Businessman blowing bubbles (© GSO Images/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images)
Take bubble talk with a grain of salt

Jim Cramer asks, why pay any attention to letters from a manager who lost money in the first quarter?


Even for less-than-bullish analysts, the automaker's stock is indisputably cheap.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 7, 2011 10:46AM

the streetBy Jake Lynch, TheStreet


General Motors' (GM) stock has rebounded 11% from its 52-week low but remains in deep-discount territory, even as analysts boost their earnings forecasts.


BusinessWeek and Bloomberg on Tuesday reported about the company's channel stuffing, or flooding of dealers' inventory to goose profits. Betting on a strong rally in SAAR, or the seasonally adjusted annual rate, for cars, some dealers now have excess inventory, presenting risk to GM, which may have difficulty maintaining its sales and profit levels.


For investors, or potential investors, in GM, this isn't news. Bearish traders have been touting this practice for months as a reason to avoid the stock. Along with souring economic data, channel stuffing is a relevant counterargument to the bullish case. Nevertheless, savvy investors know to build positions amid negative news flow because once it dissipates, stocks tend to rise.


The Wall Street Journal says a September release is pretty certain for a thinner, lighter model with an upgraded camera.

By InvestorPlace Jul 7, 2011 10:29AM

By Jeff Reeves,

It's official, iPhone fans. You will get your shot at a shiny new iPhone 5 by the end of September.

OK, well, it's not official official. Apple CEO Steve Jobs plays his cards notoriously close to his vest on product launches, and Apple hasn't formally set a date. But after a host of similar rumors swirling around tech blogs, the latest report of a September launch comes from a highly respected source, The Wall Street Journal.

To lend credibility, the Journal has based the date on supply chain interviews and managed to wrangle a few more details about the gadget out of its sources in the process.


A recent national audit of government loans might have missed a large chunk, adding to investor concerns about banks.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 6, 2011 4:21PM
Jim JubakChina's banks are in more trouble than investors thought.

That’s the message in the warning from Moody's Investors Service, and the decision by Temasek, Singapore's national investment fund, to sell shares in two of China’s biggest banks.

Tuesday, Moody's warned that the recently completed government audit of loans by local government financing platforms might have missed a few loans. Last week, China's first audit of local governments found that provinces, cities and counties owned about 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.65 trillion).

Moody’s calculates that the audit missed about 3.5 trillion yuan, or roughly $540 billion in loans. Most, according to Moody's, weren't included in the national audit, because they weren’t properly underwritten and thus couldn’t be classified as government loans.

Dealers have several months' worth of unsold trucks. Is the automaker trying to paint a better picture?

By Kim Peterson Jul 6, 2011 3:29PM
Something isn't quite right at General Motors (GM) dealerships. Unsold trucks are piling up.

One Atlanta dealer has more than six months' worth of Silverados on hand, a stockpile even the dealer's general manager describes as "a little scary," Bloomberg reports. In fact, GM's truck inventory has soared to 122 days' worth of average sales, compared with 79 days for Ford (F) and 78 days in past years for GM.

This dealer-stuffing could play right into GM's stock price. One analyst, Peter Nesvold of Jefferies, says the higher truck supply is ultimately pulling GM's 2012 earnings into this year.

"It's unbelievable that after this huge taxpayer bailout and the bankruptcy that we're right back to where we were," he told Bloomberg. "There's no credibility." 
Tags: gm

How to navigate among the reverse-mergers and other risky companies.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jul 6, 2011 2:30PM

By Matt Koppenheffer


When it comes to U.S.-listed Chinese companies, the shoes are dropping faster than at a barefoot marathon for octopuses. 


Last week, A-Power Energy (APWR) became the latest Chinese small cap to be halted. That came after the company's auditor and two independent directors resigned. The auditor had flagged certain transactions at the company for further investigation and told A-Power to talk to the hand when it didn't take any steps to investigate those deals.


Meanwhile, AutoChina endured a beating Friday after the company revealed it will be restating past financial statements and is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The former may not be much to freak out about -- it's the accounting for an earn-out agreement with management -- but it's hard not to be concerned about an SEC investigation.


