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Cable companies hope better service keeps customers from ditching cable for Internet video.

By Kim Peterson Jun 21, 2011 2:49PM
Image: Watching television (© Digital Vision Ltd./SuperStock)The cable repair guy said he'd show up between noon and 4 p.m. So you took the afternoon off from work, only to watch the hours tick by. Now it's 3:58 p.m. Where in the world is he?

Situations like these hurt Comcast (CMCSA). The cable company won the "worst company in America" crown from the Consumerist website last year, and slow customer service was likely a big factor there.

So Comcast is trying to clean itself up, starting with that nasty four-hour cable guy window. By next year, the cable giant wants to shorten its repair window to two hours or less, Bloomberg reports.

This isn't as easy as it sounds. The company is adding new dispatch technology and giving all of its technicians laptops and handheld devices, Bloomberg reports. It's part of the broader overhaul of the cable system, which Comcast is renaming "Xfinity." 

The stock ran hot right out of the box but overheated and plunged, tempting many investors.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jun 21, 2011 2:35PM

By Anders Bylund

 

Pandora Media (P) took the plunge and hit the public market. Now you, too, can own a piece of your favorite streaming music service. But Mr. Market has hated this stock so far -- if you were first in line to buy shares on Wednesday, you've lost 44% of your investment already.

 

Fellow Fool Rick Munarriz called it: Amid Pandora's scorching hot IPO, he told you to stay away from the launch. Though revenue is growing like gangbusters, costs are tagging along as well and the company hasn't figured out how to turn a profit. And the share offering price more than doubled from the initial plan as fellow online darling LinkedIn (LNKD) and others threw chum in the IPO waters. LinkedIn hasn't done much better, by the way. Just short of a month into its public life, the stock has taken a 25% haircut from where it opened on its first day.

 

I have publicly stated that I want to own Pandora shares, going so far as calling it a serious threat to Apple (AAPL) iTunes and Sirius XM Radio (SIRI).

 

Security experts say core US infrastructure and even Google could be targeted. Which companies could benefit?

By TheStreet Staff Jun 21, 2011 1:49PM

the streetBy James Rogers, TheStreet

 

From Lockheed Martin (LMT) to Citigroup (C) and even the CIA, the list of major organizations falling victim to hackers is growing at an alarming rate, fueling worries that core U.S. infrastructure is the next big target.

 

"If you are talking about hackers that work for foreign governments, then I think the focus would continue with defense contractors as well as anything related to the U.S. infrastructure," said Jim Stickley of cybersecurity specialist TraceSecurity. "That could include the power grids as well as oil refinery companies and phone systems."

 

Underlining the importance of this issue, the National Security Agency has reportedly started a project called Perfect Citizen, which aims to monitor key infrastructure such as power grids and nuclear reactors for potential attacks. The NSA has not yet responded to TheStreet's request for comment on this story.

 

Will the gruesome images make any difference?

By Kim Peterson Jun 21, 2011 1:46PM
Credit: (© U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
Caption: New FDA warning label for cigarette packsCigarette packages will get a new look over the next year, and the face-lift is not pretty.

The government is requiring that packages show gruesome images designed to remind people of the health dangers of smoking. Those images include corpses, diseased lungs, endangered babies and a man with a tracheostomy hole. (You can see all the images here.)

The images are the first major changes to cigarette warning labels in 25 years. Altria Group (MO), Reynolds American (RAI) and Lorillard (LO) will be watching anxiously to see how the new labels affect sales. Click here to see before and after pictures of how the cigarettes will look on store shelves.

Will the new packaging make any difference? 

While the overall market struggles, these shares are ripe for new buying.

By MoneyShow.com Jun 21, 2011 11:57AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

The major averages spent the month of May declining and the selling picked up in June. In contrast, the S&P Railroads index made a closing high of 733 on May 10 and retested these highs at the end of May. So far in 2011, the index is up over 10% versus just 1.6% for the S&P 500.

The railroads are an economically sensitive industry, and of course, they did suffer during the recession. The Transportation sector has been a market leader since the March 2009 lows, and during the recent correction, the railroad stocks have held up better than the overall market.

Of the three railroad stocks that look the best technically, two of them—Union Pacific Corp. (UNP) and Norfolk Southern Corp. (NSC)—also yield over 2%, while the third, CSX Corp. (CSX), yields less than 1%. Of course, it is more important that all three appear to have completed their corrections and have positive relative performance, or RS analysis.
 
Tags: csx

The delivery service, which reports its earnings on Wednesday, accounts for 10% of the ETF's index.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 21, 2011 11:09AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

Although much of the economic-related headlines and debate throughout this week will be focused on the comments made during Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's press conference and the troubles facing the European Union, there are a handful of other stories investors will want to keep tabs on in the days ahead.

 

For instance, on Wednesday, the transportation sector will be interesting to watch as FedEx (FDX), the delivery services titan, steps up to the earnings plate.

 

ETF investors looking to target FedEx and the rest of the transportation industry during the week will want to turn to the iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund (IYT).

 

The beaten-down sector won't lag the market forever.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 21, 2011 11:01AM

By Dan Freed, TheStreet

 

Financial stocks have underperformed the broader market year to date, which may be a good reason to beef up bets in the sector.

 

The Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF), a popular exchange-traded fund that tracks financial stocks, was down 6.7% year to date as of Monday's close, versus a more than 4% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU).

 

Which financial stocks do analysts like best? One ranking system offers an answer.

 

As the market slides, the iPad maker is looking more attractive, prompting this safety-first researcher to add it to its 5-star-stock list.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 21, 2011 10:29AM

By Jake Lynch, TheStreet

 

Morningstar (MORN), the safety-first investment-research firm, recently added technology darling Apple (AAPL) to its exclusive list of five-star stocks.

