Shares of SanuWave Health (OTCBB: SNWV) swiftly achieved a near double in price earlier this year as investor anticipation grew in regards to the initiation of a new Phase III trial testing the company's dermaPACE shockwave therapy in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. A new trial design and an agreement with the FDA to utilize some previous Phase III data added to the enthusiasm and hinted that SNWV shares had the potential to approach price levels seen during the last Phase III trial. That trial, as previously discussed, ended without the endpoint being met, although the results were convincing enough that success could be easily achieved after the new trial designs were implemented.

Since the quick spike in price, however, SanuWave shares have retreated again after many of the short-term minded day, swing and momentum likely took some profits and moved on in search of another quick winner - although you can never blame anyone for taking some profit from the table - but the result of such action could potentially be another buying opportunity for investors who may have missed out on the last quick run. Given the encouraging prospects for the upcoming trial and the numerous catalysts that will be slated to unfold - in terms of interim and actual results - once the trial gains momentum, SanuWave shares could quickly rebound once the current phase of consolidation is complete...

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A letter to shareholders issued last month by Assured Pharmacy (OTCBB: APHY) emphasized an aggressive expansion strategy that would be implemented over the coming quarters. The first phases of that plan look to be taking shape as an announcement last week revealed that new locations in Denver and Boston have been targeted for summer openings. Enthusiasm is high in regards to these new locations, as the company has sought the support of local physician groups in an all-out effort to replicate the quick success of its Kansas location. In light of the robust expansion plans, company officials and some investors are beginning to estimate that break even and profitability milestones may not be that far off into the future.

The company's current market cap, however, does not yet indicate a widespread acceptance of that theory, leaving a potential ground floor opportunity still open for investors looking to speculate on the maturity of Assured Pharmacy and its business plan, which looks to take advantage of shifting trends in the healthcare industry...

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Many market analysts and economic pundits have predicted over the past few months that the record-setting highs - although nice while they lasted - would only be short-lived and a pullback or outright market correction was in store. Stocks proved overly resilient, though, and despite some questionable economic news at times to go along with gloomy predictions from many financial media outlets, new records have continuously been set, defying the negative forecasts and making winners out of many green portfolios and IRA accounts. The continuous uptrend may have made believers out of many, but some skepticism still prevails as we head into a new trading week, leaving the door open for investors to take advantage of the individual stocks and stories that may not be gaining much mainstream attention.

Here's a few to keep an eye on for the week of 13 May, 2013...

Assured Pharmacy Announces New Store Openings

Shares of Assured Pharmacy (OTCBB: APHY) have been steadily gaining investor attention over the past weeks, if trading volume is to be an indication, and recent announcement just days ago of multiple new store openings over the near term may not only explain the uptick in volume, but also provide assurances that the company's potential to significantly grow its revenue stream over the coming quarters is leaning more towards the likelihood of being a probability, rather than just a possibility.

A letter to shareholders last month set the stage for what's to come over the coming year, but last week's definitive announcement of major store openings within months confirms the previous promises and speculation. According to the news, two new stores - in Denver and Boston - are slated to open this summer in what Assured officials are labeling a "major expansion strategy." ...

 

 

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Through the course of its early development and growth stages, Assured Pharmacy (OTCBB: APHY) has admittedly faced challenges not uncommon to other niche start-ups in a tough economic climate, but with trends shifting in the company's favor and its newest store also its most profitable, this company could be on the verge of a breakout with significant expansion coming. Assured Pharmacy is a unique, personalized pharmacy that caters specifically to the prescription needs of its customers while also heavily scrutinizing the distribution and use of heavily-regulated prescription medications for both doctors and patients in order to ensure strict compliance with federal regulations. Assured has targeted the chronic pain market for its services, given the high rate of abuse and misuse in the sector, which has highlighted the need for specialized pharmacies. Its customer base of both doctors utilizing its services and patients receiving their personalized care has grown and is currently in a backlog, according to statements made in a recent letter to shareholders.

As additional funds can support, Assured will be able to take on additional customers, which could quickly double the current patient base - again according to recent communications by the company...

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The imminent expectation of multiple product launches during the course of the coming year and the further development of a pipeline full of urine-based diagnostics designed to detect various cancers and infectious diseases placed TrovaGene Inc (NASDAQ: TROV) on the map during the closing half of 2012, especially when shares nearly quadrupled in value in anticipation of the many milestone catalyst events that were due to unfold throughout 2013. The first of those catalysts came to fruition in late March when TrovaGene announced that it had commercially launched a urine-based human papillomavirus (HPV) diagnostic test, the first of numerous elements of its pipeline expected to hit market this year and a move into a very lucrative market, as six million new cases of HPV are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TrovaGene's technology utilizes transrenal DNA and RNA from simple urine samples to detect genetic abnormalities that may result from cell deaths and/or disease progression. Any diagnostic test resulting from the advancement of this technology follows the current healthcare industry trends of emphasizing early detection through less-invasive (and less costly) means and launching its first test onto the market is a huge validation to the company and its future prospects. That said, the development and commercialization of such next-generation technology may not be enough alone to convince investors looking at the near term that the medical community is ready to fully embrace such a drastic shift in early-detection methods, but investors could quickly become convinced if much larger and more relevant parties from the industry come into play to support future development...

 

 

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On numerous occasions during the record-breaking rally of 2013 we've pointed out the fact that the more speculative and 'under the radar' sectors of the investing world are often ignored and disregarded when everyone is making 'easy money' while the markets are setting record highs on a seemingly day-by-day basis.  At some point, however, we also argued that profits would be taken and - since most investors and traders don't like to see their money sitting idle - would possibly be transferred into those more speculative companies and sectors that hold the potential to return catalyst-based gains over the coming months and quarters.  The recent volatility experienced by stocks - with highs and lows of the day in the DOW, for instance, trading in a range of well over a hundred points - could be an indication that profits are being taken and the traders are taking over.  It could be an opportune time to concentrate more on where the money is going next.  That's where industry trends and pending catalysts come into play, as those companies that have been trading under the radar for a while could start to come to the forefront of their respective sectors. 

With that in mind, we'll take a look at a few companies with catalysts pending that could offer investors an opportunity to capitalize in the near and long term futures...

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SanuWave Health (OTCBB: SNWV), with trial catalysts pending over the near term, has received its fair share of attention during the course of 2013 thus far, but the company's potential value over the long term may have received a significant boost earlier this month with the issuance of a patent covering the company's shockwave technology for use in blood purification.  Although not yet in development for that indication, SanuWave projects that its shockwave technology could disrupt "the outer membrane of bacteria and viruses which," according to a company press release on the topic, would result in the death of such pathogens.  For SanuWave, this patent also represents the first for the company outside of those obtained for its initial methods-of-use - which include wound care and regenerative medicine - and provides another solid starting point from which the company can grow. 

In today's day and age a solid baseline of intellectual property (IP) is invaluable for a company.  Patent wars are seemingly popping up on a near-daily basis in numerous sectors and solid patent protection alone could be worth tens of millions of dollars - at least - to companies looking to protect their respective technologies in settlements.  Additionally, patents could also bring in new revenue streams for companies utilizing similar technologies, as was demonstrated by the signing of a licensing agreement between Synergy Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SGYP) and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IRWD) last year, as each company's respective drug used a similar mechanism of action.  Amarin Corporation (NASDAQ: AMRN), too, is a company whose patents are day-by-day being tallied by at investors at home, given the continued uncertainty surrounding Vascepa's New Chemical Entity (NCE) status. 

In terms of potential mergers and acquisitions, patents are factored into deals just as much as developmental pipelines and some deals are actually consummated on the basis of patents alone.  Needless to say, patents may be more valuable now than at any time before - and maybe event to the point of becoming a detriment to progress and innovation.  That said, a company has to have them to succeed...

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Discovering industry trends early and then establishing positions in companies who may benefit from those trends ahead of the general market could quickly turn into a successful trading strategy.  For a prime example of such, look no further than 3D Systems Corp (NYSE: DDD) and Organovo Holdings (PINK: ONVO).  Shares of both companies traded along relatively under the radar until investors caught onto the fact that 3D printing was advancing quickly enough that the next generation of the technology was quickly becoming considered the 'now' generation.  Shares of 3D tripled in quick time, as did the more speculative Organovo Holdings, whose technology could eventually be used to 'print' organs for transplant patients, and investors who caught the trend early were very handsomely rewarded.

Over the course of the past few weeks we've also discussed heavy trend shifts towards diabetes treatment, since that industry is growing at alarming rates.  Companies such as SanuWave Health (OTCBB: SNWV), AntriaBio, Inc. (OTCBB: ANTB), and MannKind Corporation (NASDAQ: MNKD) have already seen their respective share prices rise over early-year levels as key upcoming catalysts and more cost-effective and less-intrusive technologies could quickly thrust each company to the forefront of the booming multi-billion dollar industry. 

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Investors of the developmental healthcare sector are well aware that cash raising events and dilutive financings are an established part of the process in bringing a new drug or medical device through the trial stages and to market.  While few investors look forward to these events with heavy anticipation, given the potential for a rally to be stalled or for a share price to drop to the level at which an offering was conducted, these events are wholly necessary, given the design of today's health care and financial systems.  That said, those who exercise patience and utilize an investing strategy that includes trading into the spikes and dips with a position of 'trading shares' - while also potentially building a core position with eyes towards the long term - could survive the tides largely unaffected, while potentially coming out on 'house money' by the time the developmental stage plays out.  

Such a strategy also includes not going 'all in' on a particular stock when initiating a position for the first time.  Buying in with just a fraction of what one plans as a total investment amount allows for additional buys later on down the road should the targeted share price dip.  As noted above, stock offerings and other means of cash-raising for companies often contribute to share price slides, since the new shares are generally 'offered' as a discount to recent levels. 

Last week Sunshine Heart (NASDAQ: SSH) announced a public offering of common stock pursuant to a previously-filed shelf registration.  The pricing of the offering was $5.25, whereas company shares had been trading along steadily at roughly six bucks before the announcement.  In turn, SSH traded down late last week to price levels right in line with the offering.  Investors, after already having seen this stock trade from roughly the three dollar mark to nearly twenty over the past year, are left to decide whether or not the post-offering slide offers a decent accumulation point or whether there can be more pain in store as the company's technology edges its way through trials and - should encouraging results continue - ultimately to market...

 

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Despite some recent concerns speculating that the record-setting market rally of 2013 was losing its steam, Wednesday saw another day of record highs as investors remained enthusiastic following encouraging comments from the Fed, while economic data overseas, specifically in China, represented a continued global recovery.  The record-setting day in the US sparked international rallies on Thursday, although early indications were that US markets may experience tempered trading, given existing concerns that each move higher could just create that much more of a dropoff, should a pullback materialize.  With earnings season underway, more and more attention will be paid to the 'hits' and 'misses' of the street, with ample consideration given to the fact that it's no secret company's have been under-guiding during the recovery period in order to look that much better if a stronger-than-expected report hits.  Guidance moving forward, however, has been tempered, meaning weak earnings reports during the current quarter could end up pushing the markets lower, as many pundits expect will be the case.

Although new highs are still being set, volatility has increased, an indication that skepticism remains as to whether or not the rally continued.  It also provides an indication that the traders may be taking hold of the market as the 'buy and hold' game may have been milked for all it's worth during the early-goings of 2013.  As mentioned earlier this week, profit-taking money could start pulling out of the broad market, should expectations of a downturn arise.  If that is the case, that money - along with any sideline cash that investors have been hording in case of a dip - is likely to find its way into individual stocks and stories that may have been trading below the radar as the big players in the markets rallied. 

