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The company is directly competing with its own advertisers by offering user reviews, virtual tours and room bookings.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 4:41 PM
Image: Couple Entering a Hotel Room © Fuse/Getty ImagesBy Rolfe Winkler and Craig Karmin, The Wall Street Journal

Google (GOOG) is moving boldly to play a larger role in booking hotel rooms -- at the risk of offending some of its most important advertisers.

Google is adding more photos and reviews to its hotel listings, so they increasingly resemble those of travel search sites such as Priceline Group (PCLN), Expedia (EXPE) and TripAdvisor (TRIP). And it is more aggressively promoting its "hotel-price ads" that post room rates directly as travel-search sites do.


The idea is to encourage travelers to plan more of their trips directly on Google. In the process Google gets them closer to making a booking, which experts expect will make referrals more valuable, prompting travel agencies and hotel operators to pay more for clicks on Google ads over time. It also encourages more hotel operators to place ads on Google directly, bypassing online travel agencies that charge commissions of up to 25 percent.

 

We may have finally seen the bottom, and now looks like the perfect time to buy into the long-term potential of this rising global powerhouse.

By StreetAuthority Wed 3:41 PM

Image: Brazil © Donald Edwards/age fotostockBy David Sterman

At the trading desks in Sao Paolo, Brazil, you can hear a collective sigh of relief.

The country's Bovespa market index, which had fallen roughly 30 percent over the two years ended March 1, has finally reversed course.

Since early March, this index has rallied more than 10 percent to above 51,000, boosting the prospects of a range of long-suffering exchange-traded funds (ETFs).


Before you can conclude that you've missed out on this impressive mini-rally, know that these funds remain far below their multi-year averages. That last ETF, for example, the ProShares Ultra MSCI Brazil ETF (UBR), has rebounded from $32 to $48, but stood above $140 back in 2011. Most of these ETFs trade for less than half of what they traded for back then (though some were launched since then).

 

Some people might think the Oracle has lost his touch, and that's exactly when his bets pay off, the 'Mad Money' host says.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 3:05 PM
File photo of Warren Buffett on the NBC News' 'Today' show on November 27, 2012 (© Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)By Alex Crippen, CNBC

Jim Cramer is coming to Warren Buffett's defense.


This headline in The New York Times caught Cramer's eye: "The Oracle of Omaha, lately looking a bit ordinary."


The story cited a new statistical study by Salil Mehta that compared Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) performance to the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX).


While Buffett's (pictured) company has beaten the market in 38 of the past 48 years, it has underperformed the S&P in four of the past five years. Mehta calculates there's only a 3 percent chance Buffett is suffering through a period of bad luck.

 

Sheryl Sandberg says she has ruled out politics. 'I don't really think that's for me.'

By MSN Money Partner Wed 2:47 PM
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg
© Britta Pedersen/dpa/CorbisBy Reed Albergotti, The Wall Street Journal

Facebook (FB) Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg (pictured) knocked down rumors Wednesday that she might one day run for political office, and said she isn't leaving the company.

"I really love my job and I have no plans to make any changes," Sandberg said in an interview on NBC's "Todayshow.


Sandberg appeared on the show to promote her new book, "Lean In: For Graduates." The new book is an update to her wildly successful book released last year called "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead."


Lean In ignited an international debate about women in the workplace, but it also fueled rumors that Sandberg's ambitions extended beyond the corporate world and into politics. Sandberg has steadfastly denied those rumors.

 
Tags: FBGOOG

More stockholders are campaigning against public companies. A new study reveals how treacherous these situations can be.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 2:26 PM
Carl Icahn in Oct. 2007 (© Mark Lennihan/AP Photo)By Brett Arends, MarketWatch

Company X is on its knees. The stock has been falling for years. The company's brands are tired. Its operations are inefficient. Its management is sleepy. Profits are falling. Assets are being allocated inefficiently.


Then you wake up one morning to learn that Joe E. Godzilla, the hedge-fund manager, has bought a 5 percent stake in the company and is demanding sweeping changes. He says the stock should be worth five times as much as the current price.


The stock pops 10 percent on the news. But if Mr. Godzilla is correct, there are still big profits to go for. Should you buy the stock? Is Mr. Godzilla correct?


