A Mexican wave for Big Oil?
Mexico opens way for Big Oil

New legislation is allowing foreign companies to finally invest in the country's vast oil reserves.

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The government has suspended a plan to allow foreign companies to own as much as 51% of local supermarkets.

By Kim Peterson Dec 7, 2011 3:02PM
Image: India (© Donald Edwards/age fotostock)When you have a former state official threatening to burn Wal-Mart (WMT) to the ground, you have a problem.

That's the kind of controversy India found itself in last month after giving Wal-Mart and other foreign companies the green light to own up to a 51% stake in supermarkets. Smaller shopkeepers worried that Wal-Mart, with its rock-bottom prices and competitive prowess, would put them out of business. 

A look at the long-term prospects of 3 companies that have seen short interest rise.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 7, 2011 2:59PM
Image: Railroad Crossing with Train (© Edmond Van Hoorick/Photodisc/Getty Images)By Sean Williams

 

The best thing about the stock market is that you can make money in either direction. Historically, stock indexes have tended to trend up over the long term. But when you look at individual stocks, you'll find plenty of stocks that lose money over the long haul. According to hedge fund institution Blackstar Funds, even with dividends included, between 1983 and 2006, 64% (nearly two-thirds) of stocks underperformed the Russell 3000, a broad-scope market index.

 

A large influx of short-sellers shouldn't be a damning factor to any company, but it could be a red flag from traders that something may not be as cut-and-dried as it appears.

 
Tags: amrUNP

An upcoming split into separate companies will unlock shareholder value.

By TheStockAdvisors Dec 7, 2011 2:07PM
Image: Oil drums (© Kevin Phillips/Digital Vision/age fotostock)By Nathan Slaughter, Energy & Income

ConocoPhillips (COP) plans to split the exploration and production (E&P) and refining and marketing segments into two stand-alone public companies.

Every two shares of COP will get you one share in the new Phillips 66. This upcoming spin-off, expected in the first half of next year, is likely to unlock shareholder value, and create two distinct market leaders in the process. 
Tags: COPoil

These small-cap biotechs have just confirmed bottom formations, setting up good buying opportunities on pullbacks.

By MoneyShow.com Dec 7, 2011 12:51PM

Image: Pills (© Corbis)By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com


Stocks have been performing well recently, though in trading early Wednesday stock index futures are slightly lower. Since the Nov. 25 close, the Spyder Trust (SPY) is up 8.5%, the SPDR Diamonds Trust (DIA), which tracks the Dow Industrials, is up 7.8%, and the iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund (IWM) is up 12.2%.


While the intermediate-term technical picture for the stock market is positive, short-term analysis suggests the rally may be running out of steam.

 

The stock price of the Sam Adams brewer has soared 40% in the past 3 months.

By Kim Peterson Dec 7, 2011 12:43PM
Updated 4:50 p.m. ET

Boston Beer
(SAM) is doing everything right this year.

Take a look at its extraordinary stock run. Since the beginning of October, shares have soared 40% to close at $101.31 Wednesday. The stock price has never been this high.

Why is the maker of Sam Adams beer so hot? 
Tags: BUDSAM

UBS initiates Target with a 'buy' and Costco and Walmart with a 'neutral.'

By MSN Money Partner Dec 7, 2011 12:40PM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Wednesday's noteworthy upgrades include:
  • Dollar General (DG) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
  • Duke Energy (DUK) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
  • Aon Corp. (AON) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
  • US Airways (LCC) upgraded to Buy from Fair Value at CRT Capital
  • Marvell Technology (MRVL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Craig-Hallum
  • Talbots (TLB) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Wedbush
 

Two struggling companies won't create a stronger one.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 7, 2011 12:14PM
Rubberball/Mike Kemp/Rubberball/Getty ImagesJ.C. Penney (JCP), whose shares have plunged more than 56% over the past five years, is joining forces with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO), whose shares have plummeted nearly 85% during that same period of time. This is corporate America's answer to a shotgun wedding.

J.C. Penney Wednesday agreed to acquire a 16.6% stake in Martha Stewart's media empire for $38.5 million. It's a steal. New York-based Martha Stewart has a market capitalization of about $173 million, a fraction of the $1.87 billion value the company had in February 2005. Shares of the media conglomerate soared on the news. 

The company reports several improvements and is ranked a short-term 'buy.'

By Zacks.com Dec 7, 2011 11:53AM

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty ImagesBy: Zacks Equity Research


AutoZone Inc. (AZO) recorded a 24% rise in profit to $4.68 per share in the first quarter of its fiscal 2012 ended November 19, 2011 from $3.77 per share in the year-ago quarter. The result, reported Tuesday, beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4.45 per share. In absolute terms, profit increased 11% to $191.1 million from $172.1 million a year ago.

 

The increase in profit was driven by a 7.4% rise in net sales to $1.92 billion, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.90 billion. Domestic same-store sales (for stores open at least one year), increased 4.6% during the quarter compared with 9.5% a year ago.