A former broker shares an 11-point checklist.

By Kim Peterson Jul 6, 2011 2:12PM
With about 10,000 stocks to choose from, picking a winner can sometimes feel impossible.

But former stockbroker Kevin Matras says his checklist works. Matras, a contributing editor at Zacks Investment Research, shares his strategy in the following video. Before he buys a stock, he says, he puts it up against this basic set of building blocks. If a stock passes, he says, it has a high probability of success.

By the way, five stocks currently sail through his checklist. I'll go through those stocks after the following video.

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The nation is slowly starting to face the consequences of its actions.

By V.N. Katsenelson Jul 6, 2011 2:06PM
Party rulers in China are trapped in a position that chess players deeply fear -- zugzwang, where any move made puts you at disadvantage. In China, the potential cost of both action and inaction is economic collapse.


China is slowly starting to face the consequences of its actions — loans grew by more than 30% a year over the past few years — and inflation is rising fast. Inflation in developed countries is unpleasant, but it is tolerable.  For a developing country — China, despite its size, is still a developing country — it can be catastrophic.  In developed countries, we spend two or three times less on food as a percentage of our income as do people in developing countries.  Therefore, though food inflation is unpleasant, we have a much greater tolerance (margin of safety) for it.  While food inflation the US can mean fewer trips to restaurants or no summer vacation, food inflation in China leads to hunger.


Here's the skinny on the video game company as it prepares to go public.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 6, 2011 11:50AM

By Eric Jackson, TheStreet


A lot has been written about Zynga in the past week since it filed its S-1 last week, revealing more details about its financials and future IPO plans.


Overall, most folks in the press have described the company positively because it appears to be making money compared with Groupon.


The company does have a number of strengths, but the general view of the business press is badly misinformed because of a lack of familiarity with the gaming sector.


Here are some myths and truths about Zynga:


There is substantial upside potential in minerals, and risk-controlled entry points are evident for 3 leading producers.

By Jul 6, 2011 11:48AM
By Tom Aspray,

Tuesday's announcement from the Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO) found that China "Violated international trade law by artificially restricting exports of nine raw materials." These raw materials are critical to the production of aluminum, steel and chemicals.

Though rare-earth minerals were not included in the ruling, it is thought to set a precedent for an outstanding complaint against China for restricting the export of 17 rare-earth minerals. Last year, China temporarily halted exports of rare-earth minerals to Japan.

Over the weekend, it was also reported that Japanese experts have found a large deposit of rare-earth minerals on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. The size of the mineral discovery is estimated to be 1,000 times more than the current proven reserves, which are mostly in China.

In an early June article, "Sweet Spot for Rare Earth Stocks," I was looking for a further decline in rare-earth stocks before a bottom could be completed. These stocks did drop into the middle of June but have since rallied sharply, and some rare-earth minerals recently doubled in price amid reports of apparent hoarding. But have the rare-earth stocks now completed a significant bottom?

A growing number of financial advisers prefer to blend active and passive strategies.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 6, 2011 10:54AM

the streetBy Stan Luxenberg, TheStreet


Financial advisers argue endlessly about whether index funds are superior to actively managed portfolios. Some advisers use index funds exclusively, while others believe they can outdo the benchmarks with actively managed funds. But a growing number are taking a hybrid approach, mixing actively managed funds with passive ETFs and index funds.


"It is rare for us to see an adviser who puts everything in one kind of investment," says Sue Thompson, the managing director of BlackRock, which operates the iShares family of ETFs.


Thompson says some advisers start with a core of ETFs, then buy a few actively managed funds to add spice or reach asset classes that are not well served by ETFs. Other advisers start with a core of active funds and add ETFs on the margins.


JPMorgan Chase and IBM, among others, tend to advance after reporting second-quarter results.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 6, 2011 10:23AM

the streetBy Robert Holmes, TheStreet


Some Dow stocks, such as JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and IBM (IBM), tend to perform better than others after reporting second-quarter earnings results.


That's not the case with Disney (DIS) and Microsoft (MSFT).


