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VMware and Akamai are downgraded, while Regions Financial is initiated with 'market perform.'
Friday's noteworthy upgrades include:
The spate of downgrades this month may come back to haunt those who made the calls.
The analysts' downgrades in 2012 aren't leaving any room for error. Errors like if nonresidential construction comes back. Errors like if housing ticks up in price and people get flushed in from the sidelines. Errors like if China cuts rates big. Errors like Europe's can-kicking works and we actually start seeing growth.
I am talking about downgrades like what we saw with 3M (MMM) and Emerson (EMR) Wednesday, or what we saw Thursday with homebuilders or real-estate investment trusts. These downgrades will come back to haunt analysts, I believe, because you can't thread the needle if we get a pickup. You can't switch directions that fast, and while the idea that a train is leaving the station right now seems unlikely, I do believe that when the turn comes you may not be able to upgrade in time.
Social networking site wants to play it straight.
The fact that Wall Street is pitching these ideas underscores the lengths that investment bankers are willing to go through to get a piece of what is expected to be one of the biggest if not the biggest, initial public offerings in history.
Not exactly a beacon of healthful living, the fast-food giant is criticized for linking its name to athletic contests.
McDonald's (MCD) once again is a top sponsor of the Olympic Games. But not everyone is lovin' it.
On Thursday, McDonald's announced it would continue its sponsorship through 2020, a deal estimated at about $100 million per four years, or for every pair (winter and summer) of Olympic Games.
This entertainment and leisure company has proved recession-resistant even if the movie business isn't necessarily.
By David Dittman, Australian Edge
Amalgamated Holdings Ltd. (AHD: Australia stock exchange) has more than 1,000 movie screens in Australia, New Zealand and Germany.
The automaker is in a position to move higher based on the company's strategy to innovate, grow and increase sales.
By Mike Kapsch, Investment U
I recently wrote about the "connected car" making its debut at this year's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On Wednesday, Ford (F) CEO Alan Mulally gave his keynote speech at CES, touting the automaker's future innovations to the standard automobile. Those in attendance heard about the coming introduction of heart monitoring systems in your steering wheel, the emergence of vehicle-to-vehicle communication, getting instant weather and traffic updates on your dashboard, as well as a slew of other technologies that'll soon dramatically improve the everyday driving experience.
MSN Money's Anthony Mirhaydari answers Facebook questions about investing and housing in 2012.
It's a new year and a time to assess our investment strategies and portfolios. MSN Money columnist and Top Stocks blogger Anthony Mirhaydari urges caution on buying into the turbulent markets, especially with a soft earnings season as well as several unresolved issues from 2011.
He fielded questions from our Facebook community, including one on the housing market.
But at least one casino stock is scary on its own merits.
Wynn Resorts' (WYNN) own vice chairman, Kazuo Okada, who indirectly owns 20% of the company, filed suit against Wynn so he could get a look at its books. Allegedly, he's been stonewalled from doing so, and he's asking about a $129 million donation to the University of Macau and $30 million Okada gave to the company to develop a Macau casino.
Does the lawsuit have merit? Who knows? Should you care? Probably not.
Sales of mobile devices are sure to continue growing. Why bet on just one connectivity stock?
The world's third-largest PC maker has been planning a new facility in western China for years.
Dell's Chinese expansion has taken a while. The plan was initiated in September 2010, but construction didn't start until a year later. Previously, Dell expected the unit to be operational by the end of fiscal 2011, creating 3,000 jobs.
Here are a few of the top picks from one of the best defensive investing gurus out there.
By Kelley Wright, Investment Quality Trends
Special to MoneyShow.com
After posting robust double-digit returns in 2009 and 2010, analysts' predictions for the S&P 500 in 2011 were for more of the same. In fact, the predictions ranged from a low of 1,300 to a high of 1,520, with the consensus at 1,391.
The S&P failed to reach the consensus estimates for 2011. This is not a slam on Wall Street analysts. But in contrast to the last two years, analysts’ consensus estimates for 2012 are more subdued.
But the country is likely months away from an actual cut to interest rates.
With holdings in defensive sectors, this fund offers growth plus dividends for investors worried about Europe.
By Jim Farrish, Sector Exchange
Looking towards 2012, Europe is the single biggest obstacle facing both investors and the financial markets. Therefore, my outlook is cautious, and any investment added to my portfolio should first measure the risk/reward of the opportunity.
The retailer is building mini-Apple shops in some stores, and has struck exclusive deals with other boutiques.
The company plans to open a small number of Apple (AAPL) stores in 25 locations, increasing the number of iPads and other products it sells from the electronics maker. The mini stores will have Apple employees wearing the blue shirts you normally see at Apple's own retail locations.
Target isn't stopping with Apple. The retailer has announced a broader initiative, called "The Shops at Target," that will carry exclusive items from other boutiques.
The cake maker has been divesting its less-profitable bakery businesses in North America to reallocate resources to its core meat division.
Under the plan, the international beverage business will be spun off, tax-free, into a new company. The remaining company will include Sara Lee's North American retail and food service businesses, focusing primarily on strengthening its leading market position in the meat business. The company competes with major food and consumer companies like Kraft Foods (KFT) and Nestle (NESN).
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Do it once a year. This allows the best-performing asset classes to take off and run.
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the midweek session on a mixed note. Blue chip listings bolstered the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.4%) and S&P 500 (+0.3%), while the Russell 2000 (-0.4%) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.02%) underperformed.
Equity indices began the day in the red, but wasted no time regaining their flat lines. Small-cap stocks were not as fortunate as the Russell 2000 spent the day in the red.
Upon returning into positive territory, the key indices were ... More
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