Lorillard’s Profits Require No Smoke and Mirrors

I am not a smoker or tobacco user, and I do not like to be around smokers. However, that prejudice does not blind me from the fact that Lorillard, Inc. (LO) is a “very attractive” stock. I recommend investors buy it as well as the following ETFs because of their large allocations to LO and their attractive-or-better investment ratings…

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Sell Citigroup Before The Earnings Bubble Pops

Citigroup is running out of accounting tricks and the stock will continue its slide as investors recognize the company is not as profitable as it wants investors to believe. Our analysis of the financial footnotes of more than 50,000 annual reports means we know more about which companies have the naughtiest and the nicest accounting. And Citigroup is definitely on the naughty list.

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Show Discretion When Choosing Consumer Discretionary Sector ETFs

Retail HOLDRS (RTH) is our top pick for consumer discretionary sector ETFs.  RTH is one of 51 ETFs that gets an attractive-or-better rating. We rate the investment merit of the top six consumer discretionary sector ETFs based on our coverage of 471 stocks in this sector. Per our first-quarter-2011 review of U.S. Equity Sector ETFs,…

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Many Tasty Choices In Consumer Staples Sector ETFs

Select Sector SPDR-Consumer Staples (XLP) is our top pick for consumer staples sector ETFs. XLP is one of four ETFs, out of the 270 we currently cover, to get our very attractive rating. We also rate the investment merit of the top five consumer staple sector ETFs.

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Don’t Employ Any Industrial Sector ETFs

We recommend avoid or sell all industrial sector ETFs. We also rate the investment merit of the top six industrial sector ETFs.

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Nothing But Ugly Financial Sector ETFs

We recommend investors short the KBW Bank ETF (KBE) and avoid or sell all other financial sector ETFs. We also rate the investment merit of the top nine financial sector ETFs.

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Lots Of Ugly in Energy ETFs

We recommend investors avoid all energy sector ETFs. We found no ETFs in the sector that offer investors attractive investment merit and acceptable structural integrity. We also rate the investment merit of the top-9 energy sector ETFs.

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Some Good In Telecom Sector ETFs

Broadband HOLDRS (BDH) is our top pick for telecom sector ETFs. We also rate the investment merit of the top-3 telecom sector ETFs. Per our first-quarter-2011 review of U.S. Equity Sector ETFs, the telecom sector is one of five sectors that gets our “neutral” rating. Figure 2 shows how the telecom sector’s stocks and the…

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Bad and Ugly Materials Sector ETFs

We recommend investors avoid all materials sector ETFs. We found no ETFs in the materials sector that offer investors attractive investment merit and acceptable structural integrity. We rate the investment merit of the top-6 materials sector ETFs.

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Bad and Ugly In Utility Sector ETFs

We recommend investors avoid all utility sector ETFs. We found no ETFs in the utility sector that offer investors attractive investment merit and acceptable structural integrity. We rate the investment merit of the top-5 utility sector ETFs.

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Mainly Just Good in Health Care Sector ETFs

Our top picks for the Health Care sector ETFs are: Biotech HOLDRS (BBH) and Pharmaceutical HOLDRS (PPH). We also rate the investment merit of the top-9 health care sector ETFs.

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Sell Morgan Stanley Before It Sells You Down the River

When Morgan Stanley (MS) started in 1935, there were around fifteen employees. For 2010, the company reported 62,542 employees. Bigger is not always better. And for big, publicly-traded companies, big tends to be worse especially when it comes to financial reporting.

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For Ask Matt readers:Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) — Dangerous Rating

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) gets our Dangerous Rating. This means CAT’s quality-of-earnings are not attractive and the stock’s valuation is very expensive. For example, the valuation of the current stock price ($112.16) implies the company will grow its profits at 16% compounded annually for 20 years. The takeaway: there are better stocks to choose from. See details in our free report.

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Good, Bad and Ugly Tech Sector ETFs

Our top picks for ETFs for the Information Technology sector are: Internet Architecture HOLDRS (IAH) and Semiconductor HOLDRS (SMH). We also rate the investment merit of the top-12 tech sector ETFs.

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Buy Eli Lilly & Company (LLY) – Attractive and Safe Enough To Take Home To Mom

The risk/reward of this stock is quite compelling. Downside risk is low as the valuation already implies a permanent 54% decline in profits. How much worse can the valuation get? Upside reward potential is strong as the stock has to go over $77/share to trade at a value that implies the company’s profits will experience a 0% decline, still a no-growth scenario.

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No Security In VirnetX Holding Corp’s (VHC) Stock

Is VHC the next Google? The market’s current valuation seems to suggest it is that and much more.
Very few times in the last 15 years have I found a stock as expensive as VHC. The only comparable situation that comes to mind is Google (GOOG) at its IPO.

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For Ask Matt Readers: Micron Technology, Inc. (MU) – Neutral Rating

Micron Technology, Inc. (MU) gets our Neutral rating. Bottom line: we recommend you invest in SNDK, not MU.

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Not All Chip Stocks Are Made the Same: Buy SanDisk Corporation (SNDK)

SanDisk Corporation (SNDK) is not getting the credit it deserves for the level of profitability it achieved in 2010. And I am not talking about the accounting profits, but the economic profits, which grew 1000% last year while accounting profits grew only 213%. You can ignore the “bear signals” from stock technicians and fears over…

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Take Gains on Discover Financial (DFS) To the Bank

Since we made DFS the Stock Pick of the Week on Feb 15, 2011, the stock is up about 14% while the S&P500 is up about 0.3%. The stock was super-cheap when we made the call, and that is no longer the case. After making the February and March lists, DFS is no longer one of our Most Attractive Stocks in April.

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Accounting Is Fishy at the Zumiez (ZUMZ) Surf Shop

2010 earnings for the retail apparel sector have been quite strong, especially compared to 2009. However, looking behind the window dressing of reported earnings, we find that not all earnings are made the same. Zumiez Inc. (ZUMZ), retailer of cool, new action apparel turned to an old accounting trick to boost its 2010 earnings by 13%

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