A stock market graph trending down © jmiks/Getty Images
Be wary of dire market forecasts

The most likely scenario is that the markets will begin to rise from here -- and that bounce is just beginning to take hold.


The search giant plans its first-ever bond offering for later this afternoon, and demand is riding high.

By Kim Peterson May 16, 2011 2:40PM
One of the hottest investments of the day is Google's (GOOG) first-ever bond offering. People are expected to go crazy over the $3 billion offering, slated to be sold this afternoon.

The funny thing is that the bonds aren't exactly paying well; there are definitely better ways to make money. But this is Google we're talking about, and that's enough to get investors plenty worked up.

"People aren't going to do very much credit analysis, they're going to look at the balance sheet, and look at the cash, and say 'This is ridiculous' and put their orders in, and probably big orders," one money manager told Bloomberg. "It will be scooped up like nobody’s business." 

As part of a lawsuit settlement, the satellite radio company says it will not raise subscription prices through the end of the year.

By Kim Peterson May 16, 2011 1:54PM
Sirius XM (SIRI) shareholders aren't happy with the company's decision not to raise subscription prices this year.

The news, announced in a regulatory filing, comes as part of a lawsuit settlement that Sirius agreed to last week. Through the end of the year, Sirius won't raise the price of its basic satellite radio service, its other programming packages or its Internet streaming services. In addition, it won't increase its U.S. Music royalty fee or decrease its multi-radio discount.

Current subscribers can renew their subscriptions at those rates before the end of the year. Shares of Sirius fell nearly 3% on the news to $2.17 in midday trading. The stock has made a remarkable turnaround as the auto sector has recovered, rising 18% in the past year.

Post continues after video about Sirius' recovery this year: 

The company's charitable foundation runs three donation-based restaurants, which have raised money for surrounding communities. With video.

By Kim Peterson May 16, 2011 1:24PM
Panera Bread (PNRA) plans to open more pay-what-you-want nonprofit restaurants, saying the business model is a success.

Customers place orders as they would at any other Panera, but the cashiers simply tell customers the suggested payment amounts for their orders. What customers actually put into the donation box is up to them.

Panera has opened three such specialized cafes, which raise money for charities. It plans to open a new one every three months, The Associated Press reports. Yes, there was that time when three college students paid $3 and received $40 worth of food, but mostly people are generous with their wallets, the company says.

Post continues after this video about whether Panera's nonprofit concept will work: 

Funds that hold commodities or rely on complicated strategies used to occupy a small niche in the fund industry, but that's changing.

By TheStreet Staff May 16, 2011 1:22PM

By Stan Luxenberg, TheStreet


Alternative funds once represented a small niche in the mutual fund universe, but that is changing.


During the past year, inflows into alternative mutual funds and exchange-traded funds have totaled $25 billion, according to Morningstar. Now the category has $151 billion in assets and includes 540 funds.


Morningstar recently announced that it would begin tracking new categories of alternative funds, including inverse debt and managed futures. "It's clear that alternative funds are here to stay," said John Rekenthaler, vice president of research for Morningstar.


Alternative funds aim to diversify portfolios by focusing on investments that don't necessarily track stocks or bonds. The funds hold commodities or use complicated strategies, such as trading futures or selling stocks short.


This fund offers investors fixed-income exposure to growing economies.

By TheStreet Staff May 16, 2011 12:34PM

Image: Brazil (© Donald Edwards/age fotostock)By Roger Nusbaum, TheStreet


Exchange-traded fund companies have offered increasing specialization in equity ETFs for years, and now that trend is coming to fixed-income ETFs.


The most interesting new bond ETF is Market Vectors' LatAm Aggregate Bond ETF (BONO). LatAm is short for Latin America. The ticker symbol is taken from bono, which is Spanish for bond.


This new ETF tracks a large number of countries. Brazil has the largest weighting, accounting for 27% of the fund, followed closely by Mexico, which accounts for 26%. Colombia has a 12% weighting, the Cayman Islands has 8.8%, and Chile has a disappointingly low 2.9%. There are also more than a dozen countries with individual weightings of less than 1%. The fund has more than 450 holdings, which explains why some of the country weights are so small.


This small-cap defense company has the all the right qualities.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day May 16, 2011 11:54AM

By Jason Moser


A little more than a week ago, I penned an article citing three stocks on my watch list, thinking that at least one of them had a good chance of making it into my real-money Rising Stars portfolio. Now I'm putting one of those stocks to work and playing a little defense in my quest for investing domination.