Take a deep breath, and tread very carefully. A new, detailed study of these campaigns, even while claiming that they add value for stockholders, actually reveals just how treacherous these situations can be.

 
Tags: EBAYJCP

The operation consists of private trading platforms that give investors more anonymity than in the public markets. It's been criticized as unfair.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 1:59 PM
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. signage is displayed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (© Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)By Bradley Hope, Justin Baer and Scott Patterson, The Wall Street Journal

Goldman Sachs (GS) is considering shutting down one of the world's largest private stock-trading venues, according to people familiar with the matter.

In conversations with market participants over the past several months, Goldman executives have broached the subject of closing its so-called dark-pool trading operation, known as Sigma X, the people said.


Goldman executives are weighing whether the revenue that the firm generates from operating Sigma X is worth the risks that have been highlighted by a series of trading glitches and growing criticism of dark pools, the people said.


No decision is imminent, and Goldman could keep the business, according to the people.

A move to shutter one of the biggest dark pools could compel other big banks to take similar steps, potentially changing the way buy and sell orders from big investors course through the markets each day.

 
Tags: GS

This dividend aristocrat has a strong yield, compelling tailwinds and a unique investment model -- and it's undervalued to boot.

By StreetAuthority Wed 1:31 PM
Hospital beds (c) Steve Debenport/Getty ImagesBy Joseph Hogue

After two market crashes in less than two decades and the current bull market looking to take a breather, investors are rightly worried about their hard-earned gains.

By investing in companies with wide economic moats and a history of total returns to shareholders, investors can reduce the pain of the market cycle and plan for the long term.

Not only do I overweight my portfolio with these long-term investments, but I like to look at stocks that are poised benefit from huge secular changes over the decades to come -- stocks benefiting from megatrends like the American energy revolution and aging demographics.

Combine shares of a company with a great long-term track record with one of these megatrends, and you've got something truly special. 

These companies are tapping a growing and lucrative market as millions of Americans find their personal data at risk.

By Traders Reserve Wed 1:23 PM

Image: Personal Information, Social Security Number, and Security © Fuse/Fuse/Getty ImagesBy Karen Riccio

 

The identities of more than 15 million Americans are used fraudulently each year, with financial losses totaling near $50 billion.

 

Close to 100 million more people are at risk for having their personal identifying information stolen when records maintained in government and corporate databases are compromised.

 

These statistics demonstrate that identity theft may just be the most frequent, costly and pervasive crime in the United States.


The ways thieves steal information have become sophisticated. They can read "noise" waves and intercept data with ATM skimmers, or infiltrate peer-to-peer networks like music sites. Other criminals target consumers with phishing (by email), SMSishing (by text) or Vishing (by voicemail).

 

The aluminum maker's latest results gave us the most bullish worldview since the Great Recession ended.

By Jim Cramer Wed 11:49 AM

Harley-Davidson Street 750 motorcycle © Gene J. Puskar/APThe needle movers are all going in the right direction. That's the real takeaway from Tuesday night's Alcoa (AA) conference call. TheStreet.com logo


The biggest drivers of worldwide growth -- the huge end markets in aerospace, trucks, autos, and nonresidential construction -- are all looking up. With just a couple of exceptions, notably in some European construction, every single end market is improving.


It's the most bullish worldview Alcoa has given us since the Great Recession ended. No wonder the stock has been running so hard.


There's always a lot of confusion about Alcoa and its importance as an indicator of anything. The aluminum maker has had its share of ups and downs -- and it's been mostly downs, for sure. In large part this is because there is too much aluminum being produced in the world, but it's also because the company is so incredibly sensitive to worldwide growth.

 

Older bellwethers like AT&T and Intel are flexing some muscle, filling the void left by investors fleeing momentum names.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 11:48 AM
Caterpillar construction equipment (© Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy)By Steve Schaefer, Forbes

Don't look now, but some old standbys are back in favor in the stock market. 


Much has been made in the selloff of hot stocks like Netflix (NFLX), Facebook (FB) and what feels like the entire biotech space this year, but in the face of those declines older bellwethers like Intel (INTC), AT&T (T) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) have been flexing some muscle.


The Nasdaq Composite is down 6 percent since hitting its high-water mark on March 6, and some of last year's highest fliers have been among the names dragging it lower. Netflix, Facebook and Tesla Motors (TSLA) each hit their high for the year within a few days of the Nasdaq's peak, and have tumbled 15 percent or more since.

