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Search Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" trading recommendations using our exclusive "Mad Money" Stock Screener. NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- More listening and less buying. That's what Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers they should be doing during next week's trading. Cramer said as global tensions ratchet up the worry, investors need to raise cash and stay largely on the sidelines. On Monday, Cramer said he'll be watching Cummins and Herbalife . He said Cummins is problematic as investors flee the industrials, while Herbalife needs to response to activist Bill Ackman's latest allegations. Tuesday brings earnings from UPS , Twitter , Bullafo Wild Wings and Panera Bread . Cramer said UPS will offer a great read on global commerce while Twitter is likely to wither in Facebook's shadow. He was bullish on Wild Wings but expects Panera to continue lower. Then, on Wednesday, it's Whole Foods Markets , another wait-and-see stock, and Yelp , one of the few stocks Cramer said he'd buy on weakness. For Thursday, it's Exxon Mobil , which Cramer expects to disappoint, Apache , another buy-on-weakness recommendation, and GoPro , a stock Cramer said should delver strong results. Finally, on Friday, Cramer told investors to be careful with both Clorox and Procter & Gamble as they've been delivering sub-par performance. In other news, non-farm payroll numbers will be released on Friday. Cramer said he expects employment to be strong. He also suggested picking up shares in Synchrony, the General Electric spinoff that will see its initial public offering at some point next week. Amazon vs. Starbucks What should happen is not always what does happen, Cramer reminded viewers as he examined the earnings from Amazon.com and Starbucks . Cramer owns Starbucks for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS. Cramer said both stocks got hit hard after they reported earnings. Amazon told analysts that it's doing what its always done: spend, spend, spend in the name of world domination. With losses widening to 2012 levels, some analysts abandoned ship, a move Cramer said was totally justified for a company that doesn't seem to care what analysts think anyway. But then there's Starbucks, a company that's focused on world domination and profitability. Starbucks delivered a 7% increase in same-store sales, expanded in China and was still able to deliver profits for shareholders. Trading at 28 times earnings with a 22% growth rate, Cramer said the selloff in Starbucks, unlike Amazon, is a buying opportunity. Credibility Counts There are two things that are important when analyzing a company's quarterly report, Cramer told viewers: the earnings and the company's credibility. That's why when chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices delivered hideous numbers and guidance well below estimates but management declared everything was coming up roses, Cramer threw the red flag. Cramer said when a company's management refuses to acknowledge reality, that's a really big problem. So when rival Intel delivered incredible numbers, including an uptick in PC market share, Cramer was expecting AMD to deliver an apology and a plan to turn things around. Yet, AMD management patted itself on the back, noting the company is executing on its strategy to deliver consistent performance. Consistent performance? Cramer said AMD disappointed on all five of its last quarterly reports. The company also touted strong demand for video game consoles as a big win, but Cramer noted that's a bad thing if AMD's whole strategy rests on video game consoles. AMD also noted that 40% of sales is now stemming from high-growth areas such as video games, but Cramer said "high-growth" sales are only increasing as a percentage because the company is losing PC market share so quickly. Cramer said it's time AMD's management seriously examines its prospects and investors seriously examine why they own this troubled company. Big Ideas In his "Big Ideas" segment, Cramer highlighted two more investment ideas offered up by fund manager Leon Cooperman: Citigroup and Gaming & Leisure Properties . After years of being lost in the wilderness, Cramer said Citigroup finally has a clear path to a higher valuation. That's a good thing as the bank currently trades at just 0.85 times its tangible book value, making it the cheapest bank out there. Thanks to continued cost cuts, Cramer said he agrees with Cooperman's price target of $60 a share or a 20% premium to where it trades today. Cooperman's other idea: Gaming & Leisure Properties, a real estate investment trust that invests in, you guessed it, casino and hotel properties. The stock currently yields a hefty 6% but management feels it could double the payout because there are still $40 billion worth of casino properties the company could acquire. The company's business model is simple -- buy the land a casino sits on, then lease the property back to the casino. Cooperman's price target on Gaming & Leisure was $45 a share, for a 29% gain. To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Money page on CNBC. To sign up for Jim Cramer's free Booyah! newsletter with all of his latest articles and videos please click here. -- Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C. To email Scott about this article, click here: Scott Rutt Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottRutt or get updates on Facebook, ScottRuttDC

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As of June, new-home sales dropped by 8% to an annual rate of 406,000 homes. Does this mean the housing market is cooling down? How does this news impact homebuilder stocks such as D.R. Horton and Lennar ? The chart below demonstrates the fluctuations in the number of new homes sold and the median price of a new dwelling during the past year, according to the recent release of the U.S Census Bureau's report (PDF file). Read More: Disappointing New-Homes Sales Report Dents Homebuilders' Stocks Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Housing and Urban Development Based on the above, the number of homes sold fell in June, after it had slowly picked up in the preceding months. The annual rate was also 11.5% below last year's pace in June. Nonetheless, the new-home sales pace didn't move in a clear trend as it ranged between 400,000 and 460,000 in the past nine months. Further, during June, the median sales price slid by 3.2% to reach $273,500 but remained over 5% above the price recorded in June 2013. These figures suggest the housing market has been stagnating in recent months. But this negative news of falling new-home sales may have contributed to the recent drop in shares of homebuilders: D.R. Horton plummeted by 11% Thursday and closed down another 33 cents, to $21.61, on Friday. Lennar's stock fell by 3% Thursday and off another 84 cents Friday, ending at $38.43. For D.R. Horton, the recent release of its quarterly earnings report also pressured down its stock, as it didn't meet the market's expectations, with earnings per share of 32 cents -- a 24% fall compared to the same quarter last year. Conversely, housing-related stocks, including Lowe's and Home Depot were less impacted by this news. Shares of Lowe's slightly rose by 0.24% to $48.03 on Thursday, only to give back 30 cents on Friday. To quote TheStreet's Joe Deaux, it is a volatile housing sector, as we also saw a spike in existing-home sales in June. If the new-homes market remains stuck in range, it could bring down home builders' stocks as a jittery market reduces its sales expectations for these companies. Read More: Be Careful Ahead of April Existing and New Home Sales Reports At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) - You can now add Japan's most popular messaging app LINE to the growing list of apps looking to attract potential investors. Japanese messaging operator LINE Corp, a subsidiary of Korea's Naver Corporation, might soon appear on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The company applied for an initial public offering with a valuation over 1 trillion yen (about $10 billion) earlier this month. With more than 400 million users, LINE may have been inspired by social media's recent costly acquisitions. Facebook's $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp and Japan's Rakuten signing a $900 million dollar deal to acquire Viber come to mind. Rather than risk being bought out, the company will turn its hand at attracting investors while simultaneously evolving into an international brand. Founded in 2011, LINE was initially developed as a way to keep in contact with people using Internet-based resources. But since then, LINE has evolved into a communications platform complete with apps, stickers-lively emotive images to help those when words aren't enough, games and most recently, Webtoons. Nomura Holdings and Morgan Stanley have been tapped by LINE to manage the IPO and are also in the midst of considering a dual listing either on the NYSE or NASDAQ. And although still in the beginning stages, the IPO could go public as early as November, according to media reports. But according to LINE Corp. "determinations regarding whether to ultimately list, listing venue and listing timing, etc., have not been made," Hazuki Yamada, Global Public Relations manager at LINE Corp wrote in an email to TheStreet Potential investors will have to wait to hear more about the app hitting the market but it's hard not to wonder how LINE going public will impact the Tokyo Exchange. Josef Schuster of IPO-focused research firm IPOX Schuster LLC believes LINE going public "should be considered positive for the Tokyo Stock Exchange." Schuster also believes LINE could be dual-listed in both Tokyo and the U.S. "By having a dual listing, the firm potentially has the best of both worlds: Trading close to its customer base (Tokyo) while trading within the key social media ecosystem (NASDAQ/NYSE). This cements Japans role as an alternative listing venue for technology IPOs in the region, as well," he wrote in an email exchange.LINE generated 18 billion yen ($177.6 million) during its first quarter of 2014, a 14% increase from the previous quarter. LINE, LINE corporation's core business, generated 14.6 billion yen ($114.1 million) during the first quarter, a 19% increase from the previous quarter and a 223% increase from 2013's Q1 according to the company. Josef Schuster also believes LINE going public will have an impact on the social media industry in general. He believes LINE going public will present the company with the opportunity to gain media coverage and a move that ultimately translates into more business. LINE continues to see growth internationally. Although most popular in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia, LINE has been expanding into Europe, India and Latin America with the help of culturally sensitive stickers and other apps. "LINE has also captured new users in South American countries such as Chile and Venezuela through exploring joint marketing campaigns with local businesses, offering localized stickers and airing television commercials, further establishing its global presence," stated LINE CEO Akira Morikawa in a May press release. Despite the company's progress, LINE must still compete with WhatsApp's 500+ million monthly users, Tencent Holdings Limited's QQ -which has a reported 798.2 million users as of 2012, and other instant messaging apps as they continue to evolve into entertainment hubs and one-stop shops for users. Schuster says LINE needs to make acquisitions to stay competitive, as FaceBook did in acquiring companies like WhatsApp and Instagram."The social media business is a high velocity business and there are low barriers to entry for any firm. The nature of the technology and consumer can [instantly] lead to quick shifts in market share."

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) –– The top gun, U.S. President Barack Obama, has been brought out to highlight the so called inversion issue. That is when American corporations acquire a foreign company and then relocate their headquarters abroad to escape U.S. taxes. On Thursday, in a speech at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, Obama called the companies who have completed such transactions "corporate deserters," saying they are giving up their American citizenship. The name-calling raised the issue beyond its economic bounds, taking on a purely political tone. The attack did not occur "out of the blue." It all started nearly two weeks ago, when U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Dave Camp (R-MI), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, inviting Congress to crack down on companies opting out. That's when concern over "inversion" immediately made its way into the press. Read More: Why Apple's Overseas Tax Probe Is a Black Eye on U.S. Lawmakers The corporate tax rate in the United States is at 35%, one of the highest in the developed world. With such a high tax rate, big corporations with global operations have no problem in justifying to their boards and investors their decision to opt out of the country. The U.S. rate is about double the average European tax rate and more than three times Ireland's 12.5%. The trickle of transactions began some time ago. Earlier this year, Pfizer made a failed attempt to buy U.K-based Astra Zeneca . In July, generic drug maker Mylan announced that it will buy Abbott Laboratories' branded specialty and generics business outside the United States in a $5.3 billion deal that will cut its tax bill. According to the Financial Times, 25 companies are looking to follow. As this administration looks for combustible topics to help the Democrats retain a majority in the Senate ahead of the election in the fall, the issue seems worth floating. There is no question that there is a problem here. Republicans firmly believe that something needs to be done about the tax issue. But, the solution is one of rational tax reform and not of emotional electioneering. The president called for quickly enacted, "short-run solutions" and asked to prevent corporations from taking action before the legislation is in place. He has asked that the measures to stop inversion be retroactive to May. Already, corporations seem to be lining up to engage in inversion transactions before Congress can pass anything.Read More: Paul Ryan’s Entitlement Reforms Offer an Elixir for the Poor What a way to run the economy! The United States economy is not doing well. In fact, over the past two to three weeks, economists have been lowering their estimates of economic growth over the near term. Even some governmental agencies have joined the crowd and reduced their estimates of the potential economic growth of the country to 2.0%. The economic recovery that began in July 2009 has been the weakest on record since World War II. One of the major reasons for this lackluster performance has been the uncertainty created by the government, in my opinion. Both small and large companies have been unwilling to invest in plant and equipment, commit to the future, given the failure of the government to offer any kind of supportive action. Both parties have argued that corporate tax reform was necessary. Yet, nothing has been done. Corporations are being hit on both sides. Corporate taxes are so high they impact a firm's ability to compete. But if executives act to protect their companies, they are being singled out as unpatriotic and deserters who are "renouncing their citizenship." This certainly does not contribute to an environment in which corporations are going to commit to the future. Washington, D.C. has had five and a half years to do something about tax reform. It seems the main issue on the minds of Washington politicians is the fall election. According to a New York Times article, the president's speech was supposed to focus on job training. With a labor participation rate near a 40-year low, it is a shame that the president concentrated on politics and not the needs of the working force.Read More: Paul Ryan’s Entitlement Reforms Offer an Elixir for the Poor At the time of publication, the author held some Abbott labs stocks, although positions may change at any time. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- After three straight up days Friday saw a selloff that was on increased downside volume. The S&P 500 Trust Series ETF volume came in at 76 million shares. That was much higher than the 3 proceeding up days. Where have you heard this before? On up days the volume is decelerating and on down days the volume is accelerating. Just not the way a bull market is supposed to be acting. The DJIA was down 123.23 points to close at 16960 and the S&P 500 was down 9.64 at 1978.34. The Nasdaq was lower by 22.54 to close at 4449.56 while the Russell 2000 was down 1% to finish at 1144.72. The Russell 200 Index is now down 2% for the year to date. Now that is a sure sign of a stock market that is not quite in bull mode. Read More: Stock Market Today: Amazon, Visa Drag on U.S. Markets, S&P 500 Flat for the Week Where the stock market goes from here is anyone's guess. The stock market is not the economy in 2014. I have a feeling geopolitical events are now starting to infiltrate the stock market. In the next crisis that is on the horizon, you will be told you cannot have your money when you ask for it. The term "macro prudential" means asset freeze or bail-in. The new money market regulations that went into effect this week allow for suspension of redemptions. The Federal Reserve is coming around to the view that a collapse is coming and regulators are exhibiting signs they expect another collapse. As I mentioned in Thursday's article, gold, which was up 7% YTD, is now up 8% YTD after a nice upside move on Friday. Ignore the Wall Street pundits when it comes to gold. Gold is in a bullish trend. Monday starts the last week of trading for July. Most of the major earnings are already in and they were less than stellar. Traders and investors need to keep focus. With U.S. equity outflows negative, the hedge funds are in total control. They can easily send this stock market into a tailspin. This market is not for investors. This is a traders market. On Friday, I sold my Under Armour long position that I purchased on an upside channel break on Thursday. The gain was for over 1%. I also covered my Glu Mobile short from yesterday at the open for nearly a 2% gain. Read More: Unloved Rally Has Strength to Overcome Early Rate Hike At the close on Friday I went long Turcell Iletisim Hiizmetleri ADS . I shorted Siliconware Precision Industries and went long Qlik Technologies . This is all according to my algorithm process at www.strategicstocktrade.com. At the time of publication, the author was long TRC, QLIK, INO, and short SPIL, although positions may change at any time. This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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This story has been updated from 3:38 pm ET with closing stock price.NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- El Pollo Loco shares surged 60% to $24.03 on its first day of trading following its IPO. The fast-casual chicken chain, which raised $107 million after pricing 7.14 million shares late Thursday at $15 a share. The stock opened on the Nasdaq at $19. The price was at the upper end of the $13 to $15 a share range given in its Securities and Exchange Commission registration filing. WATCH: More market update videos on TheStreet TV Read More: Chipotle Is a "Once-in-a-Decade" Brand: Analyst Headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., El Pollo Loco, Spanish for "The Crazy Chicken," plans to use net proceeds from the offering to repay debt. Jefferies, Morgan Stanley and Baird are all acting as joint book-runners. William Blair and Stifel are acting as co-managers in the offering. Read More: How PizzaRev Plans to be the Chipotle of Pizza A healthier play on Yum! Brands' Taco Bell-and-KFC combination restaurants, El Pollo Loco has 400 stores split between company-owned stores and franchised locations. The chain is known for its fire-grilled chicken and Mexican-themed menu items."The consumer is demanding higher quality products, but also demanding healthier products. People are trading up from the QSRs [quick-service restaurants] to fast casual," CEO Steve Sather said in an interview with TheStreet on Friday. "We call our positioning QSR-plus," referring to higher quality menu items at the "speed, convenience and value that you get at the QSR segment." That said, El Pollo Loco's prices are about 10% higher than typical fast-food chains but roughly 15% lower than Chipotle or Panera . "We think we're right on where consumers want to be in our QSR-plus position," Sather said. El Pollo Loco is targeting 2,300 U.S. restaurants for the long term. It plans to grow the number of restaurants by 8% to 10% annually, at first by adding company-owned stores, but also by developing franchisee relationships, according to the filing. It has hopes of becoming a national brand one day but for now will stick to a targeted expansion plan within the Southwest, Sather adds. Last year revenue from El Pollo Loco's company-owned restaurants totaled $294.3 million, while system-wide sales from franchisees totaled $172 million. However El Pollo Loco ended 2013 with a net loss of $16.9 million. El Pollo Loco estimates that preliminary revenue for the 13 weeks ended June 26 to be between $86.4 million and $86.9 million compared to $81.7 million for the year-earlier period. Income for the period will be in the range of $12.4 million to $12.9 million, compared to $12.2 million last year. Restaurant comp growth was between 4.9% and 5% compared to 6.9% growth last year, the filing said. "El Pollo Loco has a steady and reliable customer base and is a healthier alternative to the fried chicken component in this category. Their ability to 'make it' in their home market of Southern California speaks to good cost controls and internal systems. Key for them is to maintain quality and cleanliness in some older stores," wrote Tom Kelley, a restaurant consultant and president of AccessPoint Group in an email to TheStreet. El Pollo Loco is the latest fast-casual restaurant to sell shares in the public markets. Other restaurant chains to go public recently include Potbelly and Papa Murphy's , both of which have recently seen shares trade below their IPO prices of $14 and $11, respectively. Noodles shares while trading above its IPO price of $18, are down about 35% over the past year. The one exception in recent restaurant IPOs is Mediterranean food chain, Zoe's Kitchen . Shares have more than doubled since its IPO. "Except for Papa Murphy's, these IPOs have been well received by investors, pricing an average of 18% above the proposed range and trading up an average of 72% on the first day of trading," Kathleen Smith, Principal of IPO ETF manager Renaissance Capital, wrote in an email. "However the follow through after the first day is the big question and only Zoe's has produced positive aftermarket returns. We are impressed by [El Pollo Loco's] strong comps (+5% 1Q14) and experienced management team; however, the business is concentrated in California and unit growth may be challenging given its history of flat unit growth for the last few years." Read More: Papa Murphy's Prices Low, But Heats Up in Trading "We believe we are well-positioned to take advantage of significant growth opportunities because of our differentiated QSR+ positioning, signature fire-grilled chicken, disciplined business model and strong unit economics," the company said in its SEC filing. "We plan to continue to expand our business and drive restaurant sales growth, improve margins and enhance our competitive positioning." --Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York. Follow @LKulikowski // 0;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); // ]]>

