The most likely scenario is that the markets will begin to rise from here -- and that bounce is just beginning to take hold.
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In an effort to bring in more revenue and customer loyalty, airlines are selling all kinds of extras.
Want your luggage picked up at home? They can do that. How about a pass for the snazzy airport club lounge? Done. Wine and cheese on the flight? Sure. And then there are some extras you probably never even considered, like paragliding lessons at your vacation destination.
It's all part of a new effort to provide customers with everything they need on the day of flight, and then some. Airlines get more control over the customer, and they also see it as a way to win brand loyalty and compete on more than just price, The Wall Street Journal reports.
In the recession, drinkers traded down to less-expensive brands. Now they're hooked.
Wine drinkers traded down to cheaper brands over the past few years, and now they're not returning to the pricey bottles, The Wall Street Journal reports. Instead, they're sticking with lower-priced ones.
The economic downturn was the hardest on wineries that sell bottles for $20 and up, the Journal reports. Last year, wines priced at $9 to $12 a bottle saw sales spike 12%, while the overall industry saw only a 3% increase.
People "have woken up to the fact that there are a lot of choices out there," one California winemaker told the Journal. He said he doesn't expect buyers will return to their earlier spending habits. "It's not ever going to be what it was."
Even Wal-Mart (WMT) is jumping on the lower-priced-wine trend, installing wine vending machines at some locations.
One energy stock with an asymmetric payout.
Fool analyst Dan Dzombak has found a stock that's quite risky, but also has some catalysts that could propel it upward. Instead of buying the stock, he's employing a LEAPS options strategy that improves his risk/reward ratio.
Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor
Today, I'm excited to recommend and open a 2-Year LEAPS position in ATP Oil & Gas (ATPG), which at its current value will represent 8% of my portfolio.
Like Cobalt International Energy (CIE) and Callon Petroleum (CPE), ATP is an exploration and production (E&P) company, unlike them, ATP takes the "E" out of the equation. It does this by buying proven, yet undeveloped, offshore fields and bringing them into production.
One company hopes to sell Canna Cola and other flavors to medical-marijuana patients.
Diavolo Brands hopes to market a line of soft drinks enhanced with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports. The company wants to produce a number of flavors, including Canna Cola, a Dr Pepper-like Doc Weed and a lemon-lime Sour Diesel.
You won't find the drinks at 7-Eleven. The sodas are intended for use by medical-marijuana patients and likely will be distributed at pot dispensaries that have received regulatory approval.
As states continue to decriminalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes, a new kind of entrepreneurship is unfolding. Small companies are developing ways to market pot products across the country, aiming to stake an early claim in a budding industry.
History suggests investors would have more to gain from a Pittsburgh victory over Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV.
By Robert Holmes, TheStreet
The Steelers and Packers will meet after the teams won their respective conference championship games Sunday. Appearances in the big game by both teams have been historically good for investors, according to data collected by financial analytics firm Capital IQ. However, stocks rose more during the years the Steelers won.
The average return of stocks during the years the Steelers represented the AFC in the big game is 25%. When the Packers represented the NFC, the stock market returned 24%, according to the data. Capital IQ calculated the annualized average returns for the S&P 500 ($INX) from January 1967 through Dec. 31, 2010. The data offer a lighthearted look at 44 years of Super Bowl history and stock market returns rather than serious fundamental analysis.
Amazon, Qualcomm and others will likely benefit from stronger spending.
By Frank Byrt, TheStreet
Amazon.com (AMZN), Yahoo! (YHOO), EMC (EMC) and Qualcomm (QCOM) are expected by analysts to have closed out 2010 on a positive note as the recovering economy boosted demand for their products and services.
That sets the stage for potentially big gains in 2011. Technology stocks should benefit from customers' postponement of capital spending for the past two years, which means many are in dire need of upgrades to computer systems.
In addition, the increasing use of the Internet and the potential growth in advertising on Web pages, the booming use of mobile-computing devices and the concurrent demand for data storage -- thanks to the growth of cloud computing -- contribute to a positive outlook for each of these firms. Here are the fourth-quarter earnings expectations for the four companies, starting with Yahoo:
A deal at $20 per share would be the largest leveraged buyout since the credit crisis.
By Jeff Reeves, editor of InvestorPlace.com
Sara Lee (SLE) is one of the most iconic names in the grocery aisles. But if a group of prospective buyers has its way, the name will be taken off the shelves of Wall Street as the publicly traded stock goes private in a deal worth nearly $13 billion.
The move is worth noting for a few reasons, not the least of which is its size. A deal at that price would be the largest leveraged buyout since before the financial crisis. But a Sara Lee purchase would also show all investors that mergers and takeovers are still very much in favor on Wall Street -- a good sign for all stocks and for the economy in general.
Sara Lee will have a few days to weigh an offer from a group of private-equity firms that have valued the company at up to $20 a share, or nearly 10% above the share price last week. That totals almost $13 billion.
So why should you care about a deal this size? Here are three reasons the Sara Lee buyout is a good sign for everyone -- even if you're not a shareholder:
Keep an eye on the industrial, telecommunications, consumer and energy sectors.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Here are five ETFs to watch this week.
The strong showing from GE sets the stage for this week's industrial-heavy week of earnings. On tap are household names including 3M (MMM), Boeing (BA), Caterpillar (CAT), Honeywell (HON) and United Technologies (UTX). These companies represent some of the largest slices of XLI's index and together account for over 30% of its portfolio.
