Stocks are hot again, but as in 2000, not all of them are reaping the benefits.
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The world is running out of helium. The gas, which is used in numerous medical applications, isn't being recycled because it's so cheap.
Helium is used in all kinds of serious applications, such as MRI scanners, superconductors and radiation monitors. It could be recycled, but it's not because helium is so cheap now there's no point.
As a result, scientists say the world could run out of helium in 25 to 30 years. How could this be happening? Blame the U.S. government.
A little back story is in order: Back in 1925, when the U.S. needed a stable supply of helium for dirigibles, the U.S. established the National Helium Reserve. And a massive store of the gas was kept near Amarillo, Tex., the Independent reports.
After leading the market for months, oil and gas stocks plummet as energy prices cool. Risky assets are following them down. But aren't lower energy prices a good thing?
Energy stocks have been the big losers over the past week. The drop accelerated Monday on word that Libya's embattled Muammar Gadhafi has accepted a cease-fire/peace plan put forth by the African Union. It was hoped that such a deal would quell the unrest and minimize further damage to Libyan oil infrastructure. Already, the loss of more than 1.3 million barrels per day of Libyan sweet has resulted in the eighth-largest supply disruption since 1950.
The deal was rejected by the rebels, but the hope of peace was enough to send oil tumbling. Also contributing was a small 2011 GDP growth estimate cut from the IMF in its latest World Economic Outlook. Also contributing was a research note from Goldman Sachs warning of a "substantial pullback" for crude as global supplies remain "adequate."
We've written a lot about the risk that the current energy price strike presents to economic growth because of the negative impact on inflation and consumer confidence. Through this lens, any drop in oil prices -- especially the large and dramatic one we've seen that has taken prices from near $114 a barrel Friday to $106 today-- should be a huge positive for stocks, since it relaxes inflation's grip around the throat of the economy. So why aren't stocks moving higher?
The company has pulled back its focus on the consumer market, returning to the core network-equipment business it does best. With video.
Perhaps a bigger question is: Why was Cisco trying to enter the low-margin, highly competitive consumer electronics market?
Cisco answered both questions definitively Tuesday. It's closing down its Flip business and sharply reducing its consumer focus. Instead, it's returning to the core network-equipment business that it does best.
Cisco investors largely shrugged at the move. The stock, which has been a drag all year, was basically flat.
Post continues after this video analyzing Cisco's announcement:
Here's a long-term, stable play in the technology sector.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
In the coming weeks, other companies will follow Alcoa's lead and share how they have fared over the past quarter. Performance numbers will interest investors wondering about the economic recovery. Equally important will be the companies' respective outlooks and guidance for the remainder of the year.
ETF investors will want to keep a close watch on the earnings calendar. As the season presses on, a number of major index components will step up to the plate.
A quick lesson in pairs trading.
By Alex Pape
This article is part of our Rising Star Portfolios series.
There are few industries more beaten-down today than for-profit educators, for good reason. Questionable corporate ethics, high student default rates, and a parade of short-sellers have blended into a potent stew of investor discontent. But investor fear paints with too broad a brush. There will be winners and losers in this space, but the industry isn't going away.
Over the last 12 years for which data are available, the number of high school graduates per year grew 27%, but the capacity of traditional universities -- often locked into their brick-and-mortar campuses -- isn't. Neither is that of community colleges, which currently lack both the bandwidth and the funding to close the gap. In that light, the rise of the 530 for-profit educational institutions (that's 20% of all educators) currently operating in the U.S. makes more sense. It also explains why they can't all go away.
Investors seeking clarity amid the mixed signals of fourth-quarter results and the current earnings season should look to these shares.
By Jamie Dlugosch, StockPickr
Stocks have been quite resilient lately. As the first quarter of 2011 has come to an end, the market is perched near multiyear highs. It seems nothing can pierce traders' bubble of optimism.
While the bullish moves and rise in stock values may have been justified by corporate profit growth, the question now is how sustainable that growth will be.
We’ll find out now that earnings season has begun in earnest. Will companies blow away current estimates? If so, stock prices are likely to move higher. Or will profits slip under the pressures of competition and rising input prices that negatively affect margins?
At $114, the e-reader costs much less than an iPad. But will the strategy work?
By Anthony John Agnello, InvestorPlace tech writer
Early indications show that Apple sold 2.5 million iPad 2s in March. To put that into perspective, Apple sold one $499-plus tablet for nearly every citizen in the state of Utah! So who's going to buy an e-reader now that tablets have taken over?
Anyone with $114, if Amazon (AMZN) and its newest Kindle have anything to say about it. That's the new rock-bottom price point for the entry-level version of the Kindle.
But there's a catch. In between pages of "The Old Man and the Sea," you'll have to suffer through ad spots from Old Navy. That's because Amazon announced the lower price point will be subsidized by advertisers on the Kindle.
Months ago, stock market pros were saying the run in Chinese stocks was over. They were wrong.
By Gary Gordon, TheStreet
Months ago, equity market "pros" pounded China mercilessly. China real estate was the next bubble to burst. Inflation was spiraling out of control. And commodity stockpiling was proof positive that China was dead in the dry-bulk shipping water.
