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.

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Buffalo Wild Wings is downgraded to 'neutral,' and Dick's Sporting is initiated with a 'market perform.'

By MSN Money Partner Mar 16, 2012 11:22AM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Friday's noteworthy upgrades include:
  • Wabtec (WAB) upgraded to Buy from Hold at BB&T
  • Lear (LEA) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman
  • Shire (SHPGY) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
  • Microsoft (MSFT) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Argus (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
  • State Street (STT) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Rochdale
  • Dell (DELL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Standpoint Research
 

Builders have been showing technical strength, and companies from related industries are rebounding from prior lows.

By MoneyShow.com Mar 16, 2012 10:39AM

By Kate Stalter, MoneyShow.com


As the housing sector has been in rally mode lately, it's not only builders that have shown gains but also stocks from related industries.


One low-priced micro-cap stock that showed up on my scans is US Home Systems (USHS), which makes kitchen, bath, garage and closet products, sold through Home Depot (HD) and other retail channels.

 

MSN Money's Anthony Mirhaydari answers Facebook users' questions about the employment market.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 16, 2012 10:25AM
The job market is on everybody's mind. In this video, MSN Money columnist Anthony Mirhaydari explains why, despite recent figures pointing to an improvement, many Americans still don't think the labor market is recovering.

 

As he answers questions from MSN Money's Facebook community, Mirhaydari also explains how tax policy affects jobs.  

The trend will make life more difficult for the companies that aren't making the best business decisions.

By Jim Cramer Mar 16, 2012 9:50AM

Image: Buying gas (© moodboard/Corbis/Corbis)If you didn't know any better, you would say that Thursday was the day retail showed its true colors. That's because we discovered that gasoline at $4 does matter.

 

How else can we explain Vera Bradley's (VRA) sorry projections for its next quarter or the disappointing outlooks for Guess (GES) and Rue 21 (RUE)? How else do we deal with the decline in the stock of Ross Stores (ROST).


First, I would say that as much as the conclusion seems cogent, each of these stocks is very different. Vera Bradley, a controversial equity, has set itself up for difficult comparisons because it has a strategy of quick turns based on fashion, a very dicey game plan. 

 

The casual dining restaurant chain expects to roll out 13 to 15 restaurants in 2012.

By Zacks.com Mar 16, 2012 9:45AM

By Zacks Equity Research
 
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. (RRGB), a chain of casual dining restaurants, is set to debut in Portland, Maine, shortly. The new restaurant will be at 800 Gallery Blvd. across from the new Wal-Mart, and will offer gourmet burgers served with Bottomless Steak Fries, a variety of salads, entrees, soups and wraps made with the fresh ingredients.


Given customers’ inclination toward organic and fresh food these days, we believe integrity in ingredients will be a crucial factor for traffic growth. Apart from this, there will be other sales enhancement initiatives like a guest loyalty program called Red Royalty.

 
Tags: CMGRRGB

Exxon may be out front, but Chevron and Shell are close behind.

By InvestorPlace Mar 16, 2012 9:23AM

By Aaron Levitt

 

Exxon Mobil's (XOM) purchase of XTO Energy back in 2010 made it one of the largest producers of natural gas in the country.


Given that this major integrated oil company predicts that overall energy demand will rise 30% by 2040 and that natural gas will replace coal as the second-most-popular fuel by 2025, Exxon has increased its focus on developing natural gas over the past few years. Overall, natural gas has accounted for more than half of Exxon's proven reserves since 2009.

 

Tough times can lead to great opportunities for investors who buy solid income stocks that the market has turned its back on.

By MoneyShow.com Mar 16, 2012 9:11AM

By Julie Carnevale, FASTgraphs.com

 

We believe that based on earnings, 2012 is starting out with the stock market undervalued. We believe in the long-term ownership of great businesses purchased at sound and attractive valuations. Consequently, we view the stock market as merely the store that we shop at in order to buy the businesses we want to own.

 

Furthermore, we do not rely on the market to set the price at which we are willing to buy or sell. Instead, we prefer to calculate the intrinsic value of the business based on the company's earnings power. If the market price is at or below that level of valuation, we will be a buyer. If not, we either look elsewhere or patiently wait for the True Worth™ valuation to manifest.

 

The shipping company is in talks to buy a Dutch rival. Banks express interest in buying AIG's mortgage-backed assets.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 16, 2012 7:53AM

By Andrea Tse

 

Updated at 8:20 a.m ET

 

United Parcel Service (UPS) said Friday it was in "constructive" talks to buy TNT Express, its Dutch rival. UPS said it plans a formal bid by May 12. UPS last month offered to buy TNT, the second-largest express delivery company in Europe, for 9 euros a share, or $6.4 billion, but the offer was rejected.

 

Barclays (BCS), Credit Suisse (CS) and Goldman Sachs (GS) are among the banks interested in buying American International Group's (AIG) mortgage-backed assets that were tied to the insurance company's bailout, The Wall Street Journal reported. The face value of the assets is $47 billion, the newspaper said, and are held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which acquired the assets as part of the $182 billion bailout of AIG in 2008.