Risk-tolerant investors looking for a more volatile play on industrials this week may find a subsector fund such as the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense Index Fund (ITA) attractive. Earnings reports from Boeing, UTX, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin (LMT) and L-3 Communications (LLL) will heavily influence this fund's performance next week.
The company resurrects dot-com flop Webvan. Will the home-delivery model work 10 years after the original company went bankrupt?
By Jeff Reeves, editor of InvestorPlace.com
It's been a great few years for Amazon.com (AMZN), with an estimated 40% sales growth in 2010 and its stock up 250% in the past two years. The breakout success of its Kindle e-reader and continued strength in its online retail business have made Amazon one of the top stock picks on Wall Street.
Not content to rest on its laurels, Amazon is cooking up a sales strategy that will really turn some heads: a free weekly home-delivery service, bringing baby care products, groceries and cosmetics right to your doorstep.
Some observers say it's going to revolutionize Amazon's business model. Others see shades of a dot-com flop that bled cash until it went bankrupt. Here are the details so you can judge for yourself:
AMZN has been testing a delivery service, AmazonTote, in its hometown of Seattle since last summer. The program involves free home delivery once a week on a specified day of the customer's choice, and the delivery is made regardless of order value.
While other investors wait for the next shoe to drop, ETF traders should stay long and strong.
If you like roller coasters, this market is for you. Up one day, down the next is likely to be the path for stocks in 2011.
Such a trajectory is just one more reason to be a buy-and-hold trader in the early going of trading this year. The quickest way to profits is patience.
Each week brings a different story that frankly is almost entirely impossible to predict. That said, when stocks are up, they are really up. When they are down, the decline is modest.
The current market environment screams for aggressiveness. One of the more aggressive exchange-traded funds investors can play this week is the ProShares Ultra Oil & Gas (DIG).
Oil and gas markets are ripe for an explosion. So far, oil is being held back by aggressive hedge funds that are betting against the global recovery. Those traders will likely be proved wrong.
A brutal retreat may be in store for some industrial and rail shares that have had a prolonged advance from last year.
A thrust too far. That's how so many of the charts feel today, almost as if the charging bull-market armies overshot their supply lines and now are isolated way in front of their old lines without ammo. That means they are ready to be encircled by bearish attackers, with a retreat to the 30-week moving average -- a brutal retreat -- in the cards.
I feel that way in particular about the big industrials that have shot up so much so hard, like Parker-Hannifin (PH), that couldn't deliver what was wanted no matter what.
Anything that has had a prolonged advance from last year seems so vulnerable that you can hear the stock charts saying, "Pull back, regroup."
There are anomalies. General Electric (GE) feels a year behind these players and is building a solid advance. Really solid, and it looks like it can hold and run. Maybe even to $22.
Investors have enjoyed a great rally in emerging markets, but a real correction could be ahead this year.
While large stocks push to new highs, a lack of participation by smaller issues warns of trouble.
Stocks have largely been moving lower over the last two days. But the severity of the decline depends on which market index you like to watch. If you're like most retail investors, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) is your preferred benchmark. And it's managed to push to new highs on an intra-day basis Friday.
But it's a much different story for rest of the market, especially the small cap issues in the Russell 2000 (RUT) which are now down more than 4% over the past week. Frequently, you'll see big disparities in the performance of small cap stocks vs. the mega cap stocks at turning points -- almost as if the Wall Street heavy hitters want to throw the investing public, who closely track the Dow, off the scent.
To use another metaphor, think of small stocks as the infantry of an army. If they desert the battlefield, like they are now, the generals still on the field get slaughtered. A healthy market is led by small stocks -- since they are the most sensitive to the economic and liquidity catalysts that push and pull the equity trade. The opposite is happening now.
Apple thwarts DIY owners with special screws that make basic maintenance difficult.
The idea is to keep people from opening the devices to replace the battery. But Apple isn't telling customers about it, Reuters reports. That won't sit well with some iPhone users.
"If you took your car in for service and they welded your hood shut, you wouldn't be very happy" one Apple parts supplier told Reuters.
The move stands to boost the revenue Apple gets from replacing the phone's batteries. Apple charges users $79 to replace the battery of an iPhone that is no longer under warranty.
The company reportedly has hired Goldman Sachs to find potential suitors. The stock jumps 27% in heavy trading.
By Theresa McCabe, TheStreet
Several potential suitors, including buyout firm KKR (KKR), have approached Warner Music in recent months about buying the record company, the New York Times reported, citing an executive familiar with the matter. As of 2 p.m., the shares were up 27% to $6.
The reports are emerging on the same day Warner Music announced that a Paris court had found CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. guilty of charges related to transactions Bronfman made in Vivendi Universal stock in 2002. The court accused Bronfman of insider trading. He was the vice chairman of Vivendi at the time.
The court will fine him and issue a suspended sentence. Bronfman said in a statement today that he will appeal the decision, saying, "My trades were proper."
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Serious issues like drought and the deterioration of the developed world spell opportunity for this industry leader.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the holiday-shortened week on a mixed note as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1%, while the S&P 500 added 0.1% with seven sectors posting gains.
Equity indices faced an uphill climb from the opening bell after disappointing quarterly results from Google (GOOG 536.10, -20.44) and IBM (IBM 190.04, -6.36) weighed on the early sentiment. Google reported earnings $0.15 below the Capital IQ consensus estimate on revenue of $15.42 ... More
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