The RealMoney contributors are in the business of trading and investing all day on the basis of ongoing news flow. Below, we offer the top five ideas that RealMoney contributors posted today and how they played those ideas.TheStreet.com brings you the news all day, and with RealMoney's "Columnist Conversation," you can see how the pros are playing it on a real-time basis. Here are the top five ideas played today:
1. Is Wyeth a Bio?Adam Feuerstein
1/23/2009 2:22 PM EST Is Wyeth ( WYE) really a significant biotech company wrapped in the skin of a drug company? Or is Wyeth just another old-school drug company that dabbles in biotech for the Street cred? This seems to be a matter of debate today as folks ponder the news of Pfizer's ( PFE - Get Report) interest in acquiring Wyeth. I don't follow the drug companies so closely, so I don't know the answer. On Wyeth's Web site, the company states that one-third of its current pipeline consists of biotech drugs and vaccines. Is a vaccine really a biotech drug in the way most investors define the term? What about the remaining two-thirds of Wyeth's pipeline -small molecule drugs? Wyeth gets biotech credit for the rheumatology drug Enbrel, for instance, but that biotech drug was invented by Immunex, a Seattle biotech firm later acquired by Amgen ( AMGN - Get Report). In neuroscience, there's the Alzheimer's drug bapineuzumab in phase III, but again, that's a drug invented by Elan ( ELN), not Wyeth. Like I said, I don't know how big a role biotech really plays at Wyeth. It's certainly more than what Pfizer has going on, so perhaps that's all that matters.
2. Options Look to TeradynePete Najarian
1/23/2009 1:43 PM EST Chip-equipment maker Teradyne ( TER - Get Report) has been pummeled along with the rest of the semiconductor industry but is trading more than 7% higher today and is attracting options players as the company approaches its earnings report next week. OptionMonster's tracking systems have lit up, with the TER 5 strike calls traded across multiple months. But the most activity is not at the near-month February 5 strike but instead at the April 5 calls, where 8,000 contracts have traded against open interest of 1,899. Institutional buyers have stepped up and bought those April calls at prices of 55 cents, 60 cents and 65 cents. The stock still trades below book value even with today's rise, and, as with any pullback, traders have become more interested in TER options ahead of the quarterly report Wednesday after the market closes.
3. GeronAdam Feuerstein
1/23/2009 12:50 PM EST I'm getting a lot of email today asking for reaction to the news that Geron ( GERN - Get Report) was granted FDA approval to begin the first human clinical trial of a drug derived from embryonic stem cells. I say don't buy into the hype. Geron has a long track record of over-promising and under-delivering. In fact, the company's only real accomplishment after years and years of effort has been to burn through tons of shareholder cash. Before you send emails that blast me for spitting on stem-cell therapies, understand that my cynicism is directed at Geron, not the promise of stem cells. Today's news was well orchestrated by Geron -- a splashy story in The New York Times, a conference call and an appearance on CNBC. But let's get real: Geron is starting a small phase I study, and with Friday's run, the stock's market cap now stands around $600 million. And for that, you get very little. Sorry, but Geron looks more like a short to me than a long.
4. GE: Earnings Quality ConcernsJeff Bagley
1/23/2009 9:37 AM EST Lots of moving parts here, but what stands out is the huge tax benefit booked in the fourth quarter. General Electric ( GE - Get Report) missed revenue to the tune of about $4 billion, but EPS came in line with consensus. The missing link is the tax benefit. Analysts were already looking for a large tax benefit, but it looks as if the larger-than-expected tax benefit added about 8 cents to 10 cents a share to earnings. That said, this shouldn't come as that big of a surprise. At least one analyst pointed out the possibility of a larger-than-expected tax benefit propping up earnings, and the stock took a hit on that news. Getting to the heart of the matter, when you look at the run rate of earnings -- that is, after stripping out the one-time items -- the dividend simply looks too generous despite management's commitment. My thesis is that all of this should already be priced in. The stock has fallen by a third in recent weeks, and given the aggressive actions the company is now taking, they will come out of this huge mess in much, much better shape.
5. Morning TradeBob Byrne
1/23/2009 9:23 AM EST As is often pointed out on these pages, this is a trading environment and one that must be handled with care and constant skepticism. If you are in there buying stock off of our lower support levels and we get an intraday spike ... sell something. Same goes for shorting ... cover up a bit on the 20-handle dumps and reload at the higher resistance levels. Whatever your flavor, be flexible and smart on your entries and aware of the exit when the lights start to dim. We are starting the day out on a nasty note ... and I will be watching the (rather obvious) low of 797 from a few days back as initial support. I do not put much weight on this level, though. Watch the 787 area as the next level of decent support. A break there could get fast and furious as we target 774 and 757. The 757 area is my extreme low for the day. We have a couple of moderate resistance levels as we make our way toward stronger resistance at 813.50. The 807.50 and 810 levels may trip us up a bit ... but I am watching 813.50 for stronger selling. A break of 813.50 sends us towards 817 and 821. The bulls should have room to run on a break of 821... possibly as high as 834.50. For free trial to Real Money, where you can get updated trading and investment ideas throughout the course of the day, please click on the tile below.