You can still find small-cap superstars
Small-cap superstars still abound

There are some picks in this sector that have excellent valuations and strong earnings growth.

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Nevada casinos lost money last year -- for only the second time in history.

By Kim Peterson Feb 22, 2010 2:05PM
It isn't just the gamblers losing money in Vegas these days. Nevada's 260 major casinos lost nearly $7 billion last year, ending in the red for only the second time ever.

To find one source of the problem, look no further than the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip -- home to major properties for Wynn Resorts (WYNN), Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and MGM Mirage (MGM).

Casinos there took the bulk of the hit, reporting a $4.1 billion loss for the year, according to the Las Vegas Sun. That's a 686% drop from the previous year.  

Netflix faces stiff competition in streaming content from cable providers Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

By TheStreet Staff Feb 22, 2010 1:18PM

TheStreetBy Jason Notte, TheStreet

 

Netflix (NFLX) is pushing the envelope it wants to escape, but the company's strictly digital future faces a very long wait.

 

Netflix's deal for new releases and streaming content with Warner Bros. announced in January, expansion of streaming service to all three major gaming consoles by spring and growth amid the misfortunes of its disc-renting counterparts all coincided with an 81% hike in Netflix shares during the past year. Netflix's earnings last quarter were just as rosy, as $444.5 million in revenue brought its 2009 take to $1.9 billion, or 22% more than 2008, and 1 million more subscribers swelled Netflix's ranks to 12.3 million.

 

Netflix, which aims to boost net income as much as 18% this year, is slowly moving away from its DVDs-by-mail business model that was a huge innovation when it was launched a decade ago. However, Netflix faces stiff competition in streaming content from cable providers Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC), which are looking for new ways to wrest money from millions of subscribers.

 

 

An auto worker decides to stay with GM -- even though that means working 500 miles away.

By Kim Peterson Feb 22, 2010 1:06PM
It's a sad sign of the times -- and of the state of the U.S. auto industry: One General Motors worker now drives an eight-hour commute to keep his job.

The Huffington Post has the story of Michael Hanley, who faced losing his job after GM shut down the Wisconsin plant he worked at. He could either look for a new job where there were few available, or track down a GM opening, wherever that may be.

He decided to keep his GM paycheck and health insurance, even though that meant working in Fairfax, Kan. Once a week, he drives back home to see his wife and children -- a round-trip journey of more than 1,000 miles. 

I just don't think investors are willing to see another big slide without jumping in.

By Jim Cramer Feb 22, 2010 7:56AM
Jim Cramer

By Jim Cramer, TheStreet

 

You always need to fret when the S&P 500's proprietary oscillator breaches five, and when it soared to six and change after Friday's session I marveled that it could have gotten there so fast. Of course, a couple of weeks when the S&P roars 3% will do it every time, especially when a lot of it came when no one expected it.

 

But how worried should we be? Now that we have seen the fourth quarter of so many companies -- a quarter that got stronger throughout the market -- it's not clear that the worry includes more than a fear that a 15 multiple on future earnings might go to 14, with 13 always a possibility but not a likelihood when you consider that so many estimates are based on the economy continuing to stumble along both here and in Europe, the latter being a source of weakness for just about every company.

 

What really struck me, though, is how low the multiple is for so much of tech. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) had one of the best quarters out there and it is selling for 11 times earnings, for heaven's sake. What is that all about? With more than $2.5 billion in stock bought back and a positive outlook for so many of the company's businesses, I find that multiple unfathomable. But Intel (INTC) and IBM (IBM) have very similar multiples and these companies are throwing off cash and coming off remarkable quarters too.

 

 

The Tiger saga is supposedly costing billions, but his faith can help you make money in the market.

By Jamie Dlugosch Feb 21, 2010 9:21PM

It is hard not to be cynical regarding the Tiger Woods saga, but the golf king’s recent press conference included subtle insight that investors can use to beat the market.

 

Perhaps this story is worth watching after all.

