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.


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 Apr 28, 2011 11:02AM
By Tom Aspray,

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 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).


The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Transportation Average Index hits highs this year after companies such as UPS, Delta Air Lines and CSX report better-than-expected quarterly results.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 28, 2011 10:16AM

TheStreetBy Don Dion, TheStreet


Amid this busy spurt of earnings, companies in the transportation industry have logged some of the most noteworthy performances. Companies such as UPS (UPS), Delta Air Lines (DAL) and CSX (CSX) have topped analyst forecasts. These results have helped to return the Dow Jones Transportation Average to 2011 highs.


The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Transportation Average Index Fund (IYT), which is designed to track this popular index, has benefited from this recent round of earnings strength. The fund is not only seeing new 2011 highs but it has returned to previous all-time highs as well.


Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if the index and ETF will be able to hold onto these current levels. Many investors turn to the transportation industry to get a feel for the state of the broader global economy. Therefore, if these levels do prove to be sustainable in the weeks ahead, it will likely provide many with a welcomed boost of confidence.


By allowing David Sokol to frame the Lubrizol discussion, Warren Buffett tacitly endorsed his actions.

By Jim Cramer Apr 28, 2011 9:21AM

jim cramerthe streetSometimes you just get had. Warren Buffett and the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) shareholders got had by David Sokol. That's how you have had to look at this whole sordid episode with the audit committee report that came out Wednesday cinching that judgment.


The report is a refreshing break from the "ah, shucks" folksy nonsense that this issue was dealt with by Buffett and by Sokol the first time around. In fact, this report basically makes me feel like Buffett and Sokol both dissembled on the issue when it first broke.


Buffett allowed Sokol to delete the most crucial line in the alleged "come clean" release about this issue, which is that Sokol was leaving because his conduct on the matter ensured he would never get the top job. When Sokol prevailed in getting that line removed from the release, Buffett tacitly endorsed what Sokol did. It was the only admonition.


Now we know that Buffett and everyone else, apparently, were appalled by what happened, or the audit committee wouldn't be talking about suing Sokol for what he did. In other words, Sokol didn't leave to go make his second fortune with his family; he left because he was pushed. That's a totally different story.


Cummins raises its 2011 guidance and projected earnings. So what does this mean for the stock?

By Jim J. Jubak Apr 27, 2011 4:14PM
Jim JubakWhen you get right down to it, Tuesday's first-quarter earnings report for Cummins (CMI) is very simple.

The company raised its guidance for 2011 revenue to $17 billion, up from the earlier guidance of $16 billion, and increased its projected EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) to 14%, from 13.5%. That works out to an increase in projected 2011 earnings to $7.75 a share, from the $7.24 a share Wall Street consensus before the company reported.

To figure out what the stock is worth, you now have to answer just two questions.

First, do you think this quarter represents the top of the cycle for this maker of truck engines and backup power systems? Or is it more like the middle of the cycle, with lots of sweet-spot exposure still ahead?

The coffee shop ranks behind McDonald's and Subway in terms of US sales. Updated with earnings numbers.

By Kim Peterson Apr 27, 2011 1:16PM
Updated 4:30 pm EST

Starbucks (SBUX) might have started as a coffee shop, but it now counts as a chain restaurant -- and it's become the third-largest in the U.S.

When measured by sales dollars,McDonald's (MCD) tops the chart, and Subway comes in second. Starbucks is No. 3, according to a study by research firm Technomic. Not bad for a company that closed thousands of stores and went through its own mini-crisis in the economic recession.

Starbucks' rise is certainly bad for Burger King and Wendy's (WEN), which used to round out the top three behind Mickey D's.

Still, all is not well at Starbucks today. The company's share price dropped nearly 2% in after-hours trading after it disappointed analysts with its profit forecast for 2011. Before today, shares had zoomed 30% in the last year to $37.18. 

