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Is Your Vehicle on the "Most Hackable" List?

My first car was a bone-stock 1929 Ford Model A coupe that has been in the family since it was new.

My late grandfather – a machinist on the Lehigh Valley Railroad – drove the car as his everyday vehicle until the late 1940s. My Dad restored the car in his mid-teens and drove it through his high-school years.

And I did the same…

  • Stock Market

  • Will the Facebook Stock Price Overcome This Latest Concern? Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) and its struggling stock price have been in the spotlight since the company's IPO, but rarely for good news. This week started no differently.

    Besides its poor stock performance, Facebook already has been blamed for halting this year's IPO market. There hasn't been an IPO since Facebook debuted on May 17.

    Facebook also is taking heat for wreaking havoc on Nasdaq's reputation after technical glitches marred Facebook's debut. Nasdaq revealed last week that it will pay out $40 million in compensation damages to brokerages that lost money during the IPO fiasco.

    Finally, many investors claim they were misinformed on Facebook stock's first-day potential, and have initiated a class action lawsuit against the underwriters.

    Now the most recent bad news has cast even more doubts over whether or not Facebook can perform as well as investors expected.

    Has Facebook's Growth Reached a Ceiling?

    Over the weekend The Wall Street Journal ran a report on Facebook's growth slowdown, especially in the United States.

    Citing market research firm comScore Inc. (Nasdaq: SCOR), the report indicated unique visitors to the Facebook Website in the United States increased just 5% in April from a year earlier.

    That was the lowest U.S. user growth rate since comScore started tracking the data in 2008. It compared very poorly to the data from the past two years, down from 24% growth in April 2011 and 89% in April 2010.

    The amount of time Facebook users spend per month on the site increased, but also at a slower rate than before. Facebook users' time-on-site was up 16% from a year earlier, compared to a 23% increase in 2011 and 57% in 2010, according to comScore.

    "The assumption that Facebook can maintain the 100% growth it reported Q2 2011 is no more plausible than the 45% growth it reported [earlier this year," said Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald after the stock started trading in May. "Google couldn't. Apple couldn't. And both of them are real businesses."

    It may be a matter of numbers limiting Facebook's growth rather than a changed perception or heightened dislike of the company. Facebook is estimated to have already captured 71% of the 221 million U.S. Internet users, leaving little room for U.S. growth.

    That is troubling as the U.S. accounts for approximately 56% of Facebook's 2011 ad revenue of $3.1 billion, according to the company's regulatory filings.

    Morningstar analyst Rick Summer stated that Facebook cannot expect to have the same post-IPO growth as Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), due to the fact that Facebook already has a dominant market share of its industry and a very high number of Internet users.

    Summer suggested that increased ad pricing could drive future growth.

    "Facebook is already a dominant Web platform and they've got significant Internet penetration today," said Summer. "Ad pricing is clearly going to be where their growth is going to come from."

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  • 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%.

    To continue reading, please click here... Read More...
  • 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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  • This is the Stock Market to Invest in Now Rumors are flooding Wall Street that a global economic slowdown is upon us. Europe is headed for a recession and the euro had its worst week in over a year against the dollar.

    If there is a slowdown, what does this mean for investors – and more importantly, where investors’ should put their money?

    Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald joined Fox Business’ “Varney & Co.” Friday to tackle these questions. Check out this clip to find out if indeed the global economy is headed for a halt, which assets are best for your money, and which country’s stock market is the best place for investors to go... Read More...
  • 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 ...

    To continue reading, please click here.....

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  • What Magazine Covers Really Say About the Stock Market Will Rogers once said that "good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."

    If he only knew.

    Then again, as one of America's famous humorists and social commentators, I suspect he "knew" all too well that history rarely works out the way people think.

    Take the late 1990s, for instance.

    As capital markets liberalized and the Internet Age began in earnest it was a time of great hope.

    Companies that had very little other than a ".com" after their name suddenly became worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Boo.com, Pets.com, and Kozmo.com are a few that come to mind.

