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President Obama has picked a less polarizing leader for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But it's too early to sound the all-clear for financial stocks.

By Jim Cramer Jul 19, 2011 8:50AM

the streetjim cramerBank investors breathed a sigh of relief Monday when Elizabeth Warren, the firebrand Harvard law professor who had a "mad as hell and ain't going to take it anymore" attitude toward financial companies, didn't get the top job at her baby, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

 

They were so thrilled because they feared the unflappable Warren, who had frequently expressed contempt and anger about the banks and their executives, would decimate bank earnings and serve as a nationally appointed nemesis of the industry.

 

The sigh of relief is premature. Instead of Warren, President Barack Obama picked Richard Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, to take the helm at the bureau. Frankly, I think bank investors might end up wishing Warren got the nod.

 

Citigroup has a lot of work to do to generate revenue growth in its home market.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 19, 2011 1:06AM
JIm Jubak"Citi achieved another solid quarter of operating performance as we continue to execute our strategy," Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit said on Friday, as the bank released its second-quarter earnings report.

Huh? Vikram and I must have read different quarterly reports.

The one I saw showed a bank that still hasn’t been able to generate any significant revenue growth in its home market. And is seeing earnings grow only because its reserves for bad debt are falling.

I do see one bright spot in Citigroup’s international business, but I sure don’t see a "solid quarter of operating performance." But rather than engaging in a battle of the spin, let’s look at the numbers that the bank reported.
 

Despite the potential for upside earnings surprises from many of the tech sector leaders, a proven technical indicator says it’s a high-risk time to buy these shares.

By MoneyShow.com Jul 18, 2011 4:24PM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

Last week was a rough one for stocks, but as we head into a heavy week of earnings, there are signs that the Nasdaq 100 is now leading the S&P 500. Since the June lows, the Powershares QQQ Trust (QQQ) is up 7.9% versus just 4.6% for the S&P 500.

This could be especially important this week, as some of the biggest names in the Nasdaq 100 are scheduled to release their earnings. Last week, Google, Inc. (GOOG) surprised the Street with earnings that were much better than expectations.

Knowing whether a stock is overbought or oversold going into earnings can help investors decide what, if any, action should be taken. Just a month ago, GOOG closed 2.3% above its weekly Starc- band, and this past week, it closed 4% above its weekly Starc+ band.
 

One expert says the metal could hit a new high every day this week. Here's how to add it to your portfolio.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 18, 2011 1:40PM

Image: Gold Bars (© Photodisc/SuperStock)By Alix Steel, TheStreet 

 

Gold (-GC) was rising to a record high Monday, topping $1,600 an ounce, as concerns about debt problems in the U.S. and Europe boosted demand for the haven asset.

 

The recent surge in gold and silver has fueled confidence that precious metals will climb to fresh highs. "Gold could set new record highs every day this week," said Chuck Butler, the president of EverBank World Market, adding that selling among long-term investors could hurt prices in the short term.

 

For most people, investing in gold isn't a quick trade but, rather, insurance. It's a hedge against inflation, currency debasement and global uncertainty. Here are the top four ways you can invest.

 

With Europe in crisis and the US staring down the barrel of default, many investors are asking the same question: What ever happened to the risk-free rate?

By TheStreet Staff Jul 18, 2011 12:58PM

By Niamh Sweeney, TheStreet

 

A key investment measure for everything from pension funds to hedge funds -- the risk-free rate of return -- is being pummeled by the threat of a U.S. debt default and the European sovereign debt crisis.

 

Once a cornerstone of investment management, the notion of a risk-free rate is no longer a given for many investors, and that is prompting strategists everywhere to reconsider old assumptions about the so-called haven of investments.

 

For many years, U.S. Treasurys served as a benchmark -- essentially a default-free entity -- against which investors could measure returns for taking on greater credit risk in global markets. Similarly, the German bund became a proxy for risk-free return in Europe.

 

But what happens when there is no benchmark or when that benchmark becomes as risky as the rest?

 

Coca-Cola's volume strategy may be a long-run winner.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 18, 2011 12:32PM

Image: Potato chips (© Image Source/Getty Images)By Jake Lynch, TheStreet

 

Among corporate rivalries, few are as famous as the battle between Coca-Cola (KO) and PepsiCo (PEP) for dominance of the soda market.

