Tensions pushed higher along with gas prices

The U.S. press has been reporting that the Obama administration is publicly disagreeing over the timing of a potential attack on Iran�s nuclear facilities.

On Friday, Bloomberg reported that according to Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast peace negotiator in the Clinton administration, the U.S. and Israel have a �significant analytic difference� over the estimates of how close Iran is to shielding its nuclear program from an airstrike.

�There�s a growing concern (more than a concern) that the Israelis — in order to protect themselves — might launch a strike without approval, warning or even foreknowledge,” Miller said.

On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel must consider launching an operation before Iran reaches an �immunity zone� — referring to Iran�s goal of protecting its uranium enrichment and other nuclear operations by moving them to deep underground facilities such as the one at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom.

In an address to the annual Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center campus north of Tel Aviv, Barak said, �The world has no doubt that Iran�s nuclear program is steadily nearing readiness and is about to enter an immunity zone� and added that �if the sanctions don�t achieve their goal of halting Iran�s nuclear weapons program, there will arise the need of weighing an operation.�

On Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. �is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.�

Whether the U.S. and Israel are playing a game of �good cop, bad cop� on the world stage is uncertain. All that is certain is crude oil prices are destined to remain high while the tension persists between Iran and the Western countries that are imposing an oil embargo later this year.

Let�s hope the escalating war of words does not spin too far out of control.

The opinions contained in this column are sol! ely thos e of the writer.

Want to share your own views on money, politics and the 2012 elections? Drop us a line at letters@investorplace.com and we might reprint your views in our InvestorPolitics blog! Please include your name, city and state of residence. All letters submitted to this address will be considered for publication.

Where Do I Invest in a Recession?

It might seem counterintuitive to invest in a down economy but you are actually making a smart decision when you invest during the recession for many reasons. First, you are providing fresh capital to the economy, which will eventually rebound to your benefit.  Second, most stocks of good companies are down so you can buy them cheap, which means that you get great deals can sell them for a profit when the market turns higher.

The trick is in knowing which investments to place your money in. Fortunately, there are five good investments that are either guaranteed to return your investment plus earnings or proven to be stable even in a down economy.

Certificates of Deposit

With certificates of deposit, your principal investment is safe in the bank no matter the state of the economy.  You will earn interest on your investment at a fixed rate for a fixed period of time. Take note, however, that you must invest in certificates of deposit only with banks and credits unions with Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and National Credit Union Administration insurance, respectively.

Tobacco and Alcohol Stocks

No matter the state of the economy, tobacco and alcohol consumption in many markets is stable.  In some markets, it can even increase especially in developing countries since manufacturers will turn their aggressive marketing tactics to countries where regulations are lax and where markets are still in their growth stages.  As such, tobacco and alcohol stocks – sin stocks, as most insiders call them – are excellent investments even in a recession.

Pharmaceutical Stocks

There are many reasons why pharmaceutical stocks are relatively stable in a recession.  For one thing, everybody will avail healthcare at some point and, hence will purchase medicines.  For another thing, the discovery of newer, better medicines are a constant factor in an! uncerta in world, which you might even say is an imperative need in man’s quest to attain immortality.  Thus, you can be sure that pharmaceutical stocks will stay on top of things even in an economic downturn.

Electric Utility Stocks

Electricity is a staple of modern life, of which its absence will cripple industries and countries.  As such, your investment in electricity-related companies will almost always yield good return on investments.  However, you must stick to two investments in electricity.  First, invest in established power companies with guarantees of return of investments as they expand their market bases.  Second, invest in companies engaged in power generation with extensive infrastructure investments since they have competitive advantage few others have at present.

Real Estate

With the nationwide trend in home foreclosures, now is the time to invest in real estate especially as it is a buyer’s market.  You can indeed buy desirable properties for seriously low prices, you can then sell at higher prices when it becomes a seller’s market.

Historically stocks still have the best return over the long term. But, some short-term stocks have great returns. Learn more at http://www.stock-trading-made-ez.com/.

Trade Options With ‘Fun’ Money

One of the classic statements in the options game is, “Don’t play with money you cannot afford to lose.” But I’d be willing to wager that many folks hear that caution and let it go in one ear and out the other. It’s like telling a teenager that they can’t have a party while their parents escape for the weekend — they might conspire to throw an unchaperoned bash that will be the talk of the town!

Leave the impulsiveness to the teenagers and don’t be in a rush to start putting options trades on the table willy-nilly just because you can. Remember that buying options — especially calls, which serve as a proxy for owning the stock — requires just as much care and forethought as buying stocks. Just because you’re spending less, doesn’t mean that the investment is any less important.

In fact, if you buy options and the stock doesn’t make the expected move by the time the options’ expiration date rolls around, the small investment that didn’t pay off will suddenly feel like a BIG deal!

Money you supposedly “can” afford to lose is still money that you value. So, you really should be playing with money that you are willing to light up with a match — money that can be left behind like plastic poker chips on a table if the game doesn’t go your way.

Think about it: Gambling establishments make you use chips and tokens when you play games of chance so that you won’t value them as highly as good, old-fashioned bills and coins. Therefore, when you’re playing with “Monopoly money,” you’re less afraid to play more chips.

So, to get out of the “Monopoly mindset” when you buy options, you should set aside some fun money every year and kiss it goodbye. View it as though you’re establishing a vacation fund — trading options is an expenditure you want to make and, just like! a vacat ion, it’s wise and even necessary to budget it into your schedule every year.

If you treat such money as fun money, you will be able to withstand losing streaks and be willing to continue to take positions until you hit the home runs. To be successful at trading options, you cannot have a faint heart but instead you must plow ahead and buy options month after month without quitting — knowing in the end you will show a profit. And the best way you can do this is by using “fun money.”

Most investors fail at this endeavor, because they are not prepared to stay for the long haul and will quit after taking a few losses. But, like any game you enjoy playing, the more skills you can acquire during the learning curve, the better-equipped to win you will be when your turn comes around again.

Options trading is much better than a board game, though, because it gives you an incredible opportunity to win real money — and even BIG money — when done right. It also lets us win whether we’ve landed on the right square or a neighboring one — all you need is for the stock to make a move in the right direction, and that’s when the game starts to get good! It even lets us get out of the game when we start losing, so we can rotate our capital into another game (rather, another trade) that is more attractive.

These are definitely compelling reasons to trade options — you pick the game, define the rules and play as much as you want. If you exhaust your fund for the year, it’s “game over” for the time being but at least it was money you were willing to spend anyway.

But once you get on a winning streak — and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t — there’s no telling how profitable the game can be!

Go after money doublers with every trade you make!
The market is rigged! Learn the single best way to make huge profits from everyday market manipulation. Get your free ! copy of “How to Find the Money-Doublers in Today’s Market” here.

Best Value Stocks To Buy In September 2012

In mid-September, stocks broke through the top of a trading range that had stubbornly resisted both buyers and sellers for five months. But instead of the breakout being accompanied by high volume with emphasis on blue-chip stocks, the rally has lacked volume and is currently being led by lower-quality stocks. This conundrum has perplexed even the most experienced technicians and fund managers.

September turned the best performance in 71 years, with the major indices rising over 8%, but stocks now appear to be grossly overbought. Investors should consider locking in their gains by selling or using options strategies to stabilize their holdings. This is no time to be a hero by buying at the top. However, despite the short-term overbought nature of the market, there are always bargains to be found if you look hard enough. The six stocks to buy listed here represent extraordinary value even in the current market condition.

Best Value Stocks To Buy In September 2012:Cinemark Holdings Inc (CNK)

 Cinemark Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiaries engage in the motion picture exhibition business. As of June 30, 2011, it operated 436 theatres with 4,983 screens in 39 states of the United States, as well as in Brazil, Mexico, and 11 other Latin American countries. The company is headquartered in Plano, Texas.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Jeff Reeves At 2011-10-21

    Cinemark Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CNK) owns movies theaters across the United States and Latin America, with a total of about 5,000 screens in America alone.