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- TheStreet Ratings team reiterated its "hold" rating for InvenSense Friday with a rating score of C-. Shares of InvenSense fell -5.7% to close at $24.05. About 6.4 million shares of the company were traded by 4:20 p.m., above the daily average trading volume of about 2.4 million shares. Must read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. TheStreet Ratings team rates INVENSENSE INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate INVENSENSE INC (INVN) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and premium valuation." Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 9.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 6.9%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share. Despite currently having a low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.43, it is higher than that of the industry average, inferring that management of debt levels may need to be evaluated further. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 4.94 is very high and demonstrates very strong liquidity. The gross profit margin for INVENSENSE INC is rather high; currently it is at 51.07%. Regardless of INVN's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, INVN's net profit margin of -9.54% significantly underperformed when compared to the industry average. Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Electronic Equipment, Instruments & Components industry and the overall market, INVENSENSE INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500. You can view the full analysis from the report here: INVN Ratings Report STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock markets slipped on Friday as some of the largest names, including Amazon and Visa , reported unimpressive earnings. Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, plunged 9.7% to $324.01 after reporting a net loss of 27 cents a share, far wider than an expected 15 cents a share loss, and guiding for a third-quarter operating loss as deep as $810 million. Visa shares pulled the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower after downwardly-revising its annual revenue growth to 9% to 10% from a previous forecast of 10% to 11%. Shares closed 3.6% lower to $214.77. Read More: How a Target Heir Is Customizing Dresses to Beat the Rack Read More: July 25 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know Read More: Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got? International markets also weighed on investor sentiment. The UK FTSE 100 closed 0.44% lower and the DAX in Germany was down 1.53% after the German Ifo business climate index dropped to a nine-month low of 108 amid escalating geopolitical tensions. The S&P 500 ended the session down 0.48% to 1,978.34, after booking its 72nd closing all-time high for this bull market Thursday as analysts hiked their growth outlook for the second-quarter earnings season. The Dow was lower by 0.72% to 16,960.57 The Nasdaq slipped 0.5% to 4,449.56. The S&P 500 is looking to end the session little changed from the beginning of the week as investors await next week's July jobs report and Federal Reserve policy update. Despite a handful of disappointments in earnings reports Thursday evening, S&P Capital IQ wrote that second-quarter S&P 500 earnings growth is now expected to come in at 8.1% year-over-year, with earnings per share of $29.11. That's up from the prior day's estimate of 7.3% year-over-year growth, with EPS of $28.89. Starbucks slid 2.1% to $78.74 amid worries that the coffee giant's store expansion plans and increasing prices of ingredients will hurt its bottom-line growth. Pandora shares tumbled 10.3% to $25.75. Although the online radio company's earnings report was slightly better than expected, a drop in users concerned Wall Street. In other corporate headlines, real estate site Zillow is seeking to buy out rival Trulia for up to $2 billion in cash and stock. Both companies collect fees from real-estate agents as well as advertising revenue on a combined 85 million unique visitors in June alone. Zillow shares were up 9% to $158.86 and Trulia was gaining 4.9% to $56.35. Rupert Murdoch isn't just convulsing American media markets with his 21st Century Fox bid for Time Warner . His BSkyB British TV company is looking to spend $9 billion to buy Fox's pay-TV stations in Germany and Italy. The Chinese tainted-meat scandal is still in the headlines. While Yum! Brands has dropped the offending supplier, Shanghai Husi Food, and its U.S.-based owner, OSI, McDonald's has stuck with the company out of necessity. The headline U.S. June durable goods orders reading rose by a more-than-expected 0.7% in June, the Commerce Department reported Friday. However, underlying components to the number indicated tepid capital goods interest and very weak core shipments with a downward revision, which CRT Capital strategist David Ader said will extract from second-quarter GDP. "We'd say this is a bit more disappointing as a result," Ader said in a note. --By Andrea Tse and Keris Alison Lahiff in New York

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Mandatory paid vacation days -- a common feature for workers oversees -- do not exist in the United States. As a result, Americans enjoy, on average, less holidays than the rest of the world -- a concern for the travel industry. Hotels.com, one of several brands owned by Expedia , has taken on this issue. It launched a petition about a week ago. Its goal is to get 100,000 signatures and gain some customers along the way. Hotels.com's Vacation Equality Project needs those signatures within a 30-day period, the threshold set by the White House under its We the People online petition platform. Without those signatures, the administration will not have to respond. As of Friday morning, the petition had only 3,121 signatures and another 21 days left. If signatures maintain this pace, the petition will fall short of its target.Whether Americans deserve paid vacation time at the expense of companies is an argument left for others to debate. Hotels.com is winning through the simple potential of changing the legislation and creating awareness. It found a weakness in the travel market, exposed it, and is ready to capitalize on it. Perhaps investors should be ready to capitalize on Expedia.Read More: Is It Safe to Fly Malaysia Airlines? Expedia shares have gained 17% so far in 2014 and more than 25% in the last 12 months. Despite trading at close to its 52-week high, Expedia shares are cheap when compared to rival Priceline . Expedia was trading at $79.58, down 32 cents, while Priceline was trading at $1,225.98, down $10.75 near the Friday close. Both companies have high price-to-earnings ratios. Expedia trades at a P/E of 29.79, while Priceline has a P/E of 31.47. Priceline's EV/sales and price/book value are 8.06 and 8.64, respectively. Expedia's EV/sales is 1.83 and it has a price/book value of 4.72. Analysts forecast Expedia's revenue to grow 18% in fiscal 2014 and 13% in fiscal 2015. For Hotels.com, more vacation time for more American workers could be an income boost. With more than 290,000 listed properties on its travel site, Hotels.com is counting on more vacation time equaling more revenue. That would likely translate into longer hotel stays, more flights and cruises -- all potential winning scenarios for Hotels.com and Expedia. Even without a change in legislation, Expedia and its brands are gaining sympathy along the way. After all, who does not like paid vacation days?The petition uses comparisons to other countries to convince American workers they need paid time off. Europeans have an average of 20 vacation days, not including public holidays. Countries like Brazil and Sierra Leone offer 30 and 18 paid days, respectively. In the United States, though, 28 million people, or 1 in 4 working Americans, go without paid time off, Hotels.com states.Expedia has a growing presence in the travel market, with brands like Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Trivago, Carrentals.com and eLong. In the first quarter, Expedia saw a 24% increase in total room nights. Revenue rose 19% year on year driven by growth in hotel, advertising and media as well as air ticket revenue. Domestic gross bookings growth of 35% outpaced the 21% gain seen by international bookings. Expedia also launched in the first quarter a marketing campaign for Hotels.com, which will increase awareness going forward. A new tagline of Hotels.com: The Obvious Choice and the introduction of Captain Obvious, a personality for the brand, highlighted the quarter. Read More: Why Facebook's Blowout Earnings Are Even More Impressive Than You Thought At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- This year, Ride Aid shares have traded at a faster pace than other leading retail drugstore chain giants, including Walgreen . Year-to-date, Rite Aid stock is up more than 40% at $7.13, while Walgreen shares are up 27% to $73.18. In the past several weeks, however, both companies' stocks have started to lose ground. One factor that may have curbed down these companies' progress is the weight of the past quarter. So how did Rite Aid measure up to Walgreen? READ MORE: Darren Karst Appointed Rite Aid Executive VP and CFO The table below summarizes Rite Aid's progress in revenue, operating profits, profitability and number of stores in the past quarter.Rite Aid didn't increase its sales in the past quarter, as indicated in the table below. Nonetheless, the company's sales per store increased by 0.8%, year over year. Based on the above, Rite Aid's decision to close a net of 34 stores in the past year offset the rise in sales per stores. In other words, Rite Aid's efforts to improve its stores' performance are positively impacting revenue per store. But Rite Aid's profit margin per store continues to contract and it's currently less than half of Walgreen's profitability per store. READ MORE: 3 Stocks Raising The Services Sector Higher In comparison, as the table below shows, Walgreen increased its sales by nearly 6% but even after controlling for the gain in number of stores, revenue per store inched up by 0.3% and the operating profit per store slid by 2%, year over year. READ MORE: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks So even though Rite Aid has done a better job in increasing its sales per store, its bottom line continues to dwindle. READ MORE: Here's What It Looks Like Inside Tesla's Massive Factory Since Walgreen keeps extending its reach by opening new stores throughout the U.S while only slightly reducing its profit margin, the company is doing a better job in appreciating its value compared to Rite Aid. At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- TheStreet Ratings team reiterated its "buy" rating for Apple Friday with a ratings score of B+. Shares of the iPhone maker were gaining 0.3% to $97.33. About 34.8 million shares of Apple were traded by 3:40 p.m., compared to an average trading volume of about 62 million shares a day. Must read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. TheStreet Ratings team rates APPLE INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate APPLE INC (AAPL) a BUY. This is driven by a few notable strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results." Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 8.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 6.0%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share. Although AAPL's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.26 is very low, it is currently higher than that of the industry average. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.18, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems. The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Computers & Peripherals industry and the overall market, APPLE INC's return on equity exceeds that of the industry average and significantly exceeds that of the S&P 500. 44.56% is the gross profit margin for APPLE INC which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 20.69% is above that of the industry average. Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 55.53% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, AAPL should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year. You can view the full analysis from the report here: AAPL Ratings Report STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Mellanox Technologies was gaining 15.2% to $43.28 Friday after beating analysts' expectations for earnings in the second quarter. The company reported earnings of 15 cents a share for the second quarter, beating the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of 10 cents a share by 5 cents. Revenue grew 4.5% year-over-year to $102.6 million for the quarter, in line with analysts' expectations. Mellanox said it expects revenue of $114 million to $118 million for the third quarter. Analysts expect revenue of $114.4 million for the third quarter. Must read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. TheStreet Ratings team rates MELLANOX TECHNOLOGIES LTD as a Hold with a ratings score of C-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate MELLANOX TECHNOLOGIES LTD (MLNX) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself." MLNX data by YCharts STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Qlik Technologies was gaining 14.5% to $26.78 Friday after beating analysts' estimates for earnings and revenue in the second quarter. For the second quarter Qlik reported earnings of 2 cents a share, 5 cents above the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of a loss of -3 cents a share. Revenue grew 21.8% from the year-ago quarter to $131.6 million. Analysts expected revenue of $125.3 million for the quarter. Looking to the full-year 2014 Qlik expects revenue of $545 million to $555 million and earnings of 23 cents to 27 cents a share. Analysts expect revenue of $547.8 million and earnings of 25 cents a share for the year. Must read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. TheStreet Ratings team rates QLIK TECHNOLOGIES INC as a Sell with a ratings score of D. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate QLIK TECHNOLOGIES INC (QLIK) a SELL. This is driven by a number of negative factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share." QLIK data by YCharts STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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text 4 Big Tech Stocks Getting Big Attention
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:55 GMT

BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Put down the 10-K filings and the stock screeners. It's time to take a break from the traditional methods of generating investment ideas. Instead, let the crowd do it for you. Read More: Warren Buffett's Top 25 Stocks for 2014 From hedge funds to individual investors, scores of market participants are turning to social media to figure out which stocks are worth watching. It's a concept that's known as "crowdsourcing," and it uses the masses to identify emerging trends in the market. Crowdsourcing has long been a popular tool for the advertising industry, but it also makes a lot of sense as an investment tool. After all, the market is completely driven by the supply and demand, so it can be valuable to see what names are trending among the crowd. While some fund managers are already trying to leverage social media resources like Twitter to find algorithmic trading opportunities, for most investors, crowdsourcing works best as a starting point for investors who want a starting point in their analysis. Today, we'll leverage the power of the crowd to take a look at some of the most active stocks on the market today. Read More: 5 Toxic Stocks You Should Sell Without further ado, here's a look at today's stocks. RF Micro Devices Nearest Resistance: $11.21Nearest Support: $10Catalyst: Q1 Earnings Radio frequency chipmaker RF Micro Devices is up 3.2% this afternoon, following positive first-quarter earnings and guidance for next quarter. Investors had been expecting profits of 17 cents per share, but RFMD actually earned 24 cents for the period, tacking on strong results to what's already been a strong month for this stock. Read More: 3 Stocks Spiking on Big Volume The $10 level got taken out earlier in June, and earnings are propelling shares of RFMD even higher this afternoon. Support at $10 is a lot stronger than this stock's nearest resistance level at $11.21. If you decide to go long here, the 50-day moving average is a logical place to keep a protective stop. Maxim Integrated Products Nearest Resistance: $33.50Nearest Support: $27Catalyst: Q4 Earnings Maxim Integrated Products is selling off more than 12% this afternoon, following the firm's fiscal fourth quarter earnings call after the closing bell yesterday. The firm posted adjusted earnings of 43 cents per share for the quarter, slipping just below Wall Street's 47-cent estimate. Worse, the firm's forecast first-quarter numbers were similarly below analysts' best guess -- and the call was met with analyst downgrades as a result. Read More: Hedge Funds Hate These 5 Stocks -- Should You? From a technical standpoint, MXIM started showing cracks at the start of the week, when the stock broke below the uptrend that had been intact since the start of 2014. While shares are climbing higher over the course of today's session, that's cold comfort for investors -- MXIM is lower today than it's been anytime since January. Stay away until shares can find some semblance of support. Baidu.com Nearest Resistance: N/ANearest Support: $185Catalyst: Q2 Earnings Shares of Chinese internet search provider Baidu.com are up almost 10% this afternoon, following better-than-expected quarterly results that hit Wall Street yesterday. Baidu earned 3.55 billion yuan for its second quarter, well ahead of the 2.85 billion-yuan consensus estimate from analysts. Particularly encouraging was the fact that all-important mobile revenues contributed close to a third of overall sales for the quarter. The buying frenzy is pushing BIDU up to new highs this afternoon. Read More: 5 Stocks Under $10 Set to Soar New highs are significant from an investor psychology standpoint because they mean that everyone who has bought shares in the last year is sitting on gains. As a result, the "back to even" mentality is less of a concern than it would be for a name with a higher proportion of shareholders sitting on losses. If you decide to buy here, keep a tight stop in place. Informatica Nearest Resistance: $32Nearest Support: N/ACatalyst: Q2 Earnings Mid-cap software stock Informatica is down more than 12% on huge volume this afternoon, dragged lower following the firm's second-quarter earnings call. Analysts as Susquehanna and Robert Baird cut INFA following the earnings call, on which Informatica reported that earned profits of 20 cents per share but guided lower for the third quarter. That lower guidance is the catalyst for the selloff this afternoon. Read More: 5 Stocks Insiders Love Right Now Not that you'd have wanted to own this chart from a technical standpoint anyway. INFA has been in a well-defined downtrending channel since the start of 2014, bouncing lower on every test of trend line support year-to-date. Today's big gap down is accelerating the downtrend in INFA, so it makes a lot of sense to keep away from this name right now. To see these stocks in action, check out the at Most-Active Stocks portfolio on Stockpickr. -- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore. RELATED LINKS: >>5 Stocks Set to Soar on Bullish Earnings >>4 Biotech Stocks Breaking Out on Big Volume >>4 Stocks Under $10 to Keep on Your Trading Radar Follow Stockpickr on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If you are an investor in technology stocks, you know they have been gaining a lot of momentum recently. That rising tide includes some old boats. For instance, there’s Microsoft . The company’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, has been in the news since replacing Steve Ballmer, tasked with turning the software developer giant into a growth company once again. Shares, at $44.50, are up 19% for the year to date. Read More: Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got? Microsoft has a history of making its dividend payments, as this chart shows. The company has been a very impressive cash generator and is well known for giving good returns to its shareholders. Currently, Microsoft's dividend yield is around 2.8% and dividends have increased by 16.4% over the past five years on average. Payout Ratio The payout ratio of a company can determine whether or not it is actually paying dividends from profits being earned or if dividends are a false indicator of growth in the company. A payout ratio below 100 means that the company is easily paying the dividends from its earnings; a payout ratio of over 100% indicates a company is paying out dividends more than what its net income is. To determine the sustainability of dividends, it is crucial to analyze the payout ratio. A relatively higher payout ratio indicates higher chances of the stock not being sustainable. Microsoft currently has a payout ratio of around 38%, which indicates that the stock is highly sustainable. It is currently paying its dividends from what it is earning and its dividends actually represent growth in the company. R&D For a tech firm, research and development is of crucial importance. Microsoft's transition to cloud-based offerings ensures the company is trying to remain among the leaders in the sector and that growth prospects seem favorable. Read More: Facebook's Blowout Earnings Are Even More Impressive Than You Thought Such situations create a sense of confidence in the company's performance and suggest that returns to shareholders will be sustained by the company since they would be a continuum of growth in the company. Free Cash Flow A firm's free cash flow can also be a strong indicator of the company's financial position. It reveals how much cash a company has after maintaining or expanding its asset base. In Microsoft's case, the free cash flow fell last year as the capital expenditure of the company almost doubled. However, despite the fall, free cash flow indicated the company was still generating good amounts of cash. At the same time, this fluctuation suggests the years to come will report higher income levels owing to the investments made at present. This, therefore, suggests the company will be able to sustain the rates at which it has been growing its dividends over the past few years. Historical Trends Finally, a company's historical trends can help forecast its future performance as well. Since 2003, Microsoft Corporation has been paying dividends each year since 2003 and the payout per share has been increasing for the past eight years. Read More: Sprint to Begin Offering Google Apps for Business These trends show dividend sustainability is not an issue for Microsoft, making it an excellent stock for your investment. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time. This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff. TheStreet Ratings team rates MICROSOFT CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate MICROSOFT CORP (MSFT) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, reasonable valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: MSFT's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 11.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 15.6%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share. MSFT's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.25 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. To add to this, MSFT has a quick ratio of 2.31, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs. Compared to its closing price of one year ago, MSFT's share price has jumped by 40.04%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, MSFT should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year. Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 61.17% to $9,514.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 39.74%. You can view the full analysis from the report here: MSFT Ratings Report

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Pandora Media, Inc. are down 11.70% to $25.36 on very heavy trading volume as the largest Internet radio service slid the most in three months after listener growth missed some analysts' estimates, Bloomberg reports. Pandora released its quarterly results yesterday where profit beat projections and the company raised its 2014 outlook. Second quarter earnings came to 4 cents a share, excluding items. Analysts predicted 3 cents. Sales were up 43% to $218.9 million, beating the $218.7 million average estimate. Must Read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Growth Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. Active listeners increased 7.5% to 76.4 million users in the second quarter, but that was below the 76.6 million estimate of Corey Barrett, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, and a projection of 77 million by Mark Mahaney at RBC Capital Markets, Bloomberg said. The company expects to earn 5 cents to 8 cents per share on an adjusted basis in the third quarter, with sales of $235 million to $240 million. Analysts had seen 8 cents and $234 million. For the full year, Pandora forecasts 16 cents to 19 cents a share in profit, excluding items, up from the 14 cents to 18 cents it saw in April. TheStreet Ratings team rates PANDORA MEDIA INC as a Sell with a ratings score of D. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate PANDORA MEDIA INC (P) a SELL. This is driven by a few notable weaknesses, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. Among the areas we feel are negative, one of the most important has been generally deteriorating net income." STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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WATCH: More market update videos on TheStreet TV | More videos from Brittany Umar NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Visa fell after the company trimmed its forecast for annual revenue growth, citing tepid growth from cross-border transactions. VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Shares of credit card processor Visa are slipping in Friday trading after the company reported better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings but trimmed its forecast for annual revenue growth. Visa reported a quarterly profit of nearly $1.4 billion, or $2.17 a Class A share, up from $1.89 a Class A share, last year. Revenue grew 5% to nearly $3.2 billion, as the company said it was affected by "a strong U.S. dollar and tepid growth from cross-border transactions." The company now expects annual revenue growth of 9% to 10%, compared to its previous forecast of 10% to 11%. Oppenheimer analyst Glenn Greene said, "We expect some share weakness near-term given the discouraging cross-border revenue growth trends. That said, we suspect the underlying causes are transitory. Also, underlying U.S. and international volumes remain healthy." He has an Outperform rating on the stock with a $270 12-18 month price target. At last check, shares of Visa were slipping almost 4% to $213.86. In New York, I'm Brittany Umar for TheStreet.