 

Pepsi, who once held blind taste tests to draw consumers to its soda, has since diversified into potato chips and other snacks with its Frito-Lay subsidiary. Coke has branched out into energy drinks, juices and tea, but its trademark cola is still the Atlanta company's key revenue generator.

 

Pepsi has built a product roster that's filled with the top names in junk food, but Coke's success in the beverage business makes it a better long-term bet. Coke continues to gain share in the drinks market and has been rewarding investors with better share performance. Coke also has one of the world's best-known brands and the endorsement that comes from being a longtime portfolio holding of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B).

 

Big earnings could affect funds tracking tech, banking and industrials.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 18, 2011 12:05PM

Image: Stock investor (© Tom Grill/Corbis)By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

Here are five ETFs to watch this week.

 

1. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Technology Index Fund (IYW)

 

Google (GOOG) kicked of the tech earnings season on a strong note late last week, sending shares of the search giant soaring.

 

This week, there will be earnings from a deluge of other tech titans, including Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Intel (INTC), EMC (EMC), Qualcomm (QCOM) and International Business Machines (IBM).

 

The IYW is a strong option for investors looking to cast a wide net over the technology sector. All seven of the companies listed above can be found among the fund's top 10 holdings, representing over half of its portfolio.

 

Baristas at the coffee chain's 31 Chile locations are demanding a $100 meal stipend and a cash bonus when they have babies.

By InvestorPlace Jul 18, 2011 10:40AM

Image: Coffee (© HD Connelly/Getty Images/Getty Images)Starbucks (SBUX) isn't exactly known as a corporate villain. It has a grandiose sustainability vision and is working on a comprehensive cup-recycling plan. It offers benefits for baristas, including health care for dependents and unmarried partners. And it has a loyal following of java junkies nationwide.


But to hear some folks in Chile say it, Starbucks isn't doing enough. Workers at Starbucks' Santiago cafes have a list of demands, and some of them might shock you.


For starters, they want SBUX management to pay them to buy food on lunch breaks. Seriously.


Besides a salary increase, Starbucks says, the union in Chile has a list of 25 demands. These include a cash bonus when a worker gets married or has a child. Employees in Chile also want a $100-per-month lunch stipend so they can offset the cost of meals bought during long shifts.

 

Beyond the static is positive news for stocks that should boost valuations.

By Jamie Dlugosch Jul 18, 2011 10:02AM

Earnings season kicked off last week with a solid report from Alcoa (AA). Unfortunately the market was more interested in the dysfunction in Washington. The debate over the debt limit overshadowed all else, sending investors to the exits.

 

Stocks were lower across the board.

 

Taking the debt discussion out of the equation, investors ought to be encouraged. There were lots of solid reports last week, including a big number from Google (GOOG). That news sent shares up a whopping 12% Friday.

 

What does the news portend for Apple? The technology giant reports earnings Tuesday, and most observers expect another strong report.

 

With many big names reporting results next week, stocks are likely to trade higher. Google's performance shows how large companies can make investors money. I’ll stick with that theme by making the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) the ETF to own this week.

 

The search giant may be the real social-media play, thanks to the launch of its innovative Google+ platform.

By InvestorPlace Jul 18, 2011 9:54AM

By Tom Taulli, InvestorPlace Writer


Not that long ago, Google (GOOG) was almost considered a has-been, stagnating in the "value trap" like other tech giants such as Cisco (CSCO).


It turns out news of Google's death has been greatly exaggerated. As seen with its latest quarterly report, the company still appears to be in growth mode.


In fact, the company is attacking the pesky social operators Facebook and Twitter, both of which have been fetching huge valuations. And as we've seen with the huge valuation of LinkedIn (LNKD), investors are extremely hungry to get shares in these companies when they hit the public markets.

 

In the past 72 hours, Europe got worse and debt-ceiling talks in the US deteriorated.

By Jim Cramer Jul 18, 2011 8:04AM
jim cramer

the streetStunned at how bad it looks Monday. Stunned that nothing good ever seems to happen in Europe at all. Nothing.


