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The iconic gadget -- owned by 1 of every 26 people on Earth -- seems doomed to obsolescence.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 30, 2010 11:37AM

more finance and investment news from thestreet.com

By Jason Notte, TheStreet

 

As white earbuds yellow, dancing silhouettes slow and play lists share space with phone contacts, consumers are tuning out Apple's (AAPL) iPod.

 

A bouncy Apple announced better-than-expected quarterly earnings last week but missed a beat: iPod sales fell 14% from the quarter before and 4% from a year earlier.


Though iPod revenue actually rose 4% from last year, it tumbled 17% from the previous quarter, when it dropped 19%.

 

The American furniture-maker is well-run and makes a good play if you believe in the housing recovery.

By Jim Cramer Jul 30, 2010 9:05AM

jim cramerBy Jim Cramer, TheStreet

 

Why in heck is Ethan Allen (ETH) still in business? How can we afford to make furniture anymore? How can we do custom design. Isn't it too expensive? Upholstery? Must be all Chinese by now, no?

 

The answer is that Ethan Allen can stay in business, unlike pretty much every other furniture-maker in the U.S., because Farooq Kathwari runs the company and he won't let it fail. The man's been in charge for 25 years, a period during which pretty much everyone else went under.

 

He's having a pretty darned good year, too -- one that's much better than last year (admittedly easy comparison) and one during which the gross margins are looking really amazing. He used the Great Recession to close a huge, unwieldy distribution and manufacturing system -- it is a domestic, vertically integrated company -- and streamline the whole process from the creation to the stores. It has also shifted toward the high end, to custom design, and now makes more than half of the product with cloth -- upholstered -- not just its hallmark wood.

 

 

Looks like fertilizer purchases could go up this year and next, tightening supplies.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 29, 2010 7:24PM

Jim JubakListening to the Potash of Saskatchewan (POT) conference call Thursday, I kept thinking that someone was going to yell, "Cue the plague of locusts!"


In Russia, grain production will fall by 20% because of drought, the company said. Canadian wheat production is forecast to be down 20% because of flooding during planting season. In India, after a string of bad harvests from insufficient monsoon rains, too much rain is rotting crops in storage. 


The company forecast that China would have to import about 75% of its soybean needs in 2010 and 1.7 million tons of corn. India could hit record levels of grain imports. 

 

The company tells its employees to keep e-mails and other electronic communications clean.

By Kim Peterson Jul 29, 2010 2:56PM

frustrated © Comstock/JupiterimagesGoldman Sachs (GS) employees will need to keep their potty mouths in check from now on.

The Wall Street company is trying to clean up employee e-mails and recently told everyone to keep the salty language out of all electronic communications, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Telling a trader to keep it clean is like telling a fish to stop swimming, but Goldman has to try, because coarse e-mails keep biting it in the, uh, well, let's just move on.

 

With Redbox, Netflix and longtime mismanagement dogging the video-rental company, it's only a matter of time before it folds.

By TheWrap Jul 29, 2010 2:15PM

The question is not whether Blockbuster (BBI) will fold but when.


The Dallas-based movie-rental chain has struggled mightily against upstarts Redbox and Netflix, but Wall Street is openly predicting that the home-entertainment veteran is headed to the movie palace in the sky. 

Blockbuster recently made a list of brands that analysts think will vanish by the end of 2011, according to 24/7 Wall St.

 

I'm making some changes to my Wall Street Survivor portfolio

By Jim Van Meerten Jul 29, 2010 11:29AM
I'm making some changes to my Wall Street Survivor portfolio. I'm selling Hospira (HSP) and replacing it with a stock I found screening on Barchart for stocks hitting the most frequent new highs I came across the Turkish Investment Fund (TKF).

It's a nondiversified, closed-end management investment company managed by Morgan Stanley. The Fund's investment objective is long-term capital appreciation through investments primarily in equity securities of Turkish corporations.

The fund is concentrated in 23 issues and the top 5 comprise over 45% of the portfolio. 87% of the fund is in 5 sectors: Financial Services, Consumer Goods, Telecom, Industrial and Energy.
 

The online mega-merchant appears to be cornering the market for low-priced e-readers.

By InvestorPlace Jul 29, 2010 9:37AM

Credit: (© Amazon.com)
Caption: Amazon KindleBy Jeff Reeves, Editor of InvestorPlace.com

 

Amazon.com (AMZN) slashed the price of its Kindle e-reader to $189 from $259 after the launch of the iPad in April. Thanks in part to the new low price, the company was overwhelmed by demand in recent months as consumers snatched up the innovative gadget. As a result of brisk Kindle sales, customers have been downloading record numbers of e-books from Amazon's online bookstore.

 

If a $70 price cut could fuel that burst in sales, just think of the demand Amazon will see by knocking an additional $50 off the price.

 

That's right -- a Wi-Fi-ready Kindle can now be yours for the low price of just $139. Preorder now, and you can get it by Aug. 27.  

 

Even as Congress prepares to embrace this cleaner, abundant domestic fuel, the sector's stocks aren't moving yet. But when they do, these plays could pay off.

By Jim Cramer Jul 29, 2010 8:38AM

jim cramerBy Jim Cramer, TheStreet

 

The natural-gas act is about to go through, and nobody really believes it.