    Current Yield: 4% (84 cents a share annually)

    Dividend History: In June 2010, Cinemark paid a quarterly dividend of 18 cents a share. This July, it will pay 21 cents, for a nearly 17% increase.

    Dividend Outlook: According to Bloomberg, the three-year expected dividend growth rate of CNK is 2.5%.

    Recent Performance: Cinemark has surged over 20% so far in 2011, more than doubling the market. It is approaching a new 52-week high as of this publication.

    Strong Outlook for Shares: Cinemark has seen improving revenue each year since 2007, connecting with movie-goers despite the recession. That’s in part because of growth and acquisitions — most recently it plans to buy a 12-screen cinema in South Carolina. The movie industry may not be booming right now, but CNK could cash in big time when box office receipts improve thanks to its growth over the last few years.

Best Value Stocks To Buy In September 2012:Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU)

 Prudential Financial, Inc., through its subsidiaries, offers various financial products and services in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The company operates through three divisions: The U.S. Retirement Solutions and Investment Management, The U.S. Individual Life and Group Insurance, and The International Insurance and Investments. The U.S. Retirement Solutions and Investment Management division provides individual variable and fixed annuity products, as well as offers retirement investment and income products and services to retirement plan sponsors in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. This division also provides investment management and advisory services to the public and private marketplace. The U.S. Individual Life and Group Insurance division offers individual variable life, term life, and universal life insurance products; and group life, long-term and short-term group disability, long-term care, and group corporate-, bank-and trust-owned life insurance products to institutional clients. This division also sells accidental death and dismemberment, and other ancillary coverages, as well as provides plan administrative services; and offers preferred provider and indemnity dental coverage plans to clients. The International Insurance and Investments division provides international individual life insurance products in Japan, Korea, and other foreign countries; and offers proprietary and non-proprietary asset management, investment advice, and services to retail and institutional clients internationally. In addition, the company engages in real estate brokerage franchise business, which involves marketing its franchises to the real estate companies. Further, it provides institutional clients and government agencies with various services in connection with the relocation of their employees. Prudential Financial, Inc. was founded in 1875 and is headquartered in Newark, New Jersey.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Matthew Scott At 2011-9-6

    Retiring Baby Boomers could make Prudential Financial (NYSE: PRU) a strong performer for years to come. Insurance products like its line of guaranteed income annuities have given it an edge over rivals and it continues to make inroads into other areas of investing. Prudential’s stock price increased more than five times over the last two years, jumping from $11.20 on March 9, 2009 to $61.58 at the end of the first quarter.

Best Value Stocks To Buy In September 2012:Blount International Inc. (BLT)

 Blount International, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and markets equipment, accessories, and replacement parts to forestry, lawn and garden, farm, ranch, agriculture, and construction sectors in the United States and internationally. It provides forestry products, including cutting chain, chainsaw guide bars, cutting chain drive sprockets, and maintenance tools used primarily on portable gasoline and electric chainsaws, and mechanical timber harvesting equipment, as well as markets safety and outdoor clothing, and other accessories. The company also offers lawn and garden products comprising cutting attachments; and spare and replacement parts, such as air filters, spark plugs, wheels, belts, grass bags, tools, and accessories to service the lawn and garden equipment industry, as well as manufactures lawnmower and edger cutting blades that include blades to fit various machines and cutting conditions; and replacement parts. In addition, it provides concrete-cutting equipment, including diamond-segmented chain, which is used on gasoline and hydraulic powered saws and equipment for construction markets. Further, the company offers farm, ranch, and agriculture products, which comprise log splitters; tractor driven post-hole diggers, linkage parts, and accessories for small tractors; and assorted accessories and tools for farm, ranch, and agricultural applications. It sells its products through distributors, dealers, and mass merchants under the Oregon, Carlton, Windsor, Tiger, PowerSharp, SpeeCo, Power-Match, INTENZ, Jet-Fit, Fusion, Gator Mulcher, Magnum Edger, ICS, PowerGrit, RentMAX, EuroMAX, FORCE4, SealPro, and SpeedHook brands. The company was founded in 1946 and is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

Best Value Stocks To Buy In September 2012:Crown Cork & Seal Company Inc. (CCK)

 Crown Holdings, Inc. engages in the design, manufacture, and sale of packaging products for consumer goods. The company?s products include beverage cans and ends, and other packaging products for various beverage and beer companies; a range of food cans and ends, including two-and three-piece cans in various shapes and sizes for food marketers; and aerosol cans and ends for manufacturers of personal care, food, household, and industrial products. In addition, it produces a range of steel containers for cookies and cakes, tea and coffee, confectionery, giftware, personal care, tobacco, wines, and spirits, as well as for non-processed food products; and offers metal vacuum closures for food market and various specialty containers, as well as steel containers for paints, inks, chemical, automotive, and household products. Further, the company manufactures and sells can-making equipment. It has operations in the Americas, Europe, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. Crown Holdings was founded in 1927 and is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Best Value Stocks To Buy In September 2012:CenterPoint Energy Inc (Holding Co) (CNP)

 CenterPoint Energy, Inc. operates as a public utility holding company in the United States. The company?s Electric Transmission and Distribution segment provides transmission and distribution services to retail electric providers, municipalities, electric cooperatives, and other distribution companies serving approximately 2.1 million metered customers. As of December 31, 2010, it owned 27,842 pole miles of overhead distribution lines and 3,728 circuit miles of overhead transmission lines; 20,390 circuit miles of underground distribution lines and 26 circuit miles of underground transmission lines; and 233 substation sites with a capacity of 52,938 megavolt amperes. Its Natural Gas Distribution segment engages in regulated intrastate natural gas sales to, and natural gas transportation for approximately 3.3 million residential, commercial, and industrial customers. This segment also provides various unregulated services consisting of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and appliance repair; and sells HVAC, and hearth and water heating equipment. It owned approximately 71,000 linear miles of natural gas distribution mains. The company?s Competitive Natural Gas Sales and Services segment offers physical natural gas supplies to commercial and industrial customers, and electric and gas utilities; physical delivery services and financial products; natural gas management services; and transportation services to shippers and end-users. Its Interstate Pipelines segment provides gas transportation and storage services to industrial customers and local distribution companies. It owned and operated approximately 8,000 miles of natural gas transmission lines; and 6 natural gas storage fields. The company?s Field Services segment provides gas gathering, treating, and processing, as well as operating and technical, and remote data monitoring and communication services. CenterPoint Energy, Inc. was founded in 1882 and is headquartered in Houston, Texas.

Best Value Stocks To Buy In September 2012:Calpine Corporation (CPN)

 Calpine Corporation, an independent wholesale power generation company, owns and operates natural gas-fired and geothermal power plants in North America. It operates natural gas-fired combustion turbines and renewable geothermal conventional steam turbines. The company sells wholesale power, steam, capacity, renewable energy credits, and ancillary services to utilities, independent electric system operators, industrial and agricultural companies, retail power providers, municipalities, and power marketers. As of March 03, 2011, it operated 92 power plants delivering approximately 28,000 megawatts of power to customers and communities in 20 states of the United States and Canada. The company was founded in 1984 and is based in Houston, Texas.

Good Stocks 2014

2014 began on a strong note by recording its preeminent single-session percentage gain in weeks, closing at a two-month high on the first day of 2014 trading. The markets are all currently trading at multi-year highs. There are a multitude of positives spurring the advance. Please review the following highlights of macro-economic positive indicators.

  • China's PMI beat expectations of 49.6 by rising slightly from last month to 50.5.
  • India recently reported its best manufacturing reading in six months.
  • Manufacturing data from Europe is comparatively inspiring based on the dismal expectations.
  • Recent manufacturing activity in the United Kingdom is better than expected.
  • Eurozone manufacturing activity is somewhat in-line with outlooks.
  • Progress by the ECB with regard to sovereign debt in the form of the LTRO is proving positive for stocks.
  • The U.S. Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Index was reported at 54.1, up from 53.1 last month.



