Energy boom makes oil a safe haven
Oil becomes a surprising haven

The idea of US crude being a shelter from turmoil abroad may not be as far fetched as it seems.


These funds all offer investors direct access to the semiconductor industry, but each has its own strategy.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 19, 2011 10:41AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet


As I explained Monday, this week's busy earnings calendar is laden with companies from across the technology industry. I highlighted the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Technology Sector Index Fund (IYW) as a product investors can turn to in order to gain adequate exposure to a number of these companies. However, hands-on investors can also tailor their IT exposure to suit their specific desires through a variety of subsector tech ETFs.


For instance, investors can use ETFs to home in on the semiconductor industry, which will be a major focus of this week's earnings-related press. Texas Instruments (TXN) kicked things off on Monday, and three other major names from this region of the tech market will follow suit this week: Intel (INTC), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Broadcom (BRCM) and Nvidia (NVDA) are slated to report in late April and May, respectively.


After failing to bolster its brick-and-mortar business, the company forms a digital retail division.

By InvestorPlace Apr 19, 2011 8:40AM

investorplace logoIt's been a busy few months for Wal-Mart (WMT). The retail giant has said it will improve the nutritional value of its store brands, build smaller stores in urban areas, deliver groceries to inner-city residents and return to its roots by offering lower prices every day.

But if you think Wal-Mart is settling down, think again. According to reports, Wal-Mart has agreed to buy social-media startup Kosmix and form a digital sales division with the hip name @WalmartLabs.

The world’s largest retailer is trying to say loud and clear that it wants to be taken seriously as an online retailer. But amid all these other efforts, is Wal-Mart simply a jack of all retail trades and a master of none? Or can an online push really prop up sliding sales?


The stock of Central European Distribution is cheap enough to buy, but don't expect a fast jump.

By Jim J. Jubak Apr 18, 2011 4:16PM
Jim JubakCentral European Distribution (CEDC) hit a new 52-week low on April 13.

At $10 or so a share -- down from $22.85 on Feb. 28, and from a 52-week high near $40 a share back in the spring of 2010 -- the stock is cheap enough to buy. I think $12 a share is a reasonable six-month target.

But don’t expect a quick bounce to $12, or a fast run to anything above that. Results in 2010 were so bad that they have -- probably -- put a floor under these shares. But 2010 also left management’s credibility in tatters, and it’s going to take a few quarters in which the company actually delivers on its projections before investors believe a word management utters.

The immediate problem was the company’s March 1 earnings release.

The billionaire investor recoups the loan he gave the investment bank during the financial crisis. With video on Goldman Sachs' earnings.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 18, 2011 4:11PM


Eric Rosenbaum, TheStreet


Goldman Sachs (GS) has repaid Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) the $5.5 billion that Chairman Warren Buffett lent Goldman during the financial crisis, CNBCreported Monday.


The $5.5 billion payment made by Goldman Sachs to Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway covered $5 billion in preferred shares and a $500 million dividend payment.


There have been signs for months that Goldman Sachs was preparing to repay Buffett. In March, Goldman Sachs received approval from the Federal Reserve to buy back the preferred stock bought by Buffett in September 2008. Goldman paid an additional 10% penalty to redeem the shares and had previously indicated that April 18 would be the repurchase date.


Russell 2000 shares have soared, prompting predictions of a pullback that favors large stocks.

By Kim Peterson Apr 18, 2011 4:03PM
The smallest stocks have been the market darlings for a while now, but they've become so expensive that investors are starting to pause.

So are large-caps are making a comeback? That could be the case, if history is a decent guide.

Small-cap stocks have run so high that the Russell 2000 Index, which includes 2,000 of the smallest ones, is nearing 2% of a record close, The Wall Street Journal reports. By contrast, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is 13% from a record close, and the S&P 500 index is 16% away.

Some of the hottest small-cap stocks include Dollar Thrifty Auto (DTG), up about 44% year to date. Other stars include Pier 1 Imports (PIR), Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) and Select Comfort (SCSS).

