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

After 2 months in the doldrums, smaller, more sensitive shares are charging higher.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Mar 16, 2012 1:50PM

Wall Street denizens love to use battlefield metaphors. I guess it makes staring at trading screens a little more exciting. Over the past two months, despite the rise of huge glamour issues like Apple (AAPL), the majority of the market, especially small-cap stocks, has been stuck in a sideways crawl.

 

Interpretation: The generals were marching without the support of their infantry. You don't have to be a West Point graduate to know that behavior won't win wars.

 

Things are changing as bonds come under pressure (from higher inflation expectations, mainly) and commodities come under pressure from newfound strength in the U.S. dollar, sending hot money into stocks. But unlike what was happening back in February and early March, investors are changing their focus. Even as economic storm clouds gather over the horizon, this sets the stage for impressive gains for a few select sector groups in the weeks to come.

 

These stocks pass a screen based on the value-investing criteria of guru investors Ben Graham and Warren Buffett.

By TheStockAdvisors Mar 16, 2012 1:35PM
Image: Construction (© Photodisc Green/Getty Images)By J. Royden Ward, Cabot Benjamin Graham Value Letter

Benjamin Graham has been recognized for decades as the father of value investing. Warren Buffett was a student of Graham at Columbia University and later worked for him for several years.

Here, I combined the criteria of both men for choosing stocks. Over the past seven years, my Graham-Buffett picks have risen 55.7% versus 10.3% for the S&P500. I believe these high-quality stocks sell at sensible prices, offer reasonable appreciation potential and provide solid dividends. I am confident they will fare very well during the next six months. 

High-volume gains in this sector suggest the group may start rolling higher again soon.

By MoneyShow.com Mar 16, 2012 12:57PM

Image: Railroad Crossing with Train (© Edmond Van Hoorick/Photodisc/Getty Images)By Tom Aspray


In early February, the relative performance analysis on iShares Dow Jones Transportation ETF (IYT) violated support, suggesting a correction was under way. The uptrend in IYT was broken on Feb. 10, which was consistent with a further decline.


It was expected that the deterioration in the transports was a warning of an eventual correction in the overall market, which is often the case. For example, the weakening technical picture last July warned of the decline in the overall market that took place last August. 

 

The world's dominant search engine is going to try to actually answer your questions.

By TheWeek.com Mar 16, 2012 12:41PM

Google (GOOG) powers two-thirds of the world's internet searches, so when it announces big changes, people pay attention. According to The Wall Street Journal, Google is giving its "tried-and-true Web-search formula" a makeover that's "among the biggest in the company's history." Instead of just spitting back a page of keyword-driven blue links, Google is aiming for something closer to artificial intelligence, trying to understand what Web searchers are asking for and providing actual answers. When the changes kick in, Google's Amit Singhal tells The Journal, the experience will be more like "how humans understand the world."


Here's a look at the "dramatic" overhaul Google has planned:

 

Are some firms that specialize in trading shares of still-private companies playing fast and loose?

By The Fiscal Times Mar 16, 2012 12:20PM
Image: Dishonest man (© Halfdark/fStop/Getty Images)By Suzanne McGee, The Fiscal TimesThe Fiscal Times

The stock market may be at its highest level since the financial crisis, but this year's euphoria-inducing returns are not enough to keep some investors happy. They want in on the ground floor of still-private companies that they believe will go public with lots of fanfare and a big "pop" in the stock price on the first day of trading.

Turns out that this is a potentially perilous business, or so the Securities and Exchange Commission believes.  

Declining TV ratings may be bad news for CBS and Time Warner.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 16, 2012 11:50AM
TV viewers are not so mad about March Madness this year, at least not so far.

Ratings for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, which is being shown on CBS (CBS) and Time Warner's (TWX) Turner Networks, have been lackluster.    

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. 

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