Good Stocks 2014:PC Mall Inc. (MALL)

 PC Mall, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, operates as a value added direct marketer of technology products, services, and solutions to businesses, government and educational institutions, and individual consumers primarily in the United States. It offers information technology products, services, and solutions, as well as consumer electronics equipment and other consumer products. The company?s product portfolio comprises software, notebooks, desktop, storage and networking devices, iPods/MP3s, displays, servers, printers, supplies, input devices, memory devices, consumer electronics, and accessories. It also provides planning and assessment, data center hosting, Microsoft hosting, remote systems monitoring and management, deployment, end-user desktop, managed print, recycling and disposal, change management consulting, and installation/move/add/change services to the commercial and public sector markets. In addition, the company offers data center, client computing, unified communications, virtualization, secure mobility, borderless networks, enterprise servers, storage and security, software licensing, and procurement solutions. PC Mall offers its products, services, and solutions through account executives, field service teams, various direct marketing techniques, and three retail stores; through catalogs under the PC Mall, MacMall, PC Mall Gov, and SARCOM brands; and through Web sites, such as pcmall.com, macmall.com, sarcom.com, pcmallgov.com, abreon.com, nspi.com, onsale.com, healthdynamix.com, pcmallsbn.com, and other promotional materials. The company was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Torrance, California.

Good Stocks 2014:Simulations Plus Inc. (SLP)

 Simulations Plus, Inc. develops and produces software for use in pharmaceutical research and education, as well as provides contract research services to the pharmaceutical industry. Its software products include ADMET Predictor that offers numerical models for predicting absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity properties of chemical compounds from their molecular structures; MedChem Studio, a tool for medicinal and computational chemists for data mining and designing new drug-like molecules; DDDPlus, a software program that is used by formulation scientists to reduce the number of cut-and-try attempts to design new drug formulations, as well as to design in vitro experiments to mimic in vivo conditions; and GastroPlus that simulates the absorption, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of drugs administered to humans and animals. The company also provides contract research and consulting services in the areas oral absorption and pharmacokinetics. In addition, it develops and sells interactive, educational software programs that simulate science experiments conducted in middle school, high school, and junior college science classes, as well as provides Abbreviate, a productivity software program. Further, the company designs and develops computer software and manufactures augmentative communication devices and computer access products for physically disabled persons. It markets augmentative and alternative communication products to speech pathologists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation engineers, special education teachers, disabled persons, and relatives of disabled persons, through a network of employee representatives, independent dealers, and resellers. The company operates in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Simulations Plus, Inc. was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Lancaster, California.

Good Stocks 2014:AmTrust Financial Services Inc. (AFSI)

 AmTrust Financial Services, Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates as a multinational specialty property and casualty insurance company in the United States and internationally. The company operates in three segments: Small Commercial Business, Specialty Risk and Extended Warranty, and Specialty Middle Market Business. The Small Commercial Business segment provides workers? compensation insurance and an array of commercial package products, including commercial property, general liability, inland marine, automobile, workers? compensation, umbrella, and farm and ranch owners? coverage to small businesses, such as restaurants, retail stores and strip malls, professional offices, owner or contractor of building management-operations, private schools, business traveler hotels/motels, light manufacturing, small grocery and specialty food stores, light contracting, distributors, and laundry/dry cleaners. The Specialty Risk and Extended Warranty segment serves manufacturers, service providers, retailers, and third party warranty administrators that provide coverage for accidental damage, mechanical breakdown, and related risks for consumer and commercial goods. This segment also provides coverage for products, such as personal computers, consumer electronics, consumer appliances, automobiles, cellular telephones, furniture, heavy equipment, homeowner?s latent defects warranty, hand tools, credit payment protection, gap insurance, commercial and residential properties, and legal expenses. The Specialty Middle Market Business segment underwrites worker?s compensation, package products, general liability, commercial auto liability, and other specialty commercial property and casualty insurance for retail, wholesale, service operations, artisan contracting, trucking, light and medium manufacturing, and habitational markets. The company sells its products through a network of independent wholesale agents, brokers, and retail agents. The company is based in New York, New York.

Good Stocks 2014:Full House Resorts Inc. (FLL)

 Full House Resorts, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, develops, manages, invests in, and owns gaming-related enterprises. The company holds interest in Gaming Entertainment (Delaware), LLC, a joint venture with Harrington Raceway, Inc., which has a management contract with Harrington Raceway and Casino that has approximately 1,800 slot machines and 40 table games, a 450-seat buffet, a dining restaurant, a 50-seat diner, and an entertainment lounge area located in Harrington, Delaware. It also owns and operates Stockman?s Casino, which has approximately 264 slot machines, 4 table games, and keno, as well as a bar, a dining restaurant, and a coffee shop situated in Fallon, Nevada. In addition, the company holds interests in Gaming Entertainment Michigan, LLC that has a joint venture with RAM Entertainment, LLC, which has a management agreement with the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians for the development and management of the FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan. Full House Resorts, Inc. was founded in 1987 and is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Good Stocks 2014:Summit State Bank (SSBI)

 Summit State Bank operates as a community bank in Sonoma, Napa, San Francisco, and Marin Counties in California. It offers deposit accounts, such as transaction accounts, money market accounts, savings accounts, time deposit accounts, business checking accounts, time certificates of deposit, sweep accounts, and specialized deposit accounts, including professional, small business packaged, and tiered accounts for larger deposits, and Keogh and IRA accounts. The company also provides commercial and industrial lines of credit and term loans, credit lines to individuals, equipment loans, real estate and construction loans, small business loans, and business lines of credit; consumer loans, including auto loans, mortgage loans, home improvement loans, and home equity lines of credit; and loans for accounts receivable and inventory financing, loans to agriculture-related businesses, and equipment and expansion financing programs. In addition, it offers banking by appointment, online and telephone banking services, direct payroll and social security deposits, letters of credit, access to national automated teller machine networks, courier services, safe deposit boxes, night depository facilities, notary services, travelers? checks, lockbox, and banking by mail. Further, the company, through its subsidiary, Alto Service Corporation, provides deed of trust services. It serves small-to medium-sized businesses, professionals and professional associations, entrepreneurs, high net worth families, foundations, estates, and individual consumers. The company operated five offices in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, and Healdsburg. Summit State Bank was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Santa Rosa, California.

Good Stocks 2014:Advance America Cash Advance Centers Inc. (AEA)

 Advance America, Cash Advance Centers, Inc. provides cash advance services in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The company offers various types of short-term credit products, including single cash advances; installment loans with closed-end terms; lines of credit; and second mortgage loans. Its cash advances are small-denomination, short-term, and unsecured advances that are due on the customer?s next payday. The company also offers a fee-based credit services package to assist customers in trying to improve their credit and in obtaining an extension of consumer credit through a third-party lender. In addition, it sells prepaid debit cards as an agent of a bank, as well as sells money orders; and provides money transfer services as an agent of a registered money transmitter. The company offers its cash advance services primarily to middle-income working individuals. As of December 31, 2010, it operated 2,313 centers in the United States, 21 centers in the United Kingdom, and 18 centers in Canada, as well as had 62 limited licensees in the United Kingdom. The company operates its centers under the ?Advance America? and ?National Cash Advance? brand names. Advance America, Cash Advance Centers, Inc. was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Good Stocks 2014:Barnes Group Inc. (B)

 Barnes Group Inc. operates as an international logistical services company, and aerospace and industrial components manufacturer in the United States, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. It operates in two segments, Logistics and Manufacturing Services, and Precision Components. The Logistics and Manufacturing Services segment provides value-added logistical support services, including inventory management, technical sales, and supply chain solutions for maintenance, repair, operating, and production supplies and services; and repair services comprising the manufacture of spare parts for the refurbishment and repair of highly engineered components, and assemblies for commercial and military aviation. The Precision Components segment supplies precision springs ranging from fine hairsprings for electronics and instruments to large heavy-duty springs for machinery, as well as precision-machined and fabricated components and assemblies for original equipment manufacturer turbine engine, and airframe and industrial gas turbine builders, as well as the military. This segment also manufactures and supplies precision mechanical springs, compressor reed valves, and nitrogen gas products; high-precision punched and fine-blanked components used in transportation and industrial applications; nitrogen gas springs and manifold systems used to control stamping presses; and retention rings that position parts on a shaft or other axis. It serves durable goods manufacturers operating in various industries, including transportation, consumer products, farm equipment, telecommunications, medical devices, home appliances and electronics, and airframe and gas turbine engines. The company was founded in 1857 and is headquartered in Bristol, Connecticut.

