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.


The company says same-store numbers are on the mend after 9 straight quarters of decline.

By Kim Peterson Oct 12, 2011 3:07PM
Wal-Mart (WMT) executives can breathe a sigh of relief. U.S. sales are finally back on track after nine straight quarters of decline.

At the company's annual analyst meeting Wednesday, executives said same-store sales at U.S. stores have been rising for the past three months. Same-store sales make up about 98% of Wal-Mart's total U.S. sales.

The improvement is enough that Wal-Mart will likely show positive U.S. growth when it reports quarterly earnings next month. 

The risk-reward ratio is not lining up favorably for this trio.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Oct 12, 2011 2:53PM
By Sean Williams


Get out your pom-poms, everyone, because earnings season officially kicked off last night with a profit warning from Alcoa (AA). While that’s not exactly the way investors would have liked earnings season to kick off, the vast majority of S&P 500 companies have met or beaten analyst expectations over the past few quarters.


However -- take a deep breath -- earnings estimates are falling globally. Between debt-contagion fears in Greece and a slowdown in U.S. government spending, profit projections are dropping, and investors are finally scrutinizing company earnings as they should have been doing in the first place. The recipe for failure is there this quarter, more so than in any quarter in recent history, so it pays to take note of companies which are on shaky ground to start with.


The ice cream company throws its support behind Occupy Wall Street. Is a new flavor on the way?

By Kim Peterson Oct 12, 2011 2:26PM
Ben & Jerry's has come out in support of Occupy Wall Street and treated hundreds of protesters to free ice cream this week.

Most of the protesters seemed to have no problem with the fact that Ben & Jerry's is owned by Unilever (UN), a global conglomerate that reportedly spent $750,000 on congressional lobbying last year. "It's hard to say no to free ice cream," said one 26-year-old protester from Ireland, according to DailyFinance.

The Ben & Jerry's board issued a statement expressing admiration for the Wall Street protesters. "We realize that Occupy Wall Street is calling for systemic change," the statement said. "We support this call to action and are honored to join you in this call to take back our nation and democracy." 

At least one ETF is now a good deal for long-term investors.

By TheStockAdvisors Oct 12, 2011 2:21PM
Image: Nuts and Bolts © Andrew Bret Wallis/Photodisc/Getty ImagesBy Mark Salzinger, The Investor's ETF Report

We are adding the out-of-favor Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX) to our Contrarian Portfolio.

Even if we see S&P earnings fall 10%, 20% or even 30% from recent levels, I suspect that investors who scoop up shares now of excellent stock ETFs -- such as SLX -- will be glad they did several years from now.

Slowing economic growth has tempered expectations for steelmakers, and their prices were savaged in early August 2011, losing nearly 15%. 

Forget about this summer's 'commodity crumble.' These majors will deliver strong third-quarter earnings.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 12, 2011 1:46PM

Image: Oil Well Pumpjack © Roger Milley/Vetta/Getty ImagesBy Dan Dicker, TheStreetTheStreet


The biggest oil companies, such as Chevron (CVX), Exxon Mobil (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP), have tremendous complexity in operations and ultimately in profitability.


There are exploration and production divisions, enormous segments dealing with transport and refining, and separate segments for natural gas, liquids and chemicals.


As complex as these companies are, the price of a barrel of crude is still the most important input to their earnings results and therefore has the biggest impact on their stock prices. It is no wonder that these mega-cap oil companies' share prices have historically followed the price of the oil they generate.


A service issue that began Monday has affected tens of millions of users, causing another headache for Research In Motion.

By Kim Peterson Oct 12, 2011 1:20PM
Updated 4:15 p.m. ET

BlackBerry users are running out of patience as a global service outage heads into its third day. The problem has spread to the U.S. and Canada, with users reporting delays, slow e-mail and one-way conversations.

Analysts estimate that about half of BlackBerry's 70 million subscribers outside North America have been affected, Reuters reports. It's unclear how many in North America were affected Wednesday.

Hollywood was "paralyzed in its tracks" Wednesday, reported entertainment site TheWrap. Hollywood actors and executives have long favored the BlackBerry over other smartphones, the site reports. 
Tags: AAPL

Private education has its problems. Is it finally time to sell this industry?

By Benzinga Oct 12, 2011 12:05PM

Image: Graduation cap (© Stephen Wisbauer/Getty Images)By Abe Raymond, Benzinga

For-profit institutions are notorious for being unable to place alumni into the work force. While their businesses grow, their reputations sink.

It is time to note the discrepancy: People who attended traditional schools dislike for-profits, but those without traditional options seem to embrace the for-profit route despite knowing the statistics. Let's examine this problematic industry and focus on one of its worst performers in 2011: Capella Education (CPLA).

Tags: Benzinga

This fund adjusts its exposure to twists and turns.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 12, 2011 12:00PM

By Don Dion, TheStreetTheStreet


Once considered a darling among investors, the commodities market has become noticeably volatile in recent weeks as looming macroeconomic headwinds have weighed heavily on investor confidence.


Growth-correlated resources have not been the only commodities to take hits, however. On the contrary, even gold recently came under pressure. The iShares Gold Trust (IAU) is off nearly 10% over the past month.


As resource prices continue to struggle to find stability, it will be tempting to make alterations with every fluctuation. Long-term investors, however, will need to exercise patience and flexibility in order to come out unscathed. For some, the time and effort needed to construct and maintain a strong portfolio may prove to be too daunting.