Post continues after this video interview about top small-cap picks: 

Investment managers offer their best stock ideas in response to Standard & Poor's decision to lower its rating outlook for US debt to 'negative.'

By TheStreet Staff Apr 18, 2011 3:32PM

By Robert Holmes, TheStreet


Standard & Poor's decision to lower its outlook on the long-term rating of US sovereign debt to "negative" may have caught investors by surprise, but Michael Pento, senior economist with Euro Pacific Capital, has been making this case for years.


"It's not a surprise to me," Pento says of Standard & Poor's revision. "It's clearly late. But at least S&P is now waking up to the fact that the American sovereign debt picture is unsustainable and eventually we have to default on our debt in some form."


Just how late is S&P's revision to its outlook of U.S. debt? "I heard that the ratings agencies just downgraded the Titanic's chances of crossing the Atlantic," Pento jokes.


Investors have plowed more than $1 trillion into exchange-traded funds, which are getting increasingly complex.

By Kim Peterson Apr 18, 2011 2:58PM
Exchange-traded funds are among the most actively-traded securities, The Wall Street Journal reports. They're so popular, in fact, that they are changing the way stocks and bonds trade.

ETFs are mutual funds that track an index, but unlike most mutual funds, they can be traded like stocks throughout the day. They're cheaper to trade than mutual funds, and they get traded a lot, creating a volatility that some experts are uncomfortable with.

ETFs started out simply, with the first one, SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), launching in 1993 to track the S&P 500-stock index, the Journal reports. But they've become increasingly complicated as Wall Street creates more complex schemes to make a buck. Some of the crazier ETFs can implode in an up-and-down market. In last May's Flash Crash, 70% of the securities that fell the most were ETFs, the Journal reports.

It's hard to ignore these funds, given their popularity. Investors have loaded more than $1 trillion into ETFs. But how can you control these potentially wild horses?

Post continues after this video about whether ETFs have gone too far: 

Though the bank's stock is stuck below $5 and its first-quarter earnings fell, investors have been piling into the company. With video analysis on Citigroup's financial results.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 18, 2011 12:43PM

By Frank Byrt, TheStreet


If you're an individual investor looking for a rifle-shot buy, Citigroup (C) may not be it, given the compelling alternatives in energy, metals and industrial stocks. But if you follow the wizened heads who run some of the biggest U.S. mutual funds, pay attention.


Mutual fund managers are piling into financial services, which badly lagged other sectors last year after rebounding strongly in 2009.


That's because Citigroup has been beaten down and may be at a generational low that's worth a look, since it's the world's largest and most diverse financial-services company. Big institutional investors are starting to load up on the stock.


Improving prospects for the industry, attractive yields and a positive technical picture make these plays worthy of consideration.

By Apr 18, 2011 11:33AM
By Tom Aspray,

Health care is one of my favorite sectors for the second quarter, and though biotech stocks have the best potential for dramatic gains, another way to participate in the positive action in this sector is through REITs.

The Dow Jones Specialty REITs Index has been outperforming the S&P 500 for some time, and both Medical Properties Trust (MPW) and Health Care REIT (HCN) have just broken through major resistance and have quite high yields.

Management plots an uncertain future

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Apr 18, 2011 11:28AM

Credit: (© Gary Malerba/AP)
Caption: Best Buy storeBy Rick Aristotle Munarriz


Best Buy (BBY) laid out its road map during last week's analyst day. It knows where it wants to be, and that place is somewhere else.


The meandering consumer electronics giant is looking to scale back its big-box presence in the coming years, realizing that consumers have moved on. Back-to-back quarters of cascading revenue, comps and earnings can be as sobering as a cup of coffee rimmed with smelling salts.


In an effort to regain relevance before it becomes the second coming -- and going -- of Circuit City, Best Buy is spelling out four paths for growth. 


Funds tracking industrials, financials and techs should see an active week as key holdings report first-quarter earnings. With video.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 18, 2011 10:47AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet


Here are five ETFs to watch this week.


