A Mexican wave for Big Oil?
Mexico opens way for Big Oil

New legislation is allowing foreign companies to finally invest in the country's vast oil reserves.

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Semiconductor companies are poised for a breakout, which could be exactly what the techs need. Here are a sector ETF and 2 component firms that could lead the charge.

By MoneyShow.com May 10, 2011 1:14PM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

The technology sector is still stalled below the February lows, and an upside breakout may be needed to push the major averages to the next major upside targets. Many investors have been impressed by the tech earnings this quarter.

Despite this, the technology stocks still seem to be out of favor by many analysts, and this week's action may be critical.

Looking at the components of the semiconductor industry group, you get a mixed picture—but the chart of the Semiconductor HOLDRs Trust ETF (SMH) does look positive. As for the individual companies, I favor those that have successfully held above the 2010 highs and show positive volume patterns.
 
Tags: etf

The technology world tries to decipher the software giant's intentions and what the purchase will mean for everyone.

By Kim Peterson May 10, 2011 11:52AM
Microsoft (MSFT) has never made a buy as big as Skype. The $8.5 billion cash deal to buy the online calling company is huge, and the tech world is full of opinions about what it means for Microsoft and the competition.

Does Microsoft see something in Skype that other companies don't? People had pretty much dismissed Skype after its disastrous acquisition by eBay (EBAY) for $2.6 billion in 2005. EBay wanted to integrate Skype into its auction platform, perhaps allowing buyers and sellers to contact each other, but that never worked out. (Microsoft owns and publishes MSN Money.)

EBay sold 65% of Skype to an investor group in 2009 at a $2.75 billion valuation, wisely keeping a significant stake for itself. Skype delayed plans last year to go public and lost about $7 million last year.

So is Microsoft crazy, or is Skype really worth an $8.5 billion gamble? 

What is Sears Holdings? It's a vehicle for losing money.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day May 10, 2011 11:32AM

By Alyce Lomax

 

Sears Holdings' (SHLD) nasty financial tidings last week further supported the anti-Sears sentiment some of us have harbored for quite a while. Forget about arguments that this is actually a real estate play rather than a retailer. What Sears really seems to be is a vehicle for losing money.

 

Some investors fled after Sears revealed that first-quarter same-store sales dropped 3.6% and warned that it expects a quarterly loss of $1.35 per share to $1.81 per share. Analysts had expected a first-quarter profit of $0.03 per share, so you can see why fleeing the stock looked like a darn good option.

 

There's been plenty of fretting about the future of Wal-Mart (WMT) and Best Buy (BBY), given flagging sales in the U.S. But regardless of the short-term hand-wringing about their prospects, both of those companies remain very relevant companies on the retail landscape, even if their sales growth could be more robust. You can't really say the same of Sears.

 

CEO John Chambers' wrong turns and befuddling council system got Cisco into this mess. Is he capable of getting it out?

By TheStreet Staff May 10, 2011 11:19AM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

As Cisco's (CSCO) prospects fall, questions of its leadership have risen.

 

After a series financial disappointments over the past six months has resulted in a 28% drop in the stock, Cisco chief John Chambers realized -- out loud -- that the company has gone adrift.

 

Now, analysts and investors are questioning whether Chambers is the right person to get Cisco back on course.

 

Goodbye, fiberglass tables and bright colors. Hello, faux leather and WiFi.

By InvestorPlace May 10, 2011 9:11AM
investorplace logo

Right now, the only reason most adults stop and sit awhile at their localMcDonald's (MCD) is to watch their kids hang out at the indoor playground. That or because they have no place to take the take-out, since they work out of their car or truck.


 

Well, the king of fast food hopes to change that with a massive makeover of its 14,000 U.S. restaurants. McDonalds plans to do away with its fiberglass tables and steel chairs to make the restaurant an inviting destination with padded recliners and warm painted interiors that help customers linger -- and maybe spend a few extra bucks.


 

McDonald's inspiration? None other than coffee king Starbucks (SBUX).

 

The CME is raising the amount of upfront capital required to trade crude oil contracts. While the modest increase is being downplayed in the media, it could pressure oil lower.

