Image: Bank Vault (© Corbis/Corbis)
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It's no Alibaba, but the Citizens Financial Group offering is important to the market.


The convicted Ponzi schemer says the judge who sentenced him was unfair and didn't understand the financial industry.

By Kim Peterson Jun 28, 2011 4:53PM
Two years down, 148 to go. You can't blame Bernie Madoff for feeling sorry for himself as he faces that future.

In interviews with The New York Times, the convicted fraudster is wallowing in despair. The judge that sentenced him, Denny Chin, could have picked a shorter prison term, he said. And being described as an evil monster is downright insulting.

"In my mind, Chin was anything but fair, with zero understanding of the industry," he said, adding that the judge made him "the human piñata of Wall Street" while bank and government officials received no prison punishment at all.

"Remember, they caused the recession, not me," he added. 

The battery maker ends a key joint venture, opening up new opportunities in the energy grid market.

By Jim J. Jubak Jun 28, 2011 4:18PM
Jim JubakOn paper, Johnson Controls (JCI) looks like a cheap growth stock. Wall Street projects earnings growth of 24% in fiscal 2011 and 35% in fiscal 2012.

Trading at just 17.7 times trailing 12-month earnings per share and at 16 times projected earnings per share, Johnson Controls sure looks reasonably priced.

But growth stocks are only cheap if projected growth is actually going to turn into real growth. And frankly on this front, the company’s May 18 decision to end its lithium-ion battery joint venture with Saft made me raise an eyebrow.

Sure, Johnson Controls is the largest maker of batteries in North America, and the company dominates the lead-acid battery market with a 36% share, but that’s an old, established technology.

Pope Benedict XVI uses an iPad to send out his first message on Twitter.

By Kim Peterson Jun 28, 2011 3:21PM
Credit: Osservatore Romano, HO/AP
Caption: File Photo: Pope Benedict XVI touches a touchpad to send a tweet for the launch of the Vatican news information portal Maybe that Twitter IPO is a good idea after all, now that the Pope is on board with the service.

Pope Benedict XVI tweeted for the first time today. "Dear Friends, I just launched," he wrote. "Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus."

The he wrote about is the new Vatican news site that includes articles, a calendar, radio and video from the Vatican's media services. The Pope used an Apple (AAPL) iPad today to launch the Web portal, which is in Italian and English, the site reports.

He sent his tweet from the Vatican News Twitter account, which only has about 14,200 followers (although that's up from 12,000 before the Pope's message). 

The company is launching its first ad campaign for Pepsi-Cola in 3 years.

By Kim Peterson Jun 28, 2011 2:22PM
Remember Pepsi? For a while, it seemed like even PepsiCo (PEP) forgot about its signature product. And Pepsi slipped to No. 3 in the soda wars this spring behind Coke and Diet Coke -- a humiliating dive for the company.

So finally, PepsiCo is focusing again on Pepsi, unveiling its first new advertising campaign for the brand in three years, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The problem is that unlike Coca-Cola (KO), which is mainly still a beverage company, PepsiCo has diversified to become a food and beverage operation. Frito Lay is its biggest profit engine, and it juggles a diverse line of brands, including Doritos, Lays, Gatorade and Tropicana. 

The company's museum in Wisconsin pulls some strange items out of storage for a new exhibit.

By Kim Peterson Jun 28, 2011 12:56PM
Credit: (© Stephan Savoia/AP)
Caption: Gas tank of Harley-Davidson motorcycleAn all-leather motorcycle? Harley-Davidson (HOG) has one, but it's not for sale.

The company has a vast archive of weird memorabilia and is putting some of it on display for a new exhibit in its Milwaukee museum. If you're looking for a summer road trip destination, Harley has it covered.

The new exhibit, called "Collection X: Weird, Wild Wonders of the Harley-Davidson Museum," include rare prototype bikes and a rocket engine for drone missiles in the Vietnam War, The Associated Press reports.

The museum also features a 1920s leather aviator face mask, a tiered "cake" from the early 1900s that displays racing trophies and handmade kidney belts for riders. There's a 1978 prototype of a liquid-cooled motocross bike and a three-wheeled cross between a motorcycle and a car. 

The market seems to have moved too far too fast, which makes a short-term setback likely.

