Did Alibaba IPO signal a market top?
Did Alibaba IPO signal a market top?

Some investment advisers are entertaining that possibility, especially in light of Monday's triple-digit loss in the Dow.


Keep an eye on agriculture, timber and the troubled nation of Egypt.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 31, 2011 1:36PM

thestreetImage: Stock market report (© Corbis)By Don Dion, TheStreet


Here are six ETFs to watch this week.


1. Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (MOO)


The agriculture industry remains on the minds of investors as rising food prices continue to steal headlines around the globe. Investors looking for equity exposure to this industry should turn their attention to MOO.


Boasting exposure to equipment producers such as Deere (DE) and agriculture chemical companies such as Potash of Saskatchewan (POT), MOO provides investors with broad access to companies responsible for satisfying global food demand.


On Tuesday, top MOO component Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) will release its quarterly earnings performance. The bar appears high because earnings performance so far from other agribusiness players -- including DE, POT, Monsanto (MON) and Mosaic (MOS) -- has been impressive.


Amazon Prime will offer on-demand content to premium members.

By InvestorPlace Jan 31, 2011 1:05PM

By Anthony John Agnello, InvestorPlace.com


Amazon.com (AMZN) has always embraced new technology in its never-ending pursuit of consumers' digital dollars. From its one-stop retail model to its Kindle electronic reader, Amazon continues to break ground in the modern retail business.

But it has had a few notable blunders in its quest to remain the dominant shopping site for Americans. When music made the jump from CD to MP3, Apple (AAPL) and its iTunes all but cornered the market in 2003. Amazon didn't open its own MP3 store until late 2007. And as Netflix (NFLX) has revolutionized the home video biz via online streaming, Amazon has been left in the dust selling DVDs and the occasional downloadable movie with nary a streaming title to be seen.

But at least on the streaming video front, the online retailer is looking to make up lost ground. Amazon.com is overhauling its premium shopping service to help it evolve into an on-demand, instant video streaming service akin to Netflix.


It's been a year since MSG spun off from Cablevision, but there's still plenty of value left in the stock.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jan 31, 2011 12:51PM

You may be trying to cut MSG out of your diet, but you should consider some for your portfolio. Jim Royal is buying some today for his Special Situations port, and here's why.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


If you've been following my Special Situations portfolio, then you know I like spinoffs. And the stock I'm buying today is just such a play. Madison Square Garden (MSG) was spun off from Cablevision Systems (CVC) about a year ago. While I usually try to get in closer to the spinoff date in order to take advantage of inefficient spin dynamics, Madison Square Garden still offers value, despite a run-up in the last six months.


Look for stocks to bounce back from Friday's fear-based selling.

By Jamie Dlugosch Jan 31, 2011 10:11AM

Image: Exchange-traded funds (© ThinkStock/SuperStock)The market is so unbelievably predictable. A little mischief overseas brought to us by live television and stocks tumble.


No matter that demonstrations in Egypt will have any real impact on the global economy. It is amazing what the bears will do to spook the bulls. All it takes is a little fear and down we go.


Come on traders, time to get a backbone.


Well, if it was predictable that stocks would go down on geopolitical concerns it is only natural to think that stocks will go up as those concerns wane.


We have one more day of the January effect this week and I’m looking for the biggest correction from the small cap space. Traders should ride the iShares Russell 2000 (IWM) to profits this week.

Tags: etfoil

The real story today is that, despite the turmoil in Egypt, stock and oil prices are merely flat.

By Jim Cramer Jan 31, 2011 10:09AM

jim cramerA major emerging nation with more than 80 million people, a country that has 6% growth and huge infrastructure possibilities as well as a vital waterway and important oil properties, is aflame. The headlines are damning. The people are in open revolt. Port of Alexandria is closed. Nonessential personnel, blah, blah, blah. Obviously chaos and confusion reign.


And stocks are merely flat? Sure, they were down Friday, but after the run we have had, isn't that reasonable anyway just on the crummy quarter out of Ford (F) on top of the inflation- and commodity-troubled Procter & Gamble (PG)? Both the soft goods and the autos had been doing so, so well.


Of course, a cursory read of the media, a quick look at the Web and the TV, tells you that things are down and down big. But we all know that's not true. In fact, I would expect that on a normal day, with inflation in Europe running higher than expected -- 2.4% instead of 2.3%, but "higher than expected" has a real solid, negative ring to it -- that stocks should be down.


However, things are not looking heavy at all.


Elevation Partners was firing on all cylinders, but now two founders are embroiled in a public battle.

