10 Nasdaq stocks with huge returns
10 Nasdaq stocks with huge returns

Tech fell so far at the start of the new millennium, it was difficult to imagine that the index could ever make up what it lost.

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As Japan recovers from catastrophe, this company is ready to help.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Mar 31, 2011 1:15PM

By Michael Olsen

 

It's easy to make blithe, hard-to-quantify, optimistic statements about buying into Japanese stocks, but I believe the reality's a lot more nuanced. The country already occupied a precarious economic perch, beset by spendthrift consumers, whopping debt, and a declining population. Add a massive natural disaster, and the government spending needed to rebuild from it, and "buy Japan" stops looking like a straightforward slam dunk.

 

I'd rather a wide-moated business with no direct exposure to the catastrophe, but a clear path to benefit from Japan's recovery. I found all these qualities in Aon (AON), one of the world's premier providers of insurance broking, outsourced HR services, and HR consulting. The stock is currently sandbagged by cyclically depressed earnings, seven years of declines in insurance rates, and misunderstood earnings power -- and the market doesn't seem to be pricing in any of its considerable potential. That's why I'm buying $800 worth of Aon shares for my Rising Stars portfolio.

 

Hershey says it will raise prices by nearly 10% to offset rising costs. Will the rest of the industry follow? With video updates.

By Kim Peterson Mar 31, 2011 1:10PM
Get ready for broad price hikes in candy and chocolate.

Hershey (HSY) said this week it's going to raise prices by 9.7%, a move that many people expect competitors to follow. The entire industry is facing huge price increases for raw ingredients -- the cost of sugar has more than doubled in the past year -- and can no longer absorb the higher expenses.

In addition to its signature chocolate bar, Hershey makes Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Twizzlers, Kit Kat and Hershey Kisses. It's not just the cost of ingredients that are rising. Hershey also said it's paying more now for fuel, utilities and transportation. Shares of Hershey were up less than 1% Thursday to $54.72. 

Home centers are stocking grills, topsoil and patio furniture, but weak consumer confidence and a faltering housing market may rain on their plans.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 31, 2011 11:11AM

By Jason Notte, TheStreet

 

Home centers such as Home Depot (HD) and Lowe's (LOW) love helping out cooped-up gardeners with cabin fever at this time of year, but spring optimism and consumer confidence are in short supply this season.

 

The disconnect between home centers' blueprints for the year and their consumers' expectations are creating a murkier forecast than that predicted last spring. At the time, Lowe's had designs on 4% to 6% sales growth behind a 27% spike in March new-home sales.

 

Home Depot, meanwhile, predicted 2.5% sales growth, and Harvard University's Joint Center For Housing Studies suggested that the amount spent on home improvements could surpass $121.5 billion by the fourth quarter of last year.

 

These funds focus on Germany and Switzerland.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 31, 2011 11:08AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

Europe continues to be volatile as vulnerable members of the European Union struggle to combat looming debt issues.

 

Interestingly, despite the economic turmoil, there are still pockets of strength in the region. By approaching them cautiously and picking the strongest players, risk-tolerant ETF investors can find promise.

 

At the same time the media has remained steadily focused on the troubling debt crises of Portugal and Spain, Germany has become a beacon of relative stability.

 

David Sokol, heir apparent at Berkshire Hathaway, resigns after buying stock in a Berkshire acquisition target. If it were any company but Warren Buffett's, an investigation would follow.

By Jim Cramer Mar 31, 2011 8:41AM

jim cramerCall me confused. Confused about how Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) works. Confused about what it might be like to work there. I had this vision -- I am sure you did, too -- of portfolio managers in monk outfits, hairsuits even, working quietly for the master, putting in the time with the icon, learning, learning, learning. An abbey of apprentice-saints waiting for anointment.

 

Now I am thinking: What the heck? They are trading ahead of deals, trading for their personal accounts, darting in and out of potential targets when it is known that the saint is about to pounce and talks about it to everyone in the world?

 

Consider, after all, that if this is the behavior of the heir apparent David Sokol, who the heck knows what's going on there? What are the little, less-scrutinized and less-hyped individuals doing? Anything they want, on an honor system? Cool!