 

Last night on "Mad Money" I spoke to John Larson, the congressman from Connecticut and the man behind the House's thrust into natural-gas-powered trucks. Larson has been heavily influenced by Boone Pickens on this one, with Boone shrewdly pushing for the use of all domestic fuels -- natural gas being the only one we have in abundance.

 

With strong support in the Senate from Harry Reid and this push by Larson, it will be pretty impossible to stop a large rebate or tax credit for fleets to buy trucks that use cleaner, cheaper natural gas. And when I say "impossible to stop," I mean neither the coal lobby nor its president in the White House can seem to buck this one.

 

Teva Pharmaceuticals could soon see generic competition for one of the most lucrative drugs in its arsenal.

By Jim J. Jubak Jul 28, 2010 5:37PM

Jim JubakIt's great earnings for the second quarter (announced Tuesday) versus long-term worries for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA) right now. 


With an assist from some selling on good news, long-term worries are winning at the moment.


For the second quarter, earnings climbed to $1.08 a share. That was an increase of 30% from the 83 cents a share in the second quarter of 2009. The Wall Street consensus had projected earnings of $1.04.

 

There's evidence in the credit derivatives market that the bond bears are packing it in and moving on.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jul 28, 2010 4:42PM

MirhaydariAlthough stocks have been sliding the past two days -- in what appears to be a typical pullback within a medium-term uptrend -- there are still plenty of reasons higher prices are likely over the horizon.

 

Company sales surveys conducted by the ISI Group rose by the largest amount in four months last week. Job gains look set to continue into the second half of the year. Business confidence is up in Germany. Employment is rising at a 3% annual rate in Taiwan. And exports are surging in Japan and South Korea.

 

Bank of America introduces the monthly fee in Georgia and might expand it to other states.

By Kim Peterson Jul 28, 2010 4:01PM
Broken piggy bank © CorbisIt now costs some Georgia residents $8.95 a month to receive monthly statements from Bank of America (BAC) in the mail. Because, you know, it's so expensive for the bank's computers to print out and mail the paper.

And customers outside Georgia may soon get hit with the fee, too. The bank plans to introduce the fee in other markets, reports American Banker.

It's no surprise as banks and airlines try to one-up each other to see who can nickel-and-dime their customers the most. 

Look for pessimism to return by late August. September is shaping up to be a tough month.

By Jamie Dlugosch Jul 28, 2010 3:50PM

I interrupt this summer rally with an important message to all investors: Market psychology has not changed despite heady gains in stocks.

 

A market that was grossly oversold has recovered nicely in July. The spark for the rally has been second-quarter earnings that have not disappointed investors and reinforced the idea that the market is cheap, at least in the short term.

 

Once the euphoria of positive earnings ends in late August, pessimism is likely to return. September is shaping up to be quite the vacuum in terms of news impacting stock valuations.

 

Dumping its Phibro trading unit was a stroke of genius -- and we don't say 'genius' and 'Citigroup' together very often.

By Kim Peterson Jul 28, 2010 2:46PM
Losing Money © Don Farrall / Photodisc Green / Getty ImagesSay what you will about Citigroup (C), but its sale of the controversial Phibro unit now looks like pure genius.

Phibro, if you'll recall, was the home of Andrew Hall, the rockstar commodities trader that was due a $100 million bonus. Hall became the poster child for excessive Wall Street compensation at a time when Citigroup was getting a $45 billion government bailout.

Did one employee really deserve $100 million? That drama was big news at Citigroup, and no doubt factored hugely in the bank's decision to sell Phibro last year to Occidental Petroleum (OXY) for a price rumored to be around $450 million. 

A Taiwanese smart-phone maker will debut 4 handsets to beat Apple to Asian customers.

By InvestorPlace Jul 28, 2010 1:29PM

China business © Brooklyn Production/CorbisIf Apple (AAPL) can sell more than 1.7 million iPhone 4 units in just three days in the U.S., it’s hard to imagine how long the lines will be when it hits the streets of China.


The People’s Republic is the world’s largest mobile phone market, and negotiations were finalized yesterday on a contract with a Chinese telecom provider to land the iPhone 4 on mainland China very soon.

 

With terms of its contract with telecom carrier China Unicom Ltd. (CHU) set to be announced on Aug. 1, things do seem to be lining up for Apple to expand its approximate 7% share of sales in the Chinese market ending the second quarter.

 

But AAPL shareholders shouldn’t uncork the champagne just yet.

 

The battleground for social networking: Online video games?

By InvestorPlace Jul 28, 2010 12:59PM

Online shopping © Comstock/SuperStockIt's getting increasingly difficult to escape the influence of Facebook. Every product you buy, from your non-dairy creamer to Dr. Scholl's insoles, invites you to become a fan on the omnipresent social network.

 

If any company can relate to Facebook’s virtual monopoly over a section of cyberspace, it’s Google (GOOG). The search engine has become synonymous with surfing the Web, with the verb "googling" actually enjoying a place in the Oxford English Dictionary.

But Facebook better watch out -- because if Google has its way, "facebooking" will never have the chance to become a verb. That's because the Internet juggernaut is creating a Facebook competitor of its own and is looking to take over the social-networking scene.

 

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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.

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