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.


I looked at this stock about a year ago, and my thoughts are still relevant today.

By V.N. Katsenelson Jul 20, 2011 4:30PM

Risk of growth by acquisition

Very significant portion of Brown & Brown's (BRO) growth in the past came from acquiring brokers.  I am naturally skeptical of sustainability of this type of growth as it comes with the following risks:


A midcycle upgrade is coming in time for a year-end sales boost, an analyst says.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 20, 2011 2:42PM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet


Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 4S isn't the only device getting a minor upgrade. The Mac shop is also preparing a modest improvement to the iPad, which should arrive in time for the holidays.


Eager to flog would-be tablet competitors, Apple has modified the iPad 2 with a "slimmer profile with higher screen and camera resolution," said Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar, citing his supply and manufacturing sources.


The midcycle upgrade appears to advance the iPad 2 but is not the full redesign expected with next year's iPad 3, Kumar said.


These shares may not be long-term holds, but they are cheap.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jul 20, 2011 2:24PM

By Matt Koppenheffer


Fool regulars may know that although I spend most of my time looking for value-priced, dividend-paying stocks that I can own for the long term, I do occasionally like to rummage around in the bargain bin to see if there are any severely beaten-down stocks worth owning.


With these stocks, I'm not looking for cream-of-the-crop businesses that I want to own for years. I'm simply looking for decent businesses that are underpriced. I put a small amount of money into each and own them as a broader basket.


This search is far from idle. In my last go-round, one stock, Genworth Financial, was already part of personal portfolio, and three of the four others -- Bank of America (BAC), Hartford Financial Services (HIG), and Cemex -- have all been buys for me since I published that article.


Shares of the real-estate website roar out of the gate. Stock in the headphone company is not as hot.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 20, 2011 2:21PM

By Joe Deaux, TheStreet


Shares of Zillow (Z) and Skullcandy (SKUL) rose Wednesday as investors favored the real-estate and headphone companies on their first day of trading.


Zillow's shares closed at $35.77, up 78.9%, while Skullcandy shares were up 1.6% at $20.32.


Skullcandy reached a high of $23.40 but slowly crept down during the noon hour. Zillow opened at $20 a share, leaped to $60 in the opening minutes, then quickly fell after buyers of the initial price offer sold off at a 200% profit.


Shares slip after Amazon strikes a streaming deal with CBS.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 20, 2011 2:01PM

By Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet


The chips keep stacking higher against Netflix (NFLX), with Amazon (AMZN) announcing a streaming partnership with CBS (CBS) on Wednesday.


As part of the agreement, the e-commerce giant will allow its Prime users to stream CBS' television content. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.


Starting this summer, Amazon will add 2,000 episodes, growing its total number of Prime instant videos to more than 8,000 movies and television shows. It will also offer full seasons for 18 popular television series, including The Tudors, Numb3rs, Medium, the complete Star Trek franchise, Frasier and Cheers.


The move comes as Netflix has faced stark criticism from subscribers after a rate hike and outage.


Strong market performance this week has set up favorable buying opportunities in ETFs tracking consumer discretionaries, technology and consumer staples.

By Jul 20, 2011 10:59AM
By Tom Aspray,

The impressive rally Tuesday rescued the stock market from critical support as the financial-heavy Spyder Trust (SPY) dropped below the 61.8% support Monday but closed well off the lows. The Dow Industrials retraced just over 50% of the prior rally, while the tech-heavy PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ) held its 38.2% retracement support.

The advance/decline (A/D) lines for all of the major averages have turned up sharply, but it will be important that they keep pace with prices and confirm any upside breakouts. The McClellan Oscillator has turned up from oversold levels, and at -42, it is well below overbought territory.

The decline into the June lows and the rally into the early-July highs have caused some significant changes in the relative performance, or RS analysis, for the major sectors. Since mid-April, my sector analysis has favored consumer staples and health care as the new star performers.

Though these two sectors still look positive technically, they are not currently leading the market higher as they did going into the May highs. In June, I added the Select Sector SPDR Utilities (XLU) to my favored list as well. (See The Best Sectors for Summer.)

