The chain still has quality management and strong retention rates.
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These aggressive plays could gain from the noted investment strategist's anti-consensus expectations.
By Paul Mazzilli, TheStreet
Doug Kass, the investment strategist and a RealMoney Silver contributor, recently published his widely followed "15 Surprises for 2011." Below are some aggressive ways to play eight of those surprises through ETFs.
Note that many of these plays include leveraged and inverse ETFs, which are most suitable for short-term trading and which may have tracking errors over time.
Surprise: In line with consensus, the domestic economy experiences a strong first half, but several factors conspire to produce a weakening second half, which jeopardizes corporate profit growth forecasts.
ETF play: Stay invested early in 2011, but later in 2011, establish a long position in a leveraged inverse ETF that seeks minus 200% returns on a broad market index. The most popular is the ProShares UltraShort S&P500 (SDS).
From video Barbie to Tonka Chuck, toys topped the list of holiday must-haves.
One analyst said Mattel (MAT) and RC2 (RCRC) were the best performers.
Mattel shares have been on a nice six-month run, going from just less than $22 to close to $26 as of Wednesday. RC2 shares have climbed from $16 to $21.30.
Fears of military spending cuts are overblown, and these picks are well-positioned to win new contracts.
Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor
If, like me, you're an 8-year-old boy at heart, it's hard to imagine that missiles, tanks and fighter jets could ever fall out of favor.
Yet our allies in Britain are busy decommissioning warships, delaying weapons upgrades and canning the development of some high-tech military vehicles. Here on U.S. soil, meanwhile, we're hearing rumors that cuts in defense spending are as certain as slop in the mess hall (or a bad-tasting MRE). These fears have weighed on defense stocks, sending the group down 8% since the beginning of the year.
Privately held shares are being swapped so frequently that regulators are paying attention.
This is the same problem that forced Google (GOOG) into an IPO perhaps earlier than its founders wanted.
Facebook has issued privately held shares to employees and other investors, and those shares are being traded so much that the Securities and Exchange Commission has asked Facebook for more information about what's going on. The SEC has made similar requests in to Twitter, Zynga and LinkedIn, the Times reports.
These funds are well positioned to profit from a global wireless boom.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Whereas the gadgets were once used mainly to stay in contact with friends and loved ones through phone calls and texts, consumers are increasingly turning to their iPhones, Droids and BlackBerry devices to connect with the world around them, surf the Internet, play games, check email and keep a constant eye on work.
Downloadable films feel like one more doomed move to right the once-dominant department store chain.
By Jeff Reeves, editor of InvestorPlace.com
Though it's been a happy holiday for many retailers -- sales data Tuesday confirmed many shops are on track for their best December in three years -- one battered big-box store that can't seem to get it right is Sears Holdings (SHLD). The operator of Sears and Kmart stores has projected sales will slide about 4% in the current quarter year over year.
Poor sales have become a habit at Sears and Kmart, and they have sparked an air of desperation in 2010 -- from testing Sears grocery delivery in urban markets to relinquishing a retail monopoly on the Craftsman brand via a partnership with Ace Hardware.
History suggests stocks should blast higher as we enter the third year of the president's term.
With the midterm elections behind us and 2011 looming large, Wall Street strategists are looking forward to the famously profitable third year of the four-year presidential cycle. The logic is easy: Presidents tend to be tough in the first two years, but in the final two with their re-election looming, policy turns toward stimulating the economy and securing a second term.
As a result, Merrill Lynch chief market technician Mary Ann Bartels points out, the third year of presidential terms typically delivers about 15% returns. Jeffrey Hirsh of Stock Trader's Almanac fame notes that there hasn't been a down year in the third year of a presidential term since war-torn 1939, when the Dow fell 2.9%. The only severe loss going back 100 years happened in 1931 during the Depression.
We're in the middle of the sweet spot right now: between the fourth quarter of the midterm year and the first quarter of the pre-election year.
One Morningstar analyst looks at funds that are slightly expensive but poised for growth.
