Monday, March 31, 2014

7 Smart Ways to Take Advantage of Your Tax Refund

10 Best Energy Stocks To Watch For 2014

7 Smart Ways to Take Advantage of Your Tax Refund Alamy Tax season is a time of stress for many, but it can be a joyful time for the roughly 75 percent of Americans who receive income tax refunds. While the refund really means you're getting back money you loaned to the government at no interest, in practical terms it often means an unexpected infusion of cash into your wallet or bank account. Last year's average income tax refund was $2,755, according to the Internal Revenue Service. That's a nice chunk of change. It's a great problem to have: What do you do with your windfall? The best choice for one person may not be the best choice for another. But experts agree on one thing: If you have debt, apply your refund to paying it off, whether it's credit card debt, student loan debt or other consumer debt. "People should still be focusing first on paying down debt," says Meisa Bonelli, a Wall Street finance and tax professional whose Millennial Tax company advises entrepreneurs on business and tax strategy. Debt, particularly student loan debt, should be a primary target because it limits financial options, preventing people from doing what they want with their money, whether it's buying a house, buying a car or taking a vacation. "Get that debt gone," she says. "It holds you back from everything else you want to do in life." Eric Rosenberg, a financial analyst who writes the blog Narrow Bridge Finance, agrees. "The No. 1 thing anyone should do with a tax refund is pay down debt," he says. After he left graduate school with $40,000 in student loan debt, he focused on aggressively paying it off. Using all his tax refunds and bonuses, he made the final payment just two years and six days after his graduation. With his student loan debt cleared away, he began saving his tax refunds, with the goal of buying a home. He didn't apply any of his refund money to splurges -- instead, he saved for fun and vacation with his regular income. The refunds were earmarked for bigger things. "I treated it like it was extra money that I didn't need to live on," Rosenberg says. "I always encourage people to think long term, not short term." Others believe that giving yourself license to splurge with part of your refund helps you save the rest. Stephanie Halligan, a financial consultant and blogger, signs a contract with herself before she does her taxes, allocating 50 percent of her refund to student loans and 25 percent to long-term savings. She can spend the remaining 25 percent on whatever she wants. "It's easy to react on impulse and emotion when your refund hits, so prepare now for what you'll do with that moolah later," she advises on her personal finance website, The Empowered Dollar. If you're getting a big refund ­-- a check in the ballpark of $1,000 or more for taxpayers who don't have a side business -- consider adjusting your withholding so that you'll have that money available to you during the year. But those who don't have substantial savings want to avoid a scenario in which they owe four figures to the IRS at tax time. "I think people should withhold the maximum they can withhold," Bonelli says. Rosenberg concurs. As his businesses, running Narrow Bridge Finance and building websites, have grown, his refunds have shrunk. Last year he had to pay the IRS. Here are the seven smartest things you can do with your refund: Pay down debt. If you have any consumer debt -- student loans, credit card balances or installment loans -- pay those off before using your refund for any other purpose. Car payments and home mortgages aren't in this category, but you can consider paying extra principal. Add to your savings. "You can never save enough," Bonelli says. You can use the money to build up your emergency fund, your kids' college funds or put it toward a specific goal, such as buying a house or a car or financing a big vacation. Add to your retirement accounts. If you put $2,500 from this year's tax refund into an IRA, it would grow to $8,500 in 25 years, even at a modest 5 percent rate of return, TurboTax calculates. If you saved $2,500 every year for 25 years, you'd end up with more than $130,000 at that same 5 percent rate of return. Invest in yourself. This could mean taking a class in investing, studying something that interests you or even taking a big trip. "Do something that enriches yourself or adds value to your life," Bonelli says. She is planning to take a class in art therapy this year using money from her refund. Improve your home. Consider putting your refund to good use by adding insulation, replacing old windows and doors or other improvements that would save energy, and therefore money. Or perhaps it's time to remodel your bathroom or kitchen. You're adding value to your home at the same time you're improving your living experience. Apply your refund toward next year's taxes. This is common among self-employed taxpayers, who are required to pay quarterly taxes since they don't have taxes withheld. By applying any overpayment toward upcoming tax payments, you can free up other cash.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

U.S. Consumers Continue to Pay More for Milk and Beef

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its preliminary report on March farm prices Friday afternoon. The all-products price index rose by 5 points month-over-month (4.7%) to 111, with the crop index up 2.2% and the livestock index up 5%. The preliminary March all-products index is up 0.9% year-over-year. The index uses prices from 2011 as its base value (100).

The USDA noted that March's higher prices for broilers, hogs, corn and cattle offset lower prices for eggs, grapefruit, and sunflowers. Prices paid by farmers in the month remained flat at 107 for the second consecutive month, but are up 1 point compared with March 2013.

Both corn and wheat prices are significantly lower than they were a year ago. The big increases in farm prices have come in dairy and meat, both of which are sharply higher than they were a year ago. Dairy prices rose 1.6% in March and are now 33% higher than they were a year ago. Prices for pork and beef are up 5% month-over-month and 21% compared with March 2013.

Milk prices continue to rise the most. The March price of $25.40 per hundredweight is up $6.30, or nearly 33%, compared with the price in March 2013. The price is also up $0.50 month-over-month.

Prices for fed cattle posted a record high of $152.26 per hundredweight on Thursday, up $2.16 in a week and $24.50, or 19%, in a year. The short version of the story is that demand for beef is simply outstripping supply. Partly that's due to exports and partly that's due to the impact of the herd culling that went on a year or so ago.

The pig population has been hit with virus that could reduce the crop by as much as 3%, sending pork prices even higher than sky-high beef prices.

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Here is how some agriculture-related ETFs are closed the week:

The Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (NYSEMKT: MOO) closed the week up 1.8%. Shares closed on Friday up 0.77% at $53.93 in a 52-week range of $48.75 to $55.29.

The PowerShares DB Agriculture fund (NYSEMKT: DBA) traded up 2.17% for the week and closed on Friday at $28.43, in a 52-week range of $24.04 to $28.95. Shares posted an intraday high of $28.95 on March 13.

The Teucrium Corn Fund (NYSEMKT: CORN) closed Friday down 0.97% for the day but up about 1.5% for the week. The fund's 52-week range of $29.50 to $43.00. That high price set last June and the trend on corn prices was down through the rest of last year and are down 17.7% over the past 12 months. Prices began to trend upward in January and are now up 10% year-to-date

The Teucrium Wheat Fund (NYSEMKT: WEAT) closed down 2.43% on Friday to finish the week at $16.47. For the week the fund was up 0.8%. The 52-week range is $13.31 to $19.50. Like corn, the price is up more than 12% since the beginning of the year and down 10.5% over the past 12 months. This fund trades averages just 41,000 shares traded in a day, but nearly tripled that on Friday, when wheat prices fell more than 2% on the CBOT to close at $6.955 a bushel.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Inc Shares Temporarily Jumped Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Inc (NYSE: WUBA  ) initially rose more than 10% in Friday's early trading, then settled to close up 3% after the Chinese online classified ad company priced its follow-on offering of American depositary shares.

So what: Though shares had risen nearly 70% since's IPO five months ago, the stock plunged more than 15% since first announced the dilutive offering on Monday. At the time, it proposed that both it and selling shareholders would each offer 4.0 million ADS, with each ADS representing two Class A ordinary shares. In addition, wanted to grant its underwriters a 30-day option to purchase another 1.2 million shares.

In today's release, however, stated it will only issue and sell 2.0 million new ADS, while selling shareholders will still offer 4.0 million. Shares were also priced at $38 apiece. In addition, granted its underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 900,000 ADS. The company's gross proceeds -- which don't include those from selling shareholders -- will be roughly $76 million.

Now what: The lower net number of new shares was welcome news after Monday's announcement, which explains the early pop. What's more, it's hard to blame for wanting to take advantage of its impressive post-IPO run to raise new capital.

Even so, while has grown quickly, shares do look pricey trading around 10 and 40 times next year's estimated sales and earnings, respectively. As it stands, and given its big run so far, I don't mind letting the dust settle to look for a more attractive entry point during the next few quarters.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Microsoft announces Office for iPad

See Microsoft's new Office for iPad   See Microsoft's new Office for iPad NEW YORK (CNNMoney) After years of speculation, Microsoft Office is finally on the iPad.

In his first public appearance since being named Microsoft's (MSFT, Fortune 500) new CEO, Satya Nadella unveiled the next evolution of Office. The ubiquitous productivity suite, which includes apps such as Office and Excel, has been optimized for use with touch screens and fingers.

Microsoft had done some work on Office 2013 to make it more finger friendly, but with Office for iPad, it's a full-fledged step forward. The look of Office isn't radically changed, but many features have been subtly streamlined to make things less painful.

The biggest difference is that Microsoft isn't trying to push every formatting option in front of your face, instead identifying the most essential features, and using that screen space to make those icons bigger.

Microsoft Word, for example, closely resembles Word 2013, but the interface has been simplified to highlight just the most important formatting options. Text and images can easily be highlighted and manipulated with the finger--as is the case most iPad word processors.

Microsoft Excel is able to interpret what type of data you're working with and automatically suggest formatting options to save time digging through menus for a specific type of graph.

Powerpoint has been the most straightforward and tablet-ready product of the bunch, but on the iPad its as touch-optimized as you'd expect, allowing users to build presentations with a few taps and swipes.