Last month, I also added the Select Sector SPDR Consumer Discretionary (XLY), which alongside the Select Sector SPDR Technology (XLK) makes up the leading sector ETFs.

With giants like GE and Caterpillar ready to report earnings, these funds offer investors a range of aggressive and conservative plays in the sector.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 20, 2011 10:27AM

Image: Industrial (© Kevin Burke/Corbis)By Don Dion, TheStreet


In the same way the financial sector dominated earnings-related headlines last week, during the latter half of this week, industrials will be front and center as leading companies like General Electric (GE) and Caterpillar (CAT) report their quarterly performances and updated outlooks.


The market's multi-week spurt of rocky action has pressured emotions recently. However, breakout numbers from these giants of industry would be a welcome dose of confidence for wearied and doubtful global investors.


ETF investors have a range of options to tap into this corner of the market. As companies step up and provide insight into the future, it may be worth putting some of these products on the watch list.


Demand should surge over the next 25 years. Consider 2 stocks and an ETF.

By InvestorPlace Jul 20, 2011 9:32AM

Image: Natural gas (© Ron Chapple/Jupiterimages)By Tom Taulli, InvestorPlace

For the past couple of years, natural gas has been a dud for investors. A big problem has been the surge in production, which has been driven by new innovations like fracking and horizontal drilling.

Yet this may be short-term noise. According to a report from the International Energy Agency, natural gas is poised for a golden age, with at least a 50% spike in demand by 2035.

Why the growth? There are many key factors. First, there will be a continued focus on energy sources that have lower carbon emission levels. And demand from China, India and other emerging economies should remain strong.

In addition, as seen with the Fukushima nuclear implosion in Japan, natural gas looks fairly safe. Consider that Germany recently said it will shut down 17 of its nuclear power plants.


Even at the peak of the scandal, shares went up. And the stock remains a buy, because this robust media empire puts up the numbers that Wall Street craves.

By Jim Cramer Jul 20, 2011 9:12AM

jim cramerthe streetHow could News Corp. (NWSA) go up almost a dollar Tuesday despite the endless grilling the Murdochs received in front of British lawmakers intent on finding out -- to use the old Watergate phrase -- "What did you know and when did you know it?"


Isn't this empire falling apart before our eyes? Isn't this the denouement of a great media empire? Isn't this a modern-day "Citizen Kane," in which a tremendous kingpin and his newspaper come crashing down, one in which you want to jump up and down and shout "Rosebud," which would have been far more effective than a shaving-cream pie in making the twilight point? Is the stock's rally just mocking us?


Hardly. In fact, this is just exactly how things play out in the stock world. Tuesday was the peak day, the day when the buck stopped at the Murdochs. And despite what I am sure will be endless attempts to keep this juicy story alive, from now on it will be more Page 6 than it is the business page, meaning that the worst is over for the business  -- even if it isn't for the Murdochs, although it is probably over for them, too.


Revenue for the consumer tech giant soars 82%, and today's announcement of a new MacBook Air and Lion OS could mean even bigger sales to come.

By InvestorPlace Jul 20, 2011 8:52AM

To say Apple (AAPL) impressed Wall Street with its profit and sales results Tuesday is the understatement of the year. Kind of like saying the iPhone is nice for making calls or that Steve Jobs is pretty good with computers.

Let's put it this way: When you triple your profits and beat sales forecasts by about $3.5 billion in an environment where consumers are still skittish, you're doing fine.

And as if Tuesday's numbers weren't impressive enough, Apple grabbed headlines again Wednesday by unveiling dramatic updates with its MacBook Air, Mac mini and Lion operating system.  

The company blew away expectations in its most recent quarter, but it still has some long-term worries.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 19, 2011 8:55PM
Jim JubakJust in case you were in danger of forgetting, Google’s (GOOG) second-quarter earnings report last Thursday should remind you: It’s good to be out in front of the market, but as an investor you don’t want to be too far out in front.

I can pick a ton of holes in Google’s competitive position, and point out the challenges it faces over the next couple of years. But the market right now doesn’t want to hear about anything so far off.