By Jim Cramer May 10, 2011 9:00AM

jim cramerthe streetWhen the CME (CME) broke the back of the silver market by increasing margin requirements, it was huge news. Of course, it took a virtual doubling in the requirements to shoot that elephant, and the beast stirred in Monday’s session. Nevertheless the CME's move certainly cooled the frenzy.

 

Can margin requirements do the same for oil? Looks like the CME wants to find out after the harrowing session last week that saw oil plummet $10 in a couple of hours. That's why I think last night's 25% increase in the margin required to buy in the oil complex could have impact.

 

It took an 84% increase in margin requirements to stop silver in its tracks, causing a 27% plunge in the precious metal. We are nowhere near that with these boosts in margin. However, the exchange didn't take up the margin rates 84% in one fell swoop, so I expect more increases if the zaniness continues.

 

Are commodities in trouble or in recovery? Don't ask Goldman Sachs.

By Jim J. Jubak May 9, 2011 5:20PM
Jim JubakI think you’re entitled to feel a little cynical today. And you quite probably feel some anger too if you sold some commodity-stock positions last week.

Goldman Sachs (GS), the Wall Street giant that predicted a sell-off in commodities -- a call that undoubtedly contributed to creating that exact sell-off last week -- is now predicting a recovery.

Last week’s rout drove the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 commodities down 11% in five days.

Today, the index was up 3.5% as of 3:05 New York time.

In a May 6 interview with Bloomberg, Jeffrey Currie, Goldman's head of commodity research, said, "Given the magnitude of the pullback, it does create an opportunity for more upside potential, particularly in the second half of this year, when fundamentals are expected to tighten."
 

While U.S. consumers are proving remarkably resilient, fear is helping keep many consumer stocks attractive

By John Reese May 9, 2011 4:35PM

Despite concerns about skyrocketing gas prices, the U.S. consumer is continuing to prove remarkably resilient, according to the latest retail sales figures. According to Thomson Reuters, same-store sales at 25 major stores jumped an average of nearly 9% in April vs. the same month a year ago. Even accounting for the fact that Easter fell in late April this year as opposed to early April last year (which meant more Easter-related shopping was done in March last year), sales have been fairly strong.

 

Still, the high gas prices and lingering weakness in the job market are leaving a cloud hanging over many consumer-oriented stocks. And that's created some good buying opportunities, several of which are popping up on the radars of my Guru Strategies (each of which is based on the approach of a different investing great).

 

As an additional bonus, consumer and food stocks tend to be two of the most resilient sectors during the summer months -- after many investors act on the old adage, "Sell in May and go away." That's what a study recently highlighted by MarketWatch's Mark Hulbert found. The study, performed by Ben Jacobsen and Nuttawat Visaltanachoti of New Zealand’s Massey University, examined the "Sell in May" phenomenon. It found that from 1926-2005, all sectors and industries performed better during winter than summer, but that the effect was "almost absent in sectors related to consumer consumption". 

 

 

The maker of voice recognition technology gets a lift on talk it is in discussions with Apple

By Kim Peterson May 9, 2011 4:28PM
Everyone's watching to see what Apple (AAPL) does with its cash. And shares of Nuance Communications (NUAN) rocketed today on a rumor that it could be Apple's next acquisition.

The website TechCrunch reported that Apple has been negotiating a deal with Nuance, which develops voice-recognition technology. It could be an acquisition, but it's more likely a partnership, writes MG Siegler. It turns out that a company Apple acquired last year, Siri, relies on Nuance technology.

Siri technology is expected to play a big role in future operating systems for Apple, Siegler writes. So Nuance could be along for the ride as well. 

The game is completely addictive. But does it have the potential to become a major entertainment brand?

By Kim Peterson May 9, 2011 2:02PM
Can "Angry Birds" take a company public? The maker of the addictive game hopes so.

Rovio, the company that makes the game, hopes for an initial public offering in three to four years, the chief marketing officer told a Finnish newspaper. "We are not in a hurry," added Peter Vesterbacka, according to Reuters.

He also thinks Rovio could become the world's leading entertainment brand in three years. Give the guy points for being ambitious, however unrealistic that sounds. He does go by the nickname "Mighty Eagle," after all. 