 
Tags: AZO

These picks in oil, autos and finance offer something important for beginners.

By InvestorPlace Dec 7, 2011 11:06AM
Adam Gault/OJO Images/Getty ImagesBy Hilary Kramer


Are you a novice investor wondering which stocks to buy first? Or perhaps you're just looking to put your money to work? Either way, these three stocks are perfect choices for beginners.


Cenovus Energy (CVE) has dipped in recent weeks before bouncing higher alongside the market's surge. Oil prices have firmed up, but even so, CVE isn't a story about near-term earnings. Investing in CVE means investing in long-term growth from Canada's Alberta oil sands as world oil supplies continue to tighten. Production from oil sands increased 14% last quarter and now equals conventional oil production. At a time when many oil companies are expected to have trouble replacing reserves, CVE is set up for double-digit production growth over the next 10 years.

 

Genpact has been winging higher and has bested the superconglomerate's stock.

By Gene Marcial Dec 7, 2011 10:36AM
Genpact (G) is a legitimate offspring of giant conglomerate General Electric (GE), which spun it off in 2005. It is still a tiny enterprise, but it’s been winging up. It has become strong enough that its young stock has outperformed that of the super conglomerate so far this year.

 

Several analysts believe Genpact is just starting to build up and is on its way to greater heights. "Genpact is attractively priced relative to the company’s future growth prospects," says Joseph D. Foresi, analyst at Janney Capital Markets, who rates the stock a buy.

 

International Paper has turned itself into the most important container board company in the world -- just as e-commerce has exploded.

By Jim Cramer Dec 7, 2011 10:36AM

the streetHow about a lower-risk play on all of that online shipping? How about the company that makes the boxes for the goods that come in the mail this season?

 

Over the last five years, International Paper (IP) has turned itself into the most important container board company in the world. It did so in the nick of time because e-commerce is about shipping things that would normally be thrown into a bag at the store. Now those same products are more than likely to end up in a linerboard package that would very likely be made by IP, at least once the Temple Inland (TIN) deal closes.

 

Despite economic worries, the high-end retailer continues to outperform Wall Street expectations.

By TheStockAdvisors Dec 7, 2011 9:58AM
Jamie Grill/Photolibrary/PhotolibraryBy Elliott Gue, Personal Finance

Shares of luxury jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. (TIF) have endured a roller coaster ride this year, reaching an all-time high in July only to plummet in late summer amid fears about the health of the global economy.

But the growth scare hasn’t curbed customers’ appetite for the finer things in life; Tiffany has outperformed Wall Street’s expectations for six consecutive quarters. 
Tags: TIF

Les Moonves recently offered a surprisingly upbeat assessment of advertising sales.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 6, 2011 6:08PM
Image: Watching television (© Maria Teijeiro/Getty Images/Getty Images)When it comes to the TV business, CBS' (CBS) Les Moonves is definitely a glass-half-full kind of guy.

Speaking at a conference hosted by UBS, the head of America's most-watched TV network offered a surprisingly upbeat assessment of advertising sales. "Network television's doing better than it's done in many years," he said.

He added that CBS ad prices in the scatter market -- which sells advertising spots closer to a program's air date -- were up "in the mid-teens" from prices seen in the springtime upfront market. He also said that CBS' competitors "are doing not as well." 

A warning sign has emerged for one of 2011's top-performing sectors, calling into question which sectors will outperform in 2012.

By MoneyShow.com Dec 6, 2011 6:08PM

Image: Medical doctor (© John Arborgast / Photodisc Red/Getty Images)By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com


The S&P 500 closed Monday at 1257.09, just a fraction below 1257.64, which was where it closed on December 31, 2010. Clearly, a buy-and-hold strategy on the S&P 500 has not worked well this year, but performance is always relative.


Those who bought and held the Select Sector SPDR - Financial (XLF) are feeling much worse, as it is currently down 17.4% for the yearLooking at the quarterly performance of the nine major Select Sector SPDR ETFs, you get even a better feeling for how difficult the past year has been.

 
Tags: etfXLEXLF

China's biggest online travel agency has 13,000 employees, and has seen margins fall as wages increase.

By Jim J. Jubak Dec 6, 2011 4:34PM
Image: Man pulling suitcase in airport © Keith Brofsky/UpperCut Images/Getty ImagesI sold Ctrip.Com International (CTRP) out of my Jubak Picks 50 portfolio back on Jan. 18 because I thought the company’s operating margins were eroding as it had to spend more to fend off competition. (The stock is down 40.1% from Jan. 18 through Monday's close.)

That’s exactly what the company reported on Nov. 14 when it released third-quarter financial results. Operating margins for the third quarter of 2011 fell to 31% from 38% in the third quarter of 2010.
 
Tags: CTRP

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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages continue holding modest losses with the S&P 500 down 0.2%. Even with the early retreat, the benchmark index is still higher by 1.7% this week and up 3.0% for the month.

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