We'll continue this week to follow a few of those that could attract some speculative money, given pending catalysts, recent developments and overall growth potential.

As the noted news items of the day develop and the earnings stories roll in, there are still plenty of individual stocks and stories to keep an eye on. Here are just a few of them for Thursday, 11 April 2013...

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FluoroPharma Medical (OTCBB: FPMI), as briefly described earlier this week, has recently seen a modest uptick in trading volume as some first look data from ongoing Phase II trials indicated that the company's positron emission tomography (PET) technology may already be proving superior to the current market standards. Aside from a brief push towards the dollar mark during the opening days of the new year, shares have traded relatively un-moved and under the radar, even as February and March brought in enough trading volume to indicate that investors may be starting to take notice that FluoroPharma - with a pipeline of imaging agents that are potentially superior to what's already out there now - may be positioned to capitalize on shifting trends in the healthcare industry. With that in mind, it could be safe to assume that the modest - but still noticeable - jump in volume over the past couple of months could be an indication that accumulation is under way in anticipation of some milestone catalysts that are expected to unfold over the course of the year. By comparison, shares of SanuWave Health (OTCBB: SNWV) traded in similar fashion, too, before that company's stock proved to be a 'volume before price' play and shares doubled in just a short period of time.

While assuming the inherent risks of the sector, and also understanding the potential of FluoroPharma's PET technology to infiltrate a shifting market trend, there is reason to believe that FPMI could also be positioned to trade higher leading into the upcoming trial catalysts. Furthermore, should those catalysts - largely based around interim and actual Phase II results - look positive, then there is reason to believe that shares could approach the price target set by Zacks not too long ago - a target that is roughly three times the current levels. Initial indications support the Zacks target, as the noted early trial returns hint that FPMI's PET technology is superior to the current market standards...

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Shares of SanuWave Health (OTCBB: SNWV) have about doubled in the time span of just a few days - after already having tripled since the beginning of the year - with volume growing methodically higher along the way.  No significant news has been released along the way to fuel the rally, but with some trial catalysts pending that could thrust SanuWave's Pulsed Acoustic Cellular Expression (PACE) technology directly into the middle of a booming subsector of the healthcare industry, investors may have again become aware of the company's potential as a short term rebound play and a longer term growth play.  The PACE technology, known as a 'shockwave therapy' has been employed into the dermaPACE and orthoPACE medical devices and have already received CE Mark Approval in Europe for the treatment of chronic wounds, where revenue is already rolling in.  In America, a Phase III trial is expected to begin enrolling patients within the current quarter for dermaPACE in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers and improved trial designs devised in conjunction with FDA guidance has many investors enthusiastically expecting more definitive results than those seen in a previous trial, where efficacy was demonstrated, but an endpoint was not met and market approval was not achieved. 

With a new round of trial catalysts pending, and given the size, scope and rapid growth of the diabetes and chronic wound markets, it could be argued that this latest rally was based on the SanuWave market cap catching up to its speculative potential.  If that is in fact true, and if the pending trial progresses in a more defined manner under its new design, then both interim and actual results have the potential to rally shares even further than what has already been realized since the beginning of 2013.  By comparison, SanuWave shares approached the six dollar mark in early 2011 at the height of previous anticipation regarding the thermaPACE therapy, and it's reasonable to believe that another push towards FDA approval could fuel a similar share price run.  Such action is expected and routine in the developmental sector, although heavy volatility should also be expected, given the fair amount of day, swing, momentum and catalyst traders that move in and out of stocks in search of quick returns...

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As the broad market rally looks to have sputtered, and with the upcoming earnings season not expected to blow away estimates by any means, investors will be looking to bank profits from the early year run and move onto other plays that have the potential to reap both short and long term dividends. That means that some money will move into the more speculative sector, where individual stocks and stories have the potential to create the volatility needed for traders to trade and for the longer term investors to find adequate entry points to accumulate for the long term.

Below we'll take focus to some medical device and imaging agent plays that are still in the developmental phases, but could attract the interest of those investors who have banked profits during the DOW's record run this year, but now may realize that the 'easy money' gig is up as market conditions have somewhat deteriorated. Each comes with its own inherent risks often associated with the sector, including the potential for cash-raising events to stall rallies and/or the prospects of a failed trial or road bump in development, but each is also advancing novel and potentially next-generation technologies in huge, billion dollar markets.

Everyone was making money when the broad market was soaring, but now it may be time to go looking for the individual stories that can pay benefits down the road, hence the focus this week on the developmental sector...

This Week's Focus: Medical Devices

SanuWave Health Heads Into The New Week On An Upswing

Price followed volume for shares of SanuWave Health (OTCBB: SNWV) as they closed the day Friday up by thirty percent on volume of well over ten times the daily norm. With key milestones pending for the duration of the 2013 and with momentum building after last week's trading action, SanuWave could turn into one of the healthcare sector's better rebound stories of the year...

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SanuWave Health (SNWV), a company advancing a technology that could change the scope of chronic wound treatment for years to come, is sitting in the midst of a booming sector with numerous key milestones expected to unfold over the short to mid term. According to current trading volume and market cap levels, however, the company's stock could still be trading well below the radar. That could all quickly change with late-stage trials due to initiate in the United States over the short term as overseas marketing and distribution efforts continue to yield results. In the text below we'll take a look at the target market for SanuWave's technology, the potential impact that the technology itself could have on the future chronic wound treatment - specifically for that of diabetic foot ulcers - while also examining the inherent risks of the sector that investors should always bear in mind.

The Technology

SanuWave has developed Pulsed Acoustic Cellular Expression (PACE), a technology that utilizes 'shockwaves' to incite the healing and regeneration of cells. While the foundations of this technology have been used for decades in treating kidney stones and some orthopedic conditions, SanuWave has applied its shockwave therapies to creating a pipeline of stimulative treatments revolving around the dermaPACE and orthoPACE devices. Both are already CE Mark approved in Europe and have returned a revenue stream from units sold and also from the recurring sales of 'device applicators'. The next target is America, where the company looks to receive an FDA approval after completing a supplemental Phase III trial testing the effectiveness of dermaPACE in the condition of diabetic foot ulcers. The trial is expected to begin enrolling patients within the current quarter, while efforts to mobilize sales on an international level continue, too, as evidenced by recent regulatory approvals in Australia and New Zealand...

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U.S. markets spiked on Tuesday and international shares followed suit on Wednesday, aside from markets in Europe, after housing and durable goods data provided another round of reassurance that the economic recovery in the States was well on track. Concerns in Europe remained, however, even after a bailout deal was reached earlier in the week in regards to Cyprus. The fact that large depositors in the Cypriot banks were 'taxed' heavily as part of the deal concerned investors across the European continent and applied pressure to regional markets and the euro currency, too. Markets on this side of the pond continue to disregard the Cyprus news, but the longer it affects Europe, the potential increases that investors over here will become somewhat concerned as well - but as long as the encouraging economic data we've seen continues moving forward, a large-scale pullback will be viewed as improbable. Especially given the likelihood that America is about to witness its first real budget deal in years.

The stability we've become accustomed to during the early-year record setting uptrend looks to have been replaced by more volatility, if the past few trading sessions are to be a judge, so it could be inching back towards a trader's market, whereas the "buy and hold" crowd has done quite well so far this year. If the overseas markets are an indicator for Wednesday, though, another up day could be in the works.

As the broad-market stories continue , there are still plenty of individual stocks and stories to keep an eye on. Here are just a few of them for the week of March 25, 2013...

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The trading week brings with it heavy anticipation. The DOW has been setting new record highs left and right these days and the S&P may be positioned to do just the same. The momentum built into last week's close favors a continued uptrend this week, although there are multiple major news stories still developing that could quickly come into the picture and create the uncertainty needed to lead to the volatile trading that has been relatively non-existent during the DOW's record run. Leading the way in terms of headlines is Cyprus, where indications over the weekend were that a 'Plan B' bailout deal was on the verge of being reached. Many are concerned that the fiscal fiasco still evolving on the island-nation could spill over onto mainland Europe, but many investors now consider the ordeal as an isolated incident relevant more to Russia than to Europe as a whole. Early Monday headlines indicated that a plan was in place, pending a little bit of cash-raising from Europe to cover the bailout package. While the situation will still be monitored with caution, relative calm should prevail and Cyprus could disappear from the headlines just as quickly as the Yankees' playoff chances - and the Greek debt crisis, which we haven't heard from in a while...

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Another day, another deadline - such is the merry-go-round of Washington. In a last ditch effort to thwart off the potential impact of sequestration on the economy, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed a budget that is en route to Congress for its stamp before possibly reaching the President's desk and potentially becoming the first approved budget in years. Of course, that's still an uncertain proposition, given the long-lasting stalemate between the two political parties, but the country is as impatient as ever with the status quo and the politicians know that their political capital is spent, making it likely that a deal will be reached this time. After all, another election season is quickly creeping upon us (although it'll be an off-year season) and the viability of some political careers may be on the line.

The new deadline to get a deal done is 27 March, enough time to halt the building momentum behind planned budget cuts and the furloughing of government workers. General market action seems to indicate that few are panicking over this date, as world markets generally traded favorably on Thursday, more interested in comments from the Fed over the past two days than anything else.

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Markets worldwide continued to trade relatively flat leading into Wednesday's trading day as uncertainty stills abounds in relation to the Cyprus bailout package that some believe could pose a threat to the stability of the still-rebounding global economy. As discussed earlier in the week, however, concerns over a drastic backlash against the eurozone (EZ) economy based solely on the instability in Cyprus may be overblown, as the ordeal looks to be one more involving Russia and Cypriot banks than anything else, but fears will remain, nonetheless, that a similar situation could arise in Greece, Italy or Spain - countries whose failures could greatly effect the health of the European economy. That is likely the reason why European shares fell rather significantly after the recent Italian elections, but have only been modestly effected by the Cyprus fiasco.

On this side of the Atlantic investors can be reassured the Fed will maintain its current measures of stimulus as long as long as uncertainty exists globally and in Washington, according to comments made during day one of a two-day meeting. As a result, investors - who currently look to be in a holding pattern following the early-year record run - can be reassured that no broad changes to current conditions are forthcoming, pending the result of budget talks and a clearer picture of what sequestration may bring. Initially, it looks as if the doomsday scenarios laid out before the 1 March deadline kicked in were more fear-mongering by Washington than anything else, but also keep in mind that the full impact of any newly-implemented measures is not expected to be felt until 1 April or beyond...

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Tuesday proved a day of modest rebound for international markets, most of which were hammered on Monday on fears over the Cyprus bailout plan and how it could potentially hit the rest of Europe. Futures action indicate a similar open in the US as well. Investor caution has eased once the Cyprus bailout news was digested and the fiasco became more of a comedy show between Cypriot banks and Russian billionaires than anything else as markets stabilized, although initial concerns arose when some pundits wondered whether the savings tax proposed in Cyprus could also be implemented in other Western countries, but those concerns are largely considered unfounded because of existing regulatory measures in other eurozone (EZ) countries and also because of the unique relationships between Cypriot banks and its foreign investors, like Russia.

It's highly unlikely that any scenario evolving from the bailout of Cyprus will have any lasting effects on the rest of the EZ economies, hence Tuesday's more enthusiastic trading. The situation has, however, caused the euro rate to drop a bit in relation to the dollar, but that should cause little concern to investors and do more to satisfy the budgets of any dollar-bearing tourists ready to start taking advantage the spring holiday weather in Europe...