Also notable is the more pronounced integration of Microsoft OneDrive into Office. All documents are automatically backed up and synced to Microsoft's Cloud, with an easy-to-use interface. Multi-user collaboration has also been integrated deeper into the experience.

That the tablet-optimized version of Office launched on Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) iPad first, and not a Windows or Android tablet, is a testament to the influence of the iPad in the tablet space.

But while all of what Microsoft showed off looks and sounds fine, it doesn't seem to solve the problem of productivity apps on touch devices as much as it just makes them more tolerable to use.

Of course, the larger question is whether it matters that Office is now available for the iPad. For years, there have been scores of productivity apps available! in the app store, including Google (GOOAV) Drive and Apple's own iWork suite, both of which are free. There have also been third-party apps, such as the word processor Writer Pro and the spreadsheet app Grid, which are helping to evolve or even reinvent the entire concept of what productivity software.

But do enough people care that much about productivity and file compatibility on a tablet to make the leap to Office for iPad? That's a big, unanswered question.

Office for iPad will be available in the iTunes App Store on Thursday afternoon for free. But only reading documents will be free. Those wanting to create and edit content will have to purchase an Office 365 subscription, starting at $70 a year. To top of page

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Profit from the End of This Secret "Fix"

For nearly 100 years the London gold price fix has been widely used as an industry benchmark.

Its goal was to determine a price for gold that bullion dealers, jewelers, miners, and central banks could use to value their metal.

But it's a process that may have allowed for manipulation, something a recent Financial Times article highlighted thanks to new research.

That story was quickly pulled... but it hasn't disappeared entirely.

Screenshots of the article have surfaced, and they point to well-researched backing of a true "fix"...

Here's what's really going on, and what you need to know...

How Gold Prices Are Set... In Theory

Back in 1919, a private corporation called The London Gold Market Fixing Ltd. was established, and member dealers met daily in Rothschild's London offices.

Today, it's a corporation owned by just five bullion banks: Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, HSBC, and Société Générale, which currently holds the rotating chairmanship.

Here's how it works... or rather is supposed to work.

Twice a day, at 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. London time, the gold price is fixed on a conference call that can last anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour. Each bank indicates the number of gold bars it, along with its clients, wishes to buy or sell at the current prices. The price gets adjusted (up or down) until the point where the available buy-and-sell amounts are within 50 bars, and the price is fixed.

But it's a process that goes completely unregulated.

And that makes it attractive to manipulate... irresistibly attractive, apparently.

The Evidence Is Plain

Two separate research papers think so.

New York University's Stern School of Business Professor Rosa Abrantes-Metz and Albert Metz, a managing director at Moody's Investors Service, recently wrote a draft research paper indicating that there are unusual trading patterns near the 3 p.m. London gold fix.

In the report (not yet submitted for publication), they say "The structure of the benchmark is certainly conducive to collusion and manipulation, and the empirical data are consistent with price artificiality. It is likely that co-operation between participants may be occurring."

As part of their research, Abrantes-Metz and Metz looked for irregular gold spot price action between 2001 and 2013. They noted that sudden spikes often occurred during the 3 p.m. call but not the morning call, between 2004 and 2013.

What's most interesting is that these price spikes were down two out of three times during six of the years in that nine-year time span, and in 2010 large down moves happened during the afternoon fix a full 92% of the time.

A separate study draws a similar conclusion.

According to research by consulting firm Fideres, gold price behavior during and immediately after the London gold price-fixing calls suggests possible manipulation 50% of the time between January 2010 and December 2013 (as indicated in the Financial Times article, Gold Price Rigging Fears Put Investors on Alert).

If you think it's not possible, think again. London has a penchant for this kind of conduct.

A Dangerous Precedent Has Already Been Set

Abrantes-Metz has seen this kind of questionable behavior before. In 2008 she published the "Libor Manipulation?" paper, which helped expose manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate. Libor is the rate banks charge each other and is used to gauge the general health of the financial system. It's also used in U.S. derivatives markets, as well as mortgages, student loans, etc.

Libor is a benchmark for nearly $350 trillion in worldwide derivatives. So manipulating Libor has allowed participating institutions to profit from trades and sometimes gave the impression they had better creditworthiness than they did in reality.

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Already $6 billion in fines have been handed out in the Libor scandal... so far. And the FDIC has just announced it's suing 16 of the world's largest banks for their roles in this mess.

But wait, there's more...

Currency trading is a $5.3 trillion-a-day market. Right now, the world's largest currency trading banks are being investigated for having potentially colluded for 10 years or longer. They're suspected of having rigged and manipulated daily foreign exchange benchmarks and front-running client orders.

If these megabanks manipulated Libor, and perhaps currencies, why stop there?

Gold is a $20 trillion market, which of course leaves plenty of room for profits, legal or otherwise.

Now there's news that Deutsche Bank, one of the fabulous five London gold price fixers, has decided it will withdraw from the panel and may have hired consultants to review its role in the gold price fix.

Meanwhile, Britain's Financial Conduct Authority and Bafin, Germany's financial markets regulator, are investigating the potential manipulation of gold prices.

That's prompted U.S.-based AIS Capital Management to file a lawsuit against the five gold price fixing banks. They allege a conspiracy on the banks' part to manipulate gold prices for their own benefit.

Abrantes-Metz told the Mail & Guardian, "The structure of the benchmark is certainly conducive to collusion and manipulation and the empirical data are consistent with price artificiality."

The Spike Could Be Drastic

If the London Gold Market Fixing process was in fact manipulated, it may have contributed to gold price suppression. Time will tell.

Should this process be revamped, it could mean proper market price discovery and potentially higher gold prices from here. And that's likely to benefit both gold and gold-related stocks.

Bullion's already climbed about 15% from its December intraday low.

Since last fall, I've added five new precious metals plays to the Real Asset Returns portfolio, with gains ranging from 4% to 40% in a few short months.

Remember, gold and gold stocks are in the midst of a secular gold bull market that's going to be one for the record books.

Odds are good a century of London Gold Market Fixing may be coming to an end.

So might the opportunity to buy gold at a "fixed" price.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Yum CEO's pay falls amid KFC struggles in China

NEW YORK (AP) — Yum CEO David Novak saw his pay package drop 22% to $10 million last year as the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut fell short of its performance targets.

The drop in pay from $12.8 million the previous year was the result of a lower performance-based bonus, reflecting the troubles that have beset the company's important China division.

Yum Brands, based in Louisville, Ky., is the biggest Western fast-food operator in China with its KFC restaurants. China has been a critical growth driver for the company, with the unit accounting for about 40 percent of its operating profit.

But in late 2012, a report on Chinese TV said some of Yum's suppliers were giving chickens unapproved levels of antibiotics, touching off sensitivities about food safety in the country. Sales began to nosedive.

Executives have conceded they were slow to grasp the severity of the backlash before embarking on a marketing campaign to rebuild trust with customers. A few months later, however, the efforts were upended by a bird flu scare.

Beyond those two factors, Yum is also dealing with more competition in the Chinese market.

Back in the U.S., the company's Taco Bell division has been riding on the success of its popular Doritos Locos Tacos. But its KFC and Pizza Hut chains are struggling and saw sales declines at locations open at least a year.

Novak has stressed that China remains a key region for Yum and that the company plans to forge ahead in its expansion plans. The 61-year-old became chief executive in 2000 then took on the chairman title the following year.

For 2013, Novak's pay package included a base salary of $1.5 million, stock and options worth $6.8 million and a performance-based bonus of $939,600. The previous year, that performance-based portion of his bonus was $4.6 million.

Other compensation included use of the company aircraft, insurance premiums and home security.

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But Novak's pay package may get a boost next year — the company has said it expects adjusted earnings-per-share growth of at least 20% in 2014 as it rebounds from the setbacks.

The Associated Press formula for executive compensation includes salary, bonuses, perks, above-market interest the company pays on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock and stock options awarded during the year. It does not count changes in the present value of pension benefits, which makes the AP total slightly different in most cases from the total reported by companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The value that a company assigned to an executive's stock and option awards was the present value of what the company expected the awards to be worth over time. The number is just an estimate and what an executive ultimately receives will depend on the performance of the company's stock.

Follow Candice Choi at

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Six-Pack of Values

In Morningstar Stock Investor, Matthew Coffina suggests, "Investors can focus only on the most undervalued current holdings in our Tortoise and Hare model portfolios."

The six stocks featured below are currently our favorites for new money:

Philip Morris International (PM)

Among our holdings, Philip Morris is arguably the most exposed to depreciating emerging market currencies, since it doesn't have any US sales. Unfortunately, currency fluctuations are an unavoidable tradeoff for emerging markets' relatively stable cigarette volumes.

Foreign exchange rates won't be a headwind forever, and I still find Philip Morris' total return prospects highly attractive, driven by a 4.8% dividend yield.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B)

Berkshire Hathaway's sprawling empire is too complex to describe in a short paragraph. However, its numerous businesses have one thing in common: They were hand-picked by Warren Buffett because of their strong and improving competitive advantages and top-notch managements.

They also tend to be concentrated in the US, whose economy increasingly looks like the world's strongest. Buffett is the inspiration for Morningstar's whole approach to equity investing—what better way to emulate his philosophy than by owning the company he spent a lifetime building?

eBay (EBAY)

EBay seems to be playing second fiddle to (AMZN) these days, but while Amazon may be growing more quickly, eBay is far more profitable. I think there's room for two successful e-commerce companies, particularly considering that the secular shift to online commerce is still in its early days.

