WWDC 2012: Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) Unveils MacBooks, iOS 6
While the new laptops Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) unveiled at WWDC 2012 may draw the most attention, it's the upgrades to its two operating systems that in the long run will mean more to the company's bottom line.
The Worldwide Developers Conference is Apple's annual event aimed at those who write apps for Macs, iPhones and iPads.
WWDC's "grabber" product is the next generation MacBook Pro. This very thin laptop — 0.71 inches – features the same high-resolution Retina display technology as the iPhone 4s and the third-generation iPad. It adds ports using the new USB 3.0 standard as well as Intel Corp.'s (Nasdaq: INTC) developed Thunderbolt technology.
Of course, all the fancy new bells and whistles come at a price – this fancy new MacBook Pro starts at $2,199.
Apple also unveiled upgrades to the rest of its MacBook line, which were all blessed with Intel's new "Ivy Bridge" chipset in addition to USB 3.0.
The popular MacBook Air also got something unexpected: a $100 price cut on both base models. That puts Apple's cheapest laptop at $999, a clear attempt to better compete with "ultrabooks" – the MacBook Air's Windows PC imitators.
Contrary to rumors, a new Mac Pro desktop did not appear at WWDC 2012. Perhaps the changes are major enough to warrant a separate "Apple event" later in the year.
To continue reading, please click here…
Two Years From Now, You'll Wish You Bought eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY)
You probably know this longstanding Internet company as an e-commerce pioneer – but most likely view it as one whose high-growth years are in the past.
But tech guru Michael A. Robinson sees this company as the tech sector's top possible turnaround play – a transformation he says that will turn it into a mobile-commerce stock that every investor will want to own.
I'm talking about Internet auctioneer eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY).
Michael is a recent addition to the Money Map Press team – which means I can now access his insights for Private Briefing. He's an author and former journalist (like me) who's built himself into one of the top tech experts and futurists in the field.
That's not hyperbole. His Radical Technology Profits advisory service celebrated its one-month anniversary last week and he just closed out his first trade with a 132.9% gain.
The fact that he notched an options-magnitude profit on a stock … in only a month … is impressive enough – but to do so against such a lousy market backdrop makes this a pretty remarkable trade.
I've been spending a lot of time with Michael of late, just chatting to get to know him a bit more and to get some ideas for all of you. Earlier this week, he made a comment that so intrigued me that it became a conversation unto itself.
Let me share some of that conversation so that you can see how this guy thinks.
We were talking about tech-stock profit opportunities when Michael told me: "You know, Bill, I wouldn't count eBay out as a big-cap turnaround play. The company generates enormous amounts of cash … something like $1.3 billion in free-cash flow (FCF) … and it has some $3.8 billion in cash on hand with a 19% return on equity."
At the very least, Michael said that eBay shares represent "a more stable, long-term approach to the market."
But there's also an intriguing potential catalyst at work here.
"While most investors would view this as a somewhat unexciting company, the fact is that eBay has strong growth in Europe because of the downturn there.
"Furthermore, it just launched PayPal as a point-of-sale (POS) alternative," Michael told me. "Just a small fraction of the POS market could be worth several hundred million three years from today. eBay is working with VeriFone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY) on this, uniting eBay withthe world's largest maker of credit-card terminals."
So what makes eBay a "turnaround" candidate?
The Five Questions You Need to Ask Your Financial Advisor Right Now
If you have a financial advisor you need to read this-especially if you are one of the 99%.
That's everybody who isn't a gazillionaire. You may know a few people who fit this bill.
Being a 99-percenter just means that you want to do better.
In that regard, you're no different than the 1%. They just have more money and by extension more freedom than you.
That doesn't mean they are any smarter.
I know plenty of uber-rich people who are financially inept. You probably do, too.
What sets people apart sometimes, though, is as simple as the questions they ask. True 1-percenters have this down pat-even if they don't have a gazillion dollars.
Here are five things you need to ask your financial advisor today if you want to join them.
If you do, you'll profit more consistently, reduce your risk and invest with greater peace of mind.
And I have no doubt that you will join the real 1%.
Are European Blue Chip Stocks on the Bargain Rack?
The legendary French financier, Baron von Rothschild famously once remarked, "When the streets of Paris run with blood, I buy!"
But this time it is not just Paris. It's Athens, Dublin, Madrid and most of the other major Old cities of the Eurozone, where the markets have taken a beating.
The silver lining is that several European blue chip companies are now compelling buys.
Of course, it is virtually impossible to time the markets. Some would even say unwise.
That's why investors interested in Europe should look for high dividend yields to provide downside protection against further declines in the Eurozone.
Another aspect to consider when looking for upside potential is to find stocks trading at a favorable relative strength index rating.
Two European Blue Chips On the Bargain Rack
One stock that meets both standards is Total SA (NYSE: TOT).
