Energy boom makes oil a safe haven
Oil becomes a surprising haven

The idea of US crude being a shelter from turmoil abroad may not be as far fetched as it seems.


New rumors don’t change my view: GM will have two different plug-in electric car platforms in the next one to three years.

By Staff 25 minutes ago

The General Motors Co. logo is seen at their world headquarters in Detroit, Mich. © Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesA few days ago, the Internet was again abuzz with rumors about a future electric car from General Motors (GM). The claim was that it would have 200 miles of range, be available by the end of 2016 and be part of the Chevrolet Sonic nameplate.

In essence, this is only a variant of rumors based around seemingly inconsistent statements from then-outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson last December.  I analyzed these inconsistencies on Dec. 16.

This time, it's really not a lot better, except for one thing:  LG has recently said that it will have a battery capable of providing 200 miles of range by 2016.  LG is GM's current battery supplier, but LG also supplies a long list of other automakers.


The retailer nicknamed 'Whole Paycheck' is trimming prices, which has hit profit margins and disappointed investors.

By MSN Money Partner 1 hour ago
Caption: A customer checks out of a Whole Foods Market in Washington, D.C.
Credit: © Andrew Councill/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy Michael Brush, MarketWatch

Whole Foods Market (WFM), also known as "Whole Paycheck," wants to change its nickname. And that's shaking up investors, creating a great buying opportunity in the stock.

Faced with tough competition, the famously expensive natural and organic food retailer is trimming prices, looking to tone down its moniker -- perhaps to "Less Paycheck."

The tactic has predictably hit profit margins and sales growth, sending investors to the exits. They’ve knocked the stock down 43 percent since last October to trade recently at $37.40.

But by now, the selling looks overdone, creating an opportunity for both swing traders and long-term investors. Here's why:


If you insist on playing it, recognize that there are many seasoned stocks out there with much better odds.

By Jim Cramer 1 hour ago

The Twitter symbol is displayed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange © Brendan McDermid/ReutersSometimes you just say I don't have an edge and you just take a seat and watch the action unfold. That's how I am approaching Twitter's (TWTR) report tomorrow. I just think there are too many factors at work to be informed both about how the company is really doing and how the company's stock is going to do with that report.

All through this earnings period we have seen the stocks of companies go higher that beat on the top and the bottom lines, meaning companies that exceed revenue and earnings estimates, and then guide higher for both sets of numbers.

Companies that beat only on the top and bottom lines but didn't guide up have not done well if they have moved higher ahead of the report. Companies that have failed to beat on the top line and guided down -- let's call that the Xilinx (XLNX) example -- have been crushed to smithereens.


They're still holding cash and stocks, but are now moving into direct investments in companies, a new report says.

By MSN Money Partner 1 hour ago
Businessman with cigar © Juice Images , SuperStock By Lawrence Delevingne, CNBC

The rich are increasingly enamored with private equity investing, but their rising allocation to PE funds doesn't mean they're cutting back on stock or cash allocations, according to a new survey of ultrawealthy investors by Tiger 21, a peer-to-peer network of high net worth individuals.

The 265 members polled -- with investable assets of more $25 billion -- increased their private equity allocations to 22 percent of the average portfolio during the second quarter of 2014, according to Tiger 21. 

That matches the record in PE during the first quarter of 2013 and the most significant allocation increase since Tiger 21 began tracking member portfolios in 2007.

The report comes after a decade of strong private equity performance. PEreturns averaged 13.9 percent net of fees from 2003 to 2013 and outperformed the S&P 500 with dividends by 6.5 percentage points, according to a new report from industry trade association Private Equity Growth Capital Council.


If everything goes as planned, this week will be the busiest for initial public offerings since 2000.

By MSN Money Partner 2 hours ago
Image: Woman with credit cards (© Corbis)By Myles Udland, Business Insider

This week is set to be the busiest week for initial public offerings since August 2000, reports The Financial Times, citing data from Dealogic.

Of course, these IPOs are expected and could always be delayed, but as things currently stand, 25 companies are poised to make their public debut this week, notably Synchrony Financial, the credit card unit of General Electric (GE).

In its report, the FT notes that in the current environment of rising equity prices and low volatility, companies that have been weighing a public offering are eager to come to market while equities are in favor with investors.

Last Friday, Goldman Sachs (GSdowngraded stocks for the next three months amid a risk that bond yields could rise, possibly suggesting that this ripe window for IPOs could soon be closing. At least a little bit.

Tags: GEGS

With so much at stake, it's no wonder the activist investor was pushing for Family Dollar to be bought out.

