Surge brought back from the dead
Surge is back from the dead

Coca-Cola launched the soda brand in the 1990s to compete with Mountain Dew. Sales didn't exactly take off.


The Oracle of Omaha has made several investment missteps in his otherwise stellar career.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 22, 2010 11:21AM

Image credit: © Chip East/ReutersBy Don Dion, TheStreet


While one of Warren Buffett's greatest strengths is his ability to pick out "sure things," not all of his bets have paid off. In fact, there are a number of investments that have done more harm than good.


His bets on the airline industry, ConocoPhillips (COP) and Moody's (MCO) come to mind. All three can be seen as stains on his otherwise stellar career.


US Airways (LCC) is often highlighted as one of Buffett's most costly mistakes. In 1995, he had to write off 75% of his $385 million investment in the company.


No one buys Suburban Propane to shoot the lights out, but the stock quietly grinds out nice gains without much risk.

By Jim Cramer Oct 22, 2010 8:33AM

jim cramerBy Jim Cramer, TheStreet


Sure, a half cent is not that much. Especially on an 84.5-cent basis. But when Suburban Propane (SPH) took that distribution to 85 cents last night, it was a reminder of how special these limited partnerships have been as a consistent way to make money.


Propane is a slow-growth business, typically a rural one. Suburban is one of the largest players in the business. It regularly boosts its payout as it takes over mom-and-pop distributions, precisely the kind of companies that have been hurt in this downturn, and grows bigger and bigger.


Folks don't buy Suburban because they are looking to shoot the lights out. But it has given us a 31% total return, and I don't think it is done, as it still yields only 6.19%.


The country's economic growth rate has slowed. Unfortunately, inflation kicked in.

By Jim J. Jubak Oct 21, 2010 4:09PM

Jim JubakGood news plus bad news on China's economy added up to bad news for China's stocks Thursday.

The good news was that China's economy grew at an annual rate of 9.6% in the third quarter -- slightly ahead of the 9.5% that economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected.

That 9.6% growth rate, however, was the lowest for the year after a 10.3% annual rate in the second quarter and an 11.9% rate in the first quarter. The 9.6% represents solid growth -- showing that China's economy isn't about to stall -- and yet the slight slowdown is encouraging since it represents a retreat from the clearly unsustainable 11.9% growth of the first quarter.


The company is testing the online service in the US and could announce it later this year.

By Kim Peterson Oct 21, 2010 3:53PM
Credit: (© Paul Sakuma/AP)
Caption: Netflix DVDNetflix (NFLX) has spent years building up a solid Internet streaming service, but so far it still requires U.S. customers to sign up for a disc-by-mail plan.

That may soon change. The company could offer customers a streaming-only plan by the end of the year, said chief executive Reed Hastings. It's been testing a similar plan in Canada.

"Our success with our pure streaming offering in Canada at $7.99 has encouraged us to test this model in the USA," Hastings said in his commentary on the company's quarterly results. "If our results are as strong as we think they will be, then we will look to start this offering later in this Q4." 

LIT has been a Wall Street sensation since it began trading.

By InvestorPlace Oct 21, 2010 2:50PM

By Jim Woods

Exchange traded fund (ETF) issuer Global X Funds representatives were granted the honor of ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on the morning of Friday, Aug. 27.  The event was a celebration of sorts for the company’s latest bevy of recently released ETFs. One of those new ETFs has more than proven itself worthy of a celebration, and that’s the Global X Lithium ETF (LIT).

The fund has been a Wall Street sensation since it began trading on Aug. 4, when it opened up at $17.29 per share.  The fund closed at $19.88 on Oct. 20, representing a total return of over +15% in just 11 weeks.


The company shifts money around the world to get the lowest tax rates possible. It's legal, but is it right?

By Kim Peterson Oct 21, 2010 1:24PM
Making tax shelters © Ingram Publishing / SuperStock Google (GOOG) loves to talk about the ways it makes money, but it stays mostly silent on one of its most profitable units: its tax lawyers.

Those lawyers have made Google and its shareholders oodles of money by devising ways to funnel profits out of high-tax countries and into island tax havens like Bermuda.

It's all perfectly legal -- though it does make some people skeptical of Google's "Don't be evil" mantra. And as a result, Google has cut taxes by $3.1 billion in three years and lowered its overseas tax rate to a jaw-dropping 2.4%, Bloomberg reports
Tags: ibm

The hamburger chain beats analyst estimates for the third quarter with a 6% jump in comparable sales.

By Kim Peterson Oct 21, 2010 10:34AM
Big Mac © McDonald’sShares of McDonald's (MCD) hit an all-time high Thursday after the company beat analyst estimates for its third quarter.

The company said interesting menu items like frappes and smoothies helped drive traffic, as well as the continued appeal of the dollar menu in tough economic times. Comparable sales were up 6% worldwide.

McDonald's reported a $1.39 billion profit, or $1.29 a share, for the quarter. That's up from $1.26 billion, or $1.15 a share, in the year-ago period. Analysts had expected $1.25 a share. 

Whether you favor Google's rise to dominance or GE's resurrection, you can gain exposure to either corporate giant through these funds.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 21, 2010 10:18AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet


Given the company's massive pile of cash and numerous acquisitions throughout 2010, more market commentators are looking to Google (GOOG) as the General Electric (GE) of the 21st century. Using exchange-traded funds, you can gain ample exposure to either company.


Throughout 2010, Google has been on a remarkable shopping spree. Often considered a one-trick pony, the tech Goliath has taken a number of steps in hopes of expanding beyond the search engine business, which has traditionally been its bread and butter.


Since February, the company has bought at least one name a month, expanding its reach into various outlets. Companies acquired 2010 are in industries such as social gaming, photo editing, advertising and travel technology.


