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We'll Tell You When It's Time to Tap Tesla

A week ago today, in a strategy story aimed at helping you survive and thrive in today’s whipsaw markets, Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald told us to put Tesla Motors Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA) on our “watch lists” for a likely future purchase.

“BP, Tesla is a definite ‘shopping list’ stock,” Keith told me back then. “We’ve been nibbling at it here, and have played it successfully several times. But it’s not yet at the point where I’m ready to jump all the way in. I think my rationale behind Tesla remains upbeat. I mean, you’ve got a real winning combination here – a disruptive sales model, a CEO who’s the most innovative guy on the planet, all the capital in the world that can be brought to bear. I don’t give a rat’s [tail] that New Jersey won’t let the company sell its cars there. There are much bigger opportunities. Wait ’til you see what the company does with China.”

Sometimes I think Keith has a “crystal ball” in his hip pocket…

  • Dow Jones

  • The Best and Worst Stocks of 2012 As we prepare to invest in the New Year, we can learn from the five best and worst performing stocks of 2012 in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

    While any investor would have loved to know this list a year ago, it's a good guide for 2013. Several of the factors that drove these share prices up and down in 2012 haven't changed.

    The best stocks were led by signs of a recovery in housing, a slight return of consumer confidence, and the U.S. Federal Reserve's unprecedented monetary easing measures.

    "The sector leaders are what one would expect with the [Fed] policy and with continued monetary injections into the economy this year through bond purchases," Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at Oakbrook Investments LLC, told The Wall Street Journal. "By pumping money into the economy the Fed boosts consumer confidence-and spending-which one would expect to boost consumer and financial shares."

    While the leaders' success was tied to central bank actions, the biggest losers simply stumbled from their lack of innovation, inept management, and failed business models.

    Best Stocks of 2012

    Here are the best performing stocks in the S&P 500 for 2012:

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  • Three Stocks to Buy in Next Year's Most Promising Sectors Whatever 2013 brings for the markets, there will be plenty of quality stocks to buy - if you know where to look.

    Overall, the markets are expected to have another positive year.

    A survey of 10 top financial strategists by Barron's projects the Standard & Poor's 500 will close at 1,562 in 2013, a 10% gain from current levels. (By the way, last year's picks outpaced the broader index by 6%.)

    That would follow modest gains in 2012 of 13.5% for the S&P 500 and 8% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

    For next year, Wall Street's top guns predict certain sectors of the market - technology, industrials, and energy - will lead the charge higher. Companies in more defensive sectors like consumer staples, telecoms, and utilities, will be laggards.

    So let's take a closer look at three stocks to buy from among these favored sectors that should be an excellent place for your money in 2013.

    Stocks to Buy in 2013: Cheap Tech

    Tech stocks are hugely profitable and as a group currently carry a forward P/E ratio of about 11.

    That's cheap versus historical levels.

    Tech is also a bellwether for when companies start to invest capital.

    "When we get an upturn in capital expenditures, it will show up in tech first," Barclays' Barry Knapp told Barron's.

    One stock to buy that has a rock solid balance sheet and a mountain of cash is Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

    Once the world's most valuable company with a market cap of $500 billion, Cisco's shares sank sharply when the tech bubble burst in 2000.

    And the stock is still dirt cheap, trading around $20 a share, roughly 10 times next year's earnings. Plus, the company is sitting on more than $48 billion in cash, worth about $9 a share.

    With a dominant market share of 60%, CSCO is the de facto choice in the switching market.

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  • ICE-NYSE Deal Signals Major Change in Future of Trading Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE) announced Thursday it will acquire NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX) for $8.2 billion in cash and shares. What does it mean?
    Keith Fitz-Gerald weighed in. Read More...
  • Stock Market Today: Biggest Winners and Losers The stock market today rallied for a second session on hopes lawmakers in Washington will ink a fiscal cliff deal before year's end.

