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Shares of the tech powerhouse suffered their worst first-half performance since 2008 on growth worries, but investors still see upside after the stock's rebound.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 19, 2011 12:01PM

By Robert Holmes, TheStreet

 

Apple (AAPL) shares notched yet another all-time high Monday even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) tumbled nearly 100 points, an impressive comeback for a stock that suffered its worst first-half performance in three years.

 

Apple, which is due to report quarterly results after the closing bell today, lost some of its shine earlier this year on worries about whether the company could sustain its high growth rate. Apple didn't hold to its schedule of launching a new iPhone iteration in June. Competition from Google (GOOG) and other handset and tablet makers intensified. Perhaps most importantly, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took yet another leave of absence for health reasons.

 

By June 20, Apple shares hit a low of $310.50, 3.7% below the stock's closing price at the end of 2010. Through the first six months of the year, Apple shares had their worst first-half performance since 2008, when the worst recession since the Great Depression bruised equities.

 

Funds tracking gold and the Swiss franc have become increasingly attractive in a turbulent market.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 19, 2011 11:34AM

Image: Pie Chart © Christine Balderas/Photodisc/Getty ImagesBy Don Dion, TheStreet

 

It's a new week, but on the economic front not much has changed. U.S. lawmakers continue to butt heads trying to construct a plan regarding the debt ceiling.

 

And across the Atlantic, the European Union remains embattled in a debt challenge of its own. In the days ahead, investors can expect more in the way of uncertainty as those issues dominate headlines and raise doubts about the global economic recovery and growth picture.

 

Despite the resounding anxiety and rising investor ire, a handful of options have actually managed to buck market jitters and power higher. Looking to the near term, these corners of the market may be worth keeping an eye on as we head further into the second half of the year.

 

It may seem like there's plenty of bad news out there, but beneath the surface tension there are great opportunities.

By MoneyShow.com Jul 19, 2011 11:07AM
Image: Ascending graph and red pencil (© Adam Gault/OJO Images/Getty Images)By Jon Markman, Special to MoneyShow.com

Market bulls and bears are at a standoff as the global economic recovery struggles, but not all stocks are in danger of slipping.

Major US indexes have inched higher as optimism that companies will report higher second-quarter profits have outweighed fears that job growth is crashing.

Breadth has been the hallmark of the recent advance, but two Fridays ago was a terrible day, as losers outpaced gainers 4 to 1. Stocks drifted in a range so narrow at midweek that if you turned it sideways, you couldn't see it.
 

With no end in sight to the sovereign debt issues driving the metal's recent rally, investors can gain exposure through mining shares and ETFs.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 19, 2011 10:42AM

Image: Small Stack of gold ingots (©Anthony Bradshaw/Photographer)By Jake Lynch, TheStreet

 

Gold and silver have tagged nominal highs, and the rally's catalyst remains firmly intact: Sovereign debt woes, in Europe and in the U.S., increasingly resemble a no-win scenario.

 

Extreme leverage by government entities has been satiated with austerity programs and liquidity solutions, with little or no work done to resolve the true issue of solvency. Greece and Portugal are suffering under unsustainable debt burdens, and Italy and Spain are the latest targets of bond-market vigilantes, who may soon turn to the U.S.

 

As fear gains traction, it's wise to consider precious-metal investments as a core portfolio holding.

 

Among the greatest of fears is the contagion potential of eurozone defaults. With almost every bank in the eurozone carrying low-quality bonds, a restructuring -- the technical term for default -- may plunge the global economy into an even more severe recession than in recent years.

 

The British music-streaming service has won over celebrities with innovative Facebook integration. Now it's available in the US. Should rivals be worried?

By InvestorPlace Jul 19, 2011 10:27AM

Image: Music (© PhotoAlto/SuperStock)By Tom Taulli, InvestorPlace.com


investorplace.comAnother musical British invasion -- Spotify -- has finally hit the United States, and Pandora (P) is taking notice. The noise has been intense, kind of like a Metallica concert. Even celebrities like Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher have been sending out some nice Tweets about the service.


So what makes Spotify interesting? Essentially, it has added social features, which have fans raving.


In Spotify, you can share music tracks and play lists with your friends, such as on Twitter and Facebook. According to a blog post from company brainchild Sean Parker, "By enabling social discovery of music, Spotify will forever change the way music is discovered, consumed, marketed, and monetized."

 

The iconic motorcylce maker stalled after the recession hit, but thanks to cost cutting and renewed demand, HOG is revved up once more.

By InvestorPlace Jul 19, 2011 9:59AM
Credit: (© Stephan Savoia/AP)
Caption: Gas tank of Harley-Davidson motorcycleBy Jeff Reeves, Editor, InvestorPlace.com

Founded in Milwaukee just after the turn of the 20th century, Harley-Davidson (HOG) has a long history of ups and downs.

It was one of only two major American motorcycle shops to survive the Great Depression, and it became a manufacturing powerhouse, thanks to military contracts for motorcycles used in both world wars. But in the postwar years, the company again fell on hard times, first because of biker-gang image problems in the 1970s, then Japanese competition in the 1980s. In the 1990s, Harley stormed back as wealthy baby boomers took to the open road, but then the financial crisis of the late 2000s caused a sharp decline in the sale of high-priced toys like Harley-Davidson bikes.

 

IT isn't going anywhere, layoffs should streamline operations, and deep declines in share price may provide value to buyers.

By InvestorPlace Jul 19, 2011 9:34AM

By Jeff Reeves, Editor, InvestorPlace.com


jeff reeves investorplaceCisco (CSCO) is trading around levels not seen since the bear market bottom of 2009 or the early days of 2003. The networking giant might not be as dominant as it was in years past, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Cisco stock is dead money.


CSCO now pays a dividend, the company has announced a massive restructuring plan, and, in case you haven’t noticed, the 21st-century economy is relying more and more on companies that provide server space and IT infrastructure -- two things Cisco does well.


The growth in the tech sector and, specifically, the IT industry has been huge, so even a smaller slice of the pie will be a feast for Cisco shareholders. And some of Cisco’s recent moves could mean the company is poised not only to defend its turf but to push for big growth.

 

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.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages finished the session on a modestly higher note, but not before heavy selling pressure sent the Nasdaq Composite (+0.3%) for a test of its 200-day moving average. The S&P 500, meanwhile, added 0.7% with all ten sectors posting gains.

Equities climbed at the open with the advance built on the relative strength of biotechnology and other momentum names. Despite the solid early gains in those areas, the market began fading from its high as multiple ... More


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