How long can the S&P 500 keep 2,000?
How long can the S&P keep 2,000?

The Federal Reserve and Congressional politics threaten to rain on the market party.


A panel of experts explains which buys make sense.

By Feb 2, 2012 11:33AM

The Zacks panel of experts gives its stock picks for aluminum and specialty retail. Stocks covered include Kaiser Aluminum (KALU), Coach (COH) and Hibbet Sports (HIBB). Plus the experts cover the latest GDP data and the Federal Reserve's plan to keep rates low.

Tags: COH

As deepwater drilling grows, so will demand for Helix's safety gear.

By InvestorPlace Feb 2, 2012 11:00AM
Scott Gibson/CorbisBy Aaron Levitt

The explosion and resulting oil spill at BP's (BP) Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April 2010 helps underscore the dangers involved with our new energy reality. As worldwide oil demand continues to grow, finding new sources of supply have become a paramount mission, leading exploration and production (E&P) companies to drill in deeper and deeper waters off our coasts.

The potential payoffs are huge, with some of the most prolific oil and gas fields being discovered in recent times. However, to drill in these deep waters, drillers must pay more attention to safety than ever. With the number of lawsuits and fines for "rulebreakers" continuing to rise, producers will undoubtedly devote more capital expenditures to dealing with these issues. For investors, one small oil services company that provides these safety measures could be a great portfolio play.


DirectTV growth has been rapid and there is still potential for more.

By Trefis Feb 2, 2012 10:09AM
Frare/Davis Photography/Brand X/CorbisDirecTV (DTV) and Dish Network (DISH) have been longstanding rivals in the satellite TV market. While the former has flourished, the latter has struggled to hold on to its subscriber base in recent years as telcos such as AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) have expanded their fiber-optic pay-TV services rapidly.

Although Dish has started to make some critical investments to make itself more valuable, its current valuation and our estimates for the two companies present an interesting relative view of DirecTV's success compared to Dish's. The two very similar companies have seen a noticeable divergence in terms of their subscriber bases and overall performance, and the magnitude of difference in their growth is astounding. 

Can the luxury home builder maintain its positive numbers?

By Benzinga Feb 1, 2012 7:25PM

Image: Construction Workers Carrying Window (© Steve Hix/Somos Images/CorbisBy Samuel Richter, Benzinga Staff Writer

Thanks to higher construction spending, American home builders received another boost of optimism, with Toll Brothers (TOL) closing up 3% Wednesday.

According to a new report released by the Commerce Department, building outlays increased by 1.5% in December, far beyond analyst estimates of 0.5%. The figures reflect the biggest gain in new construction since August 2011.


The hotel chain has outperformed estimates in each of the last four quarters.

By Feb 1, 2012 6:09PM

Image: Hotel maid (© Simon Jarratt/Corbis)By: Zacks Equity Research


Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (HOT) is slated to release fourth-quarter and full-year results Thursday before the opening bell. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter is 57 cents per share in profit on revenue of $1.4 billion. For 2011, the Zacks Consensus Estimates for earnings and revenue are pegged at $1.79 billion and $5.8 billion, respectively.


The current Zacks Consensus Estimates for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2011 reflect year-over-year growth of 9.82% and 42.92%, respectively.


Revelations that the company has been betting against the homeowners it has refused to help warrant the firing of its ineffectual overseer.

By Feb 1, 2012 5:44PM

Image: Home with foreclosure sign in front yard © Ariel Skelley/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesBy Igor Greenwald

You know that embarrassing relative you can't quite disown and most certainly can't control? It turns out Uncle Sam has a couple of those, known as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Freddie and Fannie are a power couple all right, with seemingly unchecked power to generate regret.

For conservatives, they're proof that the housing bubble and subsequent financial crash were the fault of the government.


The prospect of an operating loss for the current quarter was enough to cause investors to throw up their hands in disgust and walk away from the stock.

By The Fiscal Times Feb 1, 2012 5:40PM
Image: young woman reading from Kindle (© Reggie Casagrande/Photographer)By Suzanne McGee, The Fiscal Times
Investors have a zero-tolerance policy for companies that disappoint these days, and that's why they spent much of Wednesday unloading shares of Amazon (AMZN) after the company's lackluster fourth-quarter earnings report late Tuesday. (The shares opened below $174 after closing the previous session above $194.)

It’s not so much that the company’s results fell dramatically short of expectations -- they didn't -- but that the contrast between higher revenues and sliding profits appeared more dramatic in light of Amazon’s somewhat bearish projections for the first quarter. 

Does its appearance in the charts say much about where the market is headed?

By Kim Peterson Feb 1, 2012 5:23PM
Image: Crystal ball (© Brand X Pictures/Jupiterimages)Traders are rejoicing that a "Golden Cross" briefly appeared in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX). But does it actually mean that much?

