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One way to pick stocks is to watch short interest for clues. Paul Hickey, Bespoke Investment Group co-founder, told CNBC the buys he's making based on his short-watching method.
First, the strategist said he's sticking with predictions and picks he'd made on July 22 -- when he called for oil prices to sink. Hickey said a bear market for crude would boost Hasbro and Valero.
The toy maker now "is a little overbought, but we still like it. ... And oil is still coming down," so the refiner "should enjoy even better margins."
Watching short interest, Hickey suggests buying:
The dollar is up; commodities and oil prices are down -- but for how long?
Boris Schlossberg at GFT Forex, Kevin Ferry at Cronus Futures Management and Kevin Kerr at Research Trader Alert gave CNBC their insights into currencies, energy and the markets.
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Morgan Keegan's Brad Stephens isn't waiting for the upcoming wave of retailers' earnings to pick his favorite stocks in the sector, but he cautions investors that they might be overpriced -- for the time being.
"Frankly, when we look at this, there's a couple of companies that can beat expectations, but they're priced as such," he told CNBC. "Our view is, take this run-up for four or five days since last Thursday, let the group sell off, and then buy into that."
So who's he talking about? Not the stores that will be reporting this week.
"It's not going to be pretty," he said. "They gave second-quarter guidance -- that their full-year guidance was predicated on the environment staying the same -- and frankly, since the tax-rebate checks ran out, it's gotten worse. We want to avoid the group a little bit, and buy Ralph Lauren, Warnaco, and Fossil on pullbacks."
Brace yourself: Here come the retailers' earnings. With back-to-school sales reportedly lackluster this year, what looks good to the people who look at retail stocks?
Patricia Edwards is managing director at Wentworth, Hauser & Violich.
"I think, for the most part, managements have been pretty smart," she told CNBC. "What we're going to see, though, is who's going to separate the men from the children as far as the retailers are concerned."
So which stocks does she recommend?
"We believe that WalMart still is in the midst of their turnaround," she said. "People will be trading down there, and we think that's a good holding for the long term."
But size and price are not her only parameters.
"On the other end, we like Nordstrom," she said. "We think they are some of the best retailers out there; they've got some of the best systems, and when the upper-end consumer comes back -- and they will come back first -- they should benefit the most."
Is King Dollar undead? The strength of the U.S. dollar might only be sustained until the end of this week, says Jim Vrondas, manager of corporate business at OzForex.
Vrondas tells CNBC what is affecting the trading action in the currencies / foreign exchange markets -- and where he thinks the greenback is headed.
Christopher Zook is very suspicious of this summer's stock-market rally. The chairman and chief investment officer of CAZ Investments thinks it's time to get back into energy stocks, which have been taking a beating recently.
"I do not think that the bottom has been reached," Zook told CNBC. "We may have put in a bottom, but I definitely think this rally's going to falter as we get into the third-quarter earnings and the election."
His shopping list is heavy on oil-service companies.
"We like the integrateds, we like Chevron; we like the oil-service names, we like Tidewater, we like Transocean, we like Nabors, we think those have tremendous upside," he said.
Where are the market leaders now? Eugene Peroni of Advisors Asset Management and Peter Andersen of Congress Asset Management gave CNBC their insights -- and a few favorite stocks.
Peroni sees "no fresh new leadership" in terms of sectors.
"Very near-term, health care might be a little bit overbought, but on weakness it still represents a good longer-term buy," he said. He cautions that "we're not out of the bear market just yet," calling for one more low in financials -- then smooth sailing after that, for the remainder of the year.
Andersen said his firm is playing it safe and remains "somewhat defensive."
Andersen believes there is still "some wind left in the sails" of consumer staples.
Kraft Foods and Philip Morris International (spun off from Altra earlier this year) "still have a lot of good features that still have some staying power," he declared. Another food stock he favors as an inflation play: Ralcorp Holdings , which provides lower-priced store brands as alternatives to national "name brands."
Peroni likes infrastructure plays, particularly water stocks and defense contractors.
Disclosure information was not avaliable for Peroni, Andersen or for their companies.
From Russia, with..?
Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup, and John Connor, portfolio manager of the Third Millennium Russia Fund, discuss the Russian Republic, its armed conflict with Georgia -- and whether your investments are safe in Vladimir Putin's nation.
To hear Nicholas Kaiser tell it, growth is the secret ingredient in a successful portfolio.
His four-star Sextant Growth Fund is up an average of 11.42 percent per year over the last five years.
His first growth pick is Noble Corporation.
"So far, this stock has traded with oil, rather than with the earnings, so we have an opportunity to buy into the stock today," Kaiser told CNBC. "This is a company with 62 offshore rigs, building three more of these -- they're very expensive, [but] very profitable right now."
Despite the possibility of a long-term consumer slowdown, Kaiser also likes Hewlett Packard.
"The company, under Mark Hurd, has really done a turnaround," he said. "Thirty percent of its top directors and managers have been replaced, and earnings growth is very solid...so we're seeing that the big issue is their new diversification into services, and the purchase of EDS."
Disclosure information for Nicholas Kaiser was not immediately available.
Some people pick stocks on the news. Some people pick stocks on hunches. MKM Partners' chief market technician Katie Stockton relies on the charts. They can point an investor toward some counter-intuitive moves. For example, her first pick mixes real estate with technology.
The pick is Digital Realty.
"Technology has proven to have very strong positive relative strength," she said. "We've also seen signs of life in the REIT sector, so, to combine those two sectors, the potential there, we look at Digital Realty."
Runner-up on her list is Procter & Gamble.