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Be wary of dire market forecasts

The most likely scenario is that the markets will begin to rise from here -- and that bounce is just beginning to take hold.

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The comfort-food restaurant chain gets top marks from analysts who cover the casual-dining industry.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 6, 2010 12:15PM

thestreetCredit: (© Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Caption: Cracker Barrel storeBy Jake Lynch, TheStreet

 

Cracker Barrel (CBRL) is succeeding in the dog-eat-dog restaurant industry with old-fashioned American charm. The eatery has outperformed the closely watched Knapp-Track Index of comparable-store traffic for 16 consecutive quarters.

 

Analysts are bullish on Cracker Barrel, which is less sensitive to changes in the economy than its casual-dining competitors because of its lower-priced dishes. The southern chain serves comfort food, with a menu that includes Country Meat 'n' Biscuits and Apple Streusel French Toast. Breakfast is served all day, with separate lunch and dinner menus.

 

A retail store is attached to each restaurant, selling collectibles, old-fashioned toys and penny candy. This restaurant-retail concept is rarely used in the restaurant industry but seems to be succeeding. Cracker Barrel posted a comparable-restaurant sales gain of 2% and a comparable-retail-sales increase of 2.6% in the latest reporting period.

 

Hoping to smooth the checkout process on its Android Market, Google will roll out PayPal in 3 weeks.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 6, 2010 10:06AM

technology and business news from the streetCredit: (© Eric Risberg/AP)
Caption: Droid Incredible cell phoneBy Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Google (GOOG) has finally enlisted eBay's (EBAY)PayPal service and is preparing to launch the payment system on its Android OS later this month.

 

The two Internet giants have been moving closer to an agreement in recent weeks. Now sources familiar with the situation say the deal is all but sealed, with an announcement coming as early as Oct. 26 during the PayPal developers' conference in San Francisco.

 

The move would help smooth a bumpy checkout system on Android Market, and it would also bring Google closer to the type of seamless payment process that Apple (AAPL) manages at its iTunes and App Store.

 

The top prize is $1 million, though odds are slim. Meanwhile, the company will likely rake in big sales from the popular promotion.

By InvestorPlace Oct 6, 2010 9:59AM

Big Mac © McDonald’sIt's time forMcDonald's (MCD)customers to roll the dice and and play Monopoly again. And if they're lucky, they could collect more than $200 when they pass Go. The top prize is a cool $1 million.


The bigger prizes, including lots of cash and a muscle car, may seem extravagant, but the bottom line is that McDonald's always gets more than it gives with its yearly promotion. And cash-strapped consumers could be more likely than ever to join in the game. After all, unlike with a lottery ticket, you can eat your losing purchase.


Here's what you can win and how to play:

 

As stocks surge, insiders are cashing in big-time.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 6, 2010 9:43AM

stock market news and investment strategies from thestreettrader © Comstock/SuperStockBy Dan Freed, TheStreet

 

The stock market is rallying, but insiders aren't buying it.

 

Insider selling activity of late has been a flood, while insider buying is practically nonexistent, Bloomberg data show.

 

The companies that saw the biggest selling by insiders in the past week through Oct. 1 were Oracle (ORCL), Google (GOOG), Phillip Morris (PM), Nike (NKE) and CarMax (KMX). Oracle insiders alone sold $135 million worth in stock during the week.

 

The fallout from another round of quantitative easing will likely be destructive. But there is room to make money in the meantime.

By Jim Cramer Oct 6, 2010 9:03AM

jim cramerBy Jim Cramer, TheStreet

 

It happened again Tuesday and last week, too: A couple of people on television saying I am a trader and they are investors, that I flit and they stay the course, that I go in and out, heedless of the future and the problems in store for our economy and our market from QE2 and the need to stimulate the economy in an unaffordable way.

 

I scorn these people. First, I have a portfolio -- you can look at it, it's Action Alerts PLUS -- where I try to pick stocks that can go up over time. More important, though, is that I am beginning to have contempt for the "pure" investors.

