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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Sentiment is up, and the markets may continue rising in the short term. But investors must still be prepared to identify the signs of a correction and act quickly.

By MoneyShow.com Apr 29, 2011 12:19PM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

Since mid-March, there have been two distinct cases of what I called panic selling, as those who sold on the news quickly regretted their decision. 

Now that Ben Bernanke appears to have calmed investors, there are some early signs that we could be approaching a period of buying panic.

While the market internals for the broad market, such as the Advance/Decline (A/D) line, are still confirming the higher prices, some market sectors are starting to diverge on a short-term basis. These divergences could be resolved in just a few days of trading, however, and the major trend for the stock market remains positive.

Nevertheless, as we continue to move higher over the next few weeks and the major averages reach my next major price targets, investors would be prudent to adjust their strategies accordingly.

Typically, extremes in sentiment, both bullish and bearish, can build over several weeks, as was the case last summer when the number of bullish newsletter writers dropped below 30% by the end of August.

That number is now likely closer to 60%, and it sends a signal that investors should adopt a more risk-averse buying strategy: take some profits on longs when prices are moving higher, and be sure that protective stops are adjusted as prices move up.
 

Apple fixes problems that don't exist. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke gives first press conference. Sony gets hacked.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 29, 2011 11:44AM

Here is this week's roundup of the dumbest actions on Wall Street.

 

5. Apple: There's no problem, but we fixed it

 

Apple (AAPL) is getting really good at fixing things it says aren't a problem.

 

This week, the company denied, confessed to and then said it will change its iPhone tracking practices that have created an outcry about potential privacy invasion.

 

These funds allow regular folks to hedge against high gas prices. With video on oil company earnings.

By InvestorPlace Apr 29, 2011 10:53AM
By Jeff Reeves, editor of InvestorPlace.com

Big Oil is back. With persistently high crude prices, it would be nearly impossible not to make huge profits. The standout this week was Exxon Mobil (XOM). Its earnings surged by 69% to $10.7 billion. But the entire industry is on the rise, with even the beleaguered BP (BP) posting a profit of $5.48 billion, thanks to expensive oil.

 

As should be no surprise, investors have been pouring money into the oil majors and other related energy companies. It's been a red-hot trade. But if you have been watching prices at the pump more than the stock market, you probably don't have time for analyzing and picking stocks.


To help you out, here are three funds that take the guesswork out of oil investing by spreading your money across a variety of important businesses in the sector:

 

David Sokol's stock purchases will take center stage at Berkshire Hathaway's shareholders meeting.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 29, 2011 10:17AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

Droves of investors and fans of Warren Buffett will flood the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., this weekend in order to take part in Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) annual shareholders meeting. The event, widely considered the "Woodstock for Capitalists," is always hotly anticipated and closely watched.

 

The theme of this year's meeting will be "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." As Buffett noted in his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders, companies including NetJets, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and BYD will be spotlighted.

 

Kinder Morgan Energy remains the safest play on domestic fuel shipping, and it stands to gain more if Washington wakes up to the abundance of natural gas in this country.

By Jim Cramer Apr 29, 2011 9:20AM

jim cramerthe streetWe have tons of oil in this country, we just don't have the ability to bring it to the markets. That's the succinct analysis we got last night from Rich Kinder, the chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP), and the man I think knows more about the business of energy than anyone in the United States.

 

If you have energy somewhere, whether it is in the form of coal or ethane or natural gas liquids or oil, chances are you have to contact Kinder to move it to where it has to go. The fact that West Texas crude is absurdly priced versus all other crude has to do with the high cost of getting the darned stuff out of there. Kinder's company is working as fast as it can to get a pipeline going to allow the oil in Cushing, Okla., to reach the markets so the selling discount is eliminated.

 

When we hit the largest discovery of oil in the last 40 years in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota we, again, developed a bottleneck. Kinder can't get pipe up there but he's investing in rail to reach those hard-to-get-at fields to make sure oil that can be pumped at $112 a barrel will be pumped. And there's a lot of it there.

 

The move is just the latest sign that executives are returning to the company's roots after recent failed efforts to appear more upscale.

