Diary of a Stock Market Loser

You go, Rick!

I'm not one to usually speak about myself in the third person, but it's also rare to see myself beating the market in Motley Fool CAPS for two weeks in a row.

The good news is that my rating of 7.84 is the highest since I began chronicling my efforts to get out of the CAPS gutter four months ago. The bad news is that this isn't Dancing With the Stars or figure skating, where a 10 is a perfect score. My 7.84 is out of a possible score of 100, which means that 92% of you out there are still beating me in CAPS' community stock-picking experience.

These are my ratings over the past few weeks:

Let's go over some of my recent picks and pans, as I do every week.

Making moves and taking names
I made four new calls this week, but they weren't all bullish. I bet against Ann Taylor (NYSE: ANN  ) and Talbots (NYSE: TLB  ) , two of the many specialty retailers that will post their quarterly results next week.

I think the tight economic times mean that moms will scale back on their own clothing needs before they'll forgo buying clothes for their children. Ann Taylor offers a bonus bearish feature of specializing in workforce-friendly outfits, an area that will take a notable hit if employment numbers weaken. As for Talbots, the limited amount of clothing lines it carries for men and children hasn't helped. The retailer is in a funk. It will probably post a loss this year, and a turnaround doesn't seem to be waiting around the corner.

On the more upbeat side, I initiated a bullish call on BJ's Wholesale Club (NYSE: BJ  ) . The chain reports earnings next week, and reports from other warehouse clubs have been encouraging. You don't get any more recession-resistant than groceries in bulk: We need to eat, and tighter times will require getting more bang for our buck. Yet even if the economy improves, BJ's is still positioned well.

My other bullish pick is VisionChina Media (Nasdaq: VISN  ) . The company runs a popular video advertising network that runs on buses and trains. VisionChina posted monster quarterly results last month, but even now, you're seeing healthy growth from both online and offline advertising companies in China.

Things can only get better
I did a bit of my usual pruning work, though this time, I did so in anticipation of upcoming earnings. I removed my bearish call on Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM  ) , because even though I still believe the cloud-computing specialist is overvalued, next week's report should be strong -- especially if companies are scaling back on their enterprise-software expenditures by going with Salesforce's more economical Web-based solutions.

Furthermore, let's be frank: A ton of companies have been dying to acquire Salesforce as a way to wave the cloud-computing flag. Storing apps on a provider's servers is the future, and Salesforce is a pioneer.

Another tech bellwether off my scorecard is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) . I rode a bullish vibe on HP for some welcome gains, but I bowed out when reports first surfaced that the company was in talks to acquire EDS (NYSE: EDS  ) .

This past week, HP finally made my move official. Yes, the company has beaten earnings in each and every quarter since CEO Mark Hurd took the company's helm. Still, I fear that after heading a tremendous turnaround effort, Hurd has now turned to a beefy acquisition because he can no longer squeeze such fat margins out of HP's organic business

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. You also may want to give Motley Fool CAPS a shot. The moment you start, you'll be way ahead of me.

I won't stop fighting just because there's one more person ahead of me, though. In fact, I'm not going to rest until my rating grows respectable. See you on CAPS!

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is always up for a good game. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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