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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Data released Thursday may be a worrying sign for those monitoring macro trends, but it would be foolish for investors to view all retail stocks through the same prism.

By The Fiscal Times Jan 13, 2012 7:36PM
Macy'sBy Suzanne McGee, The Fiscal Times

December may have been a less-than-jolly month for retail sales, but that doesn’t mean that investors should demand discount valuations from all retail stocks in the same way that they insist on bargains at the mall.

Yes, the retail sales figures released Thursday disappointed economists and investors, especially those hoping for another "pop" like the ones from September and October (up 0.7% and 0.5%, respectively.) Alas: Despite the annual holiday shopping frenzy, overall retail sales edged up a mere 0.1% over November levels (or 0.2%, leaving out sales of automobiles), the slowest rate reported since May, as economists and analysts were quick to point out. That compares to economists’ forecasts of a 0.3% advance.
 

The world's biggest payment network benefits mightily from the rise of a global cashless economy.

By TheStockAdvisors Jan 13, 2012 6:32PM
Image: Creditcard Computer (© Stockbyte/SuperStock)This post is one in a series in which more than 50 newsletter advisers share their Top Picks for 2012.

By Nicholas Vardy, Alpha Investor

A business with steady and rich cash-flow that benefits from an  expanding global sector, Visa (V) is one of my favorite long-term ideas. 
Tags: V

The final act of the eurozone debt crisis will force the United States down a painful path.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jan 13, 2012 5:22PM

On Friday the 13th, the eurozone's existential nightmare plunged to new depths: Credit analysts at Standard & Poor's who cut America's AAA rating in August made good on their threats and cut France's AAA rating by one notch. They also handed two notch downgrades to Italy and Spain, according to widespread media reports.

 

This was done in response to a disappointing European Union summit back on Dec. 9 where, instead of addressing the structural issues at the heart of the crisis there -- namely, inadequate banking regulation and lack of true fiscal union -- or measures that could stem the crisis, the focus was on stricter budget discipline and austerity measures. That's the same mistake we made in 1937. And that same mistake was why the Great Depression lasted so long.

 

The team at S&P wasn't impressed and took action as Europe plunges headlong into a new recession. This, combined with the collapsing Greek bailout, has markets reeling and Wall Street analysts cutting their economic growth estimates. It couldn't come at a worse time.

 

Shares of the company have fallen amid concerns about the Chevy Volt. But those worries were overblown.

By Jim J. Jubak Jan 13, 2012 4:03PM
Image: Car side mirror (© Adam Gault / Digital Vision/Getty Images)I’m adding shares of Polypore International (PPO) to my Jubak’s Picks portfolio today.

Shares of Polypore got hammered by the scare about the danger of fire in the batteries of General Motors’ (GM) Chevrolet Volt.

That’s totally understandable. Ion exchange membranes for lithium batteries used in portable electronics and electric-drive vehicles made up about 24% of the company’s sales over the last four quarters. (Separators for traditional lead batteries make up about 50% of sales.)
 
Tags: gmPPO

Declines in defaults and delinquencies and the rise of mobile payments offset losses from Dodd-Frank fee caps.

By Trefis Jan 13, 2012 3:01PM
Image: Credit card (© Corbis) The past year was an eventful one for the credit card industry. The Dodd-Frank financial reforms shook the industry with a cap on debit card interchange fees, although the decline in credit card default rates and delinquencies provided some comfort. Developments in mobile payments paved the way for growth in transaction volumes. This boosted the stocks of Visa (V), MasterCard (MA), and Discover Financial (DFS), which were up 44%, 66% and 30%, respectively, for the year.

In this article we look at the top three events for the credit card industry in 2011. 
Tags: MA

With substantial gold and zinc resources, numerous joint ventures and future royalty streams, this stock looks like a bargain.

By TheStockAdvisors Jan 13, 2012 2:42PM
Image: Gold Bars (© Stockbyte/SuperStock)This post is one in a series in which more than 50 newsletter advisers share their Top Picks for 2012.

By Adrian Day, The Global Analyst

Virginia Mines (VGMNF) is arguably one of the most undervalued companies in the gold sector, with low risk but also significant upside.   
Tags: goldVGMNF

Shares tanked when CEO Glen Senk announced his departure, but he's part of the problem.

By InvestorPlace Jan 13, 2012 2:07PM

Image: Shopping (© imagewerks/Getty Images/Getty Images)By Jonathan Berr

The abrupt departure of Urban Outfitters' (URBN) CEO Glen Senk sent shares of the Philadelphia retailer reeling. Investors wondered if the ultra-cool parent of its namesake stores, Anthropologie and Free People would be able to recapture its lost mojo. While the stock recovered some of its lost ground, that's a question with no easy answer.


Urban Outfitters is a mess because in the words of Senk, the company has "a fashion issue." That's corporate-speak for the public thinks our clothes are ugly.

 

They handily outperformed in 2011, but recent technical action suggests the Dow could be more vulnerable than the now-lagging S&P 500.

