You can still find small-cap superstars
Small-cap superstars still abound

There are some picks in this sector that have excellent valuations and strong earnings growth.


With members quickly dropping the service and the stock taking a huge dive, CEO Reed Hastings tried to fix things with an apology. It's not working.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Sep 20, 2011 4:50PM

By Seth Jayson


Like many others, I took a shameful pleasure in watching Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings' sad-yet-hilarious bungling of yet another major service change. Not satisfied with its recent, customer-alienating moves of jacking up prices 30% to 60% on long-time members -- and reaping a big drop in membership along with a huge fall in stock price -- Netflix had, Hastings said, finally decided to make amends.


The peace offering? A long-winded explanation that the price increase was actually part of an even bigger company initiative, one that will split the subscriber experience in two. Hastings explained that the disc business will abandon a decade's worth of branding to rename itself the horrible "Qwikster," while the smaller streaming catalog will keep the Netflix brand. Best of all, and worst of all, the service site would be split in two!


Policymakers are set to announce Operation Twist. Here's what you need to know.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Sep 20, 2011 4:07PM

Late last month, all eyes were on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech at the Jackson Hole, Wyo., conference. A few weeks before, the Fed had announced its intention to keep interest rates near zero for two more years. And given the recent weakness in the economy and turmoil in capital markets, the hope was that he would repeat last year's performance and announce additional measures to support the recovery.


Last year, he teased what eventually became a $600 billion money-printing operation. The first such program was launched in late 2008 and significantly expanded in March 2009.


Instead of announcing something big, Bernanke postponed the decision one month until the Fed's September policy meeting, which was expanded to two days to allow a fuller discussion of policy options. Now that day of reckoning is upon us, with the Fed's statement due at 2:15 PM ET Wednesday.


Can Bernanke and the Fed satisfy Wall Street's desire for additional stimulus and get the recovery back on track?


The company plans to surprise people with the volume and variety of its supermarket products.

By Kim Peterson Sep 20, 2011 3:59PM
Starbucks (SBUX) is itching to expand into grocery aisles, but we didn't know the scope of the company's ambitions until now. They're huge.

"In the next 12 to 18 months, we will be unveiling new products and entirely new categories," chief executive Howard Schultz told the German magazine Der Spiegel. "We're going to build a major multibillion-dollar business in the grocery industry for Starbucks, both domestically and around the world."

It's clear Starbucks isn't content to just stay in the beverage world. Prepare for some surprises, Schultz added. "I think people are going to be quite surprised over the next few years at what Starbucks is capable of doing," he said. 

Adding Apple's iPhone to its lineup didn't do wonders for Verizon's per-user revenue.

By Jim J. Jubak Sep 20, 2011 3:13PM
This iPhone thing just isn’t working out -- for Verizon (VZ), that is.

The thought on Wall Street was that the company’s addition of Apple's iPhone to its lineup of smartphones would drive Verizon’s smartphone market share higher, and increase the all-important ARPU (average revenue per user) number.

But it just isn’t happening. At least not to the degree that Wall Street expected.

A split of the European Union could bring about good buying opportunities in German equities.

By Sep 20, 2011 2:04PM

By Tom Aspray,

Global markets seem to be factoring in a default by Greece, and many analysts are looking for a breakup of the European Union. Several analysts think we will end up with both a northern and southern Eurozone.

The overnight downgrade of Italy’s debt may add further pressure on the European Union, as Italy’s debt costs initially increased. Though I personally do not believe we will see a breakup of the European Union in the financial markets, anything is possible. Germany’s economy is in the best position to take advantage of a breakup and a new German deutschemark should have considerable investor appeal.

For those who are pessimistic about the fate of the European Union, an investment in a German company, ETF, or closed-end fund should make you well positioned.


The automaker likes to remind us that it didn't take a government bailout like its Detroit rivals, but does the story resonate with car buyers?

By TheStreet Staff Sep 20, 2011 11:31AM

By Ted Reed, TheStreetTheStreet


If Obama haters also hate GM (GM), does that mean they love Ford (F)?


The Ford story has always been a tale of a company that eschewed a government bailout and pulled itself up by its bootstraps. And Ford has never been shy about telling it. Ford executives, from CEO Alan Mulally on down, have said regularly that the story has helped Ford sales.


A recent TV ad lets a Ford F150 buyer tell the story in his own words: "I wasn't going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government," says the buyer, identified only as Chris. "I was going to buy from a manufacturer that's standing on their own: win, lose, or draw.


Funds tracking agricultural, natural gas and other futures are taking steps to protect themselves.

By TheStreet Staff Sep 20, 2011 11:21AM

Image: Farmhouse (© Mark Karrass/Corbis)By Don Dion, TheStreetTheStreet


Over the weekend, The Economist noted that the Commodities Futures Trading Committee is taking aim at speculators by proposing to implement position limits on contracts for 28 separate commodities.


The report says the CFTC's goal is to bar any individual from controlling more than a quarter of the total U.S. supply of any of these commodities.


In recent years, investors have learned firsthand that heightened regulation can affect the inner workings of a futures-tracking ETF. Perhaps the most glaring example is the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG).


With the size and scope of the USPS, more than just delivery-dependent providers would feel the pain.

By InvestorPlace Sep 20, 2011 9:40AM
Image: Mailbox (© Tetra Images /Corbis)By Jeff Reeves,

The United States Postal Service is in dire straits. It is projecting a $6.4 billion loss and could run out of money by the end of the month without a congressional bailout to meet pension requirements.

The driving forces behind the agency's financial woes are many, including a precipitous drop in mail volume because of the digital age, skyrocketing labor costs and an inefficient network populated with infrequently used rural post offices and routes that just don't make sense financially.