By MSN Money Partner 2 hours ago
Credit: © Heidi Gutman/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Caption: Carl IcahnBy Tomi Kilgore, MarketWatch

The rich get richer, as activist investor Carl Icahn (pictured) made at least $149 million in less than two months from his investment in discount retailer Family Dollar (FDO).

Late on June 6, Icahn disclosed in a tweet that he owned a stake of more than 9 percent in Family Dollar shares. At the June 6 closing price of $60.53, the 10,691,011 shares that Icahn owned were worth $647.1 million.

At $74.50, the price Dollar Tree (DLTR) is paying for each of Family Dollar's shares, Icahn's stake is worth $796.5 million. That’s a cool $149.4 million, or a 23 percent increase, in 52 days.

It wasn't a smooth ride higher for Family Dollar's stock, however. After jumping 13 percent on June 9 after Icahn's stake was disclosed, the stock dropped 12 percent to close Friday at $60.66.


The Dow's recent drop will nag investors this week as the euphoria holding the market up this summer looks set to fade.

By InvestorPlace 3 hours ago

Credit: © Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters
Caption: The CAT logo is seen on the side of a Caterpillar machineBy Anthony Mirhaydari

The stock market's apparent invulnerability came to an end on Friday -- ending an 11-day winning streak for the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) closing higher at the end of the week.

That's representative of just how complacent investors had become, since bidding stocks up ahead of the weekend is a vote of confidence. That's especially true in the context of all the geopolitical tension in Ukraine, Gaza and elsewhere.

As a result, the Dow index of blue-chip stocks closed below its 20-day moving average in a meaningful way for the first time since May, dropping below the 17,000 level in the process. Small caps suffered more, testing back down to their 200-day moving average.

But it's the drop in the Dow that will be nagging investors this week as the euphoria that's held the market up this summer looks set to fade.


The idea of US crude being a shelter from turmoil abroad may not be as far fetched as it seems.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 4:17 PM
An American flag hangs at a BP oil refinery in Wilmington, Calif. (© Jim West/Alamy)By Javier E. David, CNBC

The U.S. -- and the global economy -- may have a new safe haven asset: the growing American oil bounty.

The sociopolitical upheaval in places like IraqLibya and Venezuela has kept oil prices propped up at more than $100 per barrel, underscoring the unstable nature of many oil-producing nations. 

By contrast, U.S. oil supplies -- close to generating 9 million barrels of oil per day ---are expanding, and far more secure than most of those abroad. Simultaneously, the U.S. shale boom has become a draw for international capital. 

To be sure, gold, the dollar and U.S. Treasurys remain the premier safety assets during times of global distress. Meanwhile, oil market dynamics are overwhelmingly driven by supply and demand that place a "fear premium" on internationally priced Brent crude, and which drag on prices when turbulence abates. 


Last night's call was a stunning reflection of how little the retailer cares about the whole process of reporting results.

By Jim Cramer Fri 3:29 PM

A worker loads a shipment of boxes at an warehouse facility © Tim Shaffer/ReutersWould it kill Amazon (AMZN) to answer one question with a helpful answer? Does the company have to stonewall endlessly and say whatever question is asked isn't relevant or isn't something the company cares about or monitors?

Last night's call was a stunning reflection of how little Amazon cares about the whole process of reporting results. First, the company reports its widest loss in two years, then makes it clear in the call that:

  1. It doesn't matter.
  2. It is a good thing anyway, because it is spending and ramping and ramping and spending.

As my friend Arum Rubinson at Wolfe Research pointed out in a terrific note this morning, "the word 'invest' was mentioned 33 times" on the call and "the only thing missing is a clear sign that the investments are paying dividends."


Investors are hoping the chain can emulate the rapid growth of Chipotle Mexican Grill.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 2:26 PM
Credit: © John Crowe/Alamy

Caption: An El Pollo Loco Restaurant in Upland Calif.By Brian Solomon, Forbes

Forget tech. The real hot IPOs are in the restaurant business.

Chicken chain El Pollo Loco (LOCO) debuted on the Nasdaq on Friday and shares went crazy. 

While the company set its final initial public offering price at $15, El Pollo Loco shares opened at $19 and surged to $22.73 a share by the afternoon. That's a pop of over 50 percent.

Investors love El Pollo Loco, translated as "The Crazy Chicken," because it's the latest quick service/fast casual chain to emulate Chipotle Mexican Grill's (CMG) rapid growth. The Mexican-style grilled chicken restaurant has just over 400 locations across 5 states, but the vast majority (352) are in California.


It's the second-biggest shopping season of the year, although the total amount spent is expected to drop from last year.

By Benzinga Fri 2:14 PM

Credit: © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Caption: A customer enters a J.C. Penney store in Daly City, Calif.By Jim Probasco

It may still be summer, but as far as retailers are concerned, it's time to get ready to go back to school.

