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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.”

  • Featured Story

    Growth of Online Retailers Makes Internet the New Shopping Battleground

    While online retailers have celebrated the growth of online shopping, conventional retailers determined not to lose customers have been ramping up their Internet efforts.

    Forrester Research Inc. (NYSE: FORR) estimates that online shopping will increase by 15% to $59.5 billion this holiday season. And more Americans said they were planning to shop online yesterday, "Cyber Monday," this year - 122.9 million, according to a survey conducted by BIGresearch for Shop.org, up from 106.9 million in 2010.

    Cyber Monday spending last year exceeded $1 billion for the first time.

    "Last year [Cyber Monday] was the biggest day of the year, and as retailers know that, they compete," Mitch Spolan, senior vice president for national sales at LivingSocial, a daily deal Website that had set up offers with over a dozen retailers, told The New York Times. "It's a sport. We're expecting a record-breaking day."

    In an environment of weak consumer spending, retailers of all kinds need to fight for every dollar.

    This year online retailers encroached on Black Friday, the traditional day brick-and-mortar retailers launch the holiday shopping season, while conventional retailers returned the favor on Cyber Monday.

    Black Friday online sales were up 26% over last year according to comScore, while the number of people visiting online retailing sites was up 35%. Meanwhile, foot traffic in stores was up 5.1% and overall retail sales were up 6.6%.

    The robust turnout helped markets soar on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbing 291 points, or 2.59%, to close at 11,523.01.

    "With brick-and-mortar retail also reporting strong gains on Black Friday, it's clear that the heavy promotional activity had a positive impact on both channels," comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni told Reuters.

    An Edge for Online Retailers

    Nevertheless, Web-only retailers, led by the titanic Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), have experienced more growth and have several advantages over their conventional rivals, even though most, such as Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), and J.C. Penney Company Inc. (NYSE: JCP) have embraced online retailing themselves.

    The most significant advantage Web-only retailers have is the lack of overhead expenses to maintain large numbers of physical locations. Web-only retailers also don't collect state sales tax unless they have a physical presence in that state.

    And online retailing, despite its rapid growth in recent years, still accounted for just 4.6% of total U.S. retail spending as of the third quarter, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. That means online retail has huge potential to keep taking an ever-larger slice of the consumer spending pie.

    As a result, the Web-only retailers have become formidable competition, particularly during the critical holiday shopping season, which is make-or-break for many retailers.

    "Web retailers are better-positioned than store retailers," Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru told Bloomberg News. "They in many cases can have better offers because their economics are more favorable."

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  • Cyber Monday

  • Cyber Monday: The "Online Black Friday" Signals Shift in U.S. Holiday Shopping Trends U.S. retailers are hoping consumers' growing shift to online shopping will carry Black Friday's spending momentum through this week, which kicked off with Internet-only deals and discounts on yesterday's "Cyber Monday."

    The Monday after Thanksgiving in the past few years has evolved into one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. The number of Cyber Monday shoppers has almost doubled in the past five years, from 59 million in 2005 to an estimated 106.9 million in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). 

    Last year, shoppers spent $887 million on Cyber Monday, according to research firm comScore Inc. (Nasdaq: SCOR), and analysts expect a higher turnout this year. 

    Read More...
  • Retailers Report Disappointing Increase in Their In-Store Black Friday Sales, Despite Solid Jump in Online Results Steep discounts in November and a surge in online purchases meant that retail sales moved only slightly higher on the opening day of the 2010 holiday shopping season - despite a nice increase in the number of shoppers who crowded retail stores.

    Retail spending hit $10.69 billion on Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, a 0.3% increase from the $10.66 billion in sales recorded on the day after Thanksgiving last year, reports ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based retail firm that tallies sales in more than 70,000 retail locations around the country.

    However, ShopperTrak said the sales total was still a Black Friday record. The researcher is standing behind its prediction that holiday-season spending will rise 3.2%. Read More...
  • Will Cyber Monday Success Set the Tone for the Holiday Season? E-commerce sales on "Cyber Monday" - the first Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday - climbed to record levels this year, but that success doesn't necessarily mean the holidays will bring more cheer to retailers.

    Virtually every retailer with an online presence dressed up its website with special offerings, and many of the bigger ones - RadioShack Corp. (NYSE: RSH), Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) - sent out targeted e-mails offering their best customers discounts of up to 40% on Internet purchases. The tactics worked, as an estimated 96.5 million Americans went online Monday to buy everything from toys, books and music CDs to high-end fashions, jewelry and flat-screen TVs.

    Read More...