Unless judges and pols want to sink the economy, the foreclosure mess won't shut down the banks. Wells Fargo, for one, is doing much better.

By Jim Cramer Oct 21, 2010 8:43AM

jim cramerBy Jim Cramer, TheStreet


Don't waste another moment thinking about this foreclosure mess until you listen to the Wells Fargo (WFC) conference call -- a turgid affair but one that will make you realize that there is no way this process is going to be shut down unless the judges and politicians really do want to bankrupt the banks and kill the U.S. economy. Given how costly it was to save the banking system, even anti-bank President Barack Obama is not in favor of putting it on its heels again.


Maybe because there are so many business outlets writing and commenting on issues, or maybe because of the unchecked nature of the Web, it has become almost common and accepted wisdom that many things were done wrong on the paperwork of loans themselves.


I think that's wrong. If you listen to Wells Fargo -- and I have never thought they were liars -- the process has pretty much been the same all along, and there are no title-chain complications WHATSOEVER. It remains a good, profitable, growing business for WFC.


Is China playing games with its rare-earth reserves? The move says a lot about the future of rare earth.

By Jim J. Jubak Oct 20, 2010 4:40PM

Jim JubakChina's Ministry of Commerce said Saturday that the country could run out of medium and heavy rare-earth reserves in 15 to 20 years at the current rate of production.

Could this be true? Or is it simply justification for China's decision to cut export quotas by 72% in the second half of 2010 -- and slap a de facto ban on rare earth exports to Japan to protest the seizure of a Chinese fishing boat? A New York Times story today says that Chinese customs officials are also stopping rare earth shipments destined for Europe and the U.S.

I vote both are true.


Lower costs and better choices are some of the advantages.

By InvestorPlace Oct 20, 2010 4:14PM


Exchange-traded funds have seen impressive growth over the past several years.

Despite the growth, hardly any of it has come from retirement plans like 401(k)s.

Critics claim that ETFs have no business inside 401(k) plans, but are they right? Will ETFs shakeup the slow-moving 401(k) market?

Let’s analyze why ETF(k) retirement plans make sense. 


Legg Mason's Bill Miller gets bullish and sees the best market since the Reagan era.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Oct 20, 2010 1:56PM
Over the past two months, I've been focusing on how stocks are preparing for an epic bull market, thanks mainly to the current boom in bonds. (See columns here and here.) At its most basic, the catalyst will be corporate releveraging as executives take advantage of ridiculously low bond yields to conduct M&A activity, increase dividends and repurchase shares.

It looks like I'm not the only one.

Legg Mason Capital Management chairman Bill Miller told CNBC today that he thinks it's "the best time since the early 1980s to buy." His rationale? The same as mine: Stocks are undervalued relative to bonds. Here's why. 

Steve Jobs' comments Monday are still getting attention as RIM responds with strong words. We pick the winners.

By Kim Peterson Oct 20, 2010 12:57PM
Credit: (© Paul Sakuma/AP)
Caption: Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds the new iPhone 4Meow! We're seeing a hissing match of epic proportions this week as tech executives blast each other in the smart-phone wars. Let's see what's being said and pick the winners.

Kicking things off, of course, was Apple (AAPL) chief executive Steve Jobs, who went on a remarkable rant against competitors in his earnings call Monday. He unloaded on Google (GOOG) and Research In Motion (RIMM) in particular, and those companies are responding in kind. Or not so kind.

"Many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple," Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive at RIM, said in a statement posted online. His comments came after Jobs said, "We've now passed RIM, and I don't see them catching up."

An iPhone on the nation's largest wireless carrier would be nice, but Verizon's stable of smart phones shows Apple may need it more.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 20, 2010 12:37PM

thestreetBy Jason Notte, TheStreet


If a Verizon (VZ) iPhone comes to pass, its shelf space won't be padded by the same pushovers that surround it at AT&T (T).


If speculation holds and Verizon brings Apple's (AAPL) iPhone into the fold in the first quarter of next year, its 14.1 million in sales last quarter -- a 91% improvement over the same period last year -- could be easily eclipsed. JP Morgan (JPM) estimates that the iPhone will boost Verizon profits by 11%. Unlike AT&T, though, where 13 million iPhone subscribers at the end of the first quarter of this year accounted for 15% of the wireless subscriber base and 25% of wireless revenues, Verizon has a few more toys in the box.


Verizon's Motorola (MOT) Droid X, Droid Incredible and Droid 2 Google (GOOG) Android phones, for example, accounted for about 27% of total Android sales in the second quarter of this year. Also, roughly 4% of Verizon's smart-phone users use 2 gigabytes of data per month, compared with only about 2.5% of AT&T's iPhone customers.


Here's a look at the iPhone and how it stacks up against five smart-phone alternatives.


The lawsuit won't go to trial, but it undermines much-needed confidence in the American banking system.

By Jim Cramer Oct 20, 2010 8:42AM

thestreetBy Jim Cramer, TheStreet


If you think Bank of America (BAC) is going to buy back those bonds, even if the Fed's involved, then you might as well forget the rule of law. Lots of bonds were issued, bought and sold by everyone during this period, and, believe me, the ones that BAC or its Countrywide unit packaged were no worse and most likely better than others.


I think that it is a way to get a little something back and that maybe, down the line, BAC will settle for some dollar amount that is probably not yet reserved but will be.


What bothers me about this is that, once again, it is the flipside of this administration and this era.



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[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices have worked their way off the opening lows, placing the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite back above their respective flat lines.

Despite the rebound, the technology sector (-0.1%) continues showing relative weakness with Apple (AAPL 100.37, -1.27) hovering near its early low. However, the Nasdaq has been able to overlook Apple's underperformance thanks to the relative strength in the biotech space. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB ... More


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