Businessman blowing bubbles (© GSO Images/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images)
Take bubble talk with a grain of salt

Jim Cramer asks, why pay any attention to letters from a manager who lost money in the first quarter?


These big military contractors are sporting historically small multiples.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jan 6, 2011 2:30PM

Military © Stockbyte/SuperStockFool analyst Anand Chokkavelu loves trolling around in beaten-down sectors. Today's stop on his incessant search for value: the defense sector.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


When a sector is beaten down, I get interested. When a sector is beaten down and nothing has fundamentally changed, I get really interested.


I believe that's the case in the defense industry.


The bakery spent a lot of money to modernize, but savings are small, losses are mounting, and debt is crippling.

By InvestorPlace Jan 6, 2011 1:09PM

Bankrupt © Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty ImagesBy Jeff Reeves, editor of

After bleeding red ink like the jelly out of a freshly bitten Krimpet, the makers of Tastykake snacks face a serious question: whether to sell the company at a fire-sale price or whether to just cry uncle under the crippling weight of its debt.

It's a sad development for the Pennsylvania sweets powerhouse that was born almost a century ago in Philadelphia. But what's perhaps most tragic is that the biggest reason pushing parent Tasty Baking (TSTY) to the brink of bankruptcy is a development that was intended to turn the company's battered finances around.


Though it will be an older model, users can get Apple's flagship smart phone -- and AT&T will get more data-hungry subscribers.

By InvestorPlace Jan 6, 2011 9:55AM

Credit: Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up iPhone 4 as he talks about the Apple iPhone 4 at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Friday, July 16, 2010 (© Paul Sakuma/AP)
 By Jeff Reeves, editor of

If there's one thing Apple Inc. (AAPL) knows, it's the importance of staying on top of the personal-electronics game via constant refining. The iPhone is in its fourth incarnation since its launch, almost four years ago to the day, and a fifth version is expected soon. Consumers are already looking ahead to the iPad 2, even though the groundbreaking tablet PC is just 8 months old.

But it appears that someone at AT&T (T) didn't get the memo on this, despite the telecom's close ties with Apple on the iPhone. In a surprising move, AT&T has decided to push an already outdated Apple smart phone model with its latest scheme: a $49 iPhone 3GS, as long as customers sign a two-year contract. The deal starts Friday.

The move is puzzling on the surface, since most consumers won't be thrilled about the prospects of a nearly 2-year-old phone -- coupled with a contract that lasts until that phone almost turns 4. But a closer look at AT&T's books shows that it may be a very wise move in the long run -- both for consumers and the telecom giant.


The move in this group of stocks reveals the truth: Residential real estate has hit bottom and is on its way higher.

By Jim Cramer Jan 6, 2011 9:29AM

more market commentary and stock picks from jim cramerIt's not a question of when the housing recovery will occur but of how big it will be. That's how I have felt watching the stock market action since the year began.


I use a couple of classic tells to forecast housing sales and values, and they are flashing bright green, really defying gravity in their obvious way of saying, "Housing's back in 2011." This despite the universal "Housing's the same mess it has always been" rap, as well as the downbeat projections, mostly from the noisy folks at Zillow, many of which do not reflect the hard macro data kept by other entities.


Look at these breakouts we have seen just this year: Whirlpool (WHR), Lowe's (LOW), Sherwin Williams (SHW),Pier 1 (PIR), Ethan Allen (ETH), Masco (MAS), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) and even Williams-Sonoma (WSM) after that disappointing outlook. That's incredible. These stocks are screaming that sales for homes are going higher and that the value of homes is going higher, or people wouldn't be throwing good money after bad.


Short-term factors have been pushing up the price of copper, but there's plenty of volatility ahead.

By Jim J. Jubak Jan 5, 2011 5:26PM
Jim JubakJust because your favorite roller coaster is closed for the winter doesn’t mean you have to give up thrills and spills -- there’s always the copper market.

