NEWEST ECO INDICATOR: CORPORATIONS ARE BUYING iPADS / iPAD NYT REVIEW

[PHOTO - APPLE CEO STEVE JOBS & THE iPAD]

NEW YORK, JANUARY 25, 2011 (STAR) AP - The news last week that Apple's Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence was a big story. But something else about the company got far less attention and could be even more important to investors this year.

Corporations "are adding iPads to their approved device list at an amazing rate," Peter Oppenheimer, Apple Inc.'s chief financial officer, told analysts Tuesday. Apple's products, more known for their consumer appeal, are now used in by employees of Wells Fargo, Archer Daniels Midland, DuPont and others.

Splurging on $500 iPads is a sign that the business cycle is starting to turn and that companies are starting to spend a record amount of cash they've accumulated. If the trend is real, companies will do what consumers haven't -- spark a strong economic recovery. That could push the Standard & Poor's 500 index to its third straight year of double-digit percentage gains. The last time that happened: the tech-boom days of the late 1990s.

""You're going to see a bigger commitment to growth this year because companies have underspent for quite some time," says Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management.

Financial, technology and energy companies are the most likely to benefit from business spending, says David Bianco, a market strategist at Bank of America. Each group is up about 3 percent this year, nearly one percentage point ahead of the overall S&P 500. Those three groups account for nearly half of index's value.

The continued success of financial, energy and technology stocks would point to a new stage of this bull market, which has returned nearly 100 percent since it began in March 2009. Consumer discretionary stocks, the group of hotels, retail stores and automakers that depend on consumer spending, outperformed the last two years after being left for dead during the 2008 financial crisis. Those companies are now lagging the market, suggesting that the bounce back from the lows of the recession is over.

"Consumers don't have the income growth to sustain a more rapid pace of spending," says Jeffrey Kleintop, a market strategist at LPL Financial. Instead, he says, businesses spending will eventually lead to a pickup in the jobs market.

Corporate spending on technology helped IBM Corp. beat analyst expectations last week. On Tuesday, IBM said that its 7 percent jump in revenue came in part from companies in the US upgrading their computer systems. Its stock jumped almost 4 percent last week.

Energy companies, meanwhile, are leading the market this year with a 3.4 percent jump because of higher demand, a sign of an improving economy. Oil company Schlumberger said Friday profit in the most recent quarter rose 31 percent. And financial companies are benefiting from loans to businesses, a signal that those companies plan to expand. JPMorgan said on its earnings call last week that it added 400 middle-market companies as new commercial loan customers. Bank of America said Friday that demand for business loans stabilized last quarter, while US Bancorp said Wednesday that all of its commercial loans divisions were improving, with the exception of real estate.

Financial companies have the added benefit of being cheap. The price-to-earnings ratio of the financial companies in the S&P 500 index averages 11.6, about half of its historical average. Financial companies are cheaper than any other group except for health care, which costs 11.2 times earnings. Even utilities companies, whose slow growth rates typically make them the lowest priced group in the market, are trading at 13.6 times earnings.

Is it too early to make a prediction that the biggest sectors of the market will continue to do well? After all, investor sentiment is at a level not seen since the market hit its all-time in 2007. That makes some contrarian investors nervous.

The market should continue to rise if history repeats itself. Since 1970, the top performing industry groups in January have gone on to outperform the rest of the S&P index over the rest of the year nearly 75 percent of the time.

NON-TECHNICAL REVIEW OF iPAD FROM NYT POSTED APRIL 2010

David Pogue at NY Times has a non technical review of the Ipad

The Apple iPad is basically a gigantic iPod Touch.

The simple act of making the multitouch screen bigger changes the whole experience. Maps become real maps, like the paper ones. Scrabble shows the whole board, without your having to zoom in and out. You see your e-mail inbox and the open message simultaneously. Driving simulators fill more of your field of view, closer to a windshield than a keyhole.

The new iBooks e-reader app is filled with endearing grace notes. For example, when you turn a page, the animated page edge actually follows your finger’s position and speed as it curls, just like a paper page. Font, size and brightness controls appear when you tap. Tap a word to get a dictionary definition, bookmark your spot or look it up on Google or Wikipedia. There’s even a rotation-lock switch on the edge of the iPad so you can read in bed on your side without fear that the image will rotate.