The business
Elbit Systems
(ESLT) may not be what you would call a headline stock, but the company takes care of business when it comes to defense. Based out of Haifa, Israel, Elbit is the largest non-government-owned defense company in Israel, with an extremely diverse range of programs and clients around the globe with business segments in the U.S., Israel, Europe, South America, and Asia.


And the technology is cool. Elbit's a major player in everything from aerospace and helmet-mounted systems to lasers and advanced C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) systems.


Soup is all but forgotten as a meal choice, even though Americans have plenty of cans in their pantries. With video.

By Kim Peterson May 16, 2011 11:53AM
Campbell Soup (CPB) is in a rut.

The stock price has stumbled over the past year. Sales have fallen in eight of the past 10 quarters. Profit is down from a year ago, and the company has lowered its full-year forecast. The chief executive is leaving.

Soup doesn't sell that well anymore. Americans have all kinds of choices for quick meals at home, leaving the can of soup -- once the go-to choice for lunch in a jiffy -- in the dust. People still buy soup, but they just forget to eat it, so the cans are relegated to the back of the pantry.

Post continues after this video about Campbell's troubles: 

Materials and industrials look technically vulnerable, meaning investors should exercise caution and have tight stops in place.

By MoneyShow.com May 16, 2011 11:35AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

Since the March 2009 lows, two of the best-performing sector ETFs have been the Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI) and the Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB). XLI is up 148% from the March lows and XLB is up 117%, while the S&P is up 100%.

Of course, many of the individual stocks in these sectors have seen even more dramatic gains, and soon after the lows were formed, the relative performance analysis of these groups identified them as the star performers.

In August 2009, I noted that the S&P Industrials had completed a reverse head-and-shoulders bottom formation. The sector closed that week at 219 and hit a high last week of 336.

Don't be seduced too easily into buying ETFs, ETNs or other exotic investment products.

By TheStreet Staff May 16, 2011 11:00AM

Image: Throwing money down a hole (© Art Glazer/Stock Illustration/Getty Images)By Greg Plechner, TheStreet


We've seen the cliche, a 40-year-old hitting a midlife crisis and trading in his reliable 2002 Toyota Camry for a faster sports car that will likely get him into trouble -- at home and on the road. While we can all relate to being lured by owning the trendiest hot-ticket item, sometimes it's best to avoid those temptations, including when it comes to choosing retirement investments.


When you are in your 40s, you're well into what is often viewed as the "accumulation phase" of retirement planning, the period when you are usually working and contributing regularly to your 401k and other retirement accounts to build up your retirement nest egg. You may be advised to buy a diverse mix of mutual funds at companies with low cost structures and consumer-friendly business practices.


Which you do, of course, until a newer and sometimes more exotic product hits the market, with the promise of better and bigger returns. Recently, ETFs and ETNs have become those vehicles. Proponents point to their tax efficiency and low expenses, but they can also be more complex and potentially riskier. Before you trade in your staid mutual funds, take a closer look at what you are buying.


Keep an eye on funds tracking silver, agriculture, construction, retail and the Dow.

By TheStreet Staff May 16, 2011 10:13AM

Image: Watching ETFs (© Don Carstens/Jupiterimages)By Don Dion, TheStreet


Here are five exchange-traded funds to watch this week.


1. iShares Silver Trust (SLV)


As forecast in last week's "5 ETFs to watch," commodities have continued to behave in a volatile manner. The bullion-backed SLV's performance was particularly bipolar. During the early part of the week, SLV managed to pull off gains, but its strength was short-lived. By Friday, it had retreated to the previous week's lows.


Silver will continue to generate press in the week ahead as market watchers debate and discuss the longevity of the current commodities shakeup and look for ways to navigate it.


Although I continue to view precious metals as a promising long-term play, I urge investors to avoid being overly exposed to this asset class. By keeping exposure to materials like gold and silver small and concentrated, you can benefit from their long-term defensive nature while protecting against short-term volatility.


We've been fortunate to avoid a big sell-off in stocks. Stay conservative this week.

By Jamie Dlugosch May 16, 2011 9:49AM

If you are not trading in this market, you are either stubborn or ignorant. For those die-hard buy-and-hold followers, it is probably a combination of the two.