Facebook IPO Fiasco to Cost Nasdaq $40 Million
The Facebook IPO mess has become a costly ordeal.
After market close Wednesday the Nasdaq OMX Group announced it will pay $40 million in compensation damages to brokerages that lost money because of the Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) IPO fiasco.
Facebook's epic debut on May 18 was marred by technical glitches at its home exchange, the Nasdaq. After a great deal of anticipation, a rock-star like roadshow, and repeated SEC filings and re-filings, shares were finally priced at $38 each.
But there were problems from the first trades went off around 11:30 a.m. EDT. Executions were late, allotments askew, and prices delayed. Investors who did manage to get shares were disappointed when Facebook stock barely finished above the IPO price on its first day of trading, closing at $38.27.
Many investors felt misled and cheated. Scores have joined class action law suits against Facebook, Nasdaq, and the 33 underwriters.
But Nasdaq's recompense is being called a public relations ploy and does little to help individual investors.
Oil Prices: The Best Oil ETFs for Any Move in Crude
Crude oil prices have been hammered of late.
The cost of oil fell 21.8% between May 1 and June 1 – from $106.50 to $83.23 a barrel – the sharpest monthly drop since December 2008.
A few analysts blame disappointing economic news and stagnant U.S. demand for the short-term decline.
But most think crude has now found a bottom and will likely head higher for the remainder of the year – perhaps a whole lot higher.
Actual oil price estimates range from a fairly conservative average of $104 a barrel, as forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA), to a turmoil-driven possibility of $200 a barrel.
Either one represents a substantial profit opportunity for energy bulls.
However, chasing those profits by investing directly in oil can be both a costly and risky proposition.
The standard New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) futures contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude represents 1,000 barrels of oil, worth roughly $84,000 at this week's prices.
That means a $1 per barrel change in oil prices means a gain or loss of $1,000. What's more, the initial margin requirement to purchase (or short) one contract is currently $6,210.
How to Invest in Oil Without Buying Futures
If that sounds a bit rich for your blood, don't fret – there are several alternatives to futures.
The most attractive is one of the exchange-traded funds (ETFs) designed to closely track the changes in the price of oil.
These funds can be purchased through your regular broker – no commodity account needed – and you can get in the game with a 100-share lot for as little as $2,400 (or half that if you buy "on margin"), depending on the fund you choose.
At last count, there were 20 oil-price ETFs traded on U.S. and Canadian stock exchanges, and an equal number listed on the London Stock Exchange.
But be warned, many of them are fairly new and still lack the liquidity needed to be good trading vehicles. Some are better than others.
In fact, at least four of them have enough daily volume to allow easy entry and exit points, while also offering the potential for profit regardless of which way the price of oil moves.
The two most straightforward choices for a simple bullish play on oil are:
Stock Splits Suddenly Getting Cold Shoulder From Wall Street
Once upon a time, Wall Street loved stock splits.
Back in 1997, 102 companies in the S&P 500 did a stock split. Last year there were just 16 down from an average of 35 a year from 2004-2007.
This year there have been just four as of May with four more expected by the end of July.
So why has Wall Street turned a cold shoulder to stock splits?
It may be because strictly speaking, shareholders gain nothing from a stock split.
When a stock splits at 2-1, for instance, it simply doubles the number of shares while cutting the price in half.
So an investor who holds 50 shares of Company X at $100 a share ends up with 100 shares at $50.
Still, many investors see stock splits as a sign a company is doing well.
In addition, the more affordable price often helps attract more retail investors, and the increase in shares improves liquidity, making the stock easier to trade.
Historically, companies would consider a stock split whenever its stock price climbed over a certain level, such as $100 a share. But attitudes have changed.
"Nobody is scared of a $100 stock or a Google or Apple at $600," Howard Silverblatt, senior analyst art S&P, told MSN Money.
But what changed Wall Street's mind?
One explanation is that many corporate executives today see a lofty stock price as a status symbol, particularly the younger CEOs of tech companies. And some company heads point to the questionable benefits of a stock split.
"Splitting is nothing more than window dressing," Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG), told Bloomberg Businessweek. Chipotle has never split its stock, which trades at about $400 share.
But some analysts think sentiment against stock splits started with the collapse of the dot-com bubble in 2000 and deepened with the 2008 financial meltdown.
"There's a reluctance to split a stock after such a decline is still fresh in the collective memory of management," Doug Ramsey, the Minneapolis-based director of research at Leuthold Group LLC, explained to Bloomberg. "A stock split is just an accounting mechanism, but the psychology behind it is, you're not going to do it unless you're confident you're going to trade at an elevated level."
The Consequences of Fewer Stock Splits
Given the mostly cosmetic nature of stock splits, you might think having fewer of them wouldn't matter. But the lack of stock splits has had several consequences.