By Kim Peterson Jan 28, 2011 4:50PM
Credit: (© Virginia Mayo/AP)
Caption: BonoBono hasn't had the best go as a technology investor. His private-equity firm, Elevation Partners, lost some geek cred after plowing $460 million into failed device maker Palm.

But Elevation was on a serious high in 2010, mostly due to its reported $210 million investment in Facebook. That stake may have quadrupled, reports say.

Such is the rocky life of a big-risk, big-reward private equity firm. But the U2 frontman's company may face its toughest hurdle yet, now that a co-founder has decided to leave. Fortune reports that Marc Bodnick is resigning as co-founding partner at Elevation for a position at Quora, an online question-and-answer site valued last year at $86 million.

His departure is damaging enough for Elevation. But today brings word that Bodnick is also fighting with the firm's leader, Roger McNamee, over the firm's profits. 

Marriott is the latest hotel to dump adult movies from its in-room video selection.

By Kim Peterson Jan 28, 2011 4:05PM
Credit: (© Image Source/Corbis)
Caption: Businessman watching television on hotel bedPorn just isn't what it used to be for hotels.

At one time, pay-per-view videos of the adult variety were a huge moneymaker for hotels. Chains like Marriott International (MAR) could count on "in-room entertainment" for a reliable chunk of revenue. But that's all changed, mostly because of the Internet.

The availability of Wi-fi in hotel rooms has opened up an all-new source of adult entertainment, sending the pay-per-view money stream into huge decline. Now, it's no longer worth it for some hotels to offer X-rated movies.

Marriott became the latest major hotel company to pull adult videos from its rooms. 

As Egypt burns, market volatility spikes in what's shaping up to be the worst correction since August.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jan 28, 2011 3:20PM

Stocks were plunging Friday in reaction to political turmoil in Egypt and a weaker-than-expected GDP report. With the financial news networks broadcasting images of chaos in Cairo, along with big declines in the major stock averages, I can't help but think of the similarities between today and the May 6 flash crash meltdown that occurred during protests in Greece.


But really, the upheaval in places like Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan is merely providing the catalyst for a sell-off. The underlying conditions for a correction were already there. There have been plenty of signs over the past two weeks that investors were becoming overconfident and that stocks were rising on narrow support. I talked about some of these in my column this week as well as in blog posts here and here


So now what? By one measure, stocks appear to be entering their worst market correction since last summer. Here's why.


My Joseph Piotroski-inspired portfolio returned 56% in 2010. Here's how it works.

By John Reese Jan 28, 2011 3:01PM

By John Reese, Validea.com

Living in a society that is obsessed with celebrity, it's important not to confuse fame with success. While many of the pundits you'll see on television or read on the Internet have attained celebrity status, few have attained the types of track records that merit that status -- or your attention.


Conversely, some of the world's most successful investors -- whose advice does merit your attention -- are men and women you've probably never heard of. Joseph Piotroski is a great example. You won't find Piotroski offering investment tips on TV, or Tweeting his latest stock picks on the Internet. In fact, Piotroski isn't even a professional investor; he's an associate professor of accounting at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.


Any company with a business connection to Egypt is suffering in the markets today.

By Jim J. Jubak Jan 28, 2011 2:55PM
Jim JubakThe news from Egypt and the Middle East is trumping everything else in the financial markets now.

The situation continues to worsen in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak has imposed a 6 p.m.-to-7 a.m. curfew in the cities of Cairo, Suez and Alexandria in an attempt to suppress a challenge to his 30-year-old regime. (The Associated Press, citing Egyptian state television, is reporting that the headquarters of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic party is on fire and that the curfew has been extended nationwide.)

The government has shut down Internet and mobile phone service in effort to disrupt communications among the loosely organized opposition and to limit the transmission of video of the protests and police attacks on protesters. The fourth day of protests began shortly after the end of Friday prayers.
Of course, the shares of any company with a business connection to Egypt are being pummeled. For example, Apache (APA), which has onshore oil operations in Egypt, is down 2.7% as of 12:15 EST after falling 4.8% Thursday.
Tags: goldoil

The billionaire investor has a variety of options for the mountains of money Berkshire Hathaway has amassed.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 28, 2011 1:33PM

Image: Cash (© MedioImages/Jupiterimages)


Improving market conditions have been a major benefit for Warren Buffett, who has remained bullish through this long, arduous global economic recovery.


Now the Omaha, Neb., native is sitting on a mountain of cash, leading many analysts, commentators and fans to speculate about what the world's third-richest man might do with it. According to a Sept. 30 filing, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) has $34.46 billion in cash.