A boost in consumer confidence should be good news for most, but not all, casino stocks. Having done well with my first casino recommendation in March, I give you one more to consider here.

By MoneyShow.com May 9, 2011 1:50PM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

Consumer sentiment improved in April, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey, and that could be a plus for the US gambling industry. 

Though some doubts still exist about the health of the economic recovery, the recent retail-sales data was also much better than analysts expected.

A more confident consumer is what the casinos need-not only do they have to get guests to visit, but those visitors also need to be economically secure enough to gamble.

At the end of March, I recommended buying Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) which operates a group of casinos in Macau. At the time, MPEL's chart showed a major upside breakout, and in fact the stock is now up over 30%.

The recent strong performance of the S&P Gambling and Casino group suggests that there may be opportunities in the other casino companies. While MGM Resorts International (MGM) reported better than expected earnings last week, Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS) disappointed investors.
 

The company overtakes Google with a name value of $153 billion.

By Kim Peterson May 9, 2011 1:22PM
Apple (AAPL) has knocked Google (GOOG) from its perch as the world's most valuable brand.

Apple's brand is now worth $153 billion, according to a study by Millward Brown, a global brands agency. So the brand knocks out almost half of Apple's market cap. If you subtract the $66 billion in cash the company is sitting on, that leaves a value of about $103 billion for the rest of the company.

Is the brand really worth that much? Peter Walshe, an executive at Millward Brown, says the brand is what allows Apple to sell at higher prices. People who buy Apple products are buying the brand as well. 

Last week's commodities rout sent shivers through the markets, and some companies will fare worse than others.

By TheStreet Staff May 9, 2011 1:04PM

By Jake Lynch, TheStreet

 

Commodities cratered last week, with silver posting its biggest decline since 1975 and oil recording its largest drop in three years, sending a chill through the markets as the hottest, and best-performing, investments turned cold overnight.

 

Increases in Comex margin requirements decimated bets on silver, which plunged 27% in a week, and gold slid for three days, the worst decrease in a year.

 

Individual investors, who have been playing the commodities markets through exchange-traded funds, have been burned. The heavily traded ProShares Ultra Silver (AGQ) fund has dropped by 48% in just five trading sessions, illustrating Newton's law of investing: What comes up, must come down. Still, the sell-off has positive implications for the economy.

 

Two new PowerShares funds track the least- and most-volatile stocks in the benchmark index.

By TheStreet Staff May 9, 2011 12:43PM

By Roger Nusbaum, TheStreet

 

Two new exchange-traded funds from PowerShares offer interesting twists on that most plain vanilla of ETFs: the S&P 500 ($INX) index fund.

 

They are the PowerShares S&P 500 High Beta Portfolio (SPHB) and the PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility Portfolio (SPLV).

 

These new funds seem to appeal to two different types of investors: those who want to make aggressive, speculative bets without the potential disadvantages of levered long funds; and those who have lost confidence in their investing abilities or have realized they have a limited tolerance for volatility.

 

The new site, called GrouponLive, will offer discount tickets to concerts and sporting events. With video interview.

By Kim Peterson May 9, 2011 12:36PM

Live Nation Entertainment (LYV) and Groupon: A match made in heaven.

The nation's biggest concert promoter said it's partnering with Groupon to launch a new ticketing deals website that will offer discount tickets to concerts and sporting events. It's another step forward for Live Nation, which has suffered in the economic downturn.

Concert attendance is down nationwide -- last summer, ticket sales fell by 12%. People don't really want to buy an $85 ticket with $30 in service fees loaded on top. Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, suffered a $228.4 million loss last year, and its share price stalled out between $10 and $15. Today, shares fell less than 1% to $10.70.

Post continues after this video interview with the heads of Groupon and Live Nation:

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages punctuated a solid week with a subdued Friday session. The S&P 500 shed 0.2% to narrow its weekly gain to 1.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite (+0.1%) displayed relative strength. The tech-heavy index finished the week in line with the benchmark average.

Market participants went into today's session expecting to hear some new insight from Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who delivered the keynote address at this year's Jackson Hole Symposium. Unfortunately, the ... More


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