    In afternoon trading Tuesday all three major index were sharply higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared some 90 points by 2:30 p.m., the Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed 11, and the Nasdaq jumped 33. That followed Monday's gains of 100.38 points, 16.78 points and 39.27 points, respectively.

    With few economic releases scheduled for Tuesday, investors' focus was pinned on Washington. House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, and U.S. President Barack Obama continued to haggle over a fiscal cliff deal, with the president making a counter offer late Monday.

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  • Stock Market Today: U.S. Markets Flat; Focus Shifts to Europe The stock market today opened quietly in the United States as investors prepared for a very busy week ahead.

    Just after the opening bell on Wall Street, all three major indexes were flat.

    As Barron's noted, the average daily volume on the NYSE last week fell to 3.3 billion shares, compared with 5.5 billion that changed hands during the same period in 2009, when we were slowly emerging from the Great Recession.

    The "fiscal cliff," which could drain $607 billion from the U.S. economy through tax increases and spending cuts, dominated U.S. news and moved markets.

    But the fiscal cliff, along with the $16.4 trillion national debt and the growing federal deficit, took a back seat Monday as the focus shifted to Europe.

    Anxious market participants kept a wary eye on Italy after Prime Minister Mario Monti announced he is resigning, citing a loss of support in Parliament. Italian bonds plummeted with the yield on the 10-year rising the most since August.

    French, Belgian and Austrian 10-years dropped to euro-era lows, and Spain's debt also declined.

    Bucking the trend was Greece, where bonds gained after the ailing country pushed further out the deadline for buying back some of its mountainous debt.

    Elwin de Groot, a senior economist at Rabobank Nederland in Utrecht, Netherlands, told Bloomberg News: "We are seeing a selloff but I wouldn't call it a panic yet. The auction this week could be an interesting litmus test for investors. This has also created uncertainty for
    Europe-wide policymaking."

    Italy's deep-rooted economic troubles and political drift have been taken too lightly, a bevy of analysts warned.

    As Nomura Securities' Silvio Peruzzo wrote in a note to clients, "Markets have grown too complacent about Italy, in our view."

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  • Stock Market Today: Gauging the Fiscal Cliff Effect U.S. markets were mixed and relatively quiet Monday as investors digested the weekend news that fiscal cliff talks had failed to lead to a deal - possibly even derailing earlier progress.

    Just before 2 p.m. on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 26 points, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and Nasdaq were both treading slightly lower.

    On the economic calendar to kick-off the busy week were reports on October construction spending, November manufacturing and auto sales.

    What's Moving the Stock Market Today

    • Manufacturing Data
    Data released Monday from the Institute for Supply Management revealed the U.S. manufacturing sector dipped back into contraction in November. Businesses reined in spending and curbed expansion projects while they anxiously await the looming blows from the fiscal cliff.

    The ISM's manufacturing purchasers' index fell unexpectedly last month to 49.5 from 51.7 in October, marking the lowest reading since July 2009. Forecasts were for a reading of 51.5. A reading above 50 suggests expanding activity. Monday's reports gave no such hints.

    According to economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswire, demand has slowed in the second half of 2012. The culprit is the imminent fiscal cliff.

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  • Stock Market Today: Fiscal Cliff Fears Can’t Stop This 160% Gainer The stock market today opened flat before turning negative as negotiations on the fiscal cliff have not progressed, outweighing Greece's new deal concerning its debt.