 

About 100 of the coffee giant's 900 Japanese locations were closed down following the earthquake and tsunami, and some were permanently destroyed.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 30, 2011 3:26PM

By Miriam Reimer, TheStreet

 

Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz said that more than 10% of its Japanese locations closed or were destroyed following the massive earthquake and tsunami earlier this month, but that the company's large scale will mitigate any financial impact.

 

Speaking Tuesday at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Schultz said that "the impact financially will be diminished because of the size of Starbucks," adding that "It's an extremely important market, not only for its size and profitability, but the emotional connection we have with the Japanese people."

 

Starbucks opened its first store in Japan 15 years ago; it was the first international store opening for the coffee chain, Bloomberg reported.

 

Those who are uneasy about oil, nuclear power and coal but unsure which alternative will win out can invest in the broader clean-energy revolution with PBD.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 30, 2011 3:13PM

By Michael Johnston, TheStreet

 

The energy market is becoming an extremely dangerous place for investors thanks to numerous risks that threaten to crush profits in the near term. Obviously, the most direct example is in Japan, where the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has led to a sell-off in nuclear power companies around the world.

 

Additionally, we have again been reminded of the risks of oil drilling as news broke that BP (BP) may be charged with manslaughter in the aftermath of last year's disaster at the Deepwater Horizon rig, which very nearly destroyed one of the world's oil giants and almost took down a number of drillers with it.

 

Meanwhile, coal, the world's most abundant fuel source, remains unacceptable due to its environmental implications and the inherent dangers of related mining activities. Many nations are hesitant to extend more of their power-supply needs to this unclean fuel.

 

The company is making 200 films from its online service available at no cost on PlayStation 3 consoles and Blu-ray players.

By Kim Peterson Mar 30, 2011 2:55PM
Image: Hollywood (© Comstock/SuperStock)Sony (SNE) owns a Hollywood movie studio. It also sells lots of devices on which you can watch movies online.

This company should have been leading the online video business. How difficult can it be to get your right hand to shake the left hand? But this is Sony we're talking about, so the answer is very difficult.

But the company keeps trying. This week, Sony's online video platform, called Crackle, is expanding its content on PlayStation 3 consoles and Sony's own Blu-ray players and Bravia televisions. The company wants to have 200 or so movies available on the service, which is free to users.

The movies aren't new, but they're watchable. The current lineup includes "Ghostbusters," "The Da Vinci Code" and "Spiderman 3." 

The retailer says it doesn't need the music industry's blessing for a new service that stores your music online. Will that fly? With video updates.

By Kim Peterson Mar 30, 2011 1:47PM
Amazon (AMZN) took a big gamble this week, one that could backfire in court.

The company launched Cloud Drive, designed to let you store your music collection online. All you need are a computer and an Internet connection -- or an Android-based phone -- and you can listen to your music library from anywhere. Amazon is letting customers store about 1,000 songs for free.

Sounds kind of amazing. Investors were impressed, sending Amazon shares up nearly 7% in two days to $179.42. But here's where Amazon gets into trouble: It didn't ask permission from record labels before launching the service.

You can bet it took all of 10 seconds for all the major record labels to get on the phone with their lawyers over this one. The music labels think Amazon should have relicensed the music (read: paid more) for online streaming, and one executive described the company's move as "somewhat stunning," according to Reuters.

Post continues after this video about Amazon's new cloud service: 

Financial aid can be cumbersome. This company streamlines the process.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Mar 30, 2011 1:41PM

By Jason Moser

 

Figuring out college finances these days is a bit like taking a calculus final before you've even had the class; good luck with all that. But thanks to Higher One Holdings (ONE), not only are schools benefiting from a streamlined financial aid process, but the students are as well.

 

Take the high road
Higher One started out as an idea between three college friends who were looking to expand the purchasing power of their student ID cards. Fast-forward to today, and the company is providing its services to more than 675 institutions around the country -- and it looks like they're just getting started.

