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I follow quite a lot of companies, so the usefulness of a watchlist to me cannot be overstated. Without my watchlist, I'd be unable to keep up on my favorite sectors and what's really moving the market. Even worse, I'd be lost when the time came to choose which stock I'm buying or shorting next.

Today is "Watchlist Wednesday," so I'm discussing three companies that have crossed my radar in the past week -- and at what point I may consider taking action on these calls with my own money. Keep in mind, these aren't concrete buy or sell recommendations, nor do I guarantee I'll take action on the companies being discussed weekly. What I can promise is that you can follow my real-life transactions through my profile, and that I, like everyone else here at The Motley Fool, will continue to hold the integrity of our disclosure policy in the highest regard.

Facebook (Nasdaq: FB  )
If you don't have Facebook on your watchlist by now, crawl out from the cave you've been hiding in and click the little "plus" sign next to the ticker symbol to add it to your Watchlist. Even if it's not a stock you really care to trade, what Facebook does sets the precedence for a lot of social media, communications, and tech companies.

Last week, Facebook reported its second-quarter results (its first as a publicly traded company), and for the most part, it failed to impress. I wasn't too shocked, as my Foolish partners in crime, Travis Hoium and Alex Planes, agreed with me in our roundtable that Facebook shares are overvalued. Revenue did rise 32%, but considering the rate at which growth is decelerating, it's concerning. Perhaps the biggest concern was the increase in advertising revenue to 84% of total revenue. This was confirmed when Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA  ) also nosedived after broadly missing its second-quarter sales and profit forecast, which it blamed squarely on Facebook's new algorithms that it said made finding its games difficult for users. Let's not forget that it was a high dependence on ads that killed many dot-coms 10 years ago and that leaves Facebook exposed to macroeconomic headwinds more than its shareholders would like it to be.

The Facebook idea is great, but it has a long way to go before it can turn what it's written down on paper into actual results. It does, however, merit a spot on my and your Watchlist simply because of its broad-reaching appeal.

Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  )
Just because I'm writing this article while on vacation and sitting in a Starbucks doesn't mean I'm addicted to Starbucks -- but I might as well be.

Starbucks joined Facebook last week in issuing quarterly results that didn't perk up investor optimism. The premium-coffee producer slightly lowered its fourth-quarter earnings outlook and reported a third-quarter profit that fell shy of Wall Street and its own expectations. The company blamed weak customer traffic in June as the primary culprit.

Even so, there were plenty of positives to take from the report and reasons to believe that Starbucks is once again getting cheap. The China and Asia-Pacific region, which is the new growth engine for Starbucks, saw sales growth of 31%, with double-digit same-store sales growth in China. In the Americas, net revenue rose 9% as same-store sales jumped 7% and operating margins expanded 90 basis points. But where growth really cranked up was in the company's direct channel marketing segment. Sales in this segment rose a blistering 45% over last year, as it sold more packaged coffee and as it continues to take advantage of its K-Cup partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR  ) . The introduction of the Verismo, Starbucks' own single-serve coffee system, in the fall should also vastly boost this segment.

It may be time to drink up some Starbucks in the near future.

ATP Oil & Gas (Nasdaq: ATPG  )
It's moment-of-truth time for ATP Oil & Gas. The company has spent its resources at a breakneck pace over the past couple of years to drill and develop wells in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, and now in the Shimshon well off the coast of Israel, which development partner Isramco Negev said could possess 2.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Unfortunately for ATP shareholders, meeting production goals hasn't been in the cards. The company has $1.5 billion worth of debt at 11.875% due in May 2015, and some analysts have warned that the company could run out of cash, between operating losses and interest payments, by next quarter. Last week, ATP's debt traded at record-low levels, and a consortium of bondholders has gotten together to seek an advisor in what amounts to a last-ditch effort aimed at restructuring ATP's whopping debt load.

It appears to be just a matter of weeks or months before this story completely plays itself out, but as you can tell from my CAPS portfolio, I stand decidedly negative on ATP's prospects going forward.

Foolish roundup
Is my bullishness or bearishness misplaced? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and consider following my cue by using these links to add these companies to your free personalized Watchlist to keep up on the latest news with each company:

Don't let your search for great stocks end here. Consider getting your copy of our special report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." This report details a company that our chief investment officer has described as the "Costco of Latin America," and it's yours for the low, low price of free -- so don't miss out!

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He's a total nerd when it comes to making lists. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook, Starbucks, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Costco. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Facebook, Starbucks, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Costco, as well as writing covered calls on Starbucks and creating a lurking gator position in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that believes transparency comes first.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 03, 2012, at 11:11 PM, awallejr wrote:

    You picked 3 "tough" companies to own. Of the 3, SBUX is probably the safest. You would think I would say ATPG is the worse of the 3 but I actually think FB is.

    The CEO and guy with total control of the company told you he doesn't care about profits. I told people buy one share just to say you are an owner and avoid the stock. He has no clue how to monetize the company which he is now forced to consider since it went public. Massive dump come November when the lockup period expires.

    ATPG could be a total bust or a major home run. We will know in a few months. Personally I would suggest the bonds first, preferred second over the common.

  • Report this Comment On August 06, 2012, at 8:29 PM, goodjewishlawyer wrote:

    What can you do with a stock you paid over $17.00 per share for that is now trading at $1.54 or whatever. The few cents really don't matter do they? What really "erks me" <-- (the phrase "erks me" is my contribution to the "Fool's Rules" of being respectful otherwise I would have used a colloquial statement that would be more appropriate in expressing a genuine emotion when discussing ATPG). Not too long ago I read an article that discretely mentioned the officers and Board of Directors of ATPG approving bonuses for the officers. That's disgraceful and pitiful. I would never deny an executive a bonus when his efforts are making the corporation more profitable but when they're pawning anything that has any value to pay themselves the outrageous salaries they take, they should be embarrassed to take a bonus. However; times and attitudes have changed and an idea such as the one I've just mentioned has turned to being proud that they can legally stuff their pockets with money that rightfully should be going to pay down the debt. They have gotten over. Are we supposed to say "good for them" now? Please let me know when the time is right to raise my glass. Look at that I'm so proud of myself for posting this squeeky clean comment. I think I should get "The Fool's Rules Award" and be made an Honorary Fool even though I believe that I'm still a member of that motley group posting here incognito under a different e-mail address which is just as legitimate an e-mail address as my member e-mail address; even more legitimate since I own this domain; I also own and in case anyone is interested I own and too. Oh and the day after I sell it to someone Pepsi will be looking all over the earth for those domains for a campaign they won't start until a minute after I sell the domains.

    You know the Fools make some good recomendations but if you follow me around and the minute after I buy common shares of stock in any company you go and short it you will make a fortune. It also works the other way too; when I sell shares take a long position and buy buy buy. I can stop the wind in a hurricane; all I need to do is go out and buy a kite. The hovering clouds need to move away and let some sunshine in. Please!

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