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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Local microbrews and wines are available at several locations, with more to follow.

By InvestorPlace Mar 28, 2011 10:38AM
Image: Wineglass (© Stockbyte/Photolibrary)

investorplace logoWhole Foods Market (WFMI) is know for its local veggies and meats and has become a grocery powerhouse by focusing on high-quality foods that are good for you, even if they are a bit pricey.


It’s no shock that Whole Foods is building on this image by constantly expanding its lineup of products. But what may surprise you is that the next area of growth appears to be in the bartending business.


The retailer recently opened Bar Lamar in its flagship store in Austin, Texas, serving up locally produced wine and microbrews to thirsty shoppers. And it apparently was such a hit that several other locations quickly followed, with more than a dozen more stores building out their bars as we speak for a broader test.


So where are these Whole Foods beer and wine vendors?

 

Expect the market to pause as the quarter ends.

By Jamie Dlugosch Mar 28, 2011 9:36AM

The market had a very nice recovery rally last week. The S&P 500 recouped losses from the prior week with nearly a 3% gain for the week.

 

External disturbances abated, and investors looked to stocks for potential growth. The bet for sure is that the U.S. and global economies are on much better footing and likely to perform well over the next two years.

 

Noted investor Laszlo Birinyi was quoted last week as saying the bull run is only half complete. That is logical, considering the average bull market lasts four years and we are only two years from the bottom of the market.

 

I’m a bit more cautious in the short term. As such, the ETF pick to click this week is the ProShares Credit Suisse 130/30 (CSM). The ETF provides exposure to stocks but with its short position provides protection in the event of a short-term correction.

 
Tags: etf

While AT&T deals with its T-Mobile acquisition, Verizon will get a free ride competing against 2 distracted rivals.

By Jim Cramer Mar 28, 2011 9:10AM

jim cramer of thestreetthestreetAnd the winner of the cellphone wars? It just might be Verizon (VZ). Hear me out on this.

 

I think the AT&T (T) move is brilliant, just brilliant. It has the two key constituencies in this country behind it: the unions, because the Communications Workers of America will support it, as they can unionize T-Mobile (AT&T is unionized), and the president, because the company has pledged to help the poor get cell service. That's game, set and match.

 

Once AT&T merges with T-Mobile, there will be very little incentive to cut prices, because the market will lose the deep-pocketed competitor. The other competitor, Sprint Nextel (S), needs to raise a lot of money to build out its network, and unless AT&T is told to subsidize Clearwire's (CLWR) build-out, which would help Sprint, then Sprint will not be as competitive.

 

Now, I like AT&T. Very much. Think it is terrific. Aggressive. Smart.

 

Sometimes the numbers won't tell you what a company's future is. In Apple, the answer is beyond the numbers.

By Jim Van Meerten Mar 26, 2011 4:47PM
Apple (APPL) reminds me of the kid everyone voted for in high school as valedictorian or most likely to succeed.  Those awards always seemed to be the kiss of death. That poor kid was all things to all people, and there was no way he or she could live up to the expectations.

Similarly, Apple is every one's darling. It's the most rated stock on Motley Fool, my barometer for general investor interest and sentiment, and one of the most widely followed stocks on Wall Street.

I hope you aren't looking to me to tell you what to do. This post is based on my memories of "Dragnet." When a witness would ramble on with all sorts of unrelated opinions, Joe Friday would say, "Just the facts, Ma'am."

That's what I'm going to attempt, just the facts. 

Nothing defined Alan Greenspan's tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank more than his wholehearted embrace of capitalism.

By V.N. Katsenelson Mar 25, 2011 2:25PM
By Vitaliy N. Katsenelson
There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen… the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil. –Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850)

Nothing defined Alan Greenspan's tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank more than his wholehearted embrace of capitalism. With early roots in his 30-year association with the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, that faith grew into an unconstrained confidence in the free market and deregulation to steer the economy and ward off crises.


According to a current Fed governor, however, both Greenspan’s Fed and the Fed today have not been the stalwarts of capitalism that the Maestro believed them to be.

