You can still find small-cap superstars
Small-cap superstars still abound

There are some picks in this sector that have excellent valuations and strong earnings growth.


Analysts had high expectations, but a slowdown in iPhone sales hurt the quarter in a big way.

By Kim Peterson Jul 24, 2012 5:00PM
This is where you see the downside of all the iPhone hype.

Everyone knows a new iPhone is coming soon, and as a result, people are delaying iPhone purchases until the next version is out. So now Apple (AAPL) finds itself in a new boom-and-bust cycle for its most important product -- and the quarter reported Tuesday definitely fell into the bust side. 
Tags: AAPL

Normally, 1 or 2 of the company's top 10 markets might struggle. Now, for the first time, it's seeing trouble across the board.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 24, 2012 4:28PM
That was one depressing conference call. Oh, not because the results McDonald's (MCD) announced Monday were so bad or because the company slashed guidance. McDonald's did miss Wall Street's earnings estimates by 6 cents a share, but that was the result of a strong dollar that took 7 cents a share out of earnings.

No, what was really depressing was that the results demonstrated that not even McDonald's can escape the effects of the global economic slowdown -- and that the company's assessment of the global economy was so negative. 

With its favorable funding mix, improved core business performance, and expansion strategies, the commercial bank should continue to yield profitable earnings in the upcoming quarters.

By Jul 24, 2012 2:09PM

Image: Cash machine (© Compassionate Eye Foundation/Getty Images/Getty Images)By Zacks Equity Research

Regions Financial Corporation's (RF) second-quarter 2012 earnings from continuing operations came in at 20 cents per share, outshining the Zacks consensus estimate by 6 cents. Moreover, the results compare favorably with the 14 cents per share reported in the prior quarter.

Quarterly results benefited from improved net interest margin and better credit quality backed by lower loan loss provisions and reduced non-performing assets. Moreover, improved funding mix and decline in non-interest expenses were the positives for the quarter. Yet, lower top-line, aided by reduced non-interest income was a dampener.

Tags: RF

The company launches a generous education program to help new employees pick up high-demand skills. But some people question the motive.

By Jul 24, 2012 1:36PM

Image: logo © EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty ImagesThis week, visitors to Amazon's (AMZN) homepage were greeted with an open letter from CEO Jeff Bezos seeking employees for the company's storage and distribution warehouses. The main draw is a new education initiative called the Amazon Career Choice Program, which will pay up to $8,000 over four years to equip employees with "high-demand" skills in engineering, information technology, or nursing. Bezos also touted improved safety conditions at Amazon's warehouses, which have been criticized as "sweatshops" after reports that employees at one warehouse were working in 100-plus-degree temperatures and needed medical care. 

So, while some praise Bezos' education drive, others see a huge public relations stunt. 

Tags: AMZN

Stocks slide as US companies continue to indicate caution with their guidance and Moody's signals worries about more debt fallout in Europe.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 24, 2012 1:07PM
Information provided by

Dow components Du Pont (DD) and AT&T (T) both slid after reporting earnings that beat expectations but revenues that were below consensus. However, the biggest drag on the Dow was Cisco (CSCO), down 5.5%, after RBC Capital said it believes that VMware's (VMW) purchase of Nicira may impact Cisco's long-term data center growth prospects. Also, Cisco announced yesterday afternoon that it plans to cut about 2% of its workforce.

UPS (UPS) reported results that missed consensus on the top and bottom line and cut its full-year earnings view, citing lowered economic growth expectations. Specifically, UPS said it thinks U.S. GDP forecasts are too high and that the company sees U.S. GDP growth coming in closer to 1% in the second half of this year. 

The celebration, however, may be short-lived as massive defense spending cuts loom.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 24, 2012 12:33PM
Lockheed Martin (LMT), the world's largest defense contractor, reported better-than-expected quarterly results Tuesday as the U.S. Congress tries to avoid historic cuts to the Pentagon's budget. The company also raised its earnings forecast.

Profit from continuing operations at the Bethesda, Md., company rose 5% to $781 million, or $2.38 per share, versus $748 million, or $2.16 per share, in the year-ago period, fueled by gains in the company's aeronautics, electronic systems and space systems businesses. Sales rose to $11.92 billion. Wall Street analysts expected Lockheed Martin to earn $1.91 on revenue of $11.29 billion.
Tags: LMT

Firearm stocks are outperforming the market since the shooting, while movie chains are suffering.

By The Fiscal Times Jul 24, 2012 11:55AM
Image: Men playing with guns (© Leander Baerenz/Digital Vision/Getty Images)By Suzanne McGeeThe Fiscal Times

While the rest of the economy struggled to add jobs and grow, employment within the firearms and ammunition industry exploded by 30.6% between 2008 and 2011. The industry's federal tax payments also soared by 66.5% to hit $2.5 billion. That's according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which earlier this year released a report highlighting these figures, and a nearly two-year-long string of month-over-month increases in the number of buyers requesting background checks in order to be able to buy new weapons.

It's too bad that one of those background checks was on alleged mass murderer James Holmes, who appears to have acquired the weapons used to kill 12 people and injure dozens more at a Colorado screening of the new Batman movie, "Dark Knight Rises," legally. Now the industry and its investors are holding their collective breath, waiting to see whether the shooting spree will claim their profits among its victims. 

