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The bricks are coming off the market's shoulders, and biotechs are among the top beneficiaries.

By InvestorPlace Tue 12:27 PM

Image: Pills © Sean Justice/CorbisBy Anthony Mirhaydari


Stocks have rebounded strongly over the last couple of weeks as the geopolitical bugaboos that were bothering investors have ratcheted down a few notches.


ISIS is on its heels in Iraq thanks to U.S. airpower. Russia seems to be backing down as separatists in eastern Ukraine come under heavy pressure from an increasingly offensive Ukrainian military.


Even concerns about a sooner-than-expected interest-rate hike from the Federal Reserve have fallen by the wayside.


Not all sectors have participated equally however, with biotech stocks leading the rest of the market to the upside over the last three weeks.


Here are three hot stocks in the group that are worth checking out:

 

CEO Elon Musk announced an extension to the Model-S' drive train warranty, which raises questions about warranty reserves and earnings.

By TheStreet.com Staff Tue 10:42 AM

A sign for a Tesla showroom in Palo Alto, Calif. © Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesBy Herb GreenbergTheStreet


After the market closed Friday, Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk posted an item on the company's blog announcing an "infinite mile warranty" on the Model-S' drive train to match the warranty on the car battery. It was classic Musk, going where no car company has ever gone.


Then, at the bottom of the post, he added:


TheStreet.com logo"To investors in Tesla, I must acknowledge that this will have a moderately negative effect on Tesla earnings in the short term, as our warranty reserves will necessarily have to increase above current levels."


Wall Street is likely to roll its eyes, but it really shouldn't.

 

Experts say that young people are abandoning the game or never giving it a try.

By Benzinga Mon 4:59 PM

Credit: © Michael Flippo/Sports Images/Alamy

Caption: A short putt in the game of golf on a putting greenBy John Seward


A worldwide slump in the popularity of golf has lead to tough going for publicly traded companies that depend on the sport.


Callaway Golf (ELY) shares are down 10 percent year to date. Adidas (ADDYY), maker of TaylorMade golfing equipment, recently fired 15 percent of the golf division's global workforce after disclosing that golfing sales fell 27 percent in the first half of 2014.


Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) last month fired more than 500 PGA golf pros from its stores.


"It suggests they're desperately trying to arrest profit declines," Canaccord analyst Camilo Lyon said. "We have doubts about golf and its seemingly structural decline."


"It's awful scary watching it go down," Mark King, until recently the head of TaylorMade, told NBC news last month.

 

Investors are betting that more police officers will begin using the company's wearable cameras.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 4:50 PM
The Mesa Police Department showcase the Camera System Axon Flex Officer device on September 25, 2012 (© Eduardo Barraza/Demotix/Corbis)By Myles Udland, Business Insider

Shares of Taser International (TASR) closed up more than 5 percent Monday to $14.68 as traders continued to bet that the unfolding events in Ferguson will increase demand for the company's police wearable cameras (pictured). 

On Friday, shares of the company gained nearly 10 percent, and in the last five trading sessions, the stock has gained 19 percent.

 

In a Bloomberg report on Friday, Brian Ruttenbur, an analyst at CRT Capital, was quoted as saying, "The stock is running on more speculation that police officers may be wearing [Taser's cameras.] It's directly related to what's happening in Missouri."


Over the weekend, the National Guard was called into Ferguson as protests following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown flared. 

 
Tags: TASR

You can have some expensive funds, as long as the majority of the funds in your lineup are low-cost.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 3:20 PM
Portfolio account statement © Alamy Creativity, Alamy​By Ron DeLegge, U.S. News & World Report

Poorly constructed investment portfolios are a worldwide global epidemic. It's a multi-trillion dollar problem that is so large, no accurate estimates exist. 


It's an illness that affects people of all ages and all demographic and societal levels. Nobody is immune, not even the most educated and seasoned financial professional. 


This time I will grade the portfolio of R.T. in Northern California. He's a 45-year-old married software executive with kids, a good salary and outstanding savings habits. 


He categorizes himself as an "aggressive" investor and he told me his main investment goal is "to save enough so that I can live off interest and dividend income when I retire and leave the principal intact." That's a great goal.

 

Hedge funds and other heavyweights are also selling stakes in eBay, Vodafone and Dollar General. But they love Ally Financial and Google.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 2:49 PM
Caption: The General Motors logo is seen on display at an auto show in Detroit
Credit: © Paul Sancya/APBy William Watts, MarketWatch

Big investors fell out of love with General Motors (GM) in the second quarter but hedge-fund titans including Dan Loeb rushed to snap up shares of Ally Financial (ALLY), the troubled auto maker's former financing arm that was rescued by the U.S. government, according to an analysis of freshly-filed regulatory documents.


