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The company goes against the grain of the Nasdaq's fall and gets an analyst upgrade. Could it finally see its day in the sun?

By Motley Fool Investor Beat Fri 3:59 PM
Shares of Zynga (ZNGA) were seeing a boost Friday after being upgraded to "equal weight" by Morgan Stanley. This has the game maker bucking the trend that has dogged the Nasdaq Composite index of other tech stocks, which has seen a considerable decline over the past few months.

In this video from Friday's Stock of the Day, Motley Fool analyst Jamal Carnette discusses why he likes some of the moves Zynga is making at the moment. The company just named David Lee as its new CFO, a sign that the company's new CEO, Don Mattrick, is steering the company in a new direction, away from where the company sat under the leadership of former CEO Mark Pincus. 
Tags: ZNGA

After a cold, hard winter, spending is heating up with the weather. Here are 4 investments for riding that trend.

By StreetAuthority Fri 3:48 PM
Shoppers walk around the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota on Feb. 25, 2012 (© Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images)By David Sterman

It's increasingly clear that the polar vortex created havoc for retailers. As the snow piled up and temperatures plunged, many consumers simply stayed away from the malls. You can expect to hear all about it as earnings season unfolds.

Investors have already responded, shunning consumer stocks, and the key ETFs (exchange-traded funds) that track consumer discretionary spending are all under water for the year. As Citigroup analysts noted, "The worst performing sector thus far in 2014 is Consumer Discretionary, with the retailing industry group plummeting nearly 8 percent this year."

But a late winter thaw may have set the stage for much better days to come. And this lagging sector could deliver much better news as coming quarters unfold. 

Is an airline a utility or a service? The ones who act like a utility have more financial success.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 2:59 PM
File photo of at Spirit Airlines Airbus A319 aircraft arriving at Denver International Airport on May 3, 2012 (© Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)By Justin Bachman, Businessweek

Spirit Airlines (SAVE) inspires a special kind of wrath among the American traveling public: It's the industry leader in customer complaints by a wide margin. 


Over the last five years, Spirit's rate of complaints to the Department of Transportation was three times higher than other U.S. airlines, according to a report (PDF) released Thursday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.


This is not the first time Spirit has been dinged for customer dissatisfaction. Last year it was the lowest-scoring carrier in a Consumer Reports survey of 16,000 readers. "Poor service, poor communication, poor quality," a commenter at airline-rating firm Skytrax wrote this week. "You couldn’t even make up how bad they are." The loathing has also inspired a dedicated Twitter (TWTR) feed: @hatespiritair.

 

Critics say the former secretary of state is a poor match for Dropbox, a startup that hosts users' business and personal data.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 1:32 PM
Credit: © Mark Blinch/Reuters

Caption: Former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza RiceBy Shira Ovide and Douglas Macmillan, The Wall Street Journal

Dropbox is the latest company to run afoul of Silicon Valley's political orthodoxy.


The file-sharing startup Wednesday added former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (pictured) as a director to "help us expand our global footprint."


Quickly, an Internet protest sprang up to encourage Dropbox users to boycott the service unless the San Francisco startup forces her off its board. A new website, "Drop Dropbox," said Rice's role in helping set U.S. policies in Iraq, and in promoting U.S. intelligence agencies' surveillance policies, made her a poor fit for a startup that "we are trusting with our most important business and personal data."

 
Tags: FBGOOG

That's the weird thing about this week. Usually there's an epic 'story' associated with a sell-off of this magnitude.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 12:43 PM
Caption: Analyzing stock market from computer screen
Credit: © MicroWorks/Getty ImagesBy Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider

The market has been shaky for awhile now, but Thursday it got real.

The  Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) crashed 3 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) fell about 2 percent. The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) dropped over 260 points.


So here's the weird thing. There's really no "story" associated with this selloff, which is a point noted by Jesse Livermore on Twitter.


