Chris Marasco

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  • Apple, and Why Buffett Really Bought Heinz

    By Chris Marasco - March 19, 2013 | Tickers: AAPL, BRK-B, HNZ, JNK

    No doubt you’ve heard of Hedge Fund Titan David Einhorn. He has been plastered all over the news lately. Einhorn was pestering Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to pay out cash to shareholders. The interesting part is that Einhorn wasn’t pushing for a simple dividend increase on common stock.

    Instead, Einhorn wanted Apple to create a special preferred equity instrument whose payouts were tied to Apple’s secure stream of more »

  • How These 4 Stocks Track Oil’s Low

    By Chris Marasco - March 7, 2013 | Tickers: BP, CHK, XOM, HAL, USO

    Oil just hit its lowest point this year.  Closing at $91.02 per barrel, oil prices are still up 17.8% from their 52-week low of $77.28.  However, does the downtick in oil represent a new downtrend?

    Oil, which is traded as an ETF through the United States Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: USO), largely tracks the S&P 500 in general price direction.  Of course both assets rise or fall more »

  • Will Someone Please Clean Up These Dirty Balance Sheets?

    By Chris Marasco - March 4, 2013 | Tickers: APC, CHK, RRC, UNG, USO

    Despite record-setting low interest rates and banks that are flush with capital, energy firms badly need financed.

    High spending, enormous risk appetite, and “perceived corporate governance lapses” have pushed investors to tone down risk-taking at these companies.  Let’s use Chesapeake (NYSE: CHK) as an example.

    Chesapeake’s talent for producing natural gas – it is the second largest producer in the U.S. – led the firm to seek debt.  That more »

  • QE Hammers 5 Businesses

    By Chris Marasco - March 4, 2013 | Tickers: T, BAC, F, BA, VZ

    Did you know that Citigroup has cut its staff by 25% since the since the financial crisis first hit?  For banks, that has become the norm.

    Take Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) for example. In late 2011, Bank of America announced that it would eliminate 30,000 jobs.  By September 30, 2012 Bank of America axed 17,800 employees.  But the headlines continued into September: “Bank of America to Lay more »

  • Apple Fiasco Proves That Fixed-Income Could Blow Up

    By Chris Marasco - February 13, 2013 | Tickers: AMLP, AAPL, JNK | Editor's Choice

    If Wall Street Journal columnist Rolfe Winkler is right, then investors seeking “safety” could be on the verge of losing billions of dollars.

    “Mr. Einhorn’s move might be the clearest signal yet that the bull market in fixed-income and high-yielding securities is well into bubble territory,” writes Winkler.

    To me, the fixed-income marketplace appears to be overheating.  There certainly could be more upside, but I see four distinct areas more »

  • This Stock Will Weather the Storm

    By Chris Marasco - February 13, 2013 | Tickers: FB, GOOG, YHOO

    Turbulent waves call for skilled, resilient captains.  Marissa Mayer is one such captain.

    Since taking the top spot at Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) in July, Mayer has implemented a number of structural changes to Yahoo’s business models and culture. Here are a number of the positives.

    Mayer Makes Ground

    • Mayer pulled a page out of Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) playbook and increased employee perks to foster a better environment.  (Think more »
  • 3 Reasons Why BlackBerry Lost Its Core

    By Chris Marasco - February 11, 2013 | Tickers: AAPL, T, BBRY, NOK, VZ

    A lot of people got rich trading BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) during the past few months.  Since bottoming above $6 in late 2012, the stock has multiplied to just under 18.  But now the price trades near $13.

    <img src="/media/images/user_13210/2-5-13-bbry_large.png" />

    I certainly applaud the savvy traders able to exploit a beaten-down security.  But the excess share price growth is not tied to reality.

    To be fair, BlackBerry does have three major upsides.  First more »

  • The Next Large Gas Play Is in … China?!

    By Chris Marasco - February 6, 2013 | Tickers: BP, CVX, COP, PTR, RDS-A

    Did you know that in Asia, natural gas can sell at multiples of the price in the United States?  It’s true.  And the price differential is one reason that U.S. oil and gas giants are crossing their fingers (lobbying) that the government will permit natural gas exports.

    Interestingly, China has a storehouse of natural gas.  Taken from The Wall Street Journal:

    “According to the U.S. Energy Information more »

  • The Fed Won't Embarrass Big Banks Again

    By Chris Marasco - January 30, 2013 | Tickers: BAC, C, FITB, JPM, NES.DL

    Last year the Fed publicly embarrassed Citigroup (NYSE: C). During the Stress Tests in 2012, Citigroup applied to repurchase $8 billion of its own shares over two years.  But the Fed said no.

    This year is a different story.  Citigroup kept its requests far more modest, as CEO Michael Corbat and Chairman Michael O’Neill “told executives that under no circumstances will Citigroup fail to win approval this time around more »

  • Google Maps Is the Best Map App

    By Chris Marasco - January 25, 2013 | Tickers: AAPL, BBRY, FB, GOOG, GRPN

    The GPS is going out of style.  Mapping apps are among the most widely used apps, because they give users real-time travel information.  Now, map apps have evolved to forecast travel times for driving, public transportation, walking, and cycling. 

    But giving directions is just the tip of the iceberg.  Here is how top tech giants are competing.


    Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) reasserted its dominance as the top map app when more »

  • 4 Trades to Make in 2013

    By Chris Marasco - December 28, 2012 | Tickers: AAPL, BBRY, HPQ, NOK, VZ | Editor's Choice

    Does 2013 hold a major market rally, or a steep market selloff? Whether the markets shoot up or drop down, here are four trades I will be watching for in 2013.

    Go long Apple

    Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) topped $700, then fell back to earth. Right now Apple sits at $512.04. At this price, Apple yields a 2.1% dividend, trades at 11.6 times earnings (ttm) and trades at more »

  • BlackBerry 10 is Doomed

    By Chris Marasco - December 26, 2012 | Tickers: AAPL, BBRY, GOOG, NOK, VZ

    Renowned venture capitalist Mark Suster used to love his BlackBerry -- until Research In Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY) goofed far too many times.  And by then, Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone had come along and made the BlackBerry look like an outdated calculator.

    According to Suster’s blog Both Sides of the Table:

    I upgraded my Blackberry three times. Each time I was sure that THIS was the time they’d fix more »

  • 4 Stocks NOT Correlated to Apple

    By Chris Marasco - December 21, 2012 | Tickers: AAPL, BBRY, FB, NFLX, NOK

    Michael Jordan was the heart of the Chicago Bulls offense.  He led the Bulls to six National Championships.

    Yet even Michael Jordan needed to take a breather during most games.

    That’s why I’m not overly concerned with Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) major sell off.  For many investors, Apple’s torrid growth has left their once-balanced portfolios brimming with gains – and also a large weight towards Apple stock.

    The more »

  • BlackBerry’s New Design Will Save the Stock

    By Chris Marasco - December 18, 2012 | Tickers: AAPL, BBRY, FB, NOK, P

    Thanks to a small team of developers in Sweden, the BlackBerry may not die an immediate death.

    In 2012 Research In Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY) acquired The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), a Swedish-based high-tech design shop.  As a result, RIM is rolling out two new phones in January that CEO Thorsten Heins “promises will make RIM competitive again in the global smartphone market.”

    Let me be clear.  I don’t think that more »

  • Bank Fees Don’t Have to be the New Normal: 4 Ways to Bolster Profits

    By Chris Marasco - December 17, 2012 | Tickers: BAC, GS, JPM, STI, WFC

    Financial debacles have surprised investors since the 1990s.  In the current low-interest rate, high-regulation environment, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) caused the most recent snafu:

    Bank of America retreated last fall from a monthly $5 debit-card charge following a customer revolt and a wave of criticism in Congress.  The reversal, one of the worst fee debacles for a major lender since the 1990s, narrowed the bank’s options for new more »

  • Investors: Is Your Dividend Secure?

    By Chris Marasco - December 12, 2012 | Tickers: KO, GE, INTC, JNJ, DOW

    What’s an investor to do?  Bonds are at ridiculously high prices (and low yields).  MLPs, which are often backed by assets like interstate pipelines, came into vogue and are increasingly backed by assets with fluctuating cash flows. 

    And junk bonds?  Yes, they are still “junk.”  The underlying assets don’t change just because more investors buy them.

    What are other alternatives?  One is to locate companies with steady dividend more »

  • Microsoft: You Must Beat These 3 Risks

    By Chris Marasco - December 12, 2012 | Tickers: IBM, MSFT, NOK, ORCL, VZ

    Where is Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) headed?  In my recent post “Audacious Goals Will Thrust Microsoft Higher,” I uncovered businesses that could point Microsoft towards gains in 2013.  This post, in contrast, covers Microsoft’s risks.

    Below are three competitive risks that Microsoft must address in the coming year.

    1. Potentially Low Windows 8 Market Share

    The success of Microsoft’s new mobile Windows 8 operating system rests on the shaky more »

  • Audacious Goals Will Thrust Microsoft Higher

    By Chris Marasco - December 6, 2012 | Tickers: AAPL, IBM, MSFT, ORCL, VMW

    In its Annual Report, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer outlines a section called “Our Future: Big Opportunity.”

    There’s a remarkable amount of opportunity ahead for Microsoft in both the next year and the next decade.  As we enter this new era, there are several distinct areas of technology that we are focused on driving forward – all of which start to show up in the devices and services launching more »

  • Cyber Monday Sales: Disappointing?

    By Chris Marasco - December 6, 2012 | Tickers: AMZN, BBY, NILE, TGT, WMT

    In a bid to snatch market share away in a slow economy, online retailers are trying a nifty trick. According to The Wall Street Journal:

    Online vendors this year moved some of their discounts and free shipping offers ahead to Thanksgiving on Thursday and Black Friday to compete more aggressively with brick-and-mortar retailers, instead of saving the offers for Cyber Monday.

    The result?  A new Black Friday sales record – over more »

  • Investors: Continue to Search for Income!

    By Chris Marasco - December 4, 2012 | Tickers: BP, CVX, COP, XOM, UNG

    In my last post, “Investors: Search for Income!,” I described a flurry of strong dividend-payers across the healthcare, technology, and financial sectors.  Why is dividend income important now?

    According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, investors are stuffing money into assets that increase their risk profile:

    Investors are desperate to get more income … So desperate, they may be taking on more investment risk than they realize.  Their desperation more »

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