Hedge funds and other heavyweights were also eager to take up new stakes in pharmaceutical firm Allergan (AGN), Google (GOOG), The Williams Companies (WMB) and DirecTV (DTV) while eliminating stakes in eBay (EBAY), SLM Corp. (SLM), Vodafone (VOD) and Dollar General (DG), according to Whalewisdom.com, a website that tracks 13F and other regulatory filings.

 

Months of rain are leading to predictions of a historic harvest this year, but demand isn't robust enough to offset the sharp supply spike.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 2:10 PM
Credit: © T. Rob Brown/AP Photo
Caption: Neal Bredehoeft of Alma, Mo., in Lafayette County, examining his corn.By Tony C. Dreibus and Jesse Newman, The Wall Street Journal

"We're going to drown in corn this year."


The assessment, from Jeff Brown, 45 years old, a fifth-generation farmer outside Decatur, Ill., sums up the view of most people who grow, trade or process corn as they brace for another record U.S. harvest.


Months of wet weather have fueled expectations for a corn crop so large that mounds of the grain will be a common sight across the Midwest after the harvest, which starts next month.


The U.S. Agriculture Department projected last week that production will exceed 14 billion bushels, topping last year's historic harvest.

 

Smoking, drinking and packing on the pounds -- these picks have it all.

By InvestorPlace Mon 1:59 PM

Credit: © Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images
Caption: Customers drinking beer outside the Great Leap bar in BeijingBy Kent Thune


Sin sells, and consumers are buying.


Bulking up your portfolio with mutual funds that invest in sin stocks -- which include alcohol, tobacco, and gaming -- can be a smart defensive play now or a good tool for diversification at any time.


Much like other stocks that are considered to be consumer staples industries, such as healthcare or utilities, sin stocks have a defensive element that enables them to outperform broad market indices, such as the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX), even during recession.


When the economy weakens, consumers tend to cut back their spending on products and services considered to be luxury or high-end, such as automobiles and entertainment, and pay for only what they believe to be necessities, such as pharmaceutical drugs, electricity and beer.


Wait a minute! Beer is a necessity? Perhaps not, but it is an item that consumers are not quick to cut out of their budget, even in difficult financial times.

 

Since May, money has been flowing out of mutual funds that focus on the US stock market.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 1:47 PM
Image: Stock investor © Tom Grill/CorbisBy Jeff Cox, CNBC

After close to a year and a half of pumping money into the stock market, mom-and-pop investors have spent most of the summer in hiding.


Since May, money has been streaming out of mutual funds that invest in the stock market -- particularly those that are focused on U.S.-based equities. Domestic equity mutual funds surrendered some $26.6 billion in May, June and July, according to data from Morningstar that reflects investor unease over a confluence of factors facing the market.


"Investors certainly have been given enough reason to be cautious," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. "Every day, we wake up to a new or intensifying geopolitical problem, whether it's Russia, Ukraine, Pakistan, which could be building up as a problem. We have issues with Ebola -- there's a multitude of concerns at the time, even when the market is just a percentage point or two of its record highs."

 
Tags: SCHW

Long checkout lines are one of the retailer's biggest customer complaints. It's now dedicating more employees to the problem.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 1:33 PM
Credit: © Jim West/Alamy

Caption: An employee staffs a checkout lane at a Walmart storeBy Shelly Banjo, The Wall Street Journal

In an attempt to lure more customers this holiday season, Wal-Mart (WMT) is promising to staff each of its cash register from the day after Thanksgiving through the days just before Christmas during peak shopping times.


The move, called the "checkout promise," is aimed at addressing one of the retailer's biggest customer complaints: long waits in checkout lines, which can cause even more frustration when positions aren't fully staffed. The pledge will cover hours typically on weekend afternoons but which can vary by store.


"We feel good about price and having the top gifts of the season, so the next priority is about getting customers in and out of the stores quickly," Duncan Mac Naughton, Wal-Mart's chief merchandising officer, said in an interview. "Taking the possibility of waiting in long lines off the table will attract more people into stores."

 
Tags: WMT

The advocacy group Moms Demand Action is calling on the grocery chain to ban guns from stores.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 12:48 PM
Kroger logo on a grocery cart (© Brian Christopher/Demotix/Demotix/Corbis)By Ben Geier, Fortune

Kroger (KR) is the latest retailing chain to be dragged into the battle over gun rights.


The anti-open carry advocacy group Moms Demand Action has issued a statement calling on the grocery company to ban openly-carried firearms in its stores.


