Muddled by inconsistent earnings and stock performances, one sector appears tougher and tougher to predict, CNBC's Jim Cramer says.» Read More
The options market believes something is afoot at Dryships, according to one market observer.
"Keep an eye on Dry Ships for a big move there," she said Thursday on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
"What's interesting is that dry-bulk shipping is an interesting sector play because it sort of represents the confluence of the commodities boom and the credit crunch. It's like right there at the vortex, so something is going to happen in this sector. It's really very interesting. These dry-bulk shipping companies, their share prices have gone way, way up, because of shipping rates. They've been very high, and, of course, they've been able to charge these rates because there's been a limited supply of container ships, and continued high demand for commodities.
The market's moving indecisively. Economic data can be interpreted on both sides of the equation. Analysts can be found to argue that the recession is over, that it's nearly over, that it's just beginning, or that it never happened at all.
Nowhere are the signs more confusing than in the retail sector, but two analysts, Stacey Widlitz of Pali Research and Piper Jaffray's Jeff Klinefelter, have come up with a total of four "must-have" retail stocks.
"Two of the players that have been able to weather the storm are Tiffany and Coach," Widlitz told CNBC. "These are both top luxury brands, and when everybody else in the space is closing down stores and talking about spending less, these are two companies with healthy store growth."
She notes that conventional wisdom has dictated that recessions hurt luxury stores less, but it didn't work this time -- and that fact can benefit the shrewd investor, as it's already priced into the stock.
Kleinfelter agrees about focusing on healthy growth, but he likes two stores on a slightly different economic level: Kohl's and Aeropostale.
"Kohl's we like, coming out of this cycle," he said. "They're a growth retailer, opening new stores in the southern part of the country, and they sell value-priced, in many cases recognizable, brands, and that's very important to the consumer, who needs to stretch their budget at this point."
The time for potential investors to fulfill that potential is now, according to Phil Dow. The director of equity strategy for RBC Wealth Management told CNBC:
"There's a ton of cash on the sidelines -- $3.5 trillion -- the hedge community, by and large, is on the short side of neutral, you've got fair valuations, and we're looking at a situation now where you could see the dollar stabilize; that could cause international investors to come into our market. I think it's a great time to take risk..."
He admits the economy is not entirely out of the woods, but he says it's all part of the timetable of effective investing.
"The troubles aren't over," he said. "You don't buy stocks when the clouds part and the bluebirds come out. ...Our guess is, the middle of next year...things look better."
Dow finds quality investments in technology and natural gas.
The tech stocks he likes are Cisco and Amdocs Limited; in natural gas, he picks ConocoPhillips and Patterson-UTI Energy.
After some significant gains in April, where does the market go next, and how should an investor position a portfolio to take advantage of it? Sean Clark has some answers.
"I think right now, the market's in a position where it's short-term over-bought," the chief investment officer of Clark Capital Management told CNBC. "Investor sentiment is no longer pessimistic, but...it's [not] extremely optimistic either."
Clark expects the S&P 500 to vacillate around the 1400-point mark for a while. He says that his firm has increased its appetite for risk accordingly, and he said three things convince him that a major upward move is coming:
1. Market gains that have followed Federal Reserve rate cuts at 3-, 6-, and 12-month intervals.
2. A presidential election year: 13 of the last 14 presidential election years, the market has traded higher in the last seven months of the year by an average of 7 percent.
3. After recession-induced lows, the market has traded extremely higher.
Clark says his firm invests heavily in ETFs, but when it comes to specific tech stocks, he likes Apple, Google, and Research In Motion.
The option market is betting that someone is going to buy Anheuser-Busch, according to one observer. The problem is, the option market has been doing that off and on for a while.
"If you look back at the option activity, the rumors regarding a possible buyer for Anheuser-Busch began around January of 2007," said Rebecca Darst of Interactive Brokers on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "And what we have seen is a sort of cyclical behavior among option traders, where they sort of gun for these 10 percent upside calls, volume would rise on these calls, the volatility would spike way up, and then nothing would come of the merger rumors; they'd just sort of dissipate until the next go-around."
This time, she said, traders seem to be focusing on InBev.
