Wild market ride is just beginning
Wild market ride is just beginning

October is known for above-average volatility, though the reasons are unclear. Expect more of the same this time around.


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

Microsoft details its Xbox 360 Live TV offering, which includes Bing-powered voice control.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 6, 2011 4:30PM
By Evan Niu


Apple (AAPL) is coming out with a TV. Sony (SNE) is trying to beat Cupertino to the punch. Google (GOOG) is preparing for a living-room war. Enter Microsoft (MSFT). (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)


The Redmond giant quietly set the stage a few months ago by bringing a gaggle of Verizon FiOS channels to the Xbox 360 alongside content partners such as Comcast and Time Warner. Microsoft has now gone official with its plans with a press release ambitiously titled "The Future of TV Begins Now on Xbox 360."


What do you get from owning a share in the team? Maybe the bigger issue is what you don't get.

By Kim Peterson Dec 6, 2011 3:52PM
Credit: © Leon Halip/Getty Images
Caption: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay PackersThe Green Bay Packers began selling 250,000 shares of stock Tuesday, and fans couldn't wait to snap up a little ownership in the team.

About 1,600 online orders came in the first 11 minutes, slowing down the website and frustrating some buyers, the team said. It was the team's first stock sale in 14 years and the fifth in its history.

But there isn't much here that resembles stock. In fact, the team even admits that its common stock "does not constitute an investment in 'stock' in the common sense of the term." 

The bank has much less exposure to the eurozone than some of its major peers.

By Trefis Dec 6, 2011 2:53PM
Image: Bank Vault (© Radius Images/Jupiterimages)Bank of New York Mellon (BK) was trading at less than $20 per share Tuesday, about 40% below the 52-week high hit in January.

No doubt the global economic slowdown, aggravated by the escalating debt situation in Europe, has considerably impaired the financial institution's outlook for this year and next. But the current share prices hardly do justice to the value of the bank, which holds the distinction of being the largest custodian bank in the world.

BNY Mellon has much less exposure to the eurozone compared to other major banks -- particularly investment banks such as Morgan Stanley (MS). 
Tags: BKMS

A drop in business at the Italian-style dining chain is expected to slow profit and sales growth in fiscal 2012.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 6, 2011 2:27PM

Updated: 5:41 p.m. ET


Shares of Darden Restaurants (DRI) plunged 12.4% Tuesday after the company cut its earnings outlook, having failed to ignite consumer interest in its struggling Olive Garden chain.

Darden, the world's largest full-service restaurant company, expects earnings per share growth from continuing operations of 4% to 7% for fiscal 2012, down from an earlier forecast of 12% to 15%. Sales are now expected to rise 6% to 7%, below a previous estimate of 6.5% to 7.5%. The Orlando, Fla. company blamed its problems on the dismal performance at the 750 Olive Garden locations.

Tags: DRI

The equipment maker is bullish about prospects in China in particular, where it's expanding production capacity.

By Trefis Dec 6, 2011 1:07PM
Image: Construction (© Photodisc Green/Getty Images)Caterpillar (CAT) has high hopes for 2012, supported by strong demand for mining and machinery equipment from India, China and other emerging markets.

Management says it will continue to expand production levels next year, when it expects sales and revenue to grow by 20%. Caterpillar is very bullish about the growth prospects in China in particular, where it's expanding production capacity. It mainly competes with Deere and Co. (DE), Komatsu, Terex (TEX) and Cummins (CMI). 

Two analysts upgraded LinkedIn. Exxon Mobil was upgraded to 'buy' while Altria was initiated with a 'buy.'

By MSN Money Partner Dec 6, 2011 12:58PM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Tuesday's noteworthy upgrades include:
  • General Electric (GE) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Bernstein
  • Texas Instruments (TXN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at JMP Securities
  • LinkedIn (LNKD) was upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JP Morgan and to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
  • Canadian Pacific (CP) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays
  • Exxon Mobil (XOM) upgraded to Buy from Hold at ISI Group


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StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

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Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market began the new week on a cautious note. The S&P 500 lost 0.3%, but managed to erase more than half of its opening decline. Thanks to the rebound, the benchmark index reclaimed its 50-day moving average (1976.78) after slipping below that level in the morning.

Equities slumped at the open amid a couple global developments that dampened the overall risk appetite. Continued student protests in Hong Kong and a potential response from China weighed on the ... More


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