But being new funds, they don't have the attractive expense ratios you'd find at older ones. The hope is to get in on these now, and asset growth would drive costs down.
If you're willing to accept that negative, then here are the nine funds that Kinnel likes:
The upcoming device will offer consumers more wireless capability, according to a report.
By Maggie Overfelt, TheStreet
Another day, another round of speculation about one of Apple's (AAPL) upcoming products.
On Tuesday, DigiTimes reported that Apple is preparing three versions of its upcoming iPad 2, some of which will be Wi-Fi- or CDMA-equipped, offering customers "more" wireless solutions than what's available with the current iPad iteration.
The automaker should benefit from rising industry sales and improving comparisons with Ford, analysts say.
By Ted Reed, TheStreet
Since returning to the public markets on Nov. 18, GM shares have traded in a narrow window between $33 and $36. Shortly after midday Tuesday, they were trading near the high end, up 81 cents to $35.41.
As the year winds down, the outlook for GM appears positive, both because a rising tide of vehicle sales should lift all boats in the auto industry and because analysts are generally optimistic about the company's prospects.
Smart-phone hardware is getting cheaper, and Google's platform is the go-to software for new low-end devices.
That's according to Fortune, which says half a billion smart phones could be sold worldwide next year. "Smart phones will likely blow by traditional computers next year as the way most of the world gains access to the Internet," writes Seth Weintraub.
So far, smart-phone growth has been centered around developed countries. But even in the U.S., smart phones account for only about a third of all phones, Fortune reports.
The retailer sold 158 items per second on its peak shopping day.
The company's holiday press releases are exasperating. Amazon dribbles out some carefully chosen facts but is silent about so many others. As a result, we're left trying to decipher what those few numbers really mean about the retailer's holiday quarter.
In this case, the numbers are pretty impressive. Amazon said it sold 13.7 million items worldwide on its peak day, Nov. 29. That's 158 items every second -- a record for the company.
With a new year just a few trading days away, a few promising sectors stand out.
By Jonas Elmerraji, Stockpickr
This year is almost behind us, and what a year it has been. While the broad market's double-digit run-up has been nothing to scoff at, it has paled in comparison with the massive rallies that have taken place across specific industries and other asset classes.
Defense contractors are up nearly twice as much as the broad market this year. Small caps have rallied even more than that, and precious-metals funds are up more than four times as much as the S&P 500 in 2010.
But focused investing in those plays is easy when you have the benefit of hindsight. Instead, today we'll look at investments to focus on for 2011. With a new year just a few trading days away, a handful of industries stand out as attractive investments for 2011.
For-profit-education stocks have been massacred, leaving an opportunity or two in the aftermath.
Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor
The market has been singing some Pink Floyd lately -- specifically, "We don't need no education!" It's music to my ears.
Everyone and his alma mater hates for-profit universities. An index of the sector is down 46% from its April highs, as investors seem to be bracing for sweeping reforms and draconian regulations, whether from Congress or the Department of Education.
Will the Santa Claus rally continue?
Santa was very good for investors this year. A very impressive rally that began after Labor Day plowed forward again last week for a solid gain of .9%. That puts gains for 2010 solidly in double digits.
Not bad considering the amount of pessimism surrounding the markets for much of the year. I guess that’s why contrarians have done so well.
I’ll continue to play it safe with my ETF trades this week. My favorite pick is the contrarian play against the so-called January effect that can propel small stocks higher.
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With the universe of this category in its seasonal sweet spot, these picks have tailwinds propelling them into the new year.
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.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages finished the session on a lower note as the S&P 500 lost 0.4% while the Nasdaq shed 0.1%. The Russell 2000, which paced the retreat on Tuesday and Wednesday, added 0.2%, trimming its December loss to 3.5%.
After spending the first half of the session in a steady retreat, the S&P 500 found technical support in the 1772 area. Upon reaching that level, the index reversed sharply, and marched back to its flat line. There was no particular catalyst ... More
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