 

The seed company has angered consumers with perceived unfair pricing tactics, but investors have little to complain about. Monsanto projects to approach $130 in the next 12 to 18 months.

By TheStreet.com Staff Wed 11:04 AM

File photo of LinkedIn's webpage © Seth Perlman/APBy Richard SaintvilusTheStreet


Just like fertilizer to a plant, it's appropriate that shares of agriculture giant Monsanto (MON) have grown impressively over the past two years.


This has come even amid protests over Monsanto's genetically modified seeds and complaints about the company's ethics. Some believe that Monsanto has established unfair pricing tactics towards farmers. These issues and others have soured Monsanto's relationship with consumers. There's never a dull moment. But investors have had little to complain about.

 

This sector is down 6% since peaking in early March -- but that doesn't mean there are bargains to be had.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 10:50 AM
Stock market chart © Ash Waechter/Getty ImagesBy Stephen Gandel, Fortune

For tech stocks, growth may no longer be coming at a reasonable price, even after the recent pull-back.


Technology stocks are down 6 percent since they peaked in early March. And that drop is larger than the dip in the general market during the same time period. Fortune on MSN Money


But that doesn't mean there are bargains to be had. The average stock in the Nasdaq 100 (NDX) has a price-to-earnings multiple of 18, based on projected 2014 bottom lines. That compares to 16 for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX). And that's with the dip.


Technology stock believers say it's unfair to compare the P/E ratios of the average large company to tech stocks. Technology companies tend to increase in earnings at a faster rate, so they deserve higher P/E ratios.

 

The investor pessimism that started with Amazon and Facebook has crept over to Delta and other carriers.

By InvestorPlace Wed 10:29 AM

Caption: A American Airlines plane is parked at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
Credit: © Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News/CorbisBy Anthony Mirhaydari


The stock market has been under pressure over the last few weeks as momentum favorites in big tech and biotech have rolled over badly.


It has been a big reversal of fortune for these stocks -- carried merely by their popularity, as ridiculous price-to-earnings multiples brings back memories of the dot-com bubble -- which have helped keep the Nasdaq-100 above its 20-week moving average since late 2012.


But it's all coming apart now as investors realize the game is up. What started in stocks like Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (FB) is now spreading to other areas where persistent momentum has led to complacency. That includes airline stocks, which have been on a tear over the last three years. Delta Air Lines (DAL) has more than tripled.

 

The Oracle of Omaha hasn't beaten the market in a while, critics note. Defenders say he's playing the long game.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 8, 2014 3:33PM
Caption: Billionaire investor Warren Buffett
Credit: © Nati Harnik/APBy William Watts, MarketWatch

Is Warren Buffett really losing his mojo? 


That's the assertion behind a weekend New York Times column by Jeff Sommer keying off a statistical analysis by statistician Salil Mehta that finds Buffett (pictured), while having enjoyed a stellar run over the past nearly half-century, isn't doing so hot recently.


The study finds that while Buffett has produced an impressive dose of alpha -- the ability to outperform the market without adding risk -- over several decades, his more recent performance "isn't impressive at all," Sommer writes. Read a related blog post by Mehta here.


For four of the past five years, Sommer recounts, citing the analysis, Buffett has underperformed the typical, no-frills Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) fund. In fact, he's done "so much worse that it's unlikely to be a matter of a string of bad luck. Mr. Buffett has begun to behave like an investor with no alpha at all," Sommer writes.

 

Money flows in March reflect a belief that the US economy will accelerate over the next few quarters.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 8, 2014 3:14PM
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 Jenny Cosgrave, CNBC

After the tech sector's brutal selloff and this year's strong run for utility and healthcare stocks, investors are now considering a meaningful shift into more "cyclical" names.


There has recently been a sharp drop in the Nasdaq and caution in Asia and Europe markets. However, economic indicators around the world are slowly improving. All this has left investors uncertain about where to place their cash.


However, a combination of earnings momentum, economic data and flows from exchange-traded funds all seem to point to the "cyclicals" -- stocks whose value tends to follow changes in the business or economic cycle , such as industrials, financials, basic resources and even autos.

 

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