By InvestorPlace Apr 29, 2011 9:19AM

Omage: Men playing with guns (©Leander Baerenz/Getty Images)By Jeff Reeves, editor of InvestorPlace.com


Wal-Mart (WMT) may be the world's biggest retailer, but that doesn't mean it has given up on growing. From planned grocery deliveries to inner-city residents to its recent purchase of a social-media company, there always seems to be something new in store.


The latest news, according to The Wall Street Journal, is that Wal-Mart will reload gun sales by cutting back on electronics floor space to make room for rifles, shotguns and ammunition at hundreds of U.S. stores.


But unlike previous failed efforts and some recent quirky initiatives, the return of guns and ammo is a return to Wal-Mart's roots -- something the company may sorely need.

 

Some prized growing regions of Brazil could be hit with cold weather from the South Pole.

By Kim Peterson Apr 29, 2011 6:59AM
Image: Coffee (© HD Connelly/Getty Images/Getty Images)The prices of Folgers and Maxwell House coffees have already been creeping up, but now the companies face a possible 40% spike in bean costs as Brazil deals with hail and possible frost, Bloomberg reports.

The industry has seen Brazilian frost wreak havoc on prices before. In 1994, a frost damaged coffee crops and prices rose 39%. If the same thing happens this year, coffee could hit a record $4.20 a pound, according to Bloomberg. And if coffee is that high at the wholesale level, just imagine what it will cost on store shelves.

As if that weren't bad enough, there's already a shortage this year of Arabica beans, causing prices to increase 24%. "If Brazil has a frost, not only will we see uncharted prices but the situation might become unbearable," industry analyst Rodrigo Costa told Bloomberg. 

Germany's inflation rate is on a quick pace, and that has put downward pressure on the dollar.

By Jim J. Jubak Apr 28, 2011 6:04PM
Jim JubakIf you were wondering if the European Central Bank was likely to go soft on inflation and put its interest-rate increases on hold, wonder no more.

According to numbers released today, Germany's annual inflation rate climbed to 2.6% in April. That’s up from 2.3% in March, and marks the fastest pace for German inflation in more than two years.

The European Central Bank isn’t about to let inflation climb this fast in the core economy of the European Monetary Union -- and the most sensitive one, politically, to inflation.

April inflation data for the Eurozone as a whole will be released Friday. It's expected that the numbers will show inflation steady at last month’s 2.9% annual rate. That's well above the central bank’s inflation target of close to, but not above, 2%.
 

The cable company takes a swipe at Netflix by boosting its on-demand library.

By Kim Peterson Apr 28, 2011 3:15PM
Netflix who?

Comcast (CMCSA) has just made a big leap in competing with Netflix (NFLX) and other video-on-demand providers. The cable giant has snagged shows from ABC and Fox Broadcasting for its on-demand library.

Now, Comcast is the only cable or satellite company to offer current shows from all four major networks in its on-demand service.

Post continues after this video interview with Comcast's chief executive: 

Pepsi is debuting new vending machines that let you record video and send drink gifts to friends.

By Kim Peterson Apr 28, 2011 2:43PM
Credit: © Pepsi Co.
Caption: Pepsi's new Social Vending SystemPepsiCo (PEP) is making it easy to buy a friend a drink.

The company is introducing vending machines that let you buy a friend a soda in advance. Then it tells your friend that the drink is waiting.

The new machines from Pepsi are an experiment in combining social networking with traditional vending. The touch-screen machine will sell Mountain Dew and other beverages just like a regular vending machine. The difference is the way it includes your friends.

After buying a soda for a friend, a customer gives the machine the friend's name and cellphone number. Customers can even record a short video at the machine to send along with a personalized text message. 

While the greenback suffers at the hands of traders looking for a quick buck, evidence builds for an overdue rebound.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Apr 28, 2011 2:41PM

The dollar has been under incredible pressure lately as Wall Street hotshots enthusiastically embrace the "carry trade" -- a one-way bet that's been paying big.

 

It works like this: Borrow in a weak, falling currency with ultra-low interest rates. Then, use the proceeds, plus leverage, to invest in high-yield assets and dollar-sensitive commodities like gold and oil. All of this was enabled by the Federal Reserve and its $600 billion "QE2" initiative.

