Will Tobacco Stocks Keep Smoking if Calif. Passes $1-a-Pack Tax? - and Other News Told in Charts

On Tuesday Californians will vote on whether to raise the cigarette tax from a measly 87 cents to $1.87. The increased tax would fund cancer research and potentially get some nicotine addicts to kick the habit. Unsurprisingly, tobacco companies have spent millions fighting the proposition, with Altria's (MO) Philip Morris USA and Reynolds American (RAI) leading the charge, says the New York Times. They'd like the 12% of Californians who smoke to keep at it, for investors' sakes.

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Shocker! Jamie Dimon Ignored Pesky Shareholder Advocates

One year ago, some shareholder advocates at CtW Investment Group warned that JPMorgan’s (JPM) risk controls were weak. Jamie Dimon, who runs JPMorgan, said something like naaaaah, we’re all good, reports the New York Times (note: that’s not an exact quote, read the story). Last month, of course, the bank disclosed a $2 billion-plus trading loss that has regulators and investors looking at its risk controls.

JPM Chart

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Yum Brands Pushes Chicken, Not Cows, In India

The country of India has some of the most varied and complex cuisine on the planet, but its residents have probably been craving a big bucket of fried chicken legs. That’s what Yum Brands (YUM) is counting on as it pushes its brand in India as part of an ongoing corporate war with McDonalds (MCD), the FT reports. McDonald’s mountains of beef aren’t a hit with the millions of vegetarians there. Yum thinks they’ll be more partial to a meal at Pizza Hut or Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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Shakeup At Chesapeake

Chesapeake Energy (CHK), the second-largest natural gas producer, is a few billion dollars short on cash – but has itself to blame, says the WSJ. While Chesapeake says it was hurt by a warm winter, the real culprit may be the big bet it made last fall to sell its hedges and leave itself exposed to the falling market. And in related news, Reuters reports the company agreed this morning to replace four directors, under shareholder pressure. The news just keeps getting worse for Chief Aubrey McClendon, who was this spring's poster boy for lax corporate governance.

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