With daily three-digit swings in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and tech stocks getting clobbered, it's no wonder this market is difficult for so many investors. Add to all of this random Fed talk, and the overflow of information has kept even the most rationally minded investors and traders dazed and confused.
Despite what many people think, it certainly is possible to make money in the market, no matter how the broad indices perform. Last week's Rocket Stocks portfolio returned a solid 5%-plus for the week compared to the Dow, which posted a 1% rise, and the
, which closed up 0.3% higher.
As Jim Cramer often reminds us, "There is always a bull market somewhere," and with the volatility index, or VIX, near 30%, it's easy to forget this and sell everything as fear takes over. However, moves in the VIX greater than 25% have historically proven to offer the best buying opportunities.
It's my hope that the
will offer some good short-term stocks to trade. In general, important near-term catalysts (such as oversold conditions, earnings, rumors, insider buying and other technical factors) are much more important than how the market acts -- and those are the trades that I try to bring you. Before we get to this week's picks, however, let's take a quick look how
, as featured in
last Monday's column
- Local.com (LOCM) : Up as much as 49% and ending the week with a 31.5% gain after the company on Thursday announced five licensing agreements for its search and indexing patents.
- Garmin (GRMN) - Get Report: Up 12.4% for the week.
- American Railcar (ARII) - Get Report: I recommended cashing in a 5%-plus gain in this stock on Wednesday's update. However, the stock surged Friday to end the week up 12.8% after superinvestor Carl Icahn disclosed he had increased his position in the stock.
- Crocs (CROX) - Get Report: I recommended selling this stock for a 3.5% gain in Wednesday's update, but like American Railcar it continued rising, ending the week up 5.9%.
- Genesis Lease( GLS): I recommended selling this stock in my midweek update for a gain of about 3%. That proved a smart move, as this stock ended the week down 4.4%.
- Eaton (ETN) - Get Report: Up as much as 3.6% for the week but ultimately ending down 0.9%.
- EMC (EMC) : Up 2.5% at one point, but ending the week down 1.5%.
- Lam Research (LRCX) - Get Report: Down 2.5%.
- NYSE Euronext (NYX) : Down 3.6% for the week as CEO John Thain is leaving the firm to take up the head position at Merrill Lynch( MER).
- Boston Scientific (BSX) - Get Report: Up as much as 4% but ended the week down 4.4%.
- Cleveland-Cliffs (CLF) - Get Report, a midweek addition, ended the week roughly flat from when I featured it on Wednesday.
- Motorola( MOT), another midweek addition, also ended generally flat from Wednesday.
Now on to this week's picks.
First up is
Dick's Sporting Goods
, a volatile stock that is slated to report third-quarter earnings on Tuesday. Dick's is not your typical retailer, as it caterers to a wide group of consumers, specializing in everything from sports gear to mountain apparel. This broad-based product diversification has allowed Dick's to successfully weather small downturns in consumer spending.
With roughly 21 million shares short, a gigantic short position of 20%, Dick's is posed to move higher as an earnings play. For starters, estimates in the broader retail sector are so low that even the slight bits of good news could propel this stock higher. Dick's has consistently beaten earnings and offered good guidance even while the overall retail sector has been bad. I suspect the same could happen next week.
With $3.5 billion in sales and profit and operation margins slightly above industry standards, it is no wonder that super hedge fund
has a nice size position in Dick's.
Remember, Dick's is not your typical retailer, and thus it should not be treated like one!
Next up is
, which is set to report quarterly earnings on Monday after the market close. Trading better then the Nasdaq, H-P is a play off overall global PC demand.
Recent earnings from
Windows Vista has sold more units than expected. Hewlett-Packard has been trading sideways ever since Goldman Sachs took it off its conviction buy list and replaced it with
a few weeks ago. While Goldman still kept its buy rating on the stock, this "de-listing" from the conviction buy list gave people an unjustified reason to sell.
Another stock I like going into this week is
Aluminum Corp. of China
. Down 35 points from its all-time high of about $90 a share back in October, this stock has been unfairly sold off, and thus I am looking for a snapback rally into next week.
ACH operates in two bull markets: China and aluminum, and although it is a bit riskier than an
, ACH certainly has the potential to ramp more than 10 points in a single day. Currently sporting a book value of $50 a share, ACH is poised for a snapback rally as investors come back to the global-growth-story stocks.
Also worth look at this week is online advertising company
. As GDP decreases, advertising from companies in general increases. And as more adverting moves away from old media to new media, ValueClick is the perfect company to own. On Friday, Citi upgraded ValueClick to a buy rating, putting a price target on the stock of $30.
ValueClick has also been rumored as a possible buyout candidate from the likes of
. Down almost 50% from its all-time high back in June, ValueClick stock offers investors a great short- and long-term play.
Also worth checking out is
, which Cramer recently called "the gold standard of shopping because of its variety and excitement" and "the Wal-Mart killer."
What makes Target shares attractive for investors is that the company generates more growth than any other broad retailer and that it is planning to sell its credit-card business. Recent figures suggest that Target's credit-card business could be worth more than $5 billion. Once its credit-card unit is sold off, I suspect Target will use most of that money to launch a share buyback. Such a repurchase plan -- similar to
-- could decrease the share count by as much as 10%.
Happy Trading and Happy Holidays!
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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