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2 Turnaround Stocks to Buy Now, If . . .

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Just as investors often mistake value traps for value plays, we throw the word turnaround around a bit too freely.

Google "turnaround" and it spits out the following primary definition:

An abrupt or unexpected change, esp. one that results in a more favorable situation.

When I pick that apart, it leads me to, as I have in recent articles, classify Nokia (NOK) as a turnaround play, but not Research in Motion (RIMM).

Of course, it's incredibly subjective, but I look at Nokia, at least relative to RIM, as a company that has made "abrupt or unexpected change."

Nokia quickly reorganized management, ditched an operating platform and found a major partner. Considering that RIM did none of the above, I think it's sane and logical to categorize Nokia's moves as not only abrupt and unexpected, but positive. Whether they'll yield "favorable" results remains to be seen, but, Nokia has embarked on a turnaround; any wholesale improvement in RIM's situation would be better defined as a "shocking development."

With that as a backdrop, I look at Yahoo! (YHOO) and think "turnaround play."

Jim Cramer threw his weight behind the company yesterday in a video for TheStreet. Noting that the stock could be preparing to break out of its $15 range, Cramer championed Ross Levinsohn as the right man for Yahoo!'s CEO job. I agree. Thus far, he has done many of the right things, rather aggressively, in a short period of time.

A story in the Los Angeles Times laid things quite clearly and succinctly:

Levinsohn's two immediate predecessors - Carol Bartz . . . and [Scott] Thompson . . . were consistent with co-founder founder Jerry Yang's vision of Yahoo as a tech giant.
Levinsohn sees Yahoo differently. He touts the company as a digital media colossus -- in his words, an "untapped jewel" -- with some 700 million users around the world. In presentations to advertisers, he trumpets the company's dominance in 11 media categories, including finance, news, sports and entertainment.

Bingo.

I could never figure it out -- I use Google (GOOG) for two primary purposes: Search and email. Relative to Yahoo!, Google clearly dominates search. And, let's face it, while plenty of people use Gmail as their main email account (I do), Yahoo! Mail amounts to nothing more than a junk mail account. In fact, I have three Yahoo! Mail accounts expressly set aside for that purpose.

As Levinsohn points out, Yahoo! dominates in several media areas. It serves as my go-to site for practically all news and information. Yahoo! committed one of the Internet's biggest blunders over the last several CEOs: It never hyper-focused on media and harnessed its massive base of users into something bigger.

Stock quotes in this article: YHOO, BBY, GOOG, NOK 

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