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?


Yes, the economy is improving, Nouriel Roubini says. But huge problems still lurk for the US and Europe.

By Kim Peterson Jan 26, 2011 2:06PM
Economist Nouriel Roubini. Credit: (© Chiang Ying-ying/AP)Wait a minute. Could Dr. Doom actually be feeling optimistic these days?

Noted economist Nouriel Roubini -- known for his gloomy predictions of financial upheaval -- actually admitted a global economic recovery is taking place. "Balance sheets are strong, confidence is rising," he said today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Fantastic -- we're back on track! Well, not so fast. If you follow Roubini, you know there's a "but" lurking in there somewhere. And here it is: But the possibility of a double-dip recession is still very real, he added.

Check out this video report for more news from Davos  

This utility is off the grid when it comes to juicy payouts.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jan 26, 2011 12:24PM

Is there such a thing as a low-risk, high dividend yield? If there is, National Grid could be it. My Foolish colleague Jim Royal makes the electrifying case.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


Do you like a fat dividend? What about a growing dividend? And a company with a legalized monopoly that can keep those fat payouts climbing? Then I think you're going to love this outstanding stock, which I've been buying for my own portfolio in the past few months.


OK, I'm not buying it as of this minute, because of the Fool's disclosure rules, but as soon as the Fool's rules permit, I will be scooping up more. That stock is National Grid (NGG). There's a lot to like about this regulated utility, and it can make a great investment in times of uncertainty such as we have today.


With last night's bullish, business-friendly speech about innovation and global competitiveness, the president paved the way for market growth.

By Jim Cramer Jan 26, 2011 10:04AM

jim cramer of"And in conclusion, I think the Dow ($INDU) should blow right through 12,000 on its way to 14,000, the S&P 500 ($INX) is meaningfully undervalued, and I would take advantage of the decline in materials stocks to pick up some terrific values, values so great that I am sure people on both sides of the aisle would embrace them."


There. Is that how you want President Barack Obama to be? Is that what you think he should have said last night?


I watched the State of the Union speech with one eye on Twitter, seeking instant reaction from people about what they thought. The comments ranged from being humorous, or actually un-humorous, to wiseacre skepticism or even deeper cynicism.


That's not how I felt. Strictly using the prism that people have come to expect from me -- the stock prism -- I thought it was terrific, just terrific, compared with (1) what I expected and (2) what I would have expected a year or two ago.


The president has proposed a five-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending. Here are the stocks that will be hit hard.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jan 25, 2011 8:23PM

In tonight's State of the Union address, President Obama is set to endorse a five-year freeze in spending in response to calls for fiscal consolidation by the newly empowered Republicans in the House of Representatives. This is likely to be the first step in a bargaining process with the Republicans over the raising of the national debt ceiling -- without which the country could default on its debt since it would be prohibited from additional borrowing to pay existing obligations.


The cuts amount to savings of around $26 billion over five years. For their part, the Republicans are pushing for cuts of $100 billion this year alone. Moreover, the president is pushing for a five-year plan by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that would cut $78 billion in military spending.


Clearly, the fiscal largesse of the last few years -- the bailouts, the stimulus packages, the support of the housing market -- is coming to an end. Here's a look at the stocks most vulnerable to spending cuts in Washington.


The company now claims a 45% share of the Chinese auto seating market.

By Kim Peterson Jan 25, 2011 5:37PM
Jim JubakLet me use Johnson Controls (JCI), which reported quarterly earnings Jan. 20, as another concrete example of how to think your way through what to do about individual stocks when the U.S. market seems to be looking for a 5% pullback and overseas markets have the potential for a 20% correction.

Johnson Controls illustrates to me the importance of looking at where a company’s growth, revenue, and earnings are coming from in terms of geography and industry.

The fiscal first quarter of 2011, the one the company just reported, is typically a seasonally weak quarter -- which is what makes the results so positive. The company reported record net sales for the quarter of $9.5 billion, up 13% from the fiscal first quarter of 2010. Earnings of 55 cents a share beat the Wall Street consensus by a penny. 

The Black Eyed Peas singer has signed on as the company's director of creative innovation. What exactly does that mean?

By Kim Peterson Jan 25, 2011 4:46PM
Musician of the Black Eyed Peas (©Getty Images for DCP)Say what? Intel's (INTC) newest executive is a member of the Black Eyed Peas?