 

Morningstar covers more than 1,700 stocks, and only 45 receive five-star rankings. That number has increased quite a bit in the past few weeks as the equity market has slid. Morningstar says Apple, which is down to $315 from a 52-week high of $365, is now at an attractive discount price.

 

During the second quarter, Apple roughly doubled its operating income and boosted sales by 83%. Such growth is remarkable, especially considering the company already has a market value of $290 billion. IPhone revenue surged 126%, Mac revenue climbed 32%, iTunes revenue increased 23%, software sales stretched 17%, and peripherals sales advanced 23%. IPod sales declined 14%. The iPad has no year-over-year comparison, but it delivered $2.3 billion in quarterly sales. Put simply, business is booming.

 

In this market, investors want stocks that pay a reliable yield to cushion the blows of volatility.

By Jim Cramer Jun 21, 2011 9:37AM

jim cramerthe streetWhat separates the winners from the losers in this market? Often it is one simple concept: a viable dividend that is unlikely to be cut. Specifically, a dividend that has a nice yield after taxes, one that will cushion it from the vicissitudes of daily market swings.

 

It's your best defense against forces like a troubled Europe, a tightening China and a sinking Japan.

 

How powerful is it? All you need to do is examine some of the weakest sectors to know. Let's take the case of defense stocks. Here's a group that's being butchered by the Department of Defense. We all know that spending is coming down. But the stocks have been huge winners this year, and much of that, I believe, is yield protection.

 

Lockheed Martin (LMT) has been in the cross hairs of the U.S. government cutbacks for months. Has the stock gone down? It is up an astounding 15% for the year, in large part, I believe, because it yields 3.7% and, of course, throughout that rally had a much higher yield.

 

Callifornia regulators stop automatic delivery of the white pages. Are the Yellow Pages next?

By Kim Peterson Jun 20, 2011 5:35PM
California residents will no longer see residential phone books unceremoniously dumped on their driveways and porches. Regulators there have approved a request by Verizon (VZ) to end the practice.

Verizon will still hand out the Yellow Pages as well as government white pages and business listings. But just cutting the residential listings will save about 1,870 tons of material, reports the Matter Network.

California isn't alone here. Other states are granting similar requests by phone companies, who don't like the books because they're unprofitable and generally advertising-free, USA Today reports. People can pretty much get the information they need on the Internet now. 

There is plenty of political rhetoric surrounding a second rescue package.

By Jim J. Jubak Jun 20, 2011 4:37PM
Jim JubakHope you didn't expect the road to run smoothly. Friday’s press-conference announcement of a compromise on a second rescue package for Greece was interesting, but there will be many bumps on the path to an actual rescue package.

If Friday was a day for Eurozone leaders to show that they weren’t willing to throw Greece and the euro to the wolves of political expediency, the weekend was a time for demonstrating how tough they would be on Greece.

Suddenly, just after German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would withdraw its insistence on a mandatory extension of maturities on Greek government debt -- thus clearing the way for a deal acceptable to the European Central Bank and global debt rating companies -- Eurozone politicians started to talk about releasing only part of the funds from Rescue Package No. 1 that Greece needs in July to avoid a default.
 

The share price has fallen below key technical support levels, yet some analysts say now is the time to buy.

By Kim Peterson Jun 20, 2011 2:45PM
Apple (AAPL) has gone from market darling to market dud. Shares have fallen a little more than 10% in the past four months to $314.64. The stock is trading at only 11 times next year's earnings.

Why is Apple struggling? Analysts have a median price target of $450 on the stock, with 50 urging a "strong buy" or "buy." Investors apparently disagree.

Apple is trading well below its 50-day moving average of $338.98 and below its 200-day moving average of $325.91. Its market value has fallen below $300 billion -- back to where it was at the beginning of the year. 

The valuations of these companies argue against it.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jun 20, 2011 2:28PM

By Jordan DiPietro

 

A few weeks ago, a friend asked what I thought about the future of a Facebook IPO. My short response was that retail investors would most likely get in the way after the smart money made its way on to the table, so it was hard to recommend a buy.

 

His response: "Buy, buy, buy!"

 

Here comes another bubble?
When investors start getting so involved in story stocks and ideas that they ignore fundamentals and valuations, it's very easy for a bubble to form.

 

Recently there's been an onslaught of tech companies coming to the market or filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for upcoming IPOs, and the hype around these companies has become quite phenomenal.

 

From cereal to soda, food marketers are reviving the past to stir shoppers' emotions.

By Kim Peterson Jun 20, 2011 1:14PM
In tough economic times, people want comfort. They long for the past, when life was happier. And they'll buy products that remind them of those days.

That's the hope of food companies, at least. Companies such as Pepsi (PEP) and General Mills (GIS) have jumped on the retro food bandwagon, dusting off old designs in an effort to take shoppers down memory lane.

Check out the following video for good examples of how everything old is new again on supermarket shelves. For some products, this trend is becoming a permanent look.

Post continues below: 

Companies and the economy are healthy, and at least one fund manager says the market is way oversold.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 20, 2011 11:22AM

Image: Arrow Up (© Stockbyte/SuperStock)By Frank Byrt, TheStreet

 

It's easy for investors to think the sky is falling, given the drumbeat of dour economic news in recent weeks.

 

But those fears, which have resulted in a 7% tumble in the S&P 500 Index ($INX) over the past six weeks, may be overblown, several money managers say.

 

That's because much of the bad economic news has already been factored in to stock prices. Meanwhile, U.S. corporations' fundamentals remain solid after a 19.4% jump in S&P 500 earnings in the first quarter. Besides, investors have few places to go other than equities as fixed-income returns dwindle.

 

That sounds like a value-oriented, stock-pickers' paradise. So why the Chicken Little reactions?

 

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