Businessman blowing bubbles (© GSO Images/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images)
Take bubble talk with a grain of salt

Jim Cramer asks, why pay any attention to letters from a manager who lost money in the first quarter?


Google shares could tumble to IPO levels during the next 2 years as the company struggles to compete with Apple.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 24, 2010 1:19PM

TheStreetBy Jason Schwarz, TheStreet


Google's (GOOG) in trouble. I expect the stock to return to its initial-public-offering levels of $300 a share during the next two years. The Internet search giant has ruffled the wrong feathers.


When I hear Apple (AAPL) Chief Executive Steve Jobs mention that he feels betrayed by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and when I see Apple go out and buy its own mobile advertising company, I begin to question Google's future growth prospects.


Apple's Quattro is coming. It's going to be revolutionary, but it will also be the most important contributor to Google's demise. It won't be the only factor. With Google, it's a matter of picking its poison.


Wall Street fighting to keep the little investor in the dark.

By Jamie Dlugosch Mar 24, 2010 1:12PM

Score another one for the big banks.


Last week a United States District Court in New York ruled in favor of large banks fighting to keep website from publishing analyst report headlines as quickly as they can.


You know Wall Street. The big players can’t simply make money on good ideas. They have to preserve their edge over the rest of us.



Simply said, analyst reports often move stocks in a predictable way.


The bank will announce a plan to help homeowners who owe more than twice the value of their homes, according to a news report.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 24, 2010 1:10PM

By Lauren Tara LaCapra, TheStreetTheStreet


Bank of America (BAC) plans to take a dramatic step toward righting its most troubled mortgages, forgiving up to 30% of loan principal in some cases, according to a news report.


The move by the largest US lender, set to be announced on Wednesday, is likely to lead to writedowns but also help struggling homeowners who don't qualify for help through federal plans. Bank of America's plan will target borrowers who owe more than 120% of their homes' value, and offer interest-free forgiveness on loan payments, as long as they stay current.


The plans were reported by Reuters on Tuesday evening, based on a summary of the program.


Starbucks already was getting smaller after 7,000 layoffs and 300 store closings, but a 10-cent payout will limit future growth, too

By InvestorPlace Mar 24, 2010 10:54AM

starbucks dividendStarbucks (SBUX) just announced today that it will begin paying regular quarterly dividends of 10 cents a share. The Seattle company also said it will buy back an extra 15 million SBUX shares over a previously announced 6.3 million buyback plan. Investors cheered this news today, with the stock up as much as 2% on a down day for the Dow.


But lost in the headlines is the fact that Starbucks is essentially giving up on its previous plans for world coffee domination. As recently as this morning, the company’s own investor relations FAQ online said that, "Starbucks has never paid a cash dividend and presently intends to retain earnings to help finance the company’s continued growth." Now, in a press release today Starbucks said the company plans to grow "through stores, innovation and new platforms."  

In plain English: Aggressive growth and store expansion are no longer top priorities at Starbucks.


The consumer was undaunted in February despite bad weather and the drumbeat from Washington.

By Jim Cramer Mar 24, 2010 7:07AM
Jim Cramer

By Jim Cramer, TheStreet


February was more of a fulcrum month than any I can recall in many, many years. February is when many things went right when they were supposed to be wrong.


Let's start from the presumption that February is not a very important month for the consumer. We know the months leading up to it are extremely important. September's back to school. October is ordering for the holiday season. November is black Friday and all of its attendant crucial days. December is make-or-break for almost all retailers. January is important for inventory concerns and returns as well as gift cards.


But February? It tends not to matter. Sure there is Valentine's Day and Presidents Day, the first a marginal day for consumers (tell me about it as I know when I used to make the rounds with my dad selling Valentine's Day gift wrap to retailers that you always wished sales were bigger), and the second day a created day, created by car dealers to clear inventory that didn't move that winter.


Reasons to like Noah Education Holdings Ltd.

By Wall Street Media on MSN Money Mar 23, 2010 5:47PM

Written by Douglas Estadt

We've just begun buying a few shares in NED after hearing their management present, and we bought more today. Here are the main reasons:


  • Extremely low p/e ratio for such strong results/growth prospects
  • Knowledgeable passionate management team
  • Top of the line products, with well thought-out strategies 
  • Sitting on a ton of cash - 3 dollars/share


To learn more about our thoughts on Noah Education Corp, view the video below


Unusual events are making the Chinese market even more complex. Here's how to sort through it all.

By Jim J. Jubak Mar 23, 2010 5:36PM

Jim JubakStrange doings in China. And they should have you scratching your head and asking, “How do you invest in this market?”

I'm not talking about Google's (GOOG) decision to stop self-censoring its China search engine and retreat to Hong Kong in the hope -- delusional, I suspect -- that the Chinese government will let Google Hong Kong operate outside the censorship rules.

And I'm not talking about the spying bribery trials of four Rio Tinto (RTP) executives and employees that have resulted (so far as anyone can tell, since today the proceedings were moved to a closed court) in guilty pleas from some defendants on bribery charges but denials of the commercial spying charges.


A stock screen and the wisdom of the crowd combine to identify a trio of companies that might shore up your portfolio's foundation.

By Caps Editor Mar 23, 2010 4:50PM

This post comes from The Motley Fool's Dave Mock.


Investors are always hunting for the next big thing -- the dream stock that will soar into the stratosphere once the market discovers it.


MSN CAPS offers a variety of resources to help investors find tomorrow's leaders. The organizing principle behind the 160,000-member community is that collective estimates are often superior to the judgments of most individuals, and that a system that incorporates the knowledge, information and skills of the many can help individuals beat the market.

