Last Week's 5 Smartest Stock Moves

If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of last week's more uplifting headlines.

1. You go, IPO
Wall Street debutantes are still hard to come by. DigitalGlobe (NYSE: DGI  ) became just the fifth company to go public in this country in 2009 -- and it was a winner. The IPO was priced at $19 a share, ahead of the original $16 to $18 price range.

The stock opened nicely higher on Thursday. It never dipped into the teens during its first two trading days and is still trading above its IPO pricing, despite some pullback today. Leave it to a satellite mapping company to show the market where it should be heading.

Two more IPOs are expected this week.

2. E*Trade earns its star
April was a good month for discount broker E*Trade (Nasdaq: ETFC  ) . It closed out the month with an additional 32,550 brokerage accounts. The company's growing crowd is also becoming more active: E*Trade clients placed an average of 230,345 revenue-generating trades per trading day, 35% ahead of where transactions were a year ago.

E*Trade isn't perfect, though. It closed out April with fewer banking accounts. All 11 major analysts following the company still see it posting a loss this year. However, if active traders keep flocking to E*Trade, you have to like its chances.

3. It's too late to apologize
Even analysts can have a change of heart. When online marketplace giant eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY  ) announced a radical pricing shift last week -- essentially giving casual sellers five listings a month without insertion fees -- I was cynical. I called it "eBay's next mistake." I remembered the annual "free listing" days that the auction site used to crank out around the holidays until 2004, filling up the site with overpriced junk and Craigslist-esque noise.

After going over the reader responses to the article, I've changed my mind. This is a good move by the struggling company. Spreading out the listing timeline to a month and limiting the number of items will inject the site with a little of the mystery and excitement that seems absent these days. eBay.com itself is overrun with power sellers peddling cookie-cutter wares, so it's missing a lot of the garage-sale wonder that made it rock in the 1990s. eBay needs traffic after a few rough quarters, and this is a step in the right direction.

Now let me go see what I have that's collecting dust in my garage.

4. We were only freshmen
If DigitalGlobal needs some Wall Street rookies to look up to, it can do far worse than emulating Rackspace Hosting (NYSE: RAX  ) and Rosetta Stone (NYSE: RST  ) . Rackspace is a growing Web hoster, doing booming business with its cloud -omputing platform. Rosetta Stone is the maker of foreign-language software that helped many stateside athletes brush up on their Mandarin as they headed out to the Olympics in Beijing last summer.

Both companies posted their quarterly reports on the same day, and they bucked the trend of sloppy results that have plagued more seasoned public companies. Rackspace and Rosetta Stone delivered 21% and 41% revenue growth, respectively. They were both easily profitable.

That's an important point. Companies that go public need to make sure that they come through during their first few quarters as public companies. If they don't, investor trust may be irreparably damaged.

Between DigitalGlobal's well-received IPO and the strong quarters out of Rackspace and Rosetta, it's no surprise to find two companies angling to complete their IPOs later this week.

5. It's the only way to fly
Getting excited about the travel industry requires a great deal of nose-clenching these days. Between the swine flu and the rocky economy, legacy carriers are cutting back on their flight schedules, and hotels are left with little choice but to discount their vacant rooms.

Travel sites must be taking a beating, right? Wrong. Priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN  ) and China's Ctrip.com (Nasdaq: CTRP  ) flew past Wall Street's quarterly profit targets last week. Either they're gaining market share or the near-term demise of the travel industry has been greatly exaggerated.

eBay and Priceline.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. eBay is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Ctrip.com International is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is an optimist at every turn. He's the inspiration for The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" song. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick 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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  • Report this Comment On May 18, 2009, at 5:36 PM, mrt59 wrote:

    It's DigitalGlobe, not DigitalGlobal -- how about a little fact checking...

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