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    dow jones

    Stock market investors celebrated the continuing economic downturn by driving stock prices higher again last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 132 points or 0.8% to 17,215.95 while the S&P 500 added 18 points or 0.9% and the Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.2% to 4886.69. The worse things get, the more investors believe that the Fed will delay any interest rate increase into 2016.

    They are probably being too optimistic. At the rate things are going, we may not see an interest rate increase until Barack Obama leaves office. And if we do, it won't be more than a token 25 basis points that won't amount to a hill of beans.

    And that probably isn't a coincidence. Mr. Obama has appointed every member of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. This is highly unusual. The Federal Reserve Act provides for terms of 14 years, but in the past two decades the average tenure of governors has dropped to five years. This has arguably reduced the independence of the board.

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Let's Take 280% on the Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) "After-Party" Favor

Nasdaq: NFLX

By almost any measure, Netflix, the Internet television "network" that has changed the nature of the industry, is all the rage.

After announcing blowout first-quarter revenues of nearly $1.57 billion and 4.88 million new subscribers - well above its 4.33 million guidance number - Netflix soared over 25%.

The Netflix story is a work in progress, but I see its most recent results as another chapter on the way to even more profitable opportunities going forward.

Indeed, in a moment you'll see how we can ring up a 280% profit in the Netflix "after-party"...

Net's New "Utility" Status Will Boost This Company

Net Neutrality

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has been hamstrung by ISPs like Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), which have slowed its streaming service as a negotiating tactic, allegedly to make the company pony up money to retain the ability to serve its millions of clients. That's now over, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now sided with net neutrality.

But more importantly, there is an opportunity to exploit this legal development.

NFLX Stock Up 13% After Earnings – but Don't Buy the Optimism

stock market today

Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) stock climbed 13% afterhours today (Tuesday) after the company smashed Q4 earnings estimates.

NFLX reported earnings per share (EPS) of $0.72, topping analysts' predictions of $0.44.

And while many of today's numbers are encouraging, don't be fooled. There are still plenty of problem ahead for NFLX stock in 2015...

NFLX Has What These Four Tech Titans Want

NFLX

The video streaming subscription business model that Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) helped pioneer is why Wall Street is so in love with the stock, but it's also why the company is a prime acquisition target.

And while the company's $27 billion market cap would greatly narrows the list of potential suitors, the companies with the most to gain from buying Netflix also happen to be some of the wealthiest on the planet - the titans of tech.

Here’s why Netflix is so alluring, and a case by case look at each of the top four candidates…

Why Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) Stock Is Down 20% This Month

Netflix was the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 in 2013, gaining more than 312% for the year. The good times continued into this year, with NFLX up 25% year-to-date as of March 6. But since then the stock has plunged nearly 20%.

Here's why this high-flyer has stumbled...

Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) Stock Soars 18% on Earnings Beat

Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) stock was one of the biggest success stories of 2013 - soaring 312% - and should be reflected in Q4 earnings.

NFLX is projected to report Q4 earnings of $0.66 per share today (Wednesday), up from $0.13 last year. Revenue estimates are also optimistic at $1.17 billion for Q4. That's up 24% from 2012.

The key figure is new users. Netflix is expecting to report 2 million new subscribers for the fourth quarter. That's after adding 1.3 million new customers in the United States in the third quarter.

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The Most Interesting Companies of 2013

Today (Tuesday), Money Morning Defense & Tech Specialist Michael A. Robinson appeared on FOX Business' "Varney & Co." to discuss whether the most interesting companies of 2013 will make for next year's best investments.

The four "interesting" companies highlighted by host Stuart Varney: Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR), and Tesla Motors Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA).

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Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) Stock: CEO Hastings, Icahn Make Good Points…

Netflix stock has soared 440% in the past year, and 275% year-to-date. And this week the company said it added 1.3 million new U.S. customers, putting it ahead of even HBO. Yet there's this pesky $85 million gap between net income and cash flow, and now Carl Icahn has pulled out half of his investment.

Here's what all this will mean for Netflix stock in 2014...