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Although the DOW closed modestly higher on Tuesday, the trend was lower for much of the day and the other major indices finished in the red.  Headlines swirling Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning hinted that the record-setting rally of 2013 may be losing some steam, but the question is whether that means a plateau was hit and we're in for a period of sideways trading or whether concerns of sequestration and a still-sluggish global economy will push the markets lower again.  World stocks indicated on Wednesday that the latter may be modestly true, but as we've discussed before, US markets don't typically follow trends, they set them - barring unforeseen developments from overseas that could heavily impact global markets.

Should investors go looking for reasons to support the argument that the rally has lost steam, discussions of Europe's hardly-recovering economy and the potential impacts of sequestration could lead the charge.  Europe's continued woes have been largely ignored during the early-year rally, but could quickly become a factor over the near term, while sequestration may become a non-factor if Washington finally rallies itself and comes to an agreement.  There's little doubt that voters are tired of the inaction and recent polls indicate that no side of the fence is immune to criticism over the current stalemate - and that might be enough to nudge these guys in the right direction, if they feel that their own political fate or the fate of their party is on the line. 

So far, Washington in 2013 has been about as productive as A-Rod's playoff bat.  So far that fact hasn't effected the markets at all, but another 'missed deadline' for a budget deal combined with massive cuts could set us down a notch or two.

As the major stories play out there are still plenty of individual stocks and stories to keep an eye on. Here are just a few of them for Wednesday, 13 March 2013 ...

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A large part of investing in the speculative sector involves staying one step ahead of the game - finding the next big thing - the latest fad, brightest technology or newest bull market - before the other guy does.

For instance, those who dabbled in the 3D printing market before the hype hit the market hard could have made huge gains by jumping into 3D Systems Corp (DDD) before it tripled from its lows and - taking the healthcare spin - Organovo Holdings (ONVO.PK), which also posted a triple at point leading up to the bubble. Although the bubble burst and those companies have now seen their share prices retreat rather significantly, the point was made that 3D printing is here to stay and the strength of the sector should be taken seriously. Those who figured that out before the market made bank.

In the healthcare and biotech sectors, staying one step ahead of the game may be a bit tougher, as an epidemic of any type could hit at any given time with little or no notice.

That said, finding next-generation drugs while they are still in development can pay off handsomely for those with the patience to wait the story out, while maybe trading a few shares here and there to make sure at least some profits are had along the way. Dendreon's (DNDN) Provenge can be viewed as just such a present-day, but next-generation product, as it targeted an existing disease, prostate cancer, and then effectively ushered in the next generation of the cancer immunotherapy treatment. The DNDN share price, as a result, jumped from roughly three bucks to well over forty at one point along the way.

Searching for the newest trends can help investors, who need to have a little time on their hands, find the next bullish market before those markets hit overdrive. The sub-sector of diabetes treatment is one such market that looks like it could be lining up for take off, given the trends we will discuss below, although it's arguable that this sector has been heating up for years now, as more and more humans survive on fast food, sugary drinks and exercise that only includes couches, office chairs and golf carts.

Below we'll take a look at a disease that is quickly becoming one of the greatest burdens on the global health care system and a few companies that could play a large role in the sector for years to come, but may still be trading relatively below the radar...

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Another day, another DOW record. The boost provided by last week's encouraging jobs report looks to have carried over into the new trading week while it also looks like investors are continuing to brush off any negative effects that could come into play as a result of sequestration. Those predicted effects my never come into play anyway, given the fact that Washington has issued itself a new deadline to reach a budget agreement and our elected officials are talking to each other again - after cringing at the bad press both sides received as the last deadline expired.

Shares continue to inch higher, defying the odds and the predictions of most experts and analysts, but at some point investors should assume that "what goes up" has to pull back and consolidate, especially with the amount of uncertainty still existing on a global scale. The U.S. recovery looks solid, given the most recent jobs numbers, but it wasn't too long ago that GDP was reported as down to flat. We also cannot ignore the fact that budget cuts in Washington are likely coming - sooner rather than later - and the impact of cuts made now likely won't be seen until a month or two down the road.

Additionally, the Fed cannot maintain its current rate of stimulus forever. At some point the training wheels will have to come off...

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Record high after record high is what we saw from the DOW last week and investors will look this week to see if the momentum can carry over after a strong jobs report on Friday dropped the US unemployment rate to 7.7%.  236,000 jobs were added in February, well above previous estimates, and many see this as a positive sign that the economy continues to gain strength and is well on the road to a full recovery.  Since the markets generally look ahead by a couple of quarters, the record highs could be justified, but the question is whether or not they can be sustained over the short term without any volatility entering the picture.

That question holds extra weight right now as the true effects of sequestration, which are still set to come into play in April, are still unknown.  A harsh round of budget cuts and pullbacks could knock down the merry market mood just a notch, as ancillary evidence still exists - jobs numbers aside - that the economy is not yet healthy enough to grow substantially - if at all - without the help of the Fed's stimulus measures that have been in place since the depths of the recession.  Look to 2012's fourth calendar quarter as evidence of such, when a pullback in defense spending caused GDP to roll flat for the quarter, only after being revised higher.

Although Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last week indicated that there were no immediate plans in place to lighten up on the stimulus measures that have been in place since the depths of the recession, Friday's enthusiastic jobs report has refueled talk from many analysts and pundits that it makes little sense to keep these measures in place while the economy looks to be gaining strength on its own accord, while February's jobs numbers speak for themselves.  A reversal from the Fed that indicates stimulus might be lightened could temper the market's early-year rally.

This week will be a light earnings week, with only a few major holdovers left to report.  Attention will be strictly paid to the debate that will likely rage over how much of an impact the pending sequestration will have on the new record highs. 

It's been a definitive year of rebound thus far, and many would agree that - in retrospect - the markets are flowing on a stronger foundation now than they were when the old record highs were set just before the crash, but we've likely not yet approached the light at the end of the tunnel.  Caution against going 'all in' at this point may still be advised, as any economic news that again creates uncertainty could quickly have an impact on the upwards momentum, as evidenced by the election news in Italy a few weeks ago that led to a DOW drop of more than two hundred points.

Enjoy the ride while it lasts.  As always, there will be plenty of individual stocks and stories to keep an eye on while the major news plays out. Here are just a few of them for the week of 11 March, 2013...

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Shares of Implant Sciences (IMSC) traded higher by nearly seven percent on Wednesday morning after dropping to as low as $1.05 earlier in the week. Although some recent events may hamper IMSC's immediate potential to excel, such as the fiscal cutbacks in DC resulting from the inability of our elected officials to efficiently run a government or a budget, others have taken shape that put the company on a more stable foundation moving forward. In a summary of this week's events thus far, VFC's Stock House examines the latest Implant Sciences credit extension with DMRJ and also takes a look at how the budgetary turmoil in Washington could effect the short term potential to land national-level contracts or sales.

Implant's Credit Extension Marks Potential Pivot Point

With the announcement last weak of Implant Sciences' (IMSC) deal to extend the terms of a debt agreement with its primary creditor - DMRJ Group - for a full year, investors and company officials can concentrate fully on the building of sales, revenue and - with a recent TSA approval in the bag - the path towards becoming a dominant player in the ETD and homeland defense markets. Implant had last year already extended this agreement through the current month. In retrospect, this move looked to be a temporary fix in order to allow for the TSA approval to come to fruition, but the year-long extension allows ample time for the business to grow and the for the company to gain the means and resources to pay the portion of its debt that has not been converted into the convertible notes outlined in the press releases associated with the said credit agreements.

In noting the recent IMSC share price dip, short term credit concerns and uncertainty may have prevailed and curtailed enough investor interest to cause the drop. The relatively light volume, however, also indicates that many investors continue to hold to see this story - which is still in its early chapters - play out...

 

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A new DOW record is in the books and world stocks were moving higher on Wednesday as a result.  As mentioned earlier this week, we're at a serious pivot point now as to whether the markets can sustain these or whether a pullback will materialize based on the developments of other general conditions and geopolitical events.  A positive private jobs report on Wednesday AM was key in determining the strength of the new record over the short term, but investors will now look towards the effects of sequestration and how budget cuts can have an impact over the coming weeks. 

Most of the expected cuts that were regarded as a doomsday scenario by many politicians leading into the March 1 deadline, however, are not due to be implemented until the April time frame, according to the most recent reports from Washington.  That allows more time for our elected officials to come up with something solid in terms of a budget for the first time in years, but it also leaves us in a position where investors could feel complacent with the bullish momentum just before the real impact could be seen.  Many government programs are slated to lose at least portions of their funding and - maybe even more important for the already sluggish recovery - federally paid workers could be in for a slate of pay cuts and furloughs.  Those cuts could offer the markets a look at the potential impacts of having an increasing portion of the population relying on government money, whether it be through government jobs or handouts. 

For the time being, investors are satisfied enough with what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had to say last week to keep the markets elevated, but now is also not the time for complacency.  With the uncertainty regarding budget cuts and federal furloughs, investors should prepare for multiple eventualities, which includes positioning for a pullback, should one - no matter how modest it may be - materialize.

Over the short term, the job numbers are the key indicator to watch, but in the absence of a budget deal - and the politicians don't look to be in a rush to push one through - watch for signs of how sequestration could impact consumer spending, consumer sentiment and overall growth.

As always, there will be plenty of individual stocks and stories to keep an eye on while the major news plays out. Here are just a few of them for Wednesday, 6 March 2013...

 

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AntriaBio, Inc. (ANTB) remains a stock to watch this week, as outlined in this week's 'Weekly Stock Watch,' due to a notable increase in trading volume over the past couple of the weeks and the advancement to human trials of a once-weekly basal insulin shot that has the potential to eventually replace the current standards of care, which includes once-or-twice daily shots.  Having fallen off the recent highs set at $2.50, investors may be taking advantage of the current pullback as volume has notiecably increased over the past week.  On Monday, in fact, ANTB shares registered their second-highest trading day of the year and were not too far off from seeing the most shares traded in one day since the symbol began trading in mid-January.  Investors taking note of potential 'volume precedes price' action may anticipate an eventual move higher based on the recent volume and interest paid to this stock.

Over the long term, AntriaBio has the potential to enter a multi-billion dollar industry with a next-generation product that could drastically increase the quality of life for diabetic patients needing daily basal insulin shots as a sustained treatment option.  Aside from this week's 'Weekly Stock Watch' report linked above, below is our original write-up on AntriaBio. 

ANTB trades in a highly volatile sector, so there are key points to consider, as outlined below, but this is an emerging story to monitor these days.

Stay tuned...

AntriaBio Potentially Positioned For Both Long And Short Term Gains

 

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This week could be a pivotal one.  Record market highs are well within sight and investors will look for evidence that last week's bullish momentum can continue into the new trading week, even as the effects of sequestration set in.  Comments before Congress last week by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke helped to reverse Monday's notable pullback and spark an overall move higher through the remainder of the week.  All the while our politicians in Washington failed - yet again - to reach a budget deal that would stave off a harsh round of budget cuts that will end up slashing tens of billions of dollars from the federal budget over the coming quarters. 

With the weekend under the belt and a few days for investors to digest the news and potential impacts of sequestration, we'll know fairly soon what the market makes of it all.  Significant cuts in defense spending, as we've noted before, led to a retraction in GDP numbers for the fourth calendar quarter of 2012, although those numbers were recently revised higher to demonstrate stagnant growth. 

The point was made, however, that the US economy is still hovering in a state that is heavily reliant on government spending - that's why at least some investors will consider the looming sequestration as dangerous for the short term, although many will also argue that drastic cuts are needed in federal spending for a healthy long term outlook.  Many would expect that those cuts would come responsibly, though, and not at the behest of another fiscal deadline imposed by the bureaucrats in DC who time and again prove the futility of their attempts to get the job done...