Introducing the 24/7 Wall St. Wire

IAC/InteractiveCorp (NASDAQ: IACI) has posted headline EPS $0.46, while First Call had estimates at $0.55.  Total revenues were brought in at $1.86 Billion, versus a $1.83 Billion estimate.  We would note that there appears to be gains and losses in the number.

This sure sounds like the company is saying it will proceed with its original split-up plans rather than try to appease John Malone.  We have this one under review for our Special Situation subscriber letter.  Barry Diller, CEO:

  • "There is good news and bad news this quarter — the mix of which is another reason why our previously announced plans to reorganize IAC into five independent public companies makes more and more sense….. We have begun the year on a satisfactory basis and believe the work we are doing now to prepare each of the entities for separate public life will greatly benefit shareholders in 2008 and beyond."

Diller outlined the bad news areas as lending, catalog, EPI discounts.  On the good side, Diller noted HSN turnaround, record Ticketmaster volume, increased queries rm distributed toolbars, Ask.com, Interval, and Match.

On a separate basis, IAC noted that it has repurchased 6 million shares of common stock at $24.25 per share after this last quarter on January 10, 2008.

The market is not seeming to care about the items in the numbers as shares are indicated down over 6% on thin volume at $22.97.  If that holds this will be a new 52-week low as the 52-week trading range is $23.30 to $40.99.

Jon C. Ogg
February 6, 2008

Stocks: It's all about Europe and earnings

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- After three weeks of gains, investors could be in for a choppy week ahead, as earnings kick into high gear and Europe's debt crisis heats up.

The week ahead includes reports from more than a third of the Dow 30, including McDonald's (MCD, Fortune 500) and AT&T (T, Fortune 500), and 117 members of the S&P 500 (SPX) including, Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500), Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500), and Netflix (NFLX).

Earnings for S&P 500 company are expected to have climbed just 5% in the fourth quarter, according to earnings tracker Thomson Reuters. That would mark the first quarter of single-digit earnings growth in two years. Revenues for the companies in the benchmark index are expected to have risen 7%.

While expectations are low, "earnings haven't been as soft as we had feared," said Peter Tuz, president at Chase Investment Counsel. "In the face of severe economic problems in Europe, large U.S. companies continue to do pretty good. That's positive for those companies and positive for the market."

Mangia! Investors eat up food stocks

In addition to corporate results, investors will continue to keep a weary eye on Europe.

"The constant turmoil in Europe and concerns over whether Greece will default will be a recurring theme in markets this year," said Tuz.

Greek officials continue to negotiate a debt restructuring deal with the Institute of International Finance, which represents the private sector investors who own Greek government bonds.

If officials fail to seal a deal, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund may refuse to give Greece its next bailout payment, pushing the country further into default risk, noted Kathy Lien, director of currency research at Global Forex Trading.

Both sides are under intense pressure to reach an agreement ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers taking place Monday and Tuesday, she added.

In addition to discussing the Greek ! debt dea l, finance ministers will likely focus on broader sovereign issues and euorzone debt restructuring, in an effort to create a foundation for the Jan. 30 summit of EU leaders.

In the United States, the Federal Reserve holds its first policy meeting of the year this week, with a statement due out Wednesday afternoon.

Experts don't anticipate the Fed will shift its policy stance, but, for the first time ever, the central bank will publish interest rate projections. The projections, which will be released four times a year and are an effort to increase transparency, will shed light on when and by how much the Fed plans to raise interest rates.

Iran oil to be sanctioned by Europe Monday

The Fed will also release its estimate for economic growth, unemployment and inflation at the end of its two-day meeting.

Also on the economic front, investors will get updates on the housing market, with reports on pending homes sales, new home sales, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency's housing price index on tap.

But the highlight of the week will be the government's first estimate of fourth-quarter U.S. economic growth. Economists forecasts that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic growth, will have risen by 3.1% during the last three months of 2011.  

Anadarko Rises After Earnings Beat

Oil and gas explorer Anadarko Petroleum (APC) rose 1.4% in after hours trading after releasingbetter than expected fourth quarter results.

Anadarko posted 85 cents of core EPS, 12 cents ahead of analysts’ expectations. The company reported revenue of $3.84 billion, against expectations for $3.29 billion.

The company said that its focus on liquids production (as opposed to natural gas) has helped boost sales.

“By continuing to focus capital investments on our liquids-rich opportunities, we achieved 10-percent year-over-year growth in liquids sales volumes, highlighted by production records in the Eagleford Shale, Wattenberg field, Greater Natural Buttes area, Bone Spring and certain other U.S. onshore resource plays,” said Chairman and CEO Jim Hackett in a statement.

Correction: this post originally said incorrectly that Anadarko posted 72 cents of EPS.

What other dot-com would want to compete with FB for attention?

When Facebook filed for its IPO?a few weeks ago, investors rushed into hot social stocks like Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN), Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD). The result: The Social Stock Tracker?surged more than 9% in one week!

Things have calmed down since then. But as Facebook gets closer to its offering — which is expected to occur in May — the investor intensity will be extreme. If the valuation reaches $100 billion or more, the company will be in the league of marquee tech companies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC).

But Facebook’s IPO likely will have another effect: an IPO “black hole.”

Just as a real black hole sucks in everything — including light — Facebook will also get much of the attention and investor capital. Consider that Facebook may raise in excess of $10 billion.

Take a quick look at how this would compare to other recent IPOs:

CompanyTickerAmount RaisedMarket Cap
ZyngaZNGA$1 billion$8.8 billion
GrouponGRPN$700 million$10.4 billion
LinkedInLNKD$351 million$8.7 billion
PandoraP$235 million$2.2 billion
ZillowZ$70 million$945 million

So it stands to reason that it would be crazy for any other dot-com to try to go publ! ic befor e Facebook does. How could it compete? Almost any other company would lurk under Facebook’s shadow — an unfair cloud over what could be a decent prospect.

However, after Facebook comes public, we likely will see a variety of social stocks file for their offerings. Might as well ride the coattails, right?

And that could make the fall an exciting time for the IPO market.

Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog?IPO Playbook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He also is the author of?��The Complete M&A Handbook”,?��All About Short Selling��?and?��All About Commodities.��?Follow him on Twitter at?@ttaulli?or reach him via?email. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

Dow Finishes at 52-Week High

The Dow industrials pushed higher for the second day, closing at a 52-week high, after European leaders signaled progress toward an agreement on a bailout for Greece.

The Dow pushed higher for the second day, closing at a 52-week high, after European leaders signaled progress toward an agreement on a bailout for Greece. Steven Russolillo has details on The News Hub. Photo: AP

Both the Dow and Standard & Poor's 500-stock indexes made runs at multiyear milestones, but a late rally lost momentum ahead of the long, holiday weekend. The Dow advanced 45.79 points, or 0.4%, to 12949.87, within striking distance of 13000, a threshold last hit in May 2008.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 3.19 points, or 0.2%, to 1361.23, just short of its best close in almost four years. The Nasdaq Composite fell 8.07 points, or 0.3%, to 2951.78.

Market Data Center

  • Most Actives | Gainers | Losers
  • New Highs and Lows | Money Flows
  • Intraday Futures | Currencies
  • Data: Overview | Treasurys | Forex | Crude

Consumer-discretionary and financial stocks were the strongest performers in the S&P 500 on a percentage basis, while health-care and utility stocks lagged behind. Intel was the biggest percentage gainer in the Dow, up 55 cents, or 2%, to $27.37 ! while Al coa fell 13 cents, or 1.3%, to 10.15.

