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While the retailer may have saved itself and its workers' jobs, it's now just one more hurdle in the race to get a lower P/E.

By Jim Cramer Fri 12:35 PM

Customers walk into a JCPenney store in Daly City, Calif. © Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesWhat really happened at J.C. Penney (JCP)? It went back to being a company that will stay in business for some time and do OK. In retail that, frankly, is monumental.


I have never seen a retailer come back from down 30 percent comps. It is a testament to two things: one, how unbelievably horrible previous management was, and two, the board caught it soon enough that it was able to save the day.


Now, here's the issue facing Penney and all retailers, for that matter: relevance, as in, raison d'etre relevance.


TheStreet.com logoIf you step back and look at the landscape, you have to ask yourself, other than for the 110,000 people who work at Penney, why do we need it? In fact, the chief reason we, in this country, need Penney is kind of like why we need a government works program. We want people put in productive roles so they can lead good lives and put dinner on the table.

 

Alibaba Pictures Group, which is 60 percent owned by the company, announces a delay in its first-half earnings report.

By TheStreet.com Staff Fri 11:35 AM

An employee walks past a logo of Alibaba at its headquarters in China © Carlos Barria/Newscom/ReutersBy Chris Ciaccia, TheStreet


The revelation that a company Alibaba has purchased a stake in now has accounting irregularities isn't likely to delay its initial public offering, slated to happen later this year, according to investors.TheStreet.com logo


"I think this is a 36-hour story," Ironfire Capital co-founder Eric Jackson said in an email. "By the time the roadshow starts, it will be forgotten." 


Jackson, a long-time Yahoo shareholder, has recently pushed for Yahoo to be acquired by Alibaba or Japanese conglomerate Softbank.


A division of Alibaba Group, Alibaba Pictures Group said it would delay its first-half earnings report after the company found accounting irregularities. The irregularities occurred prior to the 60 percent stake Alibaba took in the company, previously named ChinaVision Media Group. Alibaba spent $805 million for the stake earlier this year, amid several other acquisitions.

 

Mohamed El-Erian says equities are reflecting sentiment on easy monetary policies as investors bet on the Fed.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 4:36 PM
Credit: © Kathy Willens/AP Photo
Caption: PIMCO Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chief Investment Officer Mohamed El-Erian speaks during a session at the Buttonwood Gathering on Fixing Finance in New York.By Bruno J. Navarro, CNBC

On pace for their largest weekly gains in six weeks, stocks are reflecting sentiment on easy monetary policies, Mohamed El-Erian, Allianz's chief economic advisor, said Thursday.


"It's impressive. And it's a bet on the Fed, and it's a bet on central banks in the rest of the world," he said.


On CNBC's "Halftime Report," El-Erian (pictured) said that this week's data have been "shockingly poor, both out of the U.S. and out of Europe."


That suggests that central banks will be dovish for longer, he added. "What does that mean? The market needs to continue to bet on the fact that the central banks have been the market's best friend."


El-Erian had two qualifications for what happens next in equity markets.

 

Problems? Investors will just worry about them tomorrow.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 4:21 PM
Credit: © REX/SNAP
Caption: Vivien Leigh as ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ from ‘Gone With The Wind’By Drew Sandholm, CNBC

"I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."


So said Scarlett O'Hara, the protagonist in "Gone with the Wind," the Pulitzer-winning book written by Margaret Mitchell in 1936, which was later into the award-winning film starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in 1939.


Indeed, there has been no shortage of things for Wall Street to worry about lately. Consider news of flat gross domestic product growth across the euro zone to mounting geopolitical tensions, for example.


Yet investors seemingly brushed off these concerns and stocks traded higher on Thursday.

 

Luxury Asian and Middle Eastern carriers offer passengers classy travel, but they fall far short when it comes to the bottom line.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 3:50 PM
Caption: A American Airlines plane is parked at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
Credit: © Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News/CorbisBy Justin Bachman, Businessweek

Compared with those ultralux Asian and Middle Eastern airlines, it's easy to disparage the service levels of the average trip aboard an American (AAL), Delta (DAL), or United (UAL) plane. 


Overhead TVs in the aisle, circa 1980? Yep, the U.S. airline giants still have 'em. 


Free meals on a six-hour, cross-country flight or a 10-hour haul to Hawaii? Those aren't in the budget.


Yet when it comes to airline profits, no one does it like the U.S. carriers. 