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After a quick tease to the upside on Monday morning, US markets dipped drastically as numerous factors converge this week to keep investors on edge, the most immediate of which - Italian elections - likely played a role in the afternoon drop.  Initial indications from Italy were that the party of economic reform would hold a large percentage of the government after the results were known, but later reports hinted at an impasse, evidence that the potential is there for Burlusconi's party of 'Bunga Bunga' could return to power.  Given the already unstable stance of Europe's economic recovery, investors world wide are hesitant to entertain any event that could grow that instability moving forward.  Regarding Italy, specifically, investors care because the economy there was not too far off from being as big a mess as Greece's before reforms were put into place, and a return to the ways of old could lead to even bigger concerns throughout Europe as a whole. 

That said, it's unlikely that Italian elections alone sparked Monday's broad market sell-off, but they certainly played a part.

More likely it's the gridlock in Washington that had investors anxious at the week's open, and this week could be a volatile one if a budget deal is not reached.  The prospects of drastic cutbacks and furloughs are real and investors - who are fully aware of the impact a slash in defense spending had on the fourth quarter GDP numbers - may be concerned over the impact another round of such cuts could have, especially given the ancillary signs that consumer spending may be on the decline, too.  As described over the weekend, however, those signs could be proven or dispelled once the notable group of retailers slated to report earnings over the coming days offer their own guidance...

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AntriaBio, Inc. (ANTB) is an emerging story in the developmental biopharmaceutical sector that may be worth keeping on the radar as volume has been picking up of late and the company's potential to alter the scope of the future insulin delivery market by creating a once-weekly injection of insulin to replace a once-or-twice daily version is starting to gain increased exposure from popular financial media outlets and from the investing community as a whole.  Relatively new to the trading scene, AntriaBio became public through a reverse merger earlier this year after having first purchased the assets of PR Pharmaceuticals from bankruptcy court.  PR Pharma had already invested tens of millions of dollars into the preclinical development of the above-mentioned once-weekly basal insulin shot, now known as AB101, but was unable to see its development through to fruition as the depths of the economic crisis dried up funding for many developmental biopharmas.  

Now controlling the AB101 assets, AntriaBio has positioned itself, pending successful trials, to eventually enter the multi-billion dollar market of basal insulin delivery that is now dominated by Sanofi-Aventis' Lantus and Novo Nordisk's (NVO) Levenir, each of which requires patients to receive at least one shot daily.  Those two products alone pull in over eight billion dollars annually, highlighting the potential of AB101 to to steal quick market share, should it reach the point of commercialization.  Emphasizing that once-weekly advantage, it's understandable why AB101 would be attracting the increased attention that it is right now, as some investors may consider this a ground floor opportunity of a potential next-generation technology...

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Stocks gave us a wild ride last week as numerous factors converged to incite more extreme market volatility that we had seen since the conclusion of the fiscal cliff drama at the beginning of the year. The DOW jumped over a hundred points on Friday, following two notable down days, and closed the week above the 14,000 mark again, albeit barely. The volatile trading action is likely to continue into the new trading week as budget negotiations in Washington will likely dominate headlines and keep investors on edge. Unlike the fiscal cliff talks that resulted in a last-minute deal during the dawning hours of 2013, both sides look more inclined this time around to hold their ground, which means that the potential is high that the much-discussed sequestration measures will come into effect on Friday morning. Such an even would translate into swift federal spending cuts that have the potential to negatively impact the overall economy, let alone stall the recovery.

Another event with market-moving implications to keep an eye on this week is Fed Chairman Ben Bernake's date with Congress. Much of last week's mid-week drop was attributed to statements from the Fed that stimulus measures long in place since the depths of the recession may be pulled back earlier than previously indicated and Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday will hear personally what Mr. Bernanke has to say in those regards. Friday's rebound provided some evidence last week that investors may have felt they overreacted by selling into the Fed comments last week, there's little doubt that Mr. Bernanke's comments this week will be heavily watched, especially in light of recent developments in Europe over the weekend.

Sooner or later those European concerns are likely to effect trading on this side of the pond again. With the enthusiasm of the January rally and the encouragement of this earnings season, investors easily brushed aside any concerns of a stalling global recovery, but analysts predicted last week that the European economy had at least another year of recession and turmoil on the table before reversing course and climbing into growth.

Warnings of slow growth were even apparent in the supposed powerhouse economies of Germany and England, but the light was dimmed even more when Moody's downgraded the UK's Triple-A credit rating. It's yet to be seen how much of an impact that move will have on the European or global markets, but it's an eye-opener heading into the new trading week.

Also this week, the Italian elections will be in the spotlight and it'll be a disappointing sign if Italy votes Berlusconi's 'Bunga Bunga' squad back into power, as it's time for the Italian economy to embrace the financial reforms that have been put into place since his ouster and not reverse course back into the all-too-recent past. That said, there's little doubt that the worst of the worst is in the rear view mirror for the Euro Zone (EZ) as a whole, but it's evident that the light at the end of the tunnel is still a ways off in the distance.

Bernanke's comments, US budget talks, looming sequestration and the EZ's continued strife could lead to a volatile week ahead. As is always the case, there will be plenty of individual stocks and stories to keep an eye on while the major news plays out. Here are just a few of them for the week of 25 February, 2013...

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The markets headed south on Wednesday as investors digested Fed comments, housing numbers and the potential negative impact on the economy that a political showdown in Washington could bring. Comments released from the Fed this week indicated that an easing of the stimulus measures that have been in place since the depths of the financial crisis may be forthcoming. As noted earlier this week, investors pretty much shrugged off similar comments in January, but a re-emphasis of those statements this week - coupled with the recent slowdown in housing numbers - caused enough concern among investors to spark the round of profit-taking that led to Wednesday's decline.

Budget negotiations in Washington also look to be at a standstill, another cause for alarm over the short term. Severe spending cuts could be in store come 1 March, should an agreement not be reached in D.C. As the politicians continue to draw lines in the sand, it's looking more likely every day that a deal might not be reached this time around, as was the case during the last 'fiscal cliff' scenario. Cautious investors predicting a stalemate in negotiations may be prepared to pull some money from the table now in anticipation of an broad market slip, as indicated by Wednesday's drop...

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Stocks head into this holiday-shortened week on a flat note after having traded mixed during most of last week. No news or key developments have been strong enough of late to launch another attack on the record highs set just prior to the global economic collapse in 2008 and many pundits and market analysts are starting to predict that a fairly significant pullback could be in store, even as the major markets hovered at or near their multi-year highs leading into this week's opening bell.

The earnings season also winds down this week, which means attention could quickly shift towards budget cuts and politics again, especially with a March 1st deadline still looming for politicians to finalize a full budget for the first time in years. Given recent indications that a breakdown in Washington's cooperative tone could be in the works, investors may be preparing for another period of volatility dominated by skittish investors. Such a scenario would likely provoke additional profit taking after January's rally and also help to support those recent theories that a pullback is in store...

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Markets in the U.S. closed flat on Wednesday as investors postured their positions in anticipation of a push towards record highs. International investors were also holding back for the day while awaiting comments from the European Central Bank (ECB), which is due to hold a policy meeting on Thursday. Positive comments from the ECB indicating that the eurozone looks to be on the road to recovery may reinvigorate the early-year rally, but a more cautious tone may have some investors inclined to pull profits from the table following the January run. Given recent insights into a few of the zone's individual economies, such as Germany's - which many report a quarter of retraction - and Spain's - still struggling to find solid footing - comments to the tune of "we're not quite there yet" should be expected.

The key to all the Europe talk lately is that the media is again paying attention to developments over there, while they haven't been during the opening weeks of the new year. Since the European recovery is still lagging behind that of the U.S.', investors tuning into the news may entertain the fact that the markets are not yet stable enough to sustain near-record highs. Any surprises from the ECB either to the up or downside could lead to the U.S. markets trading in-line with those comments on Thursday, but it's more likely that U.S. investors will be more interested in the budget talks in Washington and to the individual stocks and stories of their respective portfolios...

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Volatility is back. After a few weeks of stability and a methodical uptrend in the markets, this week brought us, so far, back-to-back one hundred point moves in the DOW as investors contemplated the probability of the markets sustaining levels at or near the record highs set before the crash of 2008-09. Big media started paying attention to Europe again, an eventuality we've discussed for a couple of weeks now, and as a result some of this week's volatility has been due to reports of the still-lagging economic recovery over on that side of the Atlantic. Moving forward, such concerns are still likely to play a role in the overall market action and spark some continued volatility, but for the immediate future investors look to want to shake off the European worries and trade on the momentum of this quarter's earnings reports, which have been solid all season long.

Still, as the influx of cash into the markets seen in early January subsides - and the cautionary tales from Europe continue - many will look to prepare their portfolios for the possibility that a pullback will take shape. The warning sign will be, in my opinion, when the media outlets start harping on European worries, which has already started to happen...

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At the start of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous week, and may also be positioned make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

Investors liked what they saw last week from the major jobs reports, even though the overall unemployment number ticked modestly higher, and stocks surged yet again, allowing the DOW to breach - and then hold - the 14,000 mark. Other economic data released during the week and a 'status quo' approach by the Fed urged investors to shrug off a fourth quarter GDP pullback and continue the buying that allowed the January rally of 2013 to continue. This week, though, a pivot point should be met where investors decide whether to keep charging with the buying momentum or start banking some profits, given the sharp rise in stocks since the fiscal cliff deal was announced at the dawn of the new year. There's little doubt that the US economy has undertaken a solid recovery over the past couple of years, but the debate will rage as to whether or not the economy is on sound enough footing to justify the setting of new market highs.

On first glance, there's the argument that the markets are forward looking, and although the economy may not be at a point right now that justifies new record highs in the stock markets, that point may come in the not-so-distant future. Additionally, given the transparency seen today in the strength of the recovery, when compared to the false bubble of nearly five years ago, investors are apt to be more comfortable with continued buying now than they were at any other point in the last half decade...

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Stocks ended the day slightly lower on Wednesday as reports hit the wires noting a retraction in the US growth rate for the fourth calendar quarter of 2012. Analysts and experts had expected a one percent growth rate for the quarter, so the miss came as a bit of a surprise. The markets did not falter, however, and only modestly declined as the retraction came about largely due to a drop in federal defense spending, and not because of any other variables of weakness that would threaten the strength of the recovery.

In fact, other economic indicators behind the report looked strong, as outlined in a New York Times article on the subject. A stand-fast approach by the Fed, which concluded its meeting on Wednesday, also helped to reassure investors that no drastic changes to policies and procedures already in place are forthcoming. Barring any unforeseen news or a reversal in the trend of this quarter's earnings reports, it should be smooth sailing ahead for the remainder of the week.

Another day is upon us to keep an eye on some hot earnings stories and other stocks that could potentially move markets, individual sectors or personal portfolios. Here are just a few of them for Thursday, 31 January, 2013...

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The DOW and S&P closed up by half a percentage point each on Tuesday while the Nasdaq traded flat as concerns of slowing US growth during the fourth quarter of last year indicated a potential slowing growth rate for the first quarter of 2013, too. Reports also surfaced on Tuesday that consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level in over a year as consumers digested the fact that there's a little less spare cash available as the result of an increase in some tax rates this year. None of the above would justify any protracted broad market sell-off, in my opinion, but it emphasizes the fact that the consistent headlines of 'sunshine, rainbows and candy floss' that we've seen all year thus far are taking on a more cautionary and realistic tone, which will likely lead to some of the profit taking we discussed earlier in the week. That may lead to a near-term, but modest market decline.

On Wednesday attention will still be on the Fed meeting, which enters its second and final day. Early indications are that the key stimulus measures introduced after the crash of 2008 will remain in tact for the foreseeable future, or at least until a target unemployment rate of 6.5% is achieved, but other reports have also hinted that a divide in Washington is growing over how necessary it is to keep those measures in place, given the thus-far successful recovery and relative strength of the economy...

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Monday proved a flat trading day as early-week earnings reports were relatively in line with expectations and investors positioned their portfolios in anticipation of a potential "next move" by the Fed, which may be considering relaxing some of the stimulus measures that have been in place for a few years as a result of the global economic breakdown. The Fed is scheduled to meet for the first time this year on Tuesday.

The markets remain at multi-year highs right now and with political cooperation in Washington tag-teaming with encouraging economic indicators, it could be that the worst is behind us, although it's still smart, in my opinion, to entertain the fact that we're still not completely in the clear. Although the U.S. economy is gaining strength, others around the globe - mainly in Europe - remain on shaky footing and the media has chosen not to discuss such issues with any fervor of late, but it's only a matter of time before those headlines make rounds again and potentially compel investors to take a more cautious tone over the short term. Additionally, after such an impressive early-year run, some profit taking may set in and lead to a slight pullback.

International markets, which had already modestly pulled back after early-year rallies, picked up steam again on Tuesday, indicating that any broad-market pullback periods would only be temporary to allow for consolidation, barring any unforeseen breakdown in an otherwise impressive recovery. If anything, the incessant volatility of 2012 looks to have tapered off in 2013 and has the markets trading with more stability than we've seen in a while. That could be a good sign that things are returning to normal...

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Another week of encouraging earnings reports, positive economic indicators and political tranquility in Washington has the bulls running hard heading into the new trading week and many are even suggesting this latest run could approach the record market highs achieved before the economic free fall of 2008-09. Continued earnings reports this week from companies that may exceed expectations could further fuel the rally that has seen the markets close higher each week in the new year and positive jobs numbers due Friday would only put an exclamation point on the run, should they, too, exceed expectations.

While those lofty hopes may in fact pan out to be true, it may also be time for investors to consider some profit taking, or at least expect that others may take advantage of the early-year run and turn some of those paper gains into actual. There's a lot more certainty in the market right now than we have seen in the recent past, especially with the politicians seemingly playing nice and the global recovery looking pretty healthy, but there are still enough concerns out there that should help balance the equation in favor of a 'proceed with caution' strategy. Although not much has been heard from Europe lately in terms of economic plight, the economies of Greece, Spain and Portugal remain on unstable ground and could again pop into the spotlight as soon as the media outlets get bored of wasting time on the fake girlfriends of football players. Reports have it that England, too, could be on the verge of another recession while overall growth in China and India has slowed enough to make economic headlines...

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After an early stutter the markets picked up their pace on Tuesday and closed the day higher yet again. The early action indicates that investors are still maintaining a 'wait and see' approach in regards to the earnings season and volatile political climate, but the reports set forth on Tuesday - led by a nice earnings beat for Google (GOOG) - sparked enough late-day buying to give us some momentum leading into Wednesday's trading session where Apple (AAPL) will steal the spotlight. An earnings beat by Apple, or even enthusiastic guidance, could fuel investor optimism enough to land Wednesday in the green column, too. Barring any unforeseen developments, nothing should pop up politically that would stand in the way of a continued uptrend, given the White House's reported agreement with the Republican proposal of a short term debt ceiling extension. Since investors look satisfied with the pace and health of the global economic recovery, trading patterns should remain glued to earnings news, at least for the time being.

As always, as the major news play out, there's room for a few individual stocks and stories to keep an eye on...here are just a few of them for Wednesday, 23 January, 2013...

 

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, and may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

Although earnings numbers have been mixed thus far for the season, trading ended last week on a relative high note and that trend could continue this week, too, after Republicans indicated their willingness to extend the debt ceiling limit for as much as three months while a full deal gets sorted out.  The debt ceiling had replaced the fiscal cliff as a political weight on the overall market action, but now looks to be a non-factor, at least for the short term, given last week's update.  That frees up stocks to trade in-line with earnings, expectations and economic indicators, positioning this holiday-shortened week as one of momentum-building - especially if Apple (AAPL) can impress with its much-anticipated report on Wednesday. 

This week the housing sector has a chance to steal the spotlight and potentially move the markets.  On Tuesday existing home sales numbers are expected to roll in with a modest upside trend while the new home sales numbers on Friday is also expected to indicate a healthy recovery.  Any better-than-expected surprises could not only effect housing stocks, but potentially rally the broad markets, too...

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Implant Sciences (IMSC) may have just announced the most significant and potentially market-moving news in company history on Wednesday when it was revealed in a spontaneous conference call that the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had approved Implant's Quantum Sniffer (QS)-B220 explosive trace detector for use in air cargo screening. This ruling could be considered the 'holy grail' of the validation process for Implant Sciences as it allows the QS technology to be listed in the next edition of the 'Air Cargo Screening Technology List' and opens up a new - and potentially very lucrative - avenue for revenue. It also offers a huge round of validation for the technology, as many government agencies - both in the US and around the globe - follow TSA validation guidelines in regards to their purchases. It's quite possible that now, with TSA approval in the bag, orders from these countries and agencies will start flowing in, providing a significant boost to the company's revenue stream and sparking a rally in the IMSC share price.

Already shares closed twenty three percent higher on Wednesday and - with volume well more than ten times the daily average - may be positioning to move even higher during the coming days and weeks. It was noted during Wednesday's call that the company expected to beat the revenue numbers of the latest guidance, which were in the range of seven million dollars, moving forward from this point. The TSA approval opens the path for government contracts to start rolling in, which often times come with bulk orders, and help the company meet the revised expectations. Of relevance the TSA has mandated that - as of 3 December - all cargo in-bound to the US on passenger aircraft will be screened for explosives. This is a market that Implant Sciences intends to exploit and given the benefits that the QS technology holds over the competitive standard currently on the market, there is reason to believe that market penetration could materialize quickly...

 

 

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In what may be considered a scenario where investors played the 'sell the news' game, Facebook (FB) shares retreated by nearly three percent on well more than double the normal trading average after the company announced at its much-anticipated media event that it would implement a 'Graph Search' to lead the way into the next stages of growth. As FB shares rolled through the thirty dollar mark with ease leading into this event, investors speculated on the possibilities of a Facebook phone entering the market. Initial indications following the announcement, however, are that investors are either outright unimpressed with the Graph Search announcement or are prepared to take a 'wait-and-see' approach to its impact on future earnings. A three percent drop does not indicate overall disappointment in the new search strategy, especially not after FB shares have risen swiftly from the twenty dollar mark without much of a pullback period on profit-taking, so investors may digest the news over the coming trading days, assess what it all means, and then trade accordingly...

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Implant Sciences (IMSC) may have just announced the most significant and potentially market-moving news in company history on Wednesday when it was revealed in a spontaneous conference call that the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had approved Implant's Quantum Sniffer (QS)-B220 explosive trace detector for use in air cargo screening. This ruling could be considered the 'holy grail' of the validation process for Implant Sciences as it allows the QS technology to be listed in the next edition of the 'Air Cargo Screening Technology List' and opens up a new - and potentially very lucrative - avenue for revenue. It also offers a huge round of validation for the technology, as many government agencies - both in the US and around the globe - follow TSA validation guidelines in regards to their purchases. It's quite possible that now, with TSA approval in the bag, orders from these countries and agencies will start flowing in.

 

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Markets traded modestly higher for the Day on Tuesday as retail sales numbers came in better than expected for the month of December, easing worries created late last year of a slowdown in consumer spending. While the numbers beat the street, per say, they weren't strong enough to spark a widespread rally as investors are still waiting on the earnings reports of the big banks to better gauge the overall health of the recovery. Additionally, reports also started to swirl late Tuesday that any delay in a debt ceiling agreement in Washington could lead to a US credit rating downgrade, a move that would likely lead to a market decline. Should an agreement not be reached, it would be a given that the US rating would be downgraded, but the Fitch warning also indicates that Washington's strategy of slowly running the budget tap just enough to keep the government running, without devising a de-facto solution, is finally starting to wear thin on all accounts.

Earnings picks up in earnest on Wednesday as hit the heart of the trading week and there could be plenty of catalysts still to come from the banks, US economic data and from Chinese data later in the week. Here are a few stocks and stories to keep an eye on for Wednesday, 16 January, 2013...ShareBuilder-Welcome page

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Following in line with market expectations leading into the new trading week, Monday opened with a bang as a flurry of economic, political and market-related news dominated the headlines all day.  As has been expected since the finalization of fiscal cliff talks at the new year, debt ceiling discussions hit full swing this week as US President Barack Obama fueled the debate with a surprise press conference emphasizing the need to get the ball rolling towards an agreement with the cooperation of both political parties.  Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner followed up with warnings of his own that the issue cannot wait and that the US economy cannot be held hostage to another round of bitter negotiations.  While the political speak intensified, the markets held relatively flat for the day. 

Tuesday will see the release of the first of a few economic data reports for the week, with retail sales numbers and the Empire State manufacturing index expected to hit the wires.  These data could set the tone for the day's trading as investors also anticipate a heavy earnings slate for later in the week.

The foundation was set on Monday for an exciting week ahead and some high-profile stories are positioning to jump to the forefront of market news.  Here are a few to keep an eye on for Tuesday, 15 January, 2013... 

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Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) shares have been in the spotlight during the early-goings of 2013 and are positioned to remain there as America's flu season continues to make headlines.  This year's flu outbreak has already hit well more than the majority of all fifty states and is expected to get worse as the season progresses.  As discussed earlier in the year, this development is likely to draw attention to companies with flu vaccines in development and Inovio has already gained early acclaim for its clinical-stage universal flu vaccine technology.  When such flu outbreaks occur - remember the swine flu - it's not unusual to see the share prices of these developmental flu vaccine companies run, based not only on the potential that the vaccine holds in itself, but because the government also steps in with grant money to hasten the development of a potential vaccine.  Investing in a company based on the potential for a short term trade to materialize on such developments is highly speculative, but the percentage gains that can be had with such moves are often significant.  Another benefit, though, is that attention can be drawn to pipelines that may otherwise be flying below the radar.  Inovio may be benefiting from both scenarios right now.     Already this year INO has traded for prices roughly twenty five percent higher then where they began the year as volume moved in heavy last week to support the move.  This trading action will again have the stock as a hot one to watch moving into the new trading week.

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

The trading year of 2013 kicks off in a big way this week.  Although the markets rallied for the first couple of weeks of the year, the noted price and mood fluctuations were based mainly on political factors, rather than on factors inherent to the markets themselves.  For example, a resolution to the fiscal cliff mess sparked more certainty than we'd seen for quite some time, while pessimism over the pending expiration of the US debt ceiling set in quickly and stalled the early-year run.  Renewed headlines of Europe's economic woes and expectations of another lackluster earnings season also didn't help keep the rally going, but with a slew of economic data due this week and with earnings entering the 'full swing' phase after a couple of 'teaser' reports last week by Alcoa (AA) and Wells Fargo and Company (WFC).  One way or another, things ought to get pretty exciting this week.

To gauge the health of the recovery, investors can digest this week retail sales numbers, housing starts data and consumer sentiment, in addition to some manufacturing data.  Earnings are likely to steal the overall spotlight, but any improvements - or not - in these data over the previous month or quarter can move the markets, too, especially if the data supports any trend set by the earnings reports. 

One item that can be put to rest is the silly talk surrounding this trillion-dollar coin that was so talked about over the last couple of weeks.  The amount of attention paid that coin served as a steady sideshow to real news, and was a testament to the lack of any relevant discussion going on in the meantime.  That will all change this week.

