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This underappreciated insurer is guided by solid principles.
Sometimes short-term fluctuations can provide nice opportunities for long-term investors. Fool analyst Jason Moser thinks he's found one in White Mountains, which is trading at the low end of its historical book-value range.
Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks Editor
When most people think insurance, it's usually the bill for automobile coverage or renewing the homeowner's policy. But there's a nicer side to the insurance gig: the investing side. The catch is that you need to find the ones that will stand the test of time, through good markets and bad. And White Mountains Insurance Group (WTM) is one of them.
Shunned over the past 6 months, US Treasury bonds are rallying again on Mideast fears and worries that higher energy prices could derail the recovery.
If you wondered how fleeting popularity can be on Wall Street, just look at how fast U.S. Treasury bonds have gone from hot to not and back over the past year. Bonds were the go-to investment last summer as the eurozone sovereign debt crisis raged. Between early April and late August, the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT) gained nearly 27%.
Things got so out of hand that, by September, many observers, including me, busily warned of a nascent bond bubble. Investors had become too pessimistic and weren't adequately discounting for the risk of higher inflation and improved economic growth. You know what happened next. Bonds got hammered in the months that followed as the Fed pledged to pump $600 billion into the financial system. The TLT lost nearly 18% as a result.
Now things are reversing as the rise of popular revolutions throughout North Africa and the Middle East send shock waves through the energy market. There is concern that higher fuel prices will slow economic growth -- a potentially deflationary scenario that favors fixed-income investments. The question is: Can the T-bond rally continue?
A small California city approves a medical-marijuana nursery -- and will likely see its fortunes improve dramatically.
But while everyone else dithers over details, one tiny town jumped in and green-lit a large-scale indoor nursery for medical marijuana. And, as the video below shows, the city of Isleton, Calif., could end up raking in some badly needed revenue.
Isleton's financial state was so bad that some people wondered whether it had any future, reports NBC Bay Area News. Vacant storefronts are common, and revenue shortfalls were worrisome.
So the city has come to an agreement with a growers group to build the 4,000-square-foot nursery. In return, every month the city will get either 3% of the growers' profits or $25,000 -- whichever is greater, reports NBC's Garvin Thomas. That's at least $300,000 a year in new revenue, but estimates say it could end up being twice that much.
After sitting out the Verizon iPhone 4, TriQuint has won a role supplying power amps for Apple's souped-up iPhone 5.
By Scott Moritz, TheStreet
While lacking Verizon's (VZ) 4G LTE capability, the Apple iPhone 5 will be a souped-up world phone equipped with "seven power amplifiers" to beef up wireless reception on the full array of WCDMA and EVDO radio frequencies in the U.S. and Europe, says Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar.
These shares offer strong payouts, making them good names to own before the market takes another dive.
By James Dlugosch, Stockpickr
The economy is recovering, and stocks have crossed key psychological barriers. Things are quite good, or at least that is the appearance. The S&P 500 ($INX) has doubled since bottoming in March 2009. Over the past six months, the gains have been growing.
It is only natural for investors to be concerned. Nothing goes up forever. Stocks will at some point take a pause. I think that moment has arrived and stocks will move sideways from here.
For such a market, investors should consider investing in dividend stocks. Rather than worrying about stocks going up or down, dividend stock investors can sit back and watch their corporations stack up piles of cash. Here are five dividend stocks to consider for your portfolio.
The pharmaceuticals company has a rough fourth quarter and faces continued uncertainty with 2 manufacturing plants.
Apple delays the LTE 4G iPhone until 2012. Banks use tax dollars to finance a luxury hotel. Sears finally hires a CEO -- with no retail experience.
By TheStreet Staff, TheStreet
Here is this week's roundup of Wall Street business blunders.
5. Verizon's bad apple
There's no phone as cool as the next big phone. Just ask anyone who's been holding out for the 4G Verizon (VZ) iPhone. But don't ask this week, after Apple (AAPL) delayed the LTE 4G iPhone until 2012.
Apple's iPhone 5, due out this summer, will not be an LTE 4G iPhone, Telecom Pragmatics analyst Sam Greenholtz told TheStreet Thursday.
Some isolated shares got hammered this week despite good quarterly results. They deserve a look now.
Did we bottom? Heard that a gazillion times. I find it valueless unless you are some sort of SPX futures trader. I believe many stocks have put in a bottom and can be bought because they have been hammered and will do fine in a higher-oil-price environment. I think those names have probably bottomed.
