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The end of 'unlimited' as we know it.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Aug 1, 2011 2:57PM
By Rick Aristotle Munarriz

 

Things are going full throttle at AT&T (T), and I don't mean that as a compliment.

 

The telco giant announced Friday that it will begin to slow down the heaviest data drinkers on its unlimited wireless data plans. The move may shake out money-losing wireless customers, but it will also inevitably sink the carrier's already sullied reputation even deeper.

 

Come October, AT&T will flag 5% of its biggest consumers of data. Multiple notices will go out. An initial grace period for first-time bingers will be extended. In the end, the largest pigs at the data trough will be slapped with slower access until the next billing cycle begins.

 

In short, this buffet is about to begin discriminating against heavy eaters.

 

As Chinese labor costs skyrocket, one manufacturer thinks a robot army will be more affordable.

By Kim Peterson Aug 1, 2011 2:44PM
The company that assembles iPhones and iPads in China is amassing a robot workforce.

Foxconn Technology Group (FXCNY), known best for building Apple's (AAPL) products, wants to put 1 million robots to work in the next three years, Reuters reports. That's almost the same number of human workers that Foxconn currently employs.

The biggest reason for this change is, of course, money. Chinese labor is no longer as cheap; some experts say that wages in key manufacturing regions have risen by a third in the last year. In the first quarter, 13 provinces in China raised the minimum wage by an average of 21%. "Workers' wages are increasing so quickly that some companies can't take it longer," one fund manager told Reuters.

Another reason for the change is, to put it candidly, that robots don't commit suicide. 

The resolution of the budget debate doesn't mean its hangover will go away soon.

By TheStreet Staff Aug 1, 2011 2:11PM

By Joe Mont, TheStreet

 

It isn't over yet.

 

Even with a resolution to the debt ceiling impasse, the hangover of lingering economic woes here and abroad will continue to affect all of us.

 

What does it all mean for average consumers abd investors, and what moves should they make, or avoid, given continued uncertainty?

 

Real-estate ripples

People looking to take advantage of the drop in housing prices may do best to ride out the debt crisis for a bit longer.

 

Even with a resolution, the nation's debt crisis could lead to a downgrade in its creditworthiness that could make getting a loan more expensive in the weeks ahead.

 

Investors are starting to notice S&P 600 stocks that are projected to have double-digit increases in sales and earnings.

By Jim Van Meerten Aug 1, 2011 1:55PM

A stock that has received recent notice on Wall Street is Zoll Medical (Zoll) which designs, manufactures and markets an integrated line of proprietary, noninvasive cardiac resuscitation devices, external pacemaker/defibrillators, disposable electrodes, mobile ECG Systems and EMS data management solutions.  The recent price momentum has been a result of upgrades in the projections for sales and earnings.


Barchart technical indicators of recent price momentum:

  • 100% Barchart technical buy signals
  • Trend Spotter buy signals
  • Above it's 20, 50 and 100 day moving averages
  • 4 new highs and up 20.06% in the last month
  • Relative Strength Index is 74.72% and rising
  • Trades around 69.00 which is above its 50 day moving average of 57.45
  • Barchart calculates a 61.99 support level
 

Time Warner Cable sees a drop in video-on-demand revenue, with adult films seeing the biggest decline.

By Kim Peterson Aug 1, 2011 1:43PM
Why pay for adult films when the Internet beckons?

That's a question Time Warner Cable (TWC) and other on-demand video providers are struggling with. The cable provider said recently that its video-on-demand segment, which includes its adult film collection, saw a revenue drop of 13.5%, or $14 million, in the second quarter.

"The biggest piece of the year-over-year decline was, in fact, in the adult category," TWC president Robert Marcus said on a conference call with analysts, according to The New York Post.

The company didn't explain why the business has gone soft, but there's a pretty obvious candidate: the Internet and its plethora of free adult videos. 

As Americans focus on budget negotiations in Congress, the US may be headed toward another recession.

By TheStreet Staff Aug 1, 2011 12:16PM

By Frank Byrt, TheStreet

 

While Americans focus on debt and budget negotiations in Congress, the nation's already fragile economy may be heading toward another recession.

 

As an example of how bad things are, the Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of manufacturing activity dropped to a reading of 50.9 in July from 55.3 in June. Economists had expected the gauge to remain unchanged.