"Watching the option activity in Anheuser-Busch is a little bit like talking to someone who's had a few beers... 'You should merge with InBev... no, really, you should merge.. with.. InBev,'" she said. "The same theme that comes up, again and again. While we've seen an unusual level of volume in Anheuser-Busch options repeatedly over the past week and a half, two weeks, yesterday its options prices hit a five-year high. There's one reason for this, and it's speculation over the possible InBev merger, so this is not new."
Dan Manion, senior portfolio manager of the Sentinel Common Stock Fund, isn't afraid of getting burned in energy stocks -- and he's strong on industrials, as well.
"We continue to look for the best combination of strong fundamentals and reasonable valuations," Manion told CNBC. "We continue to see it in the energy sector."
But he admits to becoming more selective in energy shares.
"Crude prices at $125, to us, look susceptible to a bit of a sell-off, short-term," he said, but added, "If you look at the earnings power of some of the integrated major stocks, we actually think they're quite compelling."
"Chevron Texaco is a name we'd be adding to, currently," he said. "I think it has the best production growth profile among the integrateds; if you look at the Unocal acquisition, which was made about three years ago, I think that's going to prove to be a really shrewd deal."
On the industrial front, Manion likes United Technologies, Honeywell , and General Electric.
"The play here continues to be demand for more energy-efficient industrial equipment," he said.
It's not the easiest of times for the consumer, so why do the consumer numbers look so good? More importantly, why should an investor consider consumer discretionary stocks? Citigroup's Kimberly Greenberger has some answers and some recommendations.
"Year-to-date, we've seen some very nice outperformance in the...broad group of softline stocks that I monitor," she told CNBC.
That being the case, Greenberger has become more selective in her investing in consumer names.
Greenberger likes Coach and Ann Taylor.
"Coach saw their business slow down in the fourth quarter last year, and we're about three quarters into the slowdown," she said.
Coach shares have suffered accordingly, and she now believes that they are a bargain.
"If a company can put out really compelling, fabulous merchandise in its stores, it's blowing out the doors at full price," she said. "The consumer is looking for a reason to spend, but they're being much more selective."
Ann Taylor, she notes, is closing underperforming stores and cutting corporate expenses.
Will Muggia likes biotech. Muggia's Touchstone Mid-Cap Growth Fund is up an average of 14.9 percent annually over the last three years -- and even this year, it's up 1.8 percent. So what are the 4-star portfolio manager's picks?
Muggia likes Celgene, "one of the fastest-growing biotechnology companies in the world today. He expects the firm to have 40 percent earnings growth.
He praises Elan Pharmaceuticals for its auto-immune and Alzheimer's medicines. He says the latter illness has barely begun to be addressed medically, with plenty of potential left.
CNBC.com Web Exclusive:
(Not found on TV)
For CNBC.com readers, Muggia also recommends Chesapeake Energy.
Muggia personally owns both Celgene and Elan, and the stocks are the largest holdings in his fund.
David Sowerby is seeing more and more evidence that the market bottomed out two months ago; the latest evidence, he says, was the government's report that April consumer prices went up less than expected.
Sowerby is in a buying mood, but what is he talking about buying...and not buying?
"The one caution still is, I want to see more traction take place in these 'subprime infected' stocks that have not been keeping pace in the rally," he told CNBC.
(See below for Web-Exclusive picks)
Sowerby likes Interactive Data.
"This is the pricing service for pricing things such as mortgage securities," he said. "As we seek more independent pricing in some of this toxic debt...I think you're going to see more need for somebody like Interactive Data, which is generating a tremendous amount of free cash flow yield."
He also likes Deere, with Deere's latest quarterly report sending shares plunging to bargain levels.
His other picks include MasterCard, and Rollins.
CNBC.com Web Exclusive:
(Not on TV!)
Sowerby also likes Cisco and Alberto Culver.
It's being called a major secular trend that will influence the financial markets for most of the next two decades. The estimated 76 million members of the Baby Boom generation will reach the age of 65 by 2029.
It will produce a rapidly-growing market for investments with higher long-term returns, less volatility and the security of dividends as attention turns from earned income to unearned income.
Joe Keating is RBC Bank's CIO of private asset management. He has some recommendations for the Baby Boomers.
So, where do things look rosiest for the graying generation? Keating has identified four sectors where market pressures have opened up great buying opportunities:
(See below for Web Exclusives)
1) International Growth/Dollar Plays:
United Technologies, Rockwell International, Honeywell, Nike
, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive , and VF Corporation
2) Pipeline Companies in Master Limited Partnerships: