Updated from Dec. 24 at 10:06 a.m. EST
Holiday-shortened trading weeks such as this one are generally thinly traded and tend to be best suited for short-term trades. With a shortened week, volatility generally increases, while overall market volume decreases as people leave work early and try to enjoy the last days of the year.
Currently, the "Christmas Itch" is in full swing. This is the tendency for media pundits to start telling us that this Christmas season will be slower than the rest. Despite all the micro issues within the economy, the "Christmas Itch" seems to happen each and every year, and each year it's always a record-breaking year in terms of sales.
is mostly focused on snapback plays into the new year.
But before I make any recommendations, let's see how
last week's Rocket Stock picks
fared in another rough market.
- Timberland( TBL): Up 9.7% for the week.
- Columbia Sportswear (COLM) - Get Report: Up 5% for the week.
- Nike (NKE) - Get Report: Up 3.5% for the week.
- Best Buy (BBY) - Get Report, a midweek addition, ending the week up 1.7% from Wednesday.
- Genesis Lease( GLS), another midweek addition, ending the week up 1.4% from Wednesday.
- AT&T (T) - Get Report: Up 1.1% for the week.
- Adobe Systems (ADBE) - Get Report: A midweek sell, up as much as 2% and finishing the week up 1%.
- Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report: Ending the week essentially flat.
- DynCorp (DCP) - Get Report: Up as much as 2%, but ending the week down 2.8%.
- Security Capital Assurance (SCA) - Get Report: Up as much as 17.4% on the week, but finished down 4.8%.
- Sirius (SIRI) - Get Report: Down 5% for the week.
- Evergreen Solar( ESLR): Down 6.8% for the week.
No let's look at some of the picks from
First up is
, which has been rumored to be a possible buyout candidate for
for some time now as it provides advertising campaigns and other e-commerce advertising that may fit nicely with an Internet search company.
Late Thursday, U.S. regulators approved the Google-DoubleClick merger, thus making ValueClick among the last such independent companies standing. I suspect that any potential acquirer of ValueClick was waiting for the outcome of the Google-DoubleClick deal before they made an offer.
ValueClick could easily fetch a $4 billion offer from Google, Yahoo! or even
Another momentum name I like this week is
. Up 36% on its IPO debut, NetSuite's majority shareholder, Larry Ellison, said that he will put his shares in a "locked box," a move that implies he believes NetSuite can trade much higher.
NetSuite is involved in the "software on demand" business, which allows customers to buy computing power the same way they pay for other commodities. The freedom to pay for only those services you use makes it a highly economical alternative for businesses that are looking to cut costs.
Longer term, I believe NetSuite is a great company and stock, but right now traders are looking for names to play, and NetSuite fits the bill.
Another stock that appears on this week's list is
, which is a name I have liked for a few years now. After the close on Thursday, Genitope reported
disappointing phase III results
for its MyVax cancer vaccine. While the data were disappointing, this is hardly a death-knell for the company, as it plans to submit its findings to the Food and Drug Administration later this summer. The stock fell some 80% this past week to a new 52-week low, and that, I believe, is an overreaction as management sounded fairly confident on a conference call despite some very hard questions from analysts.
MyVax is an interesting drug, and Genitope needs more time to develop it. I'm not making a long-term call here, but certainly there could be a snapback this week.
Next up is
. This company, which last month changed its name from Vulcan Materials, produces and sells construction materials and related services in the U.S. and Mexico. The stock is down nearly 50 points from a high of $128.
Vulcan's stock was taken down ahead of Hurricane Dean in August in part due to fears of an expected slowdown in its domestic and international business, but no major shutdowns resulted from the storm. In November, Vulcan stock hit a new 52-week low, and soon after the company completed its $4 billion-plus acquisition of Florida Rock Industries.
Vulcan Materials has been beaten down and could soon prove to be a snapback play.
For more detailed analysis and the rest of this week's picks -- including
-- check out the
As always, to find the snapbacks and potential breakouts on a regular basis, check out these Stockpickr portfolios, which I use in my own research each week:
- Today's Hot List: This daily list is a must-view every midday to see what stocks are making the biggest moves and why.
- Always check the Biggest Percentage Losers, a list of stocks that lost big the day before, because they can snap back hard. When you check this list on Stockpickr, you can see which stocks are owned by the quality hedge funds and mutual funds. Pay attention to those. They will be buying at the lower prices, so you should be also.
- Ditto for the 52-week-low list. You must check the above two lists every day if you hope to find volatile stocks.
- Biotech Short Squeezes: Dendreon (DNDN) and others can often be found in this category.
- Stocks Rising on Unusual Volume: These are potential breakout stocks.
- Stockpickr's System Trades of the Day: These are trades triggering that day in various backtested trading systems we've developed.
- Stocks With Unusual Option Activity: Perhaps someone knows something?
- Latest Activist Situations: These are beaten-down stocks that hedge funds are accumulating shares of and demanding change in. Believe me, these hedge funds piggyback each other. And once they start rocking the boat, things happen quickly. This should be on your must-view list.
One final place to frequent is the
section on Stockpickr, where ideas such as those presented in this article are thrown around daily.
At the time of publication, Altucher and/or his fund had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
James Altucher is president of Stockpickr LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com and part of its network of Web properties, and a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs a fund of hedge funds. He is also a weekly columnist for
The Financial Times
and the author of
Trade Like a Hedge Fund
Trade Like Warren Buffett
. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.
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