    • Greece Close to Massive Bailout- Late Monday the International Monetary Fund, Eurozone finance ministers, and Greece came to an agreement that drastically eases the terms regarding Greece's repayment of debt and sets the stage for a third bailout. The deal lowers interest rates for bailout loans, suspends interest payments for a decade, pushes the deadline back for final repayments until the 2040s, and initiates a bond buyback program. Greece is also now on the brink of receiving a $44.7 billion loan beginning Dec. 13. "The big challenge now is to implement the decisions," Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said. "Greece has huge potential." The agreed upon measures aim to bring Greece's debt-to-GDP ratio down to 124% by 2020 from the projected level of 190% in 2014. The deal was accomplished by installing unprecedented measures such as carefully monitoring how Greece spends the debt, keeping an account strictly for debt servicing, and insisting that Greece completes the bond buyback before receiving more aid. "Euro-zone countries have put their money where their mouth is," Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING Group NV in Brussels told Bloomberg News. "However, it is clearly not a carte blanche for Greece but rather a very tight leash."
    • Fiscal Cliff Talks Resume- Congress returned from its Thanksgiving recess and the fiscal cliff will be at the forefront of discussions this week. After last week's short burst of optimism there has not been any further progress on a deficit reduction deal. But for now consumers seem unfazed by the whole debacle, as today the consumer confidence index reached levels not seen since February 2008. The onset of higher taxes coupled with deep spending cuts was thought to lower consumer confidence, but instead consumers spent a record amount of money through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The consumer confidence gauge interestingly showed expectations for six months from now, when we could be off the fiscal cliff, unexpectedly rose. The percentage of respondents expecting more jobs to be available in six months rose to its highest level since February 2011, and the percentage expecting to buy a home in the next six months hit a new all-time high. "The consumer is in a better place than several years ago," Michael Gapen, a New York-based senior U.S. economist at Barclays PLC (NYSE ADR: BCS), told Bloomberg. "A lot of the numbers are improving, whether it is household balance sheets or the state of the housing market or employment."
    While the market is trying to turn positive, here is one stock surging on a medical breakthrough, another soaring on a settlement with Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), and a third that is up after announcing a special dividend.

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  • Stock Market Today: Why We'll Continue to "Drift Sideways" The stock market today opened higher before falling once again as fiscal cliff concerns continue to weigh on investors' minds.

    • Stocks continue to slide- After Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) reported its fiscal first-quarter earnings the markets started the day positive, but quickly turned red. One week after the election, fiscal cliff concerns continue to mount as the president and Congress meet later this week to hopefully negotiate a deal. So far no progress has been made on the debt reduction talks and until that happens don't expect the markets to change course. "We will continue to drift sideways until we see some progress on the fiscal cliff negotiations," Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer for Oakbrook Investments told Bloomberg News in a phone interview.
    A major reason for the post-election sell-off is the prospect of higher taxes next year, and yesterday U.S. President Barack Obama made it clear his agenda on that issue has not changed.

    • President calls for $1.6 trillion more in revenue- When President Obama meets with congressional leaders on Friday he will ask for double the amount of revenue that was discussed at budget talks in 2011. On Tuesday, the president met with union leaders and other liberal groups and stated he will now seek $1.6 trillion in additional revenue over the next decade. That will be accomplished partially through higher tax rates, something Republicans have not yet said they would agree to. But Republicans have offered to accept extra revenue if Democrats can agree to making structural changes to entitlement programs. "New revenue must be tied to genuine entitlement changes," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said Tuesday. "Republicans are offering bipartisan solutions and now it's the president's turn. He needs to bring his party to the table." An agreement, which included $800 billion of extra revenue, between House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, and President Obama failed when the President asked for $1.2 trillion in additional revenue. That deal would have lowered the deficit by $4 trillion over ten years, and now President Obama is seeking $1.6 trillion, a number much higher than Republicans will likely agree to.
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  • Stock Market Today: Do You Own This 30% Winner? It was no surprise that the stock market today was quiet with little volume and not much movement.

    In a day when the U.S. markets closed at 1 p.m. positive economic reports on motor vehicle sales and factory orders sent the markets slightly higher, and one company was up more than 30%.

    Factory orders for U.S. factories rose 0.7% which was the first increase in bookings in three months. Last month's revised figure showed a 0.7% drop and economists had expected a 0.1% increase for June.

    Many major automakers reported increased sales with U.S. automakers Chrysler, Ford and GM leading the way.

    With the market off tomorrow and a shortened day today, traders expect a subdued state until Friday's latest unemployment numbers are released.

    The major news came from British banking empire Barclays PLC (NYSE ADR: BCS).