Plenty of action this week expected, but there's still always room for a few individual stocks and stories to keep an eye on...here are just a few of them...

 

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TrovaGene Inc (TROV) shares closed last week on another high note when double-the-average volume resulted in a ten percent gain for the stock.  Another spike earlier on Monday led to some modest profit taking, but shares have stabilized and consolidated this week and closed the day Wednesday at $7.23, after a two percent jump.  TROV has been steadily on the climb since last summer and has already returned a clean triple in price based on pipeline progress and the pending commercialization of some of its cancer-detecting diagnostics that have proven to detect some strands of cancer through simple urine samples.

This latest move higher is specifically related to an announcement last week that TROV will work in conjunction with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to detect transrenal BRAF mutations in the urine of patients with advanced or metastatic cancers.  This particular announcement is significant, as already noted, because it could drastically broaden the scope of the cancers detected by TROV's diagnostics, and also because it provides a huge validation of the company's diagnostic technology from the medical community...

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Alcoa (AA) kicked off the earnings season on a positive note on Tuesday and global stock markets rallied on Wednesday as a result. The upbeat Alcoa report helped to offset reports earlier on Tuesday that the Euro Zone (EZ) unemployment rate is still inching higher, bringing to light again previous worries that Europe is still far behind the United States along the road to recovery. That report from Europe led to a drop in oil prices, but did little to quell the overall upbeat mood in the markets. On Tuesday, before the Alcoa report was out, US markets closed down, but some of that could be attributed to continued profit taking after the post-fiscal cliff rally last week. While few expect this earnings season to provide anything more than the occasional modestly-surprising report, Wednesday could turn into a nice up day thanks to Alcoa. Overall enthusiasm may be tempered, however, especially with the debt ceiling negotiations still set to kick off over the near term while also considering the fact that one positive earnings report does not yet indicate a trend.

With that said, there's always a few stocks and stories to keep an eye on as the major news of the day dominates the headlines ... here are a few for Wednesday, 9 January, 2013...

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MRI Interventions Looks To Set The Tone For 2013

Although not attending the JP Morgan event this week, MRI Interventions will be presenting at the 2013 Biotech Showcase on the 9th, an event also held in San Fransisco.  With this presentation MRIC will look to set the tone for 2013, following the demonstrated swift developmental progress and revenue growth of 2012.  MRIC is positioned to take full advantage of the current trends in healthcare, which have medical professionals looking for less-intrusive and more accurate (which together means less-costly) methods of conducting complicated procedures. 

In combining those qualities, MRIC has developed the ClearPoint and ClearTrace MRI-enhancing systems that provide real-time imagery during complicated procedures on the brain and heart, respectively. With the assistance of partners such as Boston Scientific Corporation (BSX) and Brainlab, MRIC has successfully infiltrated the market for Brain surgery and a recent boost in the sales force, as announced during the last quarter of 2012, positions the company to infiltrate that market even further this year.  Already MRI is registering notable growth.

Accordingly to the latest-filed quarterly report, revenue generated by the "disposable items" associated with the use of ClearPoint roughly tripled, when compared to the same quarter of the previous year, a key indication that the technology is catching on, or at least is being used more often...

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A week of rallying came to an end on Monday as international and domestic markets dropped in anticipation of earnings season and another round of intense negotiations in Washington, this time in regards to the debt ceiling that will soon need increasing. The DOW fell fifty points while the S&P dropped from its five-year highs in another demonstration of the day-to-day fickle and volatile mood on Wall Street. Given the political landscape what it is and an earnings season that is not expected to only minimally look better than the previous quarter, there's no reason to believe that this volatile market period will come to an end any time soon.

With that said, there's always a few stocks and stories to keep an eye on as the major news of the day dominates the headlines ... here are a few for Tuesday, 8 January, 2013...

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Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) has already been discussed discussed as a hot, but still speculative stock to watch for 2013 based on its growing trading volume and a deep pipeline of synthetic vaccines derived from the company's proprietary SynCon platform.  Through SynCon Inovio has produced numerous synthetic vaccines intended to treat or prevent various infectious diseases and cancer types.  Maybe most notably - at least for the time being - the company has developed a universal flu vaccine that is currently being tested in clinical trials. This flu vaccine may have the company positioned to receive a significant amount of attention over the near term due to factors external of the market. 

For those following the news these days, a widespread flu outbreak has hit forty one states and the number of those affected is growing rapidly.  This year's outbreak has already surpassed last year's numbers and - as can always be expected in these instances - the CDC, government leaders and the general public are calling for a vaccine.  Every few years (remember H1N1) or so an outbreak becomes large and widespread enough that any company developing a universal flu vaccine - or even one that treats the individual strand in question - gets thrust to into the spotlight, not only because a potential marketable solution could turn into a very lucrative proposition for a given company, but also because government money often starts flowing in the form of grants to help find a cure.  This grant money can be hugely beneficial to still-developmental companies and it's quite possible that Inovio may be primed to receive a boost in investor and/or financial media interest, given the early successes of its universal flu technology and the speculation that often follows these outbreaks... 

 

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A week of solid gains held up well into Friday's close last week as a last minute deal averted the implementation of the 'fiscal cliff' that could have put the US economy into another recession, according to many analysts.  With those fears behind us, investors took advantage of recently-depressed stock prices to position for the new trading year.  The good mood may not last long, however, as numerous headlines from over the weekend tell a cautionary tale regarding the earnings season that kicks off this week, not to mention the fact that political negotiations regarding the debt ceiling are also likely to start gaining steam during the coming days.  Even President Barack Obama has warned that the US cannot afford any more of the heated battles that surrounded the cliff talks, but to expect anything less may be wishful thinking as the crew in Washington is having difficulties just agreeing on an aid package for the battered northeastern states following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.  On the other hand, most in the Congress and Senate have shown that a deal can get done when their respective backs are against the wall, so it's highly likely that a deal will get done on this one, too, as anything else could leave the US credit rating at risk.

We're likely to start experiencing some volatility regarding those talks over the near term as the media plays the headlines game on a daily basis.  As always, taking emotion out of the equation and sticking to pre-conceived entry and exit strategy could help return traders and investors hefty rewards as the peaks and valleys are played.  Adding to the volatility is earnings season.  No one expects blockbuster numbers for the just-completed fourth quarter, but as we saw last quarter's reporting season when Google (GOOG) missed, one surprise report can send the markets south in a hurry - while a few better-than-expected reports could accomplish the reverse.  In these uncertain times, it's best to be prepared for either eventuality.  Of note, Alcoa (AA) and Wells Fargo and Company (WFC), among others, are slated to report this week, but neither is likely to set the tone for the season one way or the other.

Jobs and unemployment numbers for last month were in-line with expectations, so that should be considered a non-factor for the coming week, especially with so much other news priming to heat up.

With all that going on, here's a few stocks and stories to keep an eye on this week...

s a few stocks and stories to keep an eye on Thursday...CLICK HERE FOR FULL REPORT.

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The new year started with a bang. International markets rallied early, then the US markets followed suit with the DOW posting a gain of over three hundred points before closing strong into the bell. Green was the theme for 2013 thus far and Wednesday's strong finish could indicate that another push higher is in the works for Thursday's trading, barring any unforeseen news, although the armchair quarterbacks are out in force during the early hours Thursday addressing the deal's shortcomings. For now, however, the markets are clear from controversy, aside from the sideline criticisms. Other political issues may steal the spotlight for Congress over the short term, freeing the markets to rally and pull back on individual stories for the time being, rather than trading along with the daily banterings of Washington.

Before long, too, we'll have another round of earnings to digest. We could also see some market fluctuations at that point, once the season picks up steam, especially since many retailers have already warned of weaker-than-expected fourth quarter numbers.

For now, though, we'll enjoy the show.

Here's a few stocks and stories to keep an eye on Thursday...CLICK HERE FOR FULL REPORT.

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Happy 2013.  By the looks of it, this year could be one of compromise and progress.  For the first time in recent memory, representatives of the US government worked through the holidays, accomplished something major, and sorted out a deal to avert the fiscal cliff that would have been imposed in the absence of such an agreement.  Both sides can claim victory as each was able to hang onto some key provisions and standing points, although some post-vote bickering will still point out that there are also some bitter divides remaining.  It's also impressive that the deal was done with much of the government operating in a lame-duck status, but it's also that the consequences of not coming up with solution to the cliff crisis could have been devastating for a recovering economy and for the People's perception of Washington.  Our elected leaders knew this all too well, so any true celebrations of bi-partisanship and compromise may be premature for the time being, but at least we know if the folks in DC have their backs up against the wall that something could actually get done.

The prospects of a cliff deal sent the markets north during the last trading day of 2012, although they had dropped during the week prior.  With the deal complete, stocks could be set for an early-2013 rise.  Asian markets traded up to five-month highs on Wednesday and the outlook was encouraging that US stocks would react the same, but some caution is still likely to persist as the new talk of the day will revolve around an increase in the debt ceiling.  Politicians will be right back at it and the stability of the markets may again be threatened as Republicans and Democrats look to use this latest round of negotiations to make up for any ground they feel they may lost in the cliff negotiations.

As with the cliff negotiations, expect the ceiling drama to play out until the last minute and volatility may again be a part of this game because the results of not increasing the debt ceiling will likely lead to another round of spending cuts that the media will play up to have as devastating an effect on the economy as those included in the fiscal cliff.

The new year is now in full effect, but although one major catastrophe looks to have been averted, the new year is still bringing more of the same - unless this new found spirit of compromise and cooperation actually holds true.

As the stories and the drama continue to play out, here are a few stocks and stories to keep an eye on... 

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Here we go - a reversal of tone in the fiscal cliff negotiations.  The spirit of compromise can last only so long in Washington before shifting into another political stalemate that holds the short term economic balance of the country at stake.  After encouraging face to face meetings and talk of cooperation between US President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner earlier this week, the tide has quickly turned and comments made by the President on Wednesday indicated that Republicans were not playing nice and making the negotiations personal, without taking into account what's best for the country.  It was only a matter of time before the talks headed south and now - with only a handful of working days left before the end of the year - it gets interesting. 

Fitch Ratings warned on Wednesday that if a deal is not reached by year-end, the agency was prepared to downgrade the US credit rating from its current "AAA" standing.  Should such an eventuality take place, it would likely add to any downward pressure created by the combination of swift tax increases and spending cuts that would result from the lack of a cliff deal anyway and potentially bring some pain to the portfolios of investors large and small.  With those thoughts in mind the markets, which had been trading green for the better part of the day, slipped into red territory as investors digested the latest headlines.

The pressure is on to get a deal done and the politicians know this, so the end game is likely to be a deal, or at the very least an agreement to extend the deadline for a short time while the final touches are put on an agreement.  This time there's too much at stake to let it go on for too long.

In addition to developments surrounding the cliff negotiations, Wednesday was a pretty big news day for some popular stocks and stories.  There are also a few more heating up for the remainder of the week -  Here are just a few of them...

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Tuesday registered another solid up day for the markets as investors embraced positive discussions taking place between Democrats and Republicans during the opening days of the week, but an about face of media coverage Tuesday evening could spark a little bit more uncertainty into the markets regarding the outcome of negotiations.  Concessions were made by both sides this week as they played a game of 'offer, counter-offer,' but indications on Wednesday morning were that Republicans were preparing a 'Plan B,' which was to adopt their own tax bill, should President Obama not budge on his latest proposal.  Since everyone in the knows that anything the Republicans put forth will not make it through the Senate, there is reason to believe - again - that we may end up going over the cliff at the end of the year.  Even the leaders of the two parties cannot muster enough support from within to rally behind what is on the table now, so we may not be as close to the end of this thing as previously thought.  Should make for a nail-biting couple of weeks for those keeping track.