 

The coffee giant expects sales from food stores and retail outlets to rival revenues from its coffee operations.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 25, 2011 2:08PM

By Miriam Marcus Reimer, TheStreet

 

Starbucks (SBUX) worked to hold on to the week's gains Friday after the coffee giant said Wednesday that it expects sales of its coffee and other products at grocery stores and retail outlets to one day rival its traditional coffee shop business -- meaning the operating segment would grow more than tenfold from its 2010 results.

 

On March 23 at Starbucks' annual shareholder meeting in Seattle, CEO Howard Schultz promised investors huge growth in the company's grocery business, less than a month after Starbucks' 12-year arrangement with Kraft Foods (KFT) ended.

 

Starbucks shares were trading 1% lower at $37.21 Friday afternoon, working to hold on to gains of 5% on Wednesday and 2.4% on Thursday.

 

The company didn't pay any US taxes in 2010. In fact, it got a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. With video updates.

By Kim Peterson Mar 25, 2011 2:02PM
Slogging through your taxes right now? Maybe you could hire someone from General Electric (GE) to help.

The company has beaten Uncle Sam. It paid no U.S. taxes for 2010, The New York Times reported. In fact, it received a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

It's not that GE can claim poverty. The company rang up $14.2 billion in profits last year, including $5.1 billion from U.S. operations.

How did GE do it? Through what the Times describes as "innovative accounting" and fierce lobbying, GE has been cutting its tax bill for years. In a stroke of genius, it hired a former Treasury official to lead its tax department and filled its team with former IRS employees and Congressional tax specialists. 

The struggling bookseller isn't getting much interest from buyers, so it may get taken private by its founder.

By Kim Peterson Mar 25, 2011 12:54PM
Credit: ((C) Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Caption: Barnes and Noble storeBarnes & Noble (BKS) put itself up for sale seven months ago but has found life a little lonely since then.

No one wants the bookseller. Shares have dropped 37% since it began taking suitors. It had to cut its dividend, and last week shares hit a 15-year low, Bloomberg reports. Barnes & Noble is the only major retailer trading at a discount to its net assets.

And why would anyone buy it? The large-scale bookstore business is finished, sadly. Barnes & Noble's major competitor, Borders, is in bankruptcy.

The next big hope for the industry is in e-books, but Barnes & Noble suffers in that area as well. The Kindle from Amazon (AMZN) has two-thirds of the e-reader market. There's also competition from Apple's (AAPL) iPad line. 

The bankrupt video-rental chain shows more signs of trouble.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 25, 2011 12:27PM

By Jeanine Poggi, TheStreet

 

Blockbuster (BLOAQ.PK), the bankrupt video-rental chain, told a court that it plans to cancel more than 150 leases.

 

Generally, when a company announces lease cancellations, it means it plans to shutter those stores or look to renegotiate rent. Blockbuster said in a filing that any property left in the stores "shall be deemed abandoned." The struggling movie retailer listed stores in New York, Texas, Florida and California, among others.

 

Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection in September after struggling to compete with online video services such as Netflix (NFLX). The company won approval earlier in the month to conduct an auction for the company. The starting bid will be $290 million, an offer the company received from a group of investors in February.

 

After months of sideways action, stocks look ready to be led higher by technology, materials and emerging markets.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Mar 25, 2011 12:20PM

The bulls resolved the stalemate that had developed over the past few days resolutely to the upside as the long list of troubles -- the dissolution of the Portuguese government, the Middle East turmoil and the Japanese disaster -- was set aside. People want stocks.

 

And for the first time in months, they wanted stocks in key cyclical sector groups, including technology, semiconductors and materials. Crude oil and gold both declined as the "risk trade" pulled back and unleashed a wave of confidence. Breadth and volume were solid Thursday as 87% of the stocks in the S&P 500 moved higher on 84% of total trading volume.

 

Technically, the big news was that the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) -- Wall Street's "fear gauge" -- sliced through its 50-day moving average in a big way for the first time since Feb. 1. Drops through the 50-day MA for the VIX have coincided with uptrend initiations lately. Examples include Sept. 2, Dec. 2, and Feb. 2. I think we're in the midst of another uptrend initiation right now.