The Stoxx Europe 600 climbed 0.6%, trading near levels not seen since last summer, after political leaders from Germany, Italy and Greece voiced confidence that a deal on a Greek bailout could be reached by Monday.

Developments in Europe failed to spark commensurate gains in U.S. stocks, though benchmarks drifted to session highs late in afternoon trade.

"While it looks like the pieces are slowly falling into place for Greece, there are a number of things that are not fully known. Some investors seem to be tentative going into a long weekend when a lot can happen," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments.

Developments in Europe this weekend will color next week's trading, with fourth-quarter earnings season nearly finished and few major U.S. economic data reports on the agenda next week.

Stocks rose in tandem with optimism for a second bailout for Greece, extending gains for a second session, Jonathan Cheng reports on Markets Hub. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Asian bourses also were broadly higher, with Japan's Nikkei Stock Average climbing 1.6% to a six-month high. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced 1%. Gold futures lost $2.30, or 0.1%, to $1,724.50 a troy ounce, while crude-oil prices settled up 93 cents, or 0.9%, at $103.24 a barrel, the highest settlement price in nine months.

U.S. economic data showed consumer prices rose in line with expectations in January. The newly composed index of leading economic indicators in January increased for the fourth consecutive month, just shy of expectations.

In corporate news, H.J. Heinz tacked on 2.37, or 4.6%, to 54.47, after the food company reported better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings and revenue, and provid! ed an up beat full-year earnings outlook.

General Mills shed 1.44, or 3.6%, 38.34, after it indicated fiscal third-quarter earnings would be below estimates and lowered its full-year outlook, citing weak volumes across its U.S. retail categories in December and January.

Gilead Sciences slumped 7.81, or 14%, to 47, making it the weakest performer on the Nasdaq 100 and the S&P 500, after the company announced disappointing results to a study of its hepatitis C treatment.

Write to Chris Dieterich at christopher.dieterich@dowjones.com

More Markets Coverage

  • Heard on the Street: Taking Stocks at Face Value
  • Dow Ends Near 4-Year High
  • SmartMoney: Is Job Growth Bad for Stock Returns?

(KTCC, WRLS, BWINB, CRWE, KNDI) Stock to Watch by DrStockPick.com

Key Tronic is a value-added electronic manufacturing service provider to some of the world��s leading OEMs. We specialize in PCBA and full product assembly, plastic molding and engineering services with products ranging from simple consumer devices to complex, high end commercial and industrial electro-mechanical products.

Over 40 years electronic manufacturing experience. Spokane, Washington, U.S.A. based headquarters.

Key Tronic Corporation Announces Fourth Quarter and Year End Results

Year-over-Year Revenue Up 27%;

Continued Growth in Revenue Contribution from New Programs;

More New Customer Wins and Revenue Diversification

Key Tronic Corporation (Nasdaq:KTCC), a provider of electronic manufacturing services (EMS), announced its results for the quarter and year ended July 2, 2011.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011, Key Tronic reported total revenue of $66.0 million, up 7% from $61.9 million in the same period of fiscal 2010. For the full year of fiscal 2011, total revenue was $253.8 million, up 27% from $199.6 million in fiscal 2010.

Net income for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 was $1.5 million or $0.15 per diluted share, compared to $2.3 million or $0.22 per diluted share for the same period of fiscal 2010. For the full year of fiscal 2011, net income was $5.7 million or $0.55 per diluted share, compared to $8.7 million or $0.85 per diluted share for fiscal 2010.

��We��re pleased with our strong year-over-year revenue growth for fiscal 2011, driven by the production ramp ups of new programs for both our longstanding and new customers,�� said Craig Gates, President and Chief Executive Officer. ��Due to increasing industry awareness that our customers are benefiting from our unique blend of ! multinat ional facilities and centralized management, we continue to see our market share grow. During the fourth quarter, we continued to extend our customer portfolio across a wide range of industries, winning new programs involving solar power controllers, energy monitors and electronic whiteboards.

��During most of the year, our operating performance was adversely affected as we absorbed the costs associated with bringing many new programs into production while dealing with industry-wide supply chain constraints. By the fourth quarter, the component shortages were behind us and we made good progress in optimizing the product designs, production processes and supply chains of our new programs. As a result, we saw marked improvement in our margins in the fourth quarter and achieved another year of solid profitability.

��We move into fiscal 2012 with strong business momentum and a highly diversified customer base, and anticipate more of our new programs moving into production and gradually ramping up. Despite the current macroeconomic uncertainty, we expect to continue to capture market share and capitalize on emerging opportunities.��

More about KTCC at www.keytronic.com

Telular Corp. (Nasdaq:WRLS) announces the availability of two-way voice over cellular using Telguard’s flagship TG-1 Express product. The TG-1 Express cellular alarm communicator is compatible with virtually all new and existing security alarm panels, making this new feature easily applicable to new and legacy systems

Telular Corporation designs, develops, and distributes products and services that utilize wireless networks to provide data and voice connectivity among people and machines primarily in the United States and internationally.

Baldwin & Lyons Inc. (Nasdaq:BWINB) announces that at its regular quarterly meeting on August 9, 2011, the Board of Directors of Baldwin & Lyons, Inc. declared a regular quarterly dividend of $.25 per share on ! the Comp any’s Class A and Class B Common Stock. The dividend per share will be payable September 6, 2011 to shareholders of record on August 23, 2011.

Baldwin & Lyons, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in marketing and underwriting property and casualty insurance products primarily in the United States.

Crown Equity Holdings, Inc. (CRWE)

Crown Equity Holdings, Inc. together with its digital network currently provides electronic media services specializing in online publishing, which brings together targeted audiences and advertisers. Crown Equity Holdings Inc. offers internet media-driven advertising services, which covers and connects a range of marketing specialties, as well as search engine optimization for clients interested in online media awareness.

Crown Equity Holdings Inc’s selection of Core Link reflects recent diversification beyond CRWE’s original charter as a provider of services and knowledge to small business owners taking their own companies public. In addition to these services, Crown Equity Holdings Inc has transitioned into a multifaceted media organization that publishes clients’ news online; sells advertising adjacent with its digital network targeted at a high-income audience; designs, hosts and maintains websites; produces marketing videos from concept to final product; crafts press releases and articles for maximum SEO; develops email campaigns; and forges branding campaigns to bolster client company images.

VOIP stands for voice over internet protocol or in simpler terms means internet phone. Using VOIP services can save you hundreds of dollars every year on local, national and international calling.

VOIP technology has been all over the news recently and is really making communication much simpler and certainly less expensive. VOIP or voice over internet protocol allows users to be able to talk using their voices over the internet. But what does this mean for you and really, what is ! VOIP tec hnology.

If you have ever used a microphone on your computer to speak to someone else, you have already used this new VOIP technology. Even new digital phones use this technology to broadcast crystal clear sound reception to anywhere in the world. This new technology will help keep cell phone bills lower and even gives users the ability to have conversations with people anywhere in the world for free.

Crown Equity Holdings Inc. (CRWE) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a joint venture to deploy VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology delivering voice, video and data services to residential and commercial customers. The joint venture company is Crown Tele Services Inc. which was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Crown Equity Holdings Inc. Crown Equity Holdings Inc. will own fifty percent (50%) interest in the joint venture.

Commenting on the joint venture, Kenneth Bosket, President of Crown Equity Holdings Inc., said: “We are excited to deliver VoIP communications solutions specifically designed to meet the business and residential market needs in this fast-growing global market.”

For more information, visit http://www.crownequityholdings.com

Kandi Technologies, Corp (Nasdaq:KNDI) reported improved financial results for the second quarter and six months ended June 30, 2011. Revenues increased 2.3%, to $10.1 million, from $9.9 million a year earlier, reflecting continued strong growth in go-kart sales. Sequentially, sales were up 22% compared to the first quarter of 2011. Operating income increased to $0.8 million, up 18.4% from $0.7 million in the second quarter of 2010

Kandi Technologies Corp., through its subsidiaries, engages in the design, development, manufacture, and commercialization of off-road vehicles, motorcycles, mini-cars, and special automobile related products.