    But were any of them worthy of all the hype?

    I was one of the few who didn't think so. Many people considered me a Luddite because of it.

    I wasn't trying to be difficult. I just reasoned that when everybody "knew something" that the end was near.

    How did I know?

    Well I didn't...exactly. But, I had a good idea thanks to something my grandmother, Mimi, used to call the "country club" test.

    After being widowed at a young age Mimi was a seasoned, successful global investor in her own right. She reasoned that when an investment or a trend began making the rounds over drinks, it was time to move on.

    And if she heard something around the poker table, she'd actually bet in the other direction.

    One day, I asked what her secret was.

    In no uncertain terms she told me to look carefully at the world around me and, in particular, at magazine covers.

    According to Mimi, they were the next best thing to a crystal ball. Because whatever is all over the covers is what's on top of the mind on the cocktail circuit -- not to mention fodder for the masses...who are usually wrong.

    Frankly, I thought Mimi had consumed one too many martinis. She loved them. Then, as my own career progressed, I began putting two and two together.

    It turns out it wasn't the gin talking. Mimi was right.

    Magazine Covers and the Stock Market

    I've never forgotten Mimi's advice and still study magazine covers intently to this day because they help me latch on to important market shifts and trends that others either miss or simply don't see coming.

    I am not so much interested in the stories themselves as I am in reading into the implications of headline copy. Many times I find out that what's being said in the headline isn't as important as what's being left unsaid.

    For example, do you remember this magazine cover touting the "death of equities" from Business Week's August 13, 1979 edition?

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  • Why Investors "Sell in May and Go Away" The time-value-of-money concept forms the basic foundation for all investments.

    And like anything having to do with people, there are rhythms to the stock market that are a function of time-- whether it is the time of the trading day or a particular time of year.

    One of these seasonal rhythms is so strong it has given birth to its own adage. Every investor knows it.

    It's the admonition to "Sell in May and go away," and it's a proven strategy that results in gains for investors.

    According to Sy Harding, author of the book "The Bear: How to Prosper in the Coming BearMarket:" "Over the long term, the market makes most of its gains each year in the winter, and when there is a serious correction, it most often takes place in the summer. We've known about that pattern for decades. The pattern has been confirmed by independent academic studies."

    The Logic Behind "Sell in May and Go Away"

    There are a myriad of reasons for this, most having to do with the cash flow aspects of the business calendar.

    To continue reading please, click here... Read More...
  • The Views from Near and Far There are always two ways (at least two ways) to look at everything, including the market. In fact, whether one looks at the market from near or far makes a big difference in what you see.

    Like most complex equations with multiple inputs, synthesizing the different inputs is critical to what comes out on the other end of your equation.

    In this case, I'm talking specifically about two inputs - the perspective from near and from far away.

    And I am talking about how they affect one's view of what's happening in the market and where it's likely going to go next.

    Thursday was a good example.

    Early in the morning (in my travels), I saw that the Dow futures were up 82, and I thought, it could be a good day and we might finally tip the scales resting on the pivot point fulcrum we've been teetering on for a couple of weeks now.

    As the morning rolled on, before the open, company after company reported earnings, and they all handily beat consensus estimates - some by huge margins.

    From a distance, if that's all you saw, you'd be inclined to think, as I did, that the market was headed for a great day.

    But that was just the far view...

    Closer to the action (which I wasn't always seeing, because I was in transit), as one after another earnings report came out, again before the opening, the futures ticked down, lower and lower.

    I didn't catch the open, so let's pretend I still don't know what happened at that moment.

    The opening is important because sometimes it sets the tone for the day, especially if the futures are up big and the market opens up strong and rises steadily from there.

    Of course, that's not always true, especially these days. But stay with me.

    Later in the day, I'm walking past a TV monitor that has CNBC on, and I see the Dow down 116. That's a far view, again.

    We ended up rallying towards the end of the day, and the Dow closed down only 68 points.

