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Retail sales, which will be released Thursday, are expected to show the biggest growth since 1994.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 7, 2010 11:15AM

TheStreetSave on shopping  © Photodisc / Getty ImagesBy Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet

 

Warm weather, strong pre-Easter spending and low year-earlier numbers probably contributed to a jump in retail sales for March.

 

The S&P Retail Index hit a 52-week high on Tuesday as expectations for the sector rose ahead of comparable-store sales results, which will be released on Thursday.

 

The International Council of Shopping Centers expects stores to report the best sales since 1994. The trade group said on Tuesday it expects sales to increase 8% to 10% for the month, boosting its previous forecast of 3% to 3.5%. If the ICSC's forecast is correct, March would mark the third consecutive month of stronger-than-expected comparable sales growth.

 

An end would give a psychological boost to shares of companies that compete with Chinese exporters.

By Jim J. Jubak Apr 7, 2010 8:37AM

Jim JubakIt looks like the fix is in.


The governments in Beijing and Washington look like they're figured out a formula that will lead, sooner rather than later, to an end to the renminbi/dollar peg and the appreciation of China's currency versus the dollar.


Sooner, I'd say, is this summer. Maybe as early as June. The twelve-month, non-deliverable forward market in Hong Kong is pricing in a climb in the renminbi to 6.6346 to the dollar from the current peg at 6.8258.

 

You can create negatives if you try hard enough, but I'll stick to what's in front of me.

By Jim Cramer Apr 7, 2010 8:06AM
Jim Cramer

By Jim Cramer, TheStreet

 

When you've done five years' worth of shows, you tend to think that nothing you could say will have any sort of impact beyond wearing a funny hat or singing a silly tune like, "You just can't slay the bull" to appropriate the end of "Hotel California."

 

But when you mention, "Don't worry, be happy," let's just say that the long knives are out, and last night for me was the night of the long knives.


People I regularly hear from and people I never hear from blasted me back to oblivion, questioning my every assumption, from the idea that the U.S. government will be pleasantly surprised with a reduced deficit -- and I am not even talking about pulling out of Afghanistan, something that I think is on the horizon because Karzai's not worth supporting -- to the notion of an exciting turn in California housing.

 

Favorable year-over-year reports will encourage the bulls . . . but after first-quarter earnings reports, reality will set in.

By Louis Navellier Apr 7, 2010 6:55AM
earnings stock picksOn Friday, we learned that the U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs in March -- the most in three years.

Investors everywhere are waiting for the Dow to cross the 11,000 mark and hoping that the 6% added to the major indexes in March will be seen once again in April as we enter earnings season.

 I’ll admit I’m pretty fired up about earnings myself. As a growth guy, fundamentals are everything to me, and I live for the four times a year when sales and profits are in focus and the noise of Wall Street fades into the background. (Here are my five favorite large-cap picks for this earnings season.)

 

AutoChina International takes leasing vehicles to a new level

By Wall Street Media on MSN Money Apr 6, 2010 6:46PM

Written by Douglas Estadt:

AutoChina International Ltd (AUTC) is involved in leasing commercial vehicles and providing after-sales support, road-side assistance, and value-added services. Check out some other reasons why we bought this stock:

 

  • Great opportunity to sell the "picks, axes and blue jeans" to Chinese entrepreneurs.

 

  • They lease the trucks that build the foundation for Chinese businesses and allow them to function properly (i.e. picks and axes).

 

  • Have low P/E ratio and recently completed secondary offering of 2 million shares at $35.

 

  • High insider ownership- it was announced that there was a $500,000 recent share purchase made by CFO Jason Wang

 

To hear more about AUTC, view the video below.

 

Warren Buffett's investment company takes No. 1 in Harris Interactive's annual ranking of companies with the best reputations.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 6, 2010 12:10PM

TheStreetBy Eric Rosenbaum, TheStreet

 

Americans hated companies a little less in 2009 than they did in 2008, but the country loved Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) a bit more.

 

In Harris Interactive's annual ranking of the companies with the best reputations, 81% of survey respondents said they considered the business world's reputation "not good" or "terrible," down from 88% the previous year.

 

Berkshire Hathaway beat second-place Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) for the top spot among the 60 companies in the ranking. Google (GOOG), 3M (MMM) and SC Johnson rounded out the top five. Privately held SC Johnson was the first company to debut in the top five in the ranking since Google in 2005.

 

 

Nokia, the world's largest mobile-phone maker, joins the tablet race as it prepares a touch-screen device for the fall.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 6, 2010 11:01AM

TheStreetBy Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Nokia (NOK) is out to prove again that it can be late, wrong and yet still willing to stick its neck out in areas where growth could be.

 

The Finnish phone giant is gearing up to enter the tablet race, taking on the Apple (AAPL) iPad and other tech giants.

 

Nokia is working with suppliers and designers on a touch-screen tablet that would hit the market as early as fall, according to Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar, who is close to Nokia's technology partners. Nokia declined to comment. 

 

Alcoa shares could gain as the strengthening economy boosts aluminum demand.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 6, 2010 10:22AM

By David MacDougall, TheStreet.comTheStreet.com

 

Alcoa (AA) will be the first Dow component to report first-quarter earnings next week. The aluminum producer is expected to earn 15 cents a share after losing 59 cents a year earlier. The Pittsburgh-based company said yesterday it would have a $180 million charge for closing plants and an $80 million charge for health care expenses.

 

Still, analysts expect the company to increase revenue 18% this year. Much of the improvement in performance came from the rebound in aluminum prices, which have gained 70% during the past year. Alcoa has become an attractive opportunity as inflation fears grow and the metal regains the value it lost in the crash.

