Gold bars & granules © Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters
Americans prefer gold, real estate

As the market wades through what many people hope is a sixth bull year, some have grown nervous about how long the run can go.

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This low-priced telecom stock could be set to outperform Wall Street's expectations.

By TheStockAdvisors Dec 20, 2011 10:50AM
Maciej Frolow/Brand X/Getty ImagesBy Paul McWilliams, Next Inning

While I wouldn't yet call Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) a "value" play, my outlook for the company has improved and I think in the mid one dollar range it merits consideration as a speculative investment.

The price of ALU has declined for several reasons. While ALU has reported earnings above the consensus of the covering analysts during the first three quarters of 2011, it has done so while reporting revenues below the consensus estimates. 
Tags: ALU

We need some real signs that the Europe situation is under control.

By Jim Cramer Dec 20, 2011 10:20AM

TheStreetAh, so it's German business confidence that holds the key. That's how we can rally so convincingly. It took only one good confidence number, as well as a Spanish bond auction that wasn't a disaster, and all is well again with the CurrencyShares Euro Trust (FXE) above 130 and the European stock markets rallying with alacrity. 


Oh, if only it were that simple. If only it were like the old days, with a garden-variety recession and a chance that we could come out of it with a couple of good indicators. Unfortunately, it isn't. 

 

With the youngest fleet of offshore supply vessels, this firm is seeing growing demand for its services.

By TheStockAdvisors Dec 19, 2011 5:30PM
 (© Scott Gibson/Corbis)By Brendan Coffey, Cabot Global Energy Investor

By the middle of this decade, oil drawn from the seabed more than 2,000 feet beneath the ocean’s surface will double in volume compared to 2010 levels.

Hornbeck Offshore Services (HOS) provides technologically sophisticated offshore supply vessels (OSVs) and transport vessels for the oil and gas industry. It has the youngest fleet of OSVs in the industry, and its ships are designed from scratch. 
Tags: HOSoil

Investors are hoping for a smooth transition of power for Kim Jong Un, but questions abound.

By Jim J. Jubak Dec 19, 2011 5:16PM
I don’t remember asking for this in my Christmas stocking: More uncertainty -- this time from North Korea.

The death of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il Saturday has thrown Asian markets into a tizzy. That’s what happens when a totally opaque country with a collapsing economy just happens to own nuclear weapons. The fear is that Kim Jong Un, the designated successor to the "Dear Leader," doesn’t have a very secure grip on power and will feel compelled to solidify his control with a bit of military adventurism such as a new nuclear test or a new shelling attack on South Korean territory. 
 

The aluminum producer is profitable, streamlined and ready to roll.

By InvestorPlace Dec 19, 2011 5:15PM

By Jeff Reeves


When Alcoa (AA) reported earnings in October, CEO Klaus Kleinfeld told investors, "Alcoa is a confident company in a nervous world. We are well prepared for whatever lies ahead, with more cash on hand, lower debt and continued focus on profitable growth."


It would be natural to write off those comments as mere platitudes for Wall Street's grumpy traders. But taking a closer look at Alcoa across the past several weeks has made me agree with Klaus -- and consider AA stock as a bargain buy to hang on to across 2012.

 

The outlook may be dimming for this fast-growing chain.

By Trefis Dec 19, 2011 4:45PM
(© Tara Moore/cultura/Corbis)Chipotle (CMG) has performed exceptionally well this year. The stock is up more than 50% year-to-date, significantly outperforming the market indices. In the last six months the stock climbed 25%, while the Dow Jones remained flat.

Investors are increasingly bullish about this restaurant chain. However, the current rally might have just pushed the envelope, and we expect this optimism will fade. Chipotle competes mostly with the quick service and casual dining companies such as Chili's, McDonald's (MCD), Burger King, Yum! Brands (YUM) and Papa John's, among others. 
Tags: CMGMCDYUM

Better growth in the US should help the Russell 2000 catch up to the larger-cap indices in the weeks ahead.

By MoneyShow.com Dec 19, 2011 4:11PM

By Igor Greenwald, MoneyShow.com


If the US economy falls into recession sometime next year as a result of the financial crisis in Europe and the slowdown in China, it won’t be for lack of effort.


Right now, the US is looking like the main global growth engine and, frankly, the only reason the remaining stock investors have to stay in the markets and not bury their money under a mattress.


Initial unemployment claims haven't been this low in three years, fueling hopes that the job market has finally turned the corner. 

 
Tags: EBIX

While bellwethers like Apple and Amazon look poised to underperform, one stock is worthy of consideration.

By MoneyShow.com Dec 19, 2011 3:38PM

 (© Comstock)By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com


The relative performance, or RS analysis, of the tech-heavy PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ) broke out last July, and while the broader markets were dropping in August and September, technology stocks held up much better.


