U.S. stocks little changed as HP’s plunge tempers housing report

CEO Transition

Intel lost 2.7 percent to $19.70. The shares were downgraded to neutral from buy at UBS, which cited uncertainty around CEO transitions.

Paul Otellini will retire in May, in a surprise move three years before mandatory retirement, after failing to equip the company for a shift toward mobile devices and away from the personal computers it long dominated.

Best Buy sank 14 percent to $11.87. Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly, who took over in September, is increasing employee training to improve customer service and plans to work with vendors on exclusive products as Best Buy customers defect to Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Same-store sales fell 4.3 percent in the third quarter, more than the 3.3 percent drop estimated by analysts in a Retail Metrics survey. Sales by that measure have slid in nine of the past 10 quarters.

Boosting Stake

Chesapeake Energy Corp. rallied 1.1 percent to $17.66. Shareholder Carl Icahn increased his stake in the company to 8.98 percent from 7.54 percent, buying the additional shares between Nov. 12 and Nov. 19, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission today.

Lower earnings estimates are dragging down stocks from this year’s highs and their full effect has yet to be felt, according to Hasan S. Tevfik, a global equity strategist at Citigroup Inc. He compares the performance of an earnings-revision index, or ERI, compiled weekly by Citigroup with MSCI Inc.’s All-Country World Index since the beginning of last year.

Since the first week of May, the revision index has been less than zero, which means there were more estimate cuts than increases among analysts. The MSCI gauge of stocks in developed and emerging markets rose to its peak for the year in September and then lost as much as 6.7 percent.

“ERI remains an anchor for global equity markets,” Tevfik wrote. A similar disparity between estimate changes and share prices in 2011 was resolved when stocks declined in July and August of that year, the London-based strategist added.

Earnings projections for next year are poised to decline further, he wrote, citing the gap between analysts’ estimates for companies and strategists’ projections for stock indexes. Citigroup strategists are collectively calling for profit growth of 7 percent, trailing a 12 percent increase implied by company- specific estimates, Tevfik wrote. The lower figure may be too high, he added, as economic growth slows worldwide.

Bloomberg News

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