We used CAPS' handy stock screening tool to quickly find real-estate companies with a market value of at least $100 million, revenue growth of at least 30% over the past three years and shares trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of less than 25.


Then we tapped the collective intelligence of CAPS members to see whether the numbers tell the true story.


Our screen recently returned this trio of stocks:

Tags: CAPS

Todd Sullivan talks about Simon's next rumored bid for GGP

By Wall Street Media on MSN Money Mar 23, 2010 4:21PM

Written by Douglas Estadt

Rumors are again swirling around General Growth Properties. The latest one floating around is that Simon Properties is preparing another lowball bid around $13 for GGP shares.  Todd Sullivan from helps us with reasons to not take this too seriously:


  • $13/share is $3 less than GGP's price at its lowest point today
  • People want these properties, so it's hard to see shareholders selling out for such a low bid
  • Other, more serious potential bidders are taking action as we get closer to  deadlines
  • Regardless if this low-ball materializes, many others will bid for these assets


For more with Todd on GGP, see the video below


Most bank execs who saw diminished salaries still stuck with their companies, a study shows.

By Kim Peterson Mar 23, 2010 3:01PM
Shredded cash © Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesLost in all the health care hullaballoo this week is an interesting finding released by the government: Of the 104 senior bankers whose pay was drastically reduced by federal regulators, nearly 85% are still at their companies.

This appears to contradict the banks' claims that cutting executive salaries would cause everyone to up and leave in a mass exodus of talent.

Pay czar Kenneth Feinberg is releasing these findings as he gives the green light to pay packages for the 25 highest earners at banks that received government bailouts, The New York Times reports. He's still figuring out what the next 75 highest-paid will receive. 

The 'Money Never Sleeps' actor says he has some investing skills, and he likes Apple and IOC.

By Kim Peterson Mar 23, 2010 2:07PM

Hey, we put everyone else's stock picks in here, so why not give this kid a turn?

Shia LaBeouf, all of 23 years old, apparently now knows a thing or two about investing after finishing filming on "Money Never Sleeps," in which LaBeouf plays a Wall Street trader named Jacob Moore. This is the sequel to Oliver Stone's 1987 hit "Wall Street."

LaBeouf is becoming known for his investing prowess. He brags in this video that he put $20,000 into a Schwab online trading account, and in a matter of months that $20,000 turned into $489,000.


Now that health care and financial reforms are in the works, it's time to shore up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 23, 2010 1:35PM

TheStreetBy Lauren Tara LaCapra, TheStreet


Now that other major agenda items are on the road to passage, the Obama administration has set its sights on the two big, gaping holes in America's balance sheet: Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE).


Though the mortgage-finance giants stand to vaporize more taxpayer funds than any other bailed-out company, and are hugely important to economic policy goals, little has been said about Fannie and Freddie's future so far.

On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner spoke in broad terms about the plan to address Fannie and Freddie before the House Financial Services Committee. The plan appears to be for another hybrid public-private entity, but one whose government support is explicit, with risk priced more "appropriately" than it has been for decades.


I'm not afraid of change and my plan for the future is the same one I've had in the past

By Jim Van Meerten Mar 23, 2010 12:40PM
I was just watching the President sign the health care bill and I was watching the stock market action in the margins. What is all the fear about? Why are people afraid of change?

Over the past few weeks as I listened to my favorite stations, congressmen and commentators I sensed that there was a lot of fear and anxiety in their voices. In spite of all their protests and the protests they were covering the bill passed anyway. I started to ask myself how could something pass that it seemed everyone was against and then it hit me. Maybe I was listening to the wrong people. I stepped back to see what was happening.

I don't think there is anyone, rich or poor, Democratic or Republican that really wants someone to die or stay sick because they haven't got the financial means to purchase the services or drugs that will save their life or ease their pain. Americans are just too carrying to let that happen. Things will be different and we shouldn't fear that. But how will I change my plan? 

A look at AIG's complex derivative business shows why it's difficult to take apart these bets.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 23, 2010 11:00AM

TheStreetBy Lauren Tara LaCapra, TheStreet


Drilling down into the terms and details of American International Group's (AIG) massive derivative book shows why unwinding thousands of these bets has been so difficult and time-consuming.


AIG's financial products division has made incredible strides in whittling down its often-complex trades. Progress has sped up since the markets have recovered and the firm has been standing on more solid ground, both managerially and operationally.


As of March 9, AIG had reduced the notional value of its derivatives book to $800 billion, with 14,800 trades outstanding. That's $140 billion less exposure and 8% fewer trades than at year-end alone, and less than a third of the $2.7 trillion in exposure at its 2007 peak.


Investors who made a killing on Bank of America should consider selling the stock before financial reform takes the spotlight.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 23, 2010 10:41AM

TheStreetBy David MacDougall, TheStreet


Bank of America (BAC) shares have outperformed those of rivals JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) during the past year. But the source of Bank of America's strength could also be its biggest risk.


As the largest US bank by assets with a market cap that's only slightly smaller than that of JPMorgan, Bank of America will likely be targeted by new regulations designed to clamp down on "too big to fail" institutions. While proposed regulations haven't been finalized, it's near certain that something will be signed into law that will restrict its banking operations, and the uncertainty of this process will weigh on Bank of America shareholders.


Bank of America stock has almost tripled during the past year as the company cut its leverage level and paid a dividend of about 2%. Bank of America's beta value is very high at 2.6, indicating the stock is extremely sensitive to market risk. With about 50% of the company's revenue coming from home loans, card services and deposits last year, Bank of America is more tied to personal finance than most of its competitors.



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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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