1.    Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI)


XLI will be in the spotlight as six of the fund's top 15 holdings release their earnings performance reports over the course of the next week. Companies scheduled include General Electric (GE), Honeywell (HON), United Technologies (UTX), Union Pacific (UNP), Danaher (DHR) and CSX.


Although XLI witnessed an impressive run during the opening months of 2011, the fund has seen some choppy action in March and April. It will be interesting to see if earnings numbers from top holdings will be able to push the fund higher in the near term.

Tags: etf

The German carmaker's ambitious goal to triple domestic sales relies on the stylish new Bug, a redesigned Passat and a new Tennesee auto plant. Includes video.

By InvestorPlace Apr 18, 2011 10:25AM

By Jeff Reeves, editor of


investorplace logoWith more than 21 million cars manufactured under the Beetle nameplate in the past 60-plus years, it's a bit shocking to consider the iconic Volkswagen car has seen only two major design schemes. Such big numbers on so few changes are proof of the compact car's resonance with motorists worldwide.


But with only 300,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. last year -- a mere 2.5% of the 11.6 million automobiles Americans purchased in 2010 -- Volkswagen has a long way to go before it is a serious player in the domestic auto market.


Stocks could rally as earnings season goes full swing during this holiday-shortened week.

By Jamie Dlugosch Apr 18, 2011 9:52AM

Earnings season began last week with a thud as Alcoa started things off with an earnings report that was less than stellar. Investors sold shares hard and took the market down with Alcoa.


Only a late-week rally minimized the damage. Given that there were only a few data points offered during the week investors will have to wait for this week’s numbers before coming to any conclusions about the health of U.S. corporations.


I’m still expecting strong numbers for this earnings season and I would trade long accordingly. This week we get a larger volume of reports. How the market reacts to the news will go a long way to telling us if stocks have more room to run or will pull back from current levels.


My ETF to trade given my expectations for the market is the iShares Russell 2,000 Index (IWM).

Tags: etf

The central bank has a tall order in the wake of the financial crisis, and its track record is far from perfect.

By InvestorPlace Apr 18, 2011 6:15AM

By Jeff Reeves, editor of

investorplace logoWashington’s biggest problem right now isn’t the barely civil debate over the deficit or the looming deadline over the nation’s debt ceiling. Spending issues are surely a headache, but they probably don’t even make the top three behind the interrelated economic issues of the day – inflation, unemployment and general distrust of the Fed.


Many believe the Federal Reserve has failed in its dual responsibilities of controlling inflation and maximizing employment, and the institution is starting to feel the heat. And if the conversation in Washington doesn’t change back to economic issues like inflating gas prices and a stubbornly high unemployment rate, both Barack Obama and Ben Bernanke will be in deep trouble.


But is it fair to blame the Fed chairman for the mess we’re in, or the president for appointing Bernanke to a second term?


Even though the major averages closed lower for the week, they were also well off their lows. This should set the stage for a resumption of the rally next week.

By Apr 16, 2011 10:37AM
By Tom Aspray,

All of the concerns that hung over the market going into last week were exacerbated by earnings disappointments in many of the key sectors (Google (GOOG), Infosys (INFY) and Bank of America (BAC), to name three).

Even though the major averages closed lower for the week, they were also well off their lows. This should set the stage for a resumption of the rally next week.

Globally, the focus was on inflation last week. It was higher than expected in China, India, and in the Eurozone. This increases the move towards higher global interest rates.

The downgrade of Ireland's debt and restructuring in Greece also hung over the markets, though Europe held up surprisingly well.

Emerging markets overall declined less than those in the United States -- and while the iShares MSCI Emerging Market Index (EEM) pulled back 3.7% from its recent highs, some of the emerging-market country ETFs held up much better. This is clearly a positive sign, and they will continue to be helped by a weaker dollar. 


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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market began the last week of July on a quiet note with the S&P 500 ending less than a point above its flat line. Like the benchmark index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) also posted a slim gain, while the Russell 2000 (-0.5%) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.1%) lagged throughout the session.

The major averages were awakened from their weekend slumber with an opening retreat that pressured the S&P 500 below its 20-day moving average (1975). Even though ... More


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