    Barclays PLC (NYSE ADR: BCS) announced Tuesday that its CEO Robert Diamond would resign effective immediately in the wake of the scandal involving lending rate manipulation.

    Barclays was fined $450 million last week by British and U.S. regulators and is among other banks involved in similar lawsuits concerning rate fixing during the financial crisis of the past four years.

    British Chancellor George Osborne cheered the resignation of Diamond calling it the "right decision" and encouraged banks to move forward and continue lending.

    "We need our banks to be focused on lending to the economy, not on the scandals of the past, and I hope this will be the first step towards a new culture of responsibility in British banking which is what the British people want to see," Osborne told BBC Radio 4's "Today" program.

    Diamond, who became CEO on Jan. 1 2011, is set to face British lawmakers tomorrow for questioning. Barclays stock fell 16% on June 28 when the scandal broke and is down almost 2% today.

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  • Jim Rogers: Market Surge from Eurozone Debt Crisis Deal Won't Last Stock markets around the world soared Friday in reaction to the morning's Eurozone debt crisis deal, but noted investor Jim Rogers wasn't impressed.

    "This is no more than just another temporary stopgap to make the market feel good for a few hours, days or even weeks," Rogers, Chairman of Rogers Holdings, told CNBC. "Then everybody's going to wake up and say, "This doesn't solve the problem.'"

    Meeting in Brussels, European leaders announced a plan early Friday that would provide struggling banks with money directly from the bloc's bailout fund.

    The leaders also said bailout funds could be used to stabilize European bond markets. But they did not tie such use to additional austerity measures, which have angered citizens in debt-troubled nations like Greece and Spain.

    The summit is just the latest in a series of high-level attempts to resolve the 2-year-old Eurozone debt crisis, which has required bailouts of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and most recently the Spanish banking system.

    Markets around the world surged on the announcement, with some European indexes rising as much as 4%. In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up 200 points at the open. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up about 25 points, or just under 2%.

    Don't get used to it, Rogers said.

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  • Election 2012: President Obama at the Mercy of U.S. Economy U.S. President Barack Obama's chances for re-election in 2012 are increasingly tied to the fate of the U.S. economy, poll results show.

    Meanwhile, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney hasn't gotten as much benefit from the weak economy as one would expect - a sign of his inability to connect with voters.

    The past month has not been kind to the U.S. economy - or President Obama's standing in the polls.

    The barrage of bad news has included:

    "The economy is going through a rough patch, and that more than anything is going to determine President Obama's future," said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson in comments on a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken in early June. "People's unhappiness with the economy carries over pretty directly to the president's numbers, and we see those weakening."

    In that poll, President Obama's job approval rating slipped from 50% in May to 47%, and those saying the country is on the wrong track jumped 6 points to 68%.

    Meanwhile, Romney gained 6 percentage points in the head-to-head matchup, making the Election 2012 race a statistical dead heat (Obama 45%, Romney 44%).

    Although President Obama's argument that he inherited economic problems too severe to fix in three years resonates with his liberal base, the moderates and independents likely to decide who sits in the Oval Office next year aren't so sure.

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  • Stock Market Today: What Investors Can't Miss Companies making headlines in the stock market today include Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM).

    After Tuesday's closing bell Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) gave shareholders good news: it will begin paying a dividend later this year.

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  • Dow Jones Erases 2012 Gains – What's Next? The "sell in May and go away" approach panned out this year as the month was not merry for markets.

    U.S. equities experienced a steep drop during May, enduring the worst monthly declines in two years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 6.2%.

    A good part of May's decline was blamed on the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis that has swelled of late and shattered investors' confidence. But things on the home front are far from ideal.

    The flight from stocks flowed into the first day of June. The Dow plunged 274 points Friday, erasing all of the year's gains. Fueling Friday's fall was May's dreadful U.S. jobs report, which showed employers added just a trifling 69,000 in payrolls, less than half the expected 150,000.