Others, not so fast.
I keep talking about commodities stocks that have bottomed, but let me broaden it. Medco Health(MHS) is a company that reported a terrific quarter and then, almost immediately, completed a 10% swoon right when its monster share buyback came into play -- and the company said it would have no problem beating estimates.
Medco Health has absolutely nothing to do with anything that is driving stocks. Nothing. It is a play on drugs going generic. Beginning six months from now, you will see more patented drugs going generic than at any other time in history.
These most-liked brands resonate with consumers, meaning free marketing and a loyal customer base.
A few years ago, there were still a lot of folks who thought social media was just another silly tech fad. But the rise of Facebook and Twitter as marketing tools and revenue streams has soundly squashed such talk.
But an important development worth noting is the power of social media to find loyal customers to be your brand advocate. Instead of just buying a product, they become a free marketing division and tell all their friends all over the world how great your business really is.
Such loyalty and brand advocacy can't be underestimated. And these top three Facebook-famous stocks have both qualities in spades:
Newmont Mining has what no gold investors want: production costs that keep rising.
China's future growth rate comes into question as key factory regions see a labor shortfall.
Increased efficiency and pent-up demand should fuel the automaker forward.
Fool analyst Jim Mueller looks for market mispricings for his Messed-Up Expectations portfolio. Today, he's keying on the market's misunderstanding of Ford.
Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks Editor
When Ford Motor (F) landed on the watchlist for my Messed-Up Expectations portfolio, I was a bit surprised. With better than a dozen analysts following the company, I wouldn't expect the market to ever reach a point where growth in free cash flow (FCF) was expected to be so low as to pass my screen, but that's exactly what happened. And I, for one, am not going to let the opportunity to invest in this strong, and strengthening, company pass me by.
The catalyst to this opportunity, I believe, is Ford's recent earnings report, which wasn't quite what the market expected.
The automaker reports its largest profit in more than a decade, but that doesn't mean the bailout was a success.
GM's road to recovery has been funded largely by the U.S. government. With these results, maybe the $49.5 billion bailout wasn't such a bad thing?
Not so fast. Taxpayers are still on the hook in a big way, and GM needs to do much more to sufficiently repay its rescue.
Even with today's solid results, GM shares fell by 6% in midday trading to $32.51 -- below their November IPO price of $33 a share. Why the sharp drop? We'll get to that in a minute.
Health care funds offer stability as global tensions produce more market turmoil.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
While stocks remained on a relatively uninterrupted upward path during the opening weeks of 2011, global headwinds have begun to mount more recently, once again testing the resilience of the market's recovery.
Rather than fleeing, however, investors can use the market's recent bout of turmoil to add to defensive positions. One sector that may prove attractive in the near term is health care.
Over the past six months, this sector has lagged the broader indexes considerably as the market's relentless climb caused investors to pour into riskier asset classes. Although health care shares are unloved at this point, if these global economic issues present the markets with hurdles in the coming weeks, this segment and its stability will likely fall into favor again.
United has dropped so sharply on oil prices that it now looks attractive.
By Ted Reed, TheStreet
Let's just say that oil prices are not going to keep going up forever.
Some analysts are beginning to suggest that airline shares, pummeled recently by rising fuel prices, could be attractive because of continuing strong traffic and some success in raising fares, not to mention the potential variability of the fuel-price trend.
"Opportunities exist in the group," Dahlman Rose analyst Helane Becker wrote in a report issued Thursday. She noted that in two days of trading -- Tuesday and Wednesday -- United (UAL) fell by 15%, while US Airways (LCC) fell by 13% and Delta (DAL) fell by 4%.
In the past week, the average legacy-carrier stock has fallen 13%, while the S&P 500 ($INX) has slipped 2%, said Soleil Securities analyst Jim Higgins.
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This North American food and drug retail giant is showing signs of sluggish growth.
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[BRIEFING.COM] Commodities are mostly lower this morning, despite weakness in the dollar index, given the broad market weakness., hurt by a crash in the Nikkei, which fell over 7%.
Crude oil futures have been in the red all day so far and fell as low as $92.21. June crude briefly rallied back above $93 and is now -1.5% at $92.89/barrel.
Natural gas has been modestly lower all morning and was sitting about 0.2% lower just ahead of the weekly inventory data. Following the data, June ... More
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