 

Demand for copper has helped drive its price to extraordinarily high levels.

By Jim J. Jubak Oct 5, 2010 5:38PM

Jim JubakCopper, that other shiny golden metal, is just as hot as gold is right now. And I think the fundamentals for copper are better.


Which copper stocks? I'd favor Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX)Southern Copper (SCCO), and Taseko Mines(TGB).


But after the extraordinary run on these stocks -- Freeport McMoRan and Taseko were up 37% from the August low through the close on Oct. 5 and Southern Copper, the laggard, was up 32% -- I'd look for earnings-season volatility to give me an opening for a buy or two.

 
Tags: gold

Google's mobile platform becomes the top choice for smart-phone buyers, a survey says.

By Kim Peterson Oct 5, 2010 3:22PM

Credit: (© Eric Risberg/AP)
Caption: Droid Incredible cell phoneGoogle's Android system is beating Apple's iPhone. Android became the most popular choice for smart-phone buyers in the last six months, according to research firm The Nielsen Co.

Apple's (AAPL) iPhone is tied for second place with the BlackBerry platform from Research In Motion (RIMM).

But before you start planning the iPhone's funeral, consider this: Nielsen looked at smart-phone purchases for six months of the year, but the iPhone 4 only became available on June 24. It's a sure bet that iPhone buying slowed dramatically in the spring as people waited for the new version.

 

This worldwide brand might make a great core holding.

By Jim Van Meerten Oct 5, 2010 2:44PM
PepsiCo (PEP) has a family of widely-known brands, including Frito-Lay, Tropicana, Quaker Oats and Gatorade. I can find all those brands in my pantry; they are among the best-known and are available throughout the world.

Pepsi's success is the result of superior products, high standards of performance and distinctive competitive strategies.

The company has been buying back some of their largest bottlers and hopes to see $400 million drop to the bottom line through integrated cost savings. That, plus a 10% growth rate in the Frito-Lay division, makes for a nice future. 

A little-known trader at a French bank is sentenced for making enormous unauthorized trades.

By Kim Peterson Oct 5, 2010 1:19PM
Credit: (© Laurent Cipriani/AP)
Caption: Jerome Kerviel, followed by his lawyer Olivier Metzner, arrives at the Paris courthouse, Tuesday Oct. 5, 2010. The Paris court will hand down a verdict in the case of the former French trader accused of masterminding one of history's biggest trading frauds and costing one of France's largest banks billions in lossesHow exactly does one come up with $6.7 billion?

That's the question that will haunt Jérôme Kerviel for the rest of his life. Kerviel, just 33 years old, was sentenced to at least three years in prison Tuesday for making rogue bets that almost collapsed French bank Société Générale.

He was also ordered to repay the amount the bank lost in the whole mess: $6.7 billion. Based on what he now makes as a computer consultant (he got canned from the bank long ago), it will take 178,000 years to pay what's owed, The Wall Street Journal calculates

A low-seated, lighter model broadens the iconic motorcycle's appeal.

By InvestorPlace Oct 5, 2010 11:48AM

Credit: (© Stephan Savoia/AP)
Caption: Gas tank of Harley-Davidson motorcycleBy Jeff Reeves, InvestorPlace.com


Back in August, it looked like the ride was over for Harley-Davidson (HOG). After trading north of $35 at the beginning of 2010, shares had flopped about 30% in three months. There were rumblings that the iconic motorcycle manufacturer would close its Wisconsin Harley plants.


But in mid-September,  a concession-laden worker contract saved the Milwaukee sites, and a turnaround in Harley's September sales and an upgrade today from RBC Capital has sent HOG stock soaring. Shares are up more than 7% today alone, as of this writing.


So what's the secret to Harley's recent success? The answer is pretty surprising. Rather than relying on big spending from burly dudes in leather chaps, the numbers indicate gains among motorcycle riders with business suits -- and, more importantly, riders with skirts and heels.

