The chain still has quality management and strong retention rates.
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Companies catering to the jobless -- including search services, for-profit educators and discount retailers -- might gain as the economy struggles.
By Jamie Dlugosch, Stockpickr
A 9.1% unemployment rate sounds like a bad number -- and it is -- but for some stocks, the poor jobs market is a boon for business. Companies catering to the unemployed, including job search and posting services, for-profit education businesses and discount retailers, all stand to prosper as the economy lags.
From a social perspective, the situation is bad -- and probably worse than the numbers show -- but we are here to make money. What I see in the current environment is fertile ground to grow. More importantly, the situation is unlikely to change soon.
That means profit opportunities will be steady and consistent for years. Given that the market usually affords such companies premium valuations for such dependency, I would encourage investors to snap up these stocks now before they go too far too fast.
The investor has endured controversy over the years but has managed to save face.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently." -- Warren Buffett
Although his successful, multi-decade investing career has drawn followers, the roots of Warren Buffett's appeal can be traced back to more than just his ability to make money.
Thanks to his extensive philanthropic work, optimistic outlook and folksy, grandfather-like charm, the world-famous investor has managed to construct a nearly bulletproof positive reputation.
That's not to say that this reputation has not been tested. On the contrary, over the past few years, a number of his actions have been greeted with ample criticism from market commentators and Buffett followers.
There's lots of trouble with big financials, but after sharp declines, this may be a buying opportunity.
Warren Buffett famously has said, "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful." Easier said than done, right?
Well, the good news is that it's easy to find where others are fearful. Bank stocks are off sharply year to date, and many are approaching new lows. A battered mortgage market, threats from Moody's to downgrade debt at major financials and fears over new financial regulations are just a few reasons investors are shunning the sector.
But that fear could be a huge buying opportunity for aggressive investors willing to take some risk, with the potential of big long-term rewards when the dust settles.
There aren't enough stories out there like that of Titan Machinery, which has multiple moving parts all falling into place at the same time.
I had the CEO of Titan on "Mad Money" last night, and I felt like I was talking to someone from the good old days, whenever they were. Titan is a dealer of tractors and construction equipment in the Midwest -- especially the upper Midwest -- and it's in a boom time, as anyone who was on the company's call can attest to. The farmers are awash with cash and, of course, still getting subsidies. Corn prices are incredibly high, so they can buy more equipment. And the flood damage that a lot of the country has experienced is leading to a surge in construction machinery.
All of this in an area that has about 3% unemployment, because Titan also happens to serve the areas being affected by huge shale gas finds.
Let's see, a seller of construction and agricultural equipment in farm and oil boom towns -- it doesn't get better than that.
Was last month's economic slowdown just a bump in the road?
The long rally in Treasury bonds is set to fizzle as inflation, credit risk and the end of QE2 weigh on prices.
Over the past few months, U.S. Treasury bonds have defied the naysayers and pushed to levels not seen since last October. This came as a surprise to many people, especially since the government has already hit the debt ceiling and three major credit rating agencies have threatened to downgrade the U.S. credit rating if Washington fails to act as technical default looms in August.
The rise was driven by an increase in demand for haven assets as the economy hit another soft patch. Other factors included the European debt crisis, stabilization in the U.S. dollar and a whiff of disinflation as Wall Street marked down growth expectations.
But now, the naysayers look ready for their time in the sun as risk appetites rebound and the economy looks ready to re-accelerate and surprise newly pessimistic investors. And that means it's time to bet against the U.S. government by betting against its bonds. Here's why.
The retailer likes to be known for its pricier, trendier designs. But that doesn't fly in this economy.
You want cheap stuff? Go to Wal-Mart (WMT). But if you want fresher, better-looking, more awesome stuff, go to Target. Oh sure, you'll pay more, but that's the price of being cool.
Target has Zac Posen. Target has seahorse wedge sandals. A $60 wall mural. A $70 pair of earrings. But as the economy continues to sputter, what Target doesn't have is enough sales.
"Has Target lost its cachet?" wonders The Wall Street Journal this week. The company had just a 2% rise in same-store sales for its fiscal first quarter, far below the 3% to 4% analysts were expecting. And sales in May were at the low end of guidance at a 2.8% increase.
The online auctioneer is getting some analyst love, but the future will be challenging.
By Rick Aristotle Munarriz
What do eBay (EBAY) and San Jose, Calif. rockers Smash Mouth have in common? Well, they both had some huge hits in the late 1990s, but we really haven't heard a lot out of either of them lately.