Genesco Inc. made New 52 Week High Price - NYSE:GCO

Genesco Inc. (NYSE:GCO) achieved its new 52 week high price of $51.11 where it was opened at $47.15 UP 5.48 points or +12.14% by closing at $50.62. GCO transacted shares during the day were over 1.27 million shares however it has an average volume of 354,999 shares.

GCO has a market capitalization $1.20 billion and an enterprise value at $1.15 billion. Trailing twelve months price to sales ratio of the stock was 0.64 while price to book ratio in most recent quarter was 1.88. In profitability ratios, net profit margin in past twelve months appeared at 3.18% whereas operating profit margin for the same period at 5.51%.

The company made a return on asset of 6.93% in past twelve months and return on equity of 9.86% for similar period. In the period of trailing 12 months it generated revenue amounted to $1.87 billion gaining $81.05 revenue per share. Its year over year, quarterly growth of revenue was 20.10% holding 71.70% quarterly earnings growth.

According to preceding quarter balance sheet results, the company had $56.76 million cash in hand making cash per share at 2.39. Moreover its current ratio according to same quarter results was 2.32 and book value per share was 26.87.

Looking at the trading information, the stock price history displayed that its S&P500 52 Week Change illustrated 19.54% where the stock price exhibited up beat from its 50 day moving average with $42.67 and remained above from its 200 Day Moving Average with $39.81.

GCO holds 23.71 million outstanding shares with 22.78 million floating shares where insider possessed 3.50% and institutions kept 96.40%.

Introducing the 24/7 Wall St. Wire

After all of the assistance that the government has given large banks, the least that the firms?can do is extend liberal terms to homeowners to support the housing market.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “Some of the nation’s largest mortgage companies are stepping up foreclosures on delinquent homeowners. That will likely lead to more Americans losing their homes just as the Obama administration’s housing-rescue plan gets into gear.”

The banks will argue that the only foreclosures they will push are based on evidence that some?homeowners do not have the income to stay in their homes, even with government assistance to make their mortgage payments. That seems like a reasonable position, but it breaks what has been a vague and tacit agreement between federal financial operations including the Fed and the Treasury and the banks they have provided money. The financial firms get capital to shore up weak balance sheets. The banks then turn around and supply some of that money to help loosen consumer and business credit.

The blame for rising foreclosures rests more with the government than with the banks. The banks are only doing what they would normally do, which is handle troubled loans in the manner that benefits them most. The Administration has been slow to get its “homeowner rescue” package into the market, so whatever benefit its intervention might have on housing prices is being pushed closer and closer to the middle of the year. In the meantime, tens of thousands of people?will be pushed out of their houses.

Big banks are about to crush housing prices further than they have already been crushed. The government might have prevented some of that, but it hasn’t. And, rising foreclosure will undermine many of the Administration’s plans to improve the economic circumstances of the average citizen.

Douglas A. McIntyre

New Records for the Bond Market

Last week's $33 billion-plus of new corporate bonds saw new record lows for interest rates and a new record for an emerging-market U.S.-dollar issue.

Petrobras (NYSE: PBR  ) drilled into $7 billion of new cash with four bond offerings ranging from three to 30 years. That's the biggest U.S.-dollar emerging-market issue since 1995, when records started being kept. The SEC filing lists use of proceeds as "general corporate purposes." The Brazilian driller is planning on spending $225 billion to increase production over the next several years, so it's a good bet that's where the money is headed.

IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) issued $2.25 billion in three- and five-year paper. The three-year paper's 1% coupon rate is the lowest ever issued. Even when borrowing big bucks, Big Blue didn't tell us anything beyond "general corporate purposes" for the use of proceeds.

Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) scrubbed up $2 billion with two- and 10-year issues. The longer paper's 2.3% coupon rate set a new record low for 10-year corporate debt. What's P&G doing with the money? You guessed it, general corporate purposes.

McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) half-billion of 30-year debt definitely wasn't on the dollar menu. The 3.7% coupon set a new record low for 30-year corporate paper. $250 million of 10-year debt was also on the menu. General corporate purposes was a popular phrase last week.

At least one company was willing to add just a bit of color to its plans for the new money. Praxair's (NYSE: PX  ) press release included, "The company anticipates using the proceeds of the offering to repay short-term debt, to fund share repurchases under the company's share repurchase program and for general corporate purposes." I'm not ! ready to make a CAPScall on Praxair, but the combination of a rising dividend, decent valuation, and confidence to finance a share buyback with debt calls for more research and possibly a follow-up article.

Corporations continue lining up to take advantage of low interest rates and have been announcing plans to fund share buybacks with debt. Foolish investors should think very carefully before taking the other side of that trade.

  • Add Praxair to My Watchlist.
  • Add Procter?&?Gamble to My Watchlist.
  • Add Petroleo?Brasileiro to My Watchlist.
  • Add McDonald's to My Watchlist.
  • Add International?Business?Machines to My Watchlist.

Idrive Announces idrive App for Apple iPhone



SANTA BARBARA, CA–(CRWENEWSWIRE -08/30/11) - Solutions Group, Inc. (Pinksheets:SOLU.PK) and Idrive Monitoring Systems announce the development of and release of the Mobile Center application.

The first Application developed will be an application for the Apple iPhone. The Mobile Center Application will allow access to all events on the Idrive Global Center from your iPhone. A custom application was written to make the experience fast and effective.

“It is one more step in the evolution of monitoring vehicle safety,” stated Curt Andrews, Idrive’s Sales Vice President. “We are committed to pushing the boundaries of Automotive Safety Technologies and companies can now monitor their assets while keeping their drivers safe from their smartphone.”

The idrive app for iPhone is only available at the App Store of Apple starting 1 October 2011.

Idrive is currently working on Applications for the Apple iPad and Android systems. Both are scheduled to be available in Q4 2011. The Mobile Center Application for the iPhone is another industry first from Idrive.

About Solutions Group, Inc.:

Solutions Group, Inc. (SGI) is a provider of products focused around the Automotive and Transportation Safety Industries. SGI strives to create value for its shareholders by leveraging its core engineering competencies into other opportunities including royalty partnerships, intellectual property creation and selective acquisitions. SGI is the maker of Idrive and the Decelerator product lines.

For more information please visit our website at: www.IdriveSafetySolutions.com

This release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and such forward-looking st! atements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. “Forward-looking statements” describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as “may,” “future,” “plan” or “planned,” “will” or “should,” “expected,” “anticipates,” “draft,” “eventually” or “projected.” You are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude of risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, and other risks. You should consider these factors in evaluating the forward-looking statements included herein, and not place undue reliance on such statements. Apple, iPad, iPhone, Android, Global Center are registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Source: Solutions Group, Inc.


Sean J O’Neil



Bank Stocks Are Bad Investments – But Excellent Trading Opportunities

Long gone are the days when bank stocks were safe investments. Now, and for the foreseeable future, the only safe way to play banks and financials is by trading them.

Banks face so many issues, both in the near term and on a long-term secular basis, that putting shares away, even now when they look cheap, could be hazardous to your wealth and your mental state.

On the other hand, precisely because many of the headwinds banks face are obvious, closely following the developments affecting banks can lead to profitable trading opportunities. And, by familiarizing yourself with how bank stocks trade, you'll be in an excellent position to determine exactly when they've become good long-term holds.

As a trader, I'm always looking for sectors and stocks where developments affecting earnings and profitability are mainstream news. It means I don't have to mine mountains of arcane data to get the big picture. And right now, all the news coming out about banks makes them ripe for trading.

Here's what I look at and how I would trade bank stocks.

Banking on Volatility

The first thing I see when I'm looking at banks is that most of them have been exceptionally volatile. Volatility is the lifeblood of trading. They've definitely got that going for them.

The most common measure of an individual stock's volatility is how it compares to the volatility of the market as a whole. Beta measures how volatile a stock is relative to the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. A beta of "1" means that the stock is as volatile as the market. A beta of "2" means the stock is twice as volatile as the market.