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text Why Danone (DANOY) Stock Is Lower Today
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:11 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Danone are down -1.72% to $14.88 after the Paris-based food company said overall sales in the first half fell 5.3% to 10.47 billion euros, or $14.1 billion, pulled down in the second quarter by the baby-food division in China, where the food-safety warning from Fonterra led to a drastic loss in customers, the Wall Street Journal reports. First half results and sales slightly missed consensus expectations. However, the company said efforts to revive growth should lead to an improvement in the second half of the year, and that they are on track to meet full year profit and sales goals They see organic sales growth reaching between 4.5% and 5.5% and its operating margin to be broadly stable, the Journal added. Must Read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Growth Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. DANOY data by YCharts STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Walmart is doing more chair shuffling, bringing in fast-rising Greg Foran to head U.S. store operations under Doug McMillon, the CEO since March. TheStreet's Laurie Kulikowski sums up analyst feelings on the move as "mixed." Walmart stock, trading around $76, is down nearly 4% for the year to date. Foran faces a problem of empty shelves, grumpy customers and sales that have flat-lined. The company's strategy against that until now has been to build smaller stores, but they are not delivering the pop to revenue Walmart needs. They are also not drawing in the high-end customers who will shop beyond the grocery aisles and add some pop to sales. Read More: El Pollo Loco CEO Sees Plenty of Opportunity in Fast Casual Brian Sozzi says Walmart needs more "Target and Nordstrom customers," people "pulling in $60,000 to $100,000 per year." He adds, "Walmart is investing heavily in online and mobile apps. It is also creating smaller neighborhood stores. To get its money back, it will need richer customers who shop the entire store." In short, Walmart has lost the upper-middle class. This is obvious when you compare the company with Costco . Costco sales are rising at under 10% per year, with net income under 2% of sales, but investors are willing to pay 26 times earnings for the stock because those customers are upper-middle class suburban families. Walmart grew by bringing big city pricing to the exurbs and beyond, but now it's left with customers who are lower middle-class or worse. These people are not buying as much groceries and are not going other departments such as home goods. Walmart's earnings report for the quarter ending in January blamed "reductions in government benefits" for some of its problems. In other words, it's depending on customers who get government benefits for sales. That's not a growth strategy. As a result investors will only pay 15 times Walmart's earnings for the stock. When even its Sam's Club warehouses, which compete directly with those of Costco, aren't growing, you know the company is still misfiring demographically. Read More: Amazon's Second Quarter Loss Widens as Bezos' Spending Skyrockets What upper-income consumers want is a clean store, a quick trip, well-stocked shelves and friendly people. They also want better merchandise. They don't want to feel a sense of shame walking into the store. The present Walmart stores fail on all five counts. Higher income customers avoid them like the plague. They even launch protests when one tries to come into their neighborhoods. Just saying "e-commerce" isn't enough. Walmart is currently the second-largest "etailer," trailing only Amazon.com . But it's not catching up. Kantar Retail reported last year even Walmart shoppers are more likely to be using Amazon than Walmart.com. Right now the only differentiation Walmart does is in the size of stores. These range from 260,000 square foot Supercenters and 136,000 square foot Sam's Club units down to 40,000 square foot Neighborhood Markets and 15,000 square foot Walmart Express units. Walmart now has a 25% share of the fresh grocery market. It is experimenting with home delivery in Denver, where Kroger is also experimenting through its King Sooper units. The great sing Aretha Franklin told ABC News recently one of her fitness tips is power-walking the Walmart aisles. How about an ad where she's constantly stopped in her walk by designers offering high-end merchandise, and by employees offering personal service, while singing her hit "R-E-S-P-E-C-T?" But delivering on that promise will require hiring people with merchandising expertise and paying them what they're worth. Instead, Walmart has reduced head count by 20,000 since 2008 while adding 650 stores. Read More: UGGs Maker Deckers Climbs After Raising Yearly Outlook If Walmart is willing to change in order to serve higher-end customers, its growth problem may slowly solve itself. But not before. At the time of publication, the author was long AMZN and COST, although positions may change at any time. Follow @danablankenhorn // 0;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); // ]]> This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff. TheStreet Ratings team rates WAL-MART STORES INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate WAL-MART STORES INC (WMT) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, reasonable valuation levels and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself."Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: WMT's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 4.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.8%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share. Net operating cash flow has increased to $5,939.00 million or 21.35% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, WAL-MART STORES INC has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 12.81%. WAL-MART STORES INC' earnings per share from the most recent quarter came in slightly below the year earlier quarter. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past year. However, we anticipate this trend reversing over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, WAL-MART STORES INC reported lower earnings of $4.86 versus $5.01 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($5.15 versus $4.86). The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Food & Staples Retailing industry and the overall market, WAL-MART STORES INC's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500. You can view the full analysis from the report here: WMT Ratings Report

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Microsoft has won a huge battle in the video game console marketing wars, as China Telecom announced it has completed an exclusive carrier deal to begin selling new Xbox One devices in September.Microsoft stock was gaining 0.09% to $44.44 in early afternoon trading in New York.According to China's Xinhua news the deal involves Microsoft investing $80 million to begin manufacturing the devices in that country China Telecom plans to sell the console in its retail stores starting in the fall. The devices will be manufactured in Shanghai's free trade zone by Internet TV set-top box maker BesTV. The company's CEO, Tao Mingcheng said the new Xbox will target family users in the "mid- to high-end market" and will be a "popular, mainstream product." Here's What It Looks Like Inside Tesla's Massive Factory Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got? Why Facebook's Blowout Earnings Are Even More Impressive Than You Thought Microsoft proudly boasted about the deal with BesTV in April, calling it "monumental" on its Xbox blog.Lewis Ward, IDC's Research Director of Gaming says Microsoft now appears to be better positioned to take advantage of this big, new opportunity. Reached by phone, Ward said Microsoft understands the Chinese market because of its a long history - since the 1990's - of dealing with its popular Windows operating system there. He thinks the Xbox One has the potential of a providing Microsoft with a big "leg-up" on its Japanese competition. The Xbox One will be the first game console to be released in mainland China since the government banned sales of the devices in 2000. At the time, the Ministry of Culture cited the effect video gaming was having on the mental health of the country's young users following what it said were numerous complaints from parents. Officials instituted measures to control both game content and playing times. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities believes the Xbox One's primary target could target a different audience in China. In a phone interview, Pachter said, "Look at Microsoft's new partner. A set-top box company." He believes the Xbox One will be marketed there as primarily a TV, not a gaming device and could be a success with China's growing upper-middle class. In the 14 years since instituting the ban the People's Republic of China's home-grown PC gaming industry has developed into the world's largest - estimated to be worth $6-billion. The ban didn't work. A very successful black market has evolved in those years to provide buyers with outlawed video games and consoles. The government's official ban, which involved all Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo devices, was officially lifted at the beginning of this year.Since its release in November 2013, sales of Xbox One have trailed Sony's PS4, despite both being released nearly at the same time. As of the latest estimates, Sony has sold more than 9 million units of the PlayStation 4, while Microsoft has sold more than 5 million Xbox One consoles worldwide. Microsoft is trying to turn the tables. Last month, the company announced it was unbundling its console from the Kinect motion sensor unit to knock $100 off the price and sell the Xbox One for $399 - the same price as Sony's PS4.No exact release date or pricing for the Chinese version of the Xbox was disclosed. In his open letter announcing today's deal, Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President for Xbox proudly gloats over the fact that his will be the first system of its kind to launch in China and promises Microsoft will be "working hard over the coming months, along with our partners, to ensure we delight a new set of Xbox fans in China in September." -- Written by Gary Krakow in New York. To submit a news tip, send an email to tips@thestreet.com.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- China's most recent incident involving the meat supplier OSI Group's Husi Foods is having a ripple-effect on restaurant chains throughout China and Japan, as McDonald's Hong Kong and Japan and others implement changes to policy and suppliers. In an effort to prevent similar incidents, McDonald's Holding Company (Japan) has terminated the sales of all products made with chicken from China, Sara Casanova, Chief Executive of McDonald's Japan in a statement released yesterday. The company has begun to use an alternative supplier in Thailand. "We have been listening to our Japanese customers and they have clearly told us that there were not confident in chicken products from Chinese based suppliers", Casanova wrote. McDonald's says it may run out of chicken-based products in some of its stores based on available inventory. Meanwhile in China, the Hong Kong government has banned any food products from Shanghai Husi Foods affecting McDonalds Hong Kong and other restaurants. The company released the following statement: "We reiterate that until today all the food sold at McDonalds restaurants conforms to the food safety standard under Hong Kong regulations. As an effort to uphold the interest of consumers, we have proactively suspended relevant food ingredients, though no official test report has been issued by any relevant Hong Kong authority on other Husi Food companies' ingredients, namely Husi Hebei and Husi Guangzhou." The products suspended include Chicken McNuggets, McSpicy Chicken Filets, Fresh Corn Cup, Grilled and Chicken salads and lastly, Lemon Iced Teas. However, despite taking precautions in order to contain the allegedly tainted meat, McDonalds China will not terminate its relationship with the Illinois based OSI Group. "On Wednesday, McDonald's China announced it would transition its sourcing to Husi Henan. The investigation continues and we will closely monitor the situation" McDonald's wrote in an email statement. YUM! , owner of KFC and Pizza Hut, as well as Seattle-based Starbucks followed suit, explaining in press statements that they had cut all ties with OSI and Shanghai Husi Foods. "Yum! China has decided to immediately terminate all procurement from OSI China (including Shanghai Husi). This supplier is not a major supplier of YUM China," writes YUM! in a web statement. "Upon learning of the Husi Food incident, Starbucks immediately conducted a thorough review of all of our suppliers and where they source their ingredients...upon this verification, this product was removed immediately from our shelves," commented Marianne Duong, Starbucks Public Affairs officer.

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text The 10 Dumbest States in America
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 17:04 GMT

Updated from 5/29/2014 to include the average IQ of each state based on IQ and the Wealth of Nations 2013 list.NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When writing an article ranking the "smartest" and "dumbest" states in the Union it is important to explain your methodology. This list is based on the level of education a certain percentage of the residents of each state achieves.According to information compiled by the website infoplease.com, as of 2010 men with a BA make 60% more than their counterparts with a high school diploma -- $40,000 to $64,000 -- while women with BA's make 56.6% more than their counterparts with a lower level of education -- $30,000 to $47,000.And the gulf is widening. Twenty years ago male college graduates only made 47.5% more than high school grads while female BA holders made 53% more.For this reason there is some correlation between states with higher percentages of people with Bachelor's and advanced degrees also having fewer people living below the poverty line.One would think that states with more colleges and universities per capita might do better on this list but that is not necessarily the case. Vermont -- number 8 on the smartest list -- has the most schools per capita with 1 university per 36,545.3 residents, while New Jersey -- number 6 on the smartest list -- has the second lowest number of schools per capita with 1 university per 526,764.8 residents.Average SAT scores also do not accurately reflect the level of education as certain states with higher average SAT scores have a smaller percentage of students taking the test. North Dakotan students for example had an average SAT score of 1799 in 2013, good for second in the country. However, the state only had a 2% participation rate.Intuitively states offering better jobs will attract better educated residents. The correlation between states offering better opportunities and the number of college graduates residing there is strong. Maryland -- number 3 on the smartest list -- leads the nation in median household income at $70,004 while Mississippi and West Virginia -- numbers three and one respectively on the dumbest list -- are at the bottom of the median household income list.Here is a list of the 10 "smartest" and "dumbest" states based on percentage of the population with Bachelor's degrees... 10th Smartest: Minnesota% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 31.5%Median Household Income (2011): $58,906 (11th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1780Average IQ and Ranking: 103.7 (5)The land of 10,000 lakes is home to 31 of the top 1000 publicly traded companies in the country including Target , SuperValu and Best Buy . The world famous Mayo Clinic is also located in the Minnesota and employs 30,000 people in the state. As of 2006, more than 90% of seniors in the Minnesota public school system graduated, while the state led the country with the highest average ACT score in 2007. 9th Smartest: New Hampshire% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 32%Median Household Income (2013): $63,280 (7th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1567Average IQ and Ranking: 104.2 (2nd)New Hampshire boasts the seventh highest median household income in the country at $60,567. The state also has no general sales tax and no personal income tax. As of October 2010 the state's unemployment rate was 5.4%. According to a study by Phoenix Marketing International in 2013, the state had the eight-largest concentration of millionaires per capita in the country with a ratio of 6.48%.Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 8th Smartest: New York% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 32.4%Median Household Income (2011): $55,448 (16th) Average SAT Score (2013): 1463Average IQ and Ranking: 100.7 (26)The state of New York is home to the country's largest city, New York City, which is home to some of the biggest companies in the United States. Telecom companies like Verizon , banking institutions like JP Morgan and Citigroup and media conglomerates like ABC , CBS and NBC all call New York home. New York's gross state product in 2010 was $1.16 trillion, third in the country behind California and Texas.Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 7th Smartest: Vermont % of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 33.1%Median Household Income (2011): $52,977 (19th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1540Average IQ and Ranking: 103.8 (4th)The state boasts the second lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.3%, behind only North Dakota. Vermont is home to IBM which employs 5,400 people in the state and Fletcher Allen Health Care which employs another 5,000 Vermonters. Vermont has the lowest ratio of teachers to pupils in the country and 91% of the eligible population has graduated from high school.Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 6th Smartest: Virginia% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 34%Median Household Income: $61,741 (8th)Average SAT Score: 1528Average IQ and Ranking: 101.9 (16th)The Commonwealth of Virginia has the eighth highest median household income in the country at $61,741 with nearly 10% of households earning at least $200,000. The state boasted an unemployment rate of 5% as of March of this year. The Northern Virginia area, just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., is the hub for employment for the northern part of the state, while the tidewater region with major naval bases in Norfolk, contribute to employment in the eastern and southern parts of the state.Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 5th Smartest: New Jersey% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 34.5%Median Household Income (2013): $69,667 (2nd)Average SAT Score (2013): 1521Average IQ and Ranking: 102.8 (12th)New Jersey posted the third highest per capita income in the country at $51,358 and a median household income of $69,667, second highest in the country. New Jersey is a hub for the pharmaceutical, chemical development, food processing and telecom industries. The state does have a high unemployment rate - 6.9%-- highlighting the disparity between the haves and the have nots in the state. New Jersey also has the highest disparity in the nation between what it pays in federal taxes ($77 billion) to what it receives from the federal government ($55 billion).Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 4th Smartest: Connecticut% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 35.6%Median Household Income (2011): $67,276 (4th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1532Average IQ and Ranking: 103.1 (9th)Connecticut's personal income per capita was the highest in the nation last year at $60,847 while median household income was $67,276. Connecticut also has the second largest gap in the U.S. between the average incomes of the top 1% of the state's residents and the bottom 99%. The state's gross state product in 2012 was $229.9 billion. Connecticut is home to some of the oldest and most prestigious private schools and universities in the country, including Yale and Wesleyan Universities.Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 3rd Smartest: Maryland% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 35.7%Median Household Income (2012): $71,122 (1st)Average SAT Score (2013): 1483Average IQ and Ranking: 99.7 (32nd)Maryland households are the wealthiest in the country with a median household income of $71,122. 15.5% of the state's workforce are employed in high paying, high skilled professional, scientific or management careers, the highest percentage in the country. As of May this year the state boasted a 5.5% unemployment rate.Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 2nd Smartest: Colorado % of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 35.9%Median Household Income (2012): $56,765 (15th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1721Average IQ and Ranking: 101.6 (20th)Colorado was listed as the third best state for business in the country by CNBC in 2010. The state has the third highest concentration of professional, scientific and management workers behind only Maryland and Virginia and has a median household income of $56,765. 6.6% of the state's households earn over $200,000 a year. Samsonite, Coors beer and Celestial Seasonings teas are all headquartered in the state. The United States Air Force Academy calls the state home as well as multiple military installations including NORAD.Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America The Most Smart State: Massachusetts% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 38.2%Median Household Income (2013): $65,339 (5th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1553Average IQ and Ranking: 104.3 (1st)Massachusetts is home to some of the most prestigious schools in the world including Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tuffts University, Boston College and Wellesley also call the state home. The state reported a gross state product of $404 billion in 2012, while per capita personal income was third highest in the nation at $53,221. Median household income in the state was $65,339 last year. Nearly a third of working residents in the state were employed in education, health care or social assistance.And now, let's move to the dumbest states in America... 10th Dumbest: Tennessee % of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 23%Median Household Income (2012): 42,764 (44th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1709Average IQ and Ranking: 97.7 (41st)Tennessee's economy is centered on textiles, livestock, and electrical power, jobs that do not require advanced educational degrees. The state has over 82,000 farms, 60% of which are used to raise cattle. Fortune 500 companies FedEx , Autozone and International Paper call the state's largest city, Memphis, home, while Nashville is the hub of the country music recording industry. Despite this, Tennessee's 15% poverty rate ranks 40 in the country. Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 9th Dumbest: Oklahoma% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 22.7%Median Household Income (2012): $44,312 (41st)Average SAT Score (2013): 1689Average IQ and Ranking: 99.3 (35th)Oklahoma's economy is driven by the energy industry, with aviation and food processing also offering employment opportunities in the state. Of the 1.7 million person strong labor force, 23% work in the public sector -- the leading employment opportunity in the state -- while the transportation and utilities sector accounted for another 16.4% of the jobs in the state. The American Airlines global maintenance and engineering headquarters in Tulsa is the largest airline maintenance base in the world. Oklahoma's 15.6% poverty rate ranks 44th in the country. Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 8th Dumbest: Indiana % of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 22.5%Median Household Income (2012): $46,974 (32nd)Average SAT Score (2013): 1470Average IQ and Ranking: 101.7 (19th)Indiana's economy is driven by manufacturing with the Calumet region representing the largest steel producing area in the U.S. The state's largest city, Indianapolis, is home to the international headquarters of pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly , while Evansville is home to the headquarters of Mead Johnson Nutrition . The state boasts the second highest number of biopharmaceutical related jobs in the country. Despite the strong biotech presence in pockets of the state, Indiana's economy rests on the shoulders of semi-skilled labor. The state's 12.6% poverty rate ranks in the bottom half of the U.S. Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 7th Dumbest: Alabama% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 22%Median Household Income (2012): $41,574 (47th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1608Average IQ and Ranking: 95.7 (45th)The majority of Alabama's workforce is in the public sector with Redstone Aresenal (25,373), the University of Alabama (18,750), Maxwell Air Force Base (12,280), the state itself (9,500) and the Mobile County Public School System (8,100) rounding out the top five employers in the state. Regions Financial Corporation , BBVA Compass and Superior Bancorp also call the Cotton State home. The state's median household income is the third lowest in the country and the poverty rate of 16.7% ranks 47th in the country. Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 6th Dumbest: Nevada% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 21.8%Median Household Income (2012): $49,760 (27th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1454Average IQ and Ranking: 96.5 (44th)While much of Nevada's economy is tied to the vice industry, the state also relies on mining and cattle ranching as economic drivers. Billions of dollars in gold is mined in the state every year: 79% of all the gold mined in the country comes from Nevada, accounting for 8.9% of the world's production. While the public sector holds the top three employment opportunities in the state, Wynn Las Vegas , the Bellagio, MGM Grand , Aria Resort, Mandalay Bay and Caesars Palace make up most of the rest of the top ten. The state's 10.6% poverty rate ranks 17th in the country. Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 5th Dumbest: Louisiana % of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 21.4%Median Household Income (2012): $42,944 (43rd)Average SAT Score (2013): 1655Average IQ and Ranking: 95.3 (49th)Louisiana is the largest crawfish producer in the world, accounting for 90% of the world's supply. The seafood industry supplies 16,000 jobs to the state's residents. The state's location at the mouth of the Mississippi River Delta is central to its economy with the Port of South Louisiana being the largest shipping port in the Western Hemisphere by volume. Louisiana receives the fourth highest average of dollars from the federal government compared to how much is paid out in taxes at $1.35 per dollar taxed. Some 20% of residents live below the poverty line, ranking the state 49th in the country. Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 4th Dumbest: Kentucky% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 21%Median Household Income (2012): $41,724 (46th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1741Average IQ and Ranking: 99.4 (34th)Kentucky's agricultural and livestock industries are alive and well. The state ranks fifth in goat farming, eigth in beef cattle production and 14th in corn production. Six Fortune 500 companies, Humana , Yum Brands , Ashland , Omnicare , General Cable and Kindred Healthcare , also call the Bluegrass state home. Kentucky ranks fourth in the country in the number of automobiles and trucks assembled in the state. The state's coal industry has taken a hit in recent years and the poverty rate of 14.8% ranks 39th in the country. Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 3rd Dumbest: Mississippi% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 19.6%Median Household Income (2012): $37,095 (50th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1673Average IQ and Ranking: 94.2 (50th)Mississippi is the state of a bygone era. Prior to the Civil War, Mississippi's agricultural economy -- and reliance on slave labor -- made it the fifth wealthiest state in the country. However currently it is near the bottom in most economic and educational measures. Mississippi residents received $2.02 in federal spending for every dollar they paid in taxes. The state has the highest poverty rate in the country at 20.1%. Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America 2nd Dumbest: Arkansas% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 18.9%Median Household Income (2012): $40,112 (49th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1697Average IQ and Ranking: 97.5 (42th)Arkansas is home to four Fortune 500 companies including the world's largest retailer, Walmart . Former President Bill Clinton is also a native son of the state. The state ranks fourth in the country in lumber production thanks to the Arkansas Timberlands. The state has the second lowest cost of doing business according to a CNBC study with the 5th lowest cost of living in the country. However the state's 7.5% unemployment rate is high and the 15.9% poverty rate is was 45th in the nation. Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America The Dumbest State in America: West Virginia% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 17.3%Median Household Income (2012): $40,196 (48th)Average SAT Score (2013): 1513Average IQ and Ranking: 98.7 (37th)The "dumbest" state on our list has a median income that is the third lowest in the country and a poverty rate of 15.4%, 43rd in the country. Despite this, the city of Morgantown, home to West Virginia University, was ranked by Forbes as one of the 10 best small cities in which to do business in 2010. In an effort to attract businesses, the state's corporate income tax is set to be reduced to 6.5% from 8.5% this year. The state's once robust coal industry has taken a hit as the industry faces increased competition from other energy sources and tougher regulations. Despite this downturn, the state exported $2.9 billion worth of coal last year and the industry employs 30,000 West Virginians. WATCH: More feature videos on TheStreet TV | More videos from Brittany Umar Read Also: The 10 Drunkest States in America