 

Research In Motion's shares tumble 11% after a weak financial forecast and another delay for its superphones.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 25, 2011 11:48AM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Research In Motion (RIMM) pumped its PlayBook, but investors dumped the stock on a weak financial outlook and the delay of a superphone arrival.

 

RIM posted solid fiscal-fourth-quarter numbers after the bell Thursday but said higher costs for new products like the PlayBook tablet would narrow gross margins to 41% from 44% on lower-than-expected revenue.

 

The dim forecast knocked RIM shares down 11% and helped confirm suspicions that the BlackBerry maker isn't on a quick-turnaround path.

 

Betting with the billionaire John Malone.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Mar 25, 2011 11:38AM

By Jim Royal, Ph.D.

 

My Special Situations portfolio follows transactional events that create value for shareholders. And that's what I think I've found with Ascent Media (ASCMA).

 

After being spun off from Discovery Communications (DISCA) in 2008, Ascent is now in a transitional period. It recently disposed of its former media operations entirely and acquired Monitronics, a home security business, from private equity owners. Now Ascent's operations consist solely of Monitronics, and Ascent has left Montironics' managers in charge.

 

The business
Monitronics has an attractive business model in a recessionary-resistant business. The company uses a network of some 450 independent dealers to source customers, who sign multi-year contracts for ongoing service.

 

Durable-goods orders have dropped for 2 months in a row, but a key purchasing index tells a different story.

By Jim J. Jubak Mar 25, 2011 11:25AM
Jim JubakWhich data should you believe when looking at the direction of U.S. economic growth?

Durable-goods orders fell by 0.9% in February. Economists had expected a 1.8% increase in orders.

After supporting a reading that the economy was recovering through most of 2010, durable-goods orders have shown a confusing pattern since October. In the last two quarters, orders have declined in the first month of a quarter, before rebounding in the second and third months of the quarter.

But that pattern hasn’t held this quarter -- the 0.6% drop in February followed on the heels of a 3% decline in January.

The two consecutive monthly drops in durable-goods orders run contrary to an extremely positive increase in the ISM Purchasing Managers Index, to 68 in February. That’s the strongest ISM number since January 2004.
 

Howard Stern takes on Sirius again. RIM's late entry into the PlayBook game. Hackers climb over the New York Times' paywall. Banks remain on skid row.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 25, 2011 10:36AM

Here's some of the dumbest news from business this week:

 

5. Howard Stern suits up against Sirius XM

 

When it comes to Stern and his relationship with management, it's always a matter of when, not if, he'll turn on them -- something current employer Sirius XM (SIRI) may have forgotten.

 

They got a reminder this week when Stern filed suit against his company for allegedly failing to pay stock awards it owed the shock jock in exchange for helping the satellite radio company surpass its subscriber growth target. At the end of December 2010, the company had 20.2 million total subscribers, the highest number of net subscribers in its history. Stern, naturally, believes he played a not-so-small part in making that happen. Read more

 

Sooner or later, the US will embrace energy independence and will need more fuel from its vast reserves. For that, you'll need Enbridge.

By Jim Cramer Mar 25, 2011 9:01AM

jim cramerthestreetYou know oil should be lower. You know it because the second-largest oil producer in the world, Canada, is beginning to ship aggressively into the largest market in the world, the U.S., and it hasn't done anything to dent the price of crude.

 

Last night on "Mad Money" I talked to the CEO of Enbridge (ENB), a perennial 52-week-high builder of multibillion-dollar pipelines that has done more than just about any company to make our nation energy-independent. Unless you are a pipeline aficionado, the only way you might know of these guys is through their two oil spills last year, which have made siting pipelines a major chore.

 

The lack of pipeline is what's keeping all of that oil bottled up in Cushing, Okla. Enbridge is going to solve that. It's going to solve the lack of pipeline coming from the biggest oil discovery in a generation, the Bakken Formation. And Enbridge is going to solve the lack of pipeline out of Eagle Ford, another huge deposit.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: -0.80. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: flat. U.S. equity futures continue to drift near their flat lines, which has been the case for the duration of pre-market action. The S&P 500 futures have spent the past two hours in a two-point range and have not made a move larger than five points at any point during the night.

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