Here are some betas for bank stocks you should consider as good trading candidates: Bank of America Corp.'s (NYSE: BAC) beta is 2.76; Citigroup Inc.'s (NYSE: C) is 2.89; Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) 1.78; Morgan Stanley's (NYSE: MS) is 1.10; JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s (NYSE: JPM) is 1.43; a! nd Goldm an Sachs Group Inc.'s (NYSE: GS) is 1.26.

There are many very volatile European banks to trade, too. But these are even riskier. Personally, I don't like unanticipated volatility. I like to understand what is happening, what developments are ebbing and flowing to generate volatility.

With the banks, there's a fairly long list of negative headwinds, which is where their e mbedded volatility comes from.

Big Questions For Bank Stocks

U.S. banks, and even more-so their European counterparts, are facing some very big issues. Each hurdle is big in and of itself, and collectively they form a tremendous weight on the sector.

The biggest question marks are:

  • Unanticipated Expenditures: What litigation and potential settlement costs are banks facing over mortgage putbacks? And what will taking back huge quantities of failing mortgages onto their books do to their capital reserves, ratios, and set-asides?
  • Losing Loans: With the economy potentially slipping backwards, what impact will low loan demand have on future earnings, and are banks damaging their traditional loan businesses by keeping borrower standards higher than justifiable?
  • Fed Intervention: How is the current manipulation of interest rates (they're being kept artificially low) affecting banks now; what will Operation Twist really do for banks; and what will happen to banks when rates eventually start to rise?
  • Regulatory Reform: What are the major regulatory impacts banks are facing, from the pending Volcker Rule to Basel III capital requirements?
  • European Exposure: What exposure do our banks really have to their teetering European counterparts; how interconnected is the global fin! ancial s ystem, really?
  • Sleight of Hand: What accounting games are being played by all the big banks?
Let's take a quick look at some of these issues to see how they impact banks.

A Wary Investor is a Wealthy Investor

Earnings for the third quarter have been coming out lately, and they've been a mixed bag. However, there has been one apparent trend: Every bank has posted better earnings than they otherwise would have because of an accounting trick.

Such tricks are known as debt valuation adjustments.

As a bank, you are going to have a lot of outstanding debt. To hedge against your own debt and the bonds that you've issued declining in price, you would buy insurance in the form of credit default swaps (CDS) on your own debt. The thing is, as your bank becomes weaker in terms of its future prospects, its debt prices fall. But since you bought CDS insurance on your debt, its value has risen and you can book that temporary profit in your favor.

There's another angle to this accounting game, too. Since your outstanding debt is cheaper in the market, but you owe the face amount, if you were to buy back your debt at these lower prices you could retire more expensive debt and book a theoretical profit.

Goldman Sachs booked a $450 million gain from debt valuation adjustments in the third quarter, and it still had an ugly loss. I imagine they didn't want to make it worse than it was. Morgan Stanley, on the other hand, had a good quarter; at least it looked that way. But Morgan Stanley booked a gain of $3.4 billion from DVA (debt valuation adjustments) bookkeeping. So, while it showed that it earned $1.15 per share, without the DVA sleight of hand, the number was closer to $0.02 per share.

My point is, when trading bank stocks around earnings season, make sure you take a hard look at their numbers. Look under the covers and don't trust the first headlines that trumpet their! numbers . They are true, and people initially react to them, but when smart traders look into the numbers you see a lot of repositioning.

Another potential pitfall is litigation. The mortgage business got banks into a ton of trouble. And they're not nearly out of the woods. Keep up on who is suing who, and for how much. The numbers are huge and will have an impact on earnings, profitability, banks' future prospects, and, of course, their stocks.

Additionally, regulatory issues are plaguing banks. You really have to work to keep up on these changes because they're not yet written in stone, and banks are fighting them all the time. Mostly, I'm referring to elements of the Dodd-Frank Act, including the Volcker Rule - a draft of which has been put out for public comment - and Basel III, international capital standards and regulations.

To really understand how changing rules and regulations will affect banks and their earnings, regularly search for the latest articles available about all these important rules.

You also have to stay on top of central bank policy.

Interest rates are always critical to understanding how to trade banks. You have to understand what current policies are, as well as their potential impact, and you have stay ahead of policy changes and their resultant consequences. Again, you don't have to have an economics degree, just read up on both sides of every policy decision, because most of the time there are no "right" answers, only opinions.

And as far as global exposure and interconnectedness, bank stock traders have to watch what's going on in Europe. U.S. banks have been trading off every bit of good and bad news that comes out of Europe. Stay on top of events transpiring abroad and you'll enjoy lots of exciting and profitable trading.

Beating the Banks at Their Own Game

Because of all the headwinds, I mostly trade banks from the short side. I will short them directly or buy puts ! at least three months out, and, depending on the leverage I want, I'll buy at- the- money puts or way out- of- the- money puts.

I always take profits when I've reached a good number. Sometimes, because of the volatility of banks, you can get a very good profit very quickly. I usually take it then.

However, if what you've been anticipating looks like it's happening and you are on the right side, I'd take a profit on half of my position and let the other half run, but have a stop loss in mind that still gives you a good profit from where you got in.

Always limit your losses to what you can easily stomach and afford. Don't forget, this is trading, and when there are lots of trades to make, there will be losers as well as winners.

That said, I also buy some bank stocks after I've taken a nice profit on their fall. Because there are a lot of traders shorting banks, when any good news comes out, or after a particularly hard fall, sometimes there's a bounce back reaction. I take long positions with very tight stops to catch some of these moves, and very often, they, too, are quite profitable.

So, if you think bank stocks are a good buy, you may be right. Just don't fall in love with them. And, if you think bank stocks are fool's gold and you want to short them, go ahead. Just remember to keep up on what's making bank stocks so volatile, and you'll become very adept at trading them, eventually investing in them when you know the dust has settled and they' re on the road to long-term recovery.

[Editor's Note: Money Morning Capital Waves Strategist and retired hedge-fund manager Shah Gilani became a national icon in 2008, as he dissected the shady workings of Wall Street, uncovering how the greed of a few brought down the economy of our entire country. He's since launched a new publication called Wall Street In! sights & amp; Indictments. His goal simply is to show you what's really going on in the markets, so you can "know the story" and make some money. And the best part is, it's absolutely free. Just sign up by clicking here. You'll also receive Gilani's latest report: "5 Ways to Trade the Coming EU Collapse - And Make a Killing".]

Small-Cap Semiconductor Stocks Set To Shine

This time around it's going to be different. Back in 2001 when the semiconductor industry struggled through a recession, sales dove by 32.5% and took nearly three years to return to 2000 levels.

The main difference between now and then is that unprecedented growth between 1999-2000 caused extreme overproduction and created standing inventory. As a result, it took a long time for prices to rebound.

The crisis leading up to today has been caused primarily by temporary macroeconomic issues that have strangled consumer spending on devices that use integrated circuits (ICs). Therefore, semiconductor stocks should recuperate at a much faster rate.

Databean, a market research firm that focuses on the semiconductor and electronics industries, says recovery will come to the industry in 2010 when spending increases 35% and another 29% in 2012 when it will reach $53.3 billion.

The firm also predicted that by 2011, total IC sales will surpass the peak seen during 2007, with $269.1 billion in revenue.

"We believe that the market reacted swiftly to the financial meltdown and that with little inventory in the channel now, production will begin to flow again and not remain stagnant as it did in 2002," Databeans reports. "This improved situation isn't likely to happen all at once, but certain indicators show that recovery may be sooner than later."

Enough said. I'm convinced, but I'm not as high on the big boys as I am small-caps for good reason.

I know I've brought up history before, but over the past 79 years, small-cap stocks have outperformed large-cap stocks by 165%. Because they perform best following a bear market, now's the time to consider getting back on the horse and saddling up for profits.

I'm of the opinion that many of the large-caps will be weighed down by institutional investors slowly taking money off the table to invest in faster-growing small companies with greater potential.

