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As Egypt burns, market volatility spikes in what's shaping up to be the worst correction since August.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jan 28, 2011 3:20PM

Stocks were plunging Friday in reaction to political turmoil in Egypt and a weaker-than-expected GDP report. With the financial news networks broadcasting images of chaos in Cairo, along with big declines in the major stock averages, I can't help but think of the similarities between today and the May 6 flash crash meltdown that occurred during protests in Greece.

 

But really, the upheaval in places like Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan is merely providing the catalyst for a sell-off. The underlying conditions for a correction were already there. There have been plenty of signs over the past two weeks that investors were becoming overconfident and that stocks were rising on narrow support. I talked about some of these in my column this week as well as in blog posts here and here

 

So now what? By one measure, stocks appear to be entering their worst market correction since last summer. Here's why.

 

My Joseph Piotroski-inspired portfolio returned 56% in 2010. Here's how it works.

By John Reese Jan 28, 2011 3:01PM

By John Reese, Validea.com


Living in a society that is obsessed with celebrity, it's important not to confuse fame with success. While many of the pundits you'll see on television or read on the Internet have attained celebrity status, few have attained the types of track records that merit that status -- or your attention.

 

Conversely, some of the world's most successful investors -- whose advice does merit your attention -- are men and women you've probably never heard of. Joseph Piotroski is a great example. You won't find Piotroski offering investment tips on TV, or Tweeting his latest stock picks on the Internet. In fact, Piotroski isn't even a professional investor; he's an associate professor of accounting at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

 

Any company with a business connection to Egypt is suffering in the markets today.

By Jim J. Jubak Jan 28, 2011 2:55PM
Jim JubakThe news from Egypt and the Middle East is trumping everything else in the financial markets now.

The situation continues to worsen in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak has imposed a 6 p.m.-to-7 a.m. curfew in the cities of Cairo, Suez and Alexandria in an attempt to suppress a challenge to his 30-year-old regime. (The Associated Press, citing Egyptian state television, is reporting that the headquarters of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic party is on fire and that the curfew has been extended nationwide.)

The government has shut down Internet and mobile phone service in effort to disrupt communications among the loosely organized opposition and to limit the transmission of video of the protests and police attacks on protesters. The fourth day of protests began shortly after the end of Friday prayers.
Of course, the shares of any company with a business connection to Egypt are being pummeled. For example, Apache (APA), which has onshore oil operations in Egypt, is down 2.7% as of 12:15 EST after falling 4.8% Thursday.
 
Tags: goldoil

The billionaire investor has a variety of options for the mountains of money Berkshire Hathaway has amassed.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 28, 2011 1:33PM

Image: Cash (© MedioImages/Jupiterimages)

 

Improving market conditions have been a major benefit for Warren Buffett, who has remained bullish through this long, arduous global economic recovery.

 

Now the Omaha, Neb., native is sitting on a mountain of cash, leading many analysts, commentators and fans to speculate about what the world's third-richest man might do with it. According to a Sept. 30 filing, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) has $34.46 billion in cash.

 

Buffett is unlikely to stand by and watch his money pile up, saying in the past that he doesn't favor cash as a long-term investment.

 

In an interview on "The Charlie Rose Show," Buffett insisted that although Berkshire Hathaway always has enough cash, he sees cash as a bad long-term investment. He said he's usually unhappy when he finds excess cash.


Likening cash to oxygen, the legendary investor said it is important to have cash but unnecessary to have it in excess. Rather than hoard cash, he would rather own a strong business.

 

Amyris battles malaria and turns sugarcane into diesel.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jan 28, 2011 12:52PM

Our pick of the day could lose you a lot of money. On the other hand, it could hit big. Welcome to the world of the "Dada Porfolio!" Read Sean Sun's account of Amyris only if you're fan of Amityville and risk.

 

Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor

 

Last week I talked about why I was considering Amyris Biotechnologies (AMRS) for the Dada Portfolio. To recap:

  • Its very cool technology can transform yeast into microfactories capable of producing almost any biological molecule.
  • It's already successfully produced artemisinin, an antimalarial drug.
  • It's currently focused on Biofene, an alternative petroleum replacement that Amyris can produce from Brazilian sugarcane
 

The government breaks down the financial meltdown. Intel tries to be cool. A lawsuit asks Taco Bell: Where's the beef?

By TheStreet Staff Jan 28, 2011 12:01PM

Image: Wall Street sign (© Corbis/SuperStock)

 

Here is this week's roundup of the dumbest actions on Wall Street.

