MSFT

Microsoft Corp

Earnings

How You Can Win This Ugly Earnings "Baseball" Game

If you're a big baseball fan – as I am – then you know that a team's leadoff hitter plays a determinative role in the club's success or failure.

Great leadoff hitters – guys like Rickey Henderson, Richie Ashburn, and Ichiro Suzuki – are terrific "table-setters." As the first hitter to the plate, their job is to "get something started" by getting on base in any way possible – and to serve as an emotional catalyst for the rest of the team… and for the fans in the stadium.

Some of baseball's all-time best leadoff guys were masters at igniting momentum – my favorite old-timer was Eddie Stanky, an infielder and leadoff hitter whose nickname – "The Brat" – reflected his penchant for momentum-swinging plays.

Branch Rickey, the baseball executive who broke the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson, once took note of Stanky's "spark plug" qualities by observing: "He can't run, he can't hit, and he can't throw. But if there's a way to beat the other team, he'll find it."

In 1951, in a World Series game between the New York Giants and New York Yankees, Stanky (who was then a Giant) tried to steal second base and realized Bronx Bombers shortstop Phil Rizzuto was already waiting to apply the tag. But instead of accepting the out, Stanky (a former soccer player) kicked out with his right foot as he slid and punted the ball out of Rizzuto's mitt and into centerfield.

The Brat popped up and skittered to third. The error lead to five unearned runs and a Giants victory that day.

Rizzuto never forgave Stanky for the play.

So while a walk, hit, or even an occasional homer by the leadoff hitter can ignite a team and even fire up the fans in the stands, the opposite is also true.

And of course a poor showing – like a three-pitch strikeout – by the leadoff hitter can hang over a game like a depressingly thick fog. It has a deleterious effect on the other hitters – and can take the fans right of the game.

And when that happens, things can get downright ugly - as I'll show you right now...

The Fed

How to Profit When Yellen Raises Rates (Before Dec. 31)

When Janet Yellen said there was "no fixed timetable" for raising interest rates last week, the markets actually dipped.

It's anyone's guess as to why a market that owes most of its gains to the central bank's low interest rates would dip on news that low interest rates would continue.

It doesn't really matter.

Because I think a rate hike of some kind will be in effect by Dec. 31. They've been under 1% since 2008, and at least three of the FOMC's voting members oppose the decision to hold rates steady.

It's likely to be another token 25 basis points, and the rates might even go up just so they can go back down again, but that doesn't matter, either – I think traders have to prepare for a "rate hike event" and some choppy markets before the end of the quarter.

So the best thing we can do now is get into position to protect our money… and make a ton more of it.

Check this out...

Technology

Two Big Reasons MSFT Stock Is a Buy After Earnings

MSFT stock was edging up Thursday in anticipation of good news when the company reports earnings after the market close.

But unless Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) has a really nasty surprise in store, it's a buy even if it doesn't post a strong beat. That's because Microsoft has worked hard on its transition away from its legacy PC business to capitalize on two major areas of growth.

Here's what those areas are - and why they'll enrich both Microsoft and those who own MSFT stock...