Villere. For the last five years, his Villere Balanced fund (VILLX) has returned an average of 14 percent annually and ranks in the top 1 percent of its category, according to Morningstar.

"What do they say? Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered," Villere says.

The fund has been selling stocks since May and leaving the proceeds parked in cash. That means cash now makes up 12 percent of its $849.5 million in assets. Historically, cash has been below 5 percent of the total.

Other managers have joined Villere, albeit not to the same degree. Fund managers have an average of 4.5 percent of their portfolios in cash, up from 3.8 percent in January, according to the most recent survey data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In July cash was at 4.6 percent, a one-year high.

Holding cash isn't necessarily a red flag, says Todd Rosenbluth, director of mutual fund and ETF research for S&P Capital IQ. Mutual funds always have some on hand, ready to return to investors who may be selling their shares.

Rosenbluth says he considers a fund fully invested as long as it has up to 5 percent of its assets in cash. Once it gets over 10 percent, he says investors should ask why and check to see if it has had a good history doing so.

Many managers say they're raising cash in anticipation of a temporary, modest pullback. They're not looking for a market crash, like the 38 percent decline of the S&P 500 in 2008 amid the financial crisis.

Some investors say the S&P 500 is due for a drop of at least 10 percent, which is called a correction in trader-ese. The index hasn't experienced one since 2011, though it had a 6 percent drop between May 21 and June 24.

Economists also expect the Federal Reserve to soon announce a paring back of its bond-buying stimulus program for the economy, perhaps as early as its next policy meeting, which ends Sept. 18. The Fed's efforts have helped to keep long-term interest rates low.

Total recall

More than 2 million dehumidifiers are being recalled after dozens of reports of fires and more than $2 million in property damage.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the dehumidifiers can overheat, smoke and catch fire. They were manufactured by Gree Electric Appliances and carried the brand names of Danby, De'Longhi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima.

The dehumidifiers have been linked to 46 fires and $2.15 million in property damage. No injuries have been reported.

They were sold nationwide at major retailers including Home Depot, Kmart and Lowe's between January 2005 and August of this year.

Consumers should immediately turn off and unplug the dehumidifiers and contact Gree at 866-853-2802 for a refund.






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