These companies are ringing up profits as consumer favorites this holiday.
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But a look at the charts shows one carrier's stock is bucking the trend and acting strong.
These funds rely on a buy-and-hold strategy in the often volatile agricultural sector.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
The agricultural industry started off this year on a strong note and continues to generate headlines regularly.
However, increasingly, this corner has become a choppy region of the market. With the divergence in crop prices, the full-steam-ahead mentality that defined much of the opening half of the year has begun to fall by the wayside.
Bullish agriculture investors will want to maintain a conservative stance on this industry in order to avoid being taken to the slaughterhouse. Clear evidence of the shaky action in the food industry can be found in "soft" commodities, such as coffee, sugar and cotton.
Ma Bell's mobile business grew by 331,000 customers, while wired connections fell by more than a million.
By Scott Moritz, TheStreet
The Dallas phone giant reported a profit Thursday of 60 cents a share, down a penny from year-ago earnings and in line with analysts' estimates.
In terms of sales for the second quarter, Ma Bell booked $31.5 billion in sales, up 2% from the $30.8 billion level a year ago, and slightly above the $31.3 billion analysts were looking for.
Technology trends will force these companies to change or crumble.
In the past it was hard to keep up. Now it's downright impossible. Companies like Hewlett-Packard-owned (HPQ), Palm, Yahoo (YHOO) and Blockbuster were all huge just 10 years ago. They still looked like the future. Now they're slowly crumbling, trying to keep up with the likes of Apple (AAPL) and its iPhone, Google (GOOG) and its ever-tightening grip on the Web, and the ubiquity of Netflix's (NFLX) streaming video.
The road to obsolescence is shorter than ever. Investors, analysts and reporters are turning on hot companies shortly after or even before their lusted-after IPOs are delivered. Look at the backlash against daily-deals business Groupon or floundering streaming-music service Pandora (P).
Who will be obsolete by the middle of this decade? Consider these three stocks:
Analysis: The deadlock in Washington has gotten so bad that the nation's central bank is getting ready for what might happen after Uncle Sam bounces his checks.
By Jeff Reeves, Editor, InvestorPlace.com
Reports emerged last night that the Federal Reserve is actively preparing for a government debt default. With negotiations over the debt ceiling still going nowhere, it's clear that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his fellow central bankers don't want to be caught without a plan.
There are just 12 days to go until the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury, when the government will run out of money and stop paying some bills. And, barring a last-minute compromise, the U.S. will face at least a credit downgrade and at worst the label of outright default on its debts.
Yes, it has gotten this bad. And the Fed is preparing for the worst.
Still no debt deal. More uncertainty in Europe. Tech stinking up the joint. We've been here before. The best strategy for now is to own good stocks and dividends.
No debt deal here. Lots of discord and posturing about Greek debt there. No uniform view. Some talking about selective defaults on Greek bonds, others talking about bailout terms of no certainty. To watch the decline in European markets as the discord unfolded was pretty breathtaking, although the Germans and the French keep saying they agree on a plan and that something positive is imminent.
It's always imminent with these politicians, isn't it? China didn't help either, with a purchasing managers report that could indicate a hard landing ahead -- something at odds with many other reports -- but none too positive.
All in all, it was a back-to-the-old-bad-ways night again, with my fallback defensive plan of not being all that opportunistic. Staying with a nontrading, "owning good stocks and dividends" strategy remains the best posture, and extreme caution is needed without European and American debt resolutions.
I looked at this stock about a year ago, and my thoughts are still relevant today.
Risk of growth by acquisition
Very significant portion of Brown & Brown's (BRO) growth in the past came from acquiring brokers. I am naturally skeptical of sustainability of this type of growth as it comes with the following risks:
A midcycle upgrade is coming in time for a year-end sales boost, an analyst says.
By Scott Moritz, TheStreet
Eager to flog would-be tablet competitors, Apple has modified the iPad 2 with a "slimmer profile with higher screen and camera resolution," said Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar, citing his supply and manufacturing sources.
The midcycle upgrade appears to advance the iPad 2 but is not the full redesign expected with next year's iPad 3, Kumar said.
These shares may not be long-term holds, but they are cheap.
By Matt Koppenheffer
Fool regulars may know that although I spend most of my time looking for value-priced, dividend-paying stocks that I can own for the long term, I do occasionally like to rummage around in the bargain bin to see if there are any severely beaten-down stocks worth owning.
