The $19 billion WhatsApp deal could become the Facebook founder's legacy . . . or his albatross.
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Can we do better than the S&P 500?
By Morgan Housel
Investors own index funds for a simple reason: They don't want to pick individual stocks. They'd rather hold a broad basket that doesn't give preference to any one company.
For those who don't have the time or inclination to dive into individual stocks, index funds are the way to go. Warren Buffett even said as much many years ago: "Most investors . . . will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges minimal fees. Those following this path are sure to beat the net results . . . delivered by the great majority of investment professionals."
Some might be surprised to learn, however, that most index funds aren't as passive as they might think.
The most popular index, the S&P 500, consists of (redundantly) 500 large- and mid-cap stocks from dozens of different industries.
The automakers' prospects are brightening, but one stock is a better pick. With video.
By Jake Lynch, TheStreet
Prospects for GM (GM) and Ford (F) are improving almost daily. Wednesday, Ford chief executive officer Alan Mulally made the bold prediction that sales will rise 50% in four years as Africa and Asia demand strengthens. Ford, which sold 5.3 million vehicles in fiscal 2010, will shoot for "nearly 8 million" by 2015. Is that reasonable?
While Ford's China sales jumped 15% in May, GM has a stronger foothold in the region, recently debuting a China-exclusive brand, Baojun. Although both GM's and Ford's shares are attractive, GM is looking cheaper in light of the recent sell-off in equities.
As QE2, the Fed's record bond-buying program, ends, many investors are predicting a down-leg in stocks. If that projection proves prescient, GM's stock will deserve consideration from long-term investors. Although down 22% this year, GM's outstanding assets and growth prospects are undervalued by the market.
These funds might benefit from what's being called a golden age for the fuel.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Though wildly popular, the natural-gas industry has been notoriously tricky to target from an investment perspective. Fans of the fuel, however, were given a welcome vote of confidence this week when the Energy Information Administration released a shining forecast for the industry.
On Monday, the agency reported that a combination of factors, including abundant supplies, soured sentiment toward nuclear energy, and rising demand from emerging markets, have set the stage for what could prove to be a golden age for natural gas.
Looking to the next quarter century, the EIA forecasts that natural gas use could jump by as much as 50%. By 2030, the group notes that demand for natural gas could surpass that of coal.
Unlike Tuesday's sucker punch, a real rally must be based on lower stock prices and positive changes.
From the beginning of the day, stocks looked downright terrific. The euro was strong, and oil was moderating while copper hung in. Translation: The U.S. got the benefit of a weaker currency for export, while oil bucked the rally because OPEC was going to supply more crude. And copper showed us that the weakness in crude wasn't economically related but more about oversupply.
The trinity that has mattered kicked in.
But by the end of the day, while the dollar stayed weak and copper hung in, oil reversed, not budging, and $3.50 gasoline -- what we need to get this economy on a slightly better keel -- remained elusive. The dollar-euro relationship that had been good for stocks for most of the year failed to spur hedge fund buying, and traders who came in during the morning were left holding the bag.
The price-to-earnings ratio could be cheap or just right. It all depends on your time frame.
In other countries, courts are becoming more accepting about using Facebook to send notices to people who can't otherwise be found.
Legal cases grind to a halt when people can't be found to get served with court notices, Bloomberg reports. But sometimes when they can't be found in person, they can be tracked down on Facebook.
Courts in New Zealand, Canada and other countries are becoming increasingly comfortable with serving papers over Facebook. In Australia, one lawyer used the website to serve a foreclosure notice to one couple who defaulted on their loan. So far, we haven't seen Facebook used to serve papers in the U.S.
The new console features a breakthrough touch-screen controller. Will it reverse a long sales slump?
The company unveiled its new system this week at the Electronics Entertainment Expo. Even in its early stages, one look at the Wii U shows that Nintendo is making a big bet.
The biggest difference with the Wii U is its wireless controller, which looks like a mini tablet computer with its own touch screen. It still has all the buttons and control sticks you'd expect, but in the middle is a color screen that can show a map, your health level, really any add-ons that enhance a game.
Check out the Wii U in the following video interview.
Post continues after video:
Some traders feel so scarred by the financial downturn that they're staying far away from the stock market.
In a new study by Prudential Financial (PRU), 58% of investors say they've lost faith altogether in the stock market. The risks aren't worth it, some say. And 44% swear they're done with stocks for good and are not likely to put any more money into the market.
The study, which polled 1,274 Americans last winter, also suggested some fundamental changes in the way people think about saving for retirement. Nearly three out of four respondents said they need to think differently about retirement planning.