 

The company is dropping clothing from 10 locations and looking to shutter some Hometown and Hardware stores.

By Kim Peterson Mar 15, 2012 6:15PM
Image: Sears sign© Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty ImagesSears Holdings (SHLD) already said it would close as many as 120 Sears and Kmart stores this year in an effort to turn the business around. But that wasn't enough.

The struggling retailer said Thursday it will have to tighten its belt even more. Sears is now planning to close 43 Hometown stores, 10 Sears Hardware stores and all nine stores in the Great Indoors chain. Hometown stores are independently operated, and sell hardware in mostly rural areas.

Sears is also getting rid of clothing in 10 Sears stores -- perhaps in a test run for a chain-wide initiative in the future. 

Many have held out hope for gold-mining stocks, but negative technical signals actually warned of this week's high-volume decline.

By MoneyShow.com Mar 15, 2012 5:04PM

Image: Small Stack of gold ingots (© Anthony Bradshaw/Photographer)By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com


The gold miners were hit very hard Wednesday, and the widely watched Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) fell 3.8%. The fund was flat Thursday. For much of 2011, many investors and analysts have hoped that the mining stocks would finally catch up with gold prices and the primary gold ETF, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD).


Of course, hope is not a good investment strategy, and the technical readings for gold mining stocks have turned more negative in the past month.

 

A lot of people just don't know the satellite radio leader.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Mar 15, 2012 4:57PM

By Rick Aristotle Munarriz |

 

How well do you know Sirius XM Radio (SIRI)?

 

You may know a lot about the history of satellite radio and the merger that stitched XM to Sirius in a company that now combines for 21.9 million subscribers. However, I still see a fair deal of misinformation out there put out by investors, analysts, and financial writers from both the bullish and bearish camps.

 

I figured I would go over a couple of the things that irk me. Here are two myths that are often said about Sirius XM that are just not fundamentally true.

 
Tags: AAPLSIRI

The US and the UK are reportedly teaming up in an effort to ease prices at the pump.

By Wall St. Cheat Sheet Mar 15, 2012 4:52PM

Image: Gas station © Purestock/Purestock/Getty ImagesThe United States and Britain agreed Thursday to release emergency oil reserves in an effort to prevent high gasoline prices from further crippling the economy, Reuters reported.


A formal U.S. request asking the United Kingdom to release oil from government-controlled reserves is expected shortly, the news service reported, citing sources. The request would follow a meeting Wednesday in Washington between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron, who reportedly discussed the issue.

 

As anticipated, the upscale retailer's profits fell. Management projects a dismal outlook for the full year.

By Benzinga Mar 15, 2012 4:32PM

By Katey Stapleton, Benzinga Staff Writer


As CEOs tend to do, Guess' (GES) Paul Marciano attempted to save face by claiming on an earnings call Wednesday that his company can withstand the dismal economy in Europe. But investors weren't buying it.


Guess shares fell more than 12% in after-hours trading Wednesday. On Thursday, shares fell more than 10% to close at $32.97. The drop reflected expectations that the bleak European market Marciano mentioned would hurt customer spending.

 

Lloyd Blankfein is in the crosshairs after a former employee accuses the company of ripping off its clients.

By TheWeek.com Mar 15, 2012 4:06PM
In the banking equivalent of the shot heard round the world, Goldman Sachs (GS) executive Greg Smith announced his resignation Wednesday in a devastating New York Times opinion piece that accused the firm of ruthlessly exploiting its clients for profit.

Smith assailed Goldman for its "toxic and destructive" business practices and "morally bankrupt" culture, and placed the blame squarely on CEO Lloyd Blankfein. The controversial Goldman boss has already been blasted by lawmakers for his company's dubious deals, and has forked over millions of dollars to settle fraud charges brought by the SEC.  
Tags: CGSJPM

Unlike many Americans, Bill Weldon has nothing to fear from retirement.

By Melly Alazraki Mar 15, 2012 3:21PM

Image: Bundles of US one hundred dollar bills in bird © Don Farrall/Photodisc/Getty ImagesBill Weldon is stepping down next month as Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) CEO, but he will remain chairman of the board. When he eventually retires from the chairman position, he stands to collect a package currently valued at $143.5 million. As Napoleon Dynamite would put it: "sweet!"

 

Weldon's package, as reported by Dow Jones based on the company's filing, breaks down to two main components. The first is accumulated-pension benefits valued at $48.4 million. The second is accumulated deferred compensation, which amounts to $95.1 million.

 
Tags: JNJ

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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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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages ended the midweek session on a flat note after spending the day inside narrow ranges. The S&P 500 hovered near the 2,000 mark for the majority of the trading day, but slumped to new lows during the last hour of action. The index then returned to its flat line, where it settled for the day. For the third day in a row, participation left a lot to be desired with just 487 million shares changing hands at the NYSE.

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