Some companies hit all-time records last month, while others missed forecasts.
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China National Offshore Oil Corp. is benefitting from powerful demographic, inflationary and business trends overseas.
By Robert Hsu, InvestorPlace.com
In 2009 and 2010, the best stocks to buy were clearly in emerging markets. China's economic growth was unmatched as the world economy reeled from the financial crisis. And looking ahead to 2011, many people think China's run is over. While it's true some Chinese companies may fall away, many well-run and profitable China stocks exist out there.
The best one of all, and my top China pick for 2011, is China National Offshore Oil Company (CEO), China's offshore exploration and production energy company and the most dynamic of China's Big Three state-owned energy giants. Let me tell you why I am so bullish in the new year via three simple reasons:
A contract dispute with Orbitz and Expedia kicks off what may be a testy year for the industry.
Those sites have stopped selling American's tickets. And the airline seems to be fine with that.
American has seen its contracts expire with Expedia and Orbitz and hasn't been able to renew the deals. That's because American wants to pay the sites less money and is asking them to connect directly to its own computers instead of going through intermediaries, the Financial Times reports.
But can American really do business when two of the largest travel websites are ignoring it?
Computerized high-speed trading accounts for most trades, experts say.
The average time a stock is held is 22 seconds. But that's an improvement from a year ago, when it was 20 seconds, according to analyst Michael Hudson, an economics professor at the University of Missouri.
It's all because of computerized split-second trading. "The financial sector is short term," Hudson said in an interview. "They talk as if they're long term."
We're still a long way from clearing through the nation's supply of distressed homes.
Now it will take 44 months, according to Standard & Poor's. Previously, the firm had thought 40 months was enough time. Builders such as Toll Brothers (TOL), whose stock is down 15% since April 2010, are desperate to see that supply tighten up.
What changed? The housing picture worsened in the third quarter, S&P says. The volume of distressed properties continued to grow, and by the end, the principal balance of those homes surpassed $450 billion.
The investment bank has reportedly pumped $450 million into the world's most visited website.
By Scott Moritz, TheStreet
Here's how the rich get richer.
Using its Wall Street clout and $450 million, Goldman Sachs (GS) has acquired an ownership stake in Facebook, giving the social-networking shop a potential value of $50 billion, according to The New York Times' DealBook blog.
Goldman has teamed with Russian investors Digital Sky Technologies, which chipped in $50 million in the deal, according to the report. Previously, Digital Sky initially acquired a 2% stake of Facebook for $200 million in 2009.
The move gives Goldman a potential quintuple treat, should Facebook's value continue to rise.
The burger specialist is under new management and primed for a buyout.
Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor
A stock that's way down from its five-year high, a product that customers swear by, lots of hidden value and activist hedge funds effecting improvements? That sounds like a recipe for gains. And that's what I think we have with the next purchase for my Special Situations portfolio: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB).
With agriculture and emerging markets, investors hope to capitalize on themes that worked well in 2010.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Here are five exchange-traded funds you should watch this week.
Rare-earth metals stole headlines last week after news that China was planning to pare back its export quotas in 2011. This industry has become exciting to watch, and REMX has had little trouble gathering an impressive following. Although it is only 2 months old, the fund already boasts an average trading volume of more than 400,000.
Rare-earth metals will likely become increasingly important because they are used to produce various components needed to power smart phones and other handheld gadgets. Risk-tolerant investors may find REMX an exciting product in the new year.
The professionals return to Wall Street. Which way will they take the market?
I've heard some people say that New Year's Eve celebrations are amateur hour. The same thing can be said about the last two weeks of trading in the stock market. Void of professional traders, stocks drifted this way and that with no real direction.
Well, now that the new year has begun, amateur hour is over. It is time to get busy. I know the pros will be back at it from day one. You need to be prepared for what is coming.
Most expect the market to go up in 2011. I have the same opinion, but a record December must give even the most optimistic investor pause. To me it looks like momentum is going to win and stocks are likely to gain right out of the gate.
While defensives lumbered into year's end, steel, oil and high-end retailers showed aggressive growth and look ready to keep it up.
Can it continue in 2011?
I think so.
Take four comeback stories of the last few weeks: Williams-Sonoma(WSM), Xilinx(XLNX), Occidental(OXY) and Nucor(NUE). The last public pronouncements of all of these stocks were regarded as disappointing. I stress the word "regarded" because many of us were happy to hear that things hadn't gotten worse!
It's a very simple form of market timing that has worked well for more than a decade.
By DAVID K. RANDALL, The Associated Press
It's one of the truisms of financial planning: Trying to perfectly time the market is a fool's errand. For long-term gains, the advice goes, you should buy index funds and hold them indefinitely. Warren Buffett likes to say that his preferred holding period is "forever."
But a very simple form of market timing has worked for the past 11 years. It involves owning the Standard & Poor's 500 stocks -- but only for the first day of every month.
An S&P report recently found that someone who invested $10,000 in the S&P 500 on Dec. 31, 1999, and left the money there until Dec. 1, 2010, would have just $8,209. An investor who was in the market only on the first day of every month over the same time -- for example, buying at the close on Dec. 31 and selling at the close of the first trading day in January -- would have $13,816.
This regional telecom stock nearly doubled the market last year and boasts a big 9% dividend.
If you're looking for the best stocks for 2011, allow me to suggest my favorite regional telecom, Otelco (OTT).
This Alabama company has a stunning 9% dividend yield and on top of that almost doubled the returns of the broader market in 2010.
But why should you buy Otelco in 2011? Here are three compelling reasons:
Technology, electric cars and the introduction of a Berkshire successor figure to make an impact in the new year.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Here are a few Buffett-related topics that could be exciting to watch in the new year.
1. Todd Combs
One of the year's biggest stories about the Oracle of Omaha centered on Todd Combs.
The social-networking site is reportedly considering a significant restructuring.
The has-been social-networking site is mulling significant layoffs, perhaps as much as half of its 1,100 employees, AllThingsD reports. The entire staff was off the last week of December to save money.
Myspace, a division of News Corp. (NWS), is likely seeing less money flow in now after it struck a new ad deal with Google (GOOG). Myspace previously had a hefty $900 million contract with Google, but it expired last fall.
The market thinks Dean Foods will never grow again, but it's time for a reality check.
Dean Foods investors have had a rough year. But Fool analyst Jim Mueller says there's no use crying over all that spilled milk (and butterfat): The market has left the stock for dead, and now it's time to milk it for some profits.
Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor
For my Messed-Up Expectations (MUE) portfolio, I'm trying to find companies that the market believes, based on current price, will grow very little, if at all, for all of time going forward. After digging in further, if I believe that the company is, in fact, not dead yet, I'll buy some and let the company prove itself to the market.
The bookstore chain stops making payments to some vendors. Can it survive?
Why? It's not just that the company is delaying payments to some vendors. But that fact, combined with other financial troubles, is giving rise to more fears about bankruptcy.
Borders is in serious debt trouble and is trying to get new financing to avoid defaulting on previous credit agreements, Reuters reports. Now the company has stopped paying some vendors and is trying to restructure other vendor payments.
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The Street's 'corrective action' made an attractive company that is growing profitability even more appetizing.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The major indices hit news lows for the session in the last half hour as buyers simply aren't showing a lot of conviction so far. Strikingly, the Russell 2000 is bucking the broader trend and is up 0.1% (not a big gain but an intersting one in light of the weakness in most other areas).
There has been a lot of talk today about economic activity improving given the headline surprises in the initial claims and Q3 GDP reports, yet there isn't any clear strength in the ... More
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