 

The Commerce Department also said last week that gross domestic product (GDP) growth -- a measure of all goods and services produced in the U.S. -- rose at a meager 1.3% annual rate in the second quarter, well below economists' projected 1.8% growth. A year ago, the economy expanded by 3.8%.

 

While the S&P 500 struggles amid fear and uncertainty in the US, these Asian funds show strong chart patterns and good fundamentals.

By MoneyShow.com Aug 1, 2011 11:42AM

The technical action at June's lows looked quite promising, but the rally ended much sooner than expected when the market finally gave up on lawmakers' ability to solve anything. Now that it seems a deficit-reduction plan is in place, stock futures are sharply higher in early trading and the oversold readings suggest we could still go higher.

 

Since the June 24 closing low in the Spyder Trust (SPY), the fund is now up just 2%. The three consecutive lower monthly closes have clearly dampened investor enthusiasm as we enter the most difficult of the summer months.

 

Still, there are three global ETFs that have more than doubled the performance of SPY, which show positive relative performance versus the MSCI World Average. These global ETFs could be start performers when we enter the much stronger fourth quarter for stocks.

 

Funds tracking media, solar energy and real estate will be in the spotlight as major holdings report earnings.

By TheStreet Staff Aug 1, 2011 10:53AM

Image: Stock investor (© Tom Grill/Corbis)By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

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

 

1. PowerShares Dynamic Media Portfolio (PBS)

 

Top media companies -- including CBS, Discovery Communications (DISCA), Time Warner (TWX), Viacom (VIA.B), DirecTV (DTV) and Comcast (CMCSA) -- will report earnings this week, providing investors with insight into the state of the media industry.

 

Sentiment toward this sector has faced pressure in recent weeks as the News Corp (NWSA) hacking scandal has dominated headlines and led many investors to question the company's integrity.

 

PBS appears well-suited to defend against the possibility of future shakeups at Rupert Murdoch's media empire, however. Although it can be found among the fund's 10 largest holdings, shares of NWSA account for less than 5% of its index.

 

Like other subsector products, PBS is best suited for aggressive investors. Any exposure to this fund should be kept small and focused.

 

Last week was a debacle, but corporate earnings are strong. Look for a recovery rally.

By Jamie Dlugosch Aug 1, 2011 9:48AM

Stocks are poised to rally this week as a resolution to the debt debate lifts investors' spirits.

 

While the attention was intensely focused on Washington, D.C., companies were busy reporting earnings. With 75% of those businesses reporting results beating Wall Street expectations, stocks are extremely undervalued.

 

It might pay to go against the crowd with respect to stocks this week.

 

Every once in a while, you get those weeks of trading that just need to be erased from memory. Last week was one. With the Dow down 4% and many more stocks down even further, the action made little sense.

 

Like many sell-offs, this one shall pass. In most cases, stocks will rebound quickly, replacing losses with gains. The ETF to own for strength is iShares S&P North America Technology and Multimedia Fund (IGN).

 
Tags: etf

The financial sector has seen lots of job cuts, and Wall Street should brace for more -- perhaps 80,000 by year's end.

By InvestorPlace Aug 1, 2011 8:50AM

By Jeff Reeves, Editor, InvestorPlace.com


In July, as financial-sector layoffs mounted, a top executive search firm estimated as many as 80,000 jobs might go in this coming round of financial layoffs.


"This is kind of like the beginning of a tsunami," said Richard Stein of Caldwell Partners. "You don't get it in one go -- it comes in sort of short shock waves."


Well, those shock waves have kept coming, with Monday's brutal announcement from HSBC (HBC) in London that by 2013 it will cut an additional 25,000 jobs on top of 5,000 posts already being eliminated. But if recent news is any indication, the layoffs are far from over.

 

Sell your debt-resolution plays and focus on stocks that won't be derailed by a US default.

By Jim Cramer Aug 1, 2011 8:41AM

thestreetthestreetBack to individual stock picking -- for now. That's how I view this debt ceiling deal, which I believe will pass simply because every single reporter says it will, and I have to trust the consensus like everyone else or be run out of town on a bull.

 

To me, if you bought "exposure," meaning deep-in-the-money calls or some higher-beta stocks on Friday, as I suggested here, you sell them into strength, take the profit. You didn't get to build the position, but you did get to make the money.