The company says that has signed a multiyear contract to serve as its new director of creative innovation. What that means is, well, kind of unclear. Maybe Intel just wanted to have an employee sing in the Super Bowl's halftime show., whose real name is William James Adams Jr., will contribute music, which is pretty much a given. He will also help develop laptops, tablets and other devices, Intel said, adding that his job will include "hands-on creative and technology collaboration."

We may have the beginnings of a trend here of high-profile musicians taking largely symbolic jobs at major companies. Lady Gaga signed on as the creative director for Polaroid, and last month unveiled new instant cameras, a tiny photo printer and a pair of chunky sunglasses with a camera inside.

The CBOE Volatility Index jumps as traders scramble to protect against a market selloff.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Jan 25, 2011 4:25PM

It's been a quiet couple of months for stocks as the major averages grind higher. In fact, the S&P 500 hasn't closed below its 50-day moving average since September 1. That's 99 trading days and represents the longest consecutive rally since early 2007.

But as I mentioned in my last blog post, there was evidence of trouble brewing. The smallest, riskiest, and most sensitive stocks in the market recently started to badly lag their larger brethren. Big disparities in the performance of small cap stocks vs. the mega cap stocks are frequently seen at turning points.


Things are playing out according to plan as stocks move lower today. As a result, investors are scrambling to protect their positions against continued declines by snapping up equity put options. That's pushing up the CBOE Volatility Index ($VIX), commonly known as Wall Street's "fear gauge" to levels not seen since November. The VIX has now moved over its 50-day moving average, a level that tends to coincide with significant market pullbacks.


For a limited time, new users will get unlimited data for $30 a month.

By Kim Peterson Jan 25, 2011 3:44PM
Steve Jobs (©Paul Sakuma/AP)Take that, AT&T (T).

Verizon (VZ) just made itself a very attractive alternative for iPhone users who want to ditch AT&T. Verizon is going to start selling the iPhone on Feb. 10 and said today that it will offer a $30 monthly unlimited-data plan.

Nothing lights up an iPhone user's eyes like the words "unlimited data." AT&T ended its unlimited data plans for phones last year, choosing instead to offer two monthly plans capped at 200 megabytes (for $15) and 2 gigabytes (for $25). That left many iPhone users -- heavy data hogs -- worried about staying under their monthly allocations.

AT&T didn't have much to worry about at the time, since it was the exclusive iPhone carrier for Apple (AAPL) in the U.S. But that's all changed now, and the unlimited-data plan just became a huge weapon in Verizon's arsenal. 

Exchange-traded funds offer retail investors access to the currently hot commodity sector. However, not all of these funds are created equal.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 25, 2011 3:36PM

thestreetBy Daniel Dicker, TheStreet


With commodities flying high, everyone is looking for the best way to get in on these fast-gaining assets.


There are many different ways to try to capture the seemingly daily gains in oil, copper, coffee, cotton and corn -- but like other investments, each kind of commodity play has its own pluses and minuses.


Let's look at what is probably the most accessible vehicle for the retail investor -- commodity exchange-traded funds -- and lay out the best ideas and avoid the ones that can sink your portfolio and your wallet.


The restaurant chain, famous for both chicken wings and cleavage, has been bought out by a consortium of private investors.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 25, 2011 3:06PM

thestreetCredit: (© Gil Cohen Magen/Reuters)
Caption: Hooters waitressBy Miriam Marcus Reimer, TheStreet


Hooters of America said it has been bought out by a consortium of private investors, including Chanticleer Holdings (CCLR).


Arguably more famous for its scantily clad servers than its chicken wings, privately held Hooters has been a family-owned business since its founding in the early 1980s.


The group of private investors simultaneously acquired Dallas-based Texas Wings, Hooters' largest franchisee.


"I am so extremely proud of what my father and our team here have built," said Coby Brooks, the CEO of Hooters since 2003 and the son of the late founder. "And I am even more excited about our next phase of growth following this transaction."


Owning not only the land but the timber as well just might be a great long-term strategy.

By Jim Van Meerten Jan 25, 2011 2:53PM

Today I took Will Rogers' advice and bought

Plum Creek Timber (PCL)for my Barchart Van Meerten New High portfolio.  Plum Creek Timber is the second largest private timberland owner in the United States, with approximately 7.8 million acres of timberlands located in 19 states. 

