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.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

The restaurant chain reports quarterly results, and the beverage company is being added to the S&P 500.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 22, 2012 8:53AM
By Michael Baron, TheStreet.com

Shares of Darden Restaurants (DRI) fell in pre-market action after the Orlando-based company posted in-line earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter but came in slightly short on the top line. The company, which also announced a 16% increase in its quarterly dividend, attributed the sales shortfall to "same-restaurant sales declines at both Olive Garden and Red Lobster that reflected less effective than anticipated nationally advertised promotions."


Darden also said it expects the business environment in fiscal 2013 to be "very similar" to what it experienced in fiscal 2012. The stock was last quoted at $48.86, down 3%, on volume of less than 30,000, according to Nasdaq.com. Darden forecast blended same-restaurant sales growth of 1%-to-2% for fiscal 2013 from its Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse concepts, a projection that it said is "just below" its long-term target.

 

Ratings cuts can cost global banks big money. But regional banks could find opportunity in the fallout.

By Jim J. Jubak Jun 21, 2012 6:19PM
Thursday's downgrade of 15 big global banks is just the latest stop on Moody's Investor Service's world tour of the financial sector. 

In February, Moody's announced it would review the credit ratings of 17 global investment banks. On May 14, it downgraded the credit ratings of Italian banks UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo (ISNPY). On May 18 it downgraded 16 Spanish banks, including Banco Santander (SAN). June 6 brought downgrades to seven German and three Austrian banks.

Thursday, Moody’s downgraded Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Agricole, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Societe Generale, and UBS. (Moody’s had already downgraded Macquarie Group and Nomura Holdings on March 15.)
 

The tech titan introduces a phone featuring a next-level start screen, Nokia maps and a renewed focus on mobile payments.

By TheWeek.com Jun 21, 2012 4:39PM

On Wednesday, a revolving cast of Microsoft (MSFT) execs took the stage in San Francisco to showcase Windows Phone 8, the eagerly awaited update to their mobile operating system. 

It's been a busy week for the crew from Redmond: The company made waves on Monday when it unveiled a snappy new line of keyboard-equipped tablets called Surface, which some consider the toughest challenge yet to Apple's (AAPL) market-dominating iPad. Does Windows Phone 8 resonate with the technorati, too?

 
Tags: AAPLMSFT

The department store chain could be suffering from the same worrying trend as JC Penney: shoppers downgrading to discount retailers.

By Minyanville Jun 21, 2012 4:31PM
JC Penney (JCP) has lost sales in its changeover to an everyday low-pricing strategy, but those customers haven't moved disproportionately to Kohl's (KSS), its most direct competitor.

I was surprised since, as a rule, dissatisfied department store customers generally switch to another department store. Instead, JC Penney customers have dropped out of the category altogether and traded down to discount stores. 

Heavy selling pressure on weak economic data is bringing back memories of the market decline of March through May. Will it last?

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jun 21, 2012 3:26PM

Stocks and other risky assets had an ugly, ugly day Thursday as traders reacted so a batch of poor economic data out of China, Germany and the United States, as well as to lingering disappointment over the Federal Reserve's decision to merely extend its existing $400 billion Operation Twist initiative by $267 billion.

 

With Europe under pressure and growth slowing here, Wall Street obviously wanted more. So is that it? Is June's rebound finished? Not quite.

 

In a unanimous vote, government advisors said the benefits of a treatment for multiple myeloma outweigh the risks.

By Minyanville Jun 21, 2012 1:48PM
Government advisors sent a strong recommendation in favor of Onyx Pharmaceuticals' (ONXX) cancer drug Kyprolis.

In an 11-0 vote, the panel of advisors said the benefits of the drug outweighed the risks for patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer of blood plasma cells. 

Stocks slump on weak economic data from the US and China.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 21, 2012 12:55PM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com 

Chesapeake Energy
(CHK) named former ConocoPhillips (COP) chairman Archie Dunham as its new chairman to replace Aubrey McClendon, who remains CEO and president. Chesapeake also appointed four new directors picked by its largest stakeholders, Southeastern Asset Management and Carl Icahn.

Philip Morris (PM) shares fell over 2% after the company became the latest multinational company to lower its full year 2012 earnings forecast. 

Is a drop in the share price of the largest US chain of farm and ranch stores an opportunity?