 

Tiger’s misdeeds are the latest in a long line of boorish celebrity behavior followed by the obligatory public apology. It really is an old story.

 

So too is Tiger’s solution.

 

Your guess is as good as mine to explain why the market does what it does. I'm just here to report the facts as I see them.

By Jim Van Meerten Feb 20, 2010 1:22PM
For those of you who think that financial columnists should be able to tell you exactly why the market went up or down each week you won't find that in my column. I just want to know what happened and I'll let the others give you what they think were the 58 different causes of last week's improvement. I'll just say that the anticipation and then the execution of Tiger's attempt to salvage his reputation saved the market and that guess has as much validity as anyone elses' prognostications.

First let's visit the Conference Board's report on the Leading Economic Index -- LEI. You'll remember that this is a once a month report I use to get a quick gauge on the state of the economy. The LEI was up .3% for the tenth month in a row with the Coincident Economic Index up .2% and the Lagging Economic Index is still declining at .1% but slowing. That makes 2 up and the Lagging slowing -- good signs of good things happening.

Now on to my 3 Barchart indicators that I follow:

The Value Line Index -- contains 1700 stocks so it's broader than the S&P 500 and the narrower Dow 30 -- up 3.45% for the week which is the second week in a row of price appreciation
 

The Federal Reserve's technical move of the discount rate will not help income investors, but these dividend stocks might.

By Jamie Dlugosch Feb 19, 2010 6:19PM

After the market closed on Thursday, the Federal Reserve increased the discount rate by 25 basis points. The nominal move may be the beginning of the end of the easy money policy that has been used to lift the U.S. economy out of recession.

 

Let’s not get too excited about what the central bank is now saying is merely a technical move. While all expect rates to rise eventually the timing of real increases in rates is still far down the road.

 

Interest rates even with Thursday’s move are still essentially zero and the yield curve remains quite steep. (10 stocks benefiting from a steep yield curve)

 

Such an environment has been quite the challenge for those investors needing income from investments for retirement living expenses. Bank CD’s and Treasuries simply won’t cut it.

 

What does cut it in this environment? Dividend stocks are clearly the big winners.

 

Several of the market gurus I follow -- including the great Peter Lynch -- are seeing big opportunities in stocks

By John Reese Feb 19, 2010 3:33PM

A federal deficit crisis is looming, unemployment remains high, and the Federal Reserve has increased one of its key interest rates. But, while concerns linger about the economy, the investment gurus I keep an eye on have been sounding bullish on stocks over the past week.

 

Most notable among the top strategists who spoke out was mutual fund legend Peter Lynch, one of the investors upon whom I base my Guru Strategy computer models. Lynch, who retired as manager of Fidelity's Magellan fund in the early 90s after producing one of the best track records of all time, doesn't give a lot of interviews these days. But this week he opened up for the Israeli publication Globes, and he said that the so-called "lost decade" for stocks hasn't soured his view of stocks.

"The significance of the lost decade is very simple,” Lynch said. “Companies earn more than they did ten years ago, and they are traded at lower prices than they were then. There’s an investment opportunity here. There are companies on the market with good balance sheets and wonderful reputations, that make better profits today than ten years ago, and will continue to grow. This is an extraordinary period for investment.”

 

 

Mouse House touts comic company's library of 5,000 characters, but it will have a hard time turning many into moneymakers

By TheWrap Feb 19, 2010 3:12PM

Disney (DIS) coughed up $4 billion to buy Marvel last August, but all it may get for its investment is a collection of second- and third-tier superheroes. 




Sure, "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" racked up billions at the box office. But film rights to those characters are parked at Sony (SNE) and Fox, respectively, keeping them off limits to Disney, except for a small percentage of the profits.




What's more, those movies centered on heroes already firmly implanted in the popular culture lexicon long before they ever hit the multiplexes.



That leaves the likes of Nick Fury, Big Bertha and Ant-Man.



 

They aren't pretty, but they're getting more popular. And banks are getting more comfortable with them, too.