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks were falling Friday, marking the first dip for the S&P 500 in three days, as a report on durable goods orders fell short of estimates and Amazon , the world's largest online retailer, missed forecasts. The weak open arrives also as investors await next week's July job report and Federal Reserve policy update, and digest soft data out of Europe overnight. But the market remains optimistic on the second-quarter earnings outlook, steadily raising growth predictions. The S&P 500 was down 0.41% to 1,979.73, though the index is still on pace to settle higher for the week. The S&P 500 booked its 72nd closing all-time high Thursday for this bull market since the market bottom on March 9, 2009, as analysts hiked their growth outlook for the second-quarter earnings season. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was lower by 0.7% to 16,964.49 The Nasdaq was slipping 0.5% to 4,451.02. Read More: Amazon.com Shares Plunge On Weak Earnings Despite a handful of disappointments, including Amazon's earnings miss Thursday, S&P Capital IQ wrote that second-quarter S&P 500 earnings growth is now expected to come in at 8.1% year-over-year, with earnings per share of $29.11. That's up from the prior day's estimate of 7.3% year-over-year growth, with EPS of $28.89. Amazon shares were plunging 10.2% to $322.01 after reporting Thursday evening quarterly results that were in line with revenue estimates but missed on earnings per share. Starbucks was sliding 2.2% to $78.71 amid worries that the coffee giant's store expansion plans and increasing prices of ingredients will hurt its bottom-line growth. Pandora shares were tumbling by 13.5% to $24.84. Although the online radio company's earnings report was slightly better than expected, a drop in users concerned Wall Street. Read More: July 25 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know Widely-watched corporate headlines Friday also include those on Zillow , Trulia , 21st Century Fox and McDonald's . The Chinese tainted-meat scandal is still in the headlines. While Yum! Brands has dropped the offending supplier, Shanghai Husi Food, and its U.S.-based owner, OSI, McDonald's has stuck with the company out of necessity. Rupert Murdoch isn't just convulsing American media markets with his 21st Century Fox bid for Time Warner . His BSkyB British TV company is looking to spend $9 billion to buy Fox's pay-TV stations in Germany and Italy. Real estate site Zillow is seeking to buy out rival Trulia for up to $2 billion in cash and stock. Both companies collect fees from real-estate agents as well as advertising revenue on a combined 85 million unique visitors in June alone. Zillow shares are up 6.8% to $155.60 and Trulia was gaining 3.7% to $55.74. Read More: How a Target Heir Is Customizing Dresses to Beat the Rack The UK FTSE 100 was down 0.44% and the DAX in Germany was down 1.53% after the German Ifo business climate index dropped to a nine-month low of 108 amid escalating geopolitical tensions. The headline U.S. June durable goods orders reading rose by a more-than-expected 0.7% in June, the Commerce Department reported Friday. However, underlying components to the number indicated tepid capital goods interest and very weak core shipments with a downward revision, which CRT Capital strategist David Ader said will extract from second-quarter GDP. "We'd say this is a bit more disappointing as a result," Ader said in a note. -- By Andrea Tse and Keris Alison Lahiff in New York

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Morgan Stanley are up nearly 8% so far this year, lifted on the powerful tailwinds of tax-advantaged diluted earnings and its climbing operating margin. Yet the stock still looks inexpensive, with a price-to-book ratio of slightly more than 1.The company faces some headwinds in the coming quarters. Its fixed-income trading business, which has been scaled back by management, has hurt returns. Morgan Stanley also shoulders some legal expenses related to past trading snafus and the magnitude of these expenses is difficult to foretell.That said, investors are quickly waking up to the fact that Morgan Stanley is in a league of its own and shouldn't be compared to other banks like JPMorgan Chase , which are still reeling from the financial fiasco of 2008. CEO James Gorman guided the company to pass the Fed's "stress test" with a healthy balance sheet.Morgan Stanley is a venerable investment banking name that has undergone a potent makeover. Though once seen as a financial holding company, since Gorman completed his "Morgan Stanley Strategy," it has evolved into a unique financial-services powerhouse. Read More: Will Morgan Stanley Stock Be Impacted by This SEC Settlement? Gorman divided his firm in two. Half still operates as a retail brokerage firm and the other half trades and manages large amounts of money for institutions. The brokerage side, referred to as "wealth management," offers a steady flow of fee-based income while generating referrals and attracting successful clients.In fact, Morgan Stanley has $2 trillion in assets under management, of which 38% are in fee-based accounts. This has boosted its wealth-management revenue, which was reflected in its net revenue of $8.6 billion for the second quarter ended June 30, compared with $8.5 billion a year ago.Thanks to Morgan Stanley's successful makeover, the company is in the process of becoming a lucrative peer leader that will set the standard in the months ahead. I'm one of the bullish analysts that give the stock a 12-month price target of $40, and if it keeps raising its dividend, that may be too conservative. MS data by YCharts Morgan Stanley has a lot going for it.After completing its purchase of the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney joint venture, the company's profit margin shot up to 21% for the first time since the founding of the joint venture, which now goes by the shortened name Morgan Stanley. Trailing 12-month operating margin grew as well, to nearly 29%. Its stock price has soared to 52-week highs, partly due to the company's success on the investment banking side. During this record year of mergers & acquisitions, Morgan Stanley ranks second behind Goldman Sachs in advisory fees for M&A deals.The company scored big points when it won the right to be the exclusive adviser on Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion. All tolled so far this year, Morgan Stanley has advised on deals worth close to $440 billion, which partly explains why it's year-over-year quarterly earnings growth exceeded 97%.The chart for MS looks impressive and I'm joining other analysts who believe the stock is in the process of breaking out to new levels. The 1-year price chart above including two key financial metrics paints a clear picture of the shares' powerful momentum. Read More: Jim Cramer's Top Stock Picks: AAPL CMG MCD DPZ KMP MS HON IPG At the time of publication, the author was long FB, although positions may change at any time. This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff. // 0;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElements);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); // ]]> TheStreet Ratings team rates MORGAN STANLEY as a Hold with a ratings score of C+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate MORGAN STANLEY (MS) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company's revenue growth has not been good."Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Looking ahead, our view is that this company's fundamentals will not have much impact in either direction, allowing the stock to generally move up or down based on the push and pull of the broad market. MORGAN STANLEY reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, MORGAN STANLEY increased its bottom line by earning $1.38 versus $0.01 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.40 versus $1.38). MS, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 0.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.3%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share. The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Capital Markets industry and the overall market, MORGAN STANLEY's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500. You can view the full analysis from the report here: MS Ratings Report

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The gold bullion market has cooled down in the past several days, despite the rising tensions between Russia and U.S and the ongoing fighting between Hamas and Israel. These rising risks didn't seem, for now, to lead to a rise in demand for assets such gold -- usually considered safe haven. So will gold continue to descend? This week's recent fall in prices didn't steer investors away from gold investments, though. For one, the SPDR Gold Trust , the leading gold ETF worldwide, is seeing growing demand. Its gold hoard passed the 805 tons -- its highest level since April of this year. The ETF's current price inched down by 0.1% to reach $125.62 per share. Other precious metals ETFs such as iShares Gold Trust also showed a modest gain in its gold hoard as it reached 165.06 tons of gold -- nearly 0.2% higher than at the end of the second quarter. iShares Gold Trust also slipped by 0.15% yesterday and settled at $12.64 per share. Read More: Amazon.com Shares Plunge On Weak Earnings The rising gold hoard in these ETFs serves as a signal about the growing demand for the yellow metal as an investment. But what could determine the future direction of gold? One of the driving forces behind the price of gold is the Fed Open Market Committee's monetary policy. Next week the FOMC will convene to decide on any changes to its policy. It is expected to taper its asset purchase program again and end the program altogether by October. The main question remains whether the FOMC will provide some indication as to when it plans to raise its cash rates. U.S inflation is one of the factors to influence the FOMC members. The core CPI (sans food and energy) inched up by 0.1% in June and reached 1.9% on a yearly scale. The inflation rate is close to the FOMC's target inflation of 2%. Another factor is the progress in the labor market. The U.S non-farm payroll grew by over 200,000 jobs in each of the past five months, and the rate of unemployment slid to 6.1% -- well below the FOMC's target. These factors suggest the FOMC is likely to bring back up the cash rate within the next year. If the cash rate picks up, the fear factor of a potential spike in inflation will subside and precious metals prices are likely to decline. Read More: Starbucks Q3 Live Earnings Blog Recap This brings us back to the tensions in the Middle East or the brewing feud between Russia and the U.S. over Ukraine. Precious metals also tend to thrive in times of uncertainty and rising geopolitical risk. Unless international tensions intensify, though, gold is likely to keep coming down. For further reading: 3 Ways to Invest in Silver At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of footwear company Deckers Outdoor are climbing after the company reported first quarter losses per share that were not as steep as expected and revenue that exceeded analysts' consensus view. The maker of UGGs and other footwear brands also increased its FY15 EPS and revenue outlook. WHAT'S NEW: Deckers said its Q1 loss per share was ($1.07), which was better than analysts' consensus forecast for a ($1.28) per share loss. Revenue for the quarter was $211.5M, exceeding analysts' consensus estimate of about $192M. The company's direct-to-consumer comparable sales were up 10% in Q1 and UGG brand net sales for the quarter were up 22.8% to $123.3M. Teva brand net sales in Q1 were up 25.7% to $39.3M and its Sanuk brand net sales were up 19.6% to $36M. Deckers' Q1 combined net sales of the company's other brands increased 54.5% to $12.9M. Sales for the global retail store business increased 29.4% to $42M. WHAT'S NOTABLE: Looking ahead, Deckers now expects fiscal year 2015 EPS to increase approximately 14.5%, up from its previous guidance of up 13.5% and expects FY15 revenues to increase about 14%, up from the previous guidance of 13%. The consensus estimate for EPS and revenue are $4.69 and $1.8B, respectively. Deckers now expects FY15 UGG brand revenues to increase approximately 12% over the prior year from the previous guidance of 11% and predicts FY15 Teva brand revenues will increase approximately 11% over the prior year. Combined FY15 net sales of the company's other brands are expected to be approximately $82M. The company's guidance assumes a gross profit margin of approximately 49% and an operating margin of approximately 13%. The company expects second quarter EPS of approximately 98c, against analysts' estimates of $1.13 and sees revenues for the quarter up about 18% from the year ago period against estimates of $441.17M. ANALYST REACTION: Jefferies analyst Randal Konlk upgraded Deckers to Buy from Hold and said he has more conviction of the company's margin expansion potential in FY15. The analyst believes that the market is undervaluing the potential from new product launches, which could contribute an incremental $150M-$250M in revenue over the next 1-2 years. The firm increased its price target for Deckers to $130 from $78. ISI Group, which raised its price target on shares to $105 from $95, believes Deckers investments are beginning to drive more consistent sales results and making it into a lifestyle brand. Citigroup also raised its price target on Deckers, to $105 from $94, following the better than anticipated Q1 results and guidance. PRICE ACTION: During late-morning trading, shares of Deckers were up $5.70 or 6.7%, to $90.93. Reporting by Gina Gioldassis and Laurie Pasternack Chan.