For the rest of us interested in making money in a market rigged against the little guy, we have no choice but to be nimble. Thank goodness Wall Street created exchange-traded funds.


While corporate profits continue to impress, stocks have traded sideways over the past two weeks. Consider yourself lucky that we have not gone lower.


I expect that to change soon. As such, I would strongly consider an ultra-short ETF for your portfolio this week. My choice would be ProShares Ultra Short Technology (REW).

Tags: etf

Recession-resistant shares like Merck and ConAgra are due for a rest. Look for them to hand over the lead as the 'roving bull market' trend continues.

By Jim Cramer May 16, 2011 9:12AM

the streetjim cramerIf you didn't know any better, you'd think we are already in a housing- and credit-led recession. There's no other way to read the stock charts and think otherwise.


The most standout performers are the companies that can be described only as extremely recession-resistant, whether it's tobaccos or the pharmas or the medical devices or the plethora of grain-buying food companies.


Meanwhile, techs, oils, industrials and banks are silently rolling over and causing some real underperformance.


In fact, if it weren't for the terrific performance in utilities, I would just say "Look out, double dip is here." I write "if it weren't for this," because in the Great Recession we used so little energy that utility stocks came totally unglued. Now stocks like Dominion (D) and FirstEnergy (FE) -- the latter always thought to be a complete dog -- are generating tech-in-its-heyday-like performance.


To save on its European labor costs, the fast-food icon will borrow the self-checkout model from retail. Will its US locations be next?

By InvestorPlace May 16, 2011 8:57AM

Image: Hamburger (© BananaStock/Jupiterimages)McDonald's (MCD) is trying to make fast food even faster.

The Financial Times reports that the world's largest fast-food chain plans to replace many of the cashiers at its 7,000 European restaurants with touch-screen terminals that allow customers to order and pay electronically.

The system is similar to what many consumers experience in supermarkets, retailers and gasoline stations that have opted for self-checkout to save on labor costs. McDonald's says the move is about making its European restaurants more convenient and efficient. It's also clearly about keeping down costs. If it succeeds, you can bet the trend will come soon to the U.S.


The odds are against stocks making a sustained comeback in the short term. Unless you’re an intra-day trader, the best advice is to hold on for the ride and make sure protective stops are in place.

By MoneyShow.com May 14, 2011 12:08AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

The rollercoaster ride continued last week in both the stock and commodity markets—if you’re keeping track, the S&P 500 was up three days and down two.

The commodity markets were also very choppy, and there are some worrisome signs in the energy patch. The Energy Select Spyder (XLE) and many of the biggest oil companies, including ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVZ) and Schlumberger (SLB) have completed top formations. (For full technical appraisal, please see Big Oil’s Big Top.)

It looks as though my view is at odds with the big hedge funds, as The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that several of the largest hedge-fund managers were bullish on the energy sector.

With Friday’s sharply lower close, the stock market is in a precarious position for the short term, and the odds now favor further selling this week. This high volatility is not an investor or a swing trader’s friend, but those who trade intra-day may be having a good time.

The number of bulls according to the AAII sentiment numbers continues to decline, and is now at 30%, not far above last summer’s lows. For specific price levels to watch, see below.
Tags: goldoil

A new grain forecast is bringing down farm-related stocks -- and creating a good buying opportunity.

By Jim J. Jubak May 13, 2011 3:47PM
Jim JubakThe May 11 crop forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture knocked the chaff out of the grain market. Corn fell in price by the most allowed on the Chicago Board of Trade, and wheat and soybean prices followed downward.

The cause of the plunge? The USDA said that grain inventories at the end of the harvest year will be larger than expected.

Corn stockpiles will climb to 900 million bushels, for example. That’s a significant 23% higher than the 730 million bushels this year. Of course, this year’s 730 million bushels is the lowest stockpile in 15 years.

You can understand why that kind of switch would have sent some commodities traders scurrying to take profits. The price of corn has doubled in the last year, as traders bet that the slim margin of error represented by that 15-year low would generate enough fear of shortages to keep prices rising.


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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the holiday-shortened week on a mixed note as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1%, while the S&P 500 added 0.1% with seven sectors posting gains.

Equity indices faced an uphill climb from the opening bell after disappointing quarterly results from Google (GOOG 536.10, -20.44) and IBM (IBM 190.04, -6.36) weighed on the early sentiment. Google reported earnings $0.15 below the Capital IQ consensus estimate on revenue of $15.42 ... More


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