During the week of July 28, TheStreet.com readers searched for the following 10 stocks more than any others. This week, the financial sector dominates the list as investors seek answers to their questions about the sector's recent price action. Each week, I make the Buy, Sell or Hold call on them below, in the order of their popularity.
1. Sirius Satellite Radio
: The post-merger trading in shares of Sirius was brutal. The stock collapsed on the back of an offering priced at a lowly $1.50. However, management states that the company is now fully funded and will not need new capital raises, so maybe there is light at the end of tunnel. Maybe. The ride has been awful, but there is now limited downside to the stock. I would get over the feeling of nausea that I share with you and hold your shares. --
Top 10 Most-Searched Stocks on TheStreet.com
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: Apple is entering a period in which it lacks upside catalysts. The iPhone 3G is out. Earnings have been reported. The great and fantastic story of the House of Jobs is known. Now what? What to do with Apple? Take a look at the chart and trade the stock. Use weakness to buy and strength to sell. --
3. Chesapeake Energy
: Across the board, great values are being created in the natural gas sector. The stocks got walloped as natural gas futures collapsed from over $13 to $9 and change recently.
Natural gas is not going away. In fact, we will be using a lot more of it in the future because it's a clean-burning fuel that is abundant here in the U.S. CHK is down more than 30% in just a few weeks on no change in its fundamental outlook. I want to be a buyer, right here, right now. --
4. Cabot Oil & Gas
: Another great natural gas stock that has been taken out and shot. COG is an exploration and production company with exposure to key regions. This play has assets in Canada, the Appalachian Basin, the Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana and Anadarko Basin.
COG is down big over the past few weeks. Shares have dropped 38% and I believe overshot on the downside. As with Chesapeake Energy above, I want to be a buyer, right here, right now. --
5. Quanta Services
: This repeat visitor to the weekly Power Stock Rankings list is an infrastructure and stealth wind-power play. PWR is stuck in a trading range between $30 and $34. The key recent news was the Texas Public Utility Commission approval of a new power transmission line project to build out the wind electrical grid. The approval is estimated to be worth $4.93 billion, and look for Quanta to get a lot of that money.
For the stock, play the range, but remain a buyer. --
6. Bank of America
: The shift to a positive trading sentiment in the financials is palpable. Everybody now wants in. The breathtaking up move in shares of BAC has remarkably held. Recall, BAC hit a low of $18.44 in mid-July as the market priced in financial Armageddon. I don't think the bad news is done, but I think institutional investors are now looking to buy weakness instead of selling strength. And that is a huge change in attitude. I think it is best to wait for a pullback below $30. --
7. Washington Mutual
: Contrary to BAC, I remain steadfast in my negativity on this bank stock. The positive sentiment on the sector will not sway me from becoming more sanguine on WM shares. Don't be tempted by the cheap and alluring single-digit price. It is the worst positioned of all the major money center banks.
If you must own a financial, look at
, as it will be the big winner from the credit crunch. --
: Last week, I mentioned this stock as being the
"toughest call of all the banks"
. It is a battle between the hot-hand banking analyst Meredith Whitney and the new, highly regarded CEO Bob Steel. Recall, Whitney was very negative recently in her downgrade of WB shares. So far, Bob Steel is winning in a rout. WB rocketed nearly 40% over the last week. Only time will tell who the ultimate winner is, but how to play it now? Again, very tough. There is no discernible edge in trading the stock, so I am still sitting on my hands. --
9. General Electric
: One of the world's best-run companies and great American icons is on sale right now. GE is simply a great value at these levels. It trades at 12 times forward earnings estimates with a generous dividend yield of 4.4%. GE is continuing to focus and grow its business in the world's fast growing markets with exposure to everything that is working -- infrastructure, health care and energy.
Shares have been hit hard this year, as its commercial finance unit was not immune to the credit crunch, but they offer a good entry point as the company turns that division around. ---
10. Research In Motion
: I am an aggressive buyer of the maker of the Blackberry device here as we have an upside catalyst to propel shares in the near term -- a new product cycle.
The company is launching the new Blackberry Bold internationally in August and will begin selling in the U.S. in September. There is a lot of interest in this new product offering among consumers. More importantly, the new product cycle is not yet in the analyst numbers. That is what I call a formula for profits. ---
Patrick Schultz is a research associate at TheStreet.com. He has previously obtained securities licenses under the NASD's Series 7, Series 24, Series 52 and Series 63 exams and has worked in the financial markets on various trading desks in addition to trading for his own account. Schultz holds a bachelor's degree in applied economics from Cornell University.