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PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- A used car hasn't always been a great deal since the recession, but buyers in some U.S. town are finding them a much easier sale than in others. Depending on location, the price of a used car on a dealer's lot or even in a listing on Craigslist can be considerably more than what someone on the other side of the country is paying. Supply, demand and the general economy of the surrounding area mean there might be better deals just a few towns away or across the state border. The U.S. auto industry reached 15.6 million vehicle sales last year after bottoming out at 10.4 million in 2009. While the industry is on pace for 15.9 million sales this year, it's still well below the 17.4 million it rung up back in 2001. Sales of new cars have increased 4.3% year to date, but used cars have continued to be hot commodities as inventory recovers from the economic downturn and buyers seek deals. Publicly traded used car dealers CarMax, AutoNation, Asbury Automotive Group, Group 1 Automotive, Litihia Motors, Penske Automotive Group and Sonic Automotive have watched vehicle sales rise for 19 consecutive quarters and by double-digit percentages in three of the past four quarters alone. According to used-car data firm Manheim Consulting, vehicle repossessions are down as the economy improves and 8% fewer people are selling their used cars. Meanwhile, leases are back and dealerships are unloading 2.5% more used cars than they were a year ago. Prices for used vehicles are up across the board, with cars that were selling for $8,000 to $10,000 less popular this year than models going for $11,000 to $14,000. Part of the problem is that frugal U.S. drivers shocked by the recession aren't as willing to swap out their cars as they once were. Automotive data service Polk found that the average age of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads to be 11.4 years. That's up from 8.9 years a decade ago and 9.8 as recently as 2007. "Where you shop for your car can make a big difference in the prices you’ll find, so if you are motivated to save money, it’s worth looking beyond your local area," said Langley Steinert, founder and chief executive of used car pricing site CarGurus. "However, even for shoppers living in the more affordable used car cities, understanding local market values is critical to assessing whether a particular listing is a good deal or not." There's a lot more than geography separating places where used cars are a great deal from towns where they're far pricier. CarGurus, for instance, used its Instant Market Value algorithm to determine used car values in 139 different metro and rural areas across the country. It then ranked the largest metro areas in the contiguous United States according to how prices in that market compare to the nationwide average. According to its findings, a car buyer paying 1.4% more than the national average for a car in Harrisburg, Pa., would be best served driving an hour and a half or so to Allentown and paying 2.8% less than that average or making the two-hour trip to Scranton for a 2.5% discount from what the rest of the country is paying. Don't like getting gouged from 1.8% above the national average in Indianapolis? A less than two-hour trip to Dayton, Ohio, will get you get you a slightly better deal at 0.1% less than average. According by CarGurus' numbers, the following are the 5 best and worst places to get a car. Just to help buyers out a bit, we've also looked in their surrounding areas to see where cash-squeezed buyers can find some savings.BEST 5. Akron, OhioDiscount from the national average: 4.96% LeBron James' hometown is one of the least expensive places to buy a used car in the country, which isn't such a bad thing for the folks at locally based Goodyear to hear. But Ohio itself is a used car capital, with four cities (Akron, Dayton, Toledo and Cleveland) boasting used car prices below the national average. Also see: 5 Great Places to Retire Without a Car Also see: 5 Great Places to Retire Without a Car>> They're far from alone in their neck of the woods. Rust Belt cities including Detroit (4.2% below average), Buffalo (2.7%), Pittsburgh (2.27% below), Rochester, Mich. (2.3%), Cincinnati (0.8%) and Syracuse (0.4%) all sell vehicles far below what the rest of the country pays. That's not so much a function of economy as it is of density. Consider that Boston, D.C., Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Austin and San Antonio can all make the same claims. Used cars tend to be where the people are, and there are a whole lot of used vehicles in Ohio. 4. Stamford, Conn.Discount from the national average: 5.5% Right in the New York Metropolitan Area and situated in what has quickly become a financial hub, Stamford has cars to spare. What it doesn't have is a whole lot of car-poor neighbors to draw from. Hartford used-car prices sit 3.8% below the national average. Providence is paying about about 3.5% less than the rest of the country for its used cars. You have to head up to Springfield, Mass., and a used-car market that's just 0.75% below the national average before you can even begin discussing deals. 3. New York CityDiscount from the national average: 5.65% You'd like to think everybody takes the subway or the ferry here, but there are used car lots lining the Cross-Bronx Expressway that beg to differ. This is a city of 8.4 million people that's bigger than all but 11 states in the union and trails neighboring New Jersey by only about 500,000 residents. As the bridges and tunnels make quite clear on a regular basis, lots of people drive here. What's a bit less surprising is that it's a better deal for used cars than anywhere in its home state, Connecticut, New Jersey or even Pennsylvania. The supply is all over the place and new vehicles make their way into New York area ports every day. New York's dealers know that their main advantage is price, and they use it to move a whole lot of volume. 2. ClevelandDiscount from the national average: 5.75% Welcome back to Ohio: the used car industry's swing state. Honestly, you have to travel about 200 miles to Fort Wayne, Ind., to find a bad deal on cars anywhere near Ohio, and even there cars sell for only about 0.9% more than average. It's 11.6 million people in a relatively small, car-reliant state with winters that absolutely chew through vehicles. Should there by any surprise this state plows through used cars? Certainly not in Cleveland. The combination of density and those demanding conditions keep used cars in high supply here while demand stays about level. This isn't a town that's going to shell out loads of money for used vehicles, so once again it's a matter of volume.1. MiamiDiscount from the national average: 8% Yes, those are insanely cheap used cars compared with the rest of the nation, but they're none too shabby for Florida, either. After being absolutely crushed by the recession, Florida residents learned how to stretch a dollar and have been getting a whole lot for their money from an overflowing used car market. Sadly, the losses of more than a few car owners during the economic downturn have turned into deals for car buyers in Florida's secondary market. Only Jacksonville (0.7% above average) and Pensacola (a whopping 5.2% above average) managed to drift above the national baseline. Sarasota (with a 2.1% discount), Tampa (1.9%) and Orlando (1.65%) all manage to have some of the sweeter deals in the nation. As with housing prices during the peak of the crisis, however, none offered more of a discount than Miami. WORST 5. Jackson, Miss.Premium above the national average: 6.6% Don't blame Mississippi. Most of the Gulf Coast states from Florida's panhandle clear out to Louisiana are awfully expensive places to buy a used car. We already mentioned Pensacola's painful 5.2% premium on used car prices. It only gets worse in Mobile, Ala., where used car prices fall 5.7% above the national average. Alabama cities including Montgomery (3.74% above average) and Birmingham (2.72%) provide only modest relief, while neighbors to the west in Shreveport, La., pay 3.1% above the national average. Even three hours north in Memphis, Tenn., prices are 4.66% greater than what the rest of the country pays.So where's Jackson's best bet for a discount? Three hours south in New Orleans, where used car prices are still 0.1% above average, but a whole lot more reasonable than what they'll find at home. 4. Albuquerque, N.M.Premium above the national average: 7% Think used car prices are tough in the South? Welcome to the Southwest and its desert of deals. Also see: 10 Best Used Luxury Cars Under $30,000 Also see: 10 Best Used Luxury Cars Under $30,000>> Folks in the ABQ have no good options for used car buying, only less awful alternatives a long drive away. Going six and a half hours to Denver will get you a used car selling for 1.8% more than the national average. It's better deal than Albuquerque, but it's 12 hours round trip or about $600 by air. Roughly the same trek to Tuscon or Phoenix, Ariz., will only get a vehicle that costs 1.4% to 2.6% more than the average U.S. used car buyer is paying. Want something a little closer, such as a four-and-a-half-hour ride to El Paso, Texas? That'll only cost you more, with that city's going rate on used cars sitting 7.1% above the national average. Albuquerque residents pay for their relative isolation, but used car dealers see unlimited potential in that town's limited supply. 3. El Paso, TexasPremium above the national average: 7.1% It's not that Texas is a bad state for used cars, mind you. It's just a large state with smaller cities at the margins that don't fare nearly as well as its heavier hitters. El Paso to the West and Corpus Christi on the Southern Gulf Coast (where used cars sell for 3.9% above the national average) pay a price for their positions on the map. In Corpus Christi's case, however, it's only two hours from San Antonio and a 0.4% discount from the nation's average used car price. El Paso is near absolutely no place that helps its cause. Albuquerque's used cars are similarly expensive, while Texas's biggest discounts (Dallas' 2.1% and Houston's 1.6%) are nine hours away at best and half a day away at worst. 2. SeattlePremium above the national average: 7.3% Whoa, this is a thriving Northwest boomtown with ports and rail and a whole lot of ways to move product. Why are used cars so hard to come by here? Partially because it's about as isolated as the Gulf Coast and Southwest, if not more so. The nearest major city is only three hours away in Portland, Ore., but even there cars sell for 3% above the national average. After that, it's seven to eight hours to Boise, Idaho, where cars are still selling for 2.7% above average. More importantly, that's only 13 million people spread out over three huge states where, generally speaking, there isn't a whole lot of road salt and harsh winter to eat away at cars. Vehicles East Coast drivers haven't seen in years still live on Pacific Northwest roads because they aren't worn down so quickly by the elements. It's not as if it gets better down Interstate 5 in California, either. San Francisco's used cars sell for the same 3% above average as Portland's, and you have to get way down to Los Angeles before that premium drops to 2%. 1. Fresno, Calif.Premium above the national average: 7.8% Speaking of California, it does not pay to buy a used car in the Inland Empire. Go up the 99 to Stockton and used cars still sell at 5.2% above the national average. Head down 99 to Bakersfield and it's a 6.1% premium. But head about two and a half hours toward the Bay and that premium drops to 3.6% in San Jose before crashing to 3% in San Francisco. Again, it just becomes a matter of density and supply. There's a whole lot of both in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley and that puts a bit of downward pressure on used car prices. There's also the not small matter of demand, which is more acute in the inland cities still reeling from the recession and looking for any means of cutting costs. While the Bay and Valley would have you believe that we're back and booming, Fresno and its neighbors are a reminder of why used cars became so coveted in the first place. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com. RELATED STORIES: >>5 Hottest Cars You Can't HAve >>10 Cars That Retain Their Value After 5 Years >>10 Best Convertibles For Summer 2014

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Amazon.com reported a net loss of $126 million, or 27 cents per share, after the bell Thursday, and the stock quickly went on sale, dropping 12% overnight to start Friday's session at less than $320. Analysts weren't caught entirely off guard. They were expecting a loss of 15 cents. Sales were right on the consensus prediction of $19.34 billion. Cash flow came in at $5.33 billion. The company passed off the miss to "investments," and there have been some. Amazon keeps spending on its Amazon Web Services, and it keeps cutting prices. (Amazon is the Walmart of the cloud.) Read More: Cramer: In the Amazon Jungle Without a Guide Amazon keeps spending on warehouses to improve its distribution. Amazon also finished producing its Fire phone during the last quarter -- that goes on sale today. This didn't stop the bears, who pounded the shares like Ronda Rousey pounding some poor challenger in the Octagon. One profit-focused investor even predicted the stock will hit $200 before it next sees $400. Pl-ease. All this is, as the great Yogi Berra once said, deja vu all over again. Our Rocco Pendola for instance, has this great story, titled "Making Sense of the Crash in Amazon stock," datelined April 25. Read More: Amazon Plunges: What Wall Street's Saying When Rocco wrote that story, by the way, the stock was trading at $296. After its latest "crash" it was at $317. That's down from $358 at Thursday's close, so traders who picked up shares last time they were rocked and sold right before earnings are sitting pretty right now. My advice on what to do with those winnings? Put it in Amazon stock. All of it. Its new June quarter sales are 23% higher than the June quarter in 2013. Since then: Amazon has raised the price of its Prime service, and more customers are buying it than ever. Amazon joined Netflix in creating and delivering new TV series, putting $100 million per quarter into original content. Amazon designed, and delivered, a new phone to compete with the Apple iPhone on features, but did not book any sales for it. Amazon delivered a dongle called Fire TV that puts it even more squarely in the market against Netflix and Google . Amazon has introduced a document storage service called Zocalo that competes with Dropbox. Amazon created a Netflix-for-readers service around its Kindle, at $9.99/month. Amazon announced plans for fresh grocery delivery in more markets, and opened six new warehouses, in part, to prepare for it. Read More: Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got Amazon is continuing to grow at more than 20% per year, but now that growth comes off a base of $74 billion in annual sales, not $34 billion as in 2010. So far in 2014 it has booked sales of $40 billion, and its Christmas quarters are usually 20% higher in volume than any other. My guess is it will book $90 billion in sales for the year, and the bears will claim "growth is slowing." Fact is Amazon can make a ton of money any time it wants. It is, as Jim Cramer says, in a mode of "world domination or bust," and until it truly hits a growth wall it will keep doing what it's doing. Stay for the ride. Go all-in. At the time of publication, the author was long AMZN, GOOG, GOOGL and AAPL, although positions may change at any time. Follow @danablankenhorn // 0;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); // ]]> This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage. Now let's look at TheStreet Ratings' take on Amazon. TheStreet Ratings team rates AMAZON.COM INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate AMAZON.COM INC (AMZN) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including weak operating cash flow and poor profit margins."Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 4.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 22.8%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share. AMAZON.COM INC has improved earnings per share by 27.8% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, AMAZON.COM INC turned its bottom line around by earning $0.58 versus -$0.10 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.09 versus $0.58). Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. We feel that the combination of its price rise over the last year and its current price-to-earnings ratio relative to its industry tend to reduce its upside potential. The gross profit margin for AMAZON.COM INC is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 33.92%. Regardless of AMZN's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 0.54% trails the industry average. Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to -$2,502.00 million or 5.48% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower. You can view the full analysis from the report here: AMZN Ratings Report

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LONDON (The Deal) -- The U.K.'s British Sky Broadcasting Group has sealed a deal to buy leading shareholder 21st Century Fox Italian and German pay-TV interests, creating a company with 20 million subscribers and handing u5.28 billion ($9 billion) in cash and assets to Rupert Murdoch's film and TV powerhouse as it weighs increasing its unsolicited $80 billion bid for Time Warner . After more than two months of discussions, BSkyB agreed to pay u2.07 billion plus a 21% stake in National Geographic Channel International valued at u382 million for 21st Century Fox's wholly owned Sky Italia. It will pay 21st Century Fox u2.9 billion for a 57.4% stake in separately listed Sky Deutschland and make a €6.75-per-share ($9.08) offer for the outstanding shares. The transactions would lift BSkyB's revenue from u7.6 billion to u11.2 billion, increase its purchasing power for programming like Germany's Bundesliga soccer matches, and allow it eventually to bring quad-play services to a pan-European audience. BSkyB shareholders, accustomed to regular share buybacks, had earlier express skepticism about the plans and worries that the U.K. group would end up paying too much for Sky Italia. The Isleworth, England buyer on Friday surprised investors by announcing a share placement equivalent to 9.99% of its pre-issue capital. It said on Friday afternoon it raised u1.36 billion before expenses and sold the shares at 870 pence. BSkyB shares were down 5.4%, at 875 pence. The potential to expand in Germany is a "huge market opportunity," said Peel Hunt's Alex DeGroote, noting that Sky Deutschland is only one-sixth of the size of BSkyB and that pay-TV penetration in Germany remains low. But, he added: "Make no mistake, this is a very long-term bet and I wouldn't underestimate the complexity of putting these businesses together." BSkyB said the union would create u200 million of synergies by the end of the second year and be "strongly accretive" to earnings from year three, and neutral before that. The enlarged BSkyB would have net debt of about u5.5 billion - up from u1.2 billion as of June 30, said DeGroote. This would rise to more than u7 billion if minority Sky Deutschland shareholders tender their stock. BSkyB Chairman Nicholas Ferguson has been handling talks with 21st Century Fox and he said that BSkyB's independent directors agreed that the deal "represents an attractive financial opportunity that will deliver growth and value creation for all shareholders." BSkyB shareholders must back it. Sky Deutschland shares rose €0.12, or 1.8%, to €6.78 on Friday. BSkyB, which said in May it would offer no premium for the German group's shares, has set no minimum acceptance condition for the tender. Debevoise & Plimpton's Peter Wand said that for all BSkyB's equanimity about how much of Sky Deutschland it wants to reel in, it needs to achieve 75% ownership in order to get a so-called domination agreement and therefore access to Sky Deutschland's cash flow. Forging that dominaton agreement typically means more favorable debt financing, he said. "From a group financing perspective that is what you want to have - but BSkyB won't want to tell the market that they are under pressure to get there," he said. Among significant minority Sky Deutschland shareholders, T. Rowe Price Group recently disclosed it had crossed the 3% ownership threshold, with Odey Investment plc and Baillie Gifford in early July and December, respectively, revealing that they had cut their equity stakes just below the 3% level that triggers disclosure. Sky Deutschland said its management and supervisory board will work with advisers to evaluate the offer before issuing a recommendation. The agreement comes three years after the-then News Corp.'s humiliating defeat when it attempted to buy out the rest of 39.1%-owned BSkyB. The collapse of that bid amid a phone hacking scandal at News Corp.'s U.K. print division precipitated the New York company's split into two. As for 21st Century Fox, reports suggest that it is considering offering up to $100 per share, or about $88 billion, for Time Warner's stock, so the funds from the pay-TV sale should plug the gap between that price and its initial gambit. The New York company on Friday spent u531.6 million on the BSkyB share placing to maintain its 39.1% BSkyB holding. It said it expects to receive net proceeds to be reinvested from the sales of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland of about $7.2 billion. In a statement, Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said it will continue its share buyback program "regardless of any potential acquisition or investment activity by the company." The company has returned $12 billion to shareholders in the past three years and will announce details of its new buyback program at its Aug. 6 results presentation. It's on track to return $4 billion in the year to August. Barclays' Matthew Smith and Hugh Moran are advising BSkyB, as are Morgan Stanley's Simon Smith, Laurence Hopkins and Jan Weber. Barclays and Morgan Stanley are also handling the share placing. A Herbert Smith Freehills LLP team including Stephen Wilkinson, Malcolm Lombers, Chris Haynes, Kyriakos Fountoukakos and Joel Smith provided legal advice. Clifford Chance's Rob Lee advised BSkyB on new debt facilities it is taking on to help fund the deal. 21st Century Fox took financial advice from a Deutsche Bank team led by Gavin Deane; from Lazard's Charlie Foreman and Nicholas Shott; and from Goldman, Sachs & Co. Legal advice came from Allen & Overy LLP's Andrew Ballheimer, Simon Toms, Oliver Seiler, Hans Diekmann, Antonio Bavasso and Paolo Ghiglione. In Italy Allen & Overy worked with Duccio Regoli of Mazzoni e Associati.BSkyB announced the deal as it released full-year results which showed revenue rose 6.5% to u7.61 bilion while Ebitda declined 1.5% to u1.67 billion because of investment. It added 324,000 new customers. BSkyB has 11.5 million customers, Sky Italia 4.8 million and Sky Deutschland 3.7 million.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Informatica are plunging -12.60% to $30.53 after the company was downgraded at three firms this morning, following its narrower than expected forecasts for the third quarter.The company was downgraded to "neutral" from "positive" at Susquehanna Bancshares , and to "neutral" from "outperform" at both Credit Suisse Group and Robert W. Baird & Co. The data management software vendor narrowed its full year revenue outlook to a range of $1.03 billion to $1.06 billion, from the prior $1.02 billion to $1.07 billion, and below the analysts consensus of $1.06 billion. It also dropped its earnings per share outlook to $1.50 to $1.60, from $1.55 to $1.65, lower than the $1.63 consensus estimate. Must Read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. INFA data by YChartsSTOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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text 5 Toxic Stocks You Should Sell
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:12 GMT

BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) – The S&P 500 closed at another new all-time high yesterday (well, technically anyway), ending a mostly sideways session up 5 basis points by the closing bell. That constantly higher price tag for stocks is ramping up investor anxiety this summer -- and between earnings season here at home and geopolitical tension overseas, investors are right to be nervous. As I write, the S&P 500 is pressing up against the top of its long-term price range, a fact that makes a correction look a lot more likely than materially higher highs this summer. And that's just in the broad market. Some individual names are due for a whole lot more than a correction this month. In fact, some stocks could be downright toxic to your portfolio's health. Read More: Warren Buffett's Top 25 Stocks for 2014 So today, we're taking a technical look at five big stocks you should sell. Just to be clear, the companies I'm talking about today aren't exactly junk. By that, I mean they're not next up in line at bankruptcy court. But that's frankly irrelevant; from a technical analysis standpoint, sellers are shoving around these toxic stocks right now. For that reason, fundamental investors need to decide how long they're willing to take the pain if they want to hold onto these firms in the weeks and months ahead. And for investors looking to buy one of these positions, it makes sense to wait for more favorable technical conditions (and a lower share price) before piling in. For the unfamiliar, technical analysis is a way for investors to quantify qualitative factors, such as investor psychology, based on a stock's price action and trends. Once the domain of cloistered trading teams on Wall Street, technicals can help top traders make consistently profitable trades and can aid fundamental investors in better planning their stock execution. Read More: 5 Stocks Under $10 Set to Soar So without further ado, let's take a look at five toxic stocks you should be unloading. Altisource Portfolio Solutions Up first is Altisource Portfolio Solutions , a mid-cap real estate service provider. So far, Altisource has provided investors with some terrible performance so far this year. Since the calendar flipped to January, ASPS has dropped more than 25%. But this name could be due for an even bigger drop thanks to a toxic setup that's been forming in shares since February. Altisource is currently forming a descending triangle setup, a bearish price pattern that's formed by horizontal support below shares at $95 and downtrending resistance to the upside. Basically, as ASPS bounces in between those two technically significant price levels, it's getting squeezed closer to a breakdown below that $95 price floor. If ASPS violates $95 support, then investors should expect another leg lower. Read More: 5 Large-Cap Stocks to Trade for Earnings Season Gains We're seeing selling pressure confirmed by relative strength in ASPS right now. The relative strength line has been making lower swing highs going all the way back to December, an indication that this name has been underperforming the market this whole time. Since relative strength is statistically a very good predictor of price action on a rolling three-to-10-month time horizon, it's a red flag worth heeding from here. Raytheon $30 billion defense contractor Raytheon is another name that looks toxic this week. This isn't the first time I've talked about the rough setup in Raytheon's chart -- that was earlier in the week -- but with shares reversing lower prematurely in the last two sessions, it makes sense to revisit what makes this stock a sell. Raytheon is currently forming a broadening top pattern, a bearish setup that's formed by a pair of support and resistance levels that are diverging after a big move higher. The widening range for RTN means that volatility is getting injected into shares, and that's exactly what we saw yesterday, when the firm's second quarter earnings spurred a 2% drop in shares before they made their way up to resistance this time. Read More: 5 Defense Stocks to Trade for Gains This Week The problem with holding on to a name such as Raytheon is that downtrending support line that's tracking lower at the bottom of this stock's range. That dropping support level means that RTN can move substantially lower within the setup without even testing an important support level. The lack of buyers in shares right now is a good reason to avoid Raytheon this summer. LinkedIn It's been a phenomenal week for shares of LinkedIn . Since Monday, shares of the professional social network are up more than 11%. But that doesn't mean that you should join the buyers in this name. LinkedIn has been a toxic chart in the long-term, and you don't need to be an expert technical trader to see why. LNKD is bouncing its way lower in a well-defined downtrending channel, a trading range that's identified by a pair of parallel trend lines. Put simply, those lines identify the high-probability range for shares of LinkedIn to trade within -- and they're pointed lower from here. This week's 11% pop has been an "easy move" as this stock bounced off of trend line support and moved up to test trend line resistance. I wouldn't want to be long LinkedIn unless shares can break out above the top of the channel. Read More: 4 Big Stocks on Traders' Radars From here, it makes sense to be a seller on the next bounce off of trend line support. Waiting for that move down before clicking "sell" is a critical part of risk management, for two big reasons: It's the spot where prices are the highest within the channel, and alternatively it's the spot where you'll get the first indication that the downtrend is ending. Remember, all trend lines do eventually break, but by actually waiting for the bounce to happen first, you're confirming that sellers are still in control before you unload shares of LNKD. AbbVie AbbVie is pointed marginally higher this morning, after the firm announced positive second-quarter earnings numbers this morning. But the earnings news doesn't look like it'll be enough to derail the toxic trading setup that's been forming in shares since the middle of May. Here's how to trade it. ABBV is currently forming a head and shoulders top, a setup that indicates exhaustion among buyers. The setup is formed by two swing highs that top out at approximately the same level (the shoulders), separated by a higher high (the head). The sell signal comes on a move through ABBV's neckline at $53, a level that's been important from a technical standpoint going back to December. Read More: 5 Stocks Insiders Love Right Now Downside isn't a foregone conclusion in AbbVie yet. Until shares violate that neckline level, this stock is still catching a bid. The bearish pattern gets invalidated on a move above $58. If the trade triggers, then look for $46 as the next-nearest stopping point for shares. STMicroelectronics We're seeing the exact same setup in shares of STMicroelectronics right now. Like ABBV, STM is forming a head and shoulders top, in this case with a neckline level at $8.70. If shares violate support at $8.70, then look out below. Read More: 3 Huge Stocks to Trade (or Not) Why all of the significance at $8.70? It's not magic. Whenever you're looking at any technical price pattern, it's critical to keep buyers and sellers in mind. Patterns like the head and shoulders top are a good way to quickly describe what's going on in a stock, but they're not the reason it's tradable. Instead, it all comes down to supply and demand for shares. That neckline level in STM is the spot where there's previously been an excess of demand for shares; in other words, it's a price where buyers have been more eager to step in and buy shares at a lower price than sellers were to sell. That's what makes a breakdown below support so significant – the move means that sellers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess demand at the at price level. Keep a close eye on $8.70 this week. To see this week's trades in action, check out the Toxic Stocks portfolio on Stockpickr. -- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore. RELATED LINKS: >>5 Stocks Set to Soar on Bullish Earnings >>Hedge Funds Hate These 5 Stocks -- Should You? >>4 Biotech Stocks Breaking Out on Big Volume Follow Stockpickr on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With Nokia stock down nearly 40% over the last five years, investors wanted a reason to believe in management's long-term commitment to reinvent the company. Leading up to its second-quarter earnings results Thursday there were questions whether Nokia made the right decision to exit its handset business. Apple and Samsung left it no choice. But by beating analysts' profit revenue and estimates and offering a rosier-than-expected outlook, Nokia answered the call. Read More: Amazon and Pandora Disappoint: Tech Winners & Losers Shares are trading around $8, up 1.4% for the year to date. Investors want to know to what extent can management complete this transformation and become a network-focused company. More important, will it be profitable? Nokia is no longer Wall Street's punching bag. The company now has a more attractive business -- one that is easier to understand. But the stock's no longer cheap. Shares are trading at their 52-week high. At a price/earnings ratio of 27, investors need to be more careful. Even on next year's estimates of 39 cents per share, these shares are still expensive at a P/E of 21. With second-quarter profits rising 20% year over year, investors don't care. But things are not as they seem. This quarter had a lot of moving parts that won't be duplicated. Revenue of 2.94 billion euro ($3.99 billion) topped Wall Street's expectations of 2.93 billion euro ($3.94 billion). Although this represented a 7% year-over-year decline, it also reflected 10% sequential jump. Investors understood the 7% decline was due to the company's new focus towards its network business, following the sale of its Devices & Services group to Microsoft . This means the network business now accounts for 87% of Nokia's total revenue. And this is where investors have to understand the risk/reward tradeoff in Nokia's stock. First, it was never a matter of "if" Nokia would exit its handset business, it was a matter of "when." Management understood it was their best chance for long-term survival. Microsoft, which bought the handset business for $7.2 billion, was the clear and obvious choice. Read More: Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got? But with the network segment now accounting for close to 90% of its business, Nokia must execute to perfection to keep its head above water. It can't afford anymore bad quarters. It's either that or it has to become better diversified. Second, the network segment just posted a 8% year-over-year decline with operating margin shedding 80 basis points year over year to 11%. Combine this with the 19% revenue decline in its higher-margin Global Services business, which also posted a 80-basis-point operating margin decline, and it's tough to be bullish long term on Nokia's stock. During the conference call Thursday, management said it can turn the network segment around and deliver year-over-year growth sometime in the second half of this year. That's all well and good. The question is with the persistent declines in operating margins, which suggests lack of network profits. The good news is, Nokia is no longer strapped for cash thanks to the Microsoft deal. Revenue growth alone, however, is not enough to push these shares higher. It was at this time last year Nokia bought the remaining portion of its joint venture with Siemens called Nokia Siemens Network. Management had (then) just begun devoting its attention to that business. This means Nokia is approaching a couple of quarters of easier comps. Read More: Starbucks Earnings: What's Wall Street Saying? In other words, Nokia's 2013 network revenue were low enough that it should have no problems exceeding them. It doesn't need a miracle. It just needs profits. At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL. Follow @Richard_WSPB // 0;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); // ]]> This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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text Why GM (GM) Stock Is Falling Today
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:07 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of General Motors are down -2.10% to $34.99 on heavy trading volume as the fallout from yesterday's earnings report continues to affect the company. GM reported second quarter profit that missed analyst estimates, and said it will spend at least $400 million to pay victims of the 2.59 million compact cars with a potentially faulty ignition switch linked to at least 13 deaths. Profit, excluding one-time items, was 58 cents a share, versus an average estimate of 59 cents from 14 analysts, according to Bloomberg data. Must Read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Growth Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. The automaker reported earning 84 cents on that basis a year earlier, Bloomberg noted. While GM took a one-time charge of $400 million for the victim compensation program, the automaker said it may jump to $600 million. TheStreet Ratings team rates GENERAL MOTORS CO as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate GENERAL MOTORS CO (GM) a BUY. This is driven by a number of strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income." Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: GM's revenue growth trails the industry average of 22.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 1.4%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share. Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 141.26% to $1,976.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, GENERAL MOTORS CO has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 42.27%. The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.89, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.81 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems. GENERAL MOTORS CO has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, GENERAL MOTORS CO reported lower earnings of $2.35 versus $2.93 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.87 versus $2.35). In its most recent trading session, GM has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. The stock's price rise over the last year has driven it to a level which is somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels. You can view the full analysis from the report here: GM Ratings Report STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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By Josh Patrick NEW YORK (AdviceIQ) -- Companies lose around 5% of revenues each year to employee theft, according to an annual report of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Small businesses are especially vulnerable because they lack proper controls. As a business owner, however much you trust your employees, you need basic strategies to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. In the days I owned my vending company, cash controls were a big deal. It was almost like a game: Some of my employees found a way to steal, then I found a way to stop them. The game went round and round, and seemingly never ended. This is a problem for any business. You don't have to have a cash business to have a theft problem. In fact, businesses that don't handle cash suffer some of the biggest embezzlements. Review your bookkeeping practices now by asking yourself these questions: Also see: Want Business Success? Form a Customer Advisory Board Also see: Want Business Success? Form a Customer Advisory Board>> Open your bank statements. You think your bookkeeper, who has worked for you for years, would never steal from you. Yet one day you look at your accounts and find several hundred thousand dollars are missing.An easy way to make sure you don't get these nasty surprises is for you to open your banks statements and look through them before sending them to your bookkeeper. If people in your company know you look, they are much less likely to steal from you. Balance your credit cards each month. Someone who gets ahold of your company credit card may use it for personal purchases. If you put a significant amount of your company's purchases through credit cards, you need to make sure you balance the charges every month. With lots of transactions, it's easy to miss an unauthorized charge. Sign your checks. One of the dumbest things I ever see in small businesses is auto-signers for checks. Sign your own checks. There is no reason not to. It takes you no more than 10 minutes, even if you have 50 checks a week. If a check looks out of place, you notice it a lot faster than if someone else signs for you. Also, don't get a signature stamp for checks. Having one doesn't make you look like a big company; it just increases the chances of employee theft. Also see: How to Put a Sale Price on Your Business Also see: How to Put a Sale Price on Your Business>> Control your petty cash fund. Businesses often keep a small amount of cash on hand to cover minor expenditures. If you do, you need to balance receipts. Taking a few dollars here and there seems harmless, but before long, your entire cash fund is gone. Big thefts start out small. Keeping control of minor outlays might save you from having to deal with a big embezzlement. Watch who's handling agreements with suppliers and customers. There are also more sophisticated ways to steal, such as fabricating vendors and clients or having secret arrangement with them. For example, an employee has a supplier write a check for goods that never arrive, or steals your goods and sells at a discount to your customers. Don't say "That will never happen to me." Just pay a little more attention and avoid regret. At the end of the day, theft control is just using common sense. It's not about treating everyone as a criminal, but about having precautions in place to keep honest people honest. Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq. -- By Josh Patrick, CFP, founding principal of Stage 2 Planning Partners in South Burlington, Vt. He contributes to the New York Times' "You're the Boss" blog and works with owners of privately held businesses helping them create business and personal value. You can learn more about his objective review process at his website. AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisers and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisers in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisers so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many adviser rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisers are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisers appear in rankings daily. Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.


NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Citrus Memorial Hospital could be facing bankruptcy protection if it doesn't complete a lease transaction with Hospital Corp. of America an analyst has warned. The Inverness, Fla.-based 198-bed community hospital, which is located roughly 75 miles north of Tampa and is officially called Citrus Memorial Health Foundation, is confident that the transaction will be completed this fall and that payments from HCA on the lease deal will be used to repay its outstanding bond debt, said Citrus Memorial spokeswoman Katie Mehl in a phone interview Thursday. The hospital is operated by Citrus Memorial Health under a long-term lease with Citrus County Hospital Board. Through the transaction, the board will lease the facility to Hospital Corp. of America and Citrus Memorial Health Foundation will step out, Mehl explained. The hospital is a not-for-profit facility, but under a new lease with HCA, the latter will operate it as a for-profit enterprise, Mehl said. She wouldn't comment on the exact value of the transaction, but said that it will provide Citrus Memorial will enough proceeds to repay the company's bond debt, cover its employee pension costs and leave "many millions left over" to be used for charity care in the community, among other things. Mehl explained that HCA would likely make an up-front payment for the lease. "We are hoping to have a definitive agreement in the next few months and close in the fall," she said. Citrus Memorial has two series of secured bonds, the first issued in 2002 and the second issued in 2008. The $37.46 million outstanding on its 2002 bonds bear interest between 6.25% and 6.375%, and have a final maturity of Aug. 15, 2023. Meanwhile, the $7.65 million outstanding on its 2008 bonds are priced at 1.2% and mature on Oct. 1, 2018. The hospital is operating under a forbearance agreement with its 2008 bondholders after it breached its so-called days cash-on-hand covenant on its bonds, said Fitch Ratings analyst Michael Burger by phone. The covenant is a liquidity metric that measures the company's unrestricted cash against its daily cash needs, he said. If the company had no revenue coming in, the covenant would require it to have 65 days of cash on hand to fund its daily expenses, Burger explained. As of May 31, Citrus Memorial had approximately 25 days cash on hand, Fitch Ratings said in a July 23 report. The forbearance agreement was recently extended to July 31 from June 30 and is likely to be extended again, both Burger and Mehl said. According to Burger, the bondholders are likely to keep extending the agreement a month at a time, as long as they continue to see progress on the lease transaction. If the forbearance agreement expires, the bondholders could declare a default on its debt. If that happens, however, it would cause a cross-default on its 2002 bonds as well, Burger said, adding that all of the debt would be accelerated and come due immediately. He noted that Citrus Memorial doesn't have enough cash to repay its debt, and it would likely have to file for bankruptcy protection at that point. Fitch warned in the report Wednesday that if the HCA lease deal isn't completed "in a timely manner," the hospital will have "very limited options." "The failure to finalize the transaction with [HCA] would limit the options [Citrus Memorial] has for avoiding a bankruptcy," Fitch said in the July 23 report. The report said that the company has $9.8 million in cash on its balance sheet as of May 31. The company had $148 million in total operating revenue in 2013. The ratings agency wrote that Citrus Memorial's "balance sheet leaves the organization with no financial cushion." Burger said that it's a very real possibility that the transaction might not take place because it's been taking a long time to get the deal done. He also said that Citrus Memorial's financial profile continues to weaken as it waits for the transaction to be completed. Mehl, however, said that while the process has been slow, the hospital is confident that the deal will get done. Citrus Memorial and the Citrus County (Fla.) Hospital Board have been in a legal dispute over control of the hospital since 2009, which has caused the company's financial troubles, Burger said, noting that the litigation needs to be settled in order for the transaction to close. The hospital board has been withholding millions of dollars in ad valorem tax revenue from the hospital because of the ownership dispute. Mehl said that once HCA steps in, Citrus Memorial will step out and eventually dissolve, making the litigation a "moot point." Citrus Memorial and Citrus County Hospital Board signed a letter of intent for the lease transaction with HCA on Jan. 10. The parties hope to have a signed master agreement in place over the next few weeks. The deal is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, according to the Fitch report. A spokesman for HCA didn't return calls.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) –– Amazon.com shares tanked 11.6% to $317.00 after the company’s second-quarter earnings showed much higher losses than expected. In its second quarter, the Seattle-based company lost 27 cents per share on revenues of $19.34 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected $19.34 billion in revenues, but with only a loss of 15 cents per share. This net loss was well ahead of the loss of $7 million in the second quarter 2013. Last quarter, Amazon earned 23 cents a share on $19.74 billion in revenue. Net sales increased 23% year-over-year. The operating loss was $15 million this quarter, compared with $146 million in the first quarter and an operating income of $79 million a year ago. The company also issued third-quarter revenue guidance between $19.7 billion and $21.5 billion, in line with the consensus estimate of $20.83 billion. The operating loss guidance for next quarter is between $810 million and $410 million, a huge increase from the loss forecast by analysts of $25 million. Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got? Amazon.com Shares Plunge On Weak Earnings Amazon Plunges: What Wall Street's Saying Despite these disappointing results, many analysts remain bullish on Amazon. Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Pope reiterated his "buy" rating but lowered the price target to $400 from $420. Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler reiterated his "buy" rating, but lowered the price target to $375 from $400. JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth reiterated his "neutral" rating and lowered the price target to $340 from $350. William Blair maintained its "outperform" rating. Pacific Crest analyst Chad Bartley maintained his "outperform" rating and $460 price target. Zillow shares rose 4.5% to $152.30 this morning following reports that it was close to making an acquisition. Bloomberg reported yesterday that Zillow, the largest real estate website in the U.S., is seeking to buy its closest competitor, Trulia , for up to $2 billion in cash and stock, citing sources close to the matter. The sources said that the deal might be announced next week, or might full through. After the Bloomberg story was published yesterday, shares of Zillow jumped more than 15% to $145.76 while shares of Trulia spiked 32% to $53.74. When reached for comment, Zillow spokeswoman Dawn Lyon said the company doesn't comment on rumors. Zillow went public in 2011, and its shares have increased by a factor of seven since then. Trulia shares have tripled since its 2012 IPO. If the deal is completed, Trulia will be Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff’s biggest acquisition. Zillow bought the real estate websites Streateasy.com for $50 million last year and HotPads for $16 million in 2012. Earlier this month, Zillow completed its eighth acquisition, purchased the Vancouver-based real estate software company Retsly. Both companies gain revenue by selling advertising and by charging realtors to place listings on their sites. Combined, Zillow and Trulia had more than 85 million unique visitors in June, or about 89% of the total traffic to the 15 most-visited real estate sites. Trulia shares were trading at $55.72, up 3.7%. Pandora shares tanked plummeted 13.5% to $24.84 after its second-quarter earnings showed that growth was slower than expected. Pandora’s second-quarter adjusted revenue was $219 million, in line with analyst expectations, and its earnings per share of 4 cents beat estimates by a penny. Revenue increased 38% year-over-year, driven by 39% advertising revenue growth and 35% subscription revenue growth. However, the company’s third-quarter revenue outlook was lower than expected. For the full year, Pandora raised its earnings per share estimate to between 16 and 19 cents and its revenue estimate to between $895 million and $915 million. They previously estimated earnings per share between 14 cents and 18 cents and revenue between $880 million and $900 million. Analysts expected full-year guidance of 17 cents per share on revenue of $900.33 million. Pandora gained 7.5% more active listeners, for a total of 76.4 billion, which contributed to a 29% increase in total listener hours to 5.04 billion. Mobile adoption rose 51%. Pandora’s total share of US radio listening rose to 8.9% in June, up from 7.04% in June 2013. "Our better than expected second quarter results demonstrate success and continued business acceleration as a result of our investments in mobile and local advertising. Mobile advertising reached a record 76% of total ad revenue and local grew at 144% year-over-year," said CEO Brian McAndrews. "As a company, we are united by Pandora’s clear sense of purpose to unleash the infinite power of music, and we’re attracting the brightest stars in the advertising, technology and music industries to help drive our business forward." Despite the stock's movement, some analysts are defending Pandora. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey’s Bob Peck reiterated his "buy" rating and $34 price target. He raised his revenue outlook for the year to $909 million from $895 million and maintained his earnings estimate of 18 cents per share. Similarly, Laura Martin of Needham & Co. reiterated her "buy" rating and $41 price target. She wrote, "We recommend purchase on weakness." Piper Jaffray made the same recommendation, saying the company is "very much on track" due to monetization gains and listening growth, and reiterated its "overweight" rating and $37 price target. Qlik Technologies shares spiked 13.1% to $26.45 following the release of strong second-quarter earnings. The enterprise data visualization software vendor’s total revenue increased 22% year-over-year to $131.6 million. Analysts had modeled revenues of $125 million. Qlik earned two cents per share, while analysts expected a loss of 3 cents per share. "In the second quarter we delivered revenue and bottom-line results that exceeded our expectations. In addition, today we introduced our next-generation data visualization application, Qlik Sense Desktop, which is the first commercially available release from the QlikView. Next project," CEO Lars Bjork said in the press release. "The launch of Qlik Sense, combined with the continued strong demand for QlikView demonstrated by our results this quarter, will enable us to capture the significant market opportunity that we see in self-service visualization and Data Discovery." For the third quarter Qlik, forecast revenues between $122 million and $126 million, while the average analyst expectation was $123.3 million. Qlik issued full-year revenue guidance between $545 million and $555 million, with earnings of 23 cents to 27 cents. Analyst consensus was $547.8 million and 24 cents. --Written by Laura Berman in New York >Contact by Email.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Although both SPDR Gold Shares and Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF have developed strong bottoming formations over the past year, price breakouts to the upside have been put on hold as PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish and SPDR S&P 500 continue to move higher. Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF is most heavily weighted with companies Goldcorp , Barrick Gold , Newmont Mining , Silver Wheaton , and Franco-Nevada . GLD data by YCharts The U.S dollar and gold tend to trade in opposite directions as many money managers consider the precious metal a way to hedge against inflation. The negative correlation has held up recently as dollar strength due to improving U.S. fundamentals has weighed on buying support for the metal. Read More: Friday, July 25: Today in Gold and Silver In July, strong U.S. labor market and manufacturing data proved to analysts that although pockets of weakness remain in the economy, as a whole, improvement is taking shape. Meanwhile, gold is bid higher during times of fear as a way to hedge geopolitical risks. As tension increased in Ukraine and Gaza earlier in the year, gold kept a solid bid underneath it. The odds, however, now favor that escalation of violence in both regions will diminish rather than become significantly greater. This belief has led investors to sell some of their gold and gold mining holdings, while pursuing stronger investments among U.S. equities. UUP data by YCharts Many believed that second-quarter U.S. earnings would underperform expectations, thus being a catalyst for a decline in equity markets. That has not been the case yet, as moods remain upbeat with close to half the companies in the S&P 500 having already reported. Nearly 68% of S&P 500 companies have posted earnings that topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the long-term average of 63%. On the revenue side, 62.1% have beaten analysts' forecasts, compared with the historical average of 61%. Stronger earnings have kept funds in U.S. equities, limiting the gains of precious metals and precious metal miners. Recent weakness in precious metals and miners does not, however, mean that the longer trend will still not be higher. The long-term base in still in place but has simply lacked a catalyst to ignite buying pressure that would lead to a breakout higher. Read More: Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got? The catalyst could come in the form of falling equity markets or heightened geopolitical tension throughout the world. But until such an event comes about, the U.S. dollar and equity markets look like the best place to park your money. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time. Follow @macroinsights This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Would it kill Amazon to answer one question with a helpful answer? Does the company have to endlessly stonewall and say that whatever question that is asked isn't relevant or isn't something they care about or monitor? Last night's call was a stunning reflection of how little Amazon cares about the whole process of reporting results. First, the company reports its widest loss in two years, but makes it clear in the call that: It doesn't matter. It is a good thing anyway because they are spending and ramping and ramping and spending. As my friend Arum Rubinson at Wolfe Research pointed out in a terrific note this morning, "The word 'invest' was mentioned 33 times" on the call and "the only thing missing is a clear sign that the investments are paying dividends." Read More: Starbucks Earnings: What Wall Street Is Saying There were actual weaknesses, notably in the now-very-competitive Web services business, but Tom Szkutak, the brief or taciturn chief financial officer, made it clear that they were planned weaknesses or at least foreseeable weaknesses. At least he didn't say "fortunate weaknesses." The company simply cut price to keep business and it is clear it kept a lot of business, but unclear whether it actually did make it up in volume because it isn't going to help you figure that out. Some people were freaked out by the guidance, which seemed well off the mark. But then again, I don't even know if the company takes the guidance process seriously anymore, so maybe it's some sort of dodge. No way to tell. Pretty zany. I will say this about Szkutak: He's an equal-opportunity stonewaller. Some of the analysts seemed eager to gin up some positives, notably that gross margins seemed to have improved, but Tom would have none of it, saying that Amazon doesn't focus on them. Read More: Anazon Shares Plunge on Weak Earnings Geez, I focused on them when I had a lemonade stand with my mom at 1401 Cromwell Road in Wyndmoor. Nor did he even bother to suggest other than in passing that more people signed up for Amazon Prime this quarter than last year, despite the price increase. I remember when that was a worry factor. A worry misplaced. In fact, the only thing that I really got out of the call was how much trouble Japan is in when the country put in that stupid retail tax earlier this year. The decline in spending was so noticeable that it actually hit whatever bottom line Amazon actually cares about, not that they would deign to tell us by how much. Maybe that's why revenue growth decelerated to 21.6% from 22.8%? Who knows? In the end, this is a company that doesn't deserve to sell at these prices simply because it is such an imperfect security. It deserves a big discount, not a premium. Read More: Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got? No matter. The big-boy momentum funds will stay the course and the people who love the service will keep buying, and I imagine after the stock settles down the bulls will come out and say next quarter is, indeed, the breakout quarter where we see the spending pay off. We sure didn't see it pay off this quarter, that's for certain. Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, has no positions in the stocks mentioned. This article was originally published on Real Money at 6:56 a.m. on July 25.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- TheStreet Ratings team reiterated its "buy" rating for Intel Friday with a ratings score of A. Shares of Intel were falling -0.9% to $33.94. About 9.9 million shares of the chipmaker were traded by 11:25 a.m., compared to the daily average trading volume of about 32.5 million shares a day. Must read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. TheStreet Ratings team rates INTEL CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate INTEL CORP (INTC) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance and reasonable valuation levels. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results." Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment industry average. The net income increased by 39.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $2,000.00 million to $2,796.00 million. Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 9.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 8.0%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share. INTC's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.22 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. To add to this, INTC has a quick ratio of 1.70, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs. Powered by its strong earnings growth of 41.02% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 39.54% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, INTC should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year. You can view the full analysis from the report here: INTC Ratings Report STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- TheStreet Ratings team reiterates its "buy" rating on Microsoft with a ratings score of A-. The stock was flat at $44.40 at 11:20 a.m. on Friday. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate MICROSOFT CORP (MSFT) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, reasonable valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income." Must Read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: MSFT's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 11.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 15.6%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share. MSFT's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.25 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. To add to this, MSFT has a quick ratio of 2.31, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs. Compared to its closing price of one year ago, MSFT's share price has jumped by 40.04%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, MSFT should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year. Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 61.17% to $9,514.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 39.74%. You can view the full analysis from the report here: MSFT Ratings Report STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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text Why Xerox (XRX) Stock Is Up Today
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:21 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Xerox was gaining 2.7% to $13.19 Friday after beating analysts' expectations for earnings in the second quarter. The company reported earnings of 27 cents a share for the second quarter, 1 cent above the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of 26 cents a share. Revenue fell -2% year-over-year to $5.29 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts' expectations of $5.31 billion. Looking to the third quarter, Xerox expects EPS of 25 cents to 26 cents a share, in line with analysts' estimates of 26 cents a share. The company revised its full-year EPS guidance to between $1.09 and $1.13 a share from its previous forecast of $1.07 to $1.13. Analysts expect earnings of $1.10 for the full year. Must read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. TheStreet Ratings team rates XEROX CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate XEROX CORP (XRX) a BUY. This is driven by a few notable strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income." XRX data by YCharts STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- United Continental rose Friday after U.S. airlines resumed flights to Israel on Thursday following a two-day ban. The FAA had banned U.S. flights to Israel after a combat in the Gaza Strip, but the flights resumed Thursday. United also announced a $1 billion share buyback program over three years and reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings. Net income soared 51% year over year to $919 million, or $2.34 a share excluding items. This beat the consensus estimate of $2.19 a share by 15 cents. Revenue rose 3.3% to $10.33 billion, which also beat analysts' expectations. Must Read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. The stock was up 5.16% to $47.24 at 11:15 a.m. Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates UNITED CONTINENTAL HLDGS INC as a "hold" with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate UNITED CONTINENTAL HLDGS INC (UAL) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed - some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its notable return on equity, good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, generally higher debt management risk and poor profit margins." You can view the full analysis from the report here: UAL Ratings Report UAL data by YCharts STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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This is the first in a series examining some $65 billion of penalties paid by the banks over bad mortgages.NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's a safe bet that without the 2012 $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement, Yvonne Mitchell, a 51-year-old nightshift nurse, would have lost the Bronx home where she has lived for 20 years. A sliver of funds from the settlement went to pay for the legal assistance that she received from the Bronx division of Legal Services NYC, the agency which provides free legal assistance to Bronx residents. The legal help would be critical to Mitchell keeping her home. "They were able to help me get a modification, because quite frankly, I don't think I'd have been able to do it on my own," Mitchell said. Read More: Bill Erbey Made $2.3B Off Your Underwater Mortgage Before Mitchell was able to modify the $320,000 loan she obtained in 2006, JPMorgan Chase the bank responsible for collecting Mitchell's mortgage payments, took her on an odyssey of rotating attorneys and bank representatives, offers made and rescinded, conflicting instructions and repeated requests for a roughly $30,000 payment that she had already made. At least one of those requests was a letter from a bank employee who knew she'd made the payment and said the letter had been generated automatically, without his knowledge. JPMorgan, Bank of America , Wells Fargo , Citigroup and Ally Financial , the former GMAC, collectively paid $25 billion to resolve charges related to the 2008 housing crisis that was originally brought by the federal government and attorneys general in 49 states. The so-called National Mortgage Settlement is the largest between governmental authorities and the banks so far, but just one of the many among the $65 billion in mortgage-related settlements to have been consumated since the crisis threw the world's economy into the deepest recession since the Great Depression. More deals worth tens of billions are expected. Read More: Citigroup to Pay $7 Billion in Settlement Over Mortgage Securities While the settlements are meant to punish the banks for a host of abuses including falsifying mortgage and foreclosure documents and misleading homeowners, the money doesn't always make its way to individuals, nor even to housing-related uses. Some of it has gone to plug holes in state budgets and several billion has gone straight into the general U.S. Treasury.Moreover, the cash component of the settlements is surprisingly small. Out of the $25 billion in the 2012 settlement, just $5 billion was in cash and that included $2.75 billion that went to directly to states, $750 million to the federal government and $1.5 billion in direct compensation to borrowers who lost their homes through foreclosure. The vast majority of the $25 billion -- about $20 billion -- was paid by the banks in the form of credits they earned for modifying mortgages or destroying or giving away blighted property, measures that ultimately were in their own interest. "It's a $25 billion settlement in the headline, but not a lot of cash was exchanged," said Kirsten Keefe, senior staff attorney with Empire Justice Center, which helped New York state decide how to allocate its $130 million in funds. Mitchell's case, however, shows that even a small amount of money can make a big difference for people still struggling to retain their homes six years after the implosion of the U.S. housing market. About 34,000 homeowners received default notices in June, down from a peak of 142,000 in April 2009, according to RealtyTrac.com.Unlike many other states that dumped the money into general budget funds, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman allocated his state's funds for housing-related relief, with $33 million going to land-banks, which address the problem of "zombie homes" -- homes that have been abandoned by homeowners facing foreclosure but aren't being claimed by banks. Another $7 million went to extend state programs for troubled homeowners that had run out of money, and $20 million went to low cost loans to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, a program Schneiderman announced on June 26. Not a Lot of Cash The largest portion of New York's cash -- $70 million -- went to a program called the Homeowner Protection Program. HOPP, as it is known, distributed grants to 92 organizations around New York that help with housing issues, including $710,000 to the Bronx division of Legal Services NYC that helped Mitchell with her case. New York state had provided funding for housing-related legal counseling for several years, but those funds were quickly depleted, according to Justin Haines, director of foreclosure prevention at Legal Services NYC-Bronx. Haines said the HOPP monies "came at a critical time where homeowners still needed assistance and the programs would have gone away." Both a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan in November and a $7 billion deal with Citigroup announced earlier this month included large cash payments to the U.S. Treasury but also a total of $6.5 billion in credits for mortgage modifications. Future multi-billion-dollar deals with Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs , among others, are likely to follow a similar structure. Banks get credit according to a scoring system that gives them anywhere from 100 cents on the dollar to 5 cents depending on the nature of the modification they provide. Reducing principal on a first lien mortgage by $50,000 would give the bank a $50,000 credit, as long as the mortgage meets certain criteria. Yvonne Mitchell Seeks a Modification Mitchell got her 2006 loan from Washington Mutual. JPMorgan Chase took over responsibility for collecting the debt when it bought WaMu following its seizure by federal regulators in Sept. 2008. Read More: Schneiderman Details $13B JPMorgan Settlement Chase gave Mitchell a modification in 2010, stretching out the life of the loan and adding $19,000 to the amount she owed, but changing her loan from a floating rate to a fixed 6.125% rate, according to documents reviewed by TheStreet.Following that modification, Mitchell's monthly payments were $2,616, but she said she fell behind in 2012 when her ex-husband stopped paying child support. She went into a Chase branch seeking a modification, provided all the relevant information and after six months was told to appear in foreclosure court. "I had some money, but I didn't have all of the money," she explained in a lilting Jamaica-infused British accent she retains despite moving to New York from England 24 years ago. (Mitchell's mother is Jamaican and she occasionally spends time on the island.) It was at the court where she met attorneys from Legal Services NYC. "I have heard in the background 'legal services,' but thinking that because I'm working, I'm not a low-income person, that I wouldn't have qualified so I didn't say anything," Mitchell said. Mitchell first applied for a modification through Legal Services NYC in July 2012. "By January 2013, we had responded to multiple requests for updated or missing documents," explained LSNYC attorney Haines. Still, Chase denied Mitchell's request. She appeared in court at a settlement conference in February 2013 to find out why. But the only person representing Chase was an outside contractor hired on a per diem basis who didn't have enough information to tell her the reason for the denial, said Haines. "I work at night. I'm a night nurse. So I'd have to go backwards and forwards, and every time I'd go to the court Chase would have another lawyer and that lawyer didn't know what the first lawyer was talking about," Mitchell said. Haines said Chase then began requesting new "trial" payments from Mitchell, as well as the $30,000 down payment, without ever being clear that they would result in a modification, or under what terms. Mitchell finally received and signed a loan modification offer from Chase in August, 2013. While this would end up being the modification agreed upon by both Mitchell and Chase, more than nine months would pass before the bank chose to countersign it. In the interim, Haines said, Chase made a verbal offer that was better than the August offer. The bank then followed with three successive written offers -- all worse than the August offer, and each one worse than the one that preceded it. It was only after Mitchell's attorneys threatened to make a formal motion accusing Chase of negotiating in bad faith and filed a complaint with the New York Department of Financial Services that Chase began to soften its position on the Bronx home, Haines said. In February, 2014, an attorney from the bank admitted there had been mistakes with Mitchell's file, and Chase began to assign the same person to the case. Even so, it would take another three months before Chase signed off on its August 2013 offer and agreed to waive late fees on payments it had initially asked Mitchell not to make, Haines said. JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman Amy Bonitatibus declined to comment on the details of Mitchell's case, though she confirmed the bank gave Mitchell a modification in 2010 and again this year. 'Throwing Money at the Problem' It's arguably odd that a bank would receive credits for modifying mortgages, since most would agree that modifications are often in their economic interest. Empire Justice Center's Keefe said she has often heard bank executives talk about how they'd prefer to modify a loan rather than foreclose on it. While serving on the Federal Reserve's Consumer Advisory Council in 2009, Keefe recalls top bank executives "eloquently go on about how we don't want to foreclose and -- you know: It's bad business," she said. That's because lenders can often recoup more of their money from the original homeowner, even if they forgive a part of the principal, than they would by foreclosing on the property and selling it at auction. People with a strong emotional attachment to a home will pay to stay there. The situation isn't always so straightforward, however, said Andrew Jakabovics, Senior Director, Policy Development and Research at Enterprise Community Partners, thanks to the slicing and dicing of mortgage loans that, in the end, helped create the financial crisis.Banks often don't own the loans but merely collect the debts on behalf of holders of mortgage-backed securities, which are bonds consisting of numerous individual home loans which are then widely distributed to investors. Sometimes different investors own different parts of the same loan, or different loans on the same property, creating conflicts. "These things have been sliced and diced so many different ways that it's hard to discern when you're acting as the fiduciary, who you're representing and how you're representing them," Jakabovics said. While he believes these problems can be overcome, giving banks added incentives to work out these types of issues makes a difference. That's why the settlements afforded the banks have included credits for loan modifications. "Throwing money at the problem helps overcome it much more consistently," said Jakabovics. Read More: U.S. 'Bureaucrats' Want to Know Whether to Let You Buy a HomeAndrew Grodence, Customer Assistance Specialist The difference between theory and practice in Mitchell's case can be seen at its worst in an Aug. 12, 2013 letter that appeared to be from a Customer Assistance Specialist at Chase named Andrew Grodence. The letter indicated the bank hadn't received a $30,000 payment it had required before it would consider modifying Mitchell's loan, even though she had submitted it on May 7, 2013, according to documents provided to TheStreet by Haines. The letter wasn't signed, but it ended with the words: Sincerely, Andrew Grodence Customer Assistance Specialist Chase Mitchell called Grodence, who told her he hadn't sent the letter and that, yes, her payment had been credited. "I don't send the letters," Grodence told TheStreet in a phone interview. "The letters are generated in our back office and because I was Yvonne's modification advisor, they put my name on it, so there's a whole bunch of communication that goes out to customers that we don't even know that they go out unless a customer calls and said to me hey 'Andrew, I got this in the mail' and then I can go in the system and take a look at it." Grodence, 64, who bean his career working in mortgage sales and has about 30 years of experience in the mortgage industry, was one of 1,200 hires Chase announced in late 2009 following a nationwide surge in homeowner defaults. He was sent to Texas for training and reported for work in the Bronx. When asked about Mitchell's case, he replied increduously, "She's still in process?" Mitchell, he said, was among the more responsible loan modification applicants he encountered. "Unlike most modification folks, she was actually saving the money that she would normally pay for her mortgage and putting it in a bank account," he said. "Most folks don't do that. They don't have any money in the account." Grodence and his five colleagues were laid off in January, among 6,000 employee and outside contractor positions Chase plans to eliminate in its mortgage banking unit in 2014. The bank got rid of 11,000 such positions in 2013, according to a presentation it made to investors Feb. 25.Between himself and five other colleagues, the Chase office in the Bronx had "over 100 years in the mortgage business," Grodence said. "We took our job very, very seriously. We empathized with our clients and we wanted very much to get them that modification and get them out of the situation and the stress that we knew that they were feeling. So we were very good about it and Chase should be complimented for it because I think it was an excellent idea. It worked." The second floor office where Grodence and his colleagues worked above a Chase branch is now closed, replaced by a law firm that represents people who have been injured in an accident. The only remaining signs of their tenure at the location are a sign that reads "Homeownership Center" and another inviting customers to "come in for one-on-one mortgage assistance." JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman Bonitatibus wrote in an email that the bank closed its homeownership centers because of declining demand from customers. "We continue to help homeowners through local outreach events and through our customer assistance specialists," she added. Mortgage Settlement Monitor Joseph Smith Banks' compliance with the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement is being overseen by Joseph Smith, a garrulous former North Carolina state bank regulator. He is also overseeing JPMorgan Chase's compliance with the consumer relief portion of its $13 billion November settlement -- the $4 billion in credits the bank must earn by modifying mortgages, reducing blight and so forth. Smith and his team have given all the banks that agreed to the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement their full $20 billion worth of credits. They are also in charge of making sure the banks live up to new servicing standards: 29 metrics by which the banks mostly evaluate themselves. "There have been 10 failures reported by the banks on their own operations and we've had one or two instances where we actually determined contrary to what the banks said that there was a fail when the bank didn't think it did," Smith said during an hour-long phone call. TheStreet told him Mitchell's story -- noting the 2009 decision to open the office staffed by Grodence and others like him, and the decision to close it this year. When the money runs out and the banks have laid off all the Andrew Grodences, what will happen to distressed borrowers? Smith pointed out that the size of the settlement dwarfs ones in previous eras; its impact is closer to $50 billion than $25 billion since banks in many cases didn't get a full dollar of credit for every dollar they modified; and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will carry on the work done by Smith once he is finished.Still, Smith's initial response to the question was in some ways the most telling."Gosh," he said. "You want me to answer that?" Mitchell Keeps Her Home Yvonne Mitchell's story turned out well, at least. Chase countersigned her modification May 30, 2014, extending the maturity by 17 years to 2053 and reducing her total monthly payment to about $2,400 from $2,616, according to information provided by Smith and her attorneys. Her gratitude to her attorneys at Legal Services NYC was what convinced her to tell the story of her financial troubles. She also hopes that speaking publicly about her struggle will help others in similar situations. Many homeowners who run into trouble are too embarrassed to talk about their problems and seek help."Some people kill themselves," said Mitchell. "Some people just let the bank do whatever they like because they don't know what to do. But someone has to be able -- I am grateful: you know when you have gratitude in your heart? I feel you have to give back somehow. I can't give them money because I've just about got enough for myself, but I can give them information. And information can breed life." Read More: Billions More in Mortgage Penalties Coming: Federal Regulator Follow @dan_freed