That makes sense, given how the financial crisis and recession destroyed two key notions about retirement saving. People who had hoped to rely on home equity watched the real-estate market implode. Others who thought they could depend on growth and income stocks saw intense fear and volatility as the market teetered.
A proven technical tool indicates widespread recent selling has driven many shares to levels where good buying opportunities may emerge soon.
Rough global markets led to $770 million in net outflows last month.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
The National Stock Exchange's new report on ETF flow data for May provides a wealth of information on investor preferences.
Overall, May was a trying month for investors. As the global marketplace ran into turmoil, investor interest in exchange-traded funds waned. For the first time in 2011, the industry saw net outflows. The $777 million in net outflows marked a dramatic shift from April, when there were $20 billion in inflows.
Industry leaders including State Street (STT), PowerShares, and BlackRock (BLK) witnessed the most staggering outflows, totaling $5.98 billion, $2.16 billion and $1.95 billion respectively. Smaller fund providers such as ETF Securities and Guggenheim ran into notable headwinds as well.
Some believe halcyon days will return after a few more deals.
By Tim Hanson
The past couple of years have been a fascinating and volatile time to be investing in Chinese stocks, but the past couple of weeks have shown definitively the challenges and opportunities in the sector. On the challenges side, there's the now well-known story of Longtop Financial (LFT), a Chinese financial software company that was once valued at more than $2 billion and owned by several high-profile investors. It said that its Big Four auditor, Deloitte, and its CFO were both resigning and that the Securities and Exchange Commission was beginning a probe into the company's accounting. This revelation comes after several short-sellers publicly called the company's numbers into question -- and were right.
Longtop is likely headed for delisting, a plight that has befallen several other Chinese companies that were revealed as alleged frauds thanks to sound short-side research.
It's not all bad
On the flip side, there was the announcement from China Fire & Security (CFSG) that it would be acquired by Bain Capital Partners, a reputable firm no doubt, for $9 per share -- a better than 20% premium to where the stock had been trading.
I hate being part of the consensus, but right now the view that the market will go flat before finding a bottom seems like the most realistic one.
Sometimes you have to own the fact that it's right to be grim about what is happening. I have long held that we need employment growth to sustain this remarkable rally that began in March of 2009. We aren't getting it.
I have long held that the government had levers to raise employment: easy policies by the Fed and stimulus by Congress. Those are over or about to end.
I thought leadership by the president could help create jobs, as we have seen with other presidents, notably Bill Clinton. That's been a definitive failure.
Four-dollar gasoline, the break point for 2008's economy, hasn't helped. The difference, of course, is that we are awash in oil, even before the OPEC meeting.
But the government seems unsophisticated, not seeing that oil has become like stocks, a necessary portfolio allocation, with the big difference that it's a small market prone to easy manipulation. We know that now from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's discovery that a couple of tiny hedge fund managers and a shipper were able to keep oil from coming to the market in 2008.
A Florida auction of some of the scammer's personal belongings raises about $400,000 for victims of his Ponzi scheme.
Hundreds of people showed up to check out items that authorities confiscated from Madoff's home in Palm Beach, the Miami Herald reported. For some, the auction was merely a chance to peek at the private lifestyle of the man whose massive Ponzi scheme took billions of dollars from investors worldwide.
Others wanted to buy what they considered a piece of history. And it seems that just about everything Madoff touched had some value to them, including a tin sculpture of a bull (appraised at $210, sold for $5,000) and a pair of leather chairs (appraised at $1,200, sold for $5,000).
ITunes Match will scan your computer for music and match the songs with its own versions in iCloud.
At its annual developers conference Monday, the company announced an upcoming service called iTunes Match that will search the songs on your iTunes and match them from its own library of 18 million songs.
So if you have a bunch of songs on your computer that you ripped from a CD or, ahem, obtained illegally, Apple will match them with the legitimate songs on its iTunes servers. And it will upgrade their quality, if needed, to 256Kbps and store them in the iCloud.
An increase could boost commodity stocks.
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The apparel chain takes a hard hit after blaming the weather for its quarterly sales decline. But cold temperatures don't explain the drop in full-year sales as well.
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- Apr gold dipped to a session low of $1337.80 per ounce in late morning action after trading as high as $1352.90 per ounce earlier in the session. However, the yellow metal managed to push back into positive territory and settled at $1346.50 per ounce, or 0.4% higher.
- May silver pulled back from its session high of $21.33 per ounce and brushed a session low of $20.67 per ounce by late morning pit trade. It eventually settled with a 0.4% loss at $20.82 per ... More
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