In a press release, the group calls out President and COO Michael Ellis and CEO W. Rodney McMullen to ban open carry in Kroger stores. The call comes after pro-open carry activists brought guns into Kroger stores while grocery shopping, a tactic that has drawn the ire of Moms Demand Action before.

 

Companies want to relocate offshore to dodge Uncle Sam, but investors holding shares in taxable accounts will pay.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 12:36 PM
Image: Tax form © Corbis​By Chuck Jaffe, MarketWatch

Individual investors typically produce better results when they live by a set of rules and beliefs on what to buy, hold or sell.


Recently, based on news events that forced me to look at my own portfolio, I added a new guideline to my personal investment process: I will not stick with any company that goes through with a "tax inversion."


Inversion deals have been in the news of late, becoming a political football. Lost amid the rhetoric and President Obama calling them "unpatriotic," is a fundamental truth: They're not good for long-term shareholders who hold stocks in taxable accounts.


That's a deal-killer for me, but to see why, we have to put on the hip waders and venture into the muck of the tax code and companies trying to beat it.

 

There's no easy answer to the interest-rate dilemma as officials travel this week to their annual meeting in Jackson Hole.

By MSN Money Partner Mon 12:12 PM
Credit: © J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Caption: Federal Reserve Chair Janet YellenBy Jon Hilsenrath, The Wall Street Journal

In a recent Wall Street Journal survey, 30 private economists said they feared the Federal Reserve would wait too long before raising short-term interest rates, while only three said they feared the Fed would move too early.


Will the Fed fall behind the curve and keep interest rates too low for too long as the economy strengthens? 


The question looms as officials travel this week to their annual gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where they and the world's leading central bankers discuss economic issues.


Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen (pictured) and academic papers presented at the meeting will focus on labor markets, which are improving rapidly even though U.S. economic growth has been sluggish and erratic. Ms. Yellen seems likely to acknowledge the improving job market, though she has argued for much of the year that slack and headwinds endure after the 2008-09 financial crisis.

 
Tags: ETN

The retailer is about to sink billions into developing its Rack website. Remember what happened to newspapers after they tried a similar tactic?

By Jim Cramer Mon 11:53 AM

The Nordstrom store located in Troy, Mich. © Gary Malerba/APOf all the truly disturbing retail conference calls we heard last week, it wasn't the disappointing Macy's (M) call that got to me or the ho-hum, Mike Ullman-less J.C. Penney (JCP) call. It was the Nordstrom (JWN) run-through.


The call itself, on the surface, seemed like a good one. There was a new acquisition that seems to be panning out, an expansion of the Rack that everyone loves and a careful invasion of Canada -- unlike Target's (TGT) disastrous foray. Comparable-store sales are growing in the high 3 percent area, which seemed encouraging, and we could see how the stock might continue to rally as it did into the quarter.


But then we heard about "the spend." We heard that Nordstrom is going to invest $3.9 billion in capital in order to stay competitive, including $1.2 billion in technology -- and we reeled. That's even more than we thought last time, when the company talked about spending for what now seems like a run-in-place. The spending is causing a gross-margin guide-down, which is not what investors want to hear with 3 percent-plus comparable-store-sales growth.

 

As shoppers visit fewer stores and trade PacSun and Abercrombie & Fitch for Michael Kors and Coach, the traditional indoor mall fades further into retail memory.

By TheStreet.com Staff Mon 11:35 AM

Back to school sale at a mall in Miami, Fla. © Jeff Greenberg/AlamyBy Jason Notte, TheStreet


Call it Back To School, B2S or some other little moniker indicating an end-of-summer retail holiday: It's just another reason not to go to the mall.


Once a necessary end-of-summer stop packed with clothes, food courts, arcades and expendable income, the giant indoor mall just keeps limping toward its demise. ShopperTrak, whose entire purpose is to gauge retail foot traffic, says the number of folks who passed through indoor malls last year dropped 15 percent from the year before and has been falling steadily.


The National Retail Federation has tried to be somewhat optimistic. The retail industry group notes that the $26.5 billion consumers are expected to spend on back to back-to-school items for kindergarteners through high school seniors is down from last year, but that spending per student is up to $669 from $634. Altogether, school and college shoppers are expected to spend roughly $75 billion before the school year starts.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages continue holding modest losses with the S&P 500 down 0.2%. Even with the early retreat, the benchmark index is still higher by 1.7% this week and up 3.0% for the month.

Cyclical sectors continue to weigh, while all four countercyclical groups trade a bit ahead of the broader market. Heavily-weighted technology and financials will be in focus as the session continues, considering the two top-weighted groups have the potential to influence the overall ... More


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