 

Companies involved with alternative sources like wind turbines and natural-gas vehicles are getting a big lift from Japan's nuclear disaster and soaring oil prices.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Mar 30, 2011 12:42PM

Recent events have focused investor attention on the energy sector. The political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has pushed crude oil to fresh highs as global spare capacity gets dangerously thin. And Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown has called into question the safety of fission reactors.

 

Over the past few months, traditional oil and gas stocks have been big performers. But now alternative-energy plays are perking up as it becomes clear that wind energy, solar and natural gas will play a larger role in the energy ecosystem.

 

President Barack Obama helped things along Wednesday with a speech outlining ways the country can reduce its dependence on foreign oil. One particular idea, encouraging the use of liquefied and compressed natural gas in cars and trucks, pushed Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE) up more than 11% at one point today. I think the gains are just starting. Here's why.

 

These funds are positioned to take advantage of high crop prices.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 30, 2011 11:12AM

By Don Dion, TheStreet

 

With the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, ETF investors may want to consider arming their portfolios for spring.

 

A number of agriculture-related ETFs should be on investors' radars. Since last summer, agriculture has dominated headlines as supply shortages and improving global economic conditions have pushed food prices to record levels.

 

Looking ahead to this year's growing season, the prices of a number of these crops appear set to remain high. According to a Bloomberg report, although corn acreage is forecast to increase to the second-highest level since the early 1940s, the yield will not be enough to satisfy demand for cattle feed and ethanol.

 

While the radiation problem is foremost on people's minds, there are signs that the country's $300 billion rebuild is starting to heat up.

By Jim Cramer Mar 30, 2011 9:31AM

the streetjim cramerHow delayed will the reconstruction be in Japan? That's on people's minds, given the seeming intractability of the radiation problem from the stricken nuclear power plants.

 

I don't underestimate the dangers of the radiation. I also think there is probably much more we don't know about what is going on right now. But I do believe we are already starting to see some of the firmness in the metals and mining complex that I am expecting to come from this event, and I think the materials needed are already being purchased.

 

There are two things we now know that we didn't initially: The destruction was far greater and more wide-reaching than first reported, and the nuclear option for electricity may be waning.

 

Retailers are hoping that buyers who are tired of skinny jeans will build new outfits based on the flared look. With video updates.

By Kim Peterson Mar 29, 2011 3:36PM
People are finally tired of skinny jeans, and women's designer jean sales dropped by 6% last year to $1.36 billion, Bloomberg reports.

That's a disturbing trend for everyone from Macy's (M) to True Religion Apparel (TRLG) to American Eagle Outfitters (AEO). They're all wondering about the next jean trend to jump on to recover those sales -- and now, they think the answer is in the flared look.

Macy's and Bloomingdale's are betting on $185 jeans from J Brand that look like upside-down martini glasses, Bloomberg reports.

"It's been a hit," the women's fashion director at Bloomingdale's tells Bloomberg. "We've all been wearing skinnies or jeggings for too long. It's a reason to buy."

Post continues after this video about the latest trends from Fashion Week: 

Thanks to Sprint and AT&T's latest products, 3D smartphones are looming large for telecom investors.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 29, 2011 2:20PM

By James Rogers, TheStreet

 

Not so long ago, the mere sight of a 4G smartphone would be enough to get a gadgethead's heart racing. Now, with 4G smartphones ready to flood the market, companies like AT&T (T) and Sprint (S) are looking to push the envelope by adding 3D technology to their phones in an effort to woo consumers and developers away from the Apple (AAPL) iPhone juggernaut.

 

Last week, at the CTIA International Wireless show, telecom giants were mercilessly beating the 3D drum. Sprint's Evo 3D, built by HTC, and AT&T's LG Thrill 4G, hit the market later this year.

 

The big question, though, is whether 3D smartphones are the next big thing . . . or simply the next big gimmick.

 

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[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices extended this week's losses with a broad-based retreat. The S&P 500 fell 0.6% to end the week lower by 1.1%, while the Russell 2000 (-1.1%) finished with a 0.9% decline since last Friday.

Staying true to the theme observed throughout the week, the energy sector (-1.5%) tumbled out of the gate, thus dragging the broader market down with it. Once again, dollar strength and crude oil weakness contributed to sector's underperformance, but the ... More


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