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Zillow was the featured stock on CNBC's "Cramer's Stop Trading" segment. TheStreet's Jim Cramer, co-manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, said there are reports suggesting Zillow may put in a bid for rival real estate Web site Trulia . Cramer noted Zillowhad seemed hell-bent on wiping Trulia off the map. So a merger sets a whole different tone, he said. Both stocks have a high short interest, which is why they continue to move higher. If this deal gets done, "it will be game, set, match," for Zillow, Cramer concluded. -- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich. Follow @BretKenwell

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text Why Aon (AON) Stock Is Lower Today
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:02 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of AON Plc are down -3.85% to $87.47 as the world's second biggest insurance broker by market value, fell the most since April after revenue missed estimates as reinsurance sales dropped, Bloomberg reports. Revenue was $2.92 billion, compared with analysts' estimates of $2.96 billion in a Bloomberg survey. Reinsurance commissions and fees fell 4.3% to $360 million, the company said today The company's net income was $304 million, or $1.01 per share, compared with $241 million, or 76 cents per share a year earlier. Must Read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Growth Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. TheStreet Ratings team rates AON PLC as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate AON PLC (AON) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, notable return on equity and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company is trading at a premium valuation based on our review of its current price compared to such things as earnings and book value." STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) –– Amazon shares were plunging 11.8% to $316.22 this morning after the online retail giant reported its second-quarter earnings last night, with much higher losses than Wall Street had expected. The Seattle-based company reported that its revenues increased 23% year-over-year to $19.34 billion this quarter, which matched expectations, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. However, Amazon lost 27 cents per share, much worse than the consensus estimate of 15 cents. The net loss of $126 million was also significantly higher than last year’s net loss of $7 million. Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got? Third-quarter revenue guidance was in line with analyst expectations, but operating loss guidance was set at $810 million to $410 million, well above expectations of $25 million. The news sent the stock plunging as much as 12% in after-hours trading. Here’s what several analysts on Wall Street had to say: Amazon.com Shares Plunge On Weak Earnings Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Pope (Buy, $400 PT) "The 3Q outlook was disappointing and with growth not accelerating Amazon could become a show-me stock. Positive core items in 2Q that suggest investments may be working include higher gross margins, N. America EGM acceleration, and a growing base of Prime subs., and we think AWS remains an attractive business based on 90% usage growth. We are lowering our PO to $400 (from $420) based 1.7x 2015E sales due to a lower medium-term margin profile. Despite the expected controversy about Amazon’s investment posture, we continue to think Amazon is well positioned to capitalize on the secular growth of eCommerce, cloud computing, and mCommerce." Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler (Buy, $375 PT) "Price competition and service levels are much higher today (esp for programs like Prime) and the space is just simply tougher. Amazon’s scale should eventually allow the company to return to those profit levels, but the current stage isn’t just a "investment cycle" it’s a paradigm shift with retail carrying lower margins while AWS, other investments are permanent, and ROI on content and hardware investments uncertain. We continue to view Amazon as best positioned in the western world to win, and are once again reducing estimates and maintaining our Buy rating, which admittedly sounds like a broken record." JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth (Neutral, $340 PT) "We believe the company's investments in AWS prices and international expansion of the retail business should drive greater revenue growth over the next several years, but we expect CSOI growth to remain dampened through the rest of 2014, and we expect shares to trade down in the near term." William Blair analyst Mark Miller (Outperform) "Second-quarter results were strong—in line with or better than expectations in almost every respect. The shock and awe for investors relates to Amazon’s anticipated third-quarter loss. The two fundamental questions are: 1) whether Amazon’s investments in AWS, digital content, and devices will achieve the same, better, or worse return relative to historical investments in e-commerce retailing; and 2) assuming one believes the stepped-up investments will yield compelling returns, over what time frame should that manifest itself in the financials? While there is some debate about whether growth should be accelerating faster in this investment cycle, we estimate the underlying metrics are improving." Pacific Crest analyst Chad Bartley (Outperform, PT $460) "Amazon.com is the largest online retailer and a disruptive technology company. We believe that continued share gains at retail and roughly 20% growth in total revenue are sustainable. Amazon's expanding mobile ecosystem of devices, content and services, as well as Prime memberships and faster delivery, are key drivers. And, over the long term, we expect Amazon to continue to be disruptive and aggressively enter new markets to expand the company's addressable market and growth opportunities, for example, expanding into new retail categories, such as grocery, and more aggressively addressing the higher-margin advertising market." How Amazon Drones Will Become 'Normal as Seeing Mail Trucks' --Written by Laura Berman in New York >Contact by Email.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- El Pollo Loco soared Friday, the Mexican fast food chain's first day of trading after its IPO. The company priced its initial public offering of 7.1 million shares at $15 a share, the high end of the expected range of $13 to $15. El Pollo Loco raised $107.1 million in the offering. The stock opened at $19 and surged to a high of $19.84 by 10:56 a.m., by which point more than 6.3 million shares had changed hands. Must Read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. LOCO Price data by YCharts STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Lattice Semiconductor was falling 5.8% to $6.96 Friday after forecasting below analysts' estimates for the third quarter, and despite beating estimates in the second quarter. In its third-quarter forecast Lattice Semi said it expects revenue to fall between -8% and -12% sequentially. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect revenue to fall just -1% to $98.5 million for the quarter. For the second quarter, Lattice reported earnings of 10 cents a share, beating analysts' estimates of 9 cents a share by 1 cent. Revenue grew 17.3% from the year-ago quarter to $99.3 million, while analysts expected revenue of $98.6 million for the quarter. Must read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. TheStreet Ratings team rates LATTICE SEMICONDUCTOR CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate LATTICE SEMICONDUCTOR CORP (LSCC) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow." LSCC data by YCharts STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Good day, traders. Friday's top swing pick ideas are Overstock.com , Walter Energy and Zix . 1. First we have Overstock.com the online retailer. Overstock shares traded up nearly 16% on Thursday and closed at $16.19. Wednesday's range: $14.00 - $16.67 52-week range: $13.82 - $35.57 Wednesday's volume: 1,061,239 3-month average volume: 289,821 Read More: Overstock CEO Expects Bitcoin Derivatives Overstock looks good from a technical standpoint, as Thursday's volume was three times the average volume, shares traded up almost 16% and the chart is in a rounded-bottom breakout. Thursday's big move was from the 52-week low of $13.82, and the stock closed above the 50-day simple moving average. The price will likely pull back a bit Friday, as often when a stock makes such a large gain, there will be profit-taking and some consolidation for a few days or a week afterward. I'd look for an entry above the 50-day simple moving average at $15.39. Depending on your entry, I would set a stop a safe distance below the 50-day simple moving average. I would target the 200-day simple moving average at $21.65, which is 25% to the upside from yesterday's close. There is overhead resistance at about $16.96-ish, $18.33 and about $20.68, so watch for a pullback or consolidation at these levels. Stay long until you see a confirmed sell signal, or a close below the t-line. 2. Now we have Walter Energy, which produces and exports metallurgical coal for the steel industry. Walter Energy traded up 4.95% on Thursday, closing at $5.94 per share. Wednesday's range: $5.60 - $5.97 52-week range: $4.25 - $19.50 Wednesday's volume: 3,009,810 3-month average volume: 4,565,040 Walter Energy looks good technically, as it was a rounded-bottom breakout that has been confirming for a few days. I entered this position on July 18, when the share price engulfed the previous day's candle and closed over the 50-day simple moving average. Walter Energy reached its 52-week low on June 3 and has gained 38% since then. Now it has been consolidating over the 50-day simple moving average, as the price action is trying to clear the $6 resistance level. Read More: Ponzi Scheme? Don't Be a Victim -- Read These Anti-Madoff Tips Now I'd look for an entry anywhere above the 50-day simple moving average, which is at $5.48. I'd also set my stop just below the 50-day simple moving average, say about $5.39, as to not get stopped out prematurely. I would target the 200-day simple moving average, at $10.68, which is a whopping 79% to the upside from Thursday's close. This is why I like the rounded-bottom breakout so much -- big potential. Stay long until you see a confirmed sell signal, or a close below the t-line. 3. Lastly, lets look at ZIX, which provides email encryption, data-loss prevention and Bring-Your-Own-Device solutions to the health care, financial services, insurance and government sectors in the U.S. Zix traded positively on Thursday, closing up 2.7% at $3.46. Wednesday's range: $3.28 - $3.49 52-week range: $2.90 - $5.03 Wednesday's volume: 533,414 3-month average volume: 358,878 Zix is also a rounded-bottom breakout pattern. Zix has traded up 19% in the last few days, and reappeared on the rounded-bottom breakout scanner on Wednesday when it closed over the 50-day simple moving average. Thursday's trading confirmed the breakout, as the price remained above the 50-day SMA. This stock has been trying to clear the 50-day SMA for the last month and a half and has been unsuccessful. On Tuesday Zix reported positive earnings, and investors appear to have interest. I'd look for an entry above the 50-day simple moving average, at $3.33. I'd set my stop at about $3.29, and if you get stopped out, you can alway re-enter a position when the price comes back. Again, I would target the 200-day simple moving average, which is at $4.09, 18% to the upside. Read More: Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got? Price action is sitting at a resistance level, so watch for consolidation for the next few days, and look for the cheapest entry above the 50-day SMA. Stay long until you see a confirmed sell signal, or a close below the t-line. Good luck, traders! Come see me at my second home and sign up for the two-week trial. You'll find a trading room with tons of professional traders who help each other learn and succeed. Make sure you say "Hi" when you get there, so I can assure that you get everything you are looking for. At the time of publication, the author was long WLT, although positions may change at any time. Follow @aarongallaher This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage. Now let's look at TheStreet Ratings' take on some of these stocks. TheStreet Ratings team rates OVERSTOCK.COM INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate OVERSTOCK.COM INC (OSTK) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity and reasonable valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, poor profit margins and weak operating cash flow."Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: OSTK's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 4.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 9.4%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share. The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Internet & Catalog Retail industry and the overall market, OVERSTOCK.COM INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500. OSTK has no debt to speak of therefore resulting in a debt-to-equity ratio of zero, which we consider to be a relatively favorable sign. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.85 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems. The gross profit margin for OVERSTOCK.COM INC is rather low; currently it is at 18.78%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 1.16% trails that of the industry average. Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to -$29.68 million or 1695.46% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower. You can view the full analysis from the report here: OSTK Ratings Report TheStreet Ratings team rates WALTER ENERGY INC as a Sell with a ratings score of D. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate WALTER ENERGY INC (WLT) a SELL. This is driven by a few notable weaknesses, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its unimpressive growth in net income, poor profit margins, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and generally high debt management risk."Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows: The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Metals & Mining industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 86.4% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$49.44 million to -$92.18 million. The gross profit margin for WALTER ENERGY INC is currently extremely low, coming in at 12.11%. Regardless of WLT's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, WLT's net profit margin of -22.27% significantly underperformed when compared to the industry average. The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 4.38 and currently higher than the industry average, implying increased risk associated with the management of debt levels within the company. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio is weak, WLT's quick ratio is somewhat strong at 1.29, demonstrating the ability to handle short-term liquidity needs. Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock's performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 55.22%, worse than the S&P 500's performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company's earnings per share are down 86.07% compared to the year-earlier quarter. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now. The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Metals & Mining industry and the overall market, WALTER ENERGY INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500. You can view the full analysis from the report here: WLT Ratings Report

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Baidu surged to a 52-week high of $222.35 on Friday after the Chinese Internet company reported second-quarter earnings that smashed analysts' expectations. Baidu reported earnings per share of $1.73, excluding items, which crushed the consensus EPS estimate of $1.28. Revenue totaled $1.932 billion, which beat the consensus estimate of $1.92 billion. The stock was up 8.02% to $220.65 at 10:44 a.m. More than 5.4 million shares had changed hands, compared to the average volume of 3,257,690. Must Read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more. Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates BAIDU INC as a "buy" with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate BAIDU INC (BIDU) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company is trading at a premium valuation based on our review of its current price compared to such things as earnings and book value." You can view the full analysis from the report here: BIDU Ratings Report BIDU data by YCharts STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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