By Jun 28, 2011 12:10PM
By Tom Aspray,

Monday’s strong gains caused some improvement in the short-term technical outlook for the stock market. A close in the S&P 500 above 1,288 on positive breadth will help the bullish case. The price action in the long Treasury ETFs and too-high bullish sentiment indicate that, for now, the Treasury market may have a higher risk than stocks.

Earlier in the year, Bill Gross, the head of PIMCO, the biggest bond shop, turned bearish on bonds because he was expecting rates to rise. Instead, the yield on ten-year Treasury notes peaked at 3.73% on February 8 and has since plunged to a low of 2.87%.

As the global stock markets turned lower in May and the precious metals collapsed, investors turned away from risk and the flight to Treasuries picked up steam. Of course, adding fuel to the fire has been the end of QE2 and increased Eurozone debt worries.  Money has also been moving out of high-yield, or junk bonds, as fears of a new recession have made these bonds too risky for some investors.

The sector is a risky place to make bets this summer, but the high end could provide a comfortable hideout.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 28, 2011 11:36AM

TheStreetImage: Shopping bags (© Photodisc Red/Getty Images)By Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet


Safety in retail stocks is a bit of an oxymoron.


The sector has been wrought with fear, as sales fell in May for the first time in 11 months, and companies face rising sourcing costs and shaky consumer sentiment.


But relatively speaking, the best place to ride out this summer's inflationary pressures is in luxury, according to analysts.


Goldman Sachs' (GS) U.S. luxury department store same-store sales index increased 13.2% in May, a significant acceleration for March-April trends of 7% to 8% and February's 11.8% increase.


The automaker solved its problems in bankruptcy court. Can the ball team do the same?

By TheStreet Staff Jun 28, 2011 10:38AM

By Ted Reed, TheStreet


When you really think about it, bankruptcy court has become a place where miracles happen.


It's a place where the Obama administration, in perhaps its greatest achievement, fixed GM (GM) and Chrysler.


Also in bankruptcy court, Delta (DAL)transformed itself from a bloated regional airline into an international airline that was, briefly, the world's biggest. Additionally, in a courtroom merger, US Airways (LCC) and America West, two small, weak, near-death airlines remade themselves as a financially fit survivor.


This brings us to the subject of the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Clothing companies that raised their prices to offset soaring materials costs will see their margins expand as the fiber gets cheaper.

By Jim Cramer Jun 28, 2011 8:52AM

the streetjim cramerWe talk about it on the way up, but we rarely talk about it on the way down.


I am talking about the price of cotton, which has plummeted to become one of the worst of all the horribly performing commodities after a truly stellar run. On Monday, cotton was down the limit, yet did you hear anyone mention it? I didn't.


This retreat, something that was self-correcting on the basis of new plantings, has wiped out the big gains of the year -- the ones that threatened to crush Polo Ralph Lauren (RL), VF Corp. (VFC) and Phillips-Van Heusen (PVH) as well as Under Armour (UA), Jones Group (JNY) and Lululemon Athletica (LULU). Nobody seems to care, even as these companies have put through price increases that look like they have stuck, according to retailers.


These companies are going to have amazing margin expansion because they are not going to roll back those price increases. Why did we hear about margin contraction for months when cotton was on the way up but nothing as it has come down? And "come down" certainly is a dainty term for this crash.


The company is adding more revenue-generating activities to monetize its share of China's Internet search traffic.

By Jim J. Jubak Jun 27, 2011 8:58PM
Jim JubakThis deal quite probably wouldn’t pass regulatory scrutiny in the United States. Good thing, then, that it's being done in China.

Baidu (BIDU), China’s leading Internet search company, is making a $306 million investment in Qunar, the leading Internet travel search engine. The deal, set to close in the third quarter, will make Baidu the majority shareholder in Qunar.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, three state attorney generals have begun antitrust investigations into Google’s
dominance of online search. Google's (GOOG) share of the U.S. search market dipped ever so slightly (to 64%) in May.

Google’s share of the online search market in China fell to 19.2% in the first quarter, from 19.6% in the fourth quarter of 2010, as the company’s refusal to self-censor its content continued to erode traffic. Baidu’s market share
climbed to 75.8% from 75.5%, according to Analysys International.

Upcoming weakness in long-term Treasury bonds will send interest rates climbing again.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jun 27, 2011 4:03PM

Investors are feeling frazzled, which is completely understandable. The selling pressure seen over the past few months has resulted in one of deepest oversold conditions since the late 1990s. Serious stuff.