All that aside, the markets have prevailed and December has looked pretty green so far.  With each of the DOW's hundred point swings higher, however, one can't help to believe that what we may be seeing is a case of 'buy the rumor, sell the news.' With that in mind, it's quite possible that a case of 'sell the news' can materialize whether a fiscal cliff deal is announced or not, just like the markets rallied into the elections in November, but tanked afterwards.  The lack of a deal would likely lead to a more pronounced drop than should one be agreed upon, but we could be setting up for a fall either way.  After all, even with a deal, some taxes will be going up anyway, which will make some investors a tad more apprehensive about holding into the new year.

Trading strategies should not be altered, in my opinion.  Having some cash on the sidelines prepares one for any eventuality, while individual entry and exit strategies can still be adhered to - especially for catalyst-based trades - regardless of what is going on in the surrounding market.  

As those stories all play out, here are a few stocks and stories to keep an eye on...

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The markets loved the fact that US President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met face to face on Monday to discuss their respective proposals over how to avert the fiscal cliff, as the DOW jumped by one hundred points and the Nasdaq and S&P were also up by over a percentage point each.  More than just the fact that two met, however, was that the meeting came with a counter-offer by the President to what was proposed by Mr. Boehner last week.  Funny how that bipartisan and cooperation stuff works when the two sides are willing - it's refreshing to see such strategies return to Washington. 

There's still much to be done, though, but the tone looks to be set that it will all get done.  Cooperation does not mean instant agreement, so the two sides still need to come closer on the limit for who will receive tax hikes next year; the President's new proposal calls for increases on those earning more than $400,000 per year while Mr. Boehner's latest offer stood at a cool million/per.  It's likely that the two will agree to a number in between ($500-$600k would be my guess), while they also need to agree on when to raise the next debt ceiling.

No longer does it look like that the two cannot negotiate a deal before the end of the year, but where things still might get tense is when each has to convince their respective parties to buy off on whatever it is the President and Mr. Boehner bring forward.  With less than two weeks left to the year - and with the Christmas holidays taking some working days out of the mix next week - there will be little time for collective negotiations from the Democrat and Republican bodies of the Government, once a preliminary deal is proposed. 

So while Monday's tone is encouraging, this story is far from over.

As negotiations continue to play out, here are a few stocks and stories to keep an eye on...

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

Ordinarily the only significant trading investors see during the closing couple of weeks of December is some tax-loss selling, but given that we're now in serious 'crunch time' in terms of possibly averting a fiscal cliff calamity, the coming week or two could be full of volatile moves based on the headlines and updates of the day.  The markets edged lower on Thursday and Friday of last week, indicating that investors may be losing faith that a deal can get done - even one that would postpone a final decision and temporarily halt the tax cuts and spending hikes that would be implemented come 1 January.

Another factor that could come into play for the remainder of the year is capital gains selling.  Because capital gains taxes could be slated for a significant bump, investors may take advantage of bailing out under the 2012 rate, rather than take an additional tax hit next year.  Many analysts, especially those that favor higher taxes, argue that investors would not sell for that reason alone, but others speculate that capital gains considerations are a large part of why Apple (AAPL) shares have been on the rapid decline over the past couple of weeks.  Looking at it objectively, however, Apple is also facing much stiffer competition in the smartphone market that is about to also introduce Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry 10.

So, it's all eyes on Washington, with few distractions...

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Wednesday was a prime example of the finicky trading environment that we're dealing with these days.  The markets spiked at the mid-day point when comments from the Fed indicated that interest rates would remain low until unemployment numbers hit 6.5%, but stocks quickly gave back their gains and traded relatively flat by the market close when projected GDP growth numbers were modestly revised to the lower.  Adding to the reversal of the mid-day spike were headlines that started circulating painting another picture of a stark divide between the White House and Congress regarding budget negotiations - as if the daily flip-flop of tone wasn't getting old yet.

The Fed meeting provided a couple of days of distraction, but for the remainder of the year - or until a fiscal cliff deal is reached (whichever comes first) - the markets are likely to trade in tune with whatever the headlines are telling us that day.  As the cliff deadline approaches without a deal being reached, however, investors could start bailing out into cash, which could coincide with tax-loss selling and lead to a pronounced drop.  If the talks result in a budget deal over the short term, then predictions of a December rally may actually come to fruition.

It's best, in my opinion, to prepare for both eventualities by still playing the trades and keeping a nice chunk of free cash on hand to take advantage of a potential all-out drop.  As we await resolution on the cliff, days like Wednesday will make the traders happy.

As those stories continue to play out, here are a few stocks to keep an eye on for the day, if not for remainder of the week...

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Fiscal cliff talks continued on Tuesday as the US President and House Speaker appeared to be inching closer to an agreement that would avert a fiscal calamity at the new year, but all eyes on were on the Fed meeting Tuesday and will likely remain there on Wednesday, too.  Investors keyed in on the possibilities of new stimulus following the meeting and liked what they saw, as the DOW rose by nearly eighty points.  Whatever merry mood may prevail following the meeting, however, could disappear quickly if cliff negotiations start to become tense again.  Current trading patterns indicate that investors who were flying in a holding pattern awaiting a cliff outcome may now be judging the situation a little more positively than before.  Again, that could all change in a heartbeat as there are few working days left inside the beltway before the new year will be upon us - with or without a deal.

As those stories continue to play out, here are a few stocks to keep an eye on for the day, if not for remainder of the week...

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Stocks traded relatively sideways during the opening day of the new trading week as investors continued a holding pattern while fiscal cliff negotiations progress behind closed doors in Washington.  Some took it as an encouraging sign that US President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner were sitting at the same table, but most are taking an "I'll believe it when I see approach" to the situation and holding fast since both sides still looking to be standing fast on some key issues.  What complicates matters, too, is not just the uncertainty of the negotiations, but that a political game of chess is also being played, with each side consistently trying to gain the upper hand in the court of public opinion.  With that in mind, it's still a good idea to expect volatility and hold some cash on the sidelines in case things go south as we approach the cliff deadline.

Other than that there were no significant economic data released on Monday on which to dwell, so all eyes will be on the Fed meeting, starting today and heading into Wednesday. 

As those stories continue to play out, here's a few stocks to keep an eye on for the day, if not for remainder of the week...

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"Readers Respond" is a forum where readers add and input to ongoing discussions regarding events or companies that have either been covered by VFC's Stock House or are worth bringing to the attention of readers.  Remember, you don't have to agree with VFC to contribute - the best discussions are the ones where all angles are covered. All comments are welcome via email: vfc@vfcsstockhouse.com, Twitter (@VFCsStockHouse), Facebook or the VFC's Stock House Seeking Alpha page.

A comment from 'Celsius Fan' in response to this week's 'Weekly Stock Watch' where we mentioned that revenue for the company's most recently reported quarter was down to $1.4 million, a 43% decrease from the same quarter of the previous year:

VFC, I would take note that the $1.4 million revenue figure was adjusted downward by a 2010 return reserve adjustment realized in 2011 of $508,000. Putting that number back in would register sales of $1.9 million; a truer indicator of steady consumer demand in their niche market. The past two quarters showed tough comparisons, but I'm hoping for steady improvement in 2013...

 

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

Progress was minimal last week regarding fiscal cliff negotiations but the market shrugged it off and used an encouraging jobs report to close strong, with the DOW sitting at over 13,150 heading into the new trading week. Given the 'crunch time' time status of cliff negotiations, and also given the increasing likelihood that politicians are preparing to actually go over the cliff in an effort to blame each other for any economic catastrophe that might strike, volatility could increase this week as investors look to move away from any investments that could be most hard-hit by the stark tax increases and spending cuts that would result if a deal is not reached in time. It's also about that time of year where many investor start to effectuate tax-loss selling, which could also apply downward pressure to the markets between now and the end of the year, especially in the absence of a cliff deal...

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On the heels of an announcement last week that Implant Sciences (IMSC) had shipped the largest order in company history to India's Ministry of Defense for a total value of six million dollars worth of product, Implant again made noise this week by announcing that it had secured contracts to provide its Quantum Sniffer (QS) explosives trace detector units to various agencies of the US Government.  The full order entails a total of twelve units, a combination consisting of both the handheld H-150 and the desktop B-220 units.  The significance of this order should not be ignored as many skeptical investors had questioned the company's ability to infiltrate the US homeland defense market, even as sales continued to grow overseas. 

Maybe of even more significant is the inclusion of the B-220 in this order.  That unit in particular has been under review for quite some time by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for testing and validation and Implant officials have noted in recent conference calls that the process is nearly complete.  The fact that US government agencies are already jumping on board could boost the already confident opinion of many long-sided investors that the validation will soon turn into an all-out approval. 

Regardless, Monday's announcement is a sign that Implant's strategy of building an experienced sales and management force with numerous government connections - some of whom bailed from competing companies - could be starting to pay off in a big way...

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

It's all about the fiscal cliff.  While some of the ongoing market uncertainty came off the table last week as European leaders were finally able to come up with a deal that would free up the next round of bailout money for cash-strapped Greece, but negotiations in the United States between Republicans and Democrats took center stage with the fiscal cliff looming.  Talks initially looked quite promising in the immediate days following last month's election, but the two sides look to have dug in their heels in an effort to protect their respective bargaining chips.  That means the markets are most likely going to be edgy as negotiations intensify. 

The rapidly-issued news headlines have thus far detailed every trivial (or not so trivial) update regarding these political negotiations and stocks traded in kind, moving up and down on a whim, as demonstrated by Friday's volatile intra-day moves as multiple updates were offered from both sides in Washington.  In the end, though, the markets managed to hold their gains from the previous week and the DOW closed again at the north side of the 13,000 mark...

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A significant portion of the market worry for the week was resolved when European fiscal leaders were finally able to hash together a deal that would open the doors to Greece receiving another round of bailout cash, but that wasn't enough to satisfy US investors as the markets dropped amid increasing concerns of a political impasse surrounding the fiscal cliff.  Rhetoric was rosy immediately following US elections earlier this month that Republicans and Democrats would be able to come to the table and reach a compromise on the pending tax hikes and spending cuts that would result from enactment of the cliff, but each side looks again to have dug in its heels leading many investors to doubt that an outcome could be reached before the new year. 

As previously discussed, it's more likely that politicians will be able to reach an agreement on extending the deadline for reaching a new deal, which would temporarily ward off the tax hikes and spending cuts that investors and political pundits alike believe would lead to another US recession, but do little to quell the uneasy nerves of investors who grow continuously impatient with Washington's inaction.  That means nothing has changed for us on a day to day basis - we can still expect a volatile market as negotiations continue and it's likely that a few trading/accumulation opportunities may arise through the volatility.

There's a few opportunities that have already played out, and there are still more to keep an eye on moving forward.  Here's just a few of them...

 

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

After a week of celebrating family, friends, turkeys and stuffing, there'll be plenty to keep us occupied on the markets during the coming trading week.

A festive holiday mood, a cease fire in the Middle East and the perception of bipartisanship in Washington sent the markets well into the green last week, allowing for the DOW to reclaim the 13,000 throne for the first time since election day.  The S&P and Nasdaq followed suit, too, as did many of the international markets, creating a level of enthusiasm leading into the new trading week.  In all actuality, investors should not entirely expect the run to continue.  Many key concerns - many of which have resulted in the market decline of the past few weeks - still exist, most notably the pending 'fiscal cliff' in the United States and the inability of European leaders to finalize a plan for the next round of bailout money for Greece... 