MetroPCS is upgraded to 'outperform,' and J.C. Penney is initiated at 2 firms.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 24, 2012 11:44AM
Information provided by

Tuesday's noteworthy upgrades include:  
  • Goodyear Tire (GT) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
  • Motorola Solutions (MSI) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at FBR Capital
  • Talisman Energy (TLM) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord
  • MetroPCS (PCS) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie

A German court decision could prevent European consumers from buying one of Samsung's most popular tablets.

By Benzinga Jul 24, 2012 10:59AM
By Louis Bedigian

Apple (AAPL) has won a preliminary injunction against primary competitor Samsung in the ongoing battle surrounding iPad copycats.

Apple has continuously claimed that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7 infringes on the design of the iPad, and as ZDNet report, a German court seems to agree. The new ruling does not impact the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, a larger Samsung-developed tablet that another court had previously ruled did not infringe on Apple's designs.


Don't miss out on a potential bull market.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 24, 2012 10:26AM

By Sheldon Liber


If you can recall a few short years ago, March 9, 2009 to be exact, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit rock bottom. I will never forget that day because I had the good fortune to call it on the money -- Nostradamus was a punk! Have we reached bottom?


At the time I received comments regularly about the market falling further and cash being the only safe haven. Then the market reversed itself, and folks who thought it was another false start were left behind. The same opportunity may await investors if they keep their watchful eyes on the IBEX 35, the Spanish stock market index. It has been steadily sinking this year and on Monday recorded its worst two- session intraday decline since 2008, according to Bloomberg. It closed at 6,177.40 at 5:30 p.m. in Madrid. This is about a 29% drop for the year.


There are hundreds that might not even bother to exist, for all this market cares.

By Jim Cramer Jul 24, 2012 10:22AM

First Horizon (FHN) is one of those banks where, for the longest time, you couldn't lose. It was the fastest-growing bank in one of the stable and consistent growth areas in the country: Tennessee. It was the hometown bank that grew nicely.


You figured it gave you a nice dividend and every time it got too cheap you could count on someone -- maybe BB&T (BBT) -- to make a bid, and lightning would strike.


More deals are coming after CNOOC's $15B grab of Canada's Nexen.

By InvestorPlace Jul 24, 2012 9:45AM

By Aaron Levitt

Most investors had never heard of Canadian energy company Nexen (NXY) -- until Monday, when it became the center of the largest overseas takeover from a Chinese company. China's biggest offshore oil and gas explorer, CNOOC (CEO) has agreed to pay $27.50 for each common share of Nexen, or roughly $15.1 billion. That's nearly a 61% premium to the company's closing price on July 20.


China has certainly taken notice of North America's shale oil boom. Earlier this year, Sinopec (SHI) made its first incursion into U.S. shale with a $2.2 billion investment to create a joint venture with Devon Energy (DVN). However, China's latest deal just goes to show how serious the Asian Dragon is about securing these resources.


The iPhone maker is set to report earnings after the closing bell, while the telecommunication giant reports higher second-quarter profit.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 24, 2012 9:08AM
By Joseph Woelfel,

Apple (AAPL), the iPhone, iPad and iPod maker, delivers its much-anticipated fiscal third-quarter report after the closing bell Tuesday and analysts are calling for earnings of $10.36 a share on revenue of $37.23 billion. The stock is up more than 45% so far in 2011, but it's pulled back quite a bit since hitting an all-time high of $644 on April 10. TheStreet will be live-blogging Apple's earnings beginning at 3:45 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.

AT&T (T), the telecommunication giant, reported second-quarter profit rose to $3.9 billion, or 66 cents a share from $3.59 billion, or 60 cents a share a year ago. The company also added 320,000 contract customers in the quarter. Analysts expected earnings of 63 cents a share and new net subscribers on contract-based plans of about 200,000 ; that compares with Verizon's gain of 888,000 in the second quarter. Shares of AT&T were up 0.5% in pre-market trading. 

The company may disappoint investors because of seasonal factors with the iPhone and supply issues with the iPad.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 23, 2012 4:43PM
So what is Wall Street really expecting from Apple's (AAPL) June quarter report Tuesday? The official consensus at the moment calls for earnings per share to climb 33% year-over-year to $10.38 and revenue to grow 31% in $37.43 billion, but Wall Street analysts have been very busy cutting their estimate in the last few days. 

The most recent of those cuts aren't reflected in the official tabulation, and with analysts cutting official estimates like this it's typical for the Wall Street whisper number -- the unofficial Wall Street projection -- to be lower than the official consensus.
Tags: AAPL

Fans are waiting for a new iPhone this fall, and shoppers in Europe and China aren't spending as much anymore. Will we see a perfect storm of disappointment Tuesday?

By Kim Peterson Jul 23, 2012 2:37PM
Apple (AAPL) is in a product lull, and that could lead to a rare earnings miss Tuesday.

Wall Street is used to the company delivering jaw-dropping numbers, but that may not be the case this time around. People are waiting for a new iPhone, expected around October, so sales of current iPhones have slowed. 


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[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices closed out the month of August on a modestly higher note. The Russell 2000 (+0.6%) and Nasdaq Composite (+0.5%) finished ahead of the S&P 500 (+0.3%), which extended its August gain to 3.8%. Blue chips lagged with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) spending the bulk of the session in the red.

The final week of August represented one of the quietest stretches for the stock market so far this year. The first four sessions of the week produced the ... More


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