Some think so. In fact, the Golden Cross seems to be a better indicator about where the stock market is headed than the other side of the coin, which would be the "Death Cross." The S&P 500 usually gains about 10.2% in the 12 months following a Golden Cross, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Death Cross? Despite its terrifying name, it leads to an average 3.5% gain for the S&P 500.  

Changes to the company's privacy policy promise to exchange value for information.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Feb 1, 2012 4:23PM

By Tim Beyers


Skeptics and cheerleaders alike have long wondered when Google (GOOG) would become Big Brother. Mark Jan. 27 as the day it happened.


Four days ago, the Big G announced changes to its privacy policy that, in effect, allow all of its distinct products to actively share and act upon data comprehensively. You can look at this in one of two ways:


This monthly scan is helpful for identifying which stocks may be too risky for new buying. It also turns up a pair of compelling 'buy' candidates.

By Feb 1, 2012 3:24PM

Image: Arrow Up (© Image Source/Photolibrary)By Tom Aspray,

The stock market's best January performance since 1997 has certainly changed the outlook of many investors. 

In January 1997, the S&P 500 gained 6.1% versus 4.4% in 2012. In 1997, the S&P 500 rose another 4% and peaked on February 22 before starting a seven-week decline that took the index below the prior year's close.


All investors can do is wait and see after the online retailer reports lackluster sales.

By Jim Cramer Feb 1, 2012 3:05PM

By Jim Cramer


Amazon (AMZN)? Buy? Sell? I know you may not want to hear this, but I don't know. When I finished that conference call, I was scratching my head. Big-time.


First, I expected that the company, which told us that it would spend to win, would blow out the revenues. Nope. It posted unexciting revenues and made me feel that its growth is slowing.


EU regulators may have killed the merger with Deutsche Boerse, but the NYSE remains a very attractive business -- and an inexpensive stock.

By The Fiscal Times Feb 1, 2012 2:58PM
NYSEBy Suzanne McGee, The Fiscal Times

The stock price of NYSE Euronext (NYX) sank 1.8% in trading on its own exchange Tuesday as traders and investors braced for word that the European Commission would block the company's proposed merger with Deutsche Boerse AG as being anticompetitive. Their fears were realized as the EU ruled against the merger Wednesday.

Strictly speaking, the regulators are probably right: In the short run, at least, the merger would have left investors with fewer independently owned trading platforms. But does that really matter in the global financial world we inhabit? And should investors really respond to the prospect of the failed merger by dumping their holdings in NYSE Euronext? 

The company's huge cash hoard is prompting speculation.

By Feb 1, 2012 2:30PM

Image: Businessman and businesswoman with blank check (© Image Source Pink/Getty Images)By Chad Fraser, Investing Daily

In the wake of the latest earnings from Apple (AAPL),'s Gordon Wilcox wrote the following: "It might be par for the course with Apple, but investors certainly still enjoy seeing the maker of iPhones and iPads crush Wall Street estimates come earnings time."

So they did last Wednesday, sending the shares up 6.2% to around $446.66. Here's what had investors in such a good mood:


The bank is hoping for opportunities when new rules force other Spanish institutions to go under or sell out.

By Jim J. Jubak Feb 1, 2012 2:11PM
Image: Arrow Down Umbrella (© Photographers Choice RF/SuperStock)When do you demand that all your competitors report kitchen-sink quarters? When you're convinced that their kitchen sinks are bigger than yours -- and when you believe that some at least will go under from the effort of heaving them out the window.

The huge plunge in fourth-quarter earnings at Banco Santander (STD), Spain's biggest bank, drew most of the attention Tuesday after the company reported its financial results. Net income fell for the quarter to 47 million euros from 2.1 billion euros a year earlier. The results fell just a bit short of the consensus Wall Street estimate of 1.78 billion euros for the quarter. (Banco Santander is a member of my Dividend Income portfolio.)
Tags: STD

Finding great long-term investments is easy, if you've done huge amounts of groundwork and study. But there are some short cuts.

By Feb 1, 2012 2:09PM

Image: Arrow Up (© moodboard/Corbis)By J. Royden Ward, Cabot Benjamin Graham Value Letter

How can you adapt what I have learned during the past several decades and create your own simplified investment approach? 

Very easy. I can get you on your way to steady, above-average profits using just two metrics: the Standard & Poor's Quality Ranking and the PEG ratio.

Tags: FDX


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Market index data delayed by 15 minutes

[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices ended the Tuesday session on an upbeat note with small-cap stocks pacing the advance. The Russell 2000 jumped 0.9%, while the S&P 500 posted a slim gain of 0.1% with seven sectors ending higher.

In some ways, today's session resembled yesterday's affair as the key indices climbed out of the gate, reached their highs during the first half of action, and spent the remainder of the session in a slow retreat from their best levels of the day. Trading volume ... More


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