Thursday, January 10, 2008

Time to buy ... Ball jars



Guambat's relatives, he recalls from his distant youth, were rich. You wouldn't have got that impression from their digs, but from their cellars and pantries. One of the great joys of visiting the oldies on the farms and in their small towns was to go down to the storm cellar or the basement or into the pantry and drool over the shelves loaded down with Ball jar after Mason jar (and many jelly and jam jars, too) of "preserves".


Back then, when the times and seasons were replete, they'd "put away" or "can" tomatoes, relishes and chow-chow, jams of just about any fruit you could imagine, peaches, rhubarb, apricots, pears, apples, cherries, plums, strawberries and all sorts of other berries, figs, pickles, beets, marmalades, peas, beans and all the wonderful treats that filled their abundant tables during thick times and, if they were careful and lucky with the weather, thin.

And down or out in those cool places where all those preserves weighed dusty on the shelves, the wealth, to Guambat's young eyes, abounded.

Guambat was reminded of those days of yore by this article's title:

MBIA slashes dividend to preserve capital

MBIA Corp. is cutting its quarterly dividend by 62% as part of a plan to preserve capital and maintain it's all-important AAA credit rating, the bond insurer said Wednesday.

"We are committed to the successful implementation of this comprehensive plan to significantly strengthen our capital position and secure our Triple-A ratings without qualification," said Gary Dunston, the company's chief executive, in a press release.


MBIA isn't the only company to suddenly be taking an interest in putting a way a few preserves.
Citigroup analyst Prashant Bhatia reiterated his "sell" rating on [E*Trade]. and said he expects the company to reduce headcount in the first quarter to preserve capital.

"The banks have to preserve capital and the first step is to cut the dividend," Miller [analyst Paul Miller of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group Inc.] said.

National City Corp. fell to its lowest price in 12 years after Ohio's largest bank said it will eliminate 900 jobs and halve the quarterly dividend, the first reduction since the payout began in 1935.

The yield for Washington Mutual Inc., the biggest U.S. savings and loan, also exceeded 10 percent before the Seattle- based company reduced its payout last month by 73 percent.

Among banks listed in the Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index, Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp., the largest bank based in Tennessee, still yields more than 10 percent. First Horizon will probably be next to cut its payout....

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