 
Tags: AALDALUAL

The company gave a solid quarterly report Wednesday, but there were signs of turbulence beyond the headline numbers.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 2:29 PM
Credit: © Kris Tripplaar/Rex Features

Caption: The headquarters of Cisco Systems, Inc., in Silicon Valley, San Jose, Calif.
By Jon Fortt, CNBC

Cisco Systems (CSCO) turned in a solid report: beats on revenue ($12.4 billion versus $12.14 billion expected) and earnings (55 cents versus 53 cents). 

Revenue guidance was solid, though EPS was a little light. Gross margins held up.


So why the angst?


Beyond the headline numbers Wednesday, there was plenty of signs of turbulence. Cisco's sales in emerging markets were down, and CEO John Chambers said they won't return to growth for several quarters. And there are the layoffs: 6,000 more coming soon, wiping out 8 percent of Cisco's already reduced workforce.

 

Their record suggests that they are really good at 2 things: Buying high and selling low.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 1:58 PM
Credit: © Troels Graugaard/Getty Images

Caption: Senior couple having a discussion regarding investmentsBy William Watts, MarketWatch

When chaos strikes, the average investor heads for the hills and ends up paying the price in long-term underperformance, says one of Wall Street's most prominent bulls.


As the chart below from Richard Bernstein Advisors shows, mom and pop stink it up on a pretty steady basis and have lagged gains in every asset class, with the exceptions of Asian emerging markets and Japanese equities, over the last 20 years. 


The average investor has even managed to underperform cash -- represented in the chart by 3-month T-bills.


"They could have improved performance by simply buying and holding any asset class other than Asian emerging market or Japanese equities," wrote Bernstein, the former Merrill Lynch strategist who now heads his own eponymously named shop. (Read the note here.)

 
Tags: CS

CNBC host Jim Cramer says there are clear tells that investors think the economy is going downhill.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 1:31 PM
Caption: A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Credit: © Justin Lane /epa/CorbisBy Lee Brodie, CNBC

Pros such as Jim Cramer often look to the market for insights on broad sentiment. And certain things happened on Wednesday that suggest trouble is lurking.


The view may not be consistent with Cramer's personal outlook. "This isn't what I think should be happening," Cramer said. "My world view is somewhat at odds (with developments)." 


Nonetheless, Cramer doesn't think any investor can make money in the market without first understanding what he calls the "new view."


And according to the "new view," the Street thinks the economy is going downhill. 


Here are Cramer's market "tells":

 

Chains such as Family Dollar have gotten smarter about how to appeal to American consumers, experts say.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 12:38 PM
Credit: © Mike Nelson/EPA
Caption: Shoppers outside a Walmart store in the Los Angeles San Fernando ValleyBy Maggie McGrath, Forbes

In the face of yet another quarter of sluggish profit and sales, superstore Wal-Mart (WMT) announced Thursday morning that its full-year profit will be lower than what it had previously forecast. 


And while the company is pointing to costs like investments in e-commerce and higher health care expenses in the U.S. as reason for the lowered guidance, some Wall Street analysts are pointing to the strength in dollar store chains like Family Dollar (FDO), Dollar Tree (DLTR) and Dollar General (DG) as reason for some of Wal-Mart's sales struggles.

 

Occasionally you can catch bottoms when things are bad, but that doesn't happen until all hope has faded.

By Jim Cramer Thu 12:26 PM

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York © Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesSometimes sentiment isn't enough to make a turn. Sometimes just betting that everyone else is negative isn't enough. Something positive has to happen, too.


We saw this come into play twice Wednesday, first with King Digital (KING) and then with Deere (DE). Going into King Digital, I was struck by what seemed to be a uniformity of thought that the sentiment toward King was too negative so the company's stock might bounce no matter what. But then it reported, and the numbers for the maker of Candy Crush were awful and the outlook worse. The darned thing is now down about 40 percent from where it went public.


Sentiment doesn't help when your company relies on one franchise that is getting long in the tooth. Go ask the people at Zynga (ZNGA), who brought you Farmville and couldn't get beyond it even with the Words and OMG Pop franchises in tow. How many times could you have said "This selling is way overdone, it just can't be this bad"? But it is.