 

As a result, the dollar has plunged below the nadir reached in early 2008 as hedge fund types pile on. It's down more than 20% from the high reached in 2009. This has increased inflationary pressure and weighed on consumer sentiment -- both of which were big factors in today's disappointing Q1 GDP report. Clearly, the dollar and its status as the world's reserve currency is facing a moment of truth. But there's room for optimism.

 

Even after taking steps to address the issue, Apple faces new questions from lawmakers and independent researchers. With video update.

By Kim Peterson Apr 28, 2011 12:16PM
Apple (AAPL) first tried to ignore the brewing fuss about the way its iPhones collect and store location data, but that didn't work. Then chief executive Steve Jobs tried to calm fears. That doesn't seem to be working either.

Now one congressman is accusing the company of lying. And some people think Apple's recent statements have only raised more questions than answers.

The issue centers around the location snapshots that Apple regularly gathers from people's iPhones. Apple says it uses iPhones to get information about cellphone towers and wireless hot spots, which helps it refine maps and driving directions for users. It's also using the information to build a "traffic database" that will eventually tell users where traffic is jammed.

Post continues after interview with one of the researchers who brought this issue into the spotlight: 

This laundromat operator could really clean up.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Apr 28, 2011 11:44AM

By Michael Olsen, CFA

 

To the list of certain things in life -- death and taxes -- go ahead and add laundry. If you want to turn heaps of dirty clothes into fat stacks of filthy lucre, just open a laundromat.

 

Don't be fooled by their humdrum image. I've learned that effectively operated laundromats, in apartment buildings or as independent businesses, can be venerable cash machines. During my research, I stumbled upon laundromat facilities manager Mac-Gray (TUC), and today I'm giving the stock a 4.8% position in my Rising Star portfolio.

 

This company might not be squeaky clean, but a host of factors make it very compelling: Activist shareholders pushing for better governance, new shareholder-friendly management, the potential for improving profits, and a valuation so small, you'd think it got shrunk in the wash.

 

Rely on relative performance, or RS analysis, to stay invested in stocks that are leading the current market, and consider this tech stock, which looks poised to outperform now.

By MoneyShow.com Apr 28, 2011 11:02AM
By Tom Aspray, MoneyShow.com

Many traders and investors pick a stock to buy based on their analysis of its fundamentals, the stock’s chart, or they read something about the company that piques their interest. 

However, many do not pay enough attention, in my opinion, to the size of the company and how companies of the same capitalization are doing relative to the broad market.

One of the methods I use to find the strongest sectors—and the strongest stocks in those sectors—is relative performance, or RS analysis. This can be done on may free Web sites, and basically, you create a ratio of a market average like the S&P 500 to an individual market sector.
 
This type of analysis can provide a great advantage. At the start of the current bull market, the RS analysis revealed an upside breakout in the technology sector, as I wrote on March 4, 2009, which suggested that tech stocks would lead coming out of the bear market.

On a regular basis, I look at the RS analysis of the mid- and small-cap sectors because being in the right-sized stocks can be quite important.
 

Exxon's first-quarter earnings surge 69% as crude oil creeps above $100. Includes video.

By InvestorPlace Apr 28, 2011 10:38AM

By Jeff Reeves, editor of InvestorPlace.com.


investorplace logoConsumers are feeling the pain at the pump right now. The average price of a gallon of gas has jumped about 12 cents in the U.S. over the past two weeks to $3.88, with the highest average reaching $4.27 in Chicago.


When MSN Money ran a story recently about the positive aspects of $5 gas, it got more than 600 comments, most of them from irate readers.


But one company that appears to be doing just fine in this era of expensive energy is Big Oil poster child Exxon Mobil (XOM).

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages ended the midweek session on a flat note after spending the day inside narrow ranges. The S&P 500 hovered near the 2,000 mark for the majority of the trading day, but slumped to new lows during the last hour of action. The index then returned to its flat line, where it settled for the day. For the third day in a row, participation left a lot to be desired with just 487 million shares changing hands at the NYSE.

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