I don't know what Smash Mouth is up to these days, but eBay is usually making headlines for all of the wrong reasons.
Its namesake marketplace has been meandering in recent years. It sold off two-thirds of Skype two years ago for billions less than what Microsoft (MSFT) was willing to pay earlier this year. PayPal has been the resilient bright spot, though it recently took a hit in China by ending its relationship with Alibaba. eBay has nibbled at mostly smallish acquisitions, but few are likely to move the needle the way that PayPal has done.
However, at least one analyst sees eBay differently than I do.
The latest chart analysis confirms an important low for natural gas, and several great plays are now being presented, including an ETF that could triple.
Is it a UFO or an office building? The company submits plans for its futuristic new digs.
The company has asked the city of Cupertino, Calif., for approval to build an office complex that looks like it's ready for outer space. And none other than chief executive Steve Jobs himself went to the City Council this week to ask for the green light.
"We do have a shot at building the best office building in the world," Jobs told the council members, according to TechCrunch. "Architecture students will come here to see this."
The four-story building, at least as planned, does seem like an architectural marvel. It won't use a single piece of straight glass; the design calls for curved glass all the way around. The building will have its own energy center, using mostly natural gas and tapping into the grid only for backup power.
The latest tech startup to go public boasts Apple and Facebook among its customers. Shares surge more than 20% in their first day of trading. With video.
By James Rogers, TheStreet
Counting many top-line Silicon Valley companies as customers, Fusion-io (FIO), the Salt Lake City maker of products that improve data center efficiency, flew out of the blocks during its first day of trading as a public company Thursday morning.
The company's shares reached $23, more than 20% above their opening price, in early afternoon trading. Fusion-io priced its offering at $19, above its projected range of $16 to $18 a share, for a total IPO value of $233.7 million.
Even as QE2 ends, this sector is outperforming.
By Jake Lynch, TheStreet
The risk-off trade, which has pummeled the stock market, has led to the outperformance of defensive sectors, including telecom, utility and health care stocks. Still, energy, the most profitable sector so far in 2011, is holding up well.
S&P 500 ($INX) oil and gas stocks have delivered a median gain of 9.3% in 2011. Crude oil is hovering around $100 a barrel, a sweet spot for producers -- expensive enough to generate lofty margins but not costly enough to cannibalize demand for energy.
On Tuesday, addressing vocal concerns about elevated commodity prices, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated his stance that the recent price rise will be transitory. He also dismissed the notion that speculators are driving up the cost of fossil fuels, noting that emerging-markets demand has long outstripped supply, a trend expected to continue, or perhaps grow, in coming years.
With OPEC's surprise decision not to increase oil production, the Senate's vote on debit card fee limits, and Ciena's disastrous earnings, Wednesday's events could cloud the market for a while.
It's terrific that we regard each day as a new day around here, as in "New day, futures are fine, come on out and play." But we often forget that there was damage done the other day, damage that isn't repaired by the sun going down, the moon coming up and then the sun returning to the horizon.
Wednesday the damage was horrific. I don't know a soul who even thought that OPEC would do anything but try to figure out how to make sure alternative energies like solar or oil sands or biofuel would be priced out by $80-$90 oil, long thought to be the price point at which alternatives get dicey.
OPEC always seemed to have an economic imperative: How to make the producers richer and keep consumers addicted. It used a drug dealer motif to do so.
But Wednesday we saw that some OPEC members don't care about stifling alternatives. They care about stifling "the West." They care about showing the developed nations that they are in charge. They care about hegemony!
His advice at a personal finance summit offers simple but powerful lessons.
I had the honor and privilege of attending the White House's first Personal Finance Online Summit on Wednesday afternoon. The event gave me and two dozen other financial journalists access to top administration officials, including a brief Q&A with President Barack Obama.
Much of the talk focused on the debt ceiling, the housing crisis and the job market. But during the give-and-take, there were a few nuggets of wisdom from the commander in chief that apply to everyday household budgets and regular folks planning their retirement.
Here are three tips from the president:
Two prominent research firms recently lowered their forecasts for PC growth this year.
The research firm Gartner just lowered its forecast for the industry to 9.3% global growth, down from its prior projection of 10.5%, Dow Jones reports. Another research firm, IDC, also dropped its growth forecast this week to 4.2% growth from 7.1%.
There are two main reasons for the cuts. In this economy, consumers aren't about to blow a hole in their budgets with a new computer purchase. And those who do want to spend money will be looking more closely at cheaper tablets like the iPad.
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