As America's and Chinese thirst for wood for building materials and furniture returns the harvesting of wood should make this company a long term cash cow.  As the population grows who wouldn't want to own almost 8 million acres of raw land?

I know this looks like an asset buy but it actually came to my attention when screening on Barchart for stocks hitting the most frequent new highs.  This company hit 16 new highs and appreciated 12.71% in the last month earning it a 100% Barchart technical buy signal.  It trades around 41.84 with a 50 day moving average of 37.65.  The stocks momentum is increasing with a Relative Strength Index that is 78.90% and rising.


Although a late starter, the company has made a big splash with exchange-traded funds by cutting expenses.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 25, 2011 1:22PM
Image: Globe with money (© PhotoAlto/SuperStock)

By Don Dion, TheStreet


Among exchange-traded funds, a number of interesting fundamental trends have developed that will continue to alter the industry's landscape over the long term. In the case of the ETF price war, it is the investor who will ultimately come out the winner.


Since their introduction, exchange-traded funds have been lauded for their ability to undercut the expense ratios of mutual funds. Rather than rely on the investment preferences of an active manager, traditional ETFs are designed to track the performance of a passive index. This has played a big role in allowing providers to charge significantly less for their products. As a result, ETFs have welcomed a staggering influx of funds from cost conscious investors.


Low costs continue to play a major role in helping ETFs gain ground on the massive mutual fund industry. However, within this industry itself, a price war is taking place, threatening the long-term dominance of many top providers.


The trend of Main Street investors watching metrics like housing starts and jobless claims is worth exploring.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 25, 2011 12:50PM

Image: Home under construction (© Corbis)By Jonas Elmerraji, Stockpickr


Since the financial crisis of 2008, economic data have become a mainstream indicator of the world’s market pulse. Suddenly, Main Street investors are paying attention to metrics such as housing starts and jobless claims, and the broad market is reacting directly to new data as soon as it hits the street.


For investors, that increased interest in economic data is a trend that’s worth exploring. To do that, it’s important to know where to focus your efforts. The truth is that some stocks are more susceptible to the market’s economic news than others.


By homing in on trades that have higher data-induced volatility, traders can actually eke out gains from this market. This isn’t the first time we’ve looked at the investability of economic indicators. Back in August, we took a look at three ways to play the data.


Now, though, with a new market tone being set in 2011, it’s time to look at three updated ways to trade that economic data.


Rubicon combines glittering potential with a low valuation.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Jan 25, 2011 12:21PM

Image: Gold Bars (© Stockbyte/SuperStock)Fool analyst Andrew Sullivan is always looking for low-risk, undervalued opportunities, and lately his attention has been on gold mining equities. Today he introduces us to a gem in Rubicon Minterals.


Rex Moore, Motley Fool Top Stocks editor


Earlier this week, I allocated 6% of my portfolio to Rubicon Minerals (RBY). With a tremendous gold deposit in the very prolific Red Lake, Canada, mining zone, this company is undervalued based on its peers as well as recent takeover transactions in the gold space.


The threat of $4 gas and its impact on the economy are far more worrisome than a pullback in commodities.

By Jim Cramer Jan 25, 2011 10:27AM

jim cramerAs someone whose biggest fear is $4-a-gallon gas and what it will do to the U.S. economy, I find days that start out like this -- with oil almost back to $85 and stocks floundering -- deeply troubling. You remove my principal worry of $110-a-barrel oil, where we are knee-deep in the $4-plus gas range, and I think the market should be quelled of fear, not fearful.


Of course, it is just the opposite. It is the bursting of the commodity bubble, which signals that economies are cooling off. It is a sign that China has gotten too soft, that things aren't as good as we think.


And it means that the industrials have to sell off with no place to rotate that money into, because the other commodities aren't coming down as hard as oil. Without those coming down, many of the food and beverage stocks we would rotate into don't work. Plus, the drug stocks are just awful.



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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Wednesday session on a modestly lower note, but it is worth mentioning today's retreat took place after six consecutive gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.1%) and S&P 500 (-0.2%) settled not far below their flat lines, while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.8%) lagged throughout the session.

Equity indices started the day in the red, with the Nasdaq showing early weakness as large cap tech names and biotechnology weighed. The technology ... More


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