This Week's 5 Smartest Stock Moves
If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.
1. Searching for growth in China
Investors frustrated over the growing number of Chinese heartbreakers may want to warm up to Baidu (NAS: BIDU) .
China's leading search engine delivered another blowout quarter.
Revenue soared 78% to $528.4 million, as the average advertiser spent 53% more on generating leads through Baidu than a year ago. If that isn't validation for online advertising in the world's most populous nation, you will never be satisfied.
Earnings grew even faster, soaring 95% to $252.6 million -- or $0.72 a share. Wall Street was targeting a profit of only $0.66 a share on $502.3 million in revenue. Baidu's top-line guidance for the current quarter was even better, blowing past analyst revenue estimates with its forecast of boosting its top line by as much as 80% for the period.
Baidu isn't cheap, but it's clearly worth it. Its strong report sent shares to yet another all-time high this week.
2. Hail Mary
There is no shortage of winners in the end of the NFL lockout. After months of bickering, owners and players have comes to terms in time to play a complete season -- and it's not just the two parties that had a lot riding on a resolution to the impasse.
Think of the sports bars, fantasy football websites, and sporting goods stores that will now be able to cash in as the gridiron action kicks off in the coming weeks.
However, the biggest winner -- hands down -- has to be DirecTV (NAS: DTV) . The country's largest satellite television operator is able to command a stiff premium over smaller rivals and cable providers, largely as the result of its NFL Sunday Ticket package. It's the only provider that has the contractual rights to broadcast every football game. Given the aggressive marketing tactics of entry-level priced U-verse and FiOS, the last thing it needed was the 2011 football season to be cancelled.
3. Wal-Mart's new religion
Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) is ready to give its video-streaming service a little more exposure.
The world's largest retailer is finally integrating Vudu into Walmart.com when an online shopper is checking out DVDs or Blu-rays. Vudu offers digital rentals and purchases that can be immediately streamed through PCs or one of the hundreds of Web-tethered home theater appliances.
The move was inevitable. We knew this would happen when Wal-Mart purchased the fledgling streaming service early last year. One still has to applaud Wal-Mart's timing for the integration. It's beefing up its online content just as couch potatoes are bellyaching over the niche leader's plans to begin charging its DVD renters for streaming.
4. Ronald McDonald isn't clowning around
Happy Meals will never be entirely healthy, but at least McDonald's (NYS: MCD) is now less of an advocacy group target. The burger giant is reformulating its kid meals, shrinking the size of its fry orders by more than half and adding apple slices.
Obviously, it would have been more lucrative for Mickey D's to simply shrink its portions while keeping its prices intact, but now critics can only point to the parents -- as they should have all along -- for the expanding waistlines of their children.
The move will likely put an end to calls for the world's largest restaurant operator to nix Ronald McDonald and Happy Meal toy premiums. It's a good call, given the low caloric value of both the creepy clown and cheap playthings. At least now when environmentalists complain of landfills filling up with plastic packets of rotting uneaten apple slices, advocacy groups can blame the first wave of advocacy groups and leave McDonald's out of it.
5. Can you RadioShack me now? Good!
RadioShack (NYS: RSH) may still be a train wreck as a retailer, but at least it's polishing the track. The small-box retailer of consumer electronics revealed that it has finally struck a deal with Verizon (NYS: VZ) to begin offering Verizon Wireless phones and plans.
RadioShack was largely seen as a loser when the iPhone became available through Verizon this year. It will be shedding T-Mobile to make room for Verizon, but at least RadioShack is now a one-stop shop of the largest wireless carriers.
At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Wal-Mart and RadioShack. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Wal-Mart, McDonald's, and Baidu, as well as creating a diagonal call position on Wal-Mart. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is an optimist at every turn. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
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