 

Then I would just wait. I would wait for the people who have to come out and say:

 

1. Didn't matter, too small, we will eventually be downgraded.

2. Nothing's changed. We are still dysfunctional.

3. Things are even worse because now there will be less spending to prop up the economy.

4. It's too late, as the second half has been killed by this wrangling.

5. The deal does not clarify taxes enough to make companies feel good enough about spending.

6. China is still slowing, although not as fast as we would like, because the tightening goes on.

7. Spain

8. Italy

9. Greece

10. Country to be named later

 

It’s all about the debt-ceiling debate right now, and mounting fears have caused damage. Use any short-lived rally as a chance for selective selling.

By MoneyShow.com Jul 30, 2011 2:38AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

It was a rough week for the markets this past week, and the week ahead may be no better. Last week, Senator John McCain used the word “bizarro” in his description of how the debt crisis was being handled. It is nice to have one politician who is not afraid to speak his mind. Comic book fans will remember that Bizarro World was a fictional, cube-shaped planet from DC Comics (how appropriate!).

It would be nice if last week’s action in the financial markets and in Washington, DC was fictitious, but unfortunately, it was not. The debt crisis weighed on the markets from the start of last week, and the selling pressure picked up steam as the week progressed. This week may be just as treacherous.

Another vote is scheduled for late Friday, but I am not optimistic that it will mean much. In all likelihood, we will wake up on Monday and still be without a deal. Investors definitely have started to run scared, as they removed $13.6 billion from stock mutual funds and ETFs in the first four days of last week.

Institutions are also nervous, as very short-term T-bill rates have spiked, therefore causing the yield curve to flatten out. Historically, a flat yield curve is negative for the economy. Yields on the ten-year T-note dropped to new lows for the year, as they seem to be the safest haven, after gold.

Though a deal will eventually be done, what we can’t determine is whether the confidence in the markets and economic recovery has suffered a fatal hit. A contraction in credit at this fragile time in the economic recovery could have serious implications.
 

Congress could take a page from these companies' debt-slashing efforts

By John Reese Jul 29, 2011 6:47PM

The U.S. debt ceiling talks are sputtering along, with the deadline for addressing the country's dwindling amount of available credit fast approaching and legislators bickering over how to address the problem.

 

By all accounts, the process has been painfully slow, with both sides proving to be better at political posturing than at legitimate compromise.

 

Perhaps they could learn something from Corporate America. While a myriad of companies went into the financial crisis of 2008 leveraged to the hilt, many have used the last three years to chip away at -- or, in some cases, altogether eliminate -- their high piles of debt. To be sure, they didn't have to deal with the same sort of political machinations that U.S. policymakers have to deal with. But they can nonetheless provide a bit of much-needed "get-it-done" inspiration -- not to mention good opportunities for investors.

 

The Spanish bank is in a rough spot, no doubt. But if it can get through this, there's potential for shares to rise.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 29, 2011 5:24PM

Jim JubakTells you something about how beaten up Spanish bank stocks are when Banco Santander (STD) delivers news of a horrible first half and the stock only falls 5.6%. And that on a day too -- July 27 -- when stock market indexes such as the Standard & Poor's 500 were themselves down 2%. 


The next day, July 28, shares of Banco Santander were up 0.89%, and they've inched ahead another eight cents per share today. The shares pay an 8.42% dividend, and at today's price of $10.28, they are very close to their 52-week low at $9.43.  


If they can get back just to their depressed 52-week high at $13.75, you're looking at a gain of 35%, plus dividends. (Banco Santander is a member of my Dividend Income Portfolio.) 


How bad was the July 27 report?

 

The ratio of sold shares to bought shares from corporate insiders has hit a record.

By Kim Peterson Jul 29, 2011 3:46PM
This isn't a good sign.

Company insiders are dumping shares faster than at any time in the last four decades, one study shows. If those insiders know more than the rest of us about what's going on, watch out.

One research firm keeps a weekly update of the ratio of the insider shares sold versus the insider shares purchased, MarketWatch reports. As of last week, that sell-to-buy ratio was 6.43 to 1 -- higher than 95% of the weeks in the last decade. 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Wednesday session on a modestly lower note, but it is worth mentioning today's retreat took place after six consecutive gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.1%) and S&P 500 (-0.2%) settled not far below their flat lines, while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.8%) lagged throughout the session.

Equity indices started the day in the red, with the Nasdaq showing early weakness as large cap tech names and biotechnology weighed. The technology ... More


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