 

The company is expected to report another loss Thursday afternoon. But analysts are looking for glimmers of hope in the numbers.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 12:00 PM
Credit: © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Caption: A customer enters a J.C. Penney store in Daly City, Calif.By Russ Britt, MarketWatch

Did J.C. Penney's (JCP) journey on the comeback trail hit a bump in the road during the second quarter or is it continuing its return to retail prominence?


That's the critical question investors and analysts will be asking up until Penney reports earnings after the close on Thursday. 


The company is expected to report another quarterly loss in adjusted earnings, its 10th straight dating to the first quarter of 2012. But if it can manage to beat projected same-store sales or cut its forecast deficit, Penney could become the darling of more than just a few analysts.


Penney started to regain the trust of a few watchers earlier this year when it reported a first-quarter same-store sales increase of 6.2 percent, far exceeding the 4.1 percent gain that had been projected.

 
Tags: JCP

The flop shows the fickle and sometimes confusing nature of Americans when it comes to more healthful eating.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 11:29 AM
Undated handout image from Burger King, showing the new “Satisfries” that the company says has 20 percent fewer calories than its regular fries (© Noel Barnhurst/Burger King/AP Photo)By Julie Jargon, The Wall Street Journal

It turns out consumers weren't too satisfied with Burger King's (BKW) Satisfries.


The fast-food chain on Wednesday said it is dropping from its U.S. menus the lower-calorie French fries (pictured) that it introduced with much fanfare less than a year ago.


The Miami company had been trying to reach consumers who had cut back on French fry orders because of health concerns. The fries, which were made with a less-porous batter that didn't absorb as much oil during frying, were marketed as containing 20 percent fewer calories and 25 percent less fat than Burger King's classic fries, and 30 percent fewer calories and 40 percent less fat than McDonald's (MCD) fries. The smallest portion of Satisfries contained 190 calories.

 
Tags: BKWMCD

Earnings are out, and the world's largest retailer had a disappointing quarter.

By TheStreet.com Staff Thu 11:04 AM

Reusable shopping bags are offered for sale at a Walmart Neighborhood Market © Nick Ut/APBy Brian Sozzi, TheStreet


Wal-Mart (WMT) delivered a knockout punch to already bruised investors Thursday in the form of sluggish second-quarter earnings and a full-year earnings warning.


The details of the quarter and outlook should worry even the most long-term investor.TheStreet.com logo


Wal-Mart, which my firm Belus Capital Advisors rates a sell, announced second-quarter earnings of $1.21, in line to Wall Street estimates, and the mid-range of its $1.15 to $1.25 per share guidance.


However, the profit figure could be viewed by the market as disappointing as Wal-Mart issued below-consensus guidance when it reported first-quarter earnings back on May 15. At the time, Wal-Mart's $1.15 to $1.21 per share guidance was below the then consensus forecast of $1.28.

 

Demand for company's network routers and switches continues to decline.

By MSN Money producer Wed 5:53 PM

The headquarters of Cisco Systems in San Jose, Calif. © Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy

By Peter Burrows, Bloomberg Bloomberg

 

Cisco Systems (CSCO) is cutting 6,000 jobs, or 8 percent of its workforce, as it faces weakness in emerging markets and a slump in demand from telecommunications-service providers.

 

The world's largest networking-equipment maker had about 75,000 staff at the end of July. Including the latest round, Cisco has eliminated more than 18,000 employees over the past three years.

 

John Chambers, who is nearing retirement after almost two decades as Cisco's chief executive officer, has been grappling with slowing growth for its market-leading routers and switches. Phone carriers and other large companies are replacing legacy network hardware with software that performs many of the same tasks.

 
Tags: $INXCSCO

Consumers are shunning the spud in a race away from carbohydrates and toward greater convenience.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 4:56 PM
Credit: © Fotosearch/Getty Images

Caption: Potato farmingBy Andrea Gallo, The Wall Street Journal

The potato has had a great run for most of the past five centuries. But these days, the humble spud has fallen on hard times.


A darling of American dinner tables since before the nation's founding, potatoes have lost favor in the U.S. for the past two decades. 


Consumers have shunned the starchy side dish in a race away from carbohydrates and toward greater convenience, two factors driving broad changes in how Americans eat.


Total annual consumption of all types of potatoes has fallen by nearly 25 percent since peaking in 1996, to 52 pounds a person in 2012, the last year for which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has data. 

 
Tags: BKWMCD

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Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

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Markets finished mixed across Asia. Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens testified in front of the House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Economics and noted rates are likely to remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.

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