But more than just mail routes and government payrolls would be affected. For-profit businesses have a lot of skin in the game, too. Here are five businesses that could suffer from a USPS overhaul.


Don't be dissuaded by Monday's sell-off. It's just another opportunity to add the metal to your portfolio.

By Jim Cramer Sep 20, 2011 9:17AM

the streetImage: Gold (© Stockbyte/SuperStock)The papers are filled with doom and gloom. Let's count 'em: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner didn't seem to get much done in Europe, so we had another terrible day for the euro. Worries about higher consumer prices without higher growth have people buzzing about stagflation. And there's no let-up in residential housing prices in China. This is all within the past 72 hours.

Pretty grim, right?


Unless, that is, you think about the prospects of what it might mean for gold, which, bizarrely, sold off Monday, giving you another chance to get into the precious metal.


Why was it down? Oddly, I think it's because Europe isn't collapsing and the reports of it getting out of control are greatly exaggerated. I reiterate the faith I feel in what Geithner said last week -- that there will be no more Lehmans. If that's the case -- and the market seems to be saying it with gold not soaring -- we have more ways to win than just gold.


The manufacturer cuts revenue and profit guidance for the year. What does this say for the company and the sector?

By Jim J. Jubak Sep 19, 2011 5:43PM
Quite a change from Aixtron’s last guidance back on July 28.

At that time, Aixtron (AIXG), a leading maker of equipment to manufacture LEDs, said that although it believed that the choppy waters of the second quarter were likely to continue in the third quarter, the company remained optimistic about achieving its original targets for the full year.

On Sept. 15, however -- just two weeks before that choppy third quarter closes -- the company cut its revenue and earnings guidance significantly for 2011.

The company hopes its smaller, cheaper packages will appeal to consumers on tight budgets.

By Kim Peterson Sep 19, 2011 2:56PM
Americans have been drinking less soda for years, mostly for health reasons. But as this economic crisis lingers, people are also cutting back on soda to save money.

That's causing problems for Coca-Cola (KO), Pepsi (PEP) and other soft-drink makers. Soda volumes in the U.S. are down for six years straight.

So now, Coke is downsizing. The company will debut 12.5-ounce bottles for 89 cents each, The Wall Street Journal reports. The move continues a trend toward smaller bottles for the company. Last year, it began selling a 16-ounce bottle for 99 cents -- slimmed down from the 20-ounce bottles in convenience stores. 

Microsoft tests the limits of conventional operating systems with its new vision.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Sep 19, 2011 2:44PM

By Evan Niu


Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 8 is here.


At least it is if you're a developer. The official public release won't be until late next year, and the operating system is far from complete. We got a sneak peek at AllThingsD's D9 conference earlier in the year, but now we're getting a better idea of what Redmond's next big release will be like.


This week at the company's BUILD Windows developer conference in Anaheim, Calif., additional details emerged surrounding Microsoft's ambitious new operating system. The OS represents more than a concerted assault on the tablet market, but rather embodies an entirely re-envisioned and unified approach to computing that includes mobile computing.


With the national fiscal situation in tatters, President Obama pushes for long-term budget austerity, including a 'Buffett tax' on the rich.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Sep 19, 2011 12:58PM

President Barack Obama has sure been busy lately. Two weeks ago he unveiled his American Jobs Act in front of a joint session of Congress -- a $450 billion stimulus plan composed mainly of tax cuts along with spending on infrastructure and unemployment benefits. The idea is that it would boost the economy in the near term and stave off the risk of another recession driven by premature budget tightening.


But that doesn't remove the need for a long-term plan on cutting the deficit and reducing the national debt -- the lack of which was responsible for America losing its AAA credit rating last month. It's a delicate balance: The government needs to listen to the bond market and borrow now at ultra-low interest rates to support the economy before pulling the plug later as the recovery becomes self-sustaining.


Monday, Obama unveiled his plans for the second half of this strategy --a $4 trillion cut to the budget over 10 years featuring, most prominently, a $1.5 trillion increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans to ensure they don't pay lower tax rates than the middle class.

But would the so-called "Buffett tax" -- proposed by Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) CEO Warren Buffett and pushed by Obama -- sink the economy by soaking the rich?


Don't want to throw your own money into the market? A new contest gives you fictional cash, but the winner will take home a real $1 million.

By Kim Peterson Sep 19, 2011 12:38PM
A new contest starting Monday at CNBC gives you $1 million in pretend money to trade with -- and the winner gets a million real dollars.

It's a typical stock-picking contest, with winners determined by who has the highest portfolio gain. The second-place finisher gets a new Maserati, and weekly winners get exotic vacations to places such as Dubai and South Africa. 

These picks offer safe, steady returns as well as solid growth potential, making any of them worthy buys on any pullback.

By Sep 19, 2011 12:08PM
By Tom Aspray,

Stocks finished out last week surprisingly strong, and many of the strongest stocks were some that offer attractive yields. 

My weekend scan of the stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average shows that the ten most overbought stocks all have attractive yields. That is not surprising given the current uncertain investment environment and the high degree of pessimism about the stock market.

I have listed the ten stocks whose weekly close was the nearest to their weekly Starc+ bands. For example, The Coca Cola Co. (KO) closed last week at $71.23, which was just 2.6% below the weekly Starc+ band at $73.07.



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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the Thursday session on a modestly lower note, but a late-morning rebound lifted the indices off their lows. The S&P 500 shed 0.2% with seven sectors ending in the red.

This morning, European equities and U.S. futures slumped around 6:00 ET after Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko was quoted as saying Russian forces have invaded an area southeast of Donetsk. The news pressured the markets, but a brief uptick took place after a correction to ... More


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