People who were just beginning to feel optimistic again got broadsided and sought the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds. But this is no refuge, as I've noted in recent blog posts. I expect the combination of higher inflation, re-accelerating economic growth and uncertainty regarding the fight over the U.S. debt ceiling to weigh on bond prices.


But there are consequences of this event even for people not invested in T-bonds: Long-term interest rates are headed higher. Here's why and how you can take advantage. 


Funds that invest in Treasury inflation-protected securities reap rewards as inflation picks up. But not everyone agrees that they're the best choice.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 27, 2011 12:45PM

Image: Value investing (© Tetra Images/Tetra images RF/Getty Images)By Stan Luxenberg, TheStreet


During the past 12 months, the consumer price index rose 3.6% and oil prices climbed. Seeking to benefit from rising prices, investors scrambled to buy Treasury inflation-protected securities, or TIPS.


Inflation-protected funds, which invest in TIPS, returned 8% in the past year, outpacing the Barclays Aggregate Bond Index by nearly 3 percentage points, according to Morningstar.


Should you join the crowd and buy inflation funds? Perhaps. Many financial advisers argue that inflation funds make good choices for investors who seek to protect their purchasing power. But now some advisers have become lukewarm about TIPS, arguing that they have gotten a bit expensive. A vocal minority says investors should avoid TIPS altogether.


The search giant has long struggled with social networking. Analysts say adding one of these companies would immediately boost its presence in the popular space.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 27, 2011 12:25PM

Image: Woman with laptop (© Mike Watson Images/Corbis)By Olivia Oran, TheStreet


The recent FTC probe into Google's (GOOG) dominance in the Web search market, which alleges Google has abused its market leading position by engaging in anti-competitive behavior, prompts the question: Is Google too big in search?


"Any company that gets nearly all of its money from one product is vulnerable," said Josh Bernoff, an analyst with Forrester. "The idea that they need to diversify their business is certainly valid."


If Google's position in the search market is threatened at all by the lawsuit, the pressure on the company to expand into new areas becomes intense. Google, which generates about 90% of its revenue from its core search business, is already diversifying into display and mobile ads.


But one area where Google has been unable make a name for itself is social networking, which is dominated largely by Facebook.


These global funds have badly underperformed major averages, and the charts indicate further weakness lies ahead.

By Jun 27, 2011 12:07PM
By Tom Aspray,

The dismal performance of the US market on Friday and the sharp decline in several of the European markets make the early action this week more important. While the S&P 500 closed right on important support and very close to the recent lows, some averages do not look as bad.

I will be watching the action of the Dow Transportation Average and the Russell 2000, as both are still well above the lows they made earlier in June. The transports in particular have been a good market barometer since the March 2009 lows, as they have led the market out of several corrections. The NYSE McClellan Oscillator also still shows a pattern of higher lows.

Though the small 0.9% gain in the S&P 500 so far in 2011 has disappointed many investors, things are worse overseas. The MSCI World Average is down 1.5%, and if you were in some of the single-country ETFs, their performance was worse than that.

Relative performance, or RS analysis, can also be useful on a global basis, as investors can compare the performance of a country ETF to global market average like the MSCI World Index.

This can be a two-step process for US investors, who first can find the country ETFs with the best RS analysis versus the world and then see how the same country ETFs compare to the performance of the S&P 500. This will allow for more informed investing decisions.

This analysis of four widely followed country ETFs will illustrate why they have performed worse that the MSCI World Average and the S&P 500 and will highlight the signs that will indicate when these funds become attractive investments once again.

The companies head east for growth, but the route is not necessarily smooth.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 27, 2011 11:51AM

Image: Great Wall of China (© Photodisc/SuperStock)By Ted Reed, TheStreet


More and more, America's key transportation manufacturers like Boeing (BA) and GM (GM) are looking to China to add sizzle to their shares.


Boeing's recently released current market outlook, the leading annual forecast of air transportation growth, underscores China's importance. Boeing said 2010-30 air traffic within China will grow at 7.5%, compared with 7% in the Asia Pacific region, 4% in Europe and 2.3% in North America. In 2010, the Asia Pacific region was the world's biggest air travel market for the first time, Boeing said.


Meanwhile, a new report by Standard & Poor's notes that China auto sales reached 18 million in 2010, compared with 11.5 million in the U.S. China was easily the world's largest light-vehicle market.



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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).

Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More


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