Alcoa (AA) unofficially kicks off the earnings reporting season July 11 after the stock market's closing bell. The aluminum producer's stock doesn't fare well after reporting second-quarter numbers, falling an average of 0.7% the following day, according to data collected over the past 10 years.


Disney, Microsoft and Exxon Mobil (XOM) typically fall an average of 2% in the trading session after the companies report financial results for the second quarter. (Microsoft owns and publishes MSN Money.)


CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks up the power of his social network's infrastructure, but can the deal fend off a hot new video feature from Google? With video analysis.

By InvestorPlace Jul 6, 2011 10:18AM

By Jeff Reeves, editor of


Facebook made a splash Wednesday with a major upgrade to its ubiquitous social-media platform: a video chat feature via a partnership with Skype.


The move comes along with upgrades to groups, chatting and buddy lists, adding an extra layer of interactivity to Facebook. That's saying something, considering the site already boasts 500 million active users who spend more than 700 billion minutes per month on its site.


So what is the motivation for the upgrade to chatting and Facebook-Skype synergy? To keep people connected, sure, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged in his press conference Wednesday that Facebook chat was a bit clunky and needed some improvement. But more importantly, to keep users loyally plugged in as competitors look to get a slice of Facebook's massive social-media pie.


Hoping to avoid a run on Greek banks, the European Central Bank becomes more open-minded about its rules.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 5, 2011 4:55PM
Image: Jim JubakThe Greek debt crisis is like an onion. Peel away one layer and you find another -- and then you cry.

Remember last week? The big test was two votes by the Greek Parliament on a new austerity package.

Pass that, the Greeks had been told by the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank, or we won't give you the $17 billion you need to avoid defaulting on your government debt in August. So the Greeks voted to cut their budget, raise taxes and sell off government assets.

But that only moves the crisis from worry over a default in August to worry over a default in, well, July.

Eurozone leaders are supposed to be putting together a second rescue package for Greece, with a vote on the package around July 11. A second package is necessary because the first rescue package, passed last year, was designed only to get Greece to 2012.

Betting against this company is stupid.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jul 5, 2011 3:39PM

By Tim Hanson


It's not often that a company you've criticized invites you over for a tour and tea, but that's precisely what happened to me recently in Beijing when I visited Baidu's (BIDU) corporate campus in the northwestern part of the city. And after spending a full day meeting employees and getting a sense of the company's culture and growth strategy, I'm beginning to think that my skepticism of the company has been misguided.


I'll tell you why, but first I need to explain what I used to think.


This story begins 1,800% ago
Baidu went public in 2005, and given the excitement about emerging markets then, the stock nearly doubled on its first day of trading. It's looked expensive to me ever since. One reason for that is Baidu was (and to some extent remains) a Google (GOOG) clone.


The company plans to offer video streams in three languages to 43 countries later this year.

By Kim Peterson Jul 5, 2011 3:07PM
Netflix (NFLX) stock was a big mover Tuesday, jumping more than 7% on news that the company will expand into 43 countries this year.

This is a huge deal for the video-streaming and DVD-by-mail company. Netflix has gone international only once, launching services in Canada last year. Now it plans to offer videos in Spanish, Portuguese and English to subscribers in Mexico, Central America and South America as well as in the Caribbean.

Analysts think there are 40 million to 45 million broadband customers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Think about that in terms of Netflix Canada, which won the loyalty of 8% of broadband households within seven months, says Citi analyst James Rivett.

The following video has a pretty meaty discussion about Netflix's expansion and what it means for the stock. Check it out.

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[BRIEFING.COM] The Nasdaq Composite (+0.5%) and S&P 500 (+0.2%) posted modest gains on Thursday, but not before enduring a morning dip into the red, which took place in reaction to reports indicating Russia has commenced military exercises on the Ukrainian border.

The news from Europe knocked the key indices from their early highs, while giving a boost to safe-haven assets like gold futures (+0.5% to $1290.80/ozt), Treasuries (10-yr yield -1 bps to 2.69%), and the Japanese yen (102.30 ... More


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