Now let's be clear, usually stories that explain market movements are BS, but there usually is one: Ukraine, China, oil, political gridlock whatever.

 

Something is very wrong when we get strong economic news and interest rates plummet. That's a fear of an unknown unknown.

By Jim Cramer Fri 12:22 PM

Sculpture of bear outside Frankfurt Stock Exchange © Ed Pritchard/Getty ImagesTo me, the bear case is as easy as pie.


Let's dispense with all form. Here it is.


1. Something is very wrong with the market when we get strong news out of the economy and interest rates plummet. That's a fear of an unknown unknown. What's the point of buying when there is something lurking?


2. When interest rates plummet, the banks plummet, particularly now that the short rates aren't going higher. Banks are the linchpin of all big rallies and we have lost them.


3. There is no price where the insiders won't sell these extended techs with no dividends or earnings.

 

The flood of public offerings dries to a trickle as companies wait out the market turmoil.

By MSN Money Partner Fri 12:13 PM
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange minutes after a Federal Reserve announcement on January 29, 2014 in New York City
© Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesBy Bob Pisani, CNBC

The tidal wave of initial public offerings has now dried up as the market reels. Out of eight IPOs set to price Thursday night, four got put on hold.


Those that failed to get out the door: Lombard Medical (EVAR) -- which cited the dreaded "poor market conditions," according to Renaissance Capital -- Scynexis (SCYX), Paycom Software (PAYC), and City Office REIT (CIO).


An amended S-1 (called an FWP Amendment) was filed by Paycom, which contained updated information on the first quarter: revenues up, net income down compared to last year. It's not clear if they will be able to price later Friday or not.

 

Call this a pipe dream all you want, but Amazon is spending research and development dollars on building out these drones, so it's obvious the company is serious about this initiative.

By TheStreet.com Staff Fri 11:34 AM

Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon.com © Patrick Fallon/ZUMA Press/CorbisBy Chris CiacciaTheStreet


In Thursday's letter to shareholdersAmazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos touched on a number of initiatives, but perhaps the biggest is the company's plan for faster delivery. Not only is the Internet retailer really serious about providing a better experience for customers, its drone plans are bigger than anyone imagined.


This particular passage from the letter to shareholders was beyond startling, revealing the ambitious scale of Amazon's plans for drones, which were initially revealed just a few months ago:

 

A great deal is riding on first-quarter numbers that are about to roll out. Watch for these 3 key elements.

By Traders Reserve Fri 10:19 AM
Caption: Businesswoman touching stock chart on tablet
Credit: © kay/Getty ImagesBy Jamie Dlugosch

I'm a fundamental analyst. That means it all boils down to the numbers.


That's why I love earnings season. Instead of the market focusing on irrational speculation, we get real information that can allow us to determine fair valuations.


This year, the speculation on the long side has essentially disappeared. The narrative has been entirely about a pending end to the bull market and a potential correction or even worse.


Where oh where did the glass-half-full investors go?


They are being overwhelmed by the naysayers, but that can change in a heartbeat. All it takes are stronger-than-expected numbers. A good earnings report is all it takes to eliminate the doubt.

 

The company surprised analysts with sales that plunged from a year earlier. Is this stock in trouble?

By Motley Fool Investor Beat Thu 6:19 PM
Shares of Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) dropped 7 percent Wednesday after the company pre-announced earnings. Revenue was down 24 percent year over year, which was well beyond analysts' consensus estimate.

However, in Thursday's Stock of the Day, Motley Fool analyst Sara Hov says she doesn't see the news as all bad.

Part of that precipitous drop was $26 million in deferred revenue, which inflated the bad news a bit.  
Tags: ISRG

Biotechs and big tech stocks fare the worst in Thursday's thumping. Despite everything, the global economy is slowing.

