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Take bubble talk with a grain of salt

Jim Cramer asks, why pay any attention to letters from a manager who lost money in the first quarter?

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As we work through this bout of market turbulence, investors can use these funds to gain exposure to industry giants like GE or steady dividend payers like Chevron.

By TheStreet Staff May 26, 2011 11:09AM

Arrow Down Umbrella © Photographers Choice RF/SuperStockBy Don Dion, TheStreet

 

The investing environment has been shaken by the bloody political protests in the Middle East and Northern Africa, Japan's natural disasters, the commodities shakeup and most recently, the resurgence of the European debt crisis.

 

Although this rocky situation from these headwinds may prove too much to many, I advise against fleeing the marketplace at this time.

 

Rather, by making adjustments, it is possible for battered investors to weather current economic storms and prepare for clearer skies ahead.

 

In a range-bound trading environment, companies that execute well return to the forefront, and those that do their homework are rewarded.

By Jim Cramer May 26, 2011 9:41AM

the streetjim cramerRange-bound?

 

There's a phrase we haven't heard lately. It does seem, for however fleeting a time, that the euro is range-bound vs. the dollar -- call it $140-$150 on the CurrencyShares Euro Trust (FXE). And oil seems to have settled in to the $100 range, give or take a couple of bucks, despite aggressive pushing by two major companies.

 

When we get all range-bound, we tend to focus on the fundamentals and the possibilities that things can "calm down." When we look at the "actuals" instead of being blinded by the volatility, what we see are some companies in more control of their destiny than others, and some companies losing control of their destiny while others seem to be regaining control.

 

Take apparel. Wednesday we were shocked that Ralph Lauren (RL) was scalded by commodity inflation. It was really ugly. Took me by surprise. But then Guess (GES) reported, and I figured they would blow it, but they instead delivered perfectly. Took me by surprise.

 

The gaming company best known for 'Farmville' and other games on Facebook is reportedly in IPO talks. With video.

By Kim Peterson May 25, 2011 1:55PM
There's no question that the super-hot LinkedIn (LNKD) IPO last week changed the tech landscape. Companies that weren't planning to go public started to entertain the option. And some that were planning IPOs revised their timetables.

I'm not sure we can call it a bona fide bubble yet, but don't be surprised to hear much more about tech IPOs soon. Case in point: Zynga, a social-networking company whose business model is "almost completely dependent on Facebook," as Portfolio notes.

Zynga is best known for "Farmville," "Mafia Wars" and other games played by Facebook users.

Post continues after this video about whether a Zynga IPO makes sense: 

The company has hired an adviser to explore options for its future.

By Kim Peterson May 25, 2011 1:01PM

Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET.

 

Shares of Martha Stewart Living (MSO) rocketed as much as 36% to $5.10 today on news that the company has hired an advisory firm to help figure out its future.

 

The shares dropped back to $4.67 at the close, still a 23.9% gain.

The possible scenarios here range from an outright sale to the formation of a partnership to going completely private. In any case, investors seem to like the potential changes.

Another plus: Martha is returning to the board this year. She was banned from the board for five years in a settlement with securities regulators but can return in August. Stewart served five months in prison after a 2004 conviction for obstructing justice and lying to investigators about a stock sale.

 

The boot-maker's CEO gives the computer giant a swift kick regarding sustainability.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day May 25, 2011 1:01PM

By Alyce Lomax

 

Should consumers have to choose between "moral consumption" and the coolest technology? Timberland (TBL) CEO Jeffrey Swartz posed that question in a recent blog post aimed squarely at Apple (AAPL) and its devoted fans.

 

Swartz's blog is called Rantings of a Responsible CEO, and this particular post, highlighted by ZDNet, centered on responsibility in corporate supply chains. Swartz contends that companies in his industry have to be transparent regarding supply-chain issues, unlike tech companies. He points out that such openness from companies like Timberland, Nike (NKE) and Adidas has debunked "competitive secret" myths.

 

Swartz makes valid points in his criticism, discussing how Apple does seem to get away with pretty unpleasant business concerning the foreign suppliers it relies on.

 

It's been hit hard recently, but the primary gas ETF and several leading stocks are showing signs of a bottom.

By MoneyShow.com May 25, 2011 11:03AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

From the 2008 high of $13.61, natural gas futures plunged to a low of $2.50 just 14 months later. Over the past two years, the ranges have narrowed but have stayed near historically low levels.

Estimates indicate that the current amount of natural gas available for production would be enough to last 100 years under current domestic consumption. 

With natural gas so cheap, about 40% of natural gas production is sold for less than it costs to produce.