    The Standard & Poor's 500 Index and Nasdaq both plummeted more than 2%. The Nasdaq has given back more than 10% since its late-March peak.

    Traders consider a 10% drop to be a market correction. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is just a mere point above correction territory.

    Just 17 of the 500 companies in the S&P index ended higher on Friday.

    "The big worry now is that this economic slowdown is widening and accelerating," Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at market research firm S&P Capital IQ, told the Associated Press.

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  • Stocks Have You Worried? Here's What You Do Last Tuesday, USA Today ran a long Page 1 story under the headline "Invest in Stocks? Forget About It."

    The story's message was loud and clear: U.S. stocks have risen more than 100% from their March 2009 bear-market bottom - including 25% since October and 9% so far this year - but most retail investors still wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole.

    And with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index now on a losing streak - it's down about 5% from its April 2 high, according to Bespoke Investment Group LLC - you can bet that this "keep-stocks-away-from-me" sentiment has only intensified.

    I mentioned this to Keith Fitz-Gerald, our chief investment strategist, during a private briefing last week.

    True to form, Keith quickly said out loud what I had already been thinking.

    "BP, those investors are making the mistake of their lives," he said. "In fact, I'll wager that they're actually compounding an already-huge mistake. They missed out on the most-powerful stock market rebound since the Great Depression - and they did that after having sold out at the very bottom of the bear market that preceded it, meaning they locked in some of the most-horrific market losses most investors have ever seen."

    If you're in that group, don't fret: You can recover.

    In fact, Keith helped me lay out a game plan just for you - one that will let you take charge, put the odds in your favor and even capitalize on approaching opportunities that Wall Street will be slower than you to see.

    Let's take a look ...

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  • Earnings Fuel Stock Market Gains – Dow Jones Soared More than 100 Points Midday Yes, Friday was all about the earnings.

    The stock market rallied Friday thanks to a roaring round of positive earnings reports - with a little help from positive news out of Europe.

    Just after noon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 113 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 jumped 9 points and the Nasdaq gained 22.

    With little on the economic calendar to close out the week, and no major reports due, market participants focused on encouraging first-quarter results from a spate of several large and market-influencing firms.

    "There's been a wrestling match all week long between strong earnings and weak economic data. At the moment earnings are winning," Lawrence Centura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors told the Associated Press.

    Strong Earnings Push Stock Market Gains

    To date, quarterly earning has been pleasantly strong.

    "The number of companies reporting positive surprises is much higher than it typically is at this stage in the game," Fred Dickson, chief market strategist of D.A. Davidson & Co. told CNN Money. "They're only beating by a little, but it's still a significant number of companies and that's the wow factor."

    Of the 212 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported, better than 80% have exceeded expectations, according to Thomson Reuters. During a typical quarter, the percentage of companies that top forecasts is 60%.

    Here are some recent highlights:

    • Tech giant Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) lead Friday's gains in the broad-based rally after beating expectations late Thursday, reporting sales growth of 6% thanks to its Window and Office products. MSFT gained 4.55% Friday to close at $32.42.
    • Investors also ate up better-than-expected numbers from fast-food king McDonald's Corp. (NYSE: MCD), which ended the day up. The company proved it remained a worldwide favorite with same-store sales up 8.9% in the U.S., 5% in Europe and 5.5% in Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Revenue rose 8% (excluding currency fluctuations).
    • Robust earnings from General Electric (NYSE: GE) pushed its stock up 1.15% to $19.36. GE narrowly beat expectations with quarterly profit of 34 cents a share, a penny higher than expected, and revenue of $35.18 billion compared to a forecast $34.7 billion.
    • Meanwhile, traders traded E*Trade (Nasdaq: ETFC) up some 6% on better-than-expected first-quarter results. E*Trade's first-quarter profit rose 38% from a year earlier.
    • Technology manufacturer Honeywell (NYSE: HON) beat on both earnings and revenue, sending the honey pot buzzing. First-quarter income climbed 17% from a year earlier, and the company raised its 2012 forecast.
    Read More...