All brick-and-mortar retailers are trying to figure out how to adapt to this new environment, and eBay is ideally positioned to serve as their technological partner.


HCP is an economically defensive, diversified real estate investment trust focused on healthcare properties. HCP primarily uses long-term triple-net leases, which leave tenants responsible for property operating and maintenance costs.

Only around 5% of leases come up for renewal each year, and tenants tend to be sticky. The firm has raised its dividend for 29 consecutive years, most recently by 3.8%. The new annual dividend rate of $2.18 puts the yield at 5.6%.

Coca-Cola (KO)

Coca-Cola's business is built to weather challenging times, and I think the risk/reward profile remains attractive.

Management is exceptional; the company described its strategic vision for 2020 back in 2009 and has been steadily executing against the goals it set for itself ever since.

While consumption of carbonated soft drinks is declining in North America, the company still has plenty of room to grow in emerging markets and through its diversified portfolio.

Baidu (BIDU)

We raised Baidu's fair value estimate 47% in January, while the stock price fell 12%. As a result, Baidu looks meaningfully undervalued for the first time since mid-2013.

Investors could be in for a bumpy ride in the short-term, but in the long run, I think Baidu's growth is driven by secular trends that transcend the broader economy: rising Internet penetration and a shift in advertising budgets from traditional media to online search.

Few companies in the world are growing as quickly as Baidu, and most of those trade at much richer valuations.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Walmart Now Has 6 Types Of Stores

With the launch last week of a gas station/convenience store, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) now offers customers six different store formats to choose from, ranging from the Supercenters of up to 260,000 square feet to the 15,000 square-foot Walmart Express stores. The enormous big-box stores still dominate the landscape, but over the past several years the company has been looking at smaller formats, as a way to extend Walmart's brand footprint, pick up sales it is losing to smaller stores, and gain entry to markets in which they have previously been shut out.

In its annual report filed on March 21 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Walmart said that 56% of the company's total sales in 2014 came from grocery sales. Walmart U.S. President Bill Simon told an investor conference in early March that the weekly consumer trip to a supermarket to stock-up for the coming week is a $585 billion business in the U.S., and Walmart gets a 25% share of that business.

The quick-trip to a convenience store for a quart or milk or a six-pack of your favorite beverage is a $415 billion business in the U.S., and Walmart gets just 10% of those sales. That's a number the retailer would like to grow.

The backbone of the Walmart empire is the Supercenter. In its annual report, the company reported that it has 3,288 Supercenters in the U.S, an increase of 130 in the last year. The average size of a Supercenter is 179,000 square feet, and the stores offer both merchandise and groceries. Nearly all of these giant stores are open 24-hours a day.

The original big-box Walmart store is now called a Discount Store, and the company has been closing these stores or converting them to Supercenters for at least the last 5 years. In 2010, the company had 810 Discount Store; the number has shrunk to 508 in 2014. The average size is 105,000 square feet. The stores typically don't offer groceries and are open 14 or 15 hours a day every day of the week.

Walmart lumps its Neighborhood Markets and Walmart Express stores under a single category. The company has been opening these stores at about the same rate as it is opening Supercenters. The company claimed 190 stores in this category in 2010 and 407 in 2014. The average size is 40,000 square feet, and these stores carry a smaller selection of groceries and merchandise. The 20 U.S. Walmart Express stores average about 15,000 square feet. Hours are the same as the Discount Stores.

The company's Sam's Club warehouse stores are membership operations, and the stores average about 134,000 square feet. The numbers are growing, but very modestly from 605 in 2010 to 632 this year. The stores are open for 11 or 12 hours a day with additional hours for business members.

The gas station/convenience store is the sixth format, and a company executive has said that Walmart has no plans to roll-out the format further. That may well be true now, but never say never.

Walmart is also testing a drive-through pick-up option in some of its Denver-area stores. Customers can place an order online and pick it up later the same day. The company is even considering drive-in pick-up centers that are not attached to its Supercenters.

Another format being tested is 2,500-square foot Walmart on Campus convenience stores located on or near college campuses.

Selling groceries is what made Walmart's Supercenters both different and profitable. The lesson Walmart learned is that food sells better than anything else. If the company can sell food in small stores at the same price point as it sells food in its giant stores, it will have a price advantage over its competitors. The downside is that Walmart will probably need to open four or five of the small format stores for every Supercenter or Sam's Club it opens just to keep the volume up and make the small format stores worth the trouble.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Top Tech Stocks To Invest In Right Now

Top Tech Stocks To Invest In Right Now: Beamz Interactive Inc (BZIC)

Beamz Interactive, Inc., incorporated on May 25, 2001, develops an interactive laser controller technology that can be used in a range of music, game, therapy, education, senior care, lighting and consumer applications. The Company's commercial products include Beamz Player and Beamz Pro. By connecting the Beamz Player to a personal computer (PC) and installing the included software, the user can play a range of digitized musical instruments by simply interrupting one or more laser beams with their hands, thereby creating great music in conjunction with a background rhythm track of original, popular, disc jockey (DJ) and children's songs across numerous music genres (including Jazz, Blues, Hip Hop, Rock, Classical, Latin). In each song the user can select up to 12 different instruments, music clips and sound effects that are paired with a background rhythm track, amounting to hundreds of instruments to choose from across all songs in the Beamz music library.

BeamzPlayer software makes it easy to make great sounding music in minutes by following the diagram of the Beamz Player on the screen of the attached computer, which allows the user to identify which laser beam controls different instruments. Beamz songs are set up to be regardless of how they are played and the music samples assigned to a laser beam offer more complexity, often with several notes, chords and/or series of music samples controlled by touching one of the laser beams. The Company has commercialized several products that use the Beamz interactive laser controller technology for music making and music-controller related products. These products are interactive music systems that combine laser controller hardware and various versions of interactive music software, including mapping software applications that enable the Beamz laser controller hardware to b! e used with software applications offered by other companies relating to mixing/DJ, lighting controls and m usic creation/production applications.

The Com! pany's hardware product offering consists of three product lines: the Beamz Player consumer product family, the Beamz DJ and Beamz Pro product family, and the Beamz Education, Special Needs, and Physical Rehabilitation product family (Beamz Products). The Beamz Player and Beamz Pro hardware may also be used as a general laser controller for many other purposes, such as lighting, games, music production, and other applications.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Peter Graham]

    Small cap stocks Beamz Interactive Inc (OTCBB: BZIC), EHouse Global (OTCBB: EHOS) and Winning Brands Corporation (OTCMKTS: WNBD) were all heading in different directions at the end of last week with the first small cap surging 49.94% while the other two sank 31.28% and 25.32%, respectively, on Friday. Moreover, all three small cap stocks are already heading in different directions again this morning. So where should investors and traders place their bets? Here is a closer look at all three small cap stocks:

  • source from Top Stocks Blog:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

5 Best Energy Stocks To Watch For 2014

5 Best Energy Stocks To Watch For 2014: Forbes Energy Services Ltd (FES)

Forbes Energy Services Ltd. (FES Ltd) is an independent oilfield services contractor that provides a range of well site services to oil and natural gas drilling and producing companies to help develop and enhance the production of oil and natural gas. These services include fluid hauling, fluid disposal, well maintenance, completion services, workovers and recompletions, plugging and abandonment, and tubing testing. FES Ltd operates in two segments: well servicing and fluid logistics and other. Its operations are concentrated in the onshore oil and natural gas producing regions of Texas, with additional locations in Mississippi, in Pennsylvania and, prior to the disposition of its Mexican assets in January 2012, which is discussed below, in Mexico. In January 2012, the Company sold its assets located in Mexico, as well as its equity interests in Forbes Energy Services Mexico Servicios de Personal, S. de R.L. de C.V. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By CRWE]

    Forbes Energy Services Ltd. (NASDAQ:FES), a leader in well servicing and fluid logistics management in the oilfield services industry, will participate in the GHS 100 Energy Conference being held June 25-26, 2012, at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco.

  • source from Top Stocks Blog:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lots of choices for best used cars under $10,000

Cash-strapped buyers used to have a couple choices in new cars for $10,000. No longer. Cheap cars are no longer as cheap. So what are the best used-car values for the money? waded into the statistics and looked at models based on crash tests, safety, reliability, practicality and drivability.

Two aspects that apparently weren't considered were looks and excitement, because you'd be hard-pressed to find a duller bunch of cars. One exception: the original Scion xB, which remains as much fun today as did in the day.

From a list of 60 vehicles, here's what came up with, in alphabetical order:

•2009 Ford Focus: Its nimble handling and smooth-revving four-cylinder are still appealing. The 2009 Focus is also offered as both a sedan and coupe.

•2008 Ford Fusion: The first-generation Fusion sedan still hits a sweet spot between ride quality and handling, and family shoppers will appreciate its roomy trunk.

•2008 Ford Taurus: In many ways it's a better car than today's Taurus, thanks to its mammoth backseat and trunk, and spot-on ride/handling balance.

•2007 Honda Civic: It set the standard for commuter compacts in the late 2000s. Nimble handling, impressive cabin materials and good fuel efficiency make this Honda an excellent choice for compact-car shoppers.