The stress tests just seem like total shams. I would have thought that, given the tremendous sovereign bond holdings these banks have, it would have been prudent just to issue statements that said, "If the banks we know have X level of debt don't raise capital, we will seize them and nationalize them." Something with real teeth.

 

Without that, we are facing the absurdity of this slow death that grinds and grinds. We have a 1980s-style Latin American debt crisis here. The sophisticated people around the globe know this, so there is no exit until the capital is raised and the bullet is bitten on the bogus sovereign bonds.

 

I was hoping for Geithner-like stress tests, ones that found every major bank issuing a ton of equity, something that makes our banks solvent -- although that does not make them investible.

 

Big-time redemptions may have caused several would-be rallies last week to fail. A short-term rally remains likely, but if sell-offs continue, June's lows could be tested.

By MoneyShow.com Jul 16, 2011 7:40AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

It was clearly a rough week for stocks. Despite historic oversold readings after last Monday’s selling, rally attempts have been feeble. Typically, such an oversold market would stage a decent one- or two-day rally, but it never came last week.

Selling by hedge funds could be keeping the market lower...as several days last week, stocks opened strong only for the rally to fizzle quickly. June saw the highest level of hedge-fund redemptions since October 2009, and I doubt things have gotten better in July, as most apparently missed the rally.

For the year, the HFN Hedge Fund Aggregate Index is up just 0.63%, against over 6% for the S&P Total Return Index. Therefore one can see why hedge-fund investors may be looking elsewhere: If the hedge funds are selling in order to meet redemption requests, it could explain the recent action.

Obviously, the stock market and economy had enough barriers to overcome last week without the hedge funds. Early last week, concerns over Italy’s debt surfaced, and of course the ongoing stalemate over the debt ceiling has many worried.
 
Tags: goldoil

BHP Billiton's massive cash bid for Petrohawk sent Petrohawk's share price soaring on Friday.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 15, 2011 10:26PM
Jim JubakBig news on Petrohawk (HK) since my post on how to use the mergers-and-acquisitions boom to develop an investing strategy for this crazy market.

After Thursday’s close, BHP Billiton (BHP) announced a $12.1 billion cash bid for Petrohawk. The price is about 65% higher than the closing share price for Petrohawk on Thursday, which was $23.49. (Petrohawk closed Friday up 62% to $38.17.)

BHP, which earlier this year paid $4.8 billion to acquire shale oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy (CHK), is clearly still in the hunt for more shale acreage. Petrohawk owns about 1 million net acres of shale in the Eagle Ford, Haynesville, and Permian basins of Texas and Louisiana. (Eagle Ford is one of my two favorite shale plays -- the other is the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana.)
 

Fortune calculates that the golfer may only earn $20 million in endorsement deals this year -- a huge drop from the past.

By Kim Peterson Jul 15, 2011 4:04PM
Tiger Woods is a legendary pitchman, having hawked products for Gillette, Accenture and Gatorade. But those deals are long gone, and now the golfer only has three major promotional deals, Fortune reports.

Woods has still signed with Nike (NKE), Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Kowa, a company that makes a heat rub in Japan (insert your own joke here). He was likely only paid in the single-digit millions for a recent Kowa commercial running in Japan, Daniel Roberts writes.

This leads Fortune to speculate that Woods may actually be running out of money -- or at least isn't making enough to cover the lifestyle to which he's become accustomed. 

After the company's fantastic June quarter, Wall Street is piling on the love and the stock is soaring.

By Kim Peterson Jul 15, 2011 2:05PM
All it takes is one giant quarter and Google (GOOG) is back to being a Wall Street darling.

After the search giant blew away expectations Thursday with its June quarter results, analysts who previously questioned the company's aptitude have fallen in love all over again.

They're cheering the fact that Google is growing revenue faster than at any time in the past three years. About 135 million devices now use the company's Android mobile platform, and 10 million people are trying out the new Google+ social-networking service. Google's shares were up more than 12% Friday to $594.80 in midday trading.

Google's guns are a'blazin', and newly minted chief executive, and co-founder, Larry Page was happy to crow about it, staying on through the entire conference call with analysts Thursday, Barron's reports

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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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