Luckily for those who prefer a hands-off approach, there are several options.

Tags: cmeetf

Despite all the headwinds, the bank is still a good choice for long-term investors.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 12, 2011 11:26AM

By Philip van Doorn, TheStreetTheStreet


The dismal year-to-date performance of JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) stock underscores why you should invest in the bank now.


In a few years, you may be looking back at the killing you missed on JPMorgan Chase. The shares are bargain-priced right here, and you can add on the dips.


Shares of the nation's second-largest bank by total assets -- running a close second to Bank of America (BAC) as of June 30 -- closed at $32.30 Tuesday for a 22% year-to-date decline. That compared with a 53% decline for shares of Bank of America, while Citigroup (C) was down 44% to $24.49 and Wells Fargo (WFC) was down 15% to $26.13. The benchmark KBW Bank Index was down 28% year to date, closing Tuesday at 37.45.


The companies are facing strong resistance and are likely to lag the overall market.

By Oct 12, 2011 10:27AM

By Tom Aspray,

The general pessimism over the prospects for the economy and consumer health has pressured casino stocks over the past few months. The data from Las Vegas look a bit more positive than prices of the big casino stocks, however.

Even though gambling revenues fell 8.7% in August, it was attributed mainly to drop in baccarat revenue, as other gaming revenues showed a 5.7% gain. Room rates and the number of visitors are increasing, which is also encouraging.


These picks boast rapidly growing earnings and strong balance sheets.

By TheStockAdvisors Oct 12, 2011 10:23AM
Image: Canada (© Royalty-Free/Corbis)By J. Royden Ward, Cabot Benjamin Graham Value Letter

We screened our Benjamin Graham database to find Canadian companies with rapidly growing earnings and strong balance sheets.

We believe many outstanding buying opportunities exist among undervalued Canadian stocks. We believe the following four offer excellent appreciation potential during the next six to 12 month.

Canada is an excellent place to invest right now because the economy is growing, banks are solid and the national debt is under control. 
Tags: POT

The fact that Europe's rescue plan hinges on this small country's vote reveals some big problems with the EU system.

By Jim Cramer Oct 12, 2011 9:16AM

the streetI had a debate Tuesday with some people about the importance of Slovakia.


I think Slovakia stands for everything that is wrong with the European Union. Slovakia shouldn't matter. We are way too late in the game for that country to play a role. That's like Rhode Island holding up the United States.


All that said, for a moment I thought: Is this the "enough is enough" moment when we decide that we can't be linked to these morons because their system is a failed one anyway? Any system that needs the buy-in of Slovakia and Malta can't be one that we take seriously, can it?


I think we are at two crossroads. One is the forced irrelevance of Europe, simply because its system is such a joke that we have to accept that it will collapse and we have to start the insulation process, the worldwide cordon of this union. The other is that Germany and France are really all that matter and that they are going to lose their credit ratings eventually, so let's move on.


The aluminum giant's earnings fell short, but the stock has a lot of other things going for it in the long term. With video reaction to Alcoa's third-quarter financial results.

By InvestorPlace Oct 12, 2011 9:15AM
By Jeff Reeves,

Alcoa (AA) disappointed investors big-time Tuesday with earnings missing forecasts by about 32%. But look past the headlines and consider the merits of buying AA stock right now, especially if you are the buy-and-hold type.

Alcoa stock opened down as much as 3% in early trading Wednesday after the aluminum company reported profits of $172 million, or 15 cents a share, for the third quarter. That was well short of the 22 cents per share forecast by Wall Street investment analysts. But there are signs of life at Alcoa -- and reasons to expect the stock is at or near the bottom.


The digital wallet is here, and some stocks may benefit from it.

By Benzinga Oct 11, 2011 4:52PM

Tuesday morning brought an announcement from a $750 million company that could potentially continue a revolution worth billions of dollars.

Peet's Coffee & Tea (PEET) announced it will start to accept payments with cards that work with the Google (GOOG) Wallet and MasterCard (MA) PayPass systems. The payments will start to be accepted by the end of the month.

MasterCard has been especially bullish on the mobile wallet, and mentioned it in its earnings release in August. Ajay Banga, MasterCard's president and chief executive officer, made sure to talk about its importance. 


Nokia pushed aside its own Symbian platform in favor of Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7.5.

By Jim J. Jubak Oct 11, 2011 4:41PM
Those positive reviews for Microsoft's (MSFT) new Windows Phone 7.5 operating system are raising a smile in Redmond, I’m sure.

But the big sigh of relief that you can hear is from Nokia (NOK). That company bet its smartphone future on Microsoft’s operating system when it decided to sideline its own Symbian operating system in favor of Microsoft’s platform. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)

The transition has been extremely painful for Nokia, as the company saw phone sales fall by 20% in the second quarter. Nokia, once the market-share leader, was passed by both Apple (AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF).


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

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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.

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[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices closed out the month of August on a modestly higher note. The Russell 2000 (+0.6%) and Nasdaq Composite (+0.5%) finished ahead of the S&P 500 (+0.3%), which extended its August gain to 3.8%. Blue chips lagged with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) spending the bulk of the session in the red.

The final week of August represented one of the quietest stretches for the stock market so far this year. The first four sessions of the week produced the ... More


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