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A selection of some of the most intriguing stock newsletter suggestions on the Web. The items presented do not represent the views of; rather, the collection is offered as a service to our members who may be scanning the Web for stock-related information.


Norman G. Fosback



(FLM) - Get Free Report

, the nation's second-largest food distribution company, has watched its stock drift steadily downward for the past year. But a restructuring and some significant insider buying are reasons for optimism, says Norman G. Fosback of

The Insiders


The company, which had $15.4 billion in revenue last year, delivers food products to more than 3,000 supermarkets and runs close to 300 of its own stores. Fleming recently announced that, as part of the restructuring, it will close or sell supply centers, stores that are not performing well and a Florida retail chain of 11 stores. This will mean a one-time charge of $667 million this quarter.

Shares of Fleming were trading around 8 this week, near their 52-week low of 7 1/ 2. Fosback notes that seven insiders bought 17,655 shares in December at an average price of $11.22. The company this week urged shareholders to reject a limited tender offer of $7.90 a share for 3% of its shares from

LMC Assets

, a private firm, saying it was making "rapid progress" in implementing its new strategic plan.

More information can be found at:

Sharper Image

Blair G. Jeffery


Shares of

Sharper Image


, the specialty retailer, rose more than 1 to 15 1/ 2 last week on news of strong fourth-quarter results and the announcement of an Internet auction site. But

Wall Street City

columnist Blair G. Jeffery says the Web site won't mask the fact that Sharper Image is overly dependent on Christmas purchases to make its yearly revenue.

While the new auction site might be a "fun" way to serve clients, Jeffery says he doubts it will change the company's pattern of revenues: losses in the first three quarters that turn into a profit after a busy fourth quarter. Jeffery also worries that Sharper Image has a smaller profit margin and higher debt load than its peers, "leaving the firm very little room for error."

"The facet of an online presence does not take away any expenses that the firm is already incurring," says Jeffery, while holding out a slim hope that the online site could change customer buying patterns to spread sales more evenly through the year.

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Diedrich Coffee

Mark Veverka


California coffee house chain

Diedrich Coffee


plans a $35 million secondary stock offering to help finance the acquisition of another California chain of java shops,

Coffee People


. The success of the offering is key to Diedrich's turnaround efforts, says

San Francisco Chronicle

columnist Mark Veverka.

The proposed acquisition of Coffee People is the first major move by ex-

Taco Bell

chief John Martin to turn Diedrich around. The company has posted losses in three of its past five fiscal years, says Veverka, who has pointed to the proposed purchase of Coffee People as a reason to look at Diedrich as a turnaround story. The combined company would be the second-largest specialty coffee company and a leader in mall-based coffee shops, according to Diedrich.

Diedrich shares, which have traded as low as 3 3/8 in the past year, are up significantly since the acquisition announcement and have been trading lately around 6 1/ 2. Diedrich "shows promise," says Veverka. "It's worth watching Martin and Co. over the next several months."

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David Kathman


The recent growth of


(WMT) - Get Free Report

stock price has far surpassed the giant retailer's growth in earnings, says analyst David Kathman of

Morningstar StockInvestor

. Wal-Mart's aggressive expansion into Europe is spurring hope that the company will return to the 30% annual growth rates of the 1970s and 1980s. But "any number of things could cause a stumble," warns Kathman.

Wal-Mart's earnings have grown only 45% over the past two years, but its price-to-earnings ratio has increased nearly 300%, from 17 to 46, says Kathman. That reflects optimism that the company, already the largest retailer in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, can achieve the same kind of dominance in Europe. Already, Wal-Mart has forced Germany's

Metro AG

, the world's second-largest retailer, to sell a third of its businesses in order to compete.

But "it's important to recognize how much of Wal-Mart's recent price runup is the result of increased expectations, rather than concrete results," says Kathman.

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