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Alternative ETFs employ multiple strategies, such as going both long and short, to keep performance high when markets turn volatile.
By Roger Nusbaum, TheStreet
Alternative funds, also known as market-neutral or absolute-return funds, can play a huge role in diversified portfolios if they meet their objectives.
As the summer started to wind down, the S&P 500 ($INX) rolled over into a downtrend with the extreme volatility normally associated with bear markets. So it is perhaps with good timing that ETF provider QuantShares has come to market with four such funds and has three more ready to debut soon.
The US Market Neutral Size Fund (SIZ) buys small-cap stocks and sells large-cap stocks short.
The restaurant ratings publisher will bolster local reviews, online coupon business and more for the search giant.
By Jeff Reeves, InvestorPlace.com
Google (GOOG) just announced it will buy the venerable restaurant rater Zagat. Details remain sketchy, but the news has both foodies and techies taking note.
For consumers, the result could be the latest offering from a big technology company trying to have a very local impact -- via deals or promoting off-the-beaten-path restaurants in your neighborhood that appeal to your tastes. For techies and investors, the Google purchase of Zagat is noteworthy because it means the tech giant is finding yet another way to extend its octopus-like reach into every facet of our lives.
Here's a look at what the Google-Zagat alliance could look like:
Multidecade lows even after recent gains mean big values for gutsy investors.
It seems that investors have no shortage of things to worry about. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index fell to 50.6 in August, indicating that the manufacturing sector is just a hair's breadth away from contracting.
In Europe, similar surveys show the manufacturing sector contracting in France and coming very close to contracting in Germany. The employment picture also looks downright awful.
Still, it would appear that much of the anxiety is overdone. Europe and the U.S. may indeed be slipping back into recession, but we are talking about a marginal drift from mildly positive growth to mildly negative shrinkage. We’re not looking at another 2008-caliber swan dive -- meaning now is the time to go bargain hunting.
These low-risk blue chips are beating the markets by wide margins and delivering income.
After a heinous August and a volatile start to September, low-risk investments are in focus.
But investors should not make the mistake of thinking they have to settle for low-risk, low-return investments. There are a host of high-yield stocks out there with big dividends and stable cash flows that have been enjoying significant share appreciation in 2011.
These investments offer the best of both worlds -- cash-rich blue chips that throw off plump dividends while outperforming the major indexes.
We have issues to work through, but it's wrong to be so gloomy when tech's seasonal strength is about to kick in and China may be ready to stop its economic tightening.
Too gloomy? That's what I am thinking these days when I talk to executives and fund managers and stock traders. Everyone has succumbed to an overwhelming sense that Europe has to bring down the world and that the United States is unmoored and unwilling or unable to lead.
Moreover, no one -- including me -- expects anything from the president tonight. We've been too bashed into believing the guy is anti-business, even if he actually doesn't hate capitalism. In fact, I don't know a soul anymore who doesn't think the president favors a socialized state, a la that of the struggling Europeans.
We're all waiting for the collapse in the euro, which we all know is untenable, to bring down the world.
But what if it doesn't?
The company gets approval to settle a class-action lawsuit by sending gift cards to current and former Netflix users.
But this allegation has suddenly turned into a marketing windfall for Wal-Mart -- and may allow it to steal some of Netflix's customers. Here's how it happened.
A class-action lawsuit was filed alleging that in 2005, Wal-Mart agreed to stop renting DVDs online if Netflix agreed it wouldn't sell physical DVDs. Wal-Mart denied the allegations, but agreed to pay $27.5 million to settle the case.
The company is showing some cracks as it receives criticism for several unpopular new initiatives.
By Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet
The company's string of announcements, including its price hike and the loss of content, has put a sour taste in subscribers' mouths.
But its recent faux pas are out of character for Netflix, which has been a consistent company that has impressed both investors and subscribers alike. The proof is in the stock. Shares of the company have surged more than 50% in the past year, and it now boasts more than 25 million subscribers.
"Netflix only screwed up once in the first seven years I covered them (from 2004 until mid-2011) when they cut prices to compete with Blockbuster," says Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. "They have now screwed up three times in the last couple of months (price increase, letting Starz get away, and capping streams per household). Maybe they'll right the ship, and maybe they will keep screwing up."
A step backward in the right direction.
By Morgan Housel
Part of Goldman Sachs' (GS) business is advising public companies on the virtues of returning private. Gone are the worries of beating expectations every quarter. Focus can shift to the long term. Dirty laundry isn't aired out for all to see. No disgruntled shareholders. No outside influences. Just business.
It might be time for Goldman to heed that advice itself. It should go private.
That only sounds bold if you forget that Goldman has been a private partnership for 92% of its existence. Founded in 1869, the bank didn't go public until 1999.
These picks offer exposure to the billions of dollars the league rakes in each year.
By Jonas Elmerraji, Stockpickr
Football is really back -- finally. The NFL regular season kicks off on Thursday when the New Orleans Saints meet the Packers at Green Bay. It's been a tumultuous road to the gridiron for the most valuable sports league in the world, with a lockout that threatened to curb football for the 2011 season -- a move that would have had implications beyond disappointing fans. After all, billions of dollars are at stake here.