Copper hit a record high on the London Metal Exchange on Jan. 4 and moved to a three-and-a-half year high in Shanghai. And then the next day, copper dropped by 1.1%, the most since Dec. 16.

In the short term, I think copper, the other golden metal, will move higher. There’s plenty of speculative juice for the remainder of January. I’d then look for a pullback of some sort around the beginning of February on a reversal of speculative sentiment. If you’re attracted to copper because of the likely long-term supply shortages and you haven’t built positions yet, I’d wait to see if early February brings the kind of dip that might let you slip a few shares of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) or Thompson Creek Metals (TC) into your portfolio.

The coffee chain will remove the outer ring around the siren image to give the brand more global appeal.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 5, 2011 4:07PM

StarbucksTheStreetUpdated: 3:55 p.m. ET


By Miriam Reimer, TheStreet


Starbucks (SBUX) unveiled a new logo Wednesday that no longer includes the company’s name.


Starbucks' streamlined logo removes the outer green circle that bears the Starbucks Coffee name, enlarging the inner siren, sometimes referred to as a sea nymph, in the company's signature green hue.


In a video posted on the Starbucks Web site, CEO Howard Schultz talked about the decision to update its emblematic logo on the 40th anniversary of the company in March.


The discount chain's stock falls after a disappointing first-quarter earnings report.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 5, 2011 2:43PM

Dollar store © Randy Faris/2007/CorbisBy Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet


Family Dollar Stores (FDO) shares were falling as much as 9% after the discount retailer's fiscal-first-quarter profit missed Wall Street's forecast.


During the quarter, the company earned $74.3 million, or 58 cents a share, from $67.8 million, or 49 cents, in the year-ago period. Analysts were calling for a profit of 61 cents a share. By early afternoon, shares had fallen 8.5% to $45.12.


Family Dollar chairman Howard R. Levine said the company had its best first-quarter sales performance in more than 12 years. However, lower gross margins and higher freight costs hurt its profit. Its gross margin slipped to 36% from 36.1%.


This once-rotten business has taken an appealing turn.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jan 5, 2011 1:38PM

Why, yes, that is a banana in Alex Pape's portfolio. It's a nice investment opportunity he found while peeling back the layers of the food industry. Read on to see if Chiquita Brands is ripe for you.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


I'm just going to put this out there: I love bananas. They are tasty. They are convenient. They can be used to slip up the Mario Kart character chasing you. Today, I'm putting my money where my mouth is and buying Chiquita Brands International (CQB), the leading banana seller in Europe and the runner-up in the U.S.


The telecom's already strong position in 3G and 4G technology gets a wireless boost from the acquisition of rival Atheros.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 5, 2011 1:23PM

thestreetChips © Jamie Grill/PhotolibraryBy Scott Moritz, TheStreet


Analysts and investors applauded Qualcomm's (QCOM) $3.1 billion move to acquire wireless chip rivalAtheros (ATHR), announced Wednesday.


Typically, expensive deals like the $45-a-share cash offer from Qualcomm for Atheros would send the buyer's shares down on dilution worries. But this deal is getting only positive blowback, largely because it will give Qualcomm's already strong position in 3G and 4G technology a boost in areas like WiFi and GPS technology.


The move comes as Qualcomm announced Wednesday that its Snapdragon processors and LTE chips will be inside new 4G devices at Verizon (VZ). Verizon is expected to introduce some of those mobile devices Thursday at CES in Las Vegas.


The iPad stole the spotlight as the first on the scene, but these up-and-comers could take a piece of Apple's pie.

By InvestorPlace Jan 5, 2011 10:44AM
Credit: (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Caption: Apple iPadBy Anthony John Agnello,

There's no denying that the release of Apple's iPad last April was the catalyst that changed tablet PCs from curios to consumer gold. That device is now the standard bearer for consumer and investor expectations, as  iPad sales for 2010 are expected to exceed 14 million, and analysts like Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore now expect Apple to sell 28 million iPads through 2011.