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How quickly the tide can change.  Barely a day after the markets rose in force on encouraging signs of cooperation in Washington and in the European Union regarding the 'fiscal cliff' and Greek bailout, respectively, the mood changed by Wednesday morning and investors are again skittish - at least according to some headlines - because of reinvigorated concerns over the same subject matter.  While there are no indications that talks in the US over the fiscal cliff have been derailed, there may be something to the European concerns as ministers over there failed to come up with a united plan on Tuesday to continue the flow of bailout cash to Greece in order to keep that country from going bankruptcy.  If you want to talk about cliffs, Greece is teetering on the economic edge of one now, sparking fear among investors and economists alike as the euro hit multi-month lows Tuesday... 

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

An up day on Friday wasn't quite enough to eliminate another overall down week for the markets as flare-ups in the Middle East and concerns over the pending fiscal cliff in the United States continued to play on the minds of investors, but an unusually cooperative tone in Washington over the past few days could ease worries of a protracted market dip as the cliff negotiations play out.  Some may take a "wait and see" approach, however, because it's truly been years since the words "cooperative" and "Washington" could be associated in the same sentence - and just because Republicans and Democrats are talking, it doesn't mean that a deal is going to get done before the 11th hour.  After all, American politics are so divided and polarized right now that neither side wants to be viewed as cohorting with the enemy, and too much cooperation may kill the cable news channel ratings, so there's likely much more drama to come regarding these negotiations - whether invented by the media types or not - meaning there should still be plenty of market volatility until the day a deal is announced...

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Stocks continued their recent slide on Wednesday as negotiations over the pending 'fiscal cliff' in the United States took center stage when US President Barack Obama indicated that he would be unwilling to waver when it came to imposing tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.  Republicans in the House have also indicated that their position of no tax hikes without significant budget cuts is also unwavering, setting the tone for what could be a very tense and politically bloody period of discussions.

Tensions also flared in various flash points around the globe, which only added to the bearish investor mood and sparked a sell-off that intensified as the trading day progressed.  Europe has been riddled with mass protests and strikes by citizens unhappy with the drastic measures of austerity having to be implemented due to sputtering economies over there and new violence in the Middle East also has investors nervous...

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Investor caution could dominate mid-week trading as debates over the pending 'fiscal cliff' in the United States intensify as European leaders across the Atlantic decide to pay for another round of bailout financing to ward off a Greek bankruptcy.  The Greek government ignored the molotov cocktails and angry protesters last week to come up with additional measures of austerity - the first step towards securing this additional round of bailout money - and European fiscal representatives granted the country another two years to get its fiscal act together, but concerns of how these bailouts will be paid for transparent to European taxpayers will still weigh heavily on the markets. 

European shares suffered as a result on Tuesday, as did the Euro, which hit multi-month lows.

Any talk of European or international fiscal entities leaving the Greeks to fend for themselves is slim at this point, so the markets may take any concerns of a return to the drachma with a grain of salt, given that the bailout money has already started to flow into the country and it doesn't look like the tap is going to be shut off.  That said, if the rest of Europe gets tired of bearing the brunt of Greece's woes and uncertainty again creeps into the markets, all bets may be off...

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"Readers Respond" is a forum where readers run the show by commenting on or adding to ongoing discussions regarding events or companies that have either been covered by VFC's Stock House or are worth bringing to the attention of readers.  Remember, you don't have to agree with VFC to contribute - the best discussions are the ones where all angles are covered. All comments are welcome via email: vfc@vfcsstockhouse.com, Twitter (@VFCsStockHouse), Facebook or the VFC's Stock House Seeking Alpha page.

A comment from Seeking Alpha reader 'tpim' in response to the November 5th 'Weekly Stock Watch', which included discussions of Implant Sciences (IMSC)

I see you are long imsc.pk. What do you think of Ben Sharvy's article? ...

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well. 

With the election season now behind us and the prospects of a 'fiscal cliff' facing the US economy, concentration this week will be focused on whether or not last week's broad market drop will continue into an all-out market correction, as some have predicted.  The markets started tanking on Wednesday -following the re-election of US President Barack Obama - but to be completely fair to the President, the pullback cannot solely be attributed to investor reaction to the election results - there were many other factors at play last week that likely led to the market drop...

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Shares of Organovo Holdings (ONVO) have traded all over the map during the month of October, surging from just below the two dollar mark to well over three on strong volume when the company and its sector received high-profile coverage from reputable media outlets at the mid-month mark.  The volatility has subsided, however, and shares have simmered down again as the day, swing and momentum traders moved on with profits following the run.  Remaining investors - and potential new ones - will be investigating for themselves whether or not Organovo has what it takes to become a winner again, whether it be over the the speculative short or the validated long term.  The key - as is usually the case with still-developmental companies - lies with the technology, and it's the technology that may have this company riding the wave of the future in medical research and development...

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Posted by Posted by VFC on Nov 06, 2012
Vote, America.
 
It’s a freedom and a privilege that gets taken for granted and goes unappreciated by way too many. Around the globe there are hundreds of millions of people who would give anything just to be heard without the threat of backlash, violence or death. Many have come before us to ensure that our voting rights became and remain a mainstay in our society – to give us a voice in choosing the course of our future and our country so that we may leave the world a better place for our children.

Vote.

And then Go Giants.

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well. First thoughts again go to those who are still pulling themselves or their loved ones together after the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.

Finally...the politics may be winding down. Undoubtedly, Tuesday's US presidential election results will be the story of the week after an extremely long campaign season that has over-saturated the news media outlets and Facebook discussions for the better part of a year. Once the results are in on Tuesday, hopefully everyone can take a deep breath, lose some bitterness and all move forward together because - after all - we all play for the same team...

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Hurricane Sandy ensured that this week's trading week would be a shortened one and all thoughts and prayers are with those suffering and still dealing with the aftermath of that terrible storm. Around us, however, the world is still moving forward; the politicians are still politicking, world economies are still slowing, and - most importantly to those following VFC's Stock House - our favorite (or not so favorite) stocks and stories are again trading along and moving forward.

Again, the bulk of our thoughts go to those who need the strength right now - in all of the world's flashpoints and flood zones - but here's a look at some of our much-watched stories right now...

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

The market demise that began with Google's (GOOG) surprisingly weak earnings report about ten days ago - which was then followed by additional salvos of dismal earnings from other industry leaders in multiple sectors - continued last week with an early-week drop that saw the DOW sitting at just above the 13,000 mark by the close on Friday. Few signs of economic strength and improving earnings were offered to help keep enthusiasm afloat and pessimism at bay, although the two percent growth in the US GDP reported last week beat most analyst estimates and has warded off any immediate concerns of a return to recessionary times. The news was played down by many pundits, however, and the markets failed to react with any conviction as earnings reports continued to disappoint...

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Sunshine (SSH) shares were moving higher on Monday, trading up by five percent after having dropped to near the six dollar mark late last week following the airing of funding concerns on the Seeking Alpha website by an individual investor who held no position in the stock.  The concerns, as it turns out, may have been a tad bit overblown as they did not address the fact that the C-Pulse Heart Assist system had already received a CE Mark approval in Europe and is on track to start registering commercial sales as soon as within the current quarter.  Additional concerns were raised - and then debunked - regarding competition from other heart-assist devices on the market, specifically those marketed by Heartware International (HTWR) and Thoratec (THOR), for example, given that the C-Pulse is implanted outside of a patient's bloodstream, a huge advantage over any purported competition...

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A little over a month ago Synergy Pharmaceuticals (SGYP) announced that it had filed an Investigational New Drug (IND) with the FDA for a second GI pipeline candidate, SP-333, an announcement that piqued investor interest in this company's ability to potential become a big player in the GI field later on down the road.  Until that time Synergy had mainly attracted investor interest for the potential of its lead drug candidate, Plecanatide, which is currently being investigated in a Phase IIb/III trial for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC), with further trials planned for Plecanatide in the treatment of constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C), too.  Shares ran to the seven dollar mark earlier this year as the potential of Plecanatide became appreciated by the speculative investors of the sector and another push over five materialized following the approval of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals' (IRWD) Linzess early last month.  Linzess, as previously discussed, shares the same origins and mechanism-of-action as Plecanatide and analysts believe that the two will perform comparably on the market, with a potential edge going to Plecanatide for a more favorable side effect profile...

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

Always an innovator and market-place leader, Google (GOOG) once again managed to do something that no other company had yet been able to do. The current earnings season was long-expected to be a disappointing one, but as report after lackluster report rolled in - along with some revised guidance to the downside - the markets traded relatively unscathed, remaining above the disappointing fray and leaving many with the impression that the few earnings surprises that did emerge provided enough juice so that the season would come and go without any major market shift transpiring...until Google reported...

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Shares of Sunshine Heart (SSH) were hit fairly hard this week, dropping to lows over the mid-week period that had not been seen for months. Given that the share price dip was sparked by investor concerns that may be quite unjustified, the potential for a rebound exists for the near term, and maybe even more so for the long term. Leading the charge to the downside may have been investor questions that surfaced this week regarding the company's cash position and potential competition that Sunshine's C-Pulse Heart Assist system, a device that has thus far proven to not only halt the progression of heart failure in patients with Class III and ambulatory Class IV heart failure, may face on the open market. Additional concerns were raised at the fact that C-Pulse would not even be slated to reach market in the United States until 2015, before which time the company could be susceptible to multiple rounds of financing that could result in severe dilution for retail investors...

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Just as easily as the markets drop, they too can rebound - as proven this week with the DOW's recovery back to the 13,500 mark on not-so-disappointing earnings reports by some key players in multiple sectors and continued encouraging economic indicators, including a boost in housing starts to four-year highs that reinvigorates enthusiasm in the sector that has arguably taken the worst hit since economic crisis of a few years ago.  The positive mood spread globally as Asian and European shares also enjoyed early-week market stability.

Back in the US, a huge shakeup in the banking sector overshadowed the earnings talk as Citigroup Inc (C) CEO Vikram Pandit surprisingly stepped down, automatically leading investors to concentrate more on the future direction of that company than on the present day earnings.  Bank of America Corp (BAC) emerged from its own earnings report relatively unscathed, beating estimates on one account, but missing on another.  The mixed report detracted little from what's looks to be rebounding housing and earnings numbers and financial headlines following the report indicated that the sector could be in for an overall upswing, with eyes again towards the future...

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Investors may be wondering if Dendreon (DNDN) can ever catch a break.  A few years ago positive Phase III results for the company's immunotherapeutic prostate cancer treatment defied the critics and set the stage for an historic approval by the FDA in May, 2010, which sent shares soaring towards the forty dollar mark, but since that time the company has been plagued by slumping Provenge sales, questionable reporting practices, and continued attacks from what some would consider the 'peanut gallery.' 

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At the conclusion of each week, VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well.

Weeks of speculation regarding an earnings season market meltdown started to play out to form last week as each of the first four trading days resulted in significant drops before a luke-warm Friday halted the skid and prevented an all-out panic.  September's multi-year highs could soon be forgotten moving into the new trading week as investors remain unconvinced that there are enough earnings surprises in store to support a continued move higher, or even to fend off a further drop.  Some companies are out there 'beating the street,' per say, and guiding higher - Sirius XM Radio Inc. (SIRI) upped its subscriber forecast for the year last week, for example - while both JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) beat profit expectations this past Friday.  Stark warnings from both Alcoa (AA) and Chevron (CVX), however, significantly impacted mid-week trading and even while the somewhat encouraging aspects of the JPM and WFC impressed on one account, slowing revenue numbers from the two banking giants concerned investors enough to leave shares of each company trading in the red for the day...

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