 

Aluminum prices and Alcoa are tightly correlated. In fact, changes in the spot price of aluminum during the past five years account for about 60% of the stock's movement. If aluminum continues to gain in the coming months, so will Alcoa shares.

 

Media companies, including comic book makers, love Apple's I-Pad. But can it really help superhero companies?

By Jamie Dlugosch Apr 6, 2010 9:41AM

There's always a bit of hype when Apple releases a new product, so how's this:

 

When Spider-Man and Iron Man need help, they call on Steve Jobs.

 

BusinessWeek reports today that comic powerhouse Marvel and a few smaller names are either out with or soon to release iPad applications that will make it easy to buy and read comics on the hot new device. DC Comics, home of Superman and Batman, is officially just looking for the moment.

 

 

The hope is that the big, bright screen on the iPad will make colorful panels more fun to look at, and might even reverse a long decline in comic sales.

 

The market is full of fretters -- how have they performed over the last year?

By Jim Cramer Apr 6, 2010 8:13AM
Jim Cramer

By Jim Cramer, TheStreet

 

We fret too much. We fret about whether Apple's (AAPL) iPad is going to sell. We fret about every Treasury auction. We fret about Fed statements and discount rate moves. We fret about commercial real estate. We fret about housing. We fret about the weakness of the consumer. We fret about the impact of health care. We fret about the Chinese bubble. And we fret about earnings and earnings and earnings. We fret about unemployment.

 

Hey, it's good to fret. I used to fret all the time at my hedge fund. You aren't being critical and rigorous enough if you aren't fretting. It is a little ridiculous to believe that everything is going to work out just right.

 

However, action taken based on fretting has been, since the bottom, just plain wrong. Look at those insurers yesterday. They were all supposed to be dead meat.

 

Three iron ore companies score big in Asia, and that could cause problems in Europe and other parts of the world.

By Jim J. Jubak Apr 5, 2010 5:18PM

Jim JubakAh, if it were only iron ore.


The big three companies that dominate the world iron ore market -- Vale (VALE)Rio Tinto (RTP), and BHP Billiton (BHP) -- have won price increases of 80% to 100% from Asian steelmakers. 


Like it or not, European steelmakers will have to fall in line. (The United States is a special case because it is the only major steel-making country that also exports all the ingredients needed to make steel: Iron ore, coking coal, and scrap.)


That price increase for iron ore will increase steel prices by a third, say the world's steelmakers. And that will then turn into higher prices for everything from cars to washing machines to construction machinery to construction.

 

Hyundai grabs some iPad attention by announcing it will include the device with every Equus purchase.

By Kim Peterson Apr 5, 2010 12:39PM
Credit: (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Hyundai (HYMTF) is pouncing on this week's iPad frenzy by announcing that it will include a free Apple (AAPL) iPad with every purchase of its new Equus luxury sedan.

It's a great move on the part of Hyundai, which said the iPad would be pre-loaded with a digital version of the car's owner's manual. At a starting price of $500, the iPad would be about one-one hundredth of the Equus' price tag.

Will it help Hyundai sell more cars? Absolutely. By taking a little piece of the iPad hype as its own, Hyundai calls attention to its upcoming release. It also helps pitch the Equus as a true luxury car, one that is so decadent you could keep an iPad in the glove compartment (not that anyone would, but whatever). 

Deckers Outdoor has been soaring. But with Ugg boots making up 87% of sales, could changing consumer tastes wipe out shares?

By InvestorPlace Apr 5, 2010 11:51AM

crocs crox deckers outdoor deck stockOutdoor clothing and footwear manufacturer Deckers Outdoor (DECK) has been a standout among beleaguered retail stocks. Shares are up nearly 250% since the March 2009 lows with no sign of slowing down.

 

The secret to Deckers’ success are trendy and durable Ugg brand boots that account for 87% of the company’s revenue -- and consequently, the company’s rapidly growing bottom line. But is this over-reliance on a footwear fad risky for the company? The 2007 collapse of Crocs (CROX) showed all too well that when it comes to cashing in on fashion, tastes change overnight.

So are Uggs the new Crocs? And if they are, is that such a bad thing?

 

Service returns after message boards fill with queries about a "500 internal server error" popping up on videos.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 5, 2010 11:45AM

TheStreetBy Andrea Tse, TheStreet

 

Google's (GOOG) YouTube.com suffered an apparent service outage Monday morning. Message boards across the Internet filled with queries about a "500 internal server error" message that had been popping up on YouTube.com.

 

"I was on YouTube and it was working fine, but then this comes up instead of the video '500 Internal Server Error' ... What should I do? I know there's not a problem with my Internet connection and any other Web site works fine," one user wrote on a Yahoo! (YHOO) message board.

 

YouTube.com reportedly returned to normal in the early morning hours Monday. Users said they had been were getting error messages on every video on YouTube. They speculated that hackers, technical glitches or viruses might have been the cause.

 

Despite recent gains, Capital Federal Financial, United Bankshares and New York Community Bancorp remain good long-term plays.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 5, 2010 11:16AM

By Philip van Doorn, TheStreet TheStreet.com

 

We highlighted three bank stocks in November that offered strong dividends and stable performance. Despite recent gains among bank stocks, these companies remain good long-term plays.

 

Capital Federal Financial (CFFN), United Bankshares (UBSI) and New York Community Bancorp (NYB) have climbed at least 14% this year, outperforming the 11% advance of the S&P 500 Financial Sector Index.

 

Bank stocks have doubled the performance of the broader market this year as companies such as Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase return to growth. These smaller rivals offer better-than-average credit quality and steady earnings.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: -3.40. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -5.80. The S&P 500 futures trade three points below fair value.

Markets finished mixed across Asia. Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens testified in front of the House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Economics and noted rates are likely to remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.

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