Energy boom makes oil a safe haven
Oil becomes a surprising safe haven

The idea of US crude being a shelter from turmoil abroad may not be as far fetched as it seems.

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Walgreen is acquiring one of the largest online retailers for $429 million in cash. With video updates.

By Kim Peterson Mar 24, 2011 2:54PM
Today is a good day to be a Drugstore.com (DSCM) shareholder. The stock has soared 112% to $3.80 on news that the online drugstore would be acquired by Walgreen (WAG).

Walgreen is spending $429 million in cash on the deal -- a 112% premium to drugstore.com's close on Wednesday. Since it's getting Drugstore.com's $20 million cash hoard, the buyout price is essentially $409 million. Walgreen's share price rose less than 1% to $40.09 in afternoon trading.

Why did Walgreen want Drugstore.com? First and foremost, Walgreen has a terrible online presence. Its website is unattractive and sluggish (check out its "clothing" link). Compare Walgreen's first-aid site with Drugstore.com's first-aid site, and you'll see why Walgreen needed to make this deal.

Check out this video of Drugstore.com's chief executive discussing her business: 

Online retailers make shipping charges a thing of the past. Will competitors follow?

By InvestorPlace Mar 24, 2011 2:39PM

Everyone loves a good deal when shopping online. But everyone also hates to find a bargain, only to get gouged on shipping.


L.L. Bean hopes those two factors will work in its favor as it launches a marketplace where online shoppers no longer have to suffer a dime in shipping fees. Like Amazon.com (AMZN) and its dedicated shoe site Zappos, L.L. Bean hopes the lack of fees is offset by the new customers it will win over with the deal.

 

It's a bold move. The question now, of course, is how many online retailers are going to follow. The answer may surprise you: Many.

 

The company boosts its share price with a reverse split, opening its stock to new buyers. But no one's fooled.

By Jim J. Jubak Mar 24, 2011 1:49PM
Jim JubakIt's a cynical, totally transparent ploy -- but it’s our ploy. If you own the shares, as I do, I’m sure you hope it works.

Citigroup (C) has announced that it will engineer a reverse 1-for-10 stock split and then resume payment dividends at a rate of a penny a share.

The two moves will finally get the shares above $10 (they’ve been stuck at $5 for months), the cutoff level for some institutional investors. That, plus the new dividend -- some institutional investors can’t buy shares without dividends -- will expand the stock’s potential ownership pool.

Not that anyone is going to be fooled, by these moves, into thinking that shares of Citigroup are anything but the slowly-recovering equity of the U.S. bank that got the biggest taxpayer bailout.
 

Every major carmaker will feel the impact from the disaster, analysts say. Japanese automakers have been hit the hardest.

By Kim Peterson Mar 24, 2011 1:14PM
The earthquake and tsunami in Japan are still disrupting the auto industry worldwide, and it could be harder to find that car you want as a result.

Toyota (TM) says it will probably idle a truck plant in Texas because it can't get enough parts, according to Reuters. "It is likely that we will see some nonproduction days coming," a spokesman said. "At this point, we are still not sure of when those might hit or, if they do it, what the duration may be."

The entire sector is feeling aftershocks from the tragedy. Even American automakers are not immune, as they import parts from Japan. General Motors (GM) temporarily stopped production at a plant in Louisiana and laid off more than 50 workers at a plant in New York.

But the Japanese automakers are the hardest hit, with recovery efforts hampered by widespread power outages.

Post continues after video about Toyota and Honda production:
 
Tags: gm

Easter sales aren't as widespread as those of the winter holidays, but they give shoppers the sugar high they need to snap out of their cold spell.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 24, 2011 12:11PM

TheStreetBy Jason Notte, TheStreet

 

The Easter bunny may look fluffy and cute, but retailers know there's a lot of consumer-toned muscle beneath that fuzzy exterior.

 

Easter may not have the profile of other holidays, but the bunny is a retail beast. Easter brought in more than $14 billion last year, accounting for 6.1% of all holiday spending, according to IBISWorld. That  makes it fifth among its holiday cohorts, falling behind the winter holidays (59.2%), Thanksgiving (13.4%), Valentine's Day (7.5%) and Mother's Day (6.5%).

 

Last year, the 79.6% of Americans who celebrated Easter spent an average of $118.60. Most of that spending went into Easter baskets as food ($37.45), gifts ($18.16) and candy ($17.29). For such companies as Tootsie Roll (TR), Hershey's (HSY) and Kraft (KFT) -- which is on its second year of making Cadbury Creme Eggs -- Easter is a $1.9 billion basket of goodies, with candy sales second only to Halloween's $2 billion, according to the National Confectioners Association.

