Some companies hit all-time records last month, while others missed forecasts.
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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.
From the flash crash to Tony Hayward's relentless idiocy, we sift through the past year for the most glaring gaffes.
By TheStreet Staff
This is part 2 of TheStreet's year-end special. (Click here for part 1.)
1. Moron of the Year: Tony Hayward
For several months during summer 2010, BP CEO Tony Hayward was the Energizer Bunny of Idiocy. Still, seven weeks after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the resulting horrific Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Hayward delivered what would prove to be the epitaph on his executive gravestone.
Originally published June 4: If only BP (BP) chief executive Tony Hayward could force a plug into his leaky oil well as firmly as he shoved his foot into his mouth, then this oil-spill nightmare would be over.
Apple may wait until after the Consumer Electronics Show to announce a new carrier deal.
"Customers are expected to stampede to the new pairing," Peter Burrows writes. It couldn't come at a better time for Apple, whose exclusive iPhone partnership with AT&T (T) has been a drag on the phone's potential.
A Verizon iPhone will leave AT&T with an enormous problem, Bloomberg reports. AT&T has been ranked by Consumer Reports as the worst carrier for customer satisfaction. Complaints about dropped calls, quality problems and slow speeds on this blog and others attest to that.
Gold paid off for investors this year, while mortgages and wind energy did not.
Smart Money picked Z Seven, down 73.2% for the year, as the worst equity mutual fund investment of 2010. The best? Look no further than gold, as the Dynamic Gold and Precious Metals (DWGOX) fund saw a 67% jump.
What were the best and worst bond funds and equity ETFs? Here's what Smart Money had to say:
With sentiment at a bullish extreme, one wonders whether equities can keep climbing.
It's true that based on a number of metrics, this market is overbought. Price volatility is extremely low. Small options investors are extremely confident, maybe even complacent, while large traders are growing increasingly skittish.
On the other hand, there are many positives. We are entering one of the strong periods of seasonality out there: the first quarter of the third year of a presidential term. And breadth is improving, with the cumulative NYSE advance-decline line pushing to new highs. Indeed, despite Thursday's midday losses for the major averages, as I write this, advancing issues are outpacing decliners by 200 issues.
China gets the emerging-markets spotlight, but things are also bright in Brazil, Chile and Peru.
By Kevin Grewal, TheStreet
As the developed world continued to struggle out of the Great Recession in 2010, emerging markets performed relatively well, and they're expected to sustain their growth and performance in the coming year.
China continues to draw headlines and steal most of the attention, but in the coming year, Latin America may be the place to look.
Inflationary threats and real-estate bubbles have forced China to increase its benchmark interest rates for the second time in three months and increase banking reserve ratios to reduce risk, which could hinder future growth.
This small company is a big player in the electrical industry.
For our pick of the day, Fool analyst Jason Moser is making a stop in Smallville -- where Houston Wire's specialized products and services separate it from the competition.
Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor
In a world that grows more wireless by the second, it's ironic but true: We still need wires. Sure, our smart phones, laptops and the Internet all come sans cables these days, but it all has to start somewhere. And Houston Wire and Cable Co. (HWCC) is there to make sure it all gets connected.
The battered financial has nowhere to go but up -- if you believe Wall Street price targets.
There's no shortage of articles offering the best stock picks for the new year. But allow me to throw one more on the pile before the ball drops with my recommendation of Bank of America (BAC). Why B of A? In a nutshell, I don't think things can get much worse for the battered bank.
Admittedly, this is a bit of a risky call, despite BAC rising about 17% in the past month. Bank of America has many problems in many areas, from a backlog of foreclosures to new regulations to Uncle Sam's ownership stake to plain old bad PR. But if you don't want any risk, you simply shouldn't be buying individual stocks in the current volatile market.
There are plenty of reasons to talk yourself out of buying B of A. But here are the three big reasons I found that talked me into buying:
The daily discount site is clearing the way to raise almost $1 billion in investor financing.
Groupon, the discount-deals site, is negotiating financing commitments with some of the biggest names on Wall Street, The New York Times reports. The company is preparing to go public as soon as the end of next year.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the financing under discussion could run as high as $950 million. That's because Groupon wants approval to sell as many as 30.1 million preferred shares of stock at $31.59 each.
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The retailer labels the character's fake memoir as non-fiction. This comes weeks after it categorized the the Bible as fiction.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The drive for five continued today and it was a success. For the fifth straight session, the S&P 500 ended lower. Like the previous four sessions, though, the losses were fairly modest in scope. The S&P 500 declined 0.4%, bringing its total loss for the five sessions to 22 points or 1.2%. All in all, that still qualifies as a pretty tame slide considering the S&P 500 had risen 150 points, or 9.1%, over the previous eight weeks.
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