And there is a way for investors to get exposure to the billions of dollars the NFL brings in each year. It's all about finding publicly traded stocks with hefty income statement exposure to the NFL.
Obviously, these aren't pure plays on football, but each of these names does receive meaningful revenue from the sport:
The rapper seems very interested in taking over Yahoo's business. Would he be any worse than the company's other top picks?
"Im takn over as tha CEO of Yahoo," Snoop wrote on Twitter. "Need sum of that Snoop Dogg content ya digg."
I digg. CEO Snoop (or maybe he would be called CEO Dogg) isn't such a bad idea.
Emerging markets often bottom ahead of developed ones, and if Japanese investors are right, these Brazil ETFs may present some interesting opportunities.
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com
Recent data from Lipper Financial indicates that in the past two years, Japanese investors have invested more than $100 billion in mutual funds tied to the Brazilian economy. The past few months have been quite hard on these investments, as the move out of higher-risk assets has hurt emerging markets.
The currency markets have not helped. The carry trade made the Brazilian real attractive to the Japanese, who could borrow at 0.1% in Japan and get 12.5% in Brazil.
The recent sharp rise in the yen, and fall in the Brazilian real, has dampened this enthusiasm. The prevailing wisdom is that the yen would have to get much stronger to cause significant unwinding of this position.
The recent rate cut in Brazil caught the markets by surprise, as inflation has risen sharply for the past 12 months. It is hoped that the cut will help the Brazilian economy stay strong as concerns grow over a global economic slowdown.
Often, emerging markets will bottom out ahead of developed markets, so I am closely watching the technical action of the Brazilian markets.
A rising greenback, spurred by currency events in Europe, helps knock the wind out of the precious-metals bubble.
Just when everyone had left the U.S. dollar for dead, abandoning the world's reserve currency for alternatives like the Swiss franc and gold bullion, it has risen from the dead. Like Lazarus. Only instead of waiting four days for resurrection, it has taken more than 15 months to perk up again.
The catalyst, as I discussed in a blog post last week, has been weakness in the euro as currency traders anticipate an end to the European Central Bank's rate-hiking campaign at its next policy announcement Thursday. After two rate hikes this year, the expectation is that the ECB will have no choice but to lighten up as bond yields in Greece, Italy and Spain rise on renewed sovereign debt concerns. Also contributing was a move by the Swiss National Bank to peg the franc to the euro to stem a flood of haven inflows into the currency -- an action that has weakened the euro against the dollar.
As a result, dollar-sensitive assets like crude oil, copper and precious metals came under pressure in Tuesday's trading. But while I think crude and copper will rebound along with stock prices as traders discount a re-acceleration of economic growth thanks to soon-to-be-announced stimulus measures, the same can't be said for gold and silver. Here's why.
Gold and dividend funds offer some safety when stock markets are rough.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
It's common for trading to be volatile during short trading weeks, and this week is no different. After a dismal Monday overseas, U.S. investors returned from the Labor Day weekend to find heavy losses.
In recent weeks, I have highlighted a variety of conservative assets investors can turn to for shelter from the economic storms. In the days ahead, many of these securities will offer welcome relief.
It's crucial to note that not all market shields are created equal. Before diving into any position, do your homework.
Things might get turbulent for Google shareholders in late October when Motorola reports its next earnings.
By Eric Jackson, TheStreet
It replaced a trusted hand -- CEO Eric Schmidt, who arguably is still young (56), with years left before he's ready to be put out to pasture -- with a young and unproven co-founder in Larry Page.
I warned earlier this year that Google stock shouldn't be owned for the next six months when the company made the announcement in January that Page was taking over for Schmidt. That call was correct, as Google's stock dropped from $626 on Jan. 20 when the succession was announced to $484 on June 20 -- a decline of 23%.
It's appropriate now to take a step back and see where Google really is in its own development and as a stock. In late June, Google bottomed out at around $474. After that, the stock jumped on its Q2 earnings and expectations.
The bank is in a constant state of patching its holes.
August certainly was an interesting month for the stock market. The Dow suffered about a 5% decline and the S&P lost almost 7%, but that's not the whole story. A chart of the major indexes looks like a big W, thanks to white-knuckle volatility, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average having moved in a roughly 1,500-point range. Some traders made a mint on well-timed buys.
One of the biggest movers in August was Bank of America (BAC). The financial stock shed about 18.5% last month to continue its ugly streak in 2011. However, shares did leap from $6 to $8 in just two trading days, rewarding those savvy few who bought the bottom.
Amid this volatility, the billion-dollar question for B of A investors should be whether the stock has the potential for another big move like that. Unfortunately, the direction of this stock seems to be down, down, down.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the midweek session on a mixed note. Blue chip listings bolstered the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.4%) and S&P 500 (+0.3%), while the Russell 2000 (-0.4%) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.02%) underperformed.
Equity indices began the day in the red, but wasted no time regaining their flat lines. Small-cap stocks were not as fortunate as the Russell 2000 spent the day in the red.
Upon returning into positive territory, the key indices were ... More
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