By Gene Marcial Jun 21, 2012 12:34PM
Image: Construction (© Photodisc Green/Getty Images)Shares of Tractor Supply (TSCO) had been on a tear, nearly doubling to about $100 in late May 2012 from $53 in August last year, powered by strong sales and earnings growth.

But some analysts have warned of a possible slowing in demand from recreational farmers and ranchers for livestock and farm products, as well as for seasonal lawn and garden equipment amid a weakened economic recovery. 

A company's exposure to Europe is becoming a red flag for many investors.

By The Fiscal Times Jun 21, 2012 11:47AM
By Suzanne McGeeThe Fiscal Times

The ripples are spreading. Spanish consumers are buying cheaper yogurt, Europeans are buying fewer Volvos and Asians are consuming fewer chicken nuggets.

What it all adds up to is a steady drip-drip-drip of earnings pre-announcements and warnings from the multinational giants who once bet that having their tentacles in every corner of the globe would help them ride out recessions and other setbacks. This time, however, things may be different. 

Under Armour is downgraded to 'neutral,' and ASML is initiated with an 'outperform.'

By MSN Money Partner Jun 21, 2012 10:49AM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Thursday's noteworthy upgrades include:  
  • EQT Corporation (EQT) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
  • Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Brean Murray, and to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
  • TJX (TJX) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
  • Vulcan Materials (VMC) upgraded to Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna
 

A higher life expectancy and rising retirement age are contributing to the boom in retirement solutions.

By Trefis Jun 21, 2012 10:30AM
TrefisImproving life expectancy and a rising retirement age limit are set to push the annuities market in the U.S., benefiting insurance companies such as MetLife (MET), Manulife Financial (MFC), Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG) and Prudential Financial (PRU).

With doubts being raised about the solvency of the social security provision, Americans are encouraged to look for sources beyond government entitlement to secure their financial positions and avoid any chances of outliving their financial resources. The U.S. government has acknowledged that the official retirement age will rise from the current limit of 67 in the near future.  
Tags: aigMETPRU

Bruce Berkowitz's Fairholme Fund is beginning to show some recovery signs in his long-term bets.

By GuruFocus.com Jun 21, 2012 10:20AM

After losing more than 32% on heavy bets on financials in 2011, Bruce Berkowitz's Fairholme Fund (FAIRX) has rebounded to the top 1% of funds, according to Morningstar.


Berkowitz often emphasizes that he does not believe performance can be measured by a revolution of the sun but on a long-term basis. Though his fund suffered a challenging year, some of his long-term bets are beginning to show the recovery he anticipated.

 

CEO Bob McDonald must be held accountable for a string of poor quarterly results.

By Jim Cramer Jun 21, 2012 10:10AM

Why can't Bob McDonald be held accountable for what's happening at Procter & Gamble (PG)? Why can't the decline of this great company be placed at his feet?

 

A lot of people who write and talk about business do not, I believe, understand the importance of a CEO to an enterprise. They believe some companies can't really be affected in significant ways by the person at the helm.

 

I disagree.

 

Limited shipping capacity and strong demand are boosting prospects for this LNG tanker operator.

By TheStockAdvisors Jun 21, 2012 9:59AM

By Nathan Slaughter, Exploration & Paydirt

 

Golar LNG (GLNG) is one of the primary beneficiaries of the burgeoning global trade of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

 

The company owns a fleet of modern LNG tankers that are paid handsomely to transport chilled gas from port to port. Its fleet is 100% utilized, reflecting the lack of idle shipping capacity. Companies with available tonnage have almost been able to name their own price.

 

The stock's valuation makes it look too cheap not to take a bite.

By InvestorPlace Jun 21, 2012 9:35AM

By Dan Burrows


InvestorPlace's special report about Apple (AAPL) on the occasion of the iPhone's fifth birthday would surely be incomplete if we didn't weigh in on the prospects for its stock. Let's start by looking at how it's fared recently.


Turns out the shares have seriously stumbled since hitting a record closing high of $636 in early April. The stock is off more than 8% since then to about $580 and change, shedding $50 billion in market cap -- more than the entire value of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) -- along the way.


That's a sharp sell-off. By comparison, the S&P 500 is off just 2% over the same period.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the Thursday session on a modestly lower note, but a late-morning rebound lifted the indices off their lows. The S&P 500 shed 0.2% with seven sectors ending in the red.

This morning, European equities and U.S. futures slumped around 6:00 ET after Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko was quoted as saying Russian forces have invaded an area southeast of Donetsk. The news pressured the markets, but a brief uptick took place after a correction to ... More


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