 

5. The unabridged guide to financial meltdowns

In just over 630 pages, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission laid out its indictment of Wall Street titans including Goldman Sachs (GS) and Bank of America (BAC), extinct Wall Street species like Merrill Lynch, and lenders that were synonymous with the mortgage crisis, like Countrywide Financial. Government entities including the Securities and Exchange Commission, and even more so, the Federal Reserve, are chided in a way that would make Fed-buster Ron Paul very happy.

 

Truth be told, 633 pages might not be enough to do justice to the idiocy that passed for an advanced, well-functioning economy in the period leading up to the crisis. Phil Angelides, the commission's chairman, who went head-to-head with many financial bigwigs during the FCIC hearing process -- and even forced Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett to testify under order of subpoena -- took issue with the idea that no one could have seen this crisis coming.  

 

Opinion: As other fast-food joints roll out premium menu items, Taco Bell's challenge to accusations about its beef shows it cares more about offering inexpensive eats.

By InvestorPlace Jan 28, 2011 10:20AM

Taco Bell restaurant in Los Angeles / © Reed Saxon/APBy Jeff Reeves, InvestorPlace.com

 

At fast-food restaurants, there has been a recent focus on raising quality and using natural ingredients. Wendy's has introduced skin-on fries with natural sea salt and has embraced the slogan "Quality is our recipe." Burger King revamped its breakfast menu to include fancy offerings such as a ciabatta breakfast sandwich with eggs, ham, bacon, tomato and cheese. And then there's McDonald's, which has seen sales soar, thanks to a push for a premium line of McCafe beverages that make it as much of a destination for mochas as for McNuggets.

 

Then you have the other side of the coin in Taco Bell, which now faces a lawsuit charging its taco filling isn't even beef.

 

Regardless of whether the legal action has merit -- the company has started denying the claims vehemently in a recent ad blitz -- it highlights the fact that Taco Bell hasn't really been focused on quality recently as other restaurants have. And this should serve as a wake-up call for the company and its corporate parent, Yum Brands (YUM).

 

The online retail giant is run brilliantly -- just not for the stock market.

By Jim Cramer Jan 28, 2011 9:49AM

jim cramer of thestreetWhen push comes to shove, Amazon (AMZN) doesn't care enough about stockholders -- short term, at least.

 

The mantra of CEOs these days, the good ones, is "profitable growth for all." I hear it from Ford (F), and I hear the echoes of it from all of the great turnarounds in the industrial arena.

 

The problem is time frame. Amazon truly does believe in growth, but it has not always believed in profitable growth, and it has never cared about smooth profitable growth. So if it sees an opportunity, or recognizes that the stock and its accoutrements have to be ignored for a while, or that people expect too much right now, then it just lowers the boom on you.

 

That is why it is so hard to own.

 

Continued pessimism about Brazil's inflation prospects raises concerns about the country's big domestic banks.

By Jim J. Jubak Jan 27, 2011 7:06PM
Jim JubakThis is a very tough call.

If I owned more than one Brazilian bank stock, I might not sell Banco Bradesco (BBD) out of Jubak’s Picks today -- but I don’t.

If I had less exposure to Brazilian stocks in my Jubak's Picks portfolio, I might not sell Banco Bradesco -- but I own Cosan (CZZ), Gerdau (GGB), and AmBev (ABV) as well.

If I could sell just a part of my position in the stock, I would sell just part of the position -- but I can’t in Jubak’s Picks.

So today, Jan. 27, I’m selling Banco Bradesco out of this portfolio with a 5.8% loss since I bought it on Nov. 17, 2010. What has pushed my concern to action is continued pessimism among Brazilian analysts and economists about the inflation picture in Brazil. Economists have raised their 2011 inflation forecast for a seventh straight week to 5.53% from 5.42%. For 2012, the forecast rose to 4.54% from 4.5%.
 

The automaker says it will bring the electric car to all 50 states this year as it fights for a share of the ecofriendly vehicle market.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 27, 2011 4:10PM

By Ted Reed, TheStreet

 

General Motors (GM) says it will speed up the Volt rollout, making the innovative car available in every state by the end of the year.

 

"We're accelerating our launch plan," said Rick Scheidt, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet Marketing, in a statement. "This is the right thing to do for our customers and our dealers who are seeing increased traffic onto their showroom floors."

 

Volts have been delivered to customers in the five states -- California, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Texas -- and in Washington, D.C. Customer deliveries in Michigan will begin this spring.

 

In a strong message to Comcast and other foes, the online movie streamer posts a list of the best Internet providers for watching videos.

By Kim Peterson Jan 27, 2011 2:01PM
Credit: (© Paul Sakuma/AP)
Caption: Netflix DVDLooks like Netflix (NFLX) is pulling out the big guns in its brewing battle against cable operators.