The news that counts is that Google is producing great numbers from its current dominance of the Internet search space:

  • For the second quarter, Google reported earnings of $8.74 a share (excluding one-time items). That was 91 cents a share above the Wall Street consensus estimate of $7.83.

After a pullback on concerns over the US debt ceiling and the future of the eurozone, buyers reassert the strength seen in late June.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jul 19, 2011 3:45PM

It's been a volatile couple of weeks. Investors have been held captive to the headlines -- which by nature are dynamic and unpredictable. Traders, with nowhere else to hide, flocked to the safety of precious metals and sold pretty much everything else. Treasury bonds and stocks have both been hit in recent days.


Here at home, the politicos in Washington have danced ever closer to the Aug. 2 debt ceiling deadline with seemingly irreconcilable positions on taxes and spending. And across the Atlantic, the sovereign debt contagion that pulled down Greece, Ireland and Portugal started to threaten core countries like Spain and Italy. Scary stuff.


That all changed on Tuesday as stocks and other risky assets screamed higher as these two political uncertainties -- the U.S. debt ceiling and the new Greek bailout -- move toward positive resolutions. And that sets the stage for the resumption of the medium-term uptrend I've been writing about in my columns and blog posts lately. Here's why and how to take advantage.


Taking a position ahead of quarterly results, even if they are better than expected, can be risky, but assessing technical outlook can provide a valuable edge.

By Jul 19, 2011 12:10PM
By Tom Aspray,

Monday was a rough day for the stock market, as the S&P 500 again dropped below the 1300 level and tested the 61.8% support before rebounding into the close. The short-term Advance/Decline (A/D) indicators like the McClellan Oscillator are back to oversold levels last seen at the June lows.

Because the S&P 500 has a large number of financial stocks, it was hit harder than the other major averages. The Dow Industrials and Nasdaq 100 are both still holding above their 50% support levels.

This is a big week for earnings, and in yesterday’s column, I featured a list of the Nasdaq 100’s 20 most overbought stocks. The relationship of a stock’s price to its weekly Starc bands can help you decide what action, if any, is appropriate just before or after earnings are released.

Shares of the tech powerhouse suffered their worst first-half performance since 2008 on growth worries, but investors still see upside after the stock's rebound.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 19, 2011 12:01PM

By Robert Holmes, TheStreet


Apple (AAPL) shares notched yet another all-time high Monday even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) tumbled nearly 100 points, an impressive comeback for a stock that suffered its worst first-half performance in three years.


Apple, which is due to report quarterly results after the closing bell today, lost some of its shine earlier this year on worries about whether the company could sustain its high growth rate. Apple didn't hold to its schedule of launching a new iPhone iteration in June. Competition from Google (GOOG) and other handset and tablet makers intensified. Perhaps most importantly, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took yet another leave of absence for health reasons.


By June 20, Apple shares hit a low of $310.50, 3.7% below the stock's closing price at the end of 2010. Through the first six months of the year, Apple shares had their worst first-half performance since 2008, when the worst recession since the Great Depression bruised equities.


Funds tracking gold and the Swiss franc have become increasingly attractive in a turbulent market.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 19, 2011 11:34AM

Image: Pie Chart © Christine Balderas/Photodisc/Getty ImagesBy Don Dion, TheStreet


It's a new week, but on the economic front not much has changed. U.S. lawmakers continue to butt heads trying to construct a plan regarding the debt ceiling.


And across the Atlantic, the European Union remains embattled in a debt challenge of its own. In the days ahead, investors can expect more in the way of uncertainty as those issues dominate headlines and raise doubts about the global economic recovery and growth picture.


Despite the resounding anxiety and rising investor ire, a handful of options have actually managed to buck market jitters and power higher. Looking to the near term, these corners of the market may be worth keeping an eye on as we head further into the second half of the year.



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[BRIEFING.COM] The Nasdaq Composite (-0.8%) has slipped to a fresh session low, while the S&P 500 (-0.2%) has slid into the neighborhood of its own low that was established during the first hour of action.

Top-weighted sectors (sans financials) remain in the red, and the discretionary space has widened its loss to 0.5%. Homebuilders took a hit this morning in reaction to a disappointing New Home Sales report and the iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction ETF (ITB 23.28, ... More


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