Retailers already gearing up include Apple (AAPL), Wal-Mart (WMT), Disney (DIS), Kohl's (KSS), Target (TGT) and J.C. Penney (JCP).

Apple launched its back-to-school effort July 1, well before the July 4 holiday. For the promotion, students buying a Mac receive a $100 Apple Store Gift Card. An iPhone or iPad purchase nets a $50 gift card.

According to Time, Wal-Mart had a back-to-school Web page up in June, and Target posted a college registry program designed to encourage family and friends to make back-to-school gift buys.


Daniel Schwartz, 33, has helped turn the struggling burger chain into a cash machine.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 1:21 PM
Photo caption: Daniel Schwartz, Burger King CEO
Image credit: BKWBy Hayley Peterson, Business Insider

Burger King's (BKW) 33-year-old CEO has helped engineer a total restructuring of the burger chain in just 13 months on the job. 

After surrounding himself with an equally young management team -- including a 28-year-old chief financial officer -- Daniel Schwartz (pictured) has helped turn the struggling burger chain into a "cash machine," Devin Leonard writes for Bloomberg Businessweek's newest cover story.

"These days . . . Burger King is behaving more like a startup than a typical burger chain," Leonard writes. 

Perhaps that's because this is Schwartz's first job in the fast-food industry. Before Burger King, he was an analyst at Credit Suisse in Boston, and more recently, he worked for 3G Capital, the Brazilian private equity firm that bought Burger King in 2010. 


The company is struggling to make a profit and is overvalued, and disappointing trends will continue to weigh on the stock.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 1:02 PM
Caption: The headquarters of Twitter, Inc in San Francisco
Credit: © Kim Kulish/CorbisBy Jeff Reeves, MarketWatch

Recently, in a column about five stocks that are struggling despite strong brands, I mentioned that I am believer in Twitter (TWTR) as an information filter but not as an investment.

A number of readers challenged me on this. And while I tried to respond via comments on MarketWatch -- and of course, on Twitter itself -- I felt the topic was worth further discussion as we approach a crucial earnings report for Twitter.

My bottom line is this: Twitter is struggling to make a profit and is overvalued, and disappointing trends in both user growth and user engagement will continue to weigh on the stock.

Sure, there's always a chance that this trend changes three or five years from now. And sure, you can fall back on hopes for a white knight to buy Twitter at a big premium.


As chocolate companies are forced to raise prices, inelastic demand for their products could mean higher revenue.

By Staff Fri 12:54 PM

Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars are arranged underneath M&Ms, a Mars product © Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy Andrew Sachais, TheStreet

With cocoa prices on the rise since 2013, most U.S. confectioners have started to hike prices of chocolate bars and candies. It is unlikely that these higher prices will translate into lower demand, though. Widespread chocolate cravings should allow chocolatiers to shift higher cocoa costs to consumers without seeing a considerable drop off in sales. Just look at Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) as an example of how this works.

Mars Chocolate North America, the maker of M&M's and Snickers, said on Wednesday that it planned to raise prices by an average of 7 percent "to offset rising costs," its first increase in three years. The price hike by Mars follows Hershey's (HSY), the No. 1 candy maker in the United States, which said last week that it too would raise prices on chocolate, up close to 8%, due to soaring commodity costs.


The $200 device isn't debuting with all the fanfare of an iPhone, but it doesn't need a home run to be a winner.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 12:24 PM
Credit: © Ted S. Warren/AP

Caption: The new Amazon Fire PhoneBy Greg Bensinger, The Wall Street Journal

Amazon (AMZN) is embarking on its grandest attempt yet to keep customers buying more from its namesake site.

The company will begin selling its new Fire smartphone (pictured) Friday at AT&T (T) stores without the fanfare of releases from rivals Apple (AAPL) or Samsung Electronics -- there are no velvet ropes outside stores of the exclusive carrier for die-hard fans. 

And reviewers haven't been especially kind, knocking the handset for a lineup of features that don’t seem yet to elevate it to a must-buy.

But because the Fire is designed to make shopping on Amazon even easier, it doesn't have to be a home run for it to be a winner. 



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Market index data delayed by 15 minutes

[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 (+0.1%) hovers right above its flat line with seven sectors sporting gains.

Market participants received just one economic data point today (June Pending Home Sales -1.1%), but the rest of the week will bring a full slate of data. Tomorrow, the Case-Shiller 20-city Index ( consensus 10.0%) will be released at 9:00 ET, while the July Consumer Confidence report (consensus 85.6) will cross the wires at 10:00 ET.

As the week progresses, ... More


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