•2009 Hyundai Sonata: With a host of cabin and drivetrain updates for 2009, it remains a sound choice for first-time drivers and family-car shoppers alike thanks to its roomy cabin and long list of standard safety features.

•2008 Kia Sportage: A small crossover whose new-car pricing translates to used-car affordability. The Sportage delivers better highway composure than its small size suggests.

•2008 Mazda6: The first-gen Mazda6 remains a compelling choice for family-sedan shoppers who can sacrifice a little cabin room for sportiness. Sharp steering and handling distinguish the car among other sedans.

•2007 Nissan Altima: Lead-footed sedan shoppers have their ! chariot in the Altima. Nissan even matched strong power with unexpected fuel efficiency in this model.

•2008 Scion xB: There's a lot to love about Scion's boxy xB, whose current generation dates all the way back to '08. Safety features included six airbags and an electronic stability system, which makes the xB a natural choice for first-time drivers.

•2007 Toyota Prius: Even by today's standards, Toyota's iconic second-gen Prius still gets excellent mileage (46 mpg) and given its efficiency, its drivability is impressive.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Best High Tech Companies To Buy For 2014

Best High Tech Companies To Buy For 2014: Network Exploration Ltd (NET)

Network Exploration Ltd. is an exploration and development-stage company. The Company's principal business activities include the exploration of minerals in its mineral properties. It focuses on base and precious metal properties in North and South America. Its activities include the process of exploring its mineral properties, reviewing and subsequently acquiring mineral properties and conducting exploration programs to determine whether these properties contain ore reserves that are recoverable. The Picha copper-silver project is located within the Tertiary Volcanic Arc of Southern Peru. The Pistala project is located east of the NW-SE trending Incapquio fault system in the Department of Tacna, Southern Peru. The Company is in the business of mineral exploration in Canada, Chile and Peru. Network Exploration Chile Limitada is its wholly owned subsidiary. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Damian Illia]

    Although the company is overly relying on Afrezza, there is to say that MannKind has inked some deals in the recent past. These were primarily aimed to furthering its pipeline development but with less risk and with less research and development expenditure directly for the firm. In November, 2012 it signed a license agreement with Colby Pharmaceutical Company granting the latter exclusive rights to its early stage cancer program. Currently, the firm is also looking for partners regarding Afrezza. Last year in July, it entered one with Deerfield that ensured financing worth $160 million for MannKind. Also, in October 2012, the company raised $86 million (net) through the issuance of shares and has almost $120 million left under its credit facility. This has removed some concerned about a financial crisis in the company, although it hasn't done so throughly.

  • [By Holly LaFon]

    The MSCI World Index ! (Net) is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that is designed to measure the global equity market performance of developed markets. This benchmark calculates reinvested dividends net of withholding taxes using Luxembourg tax rates. This index is unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly in this index.

  • [By Holly LaFon]

    The MSCI World ex U.S. Small Cap Index (Net) is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure global developed market equity performance, excluding the U.S. The MSCI Small Cap Indices target 40% of the eligible Small Cap universe within each industry group, within each country. MSCI defines the Small Cap universe as all listed securities that have a market capitalization in the range of USD200-1,500 million. This benchmark calculates reinvested dividends net of withholding taxes using Luxembourg tax rates. This index is unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly in this index.

  • source from Top Stocks Blog:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Week Ahead: Stocks or Bonds?

With the outcome of the Sunday's secession referendum in Crimea along with the slowdown in China weighing on investors' minds, risk sentiment is starting to sour again, so MoneyShow's Tom Aspray tries to answer the question of where to stash your cash during these uncertain times.

The global stock markets had a rough week with the Asian markets hit the hardest but the Eurozone and US were also under pressure. Still, the US averages are holding well above the prior swing lows. The Russian market has been one of the worst, down over 27%, so far this year, and if they are hit with sanctions it will get worse.

The combination of the continuing crisis in the Ukraine and more weak data out of China has increased the fear amongst investors. It is hard to tell how far Putin will push the West as his behavior over the past few years seems to be steroid induced.

The ups and downs of investor sentiment have been quite typical since the end of 2013 when the bulls dominated, but in just over two months they have become more nervous. Those who decided to buy if the market declined seem to be having second thoughts.

There has been some new buying in the bond market as their safety has become more attractive. As I discuss in more detail in the technical section, given the current stock market outlook, I am not expecting any more than a 5-7% correction, and it could be less. Therefore, I still think it will provide a good buying opportunity in select stocks and last week's recommendations in Is Your Portfolio Well-Positioned? are generally acting well.


This comparative chart of the German Dax and the S&P 500 Index shows that the recent decline has been much worse in the German market. Since the June 2012 low, it is sill up over 51% vs. 43.5% for the S&P 500. However, the Dax is down 11% since the late-February high while the S&P 500 is down just a bit over 2.5%.

The fact that the Dax has dropped below both the December 2013 and February 2014 lows has weakened its chart. The concern over the euro's strength has jumped in the past week as the ECB already seems to be questioning its recent decision on rates.

So what are the prospects for buying bonds now? The yield of the 10-year T-note shows the spike in yields two weeks ago to 2.82% but they have since dropped down to 2.63%. The broad trading range (lines a and b) that we have been watching for the past two months is still intact.


The key support in terms of yields is in the 2.47% to 2.50% area with the October 2013 low at 2.47%. The completion of the major bottom formation in May of 2013 does still suggest that this range is a pause in the trend towards higher rates.

A strong weekly close in yields above 3.02% would be an upside breakout and signal a move to the 3.4-3.5% area. For those in the short-duration bonds (5.6 years), as represented by the Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index, this would mean about a 5.4% drop in the value of their bonds. Since old bonds would be replaced by newer ones at higher yields, the damage would likely be less.

If the average maturity of your bond holdings is 13.4 years, such an increase in yields could mean over a 13% loss. Of course, the long-term bonds will do even worse as they were down 12.7% last year. Since the start of last summer, I have been recommending that bond holders shorten the maturity of their bond portfolio. On the technical side, the downtrend in the weekly MACD (line c) continues to favor lower yields for now.

Therefore, the investor has to decide between the current 2.3% yield of short-duration bonds that have a potential downside of 5% if rates spike and the stock market rallies. I continue to think the S&P 500 will show double-digits gains some time in 2014. Of course, if you are buying below the 2013 S&P 500 close of 1848, it could be even greater. The risk is that you will bail out if the selling gets too ugly and not be on board for the inevitable rebound.

NEXT PAGE: What to Watch

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Best Cheap Stocks To Own For 2014

Best Cheap Stocks To Own For 2014: USG Corporation(USG)

USG Corporation, through its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and distribution of building materials worldwide. The company offers gypsum and related products, including gypsum wallboard, joint compounds used for finishing wallboard joints, cement boards, glass mat sheathing, gypsum fiber panels, poured gypsum underlayments, ultra light panels, and various construction plaster products. Its gypsum products are used in various building applications to finish the interior walls, ceilings, and floors in residential, commercial, and institutional constructions, and repair and remodel constructions. The company also produces gypsum-based products for agricultural and industrial customers to use in various applications, including soil conditioning, road repair, fireproofing, and ceramics. In addition, it manufactures ceiling grid and acoustical ceiling tile for electrical and mechanical systems, and air distribution and maintenance applications. USG Corporation distribut es its gypsum products through specialty wallboard distributors, building materials dealers, home improvement centers and other retailers, contractors, and a network of distributors. Further, it distributes other manufacturers? gypsum wallboard, joint compound and other gypsum products, as well as drywall metal, insulation, and roofing products and accessories. The company sells its products under SHEETROCK, DUROCK, FIBEROCK, SECUROCK, LEVELROCK, RED TOP, IMPERIAL, DIAMOND, SUPREMO, AURATONE, ACOUSTONE, DONN, DX, FINELINE, CENTRICITEE, CURVATURA, and COMPASSO brands. The company was founded in 1901 and is based in Chicago, Illinois.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Matt Jarzemsky]

    While economists attributed some of the downtick to cold and snowy weather, some are wondering if the Federal Reserve's plan to dial back its stimulus program this year could lead t! o a rise in interest rates, putting the brakes on the housing recovery. The SPDR S&P Homebuilders exchange-traded fund—which tracks a broad basket of housing-related stocks from builders to Sheetrock maker USG Corp.(USG)—is down about 3.6% year-to-date.

  • [By Holly LaFon]

    Pimco managing director Mark Kiesel mentions Whirlpool (WHR), Weyerhaeuser (WY), USG (USG), Toll Brothers (TOLL) and KB Home (KBH) as good plays on housing: 

  • [By Seth Jayson]

    USG (NYSE: USG  ) reported earnings on April 24. Here are the numbers you need to know.

    The 10-second takeaway
    For the quarter ended March 31 (Q1), USG missed estimates on revenues and missed estimates on earnings per share.

  • source from Top Stocks Blog:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Number of U.S. Millionaires Reaches 9.6 Million

While lots of polls show that many middle-class and lower-class Americans believe the recession has not ended financially, the number of millionaires in the U.S. climbed close to record levels in 2013, reaching a count of 9.63 million. The top 1% of Americans based on income have done well, according to most media accounts. There is evidence that the top tier of that group has done even better.

According to a report by Spectrem Group:

The Recession reduced the number of millionaires in the United States to 6.7 million in 2008, though its population has grown ever since. Its previous high was 9.2 million in 2007, before the Recession started.