 

Higher margins and lower tariffs signal salad days ahead. With video of Chiquita's chief discussing the business.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Mar 24, 2011 10:44AM

By Alex Pape

 

Shareholders of Chiquita Brands (CQB) have been on a banana boat ride, bouncing all over the place. In the three short months since the Young Gun Portfolio bought shares in the banana master, we've seen shares jump 23%, give it all back, and then jump up another 5%. Such are the vagaries of short-term market prices.

 

I don't pay much attention to the short-term movements, but I do look to new information to strengthen or discredit my thesis. I recently did just that with the company's 2010 annual report.

 

Infrasturcture needs to be replaced, and Chicago Bridge and Iron is ready.

By Jim Van Meerten Mar 24, 2011 10:21AM
Lately I've been looking for a way to get in on the building boom that is bound to happen after this Japanese quake.  A company that keeps getting mentioned is Chicago Brigde and Iron (CBI)


It came up when I was comparing companies that have had at least 10% growth in sales and earnings, and are expected to continue growing, against the Barchart technical indicators, and Chicago Bridge and Iron (CBI) was near the top of the list.

CBI designs, builds, repairs and modifies steel tanks and other structures and associated systems. The company designs and builds petroleum terminals, refinery pressure vessels, low-temperature and cryogenic storage facilities and elevated water storage tanks for clients internationally.  It also sells to the wastewater-treatment, mining and nuclear industries. Japan needs these infrastructure goods and services.
 

These North Dakota producers are some of the best stories out there.

By Jim Cramer Mar 24, 2011 8:54AM

jim cramerthestreetThe illogic is pretty stunning: Every day, on nothing new, oil goes higher. Every day. Same news. We are attacking Libya, a country with relatively small oil production. Yet every day this futures market is starved for oil. That's one reason Chevron (CVX), widely perceived to be a quick beneficiary of that price, is doing so well. It is also a reason to like ConocoPhillips (COP).

 

But I think the best plays, the best bangs for the buck, are these three North Dakota producers, which also have holdings outside of North Dakota: EOG Resources (EOG), which produced 17 million barrels last year, followed by Whiting (WLL), which produced 13.7 million, and Continental Resources (CLR), with 12 million barrels.

 

These are truly astounding numbers, and you can only imagine how much they are making each day on these holdings.

 

North Dakota is an amazing story. It produced 113 million barrels in 2010, a staggering gain over the production just three years before, which was 46 million barrels.

 

The legendary actress used her wits and fame to build a fortune, and her perfume is still the best-selling celebrity fragrance.

By Kim Peterson Mar 23, 2011 2:03PM
Credit: (© Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Caption: Elizabeth Taylor circa 1960On Wednesday the world said goodbye to Elizabeth Taylor, an actress who grew up in front of an adoring public and became a larger-than-life icon. She epitomized beauty and passion, with a tempestuous personal life that fascinated and sometimes appalled America.

She was one of the last great glamorous stars. And she used her fame and wits to build an empire the likes of which few starlets had previously seen.

Oh, sure, everyone from Jessica Simpson to Miley Cyrus' little sister is jumping onto the merchandising bandwagon, but Elizabeth Taylor did it early and did it right. Her White Diamonds perfume is still the best-selling celebrity fragrance in the world, Fashionista reports, ringing up $77 million in sales in 2010.

And you gotta love the White Diamonds holiday commercial, which showed that even in her later years, Taylor could still pull it off. 

Even amid European debt woes, Mideast unrest and a nuclear scare, the market has proved resilient.

By Jim Cramer Mar 23, 2011 8:55AM

jim cramerthe streetWhen you get offline with CEOs around the country, you know what they want to know? How can this market keep going up? I always say the same thing: look at your balance sheet; look at your book of business; look at your prospects. Aren't they the best in years?

 

The vast majority say yes. Some -- for instance, the oil and gas drillers or the truckers or the farm equipment companies or those involved in climate control, safety or medical equipment -- say they can't even handle the business.

 

The companies that are temporarily lulled by the (temporary) communications glut or the Japanese supply chain snafus are still bullish out several quarters. I remember another time when terrible tech balance sheets used to cause companies to go belly-up. Now they are just hiccups!