If you have the cellular model, you can buy AT&T service so you can get online anywhere. (Cellular iPads aren’t available until next month; I tested a Wi-Fi-only model.)

But how’s this for a rare deal from a cell company: there’s no contract. By tapping a button in Settings, you can order up a month of unlimited cellular Internet service for $30. Or pay $15 for 250 megabytes of Internet data; when it runs out, you can either buy another 250 megs, or just upgrade to the unlimited plan for the month. Either way, you can cancel and rejoin as often as you want — just March, July and November, for example — without penalty. The other carriers are probably cursing AT&T’s name for setting this precedent.

THE iPAD SPECIFICATIONS IN FULL:

Technical Specifications Size and weight1

Height: 9.56 inches (242.8 mm)

Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)

Depth: 0.5 inch (13.4 mm)

Weight: 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg)

Wi-Fi model; 1.6 pounds (0.73 kg)

Wi-Fi + 3G model

 

 

Display

* 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
* 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
* Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
* Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously

Wireless and cellular Wi-Fi model

* Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
* Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

Wi-Fi + 3G model

* UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
* GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
* Data only2
* Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
* Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

Learn more about iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G Location

* Wi-Fi
* Digital compass
* Assisted GPS (Wi-Fi + 3G model)
* Cellular (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

In the box

* iPad
* Dock Connector to USB Cable
* 10W USB Power Adapter
* Documentation

Environmental Status Report

iPad embodies Apple’s continuing environmental progress. It is designed with the following features to reduce environmental impact:

* Arsenic-free display glass
* BFR-free
* Mercury-free LCD display
* PVC-free
* Recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure

Capacity3

* 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive

Processor

* 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip

Sensors

* Accelerometer
* Ambient light sensor

Audio playback

* Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
* Audio formats supported: HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
* User-configurable maximum volume limit

TV and video

* Support for 1024 by 768 pixels with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Component AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Composite AV Cable
* H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

Mail attachment support

* Viewable document types: .jpg, .tiff, .gif (images); .doc and .docx (Microsoft Word); .htm and .html (web pages); .key (Keynote); .numbers (Numbers); .pages (Pages); .pdf (Preview and Adobe Acrobat); .ppt and .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint); .txt (text); .rtf (rich text format); .vcf (contact information); .xls and .xlsx (Microsoft Excel)

Languages

* Language support for English (U.S.), English (UK), French (France), German, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Arabic, Thai, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Malay, Romanian, Slovak, Croatian, Catalan, and Vietnamese
* Keyboard support for English (U.S.), English (UK), French (France), French (Canadian), French (Switzerland), German, Traditional Chinese (Handwriting, Pinyin, Zhuyin, Cangjie, Wubihua), Simplified Chinese (Handwriting, Pinyin, Wubihua), Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese (Romaji, Fifty Key), Japanese (Kana), Russian, Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Estonian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Latvian, Flemish, Arabic, Thai, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Malay, Romanian, Slovak, Croatian, Bulgarian, Serbian (Cyrillic/Latin), Catalan, Vietnamese, Tibetan, Macedonian, and Cherokee
* Dictionary support (enables predictive text and autocorrect) for English (U.S.), English (UK), French, German, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese (Romaji), Japanese (Kana), Russian, Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Flemish, Arabic, Thai, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Malaysian, Romanian, Slovak, Croatian, Catalan, Vietnamese, and Cherokee

Accessibility

* Support for playback of closed-captioned content
* VoiceOver screen reader
* Full-screen zoom magnification
* White on black display
* Mono audio

Battery and power4

* Built-in 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
* Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
* Up to 9 hours of surfing the web using 3G data network
* Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

Input and output

* Dock connector port
* 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
* Built-in speaker
* Microphone
* Micro-SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model only)

External buttons and controls

* On/Off, Sleep/wake
* Screen rotation lock
* Volume up/down * Home

Mac system requirements

* Mac computer with USB 2.0 port
* Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later
* iTunes 10.1 or later (free download from www.itunes.com/download)
* iTunes Store account * Internet access

Windows system requirements

* PC with USB 2.0 port
* Windows 7; Windows Vista; or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later
* iTunes 10.1 or later (free download from www.itunes.com/download)
* iTunes Store account * Internet access

Environmental requirements

* Operating temperature: 32° to 95° F (0° to 35° C)
* Nonoperating temperature: -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C)
* Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
* Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m)


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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