Buy, Sell or Hold: Why Investors Need to Tune in to Netflix

The company recently announced it added over 2 million new domestic subscribers (at $7.99 per month) in Q4/2012. In all, NFLX ended the year with 25.47 million paid subscribers - blowing away expectations. Here's what that means for shareholders.

Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX): Is Carl Icahn a Madman or Genius?

Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) shares rallied 11.4% in late trading on Wednesday to close at $79.24 following news that activist investor Carl Icahn made a big move on the stock.

Icahn took a nearly 10% stake in the company through shares and long-term, over-the-counter call options mostly purchased at prices below $60.

In afternoon trading on Thursday, Netflix shares were down slightly, trading just under $79.

That means that Icahn and his partners are sitting on gains of between 30% and 44% on Netflix shares and call options purchased between Sept. 4 and Oct. 25, according to Schedule 13D filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday.

That alone should put Icahn firmly in the genius category.

What is Carl Icahn's motivation for acquiring his stake in Netflix?

"I believe that there is going to be great consolidation between Netflix and, everybody's read about it, Amazon or Microsoft or Verizon or Google, there are so many possible combinations," Icahn told Bloomberg TV.

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Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX): Time to Panic or Time to Buy?

When Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) reported earnings Tuesday, it beat estimates for both revenue and earnings per share - but the stock still slumped 12% yesterday.

The reason panicked investors dumped shares was because they learned that new subscribers in Netflix's domestic streaming business fell well short of management's aggressive guidance. Netflix predicted six months ago it would add 7 million streaming U.S. customers by the end of 2012, but it's now on pace to only add 5 million.

Now that NFLX stock is hovering around $60, is the market telling us that the Netflix growth story is over, and you should ditch shares like yesterday's sellers? Or are investors being handed a golden opportunity to buy Netflix at a bargain basement price?

To answer that, let's take a look at what's driving Netflix earnings.

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Video Streaming Giant Netflix Downloads Bold Strategy for Growth

Already dominant in video streaming, Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) is determined to drive its business into fresh territory. The company plans to acquire its own content with a deal for the U.S. rights to a television series, and will expand its reach to new countries in 2012. Netflix has enjoyed extraordinary success over the past […]

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Net Neutrality Tested by Comcast-Level 3 Netflix Dispute

Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) - the web-based DVD rental company - is locked in a row with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA) that could have significant implications for the management of the Internet as a whole.

At the heart of the conflict is Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT), a little-known network operator that handles Netflix content. Comcast has increased the fees it charges Level 3 to carry streaming Netflix videos over its cable network. That decision goes against conventional principles of so-called "network neutrality," under which network operators exchange traffic for free when similar amounts of information flow in each direction. Such exchanges are known as "peering."

Net neutrality also prohibits network owners like Comcast from discriminating against Internet companies by blocking or slowing access too their content.

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Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Moving Business Online as Foot Traffic Declines

U.S. retailers this year geared up for the annual back-to-school shopping season, the parents and children didn't fill the streets and shopping malls - they stayed inside, and online, cruising for bargains on the Internet.

Overall sales this August were up only slightly from last year, failing to give stores the boost they needed after a sluggish summer.

A report from MasterCard's SpendingPulse released yesterday (Wednesday) showed that consumers gave a slight bump to children's clothing and consumer electronics with their back-to-school shopping, but pulled back in other areas of merchandise which cut into sales gains.

But among uneven retail numbers this year exists a bright spot that has been growing for years, and is leading companies to overhaul their traditional business models: the online retail market.

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Barnes & Noble Sale Won't Rid the Retailer of its Woes

Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) announced late Tuesday that it would put itself up for sale. But even with its recent struggles analysts aren't sure of what the company hopes to accomplish.

"There are companies that do this because they have to and there are companies that do this because they have impatient shareholders and I'm not sure what's driving this kind of statement," Michael Norris, a senior analyst at Simba Information, told The Associated Press. "It just seems daft."

The company's board said that it believed Barnes & Noble stock was "significantly undervalued" and that it had established a special committee to review its options.

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