The figure does not include the value of primary residences.

George H. Walper Jr., president of Spectrem Group, added:

Most of the financial damage done by the Recession has been erased by recent record-high markets in 2013 as well as continued rebound in the real estate markets. In terms of the affluent investor, it is fair to say they have finally recovered from the economic downturn.

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The number of ultra-rich rose as well, according to the study. People with household net worth of $5 million or more reached a record high of 1.24 million last year, up from 1.14 million in 2012. People with $25 million or more in net worth numbered 132,000 in 2013, up by 15,000 the year before.

The trend probably helps the U.S. economy in several ways. The first is the value of high-end real estate. Investor’s Business Daily recently reported on luxury home sales, “Nationwide, sales volume for existing single-family homes priced at the top end is growing the fastest of any price range, according to the National Association of Realtors.”

The benefit has also spread to expensive cars. Mercedes, BMW and Audi all posted record sales in the United States during 2013. Mercedes and BMW each sold more than 300,000 cars and SUVs last year.

The rich did get richer in 2013, and they did so at record levels.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Best China Stocks To Invest In Right Now

Best China Stocks To Invest In Right Now: New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc.(EDU)

New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. provides private educational services primarily in the People?s Republic of China. It offers a range of educational programs, services, and products consisting primarily of English and other foreign language training; test preparation courses for admissions and assessment tests; primary and secondary school education; development and distribution of educational content; software and other technology; and online education. The company?s language training courses primarily consist of various types of English language training courses, and other foreign languages, including German, Japanese, French, Korean, and Spanish. It offers test preparation courses for language and entrance exams used by educational institutions in the United States, the People?s Republic of China, and commonwealth countries. The company also operates primary and secondary schools in Yangzhou. In addition, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. deve lops and edits content for educational materials for language training and test preparation, such as books, software, CD-ROMs, magazines, and other periodicals. It distributes these materials through various distribution channels consisting of own classrooms and bookstores, as well as third-party distributors. Further, the company offers various online education programs on its Web site, Additionally, it provides consulting services to help students through the application and admission process for overseas educational institutions, as well as post-secondary educational programs to help students seek career opportunities; and operates two pre-schools. The company offers educational services under the ?New Oriental? brand name. As of May 31, 2010, it offered education programs, services, and products through a network of 48 s! chools, 319 learning centers, and 25 bookstores. The company was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Beijing, the People?s Republic of China.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Mark Skousen]

    Millions of Chinese are learning English, the international language of commerce, and preparing for exams. Those are the two principal occupations of New Oriental Education & Technology Group (EDU).

  • [By Belinda Cao]

    New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. (EDU), China's largest private educational company, fell 11 percent last week to a one-month low of $16.07. Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Ella Ji said April 2 that students may avoid large gatherings because of the flu, impacting New Oriental.

  • [By Seth Jayson]

    New Oriental Education & Technology Group (NYSE: EDU  ) reported earnings on April 24. Here are the numbers you need to know.

    The 10-second takeaway
    For the quarter ended Feb. 28 (Q3), New Oriental Education & Technology Group met expectations on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

  • source from Top Stocks Blog:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Can eBay Climb Higher?

With shares of eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) trading around $58, is EBAY an OUTPERFORM, WAIT AND SEE, or STAY AWAY? Let's analyze the stock with the relevant sections of our CHEAT SHEET investing framework:

T = Trends for a Stock’s Movement

Ebay provides online platforms, tools, and services to help individuals and merchants with online and mobile commerce in the U.S. and around the world. Its marketplaces segment operates e-commerce platform and vertical shopping sites. The company operates through three segments: Marketplaces, Payments, and GSI. Ultimately, through its tools and platforms, eBay assists individuals and merchants around the globe engage in online and mobile commerce.

EBay on Monday rejected activist investor Carl Icahn’s two nominees to its board, saying both were unqualified, and urged shareholders to vote against them at its next annual meeting. Icahn, who owns just over 2 percent of the e-commerce company, has been pressuring eBay for weeks to spin off its PayPal payments business. He has also repeatedly accused eBay of poor corporate governance. The billionaire nominated Icahn Enterprises LP employees Daniel Ninivaggi and Jonathan Christodoro, both of whom Icahn regularly nominates to boards. The chair of eBay’s corporate governance and nominating committee, Richard Schlosberg III, said the board considered both but rejected them because “neither nominee has relevant experience or expertise.”

EBay said since each Icahn nominee currently sits on four public company boards, they are not in compliance with eBay’s guidelines on “overboarding.” EBay founder and chair Pierre Omidyar in a statement urged shareholders to support the company’s slate, which includes chief executive John Donahoe. The company did not in its preliminary proxy statement set the date for its next annual shareholders meeting, which is expected to take place in the spring.

T = Technicals on the Stock Chart Are Strong

Ebay stock has seen positive progress in recent years. However, the stock is currently pulling back and may need time to stabilize. Analyzing the price trend and its strength can be done using key simple moving averages. What are the key moving averages? The 50-day (pink), 100-day (blue), and 200-day (yellow) simple moving averages. As seen in the daily price chart below, Ebay is trading above its rising key averages which signal neutral to bullish price action in the near-term.


(Source: Thinkorswim)

Taking a look at the implied volatility (red) and implied volatility skew levels of Ebay options may help determine if investors are bullish, neutral, or bearish.

Implied Volatility (IV)

30-Day IV Percentile

90-Day IV Percentile

Ebay options




What does this mean? This means that investors or traders are buying a very significant amount of call and put options contracts, as compared to the last 30 and 90 trading days.

Put IV Skew

Call IV Skew

April Options



May Options



As of today, there is an average demand from call buyers or sellers and low demand by put buyers or high demand by put sellers, all neutral to bullish over the next two months. To summarize, investors are buying a very significant amount of call and put option contracts and are leaning neutral to bullish over the next two months.

On the next page, let’s take a look at the earnings and revenue growth rates and the conclusion.

E = Earnings Are Increasing Quarter-Over-Quarter

Rising stock prices are often strongly correlated with rising earnings and revenue growth rates. Also, the last four quarterly earnings announcement reactions help gauge investor sentiment on Ebay’s stock. What do the last four quarterly earnings and revenue growth (Y-O-Y) figures for Ebay look like and more importantly, how did the markets like these numbers?

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2013 Q4

2013 Q3

2013 Q2

2013 Q1

Earnings Growth (Y-O-Y)





Revenue Growth (Y-O-Y)





Earnings Reaction





Ebay has seen increasing earnings and revenue figures over the last four quarters. From these numbers, the markets have been pleased with Ebay’s recent earnings announcements.

P = Excellent Relative Performance Versus Peers and Sector

How has Ebay stock done relative to its peers, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Overstock (NASDAQ:OSTK), Mercadolibre (NASDAQ:MELI), and sector?






Year-to-Date Return






Ebay has been a relative performance leader, year-to-date.


Ebay is an established company that has made a name for itself pioneering internet commerce. The company on Monday rejected activist investor Carl Icahn’s two nominees to its board. The stock has moved higher in recent years, but is currently pulling back. Over the last four quarters, earnings and revenues have been rising, which has left investors pleased. Relative to its peers and sector, eBay has been a relative year-to-date performance leader. Look for Ebay to OUTPERFORM.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stocks to Watch: American Eagle, Boyd Gaming, Dick's Sporting Goods

Among the companies with shares expected to actively trade in Tuesday’s session are American Eagle Outfitters Inc.(AEO), Boyd Gaming Corp.(BYD) and Dick's Sporting Goods Inc.(DKS)

American Eagle Outfitters said its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings dropped 89% as the teen retailer resorted to discounting to drive sales, hurting its margins. “The company’s results in 2013 were highly disappointing,” interim Chief Executive Jay Schottenstein said. “While tough macro conditions have persisted in our retail sector, our merchandise and overall customer experience fell short of expectations.” Shares dropped 6.4% to $13.30 premarket

Activist investor Elliott Associates LP disclosed a nearly 5% stake in Boyd Gaming in a regulatory filing, helping send the casino operator’s shares 14% higher to $13.56 in premarket trading.

Bon-Ton Stores Inc.(BONT) said Chief Executive and President Brendan L. Hoffman won’t renew his deal to keep leading the retailer when his contract expires in February 2015. Mr. Hoffman, who took over as CEO in February 2012 when he was 43 years old, will also resign his role as a director on the company’s board. He cited personal reasons for his decision. Shares declined 8% to $10 premarket.

Dick’s Sporting Goods said its fiscal fourth-quarter profit rose 6.9%, driven by a jump in sales, despite one less week in the period. The results topped expectations, but Dick’s earnings outlook for the current quarter came in below the consensus view. Shares edged up 1.2% to $55 premarket.

Fuel Tech Inc.(FTEK) said its revenue fell 9% in the fourth quarter, dragged down by declines in its air pollution control segment. Revenue and earnings fell short of market expectations. Shares dropped 18% to $5.65 premarket.

FuelCell Energy Inc.(FCEL) said its fiscal first-quarter loss narrowed as strong gains in product sales drove the power-equipment maker’s overall revenue higher. Shares surged 18% to $4.64 premarket.

La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co.(LJPC) touted positive Phase 2 trial results for a chronic liver-disease treatment, saying the results showed “significant improvement in kidney function.” Shares soared 78% to $19.45 premarket.