The prolonged price slump has caused many companies to concentrate on drilling for oil instead of gas because the profit margins are much more attractive for oil. It is possible that decreasing natural gas supply will be met by increasing demand.

As I noted in early May, the weekly volume analysis on the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) indicated that an intermediate-term bottom was forming. Also, several of the larger natural gas companies have now corrected to strong support.

Natural gas was in the news on Tuesday, as El Paso Corporation (EP) was up 7% for the day on very heavy volume after it announced that it will split into two companies.
 
Tags: etfoil

Diving into newly public online companies like LinkedIn and Yandex can be risky, but ETFs with a heavy online focus may see a near-term benefit from the excitement.

By TheStreet Staff May 25, 2011 10:45AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

The Internet was thrust into the spotlight with LinkedIn (LNKD) recent trading debut. While exciting to watch, investing in this industry could prove tricky in the weeks ahead.

 

Despite the rampant investor interest, clearly much remains unknown about companies like LinedIn and Russia's Yandex (YNDX), which debuted Tuesday. Until the dust settles, it will be difficult to judge how they will perform. In the aftermath of LinkedIn's explosive action late last week, many analysts and commentators have begun to clamor over whether or not we are witnessing signs of a new dot-com bubble.

 

Given the swirling uncertainty, I caution against diving into any of these newly public companies at this time. This does not mean, however, that investors should shun this corner of the tech sector entirely.

 

On the contrary, ETFs with heavy focus on online companies may be well-positioned to benefit in the near term as interest in the Internet reaches a boiling point.

 

Opinion: Amid recent economic data and market performance, evidence shows things to be much less than apocalyptic.

By TheStreet Staff May 25, 2011 10:17AM

By Jeff Kleintop, TheStreet

 

Contrary to warnings on trains, billboards and the radio, the apocalypse did not take place Saturday, May 21. The events predicted for the purported Judgment Day did not come to pass. Nevertheless, early last week market participants acted as if the end was near:

1. Investors drove the yield on the 10-year Treasury down to 3.11%, threatening to break the 3% threshold for the first time since last summer, when fears of a return to recession gripped market participants.

 

2. Investor sentiment, measured by the American Association of Individual Investors, plunged to one of its weakest readings since the low of the financial crisis and recession in March 2009.

 

3. Individual investors continued to sell domestic stock funds, with outflows reported by the Investment Company Institute last week totaling more than $2 billion for the prior week. Stocks fell for a third straight week, although only slightly.

 

The company's classic razor-and-razorblades business model, attractive stock price and tasty product make it a compelling story.

By Jim Cramer May 25, 2011 8:36AM

jim cramerthe streetIs SodaStream (SODA) a fad or the real deal? Last week I had the CEO on "Mad Money," and I have to tell you that I think this is the real deal.

 

This billion-dollar company offers a solution to a lot of problems. One, the cost of soda. Two, the freshness of soda -- nothing like fizz fresh from the can, the way I used to like it when I had seltzer delivered. And three, the environmental problems of cans and bottles. As much as we would like to think that we are a recycling nation, we are not even close to being so, and I don't think we will get there anytime soon.


For all of that, you get an $80 machine, two cylinders of CO2 for $15 and a bunch of flavors ranging from $4 to $8 that make dozens of bottles of fresh soda.


But does it taste good? I am going head to head with Herb Greenberg, my old friend, former colleague and current colleague at CNBC, to address this lingering issue. To me, the stuff tastes great. To my kids, who are of the new age of total environmental enforcement, the taste is great, and even better, the cans and bottles are a thing of the past.

 

After telling clients last month to sell commodities, Goldman Sachs reverses course in May, citing economic growth.

By Jim J. Jubak May 24, 2011 4:16PM
Jim JubakThis morning, Goldman Sachs (GS) repeated its bullish call on commodities.

Let's start at the beginning. On April 12, the Wall Street investment bank told its clients to sell commodities.

Goldman reversed that call May 6, saying that the pullback in commodities has created "an opportunity for more upside potential, particularly in the second half of this year, when fundamentals are expected to tighten."

Today’s call is stronger: "The risk/reward once again favors being long commodities," Jeffrey Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs in London, told clients today, May 24. "Economic growth will likely be sufficient to tighten key supply-constrained markets in the second half, leading to higher prices."
 

The singer takes a significant stake in a company that's running low on cash.

By Kim Peterson May 24, 2011 1:45PM
Credit: (©Jordan Strauss/WireImage/Getty Images)
Caption: Singer Justin BieberDabbling in penny stocks is risky. Just ask Justin Bieber.

The floppy-haired singing sensation has agreed to act as a spokesman for DriveSafe software from Options Media Group Holdings (OPMG), the company announced. Bieber will endorse DriveSafe online and in person, and the company is planning a Bieber-focused product launch on June 6.