 

Sure, there are places that aren't so hot. Guess? (GES), Urban Outfitters (URBN) and Nike (NKE) can't crow. The first two remind me of why J. Crew (JCG) wanted to go private. Who can handle this month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter nonsense? Nike was bad.

 

After an 8% dive, value investors would be wise to snap up this bargain stock.

By InvestorPlace Mar 23, 2011 5:27AM

Walgreen Co. (WAG) took a nearly 8% dive after earnings Tuesday, but this drug store retailer may bounce back big-time across the next several weeks.


Here are three reasons investors should consider Walgreen a buy:

 

China's largest budget-hotel chain is interested in the market's No. 5, but the price is not right.

By Jim J. Jubak Mar 22, 2011 5:31PM
JIm JubakA rite of passage is coming soon for Home Inns & Hotels Management (HMIN), China’s biggest budget-hotel chain.

Morgan Stanley (MS) has put China’s fifth-largest budget hotelier, Shanghai Motel Chain, up for sale -- and like any good investment banker, it's trying to get a bidding war started. So far, Home Inns and France’s Accor hotel giant have expressed interest.

The initial price of $1 billion for Shanghai Motel’s 276 hotels and 40,000 rooms strikes me as steep. Outside analysts say a reasonable price is more like $400 million. (Morgan Stanley owns 59% of the chain. The bank is selling that stake and the 30% of the company owned by founder and chief executive Shen Feiyu.)

Can Home Inns show its management chops by either working the bid down or walking away if the price is wrong? Or will the company just go for the growth, no matter what the cost? What the company does will tell investors a lot about its maturity.
 

After ousting comedian Gilbert Gottfried, the insurer is looking for a new squawker. With video updates.

By Kim Peterson Mar 22, 2011 3:55PM
Do you have the voice of a frustrated, abrasive duck? Can you squawk the word "Aflac" at inopportune moments?

Then you might be the new star Aflac (AFL) is looking for. The company will start accepting submissions tomorrow for a voice to replace comedian Gilbert Gottfried. Aflac fired Gottfried last week for making crude jokes on Twitter about the disaster in Japan. (Gottfried has since apologized.)

With 75% of Aflac's business in Japan, the earthquake and tsunami are an especially sensitive subject. So now, the company wants a new voice for its duck.

Anyone can try out for the gig by making a 30-second audio or video clip of the famous Aflac squawk, the Associated Press reports. The file can be uploaded to www.quackaflac.com

Experts disagree on whether the strategy works for investors. With video updates.

By Kim Peterson Mar 22, 2011 3:32PM
Citigroup (C) investors weren't too thrilled with the bank's announcement Monday of a reverse stock split. The stock fell 7 cents a share and today is down by a penny to $4.43.

The 1-for-10 reverse split cuts the number of shares outstanding to 2.9 billion. Now Citigroup will reinstate its dividend to a whole penny. Big spender! The dividend will cost $29 million every quarter.

The reverse split could be a turnoff to some investors who like to own large amounts of cheap shares, The Wall Street Journal reports. And the stock could become more attractive to shorts who think there is more room to fall.

On the other hand, a higher stock price could attract more investors who aren't allowed to dabble in the cheap territory.

Post continues after this video discussing the bank:
 

The 3-day relief rebound hits a wall as the S&P 500 bonks its head on the 50-day moving average.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Mar 22, 2011 3:24PM

After last week's dramatic sell-off -- with the S&P 500 losing 3.6%, culminating with a washout on Wednesday -- the bulls have managed to string together a nice relief rebound rally. Monday marked the third straight up day. So that's it, right? With Japan's nuclear disaster coming under control and Libya's airspace filled with Western fighter jets, are stocks ready for another big uptrend?

 

Not quite. There are issues with the recent rebound. It came on light volume and disappointing breadth -- a sign that investors still aren't excited about stocks at these levels. And on all three days most of the gains came in the opening minutes of trading. The lack of intra-day follow through points to a lack of enthusiasm. Most importantly, key sector groups that have led the decline -- technology and semiconductors -- continue to lag badly.

 

Various technical and momentum indicators suggest this was a temporary reprieve within a medium-term downtrend -- a downtrend that's being powered by indications economic growth is set to slow.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market capped the trading week with losses across the major averages. The S&P 500 fell 0.5% to surrender its weekly gain, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.7%) and Russell 2000 (-0.9%) underperformed. The two indices posted respective losses of 0.8% and 0.6% for the week.

Equity indices were pressured from the get-go after several heavyweights disappointed the market with their earnings and/or guidance, which led to some broader profit-taking. After ... More


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