Myriad Genetics Inc.(MYGN) slid 9.9% to $34 premarket after saying that a Utah court denied its motion for a preliminary injunction against Ambry Genetics’ breast cancer tests. Several companies began selling BRCA genetic tests after the Supreme Court invalidated some of Myriad’s patents last summer. Myriad alleges that Ambry’s testing services infringe various other patent claims.

PowerSecure International Inc.(POWR) said its revenue soared 57% in the fourth quarter, driven by strong gains in its energy efficiency and utility infrastructure businesses. Shares climbed 12% to $25.80 in light premarket trading.

Urban Outfitters Inc.(URBN) said its fiscal fourth-quarter profit improved 7.4% as the clothing retailer posted a rise in sales, though the company’s namesake brand continued to struggle causing the retailer to issue a light warning about the current quarter’s performance. Shares dropped 4% to $36 premarket.

Casey's General Stores Inc.(CASY) said its fiscal third-quarter earnings fell 5.1% as the convenience-store operator reported higher costs, which offset an increase in revenue.

Helen of Troy Ltd.(HELE) said it expects to buy back about $246 million of its shares through a Dutch auction tender offer that allowed the personal-care company to repurchase up to $300 million in stock. The company, whose products include OXO kitchen tools and Brut After Shave, said it expects to acquire about 3.7 million shares at $66.50 a share, the high end of its offering range.

Jana Partners LLC on Monday said it is pleased with shareholder-friendly steps taken by Outerwall Inc.(OUTR) as the activist investor disclosed it has pared its stake in the operator of Redbox video-rental kiosks.

Post Holdings Inc.(POST) lowered its fiscal-year adjusted profit view, as the company flagged cereal-demand weakness but also said results would include contributions from some recent acquisitions.

Quest Diagnostics Inc.(DGX) agreed to buy Summit Health to expand its prevention and wellness business, following a string of recent acquisitions. Michigan-based Summit Health provides on-site prevention and wellness programs for employers, health plans, retail clinics and other organizations.

United Natural Foods Inc.'s(UNFI) fiscal second-quarter profit grew 24% as the specialty-food distributor reported strong sales growth as consumers continue to purchase more natural and organic foods.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Three Jumping Small Cap Biotech or Tech Stocks: ANSU, BMSN & THNS

Last Friday, small cap biotech or tech stocks Amanasu Techno Holdings Corp (OTCMKTS: ANSU), Bio Matrix Scientific Group Inc (OTCMKTS: BMSN) and Thinspace Technology Inc (OTCBB: THNS) surged 44.74%, 42.31% and 14%, respectively, with only one of these small caps appearing to be the subject of some sort of small paid promotions or investor relations campaign. Given the lack of a big pump from promoters or IR people, will these three small caps keep surging or will the tide go out again this week? Here is a quick reality check to help you decide on a trading or investing strategy:

Amanasu Techno Holdings Corp (OTCMKTS: ANSU) Has Been Quiet When It Comes to News

Small cap Amanasu Techno Holdings Corp intends to raise capital in order to manufacture and market two technologies which the Company believes have great market potential. The first technology is a fast microbe detection system for processed and unprocessed foods, called Biomonitec Glaze by NMG Inc, a Japanese corporation while the second technology is an automated personal waste collection and cleaning machine, Haruka, developed by Nanomax Corporation in Japan. On Friday, Amanasu Techno Holdings Corp surged 44.74% to $0.157 for a market cap of $7.36 million plus ANSU is up 2,150% since last June and up 1,212.5% in intermittemt trading since March 2012 according to Google Finance.


What's the Catch With Amanasu Techno Holdings Corp? According to various disclosures, no transactions have occurred to mention Amanasu Techno Holdings Corp in various investment newsletters. Moreover, there is no news beyond filings on Yahoo! Finance's newswires for Amanasu Techno Holdings Corp. The last Form 10-Q noted how Amanasu Techno Holdings Corp decided to discontinue its business relations with Evader and abandon an electric scooter project, but the company still holds the related patents and plans to develop two other technologies. Otherwise, Amanasu Techno Holdings Corp will also be concentrating its efforts on capital raising efforts to enter into the NASDAQ Global Market with a target to raise $30,000,000 worth of capital. However:

As stated above, the Company can not predict whether or not it will be successful in its capital raising efforts and, thus, be able to satisfy its cash requirements for the next 12 months. If the Company is unsuccessful in raising at least $165,000, it may not be able to complete its plan of expanding operations as discussed above.

The company is expecting to gain the capital from issuing and selling shares of the Company.

A quick look at Amanasu Techno Holdings Corp reveals no revenues; net losses of $5k (most recent reported quarter), $18k and $3k and net income of $12k for the past four reported quarters; and $6k in cash to cover $361k in current liabilities at the end of September – meaning the company is a long way off from its capital raising goals.

Bio Matrix Scientific Group Inc (OTCMKTS: BMSN) Plans a Special Dividend

Small cap Bio Matrix Scientific Group is a biotechnology company focused on identifying undervalued regenerative medicine applications in the stem cell space and rapidly advancing these technologies through pre-clinical and Phase I/ II clinical trials. On Friday, Bio Matrix Scientific Group surged 42.31% to $0.0074 for a market cap of $21.84 million plus BMSN is down 32.11% over the past year and down 95.9% over the past five years according to Google Finance.


What's the Catch With Bio Matrix Scientific Group Inc? According to various disclosures, no transactions have occurred to mention the Bio Matrix Scientific Group in various investment newsletters. Last Thursday, Bio-Matrix Scientific Group announced that March 18, 2014 will be the date for determining shareholder eligible to receive a special dividend consisting of a pro rata share of 20,000,000 Regen BioPharma common shares and its anticipated that shareholders of record will receive one share of Regen Biopharma, Inc. for every 147 shares of BMSN (Bio-Matrix Scientific Group will still be a majority owner of Regen BioPharma). Otherwise, it should be noted that last September, Bio Matrix Scientific Group filed a Form 8-K to give notice that "certain items included within the Company's Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows for the year ended September 30, 2012 and for the period from inception to September 30 2012 constituted noncash activities which do not affect Net Income and these items have been eliminated from the Company's Statements of Cash Flows." A Form 8-K/A was then filed on February 10th with the statements corrected. A look at Bio Matrix Scientific Group's financials as posted on Yahoo! Finance reveals no revenues; net losses of $914k (most recent reported quarter), $179k, $279k and $941k for the past four reported quarters; and had $269k in cash to cover $1,400k in current liabilities at the end of last December. So maybe investors should wait for more news about the company's Phase I/ II clinical trials.

Thinspace Technology Inc (OTCBB: THNS) Recently Completed a Merger With a Cloud Computing Company

Small cap Thinspace Technology is a global provider of reliable, scalable and affordable application delivery, virtualization, and cloud client technology to public and private sector companies and organizations of all sizes. On Friday, Thinspace Technology rose 14% to $0.570 for a market cap of $49.91 million plus THNS is down 63% since the start of the year and down 82.4% over the past year according to Google Finance.


What's the Catch With Thinspace Technology? According to various disclosures, a transaction or transactions of $10k has or will occur to mention Thinspace Technology in various investment newsletters. Last week was a busy week for Thinspace Technology's press release writers as the company issued four press releases. Last Friday, Thinspace Technology announced that it has brought on board a prominent technology and virtualization expert, Claudio Rodrigues, as its Chief Technical Architect while on Thursday, the company said it was "excited" to announce that it has signed a 5-year cooperation agreement with Hochschule Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences in Germany to establish and operate the THNS's worldwide testing and certification center for its current and future Panovirtualization products catered to enterprise customers. On Wednesday, Thinspace Technology announced that Managed IT Services Provider Fluid Networks had chosen to partner with the company and deploy its Propalms OneGate and Propalms TSE for secure remote access over industry giant while on Tuesday, the company said it was "excited" to announce its competitive post-merger product portfolio offering to enterprise customers of all sizes. Otherwise, it should be noted that in late February, the Vanity Events Holdings and Propalms Ltd merged entity (the merger was announced in early January) announced its name change to Thinspace Technology. For what they are worth given the merger, the predecessor entity had no revenues; a net loss of $1,804k (most recent reported quarter), net income of $6,356k and net losses of $2,626k and $2,176k for the past four quarters; and had $27k in cash to cover $11,363k in current liabilities at the end of last September. So perhaps investors should wait for a couple of more quarters worth of financials before jumping in.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Drowning in student debt? Maybe you can refinance

Millions of Americans could put more money in their pockets each month by refinancing their student loans. It's always been possible to refinance private student loans, but few financial institutions offered this service.

In January, RBS Citizens Financial Group, which operates Citizens and Charter One banks, introduced a new Education Refinance Loan, with fixed rates as low as 4.75% APR and variable rates starting at 2.8% APR. There are no application, origination or disbursement fees and you don't have to be a bank customer to apply for this refinance.

"These are very aggressively priced and typically a much better rate than a loan you can take out when you're in school," said Brendan Coughlin, head of education and auto finance at RBS Citizens Financial. "For a vast number of students who have private student loan debt, this will dramatically improve their payments and the interest they pay over the life of their loans."

Coughlin said the company sees this as a very big business opportunity and a way to build lifelong relationships with students and their families.