Taking advantage of the chip revolution with the biggest and the and best.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Apr 27, 2011 1:13PM

By Jordan DiPietro


Today I'll be adding shares of Applied Materials (AMAT) to my Motley Fool real-money portfolio. The world's largest supplier of semiconductor manufacturing equipment has been around since 1967 and easily has the largest offering of semi equipment and services in the industry.


Applied Materials is on the manufacturing end of the semiconductor industry. While other companies will create complex designs for their chips, Applied designs the fabrication tools needed physically create the chips themselves. The process is extremely complicated -- requiring dozens of various steps -- and this company has a rich history and unparalleled expertise that allows it to deliver an unmatched product portfolio to fabrication operations.


What are the catalysts?
While Applied Materials might be the 800-pound gorilla on the block, it still faces extreme competition


With biotech rallying, investors who really want some bang for their buck should consider 3 smaller but riskier stocks. All have strong charts and low prices.

By Apr 27, 2011 11:22AM
By Tom Aspray,

The S&P Biotechnology Index bottomed at 929 on February 24, just three days after the S&P 500 peaked at 1,344.03. Biotech then continued to move higher over the next few weeks as the overall market was declining.

Since the close on Feb. 24, the biotech group is up 13.2% while the S&P 500 is just 3.1% higher.

Big biotech companies like $52 billion Amgen (AMGN) get the lion’s share of the attention from the press and investors when biotech sector moves. Though AMGN looks positive technically after Tuesday’s 2.8% gain, it is up just 10.3% from its March lows.

Much smaller Dendreon (DNDN), a stock I recommended on March 25, is still a $5.2 billion company, and from its March lows, it is up a robust 29.2%.

But the real bang for your buck—which is accompanied by much higher risk—is in the smaller biotechnology companies. For example, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc (SPPI) is just a $500 million company, one tenth the size of DNDN, and one hundredth the size of AMGN. From its March lows, SPPI is up 46.3%.

The three biotech companies under $7 I will look at today all have compelling technical patterns, but they are appropriate only for the most speculative part of your portfolio. In addition, one biotech giant I earlier recommended avoiding now looks attractive for new positions.

While Android presents a near-term threat to Apple, Google's attractive and powerful Chrome operating system could eventually wipe out much of the computing industry as we know it.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 27, 2011 11:00AM

By Anton Wahlman, TheStreet


We Apple (AAPL) investors typically view Steve Jobs' health as the biggest risk to the stock, but there's a potentially greater threat: Google's (GOOG) new operating system.


No, I'm not talking about Android.


I'm talking about Chrome OS.


While much of the world is embroiled in economic uncertainty, funds that expose investors to Chile, Canada, Sweden and Thailand hold potential growth.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 27, 2011 10:47AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet


It's been a trying period for internationally-minded investors in 2011.


With political turmoil sweeping through the Middle East and Northern Africa, debt issues gripping the European Union and Japan still struggling to recover after its devastating earthquake, finding investing solace outside the U.S. borders requires a careful eye and plenty of patience.


Although at this time the options appear slim, there are nations out there that have exhibited strength. By using ETFs, investors can keep these countries on the radar.


People across the country are worried and financially exhausted, and while many have no idea what the Fed chief does, they trust him more than either political party.

By Jim Cramer Apr 27, 2011 9:31AM

jim cramerthe streetWhich Ben Bernanke will we get today in this first-ever press conference?


Will we get the precise, certain-but-dry professor-of-economics Bernanke, the one we often see in front of Capitol Hill panels? Will we get the impenetrable game-playing Fed chief, the one who wants to cross swords and match wits with the world's hedge funds that are desperate for the next basis point to plunder on their clients' behalf?


Or will we get the one I am hoping for, the Ben Bernanke who came on "60 Minutes" more than two years ago, the plain-spoken son of hard-working people who knows that something is very wrong in the country, who will try to give us context and will be as avuncular as one can be in trying to explain how we could feel so worried and financially exhausted as a nation.


Remember, it is just a press conference; he will be answering questions as foils. He will have to fit his answers to those confines and still make them relevant to the masses.



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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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