Put these stocks on your watch list: STEC In! c. (NASD AQ: STEC), Vishay International (NASDAQ: VSH), Tundra Semiconductors (TUN.TO) and Integrated Device Technology (NASDAQ: IDTI).

Semiconductor STEC blew away estimates on Monday, reporting non-GAAP EPS of $.17 a share for the first quarter of 2009 on revenues of $63.5 million. Estimates called for $59 million in revs and earnings of $.10 a share. More importantly, STEC issued extremely strong guidance for Q2: The company now expects revenue to range from $68 million to $70 million with diluted non-GAAP earnings of $.20-$.22 cents a share. Analysts had been expecting $59 million in revs and $.10 a share for Q2.

Shares rose 31% on Tuesday.

No news was good news for semiconductor manufacturer Vishay. First quarter 2009 earnings remained unchanged, with a loss of $29.1 million, or 16 cents a share. The first quarter last year Vishay lost $30.7 million, or 16 cents a share. Shares rose 3% that day despite the so-so news.

Vishay President and CEO Gerald Paul thinks its business has bottomed out. He said Vishay's semiconductor sales started to recover in the first quarter and have picked up even more this month, but sales of its passive electronic components, which are used by auto makers and other manufacturers, may still decline slightly. 

Argus recently upgraded VSH to a Buy.

Tundra was recently acquired by Integrated Device Technology (NASDAQ: IDTI) for about $99.34 million, beating out an offer by Gennum Corp (GND.TO). Shares of TUN rose nearly 3% on the news.

The Ottawa-based leader in System Interconnect announced its new Serial RapidIO(R) System Modeling Tool on Tuesday. The new System Modeling Tool allows wireless, military, imaging, video infrastructure and storage OEMs to explore the full performance potential and features of RapidIO interconnect to enhance system level performance, optimize architecture and reduce power consumption.

Envestnet, Inc after Quarter Results appeared with a Fall in price - ENV

Envestnet, Inc. (NYSE:ENV) shares were transacted unexpectedly with a volume of 0.256 million shares as compared to its average volume of 0.95 million shares. ENV opened at $144.00 dropped -5.56% closed $13.25. Its 52 week price range is $9.00 - $17.59.

ENV has earnings of $-1.05 million and made $98.05 million sales for the last 12 months. Its quarter to quarter sales remained 26.65%. The company has 31.37 million of outstanding shares and 30.33 million shares were floated in the market.

ENV has an insider ownership at 24.49% and institutional ownership remained 60.44%. The price moved down 9.76% from the mean of 20 days, -14.58% from 50 and went down 0.02% from 200 days average price. Company��s performance for the week was -2.14%, -17.34% for month and YTD performance remained -22.33%.

Its price volatility for a month remained 4.38% whereas volatility for a week noted as 4.1%. Company��s price to sales ratio for last 12 months was 4.24 while its price to book ratio for the most recent quarter was 4.06 and its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) remained 9.92 million for the past twelve months.

Introducing the 24/7 Wall St. Wire

Warner, the studio wing of Time Warner (TWX) will throw its weight behind the Sony (SNE) Blu-ray high definition format. The new is a blow to the rival Toshiba HD-DVD initiative.

Speaking with the studio, the FT was told "The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger," said Barry Meyer, Warner's chairman. "We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers, and most importantly, consumers."

Douglas A. McIntyre

Introducing the 24/7 Wall St. Wire

These are some of the top analyst upgrades, downgrades, and initiations seen from Wall Street brokerage and research firms this Tuesday morning.

Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) Reiterated Buy and raised price target to $63 from $55 at Argus.
ASML?Holding N.V. (NASDAQ: ASML) Raised target at Credit Suisse.
AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN) Started as Neutral at Stern Agee.
Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) Cut to Underperform from Neutral at Zacks (late Monday call).
Choice Hotels (NYSE: CHH) Cut to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.
Gulfmark?Offshore, Inc. (NYSE: GLF) Started as Outperform at Credit Suisse.
HSN, Inc. (NASDAQ: HSNI) Started as Buy at Stifel Nicolaus.
ICICI?Bank Ltd. (NYSE: IBN) Cut to Underperform as Bear of the Day at Zacks.
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) maintained as the top tech/semi pick for 2012 from Credit Suisse.
Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) Reiterated Outperform and raised target to $36 from $32 at Credit Suisse.
Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. (NYSE: MMI) Maintained Sell at Argus.
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) Cut to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/ML.
Overseas Shipholding?Group Inc. (NYSE: OSG) Cut to Market Perform at Wells Fargo.
Republic Services, Inc. (NYSE: RSG) Cut to Neutral at JPMorgan.
Ryder System, Inc. (NYSE: R) named as value stock of the day at Zacks.
SM Energy Co. (NYSE: SM) Maintained Outperform as Bull of the Day at Zacks.
Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) Reiterated Buy and raised estimates at Argus.
Tidewater Inc. (NYSE: TDW) Started as Neutral at Credit Suisse.
The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) Cut to Equal-weight at Barclays.
Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX) Cut to Equal-weight at Barclays.

If you enjoyed the Top Analyst Upgrades & Downgrades, you can sign up in the box below to join our morning email list to receive news directly in your inbox each morning. We also include major IPO’s and M&A, special situation developments, o! bservati ons on Warren Buffett and key market gurus, as well as special exclusive feature stories.


The Biggest High-Yielding Company on the Planet

Big is in.

The question marks lingering about the strength of the recovery has prompted many investors to seek shares in large, stable companies that have weathered the downturn in good shape. The 100 largest public companies in the world have beaten the MSCI World Index and the S&P 500 by more than 20 percentage points since the start of the year.

These are among the most reliable companies in the world, though most don't pay big dividends. Just six companies, in fact, yield 6% or more. Fortunately, they're all available in the U.S.

Company (Ticker)YieldMarket Cap Dividends per Year
BP (NYSE: BP)6.1%$173B$10.1B
AT&T (NYSE: T)6.3%$152B$9.6B
Vodafone (NYSE: VOD)7.6%$118B$9.0B
Verizon (NYSE: VZ)6.6%$82B$5.4B
France Telecom (NYSE: FTE)6.4%$66B$4.2B
Deutsche Telekom (NYSE: DT)7. 4%$62B$4.5B


BP pays more in dividends than any other 6%-plus yielding company -- more than $10 billion in dividends every year, about the same as the gross national product of Cambodia.

BP, the largest oil and gas producer in the United States, is a 100-year-old company that explores for oil and gas in 29 different countries and operates 24,000 gas stations around the world. BP's business mix by 2008 revenues is 22% exploration and production. The rest of its revenue comes from refining and marketing.

The company has said on many occasions that it is committed to maintaining a high dividend. Not only does BP pay more in dividends than any other company, it has also raised its distribution every year for the past 10. During the past five years, the rate of increase has averaged +15% a year. BP is paying $0.84 a share each quarter, which amounts to an annual dividend of $3.36.

BP has a diversified business, but the company ultimately makes money by selling oil and gas. Years of profitability has allowed BP to load up its coffers. Its balance sheet shows $9 billion in cash and a microscopic long-term debt-to-equity ratio of 0.2 to 1.

At 1.8 times book value with a 9.6 forward P/E, a convincing case can be made that BP is undervalued relative to its peers. Exxon Mobil's (NYSE: XOM) forward P/E is 12.5. Chevron (NYSE: CVX) sells for 10.3 estimated earnings.

B! P announ ced an enormous oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico at the beginning of September. The field -- thought to be one of the deepest discoveries ever -- rests underneath 4,132 feet of water and more than six miles of seabed. BP owns 62% of the site.

Early estimates suggest the site may hold four to six billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). For this kind of field, producers are typically able to recover 20% to 35% of the crude, which puts the find at 800 million to 2.1 billion BOE.

The company produces about four million BOE every day. That means that the Gulf discovery alone could produce the company's total worldwide output for as many as 525 days. In total, BP had about 18.1 billion BOE in proven reserves at the end of 2008.