But those projections could be sketchy, based on the idea that Apple is the only game in town. As three other tablets show, the iPad may have a tough time retaining dominance as competitors roll out innovative -- and sometimes flashier -- tablets.


If history is any indicator, this morning's slump will follow through with mild losses. Accept the decline, buy the dips and follow the usual suspects for signs of an intraday turnaround.

By Jim Cramer Jan 5, 2011 10:08AM

jim cramerAt least there's nothing new about this morning's sell-off. Portuguese bonds look terrible. The euro is weak, ignoring great German production numbers. Oil is now "swooning."


Well, we have some research to fuel the narrative: Alcoa (AA), the hottest stock in the Dow ($INDU), is downgraded by Citigroup, and Goldman goes positive on General Mills (GIS)!


 So it goes.


What's been the follow-through on days like this? Typically we have everything go down, then one of the futures ticks up -- oil because of inventories (announced today); copper, perhaps because of short-covering; or the euro, because Portugal was just a fire drill -- and we settle into a down-1%-or-less day. We basically give up what we have made.


Storms in Australia are creating an extreme scarcity with worldwide implications. At least 1 stock could profit.

By Jim J. Jubak Jan 4, 2011 4:28PM
Jim JubakLocal officials are saying the floods in the northern Australian state of Queensland have reached "biblical proportions." The floods, a result of the wettest spring on record, have struck an area bigger than France and Germany combined. Flooding from six rivers in the area has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

The flooding is hitting coal mines, too. "Some open-cut pits are now looking more like dams than mines," Michael Roche, the head of the Queensland Resources Council, told Bloomberg. With railroads underwater, there wouldn't be any way to get the coal to ships for transport to markets in Asia even if companies could get it out of the ground.

Which is a big deal for Asia's steelmakers.

The bookseller faces a potential liquidity crisis, which could lead to a Chapter 11 filing.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 4, 2011 3:58PM

thestreetBankrupt © Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty ImagesBy Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet


Is Borders (BGP) eyeing a bankruptcy filing? If the bookseller's latest moves are any indication, the company could be headed precisely in that direction, according to James V. McTevia, a turnaround expert and managing member of McTevia & Associates.


On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that one of Borders' major suppliers, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, is temporarily halting the shipment of books to the retailer. The publisher's CEO told the Journal that his company will not ship to Borders until it receives more information on the bookstore's payment plans.


Asbury Automotive has its foot on the pedal, ready for an uptick in American car buying.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jan 4, 2011 12:48PM

U.S. auto sales must recover. An auto retailer is priced as if that will never happen. Read on in amazement as Fool analyst Michael Olsen turns this simple equation into a detailed buy case for Asbury Automotive.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


Despite its boring veneer, my purchase of Asbury Automotive Group (ABG) -- a humdrum retailer of new and used cars -- might just put a little excitement into my Rising Star portfolio's returns. I'm investing $750, or 4.4% of my first year's capital.


Here's an update on some interesting funds launched in 2010.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 4, 2011 12:01PM

Mining metal © CorbisBy Don Dion, TheStreet


Precious and base metals proved to be popular themes for ETF investors during the past year. While some companies launched products that tapped into previously unexplored corners of the industry, others offered up new ways to gain exposure to old favorites.


Here are some of the most interesting metals-related products introduced in 2010.


1. ETFS Physical Palladium Shares  (PALL) and ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (PPLT)


Palladium was one of the best-performing commodities in 2010. ETF Securities, a relative newcomer to the U.S. ETF industry, enjoyed a lot of success last year with the launch of PALL and PPLT.



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Market index data delayed by 15 minutes

[BRIEFING.COM] Stocks continue trading near their recent levels, with the Nasdaq (+0.4%) maintaining its lead.

Earlier, we mentioned that the financial sector may hold the key to the afternoon performance among the major averages, and that is holding true thus far. The S&P 500's retreat from mid-session highs has been accompanied by weakness in the financial sector, which now trades lower by 0.2%.

The growth-sensitive group holds a modest loss as most large components hover ... More


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