By InvestorPlace Thu 6:07 PM

Caption: Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on the evening of January 23, 2014
File Name: John Moore/Getty ImagesBy Anthony Mirhaydari


On Thursday, for the second time so far this month, the stock market suffered an epic "outside reversal." This is where initial morning gains, above the previous day's highs, give way to an avalanche of selling that pushes the close below recent lows.


For chart watchers, this is a serious sign of weakness.


And to have a group of these patterns clustered together suggests more trouble lies ahead.


Yet again, the weakness was concentrated in the popular big technology and biotech stocks that were leaders in 2013, but have since succumbed to persistent underperformance.


So what went wrong? Simply put: Despite everything, the global economy is slowing.

 

The vulnerability that has online companies scrambling also affects the equipment that connects the Web.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 6:01 PM
Image: Network cable © Epoxydude/Getty ImagesBy Danny Yadron, The Wall Street Journal

The encryption bug that has the Internet on high alert also affects the equipment that connects the Web.


Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Juniper Networks (JNPR), two of the largest manufacturers of network equipment, said Thursday that some of their products contain the "Heartbleed" bug, meaning hackers might be able to capture user names, passwords and other sensitive information as it moves across corporate networks, home networks and the Internet.


Many websites -- including those run by Yahoo (YHOO), Amazon.com (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) -- quickly fixed the hole after it was disclosed Monday. But Cisco and Juniper said the security flaw affects routers, switches and firewalls used in businesses and at home.

 

Does he deserve that phenomenal paycheck? One of his trades in 2012 resulted in a whopping $2 billion in gains.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 3:47 PM
Image: Money © CorbisBy Nathan Vardi, Forbes

James Levin first got to know billionaire hedge fund manager Daniel Och when he taught Och’s son to water ski at camp a number of years ago. 


At 31, Levin these days is a prized employee at Och’s Och-Ziff Capital Management (OZM) hedge fund firm and last year Levin was paid phenomenally well even by the standards of the rich hedge fund industry.


According to a recent Securities & Exchange Commission filing, Och-Ziff Capital Management paid Levin $119 million in 2013. Nearly all of Levin’s compensation last year consists of stock awards and the value relates to the grant-date fair value of unvested Och-Ziff Group A units. A spokesman for Och-Ziff Capital Management declined to comment.

 

It isn't a huge payout compared to others, but it shows that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau means business.

By MSN Money Partner Thu 3:05 PM

Caption: A Bank of America sign outside a bank branch in Arlington, Va.
Credit: © Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesBy Eric Volkman, The Motley Fool


Well, that settles it. Bank of America (BAC), the latest bank to hammer out a deal with a regulator, has agreed to pay out roughly $772 million to retire allegations of deceitful business practices. 


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- the government's watchdog for customers of financial institutions -- claimed that Bank of America engaged in "deceptive marketing of their [credit card] add-on products." 


Let's dig in to the settlement a bit to see what it means for both the lender and its affected customers.

 

The company's best hope is to become a seller of services, not handsets.

By InvestorPlace Thu 2:26 PM

Caption: A BlackBerry smartphone
Credit: © Serge Pouzet/SIPA/Rex FeaturesBy Dan Burrows


If BlackBerry (BBRY) has any hope of surviving as a company, it's as a seller of services, not BlackBerry phones -- a reality that is quickly closing in on the company and anyone still holding BlackBerry stock.


CEO John Chen says he won't wait long to pull the plug on BlackBerry phones if it doesn't return to profitability in fairly short order.


BlackBerry shareholders had better hope he's sincere.


BlackBerry stock enjoyed a brief pop after its late-March earnings report when BBRY showed faint signs of life, but it's still stuck in a nasty downtrend.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Wednesday session on an upbeat note with the Nasdaq (+1.3%) ending in the lead. The S&P 500 settled higher by 1.1% with all ten sectors posting gains.

The benchmark index spent the entire trading day in the green, rallying to new highs during the last hour of action. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, meanwhile, briefly dipped into the red during morning action, but was able to recover swiftly.

Stocks began the trading day with modest gains ... More


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