By Kim Peterson Feb 19, 2010 2:20PM
Home-buying guide © Ingram Publishing / SuperStockHomeowners trying to avoid foreclosure are increasingly turning to another option: The messy, convoluted, pull-your-hair-out short sale.

Short sales are soaring in the distressed real estate market. Under Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they nearly quadrupled in the first nine months of last year, according to The Los Angeles Times. Other mortgage lenders report a 165% increase.

These kind of sales make realtors -- and buyers -- groan. They're complex and time consuming. But they're a way out of an underwater mortgage. 

The market has no clue where to go or how to get there. That's why sentiment is turning neutral.

By Kim Peterson Feb 19, 2010 2:01PM
Man with head in hands © CorbisInvestor sentiment is again changing as "the bi-polar market continues its confused, drunken walk," writes The Pragmatic Capitalist.

Apparently, the "correction," if you can call it that, has done nothing to make investors more sure-footed one way or the other.

Before the correction, a survey by Investors Intelligence showed a 52% bullish reading. Now, that's dropped to 35.6%. The bearish percentage is at 27.8%. 

Citigroup plans to charge some credit-card holders an annual fee as the CARD Act comes into force.

By TheStreet Staff Feb 19, 2010 12:38PM

TheStreetCredit cards © Hill Street Studios/Getty ImagesBy Bill Hardekopf, TheStreet

 

Citigroup (C) is adding annual fees to many popular credit cards a week before new credit card rules go into effect.

 

Some Citigroup cardholders are receiving letters about a $60 annual fee that is being attached to their account effective April 1. If consumers make $2,400 in purchases during the year, the annual fee will be credited to their account. Only about 20% of credit cards in the US have annual fees, according to data compiled by LowCards.com.

 

It appears that Citigroup's test of adding an annual fee to a small share of customers in August 2009 proved to be successful for the issuer, which competes with Visa (V), MasterCard (MC) and Capital One (COF).

 

When a product doesn't work it should be recalled. Washington isn't working so maybe we need another recall to save the economy.

By Jim Van Meerten Feb 19, 2010 12:34PM
I'd like you all to join me in an effective product recall. We all agree that when a product does not work the way the seller promised us it would it's a fraud on the public and the product should be recalled. We should all have the right to send the product back and have our money refunded. It really becomes a problem when the product is ineffective and doesn't work at all or worse injures the public.

The representatives we sent to Washington think they should have the right to call the President of Toyota to come from Japan, bow before them and take a whipping in public for knowing he had a problem and taking too long to fix it. Some are even asking for his resignation. Let's use the same standard on them. 

While Tiger Woods has the option of fading into the background after today's press conference, his sponsors are out of time. With video reports.

By InvestorPlace Feb 19, 2010 11:40AM

Tiger Woods started his long road back to the golf course today with a much-anticipated statement in Florida. However, a 15-minute affair with no time for questions is far from a sign Tiger is embracing the public eye again.


The jury is still out on whether the golf great has made the right move with his stonewalling since the infamous car crash over Thanksgiving. But one thing that's certain is that Woods' sponsors Electronic Arts (ERTS), Procter & Gamble (PG) and Nike (NKE) don't have the luxury of waiting this thing out any longer. They need to decide very quickly whether they're sticking with the Tiger brand.

 

Here's what some of the leading Tiger Woods sponsors appear to be planning.

 

People may fail to realize that the Fed tightens when it's pretty sure of job growth.

By Jim Cramer Feb 19, 2010 8:18AM
Jim Cramer

By Jim Cramer, TheStreet

  

If you step back from the emotion of a Fed gone from soft to not-so-soft and ask what it really means, you come back to a simple concept: Are the banks strong enough to borrow from the private markets?

 

The answer, I think, is yes, except the ones that were goners anyway, including the several the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will seize this weekend as part of its Friday-night seizure policy.

 

That's really the only "real world" implication. That and the relentless decline of the euro becomes a little more relentless.

 

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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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