This outperformance of QQQ versus the S&P, however, ended in early November, and QQQ has been lagging since. Sentiment on many of the tech giants has also been quite negative, as both Apple (AAPL) and Amazon.com (AMZN) have disappointed investors.

 

The investment may help alleviate investors' anxiety about the large exodus of top executives from the company.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 19, 2011 1:53PM
Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is investing $300 million in Twitter, adding the microblogging site to his stable of high-profile investments, including Citigroup (C) and Apple (AAPL). 

Hard times may be coming, and chocolate makes people feel better.

By InvestorPlace Dec 19, 2011 1:15PM
 (© image100/Corbis)By Jon Markman, Editor, Trader's Advantage


The past three presidential election years have been very hard on risky assets, and two of them were completely brutal.


The most recent was 2008, and if you don't remember the global financial crisis that occurred that year, you were either too young, drunk or in jail. The one before that, 2004, ended with a 9% gain but was flat or down for three-quarters of the span. And the one before that, 2000, featured the bursting of the technology bubble, with the Nasdaq 100 collapsing by 40%.


So it's no wonder that I am looking at the upcoming election year, 2012, with a jaundiced eye.

 

Efforts to draw traffic by lowering prices hammered Best Buy's margins. But the selling has been overdone.

By Trefis Dec 19, 2011 12:23PM

Best Buy (BBY) reported a sharp decline of roughly 30% in its net profits this quarter compared to the same period last year. It missed consensus analysts' EPS estimate by approximately 8%, according to Thomson Reuters.

 

 More importantly, investors reacted negatively to the fall in gross margins sending the shares down 15% earlier last week. Best Buy competes with general retailers like Wal-Mart (WMT) and Costco (COST) as well as other specialty retailers like Radio Shack (RSH) and GameStop (GME).

 
Tags: BBYWMT

Oil majors operating in Iraq are looking to beef up security and ramp up production.

By Trefis Dec 19, 2011 12:08PM
Comstock/CorbisExxon Mobil (XOM) is readying for new challenges in Iraq as the U.S. troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq. Oil majors operating in Iraq are looking to beef up security by hiring additional personnel in case the security situation worsens. The companies are central to the local government's plans of ramping up production over the next few years. Exxon is also venturing into Kurdistan, in part driven by better security situation in the northern part of Iraq. British company British Petroleum (BP) had to temporarily halt production in southern Rumaila fields after the pipeline network in the area was hit by an explosion.

We have a $93 price estimate for Exxon Mobil, a 15% premium over its current market price.

 
Tags: bpXOM

Vertex was upgraded to 'top pick,' while Children's Place was downgraded to 'neutral.'

By MSN Money Partner Dec 19, 2011 11:55AM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Monday's noteworthy upgrades include:
  • BMC Software (BMC) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JP Morgan
  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) upgraded to Top Pick from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
  • Lazard (LAZ) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
  • DTE Energy (DTE) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
  • Torchmark (TMK) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
 
Tags: CTRPGRPN

Potash might not glitter, but it may be worth some consideration for the commodities portion of your portfolio.

By The Fiscal Times Dec 19, 2011 11:18AM
PotashBy Suzanne McGee, The Fiscal Times

After rocketing $500 an ounce in the first eight months of the year, gold prices have tumbled as investors take an increasingly bearish view of commodities in general.

For most commodities, that skepticism is warranted. But gold's recent nosedive and predictions that it will fall to $1,400 an ounce in coming weeks, well below the September record of $1,923.70, has some market watchers raising their eyebrows. After all, isn't gold a different kind of commodity -- a sort of haven, an asset that serves as a refuge from uncertain economic times and volatile markets, just the kind that we have lived through in the second half of 2011? 

Anytime whispers of a European rescue boost markets, take the opportunity to sell out of economically sensitive stocks.

By Jim Cramer Dec 19, 2011 10:47AM

the streetWe just keep thinking that someone will come to the rescue. We keep thinking that everything "bad" that is happening is actually already "in" the market. We keep talking about opportunities from the selling of premium assets by Credit Agricole or Paribas. We keep thinking it is business as usual and we can just go buy anything that's down.


What's so amazing is that there is no evidence that this hopeful attitude is worth anything at all, except in sporadic moments when we get a takeover -- Novellus (NVLS) -- or we get a report that confounds the short sellers -- Federal Express (FDX) numbers being the best example last week.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices strung together a daylong rally on Tuesday, giving the S&P 500 its sixth consecutive advance. Some selling during the final hour of action pressured the indices from their highs, but they still ended with the bulk of their gains. The benchmark index added 0.4% with eight sectors finishing in the green, while the Nasdaq (+1.0%) outperformed throughout the session.

Although the stock market began the day on a flat note, the major averages quickly took the ... More


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