    But again, that was the view from afar.

    Sure, I see all that, and take the far view. But, I also take the near view.

    Up close, earnings look great, and the U.S. looks like it's "basing" and laying the groundwork for reasonable growth.

    All that is tentative, however, when we look closer.

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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.
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  • Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) May Never Fully Recover Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) has been working hard to regain its profitability and stature, but a better-than-expected earnings report isn't enough.

    On Thursday the company reported earnings of 3 cents a share. Revenue came in light at $22.28 billion.

    Although analysts were looking for 12 cents a share, several weighed in saying that a $4.8 billion charge known as debt valuation adjustment (DVA) complicated the earnings report. Some say BofA actually beat core earnings expectations.

    Evercore analyst Andrew Marquardt wrote, "Our initial view of core is closer to 26 cents."

    Return on average equity of 11.05% beat fourth-quarter results, but was less than the 15.41% return the bank posted for the first quarter a year ago. BAC succeeded in reducing its credit-loss provisions to $2.42 billion from $3.81 billion in the fourth quarter.

    "You had very favorable tailwinds in the fixed-income markets and so trading revenues are very strong for this universe right now," Charles Peabody, an analyst at Portales Partners LLC in New York, said in a Bloomberg Radio interview. "There's no question the earnings that are being reported are very good -- the question is the sustainability."

    Despite beating estimates with its first-quarter earnings, BofA has struggled more than its counterparts in the wake of the financial crisis. The damage may be too much to allow the bank to grow to as big as it once was.

    Click here to continue reading...

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  • Stock Market News: Best Buy CEO Quits; Here's What the Next Leader Needs to Do (NYSE: BBY) Former Best Buy Co Inc. (NYSE: BBY) CEO Brian Dunn resigned from the struggling electronics giant after just three years at the helm, the company announced yesterday (Tuesday), and just two weeks after announcing a major restructuring plan.

    According to Bloomberg News there was "no disagreement on any matters relating to operations, financial controls, policies or procedures." Dunn's departure was "part of a mutual agreement of the necessity to address the challenges that face the company."

    Dunn was with the company for 28 years, starting as a store assistant. Board member G. Mike Mikan will take over as interim chief executive.

    Despite Dunn's decades-long commitment to the company, he might not have had what's needed to dig Best Buy out of the hole into which it's sinking. The ailing retailer is in the midst of revamping its stores and overhauling its business model, attempting to attract customers - and more importantly, get them to buy.

    "[Dunn] grew up in the store. His specialty is the stores," Stacy Widlitz of SW Retail Advisors told The Financial Times. "Was he the right guy for the chief executive? In this environment he was probably not the ideal candidate."

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  • How to Use Options to Hedge Against a Stock Market Correction Stocks have been mostly higher the past five months, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average recently topping 13,000 for a few days and the Nasdaq Composite touching the key 3,000 mark on the final day of February.

    However, the markets have turned erratic the last week or so, and big moves like last Tuesday's plunge have left many investors to worry about a looming stock market correction.

    Normally, that would send options-savvy investors in search of protective puts so they could lock in profits on their long stock positions.

    In doing so they essentially are buying an "insurance policy" that would pay off should prices indeed turn lower in the next couple of months.

    But, as readers who checked out Money Morning writer Don Miller's Wednesday article on the VIX Indicator, which measures trading activity in options on the Standard &Poor's 500 index - and, by association, options on individual stocks comprising the major indices - last week's jump in volatility sent put prices sharply higher.

    In fact, the VIX Indicator itself jumped from just 16.83 on Feb. 23 to a reading of 20.84 on Tuesday.

    And, though it has pulled back a bit since, the volatility means merely buying protective puts at this time would be a fairly costly proposition.

    As an example, assume you hold 100 shares of stock in Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS), having happily watched as the market's rally carried its price from an Oct. 3, 2011, level of $36.71 to a March 1 high of $56.82.