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Citizens and Charter One will only refinance private loans. SoFi, a student loan company based in San Francisco, will also refinance government loans. SoFi has refinanced $400 million in student loans since 2012.

"And that's just the tip of the iceberg," said SoFi's CEO, Mike Cagney. "There are hundreds of billions of student loans out there that have a great potential to be refinanced and we hope to get the word out."

Cagney told me the average customer saves between $5,000 and $9,000 over the life of the loan.

Gil Eyal is glad he heard about SoFi. After getting his MBA from Northwestern University, Eyal moved to Hoboken, N.J., and worked on a social media start-up. He refinanced $100,000 in federal loans with SoFi — from 8.5% to 6% — and cut his month! ly payment by $500.

"We were barely breaking even," Eyal said. "Now, we can save some money every month, which definitely gives us breathing room and the ability to have the paycheck go a little further."

Are you a candidate?

Refinancing isn't for everyone. Basically, you need to be in better financial shape than you were when you took out the loans.

"You have to be employed and you're in the best position if your credit score is good, particularly if it has improved since those loans were taken out," said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst with

One of the most important things is to make sure that you're actually getting a lower interest rate.

"Your interest rate should go down, not just your monthly payment," said Rohit Chopra, student loan ombudsman and assistant director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "You might be able to get a lower payment simply by extending the term of your existing loan, but the interest rate could be higher which will cost you more in the long run. The way to save on interest is to make sure you get a lower APR."

Something else to consider: When you refinance a federal loan into a private student loan, you may lose some valuable benefits — such as public service loan forgiveness or the option to use income-based repayment if you run into trouble.

"Honest lenders will inform you about the benefits you might be giving up, but you also have to look out for yourself, too." Chopra said.

Know the terms

It's also important to understand the difference between consolidation and refinancing. Consolidation means taking a group of loans and rolling them into a single loan to make one payment each month. That's convenient, but you won't always get a lower interest rate.

"For some borrowers, those capable of accelerating payment on some of their loans, it may be better not to consolidate," said Mark Kantrowitz, a nationally recognized expert on student loans and publisher of Edvisors Network! . "Your b! est bet may be to only refinance the loans with the highest interest rates and don't touch the ones with low rates. That way you can pay off the highest interest rate loans quickly and have a lower average interest rate than you would have if you consolidated."

And names can be confusing. For instance, with the Wells Fargo Private Consolidation Loan, you can consolidate several loans or refinance a single loan.

Weisbaum is a CNBC contributor.

© CNBC is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Truth About Hiking Minimum Wage Killing Jobs

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Minimum-wage laws destroy jobs, right? That's what you hear, and that's what you'd expect because demand curves slope down. Put in a wage floor, and businesses will hire less. Makes sense.

Strange thing is, it's not true. Look at sixty four studies of the subject, and all the ones with high statistical significance put the employment effect right at zero -- no job loss.

(se is standard error; 1/se is a measure of statistical significance. Employment elasticity is the employment response to minimum wage increases; -.1 means a 10% increase results in 1% less jobs.) Given that demand curves do, indeed, generally slope down, how do you explain this? The most impressive recent work on minimum wages and employment compares adjacent counties across state lines, with the states' different minimum wages and changes to minimum wages. It exploits hundreds of controlled natural experiments across the country, across decades. Almost no previous studies have had that rigor, or those controls, and none have had the sample size. The seminal work using this method was made by Arindrajit Dube. He found little or no employment effect (within the limited range of minimum wages we've seen over the decades) but significant earnings effect. Somewhat unsurprisingly to many, higher minimum wages mean poor people earn more. But the most fascinating findings may be contained in a November 2013 study using the same methodology, by three researchers at the Chicago Fed: Firm Dynamics and the Minimum Wage. Their findings on restaurant employment: When you increase the minimum wage, "Small net employment changes in the restaurant industry may hide a significant amount of firm level churning" "...greater firm exit, a result consistent with many existing models. However, more surprising, we find a simultaneous and roughly offsetting increase in firm entry" "Employment changes arising from entry and exit are an order of magnitude larger than the net employment change among continuing firms." "Inflexible incumbents are replaced by potential entrants who can optimize on input mix" In two words, "Creative Destruction." It's a pretty sensible and satisfying explanation for the befuddling missing employment effect. But it took some serious doing to suss it out. Yes, some firms struggle and even go out of business when you raise the minimum wage. But new firms replace them, and their jobs. The whole economy moves to a higher equilibrium in which workers earn more, and firms that can flourish in that environment, do. And you can be sure that the owners of those new firms are quite aware that...demand curves generally slope downward.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mid-Afternoon Market Update: FuelCell Energy Hangs on to Gains as Canadian Solar Shares Fall on Poor Report

Related BZSUM Market Wrap For March 5: Markets Calm Following Tuesday's Massive Rally Mid-Day Market Update: Smith & Wesson Surges On Upbeat Results; XOMA Shares Drop

Toward the end of trading Wednesday, the Dow traded down 0.25 percent to 16,354.72 while the NASDAQ gained 0.03 percent to 4,353.13. The S&P also fell, dropping 0.09 percent to 1,872.16.

Leading and Lagging Sectors
Wednesday morning, the financial sector proved to be a source of strength for the market. Leading the sector was strength from SouFun Holdings (NYSE: SFUN) and E-House (China) Holdings (NYSE: EJ). In trading on Wednesday, energy shares were relative laggards, down on the day by about 0.67 percent. Among the energy stocks, Endeavour International (NYSE: END)was down more than 22 percent, while TransGlobe Energy (NASDAQ: TGA) tumbled around 6 percent.

Top Headline
Brown-Forman (NYSE: BF-B) reported a 12% gain in its fiscal third-quarter profit and lifted its forecast for the year. Brown-Forman now expects full-year earnings of $2.95 to $3.05 per share, versus its earlier forecast of $2.80 to $3 per share. Brown-Forman's quarterly profit surged to $177 million, or $0.82 per share, versus a year-ago profit of $157 million, or $0.73 per share. Its net sales climbed 5% to $1.08 billion. However, analysts were projecting earnings of $0.75 per share on sales of $1.07 billion.

Equities Trading UP
FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ: FCEL) shot up 11.81 percent to $3.03 after jumping 24.88% on Tuesday.

Shares of Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO) were on the rise as well, gaining 11.33 percent to $24.12, despite little news on the name.

AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) was also up, gaining 19.50 percent to $37.92 after the company reported upbeat Q3 earnings.

Equities Trading DOWN
Shares of XOMA (NASDAQ: XOMA) were down 27.54 percent to $6.84 after the company reported Q4 results and provided anupdate on its gevokizumab development program. Credit Suisse downgraded the stock from Outperform to Neutral.

The Chefs' Warehouse (NASDAQ: CHEF) shares tumbled 3.87 percent to $22.83 after the company reported Q4 results and issued a weak FY14 earnings outlook.

Canadian Solar (NASDAQ: CSIQ) was also falling, dropping 10.64 percent to $39.01 after the company missed on both top and bottom lines, while guiding lower in its fourth quarter report Wednesday morning.

In commodity news, oil traded down 1.98 percent to $101.28, while gold traded up 0.01 percent to $1,338.00.

Silver traded up 0.13 percent Wednesday to $21.20, while copper fell 0.40 percent to $3.20.

European shares were mostly lower today.

The Spanish Ibex Index rose 0.87 percent, while Italy's FTSE MIB Index surged 1.38 percent.

Meanwhile, the German DAX dropped 0.49 percent and the French CAC 40 fell 0.11 percent while U.K. shares declined 0.71 percent.

The MBA reported that its index of mortgage application activity rose 9.40% in the week ended February 28.

Private sector employers added 139,000 jobs in February, according to Automatic Data Processing Inc. However, economists were expecting an addition of 155,000 jobs in the month.

The Markit PMI services index came in at 53.30 for February.

The ISM non-manufacturing index fell to 51.60 in February, versus a prior reading of 54.00. However, economists were expecting a reading of 53.50.

Crude stockpiles climbed 1.4 million barrels for the week ended February 28, the US Energy Information Administration reported. However, analysts were expecting a rise of 1.5 million barrels.

Gasoline supplies slipped 1.6 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles climbed by 1.4 million barrels.

The Federal Open Market Committee will release its latest Beige Book report at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Posted-In: Earnings News Guidance Eurozone Futures Commodities Forex Global Econ #s Economics Intraday Update Markets Movers Tech

(c) 2014 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Facebook up as Stifel hikes price to $82

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Shares of Facebook Inc. rallied Wednesday after Stifel raised its price target for the stock, citing "broad acceptance" of the social network's platform by advertisers.

Facebook (FB)  was up 4% to close at $71.57 after Stifel analyst Jordan Rohan raised his price target to $82 from $72, arguing that the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company "continues to gain share of overall marketing spend."

"Our recent channel checks suggest that marketers view Facebook as a strategic communications platform, capable of establishing and reinforcing relationships with consumers," Rohan told clients in a note.

After proving in 2013 that its ads work, he added, "Facebook now stands to receive a significantly higher proportion of clients' marketing budgets, particularly from sophisticated marketers who have committed resources to track the efficacy of Facebook spend."

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However, Rohan echoed worries about Facebook's $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, which he says makes strategic sense, but "the valuation is still perplexing."

"However, Facebook's core business fundamentals are so strong that investors are likely to give the company leeway to take bigger risks, even at extended valuations," he added.