 

Calling for a ceiling on gold prices makes for better television than investment advice.

By Jim Cramer Oct 5, 2010 8:55AM

jim cramerBy Jim Cramer, TheStreet

 

So gold goes down for a day -- one day -- and suddenly the "I told you so" crowd is everywhere. What determines who is an "I told you so"?

 

First, it is someone who missed the whole run or told you to get out of gold at every tick.

 

Second, it is someone who has described gold as a bubble for at least the past $300.

 

Third, it is someone with a megaphone, either attached to the Web or one of the myriad TV shows that need a story associated with the decline.

 

Thursday kicks off the earnings season, but don't count on the early numbers to reveal much.

By Jim J. Jubak Oct 4, 2010 5:35PM

JIm JubakThe Standard & Poor's 500 stock index closed Sept. 24 at 1,149. The index closed Oct. 1 at 1,146.


That's a net move of three points in five trading sessions. For the past week, stocks have been stuck in a rut. Spinning their wheels. As stagnant as Polka's pond in August. (I played hockey there in winter. In August, you don't want to know.)


For the first few days of this week, I expect a replay of last week's lack of net movement. But things will start to change Thursday.

 

The siren song of high-yield securities is tough to ignore.

By Kim Peterson Oct 4, 2010 3:00PM
Blindfold © PhotoAlto / Jupiter ImagesInvestors are desperate for higher yields, and some are getting burned by plunging into derivatives they may know nothing about.

Take the case of Leona Miller, 84, a retired beautician interviewed by Bloomberg. Her Wachovia broker encouraged her to buy securities paying 9% interest, so she went in for $20,000. Within six months, Zeke Faux writes, her investment had lost 30% and the bonds were converted to shares of Merck (MRK).

How could that happen? Don't ask Miller, who admits she still doesn't understand it. What Miller bought would make anyone's head spin: a reverse-convertible note with a knock-in put option tied to Merck stock. 

Selling pressure has intensified over the past week, suggesting that a multiweek correction lies ahead.

By Anthony Mirhaydari Oct 4, 2010 2:14PM

MirhaydariStocks were sliding Monday at a rate that hasn't been seen since late August as the pullback I've been anticipating gets started. (Full disclosure: As discussed in my recent columns, I'm still long-term bullish. So I view any weakness here is a buying opportunity.)

 

After an exuberant September, shares were overbought, according to various technical indicators. Sentiment got too high. We're due for a decline.

And that's exactly what's happening now. The Nasdaq has fallen out of a two-week trading range, leading sectors like semiconductors are sliding, and Wall Street's fear gauge, the CBOE Volatilty Index ($VIX) is rising. I'm targeting a decline of at least 6.5% for the Nasdaq and about 4% for the S&P 500. Here's why:

 

Interest rates near zero are hurting the economy, some analysts say. Time to let rates return to normal levels.

By Kim Peterson Oct 4, 2010 1:03PM
Cash © Jonathan Kitchen/Getty ImagesAre savers getting punished? That seems to be the latest talking point as interest rates continue to hover near zero.

People who have worked their whole lives to save a decent amount can no longer live off the interest. Instead of getting rewarded for decades of smart planning, savers are watching those nest eggs slowly crumble.

Investment pioneer Charles Schwab writes in The Wall Street Journal that it's time to return interest rates to normal levels. "As a temporary fix it served its purpose," Schwab writes about the Federal Reserve's move to drop interest rates to near zero. "It was an emergency antibiotic appropriate for the illness. But continuing with the experiment is disfiguring the economy and fueling doubt." 

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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the holiday-shortened week on a mixed note as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1%, while the S&P 500 added 0.1% with seven sectors posting gains.

Equity indices faced an uphill climb from the opening bell after disappointing quarterly results from Google (GOOG 536.10, -20.44) and IBM (IBM 190.04, -6.36) weighed on the early sentiment. Google reported earnings $0.15 below the Capital IQ consensus estimate on revenue of $15.42 ... More


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