    However, the $3.33 decline by LVS last Monday and Tuesday leaves you little doubt the stock would be vulnerable in any upcoming stock market correction.

    And even though the stock rebounded to $55.29 by Thursday's close, you still feel like you need a little protection for your paper profits.

    So, what do you do?

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  • You Asked, He Answered: Shah Gilani on China, Ben Bernanke, the Fed and Much More…
    Thanks for flooding my email inbox. I asked for it...

    Let's start off with some comments and questions about Ben Bernanke and the Fed....

    Q: I see no distinguishable difference in the relationship that government has with the Fed/Banking Systemand some individual getting involved with a ruthless loan shark. ~ James M.

    A: The Fed has a no-interest rate policy, while loan sharks charge an arm and a leg. That's one difference. There may be others, but I can't think of any right now.

    Q: Shah I beg to differ with you re: your feelings towards Mr. Bernanke. Like you, he understands the... Read More...
  • Five Minutes with Fitz: Should You Buy This Stock Market Dip? The market's recent 45-day rocket ride was the longest uninterrupted climb without a triple digit decline since 2006 - until Tuesday when the Dow lost 203 points.

    The sell-off begs the question: Should you buy the stock market dip?

    First things first. The sky isn't falling even though there are a lot of investors who believe the worst after two tough days on Monday and Tuesday.

    In fact, if you remember your recent history, we used to eat declines like these for breakfast. Two-hundred-point days were not uncommon. For that matter, neither were 400-point swings only a few years ago.

    What investors need to realize is this: The stock market has come a long way in a hurry since establishing panic-driven lows on March 6, 2009.

    The S&P 500, for example, has tacked more than 100%. Compared to those gains, Monday and Tuesday's losses are just rounding errors in the big scheme of things.

    This means a portfolio worth $500,000 would be worth $1,000,000 today if it had been invested in something as plain vanilla as an S&P 500 Index fund only three years ago.

    On that basis alone, I could make the case this is the pullback everybody has been waiting for.

    But that's the problem...everybody is waiting on the same thing.

    Waiting for a Stock Market Dip

    According to various reports, most investors remain on the sidelines for reasons that are as obvious as they are self-evident - worries about debt, politics, jobs and the future dominate nearly every poll.

    You can see that if you look at stock market volume.

    It's down 50% since the financial crisis began. According to CNBC data, last Friday a mere 3.2 billion shares traded hands on the NYSE. Three years ago, that figure was 7.5 billion on an average day.

    This complicates technical analysis because it limits the statistical validity of many analytics that might otherwise be functioning normally.

    So what's a technical trader to do?...

    To continue reading, please click here...
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  • Steak, Hamburger and Dog Food: How the Government Lies About the Real Inflation Rate More experts are saying what most Americans have suspected for years - the real inflation rate is much higher than the government is willing to admit.

    Officially, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the inflation rate, or Consumer Price Index (CPI), for 2011 was 3%.

    But a report issued last week by the non-profit group American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) says the U.S. inflation rate for 2011 is far higher - 8%.

    AIER used criteria based only on common daily expenditures to more accurately reflect how inflation affects consumers. Their index excluded less-frequently purchased items, like automobiles.

    Economic consultant John Williams, an outspoken critic of the government's economic statistics, contends things are even worse.

    Using the government's old methodology from 1980 - before politicians started to monkey with the formula - he calculates the real inflation rate is north of 10%.

    That's more than triple the government's figure.

    Among the few in government who see this as a problem is Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX.

    "You know this argument that the prices are going up about 2%, nobody believes it," Paul bluntly told U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during a hearing last week. "People on fixed incomes - they're really hurting, the middle class is really hurting because their inflation rate is very much higher than the government tries to tell them and that's why they lose trust in government."

    Changes to the Real Inflation Rate

    Over the years, the government has made a series of adjustments to how it calculates the CPI, ostensibly to make it more accurate.

    However, critics like Williams say the inflation rate formula has been changed to serve political ends.

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