Other social media stocks posted gains. LinkedIn (LNKD)  was up 2.3% to close at $207.74, while Zynga Inc. (ZNGA)  gained nearly 1% to close at $5.69 and Twitter (TWTR)  was up a fraction to close at $54.38.

Shares of eBay (EBAY)  slipped a fraction to close at $58.86. Investor Carl Icahn again blasted the company's board, saying in an interview with CNBC that he has "never seen worse corporate governance than eBay."

Microsoft (MSFT)  shed 0.8% to close at $38.11, while Groupon Inc. (GRPN)  slipped 1.3% to close at $8.57.

The Nasdaq Composite Index (COMP)  gained 6 points, or 0.1%, to close at 4,358. The Morgan Stanley High Tech 35 Index (MSH)  and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX)  were each up a fraction.

Other stories from MarketWatch:

Why smart cars, Siri make AAA nervous

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

This Company Will Get Rich from UHDTV

After perusing all the displays at the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, tech-sector pundits began touting ultra-high-definition television (UHDTV) as one of the next big "breakout" technologies for 2014.

This wasn't a surprise to you.

Back in August, we said that specialty microchip maker Ambarella Inc. (Nasdaq: AMBA) would be a major beneficiary of the UHDTV surge and predicted the stock could double in just over two years.

It actually took only five months, and we now believe it will double again.

But we also know this isn't the only company benefitting from the powerful shift toward the new UHDTV standard - and so we set out to find the "next Ambarella."

Last week, we found it.

The stock we discovered is about to be ignited by two powerful catalysts - the multi-billion-dollar shift to UHDTV and a shrewd strategic shift that's going to twist open the profit spigot.

It's a stock we believe could easily double from here, making it one of the best tech stocks to buy in 2014.

And today we're going to show you all that you need to know to pocket every penny of those gains...

Tech Stocks to Buy: A Highly Defined Profit Opportunity

The shift from the current HDTV standard to the new UHDTV opportunity is one of the most exciting things to hit television in years.

This technology also is known as "4K" because these new, sharper-definition TV sets display 4,000 horizontal lines of video, making them roughly four times sharper than the images displayed on current HDTVs.

The Consumer Electronics Association - the trade group that runs CES - predicted that just 23,000 UHDTVs would be sold in the U.S. market in 2013. But that figure will soar to 1.43 million sets, or roughly 5% of TVs sold nationally, by the end of 2016 - a 60-fold increase.

NPD DisplaySearch has an even more aggressive outlook and sees nearly a sevenfold increase next year alone. NPD estimates that sales came in at 1.9 million for 2013 and predicts that sales will rise to 12.7 million in 2014.

And by 2017, UHDTVs will account for nearly one-fourth of all televisions of greater than 50 inches sold in the U.S. market, NPD projects.

But there's a problem.

You see, the UHDTV revolution presents us with a classic "chicken-or-the-egg" quandary. Before consumers will buy these new TVs - which are still pretty expensive - there has to be content to display on them.

But before the "content creators" - the studios, the sports broadcasters, and even cool new ventures like online video giant Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) - will create the needed new programming, they'll want to know there's an audience to view it.

This latter obstacle isn't a small one. Filming content in 4K will require broadcasters to make a massive investment in new cameras, recording equipment, displays, and all the support gear and software needed to run it.

Consider the case of Discovery Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA), the world's leading creator of documentary-style content. The company recently said it wants to upgrade to 4K for shows it runs on such networks as the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, and Science.

The Discovery Channel was an early backer of the current HD format, and the company believes its visually rich shows are perfectly suited for the new 4K standard.

However, Discovery officials don't want to take the large and bulky ultra-HD cameras out to remote locales like the Amazon or Alaska's Bering Sea, the setting for its hit commercial-fishing drama Deadliest Catch.

What Discovery and broadcasters really need is some sort of temporary solution that will serve as a "bridge" between their current HD cameras and all that costly new gear they'll have to have to film and broadcast in the 4K format that will come to life on the new UHDTVs.

Given the outlays involved, we knew someone would solve that interim problem.

And Ericsson (Nasdaq ADR: ERIC), the Swedish telecom giant that's engineering a corporate turnaround of its own, was the one to pull it off.

Ericsson's Magic Box

Best Bank Stocks To Invest In 2015

Long known as a maker of networking gear for the mobile-telecommunications industry, Ericsson also focuses on the broadcast and media sectors with an array of video-processing equipment and related products.

And to capitalize on the 4K market, Ericsson recently developed a specialized audio/video platform. It's built on an advanced processing chip that Ericsson designed specially to serve the TV broadcast industry.

The rack-mounted "black-box" device allows production firms to use either standard-definition or HD TV cameras and supercharges those signals into the ultra-sharp UHDTV video format.

Ericsson says it's already proved that this "converter box" is ready for primetime. All last year, in fact, the Stockholm-based company participated in numerous live trials held throughout the world.

These tests included multi-camera productions, proving that its 4K consoles can support the simultaneous audio-and-video streams that are standard fare in the professional broadcast market.

And make no mistake: There's a big, big opportunity here. In the U.S. market alone, TV production equipment is a $35 billion business, says market researcher IBIS World. Any company that can help a broadcaster stretch a dollar by extending the useful life of already purchased cameras, recording gear, and the supporting equipment and software is going to find an enthusiastic customer base.

And this 4K TV opportunity can act as an additional boost for Ericsson's network-infrastructure equipment. Right now, 40% of the world's mobile traffic runs through networks that use Ericsson gear. When you add up all the wired broadband networks in which it's involved, Ericsson says it supports 2.5 billion web users around the world.

If you think about it, there are some very intriguing synergies between these two Ericsson businesses. Because 4K images are so much richer, UHDTV will pressure broadband providers to upgrade their network to handle all that super-sharp-resolution video. So that means the company should see a ramp-up in orders for its networking gear.

Just to be clear here, 4K isn't some Silicon Valley "vaporware" that will never make a market splash.

Indeed, the afore-mentioned Netflix already sees the profit potential behind UHDTV.

Beginning next month, Netflix will broadcast the second season of its award-winning House of Cards original TV series in the new format. In fact, Netflix has already formed an alliance of TV set manufacturers to support its broadcasts. Firms like Korea's LG or Japan's Sony Corp. (NYSE ADR: SNE) are going to install special digital "decoders" that will enable their monitors to display 4K-quality video.

And given Netflix's growing stature, other content creators are going to have to follow suit to keep from being left behind.

All of this adds up into a hefty growth opportunity for Ericsson.

But as we told you at the start, there's a second catalyst for the stock - which we believe can provide some additional oomph.

We're referring to the corporate restructuring the company is already working through.

Ericsson (Nasdaq ADR: ERIC): A Real Rebound

Ericsson's entry into 4K comes after the company has exited two mobile-sector joint ventures (JVs) that went off the tracks.

In the first one, which dates back to 2001, Ericsson joined forces with consumer-electronics powerhouse Sony. With high hopes, each company invested the equivalent of $370 million at today's exchange rates.

Unfortunately, Sony Ericsson was never more than an also-ran. By the time Sony bought the full business in 2011 for roughly $1.5 billion, the duo's phones accounted for just 1.7% of the global handset market - only half the market share the JV had boasted the year before.

In 2009, Ericsson hooked up with STMicroelectronics NV (NYSE ADR: STM) - Europe's No. 1 chipmaker - to produce semiconductors for the wireless market. Launched in 2009, this also was ill-fated.

The two firms focused on low-cost feature phones but the market quickly moved toward the smartphones that can surf the wireless web, capture photos and video, and run hundreds of apps.

Smartphone sales subsequently zoomed: According to market-researcher IDC, smartphones will grow from about 40% of the wireless market at the end of 2012 to more than 60% by the end of next year.

Faced with that dooming market shift, STMicro and Ericsson unwound the joint venture.

The good news is that Ericsson can now focus on the growth markets for 4K video, and those for wireless and wired networks.

Although the company has a current market cap of $38 billion, its stock sells for just $12 a share. That's not just a low price; it's also a cheap price: Ericsson trades at just 14 times forward earnings, even though the firm grew profits in last year's third quarter by 36%.

And it has the fuel to maintain that growth: Ericsson has a portfolio containing an estimated 33,000 high-tech patents and also has $5.2 billion of cash on hand.

Now that Ericsson has cleaned up its balance sheet and dumped its money-losing joint ventures, I think the stock could double from here - and go even higher from there.

Don't forget, this is a stock that was trading at $42 a share as recently as January 2007. And today it's a much-healthier and better-focused company - with UHDTV, the "mobile revolution," and a shrewd corporate overhaul providing a brisk tailwind.

We'll get an even better sense of how well Ericsson is doing when it reports its fourth-quarter and full-year results on Jan. 30.

You can rest assured that I have plugged Ericsson into my own "black box" and will be tracking its progress from here.

And if the company continues to improve as I expect, you will be able to boast about having doubled your money in two "4K" stocks - long before most retail investors even see what's happening here.

But keeping you ahead of the high-tech curve and finding the best tech stocks to buy is Job One at Strategic Tech Investor. It's a job that I enjoy... and also take a lot of pride in.

[Editor's Note: In Tuesday's Strategic Tech Investor, we told you we had a great new profit play for you. And today we believe we kept our promise. But it doesn't stop here. And if you want to see what else I'm working on, check this out.]