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We're so money
Stock Spotlight: Many of CNN/Money's first-half stock picks have thrived in a choppy market.
July 1, 2005: 11:45 AM EDT
By Paul R. La Monica, CNN/Money senior writer
The markets are down so far this year. But most of CNN/Money's Stock Spotlight 'buy
The markets are down so far this year. But most of CNN/Money's Stock Spotlight 'buy" picks aren't.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - It's been a tough stock-picking environment for investors so far this year. The major indexes all finished the first half of 2005 slightly in the red.

But CNN/Money's regular Stock Spotlight feature, in which we analyze one hot company in the news and tell you if it's worth buying or not, usually with really cool graphics and an array of delightfully cheesy puns to boot, has a solid track record so far this year.

So maybe we should get in the money management business....or not. Seriously, here's a quick rundown of how our picks have fared during the first half of 2005.

A torrid start

Shares of Apple (Research) are up 14 percent since we said in January that there were no worms in the long-term story for the maker of iPods and Macs. But we also warned investors that it would be volatile and it has not been a smooth ride. The stock is about 20 percent off its 52-week high.

Toyota (Research) is down 9 percent since we said in January that the stock could "wind up stuck in neutral." We predicted turbulence for Delta's (Research) shares after they announced big fare cuts in January and the stock has plunged 39 percent.

Luxury retailer Coach (Research) has soared nearly 25 percent since we called it a "chic investment" in late January. And shares of Anheuser-Busch (Research) have fallen 6 percent since we pointed out just before the Super Bowl that you'd be crying in your Bud if you bought the stock.

In February, we warned investors to shun stun gun maker Taser (Research) because even though the stock had already taken a big dive, more shockingly bad news was probably on the way. And the stock has plummeted 40 percent since then.

We also predicted in February that printer and PC giant Hewlett-Packard (Research) was finally worth buying after Carly Fiorina was fired and the stock is up 10 percent since then.

Rites of spring: Golf, baseball and taxes

But after seven solid calls, we finally got one wrong in late February...kind of. We correctly pointed out that golf equipment maker Callaway (Research) was vulnerable to a takeover but we added that investors should still stay away from the stock because of numerous risks.

Well, the stock is up 18.5 percent since our story as the company confirmed in late June that it was weighing some takeover bids. But if Annika Sorenstam can lose a tournament here and there, I guess we can make a bad pick every now and then too.

We got back on track in mid-March when we went against conventional wisdom and recommended Cablevision (Research), despite its bizarre family feud. The stock is up 12 percent since then thanks to a bid to take the company private.

We swung and missed with a bearish look at collectible card company Topps (Research) before baseball season started though. The stock is up 14 percent. But glowing praise for the shares of H&R Block (Research) just before April 15 has yielded some nice after-tax gains. The stock has climbed 13.5 percent.

Big Gulps and Biggie Fries

A negative call on convenience store chain 7-Eleven (Research) later in April doesn't have us thanking heaven. We incorrectly thought the stock was due to cool off like a Slurpee but the spike in oil prices appears to be helping the company's profits at the gas pump. Shares are up 28 percent.

Finally, we've had mixed results with our most recent picks.

In early May, we recommended that investors book a trip with shares of online travel firm Priceline (Research) but the stock has lost some altitude, dropping about 12 percent.

But a tout of the shares of controversial World Wrestling Entertainment (Research) has made us look as smart as Bobby the Brain Heenan (Remember him?). The stock is up nearly 10 percent since we called it a champ.

And while it's probably way too premature to judge our picks from just last month, we'll give it a shot anyway. We thought Wendy's (Research) did an admirable job of recovering from the bad PR that resulted from the fraudulent chili finger incident. But it may have been too admirable. We thought the stock was pricey but shares have climbed another 7 percent.

Finally, our endorsement of Sirius Satellite Radio (Research) a few weeks ago has so far turned out to be sweet music for our readers. Shares are up more than 10 percent.

So all in all, that's eleven good picks out of sixteen. The eight "buys" are up an average of about 10 percent and the eight "sells" are down an average of about 3 percent. Not too shabby. We'll take another look at these picks, as well as our second-half Spotlight selections, at year's end.

Until then, happy investing.

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How did last year's Stock Spotlight picks do? Click here to find out.  Top of page


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