Buffett is unlikely to stand by and watch his money pile up, saying in the past that he doesn't favor cash as a long-term investment.


In an interview on "The Charlie Rose Show," Buffett insisted that although Berkshire Hathaway always has enough cash, he sees cash as a bad long-term investment. He said he's usually unhappy when he finds excess cash.

Likening cash to oxygen, the legendary investor said it is important to have cash but unnecessary to have it in excess. Rather than hoard cash, he would rather own a strong business.


Amyris battles malaria and turns sugarcane into diesel.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jan 28, 2011 12:52PM

Our pick of the day could lose you a lot of money. On the other hand, it could hit big. Welcome to the world of the "Dada Porfolio!" Read Sean Sun's account of Amyris only if you're fan of Amityville and risk.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


Last week I talked about why I was considering Amyris Biotechnologies (AMRS) for the Dada Portfolio. To recap:

  • Its very cool technology can transform yeast into microfactories capable of producing almost any biological molecule.
  • It's already successfully produced artemisinin, an antimalarial drug.
  • It's currently focused on Biofene, an alternative petroleum replacement that Amyris can produce from Brazilian sugarcane

The government breaks down the financial meltdown. Intel tries to be cool. A lawsuit asks Taco Bell: Where's the beef?

By TheStreet Staff Jan 28, 2011 12:01PM

Image: Wall Street sign (© Corbis/SuperStock)


Here is this week's roundup of the dumbest actions on Wall Street.


5. The unabridged guide to financial meltdowns

In just over 630 pages, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission laid out its indictment of Wall Street titans including Goldman Sachs (GS) and Bank of America (BAC), extinct Wall Street species like Merrill Lynch, and lenders that were synonymous with the mortgage crisis, like Countrywide Financial. Government entities including the Securities and Exchange Commission, and even more so, the Federal Reserve, are chided in a way that would make Fed-buster Ron Paul very happy.


Truth be told, 633 pages might not be enough to do justice to the idiocy that passed for an advanced, well-functioning economy in the period leading up to the crisis. Phil Angelides, the commission's chairman, who went head-to-head with many financial bigwigs during the FCIC hearing process -- and even forced Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett to testify under order of subpoena -- took issue with the idea that no one could have seen this crisis coming.  


Opinion: As other fast-food joints roll out premium menu items, Taco Bell's challenge to accusations about its beef shows it cares more about offering inexpensive eats.

By InvestorPlace Jan 28, 2011 10:20AM

Taco Bell restaurant in Los Angeles / © Reed Saxon/APBy Jeff Reeves, InvestorPlace.com


At fast-food restaurants, there has been a recent focus on raising quality and using natural ingredients. Wendy's has introduced skin-on fries with natural sea salt and has embraced the slogan "Quality is our recipe." Burger King revamped its breakfast menu to include fancy offerings such as a ciabatta breakfast sandwich with eggs, ham, bacon, tomato and cheese. And then there's McDonald's, which has seen sales soar, thanks to a push for a premium line of McCafe beverages that make it as much of a destination for mochas as for McNuggets.


Then you have the other side of the coin in Taco Bell, which now faces a lawsuit charging its taco filling isn't even beef.


Regardless of whether the legal action has merit -- the company has started denying the claims vehemently in a recent ad blitz -- it highlights the fact that Taco Bell hasn't really been focused on quality recently as other restaurants have. And this should serve as a wake-up call for the company and its corporate parent, Yum Brands (YUM).


The online retail giant is run brilliantly -- just not for the stock market.

By Jim Cramer Jan 28, 2011 9:49AM

jim cramer of thestreetWhen push comes to shove, Amazon (AMZN) doesn't care enough about stockholders -- short term, at least.


The mantra of CEOs these days, the good ones, is "profitable growth for all." I hear it from Ford (F), and I hear the echoes of it from all of the great turnarounds in the industrial arena.


The problem is time frame. Amazon truly does believe in growth, but it has not always believed in profitable growth, and it has never cared about smooth profitable growth. So if it sees an opportunity, or recognizes that the stock and its accoutrements have to be ignored for a while, or that people expect too much right now, then it just lowers the boom on you.


That is why it is so hard to own.



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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Tuesday session on the defensive after spending the entire day in a steady retreat. The S&P 500 (-0.6%) posted its third consecutive decline, while the small-cap Russell 2000 (-0.9%) slipped behind the broader market during afternoon action.

Equity indices were pressured from the start following some overnight developments that weighed on sentiment. The market tried to overcome the early weakness, but could not stage a sustained rebound, ... More


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