Options Media Group markets an app that blocks a car driver from texting, Web surfing and making outgoing calls while driving. "It is tragic that almost on a daily basis there are reports of deaths and severe injuries caused by drivers who are texting and driving," Bieber said in a press release.

Sounds OK, right? As it turns out, Bieber is associating himself with -- and becoming part owner of -- a company in financial trouble. As part of the deal, Bieber gets warrants to purchase 121 million shares of common stock at a penny per share, or a total of 16.4% of the company, which can be exercised over three years. Bieber also gets royalties on DriveSafe sales. 

In a time of international uncertainty, the iShares MSCI Canada Index Fund stands out with its exposure to natural resources and strong banks.

By TheStreet Staff May 24, 2011 12:33PM

By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

After weeks of residing in the background, Europe's debt crisis has once again taken center stage. As the futures of vulnerable European nations like Greece, Italy and Ireland are being called into question, investor ire has risen and concerns have begun to mount regarding the long-term stability of the current global economic recovery.

 

The international investing realm has become tricky to navigate as trials such as the one currently facing Europe cast a shadow over nations outside the U.S. borders. With an open eye, however, it is possible for ETF investors to target foreign nations that could hold promise in the weeks and months ahead.

 

Canada is one example of a developed market nation that could prove stable down the road. Due to its heavy exposure to oil sands and other natural resources, I have often turned to our northern neighbor as an attractive international destination for commodities-hungry investors.

 

Beyond its heavy exposure to commodities, however, Canada boasts other strengths as well.

 

Russian search firm Yandex could turn out to be the star of this week's IPOs, raising $1.3 billion on the heels of LinkedIn's debut.

By TheStreet Staff May 24, 2011 12:06PM

By Debra Borchardt, TheStreet

 

It's a busy week for initial public offerings with eight companies scheduled to go public, and it looks like Tuesday's headliner, Yandex (YNDX) may be the star of the bunch.

 

Known as the RussianGoogle (GOOG), Yandex reportedly was able to price its stock sale at $25 per share, above a projected range of $20-$22 per share, allowing the Internet search company to raise $1.3 billion late Monday, according to The New York Times.

 

Yandex is often compared toBaidu.com (BIDU), and that would likely be fine for investors who are buying Yandex stock on its first day. Baidu shares, which are up more than 40% in 2011, went public in 2005 at $27 per share and closed Monday at $129.47.

 

Renewed debt problems in the Eurozone have shaken world markets this week, and if the crisis spreads to other nations, there are two in particular that look most vulnerable.

By MoneyShow.com May 24, 2011 11:15AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

Rising concerns that Greece would default on its debt obligations spurred selling around the globe on Monday with some of the worst losses sustained in Asian markets. 

It has been over a year since these debt concerns first surfaced, so many market participants are likely wondering whether Greece’s problems will spread or if they will have any long-lasting effects.

Over the past year, the euro debt crisis has only had a short-term impact on the US markets, as the major averages have soon resumed their overall uptrends. 

Clearly, Monday’s drop in the US market has done some technical damage, as the short-term bottoming formations discussed last week (see “Market Timing 101”) have now been broken.

The intermediate-term analysis for the stock market is positive, though a test of the April lows at 1294-1302 in the S&P 500 and 12,100-12,200 in the Dow Industrials is a now a greater possibility. Of the major averages, the Dow Jones Transportation Average is still holding above its recent lows.

A technical look at the STOXX 50 average, which is made up of the 50 largest companies in Europe based on market capitalization, can give us some key levels to watch over the next week. There are two European nations that seem to be the most vulnerable if the debt contagion spreads.
 
Tags: etf

ValueAct's Jeff Ubben sees a good company at a good price.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day May 24, 2011 10:45AM

By Michael Olsen, CFA

 

It's 8:15 on a glorious Southern California morning, and I'm waiting to hear Jeff Ubben, managing director and founder of ValueAct, speak.

 

ValueAct is one of my favorite activist investors. They've built a reputation as gentlemen activists, but their annual returns precede them, 13.5% since inception. Ubben fits the profile: He's well-coiffed and articulate, sprinkles his opening remarks with well-read mentions, and shows a tendency toward polite contrarianism.

 

He moved from New York to San Francisco to get away from Wall Street. Where value constructionists favor valuation over business quality, he's rigorously focused on good businesses at good prices. He references his friendship with Jonah Lehrer, avid commentator on neuroscience and behavioral economics, and likens ValueAct's vetting process to flight school.

 

His investment idea, the product of a recent company split, doesn't disappoint.

 

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