Well, some folks had a far different perception. For instance, I spoke at the 4th annual Inside ETF Conference on Accessing Asia and China." And on Feb. 7, live from the venue in Florida, I wrote the following:
"The MSCI China Index trades at 11.5 times forward earnings, the lowest forward multiple since 2004. With Hong Kong trading at nearly 18 times forward earnings, the disparity is at or near a record . . . There are plenty of reasons to keep an eye on the SPDR S&P China Fund (GXC). I expect it to drop a bit further, possibly testing its 200-day moving average. A pullback of 12%-14% from GXC's November peak is my anticipated entry point."
GXC shares hit $84.48 in November, but savvy investors were able to acquire shares at or near $74 in the third week of February. Since that time, it's been a fairly brisk ride back towards the November highs.
Just wait until stocks fall to more attractive prices.
So we would go in to the office at the old hedge fund today, and I would start our 6 a.m. meeting with a simple view: "Why aren't we 100% short?" Why should we own anything?"
That's how I feel as I log on to the PC today. Why own anything? Why not be 100% short? The economy is getting weak; the debt ceiling is irreconcilable; Japan will never get its act together; taxes are going up; earnings are missing estimates; President Barack Obama is about to speak, which will be dreadful for stocks; Elizabeth Warren is about to be banking czar; China is slowing; and if oil goes up, it causes demand destruction, but if oil goes down, we've had demand destruction -- just like 2008.
What is the point? Sell everything?
China's leading search engine is not a bad play, if you can put up with intense short-term volatility.
Smaller airports are making all kinds of concessions to get permission to receive the new 747-8. With video.
The 747-8 is the largest commercial aircraft Boeing has ever made. Its wingspan is 11 feet wider and body 18 feet longer than the 747-400, the Associated Press reports.
The enormous plane is the same size category as the giant Airbus 380, which is exclusively for passengers. Boeing's plane, however, is a cargo aircraft.
Boeing will deliver the first 747-8s to customers later this year, and airports are clamoring to receive them. Even smaller airports in Toledo, Ohio, and Huntsville, Ala., are trying to get permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to accept the planes.
Post continues after this video about the 747-8:
The Apple CEO is working with an author on 'iSteve: The Book of Jobs,' due out next year. With video.
The chief executive of Apple (AAPL), who tightly controls all aspects of his private and professional life, has decided to publish his life story next year. The book is all but guaranteed to be a best seller, lifting a well-kept veil over Jobs' thoughts, philosophy and history.
Jobs is working with Walter Isaacson, a former Time magazine editor who previously wrote about the lives of Einstein and Franklin. And Isaacson apparently sees Jobs as being in the same league.
"Just as he did with Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, Walter Isaacson is telling a unique story of revolutionary genius," the book's publisher, Simon & Schuster, said in a statement. I think we know where this story is going.
Post continues after this video report about Jobs' book:
Google and Apple will dominate tablet sales, but RIM could have a good shot at grabbing 10% of the market by 2015.
By Scott Moritz, TheStreet
The development of the tablet market will follow a path similar to the one smartphones have taken, according to Gartner's report issued Monday. The two camps have largely become a semireligious divide between Apple and Google, but if there's any surprises to Gartner's 2015 prediction, it might be the inclusion of RIM.
The BlackBerry maker has not exactly been the most reliable would-be tablet player. Last year, RIM scratched the BlackPad, its first tablet. And this year, after countless sneak peeks and a few delays, RIM's upcoming PlayBook tablet is so far only a concept that industry observers have had to run with.
But barring another delay, the PlayBook is expected to launch next week. And with its Android compatibility and the security of its BlackBerry service, outfits like Gartner say the new tablet has a fighting chance.
A combination of foreign unrest, Arab recalcitrance and a plunging dollar is pushing energy prices into the danger zone.
Last week, crude oil launched like an artillery rocket over the $113 handle to close at a high of $113.48. Aside from Moammar Gadhafi's attacks on Libya's oilfields, there are also concerns about upcoming elections in Nigeria -- another important oil exporter in Africa.
As I discussed in a recent MSN Money column, the oil supply situation is extremely tight. Any disruption of the more than 2 million barrels per day coming out of the Niger River delta will have a huge impact on prices. For more, review my column here.
The trouble is OPEC -- the cartel that holds the world's spare production capacity -- doesn't seem worried as soaring crude oil pushes the economy to the brink. Consumer confidence is already plunging fast. Instead of reassuring statements and a proactive policy stance, we're getting just the opposite.
The networking giant sees the explosion of online video as a chance to get a much-needed boost.
By James Rogers, TheStreet
The networking giant sees the explosion of online video as a chance to get a much-needed boost for sales of its gear into service providers. Cisco told TheStreet that its CRS-3 router is leading this charge.
"With video becoming such a key driver of traffic, we're introducing a new feature within CRS-3 that will reduce costs dramatically," said Suraj Shetty, Cisco's vice president of worldwide service provider marketing.
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Disappointing earnings from Express highlight the uncertainty currently surrounding the retail sector.
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[BRIEFING.COM] Recent action saw the major averages continue their retreat. The S&P 500 has returned near its lows with broad-based selling weighing on all sectors. Financials (+0.1%) and materials (+0.2%) continue to hold modest gains, but both groups are well off their highs. The tech sector also outperforms, trading flat.
The remaining cyclical sectors trade in negative territory with energy (-0.5%) and industrials (-0.7%) leading to the downside.
On the countercyclical ... More
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