With these stocks, I'm not looking for cream-of-the-crop businesses that I want to own for years. I'm simply looking for decent businesses that are underpriced. I put a small amount of money into each and own them as a broader basket.
This search is far from idle. In my last go-round, one stock, Genworth Financial, was already part of personal portfolio, and three of the four others -- Bank of America (BAC), Hartford Financial Services (HIG), and Cemex -- have all been buys for me since I published that article.
Shares of the real-estate website roar out of the gate. Stock in the headphone company is not as hot.
By Joe Deaux, TheStreet
Zillow's shares closed at $35.77, up 78.9%, while Skullcandy shares were up 1.6% at $20.32.
Skullcandy reached a high of $23.40 but slowly crept down during the noon hour. Zillow opened at $20 a share, leaped to $60 in the opening minutes, then quickly fell after buyers of the initial price offer sold off at a 200% profit.
Shares slip after Amazon strikes a streaming deal with CBS.
By Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet
As part of the agreement, the e-commerce giant will allow its Prime users to stream CBS' television content. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Starting this summer, Amazon will add 2,000 episodes, growing its total number of Prime instant videos to more than 8,000 movies and television shows. It will also offer full seasons for 18 popular television series, including The Tudors, Numb3rs, Medium, the complete Star Trek franchise, Frasier and Cheers.
The move comes as Netflix has faced stark criticism from subscribers after a rate hike and outage.
Strong market performance this week has set up favorable buying opportunities in ETFs tracking consumer discretionaries, technology and consumer staples.
With giants like GE and Caterpillar ready to report earnings, these funds offer investors a range of aggressive and conservative plays in the sector.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
In the same way the financial sector dominated earnings-related headlines last week, during the latter half of this week, industrials will be front and center as leading companies like General Electric (GE) and Caterpillar (CAT) report their quarterly performances and updated outlooks.
The market's multi-week spurt of rocky action has pressured emotions recently. However, breakout numbers from these giants of industry would be a welcome dose of confidence for wearied and doubtful global investors.
ETF investors have a range of options to tap into this corner of the market. As companies step up and provide insight into the future, it may be worth putting some of these products on the watch list.
Demand should surge over the next 25 years. Consider 2 stocks and an ETF.
By Tom Taulli, InvestorPlace
For the past couple of years, natural gas has been a dud for investors. A big problem has been the surge in production, which has been driven by new innovations like fracking and horizontal drilling.
Yet this may be short-term noise. According to a report from the International Energy Agency, natural gas is poised for a golden age, with at least a 50% spike in demand by 2035.
Why the growth? There are many key factors. First, there will be a continued focus on energy sources that have lower carbon emission levels. And demand from China, India and other emerging economies should remain strong.
In addition, as seen with the Fukushima nuclear implosion in Japan, natural gas looks fairly safe. Consider that Germany recently said it will shut down 17 of its nuclear power plants.
Even at the peak of the scandal, shares went up. And the stock remains a buy, because this robust media empire puts up the numbers that Wall Street craves.
How could News Corp. (NWSA) go up almost a dollar Tuesday despite the endless grilling the Murdochs received in front of British lawmakers intent on finding out -- to use the old Watergate phrase -- "What did you know and when did you know it?"
Isn't this empire falling apart before our eyes? Isn't this the denouement of a great media empire? Isn't this a modern-day "Citizen Kane," in which a tremendous kingpin and his newspaper come crashing down, one in which you want to jump up and down and shout "Rosebud," which would have been far more effective than a shaving-cream pie in making the twilight point? Is the stock's rally just mocking us?
Hardly. In fact, this is just exactly how things play out in the stock world. Tuesday was the peak day, the day when the buck stopped at the Murdochs. And despite what I am sure will be endless attempts to keep this juicy story alive, from now on it will be more Page 6 than it is the business page, meaning that the worst is over for the business -- even if it isn't for the Murdochs, although it is probably over for them, too.
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Well-to-do shoppers and those seeking premium goods are spending with gusto. Here are the companies really ringing up profits.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages capped a solid week with a broad advance. The S&P 500 added 0.5%, extending its weekly gain to 2.7%.
Equities spent the entire session in a steady climb after the final reading of third quarter GDP sparked a broad-based rally. The report pointed to growth of 4.1%, which was the strongest reading since the economy expanded by 4.9% in the fourth quarter of 2011, and well above the 2.5% gain reported in the second quarter. Real final sales, which ... More
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