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The most attractive way to play the metal's potential upside story -- with the least downside risk -- could be Freeport McMoRan.

By Jim J. Jubak Jan 24, 2011 6:32PM
Jim JubakWhat if you’re wrong? Always a possibility worth contemplating.

Last week, I gave you a pretty pessimistic view of the prospects for the world’s emerging stock markets -- and emerging-economy-dependent stocks such as those of commodity producers -- over the next six months. The fight to control inflation in these economies will require repeated interest-rate increases that will slow economic growth. That will result in a correction of about 20%, I concluded.

If that were a dead certainty, we’d all know what to do right now. Sell all your emerging-market stocks and all the shares you own of commodities and materials companies.

But very little is a certainty in investing. U.S. economic growth could pick up quickly and strongly enough so that increased demand from the United States balances out lower demand from China and the rest of the emerging-economy gang.
 

In an effort to bring in more revenue and customer loyalty, airlines are selling all kinds of extras.

By Kim Peterson Jan 24, 2011 4:06PM
Image: Airline (© Blend Images/SuperStock)Airlines already pile one fee after another on customers. Now, they're trying a new strategy to bring in more revenue: Selling lots of perks.

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.

By Kim Peterson Jan 24, 2011 2:41PM
Image: Wine glass (© Stockbyte/Photolibrary)The recession prompted many wine snobs to acknowledge the obvious: Lower-priced vino can taste just as good as the wallet-breaking variety.

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.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jan 24, 2011 2:40PM

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.

 

The business
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.

By Kim Peterson Jan 24, 2011 2:14PM
Image: Marijuana (© Halfdark/fStop/Getty Images)Marijuana in a soda? Yes, if one California company gets its way.

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 TheStreet Staff Jan 24, 2011 2:10PM

By Robert Holmes, TheStreet

 

Stock investors looking for the biggest gains this year may find themselves rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers to beat the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

 

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 TheStreet Staff Jan 24, 2011 12:32PM

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 InvestorPlace Jan 24, 2011 12:20PM

Image: Bakery (© Corbis)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 TheStreet Staff Jan 24, 2011 11:55AM

Image: Exchange-traded funds (© ThinkStock/SuperStock)By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

Here are five ETFs to watch this week.

 

1.Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI)


General Electric's (GE) quarterly earnings beat analysts' estimates last week, indicating once again that the U.S. conglomerate remains steadily on the road to recovery.

 

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 InvestorPlace Jan 24, 2011 10:50AM

Image: Groceries (© Jeffrey Hamilton/Getty Images/Getty Images)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.

By Jamie Dlugosch Jan 24, 2011 10:30AM

Image: Investments circled in newspaper (© Digital Vision/Getty Images)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.

 
Tags: etfoil

A brutal retreat may be in store for some industrial and rail shares that have had a prolonged advance from last year.

By Jim Cramer Jan 24, 2011 10:20AM

jim cramer of thestreetA 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.

By Jim J. Jubak Jan 21, 2011 4:51PM
Jim JubakThursday, I posted that I thought investors were looking at a 5% or so pullback in U.S. stocks -- really nothing more than a necessary decline after a long rally so that stocks can build a new base.

In other words, just one of those dips that you have to live through as an investor. I continue to look for a decent to good 2011.

For U.S. stocks.

Overseas markets are in for rougher going in the first half of 2011. (And yes, I am more pessimistic about overseas markets than I was just a couple of weeks ago.) Many overseas markets are looking at a real correction. 
 

While large stocks push to new highs, a lack of participation by smaller issues warns of trouble.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jan 21, 2011 4:42PM

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.

By Kim Peterson Jan 21, 2011 3:16PM
Steve Jobs (©Paul Sakuma/AP)Apple (AAPL) is making it much harder to replace the battery in the iPhone 4. According to news reports, Apple stores are removing the screws from iPhone 4s brought in for servicing and replacing them with tamper-proof screws.

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. 

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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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