Diary of a Stock Market Loser

So much for my turnaround.

I was pumped last week, making enough sharp stock picks to propel my cellar-hugging Motley Fool CAPS rating from 0.51 to 4.81. In other words, I went from being better than just 0.51% of my fellow players to a relatively better 4.81%.

Sure, lagging 95.19% of you is not the kind of art that will make it onto my mother's refrigerator, but it was a welcome improvement.

It didn't last. I was actually running ahead of last week's rating, all the way to the last hour of the trading day yesterday. The market soared, but my stocks did not. My new rating of 2.69 stings, but it's better than where I was a couple of weeks ago.

Here's how my ratings have clocked in over the past few weeks:

As I have every week, let's go over some of my recent picks and pans.

Making moves and taking names
I made three new calls this week, all bullish and all reporting quarterly earnings next week. The first one was to hop onto Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL  ) . Iron Man opens this weekend. It should be huge. Now that Marvel is making the leveraged bet of bankrolling many of its productions, success here will be magnified.

Wall Street expects earnings to dip, but Marvel has been on a roll lately after blowing past analyst estimates in the two previous quarters. I like the company's chances to land the one-two punch of a huge movie opening and a healthy earnings report.

Greenfield Online (Nasdaq: SRVY  ) is my second bullish call. I've been skeptical of the Web survey company in the past. Once Facebook began offering a polling service last year, I was skeptical of Greenfield's prospects.

Greenfield rose above it, topping market estimates on accelerating revenue growth in the final quarter of 2007. The company's guidance calls for revenue growth to slow in 2008, but the company's high-margin model will do just fine with that. The company also has healthy overseas exposure, so it's not as if its obsolescence is hanging on stateside competition.

My third bullish call is Activision (Nasdaq: ATVI  ) . Video game developers are in a sweet spot these days, with digital delivery providing margin-widening opportunities if you have hot titles. Between Guitar Hero, Call of Duty, and now World of Warcraft, it's hard not to like Activision's chances.

Things can only get better
I also did quite a bit of pruning this week. I cut ties with seven stocks, most notably my bearish call on Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) . I didn't want to get greedy after logging a small gain, especially with a real possibility of Microhoo going through at a higher price.

My timing was also pretty good on letting go of Shutterfly (Nasdaq: SFLY  ) as a bullish pick. I let it go the day before the stock took a 10% tumble on disappointing results. I also cashed out after a 32% gain on Build-A-Bear Workshop (NYSE: BBW  ) in a span of less than two weeks. I didn't want to look a gift teddy bear in the mouth, especially when Build-A-Bear still has popularity issues to tackle.

I also turned the dial on Clear Channel (NYSE: CCU  ) . I was never truly comfortable with the bullish call I made on the stock, and now that its merger hopes have hit a pothole and the company is gearing up for its quarterly report late next week, I didn't want to stick around.

What will I do next? You're welcome to follow along on my CAPS page to see how I'm doing even before next week's update.

Another thing you may want to do is give Motley Fool CAPS a shot. The moment you start, you'll be way ahead of me. It doesn't mean I'm going to stop fighting just because there's one more person ahead of me.

I'm not going to rest until my rating grows respectable. See you there!


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