The company is sending a message to the Comcasts and Time Warners of the world: If you mess with us, we'll tell your customers about it.

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix chief Reed Hastings said that starting today, he'll post a list of the Internet providers offering the best and most consistent experience for streaming videos. The top one, he says, is Charter Communications (CHTR).

This gets at the heart of some ongoing nastiness between Netflix and a few cable companies -- namely, Comcast (CMCSA). Netflix customers are bandwidth hogs, and some reports say that at peak times, their video streaming ties up 20% of downstream Internet traffic. 

Global X debuts a pair of broad, style-specific funds, each with a different approach to tracking growth in developing economies.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 27, 2011 12:27PM

Image: Globe (© image100/Corbis)By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

Emerging markets remain attractive regions of the globe for internationally minded investors. Now with the launch of two new products, investors can gain exposure to this slice of the geographic pie from a style perspective.

 

Global X has become a particularly exciting member of the ETF industry to watch. Although this fund sponsor initially generated a following within the ETF industry with its collection of international products that tap into previously unexplored corners of the globe, more recently it has expanded its overall focus, attracting crowds of commodity-hungry investors with the release of precious and base metal-related miner funds, including the Global X Silver Miners ETF (SIL) and the Global X Uranium ETF (URA).

 

With the launch of the Global X Russell Emerging Market Growth ETF (EMGX) and the Global X Russell Emerging Market Value ETF (EMVX), Global X has once again returned to its international roots. However, for Global X, these  funds highlight an interesting new focus.

 

The hard-drive maker remains compelling after an interesting earnings report.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jan 27, 2011 11:49AM

And here I was, exactly two weeks ago, commenting on how the market expects very little from Western Digital. Turns out, it wants to change the economics of the entire industry on its own. Jim Mueller explains.

 

Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor

 

At the beginning of the month, I bought an initial 2% position in hard drive maker Western Digital (WDC) for my Messed-Up Expectations portfolio. At the time, I believed that the market was underappreciating the continued need for inexpensive mass storage for digital content. After Tuesday's earnings release, I believe that's even more the case.

 

Not only that, but I believe the market's short-sighted concern with management's comments about over-supply of hard disk drives in the pipeline and how Western Digital is going to deal with that is continuing to hold the price down, giving us an opportunity to buy more shares.

 

A drop of 19 basis points would have been bad -- but 190? It's a reminder that you would rather be producing commodities than consuming them right now.

By Jim Cramer Jan 27, 2011 10:54AM

Jim cramerAnyone who has listened to conference calls so far this quarter has to be struck by the total relentlessness of the analysts when it comes to gross margins -- to the point where some analysts are openly questioning the success of projects if the gross margins aren't good enough.

 

I am not kidding. Wednesday's Verizon (VZ) call had a question right at the top about whether some dramatic growth in FiOS could be hurting the company!

 

Which is why I blanched when I saw the gross-margin numbers from Procter & Gamble (PG) this morning, a decline of 190 basis points.

 

Hey, 19 basis points would be bad. But 190!?!

 

Now, that's a negative!

 

The company is so well run that it was still able to deliver the numbers. Procter & Gamble is much better than it used to be. This margin contraction is truly ugly, however, and it is a reminder that you would rather be producing commodities than consuming them.

 

Boeing shares slid today after a grim earnings report. The drop is one more chance to get into the stock.

By Jim J. Jubak Jan 26, 2011 5:05PM
Jim JubakWhat can I say? It could have been worse. And the company (as well as investors) dodged the big bullet.

Boeing (BA) reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.56 a share, including 45 cents in special items. Those special items included a 50 cents-a-share gain from a tax settlement. Wall Street analysts had been looking for $1.12 a share without special items. 

Revenue dropped almost 8% from the fourth quarter of 2009 and, at $16.6 billion, fell short of the Wall Street consensus of $17 billion.

Looking out at 2011, things weren’t much better. The company told Wall Street to expect earnings of $3.80 to $4 a share for the year. That’s well below the consensus projection of $4.55 a share. The big ding in 2011 comes from increased pension expenses, projected to cost the company 58 cents a share more in 2011 than in 2010.
 

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[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices closed out the month of August on a modestly higher note. The Russell 2000 (+0.6%) and Nasdaq Composite (+0.5%) finished ahead of the S&P 500 (+0.3%), which extended its August gain to 3.8%. Blue chips lagged with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) spending the bulk of the session in the red.

The final week of August represented one of the quietest stretches for the stock market so far this year. The first four sessions of the week produced the ... More


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