By MoneyShow.com Jan 13, 2012 1:23PM

By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com


The stock market is getting ready for next week's heavy schedule of earnings reports. Many Dow components are expected to report next week, including International Business Machines (IBM), Microsoft (MSFT), and Intel (INTC), which are all scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19.


The Dow Industrials clearly outperformed the S&P 500 in 2011, but so far in 2012, the Spyder Trust (SPY), which tracks the S&P 500, has done about 1% better than the SPDR Diamonds Trust (DIA), which follows the Dow Industrials. But do the market internals and other technical factors favor one index over the other as we enter 2012?

 

A special variant made in Texas halts production after the parent company sues the bottler.

By Kim Peterson Jan 13, 2012 1:07PM
Credit: © LM Otero/AP
Caption: Lined up are some of the last bottles Dr Pepper produced in Dublin, Texas, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012. Under an agreement, the Dublin Dr Pepper bottler will end production of the drink that Jeff Kloster's family has been bottling for more than a century"Dublin" Dr Pepper is gone, leaving legions of soda fanatics -- and an entire Texas town -- in shock.

The soda, produced at the tiny Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling plant in Dublin, Texas, has been a cult favorite for years. Fans loved that it was still made from cane sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup. Locals saw the soda as one of the last economic strongholds in a struggling town with a population of just 3,800.

The bottler even added the word "Dublin" to the labels of its Dr Pepper and sold the soda on its website. In retrospect, that may have been its undoing. 
Tags: DPS

This maker of marine power transmission systems has solid earnings, new products, order backlogs and looks like a bargain.

By TheStockAdvisors Jan 13, 2012 12:58PM
Image: Semi trucks (© Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)This post is one in a series in which more than 50 newsletter advisers share their Top Picks for 2012.

By Dennis Slothower, Stealth Stocks

If you are looking for a solid growth company currently trading at a discount, then I strongly recommend Twin Disc (TWIN). 
Tags: TWIN

Orexigen, once the leading candidate to reach market, expects two more years of safety testing.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 13, 2012 12:39PM

Minyanville on MSN MoneyImage: Woman with empty plate (© Tara Moore/cultura/Corbis)By Brett Chase


A year ago, diet pill maker Orexigen Therapeutics (OREX) was riding high. It looked like the company was about to win a three-way race to sell the first new diet pill in the U.S. in more than a decade.

 

Orexigen's closest rivals, Vivus (VVUS) and Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA), were already knocked out (at least temporarily) as the Food and Drug Administration had rejected applications for their weight-loss pills. Orexigen had the backing of a panel of experts advising the FDA. It looked like the company had defied the odds and was rounding the corner to approval. In rejecting the rival diet pills, the U.S. agency stated strong concerns about the safety of the products. 

 

VMware and Akamai are downgraded, while Regions Financial is initiated with 'market perform.'

By MSN Money Partner Jan 13, 2012 11:55AM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Friday's noteworthy upgrades include:
  • Citrix Systems (CTXS) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
  • Safeway (SWY) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
  • Children's Place (PLCE) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at William Blair
 

The spate of downgrades this month may come back to haunt those who made the calls.

By Jim Cramer Jan 13, 2012 11:45AM

the street logoThe analysts' downgrades in 2012 aren't leaving any room for error. Errors like if nonresidential construction comes back. Errors like if housing ticks up in price and people get flushed in from the sidelines. Errors like if China cuts rates big. Errors like Europe's can-kicking works and we actually start seeing growth.

 

I am talking about downgrades like what we saw with 3M (MMM) and Emerson (EMR) Wednesday, or what we saw Thursday with homebuilders or real-estate investment trusts. These downgrades will come back to haunt analysts, I believe, because you can't thread the needle if we get a pickup. You can't switch directions that fast, and while the idea that a train is leaving the station right now seems unlikely, I do believe that when the turn comes you may not be able to upgrade in time.

 

Social networking site wants to play it straight.

By Jonathan Berr Jan 13, 2012 11:39AM
Maciej Frolow/Brand X/Getty ImagesFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is resisting proposals from investment bankers who are "developing and pitching unconventional strategies for the company to go public," CNBC.com reported. Zuckerberg, the report notes, prefers a more conventional approach.

The fact that Wall Street is pitching these ideas underscores the lengths that investment bankers are willing to go through to get a piece of what is expected to be one of the biggest if not the biggest, initial public offerings in history.  
Tags: JPMSAM

Not exactly a beacon of healthful living, the fast-food giant is criticized for linking its name to athletic contests.

By InvestorPlace Jan 13, 2012 11:24AM

McDonald's (MCD) once again is a top sponsor of the Olympic Games. But not everyone is lovin' it.


On Thursday, McDonald's announced it would continue its sponsorship through 2020, a deal estimated at about $100 million per four years, or for every pair (winter and summer) of Olympic Games.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 (-0.3%) remains near its recent levels, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.4%) and Russell 2000 (-0.5%) underperform.

Even though nine sectors trade below their flat lines, only two groups have surrendered their week-to-date gains. Industrials and technology hold respective week-to-date losses of 0.5% and 0.2%, while the other eight sectors are up between 0.1% (consumer discretionary) and 1.2% (energy) for the week. For its part, the S&P 500 has ... More


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