This Week's 5 Smartest Stock Moves

These five companies got it right this week.

Jan 3, 2014 at 5:35PM

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

1. Don't pull the plug 
Things are looking up for Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG), and shares soared 50% on Thursday after an upbeat order update.

Plug Power announced that it closed out the fourth quarter with $32 million in orders, and that the new quarter will meet or exceed that performance. Many of Plug Power's existing customers placed additional orders during the quarter, validating the model. Plug Power also expects to generate healthy recurring revenue in hydrogen and service.

It didn't take long for Plug Power to set itself up as a frontrunner for the best-performing stock of 2014.

2. Disney isn't Goofy
Disney (NYSE:DIS) is looking a bit brighter in the eyes of Guggenheim analyst Michael Morris. He is upgrading the family entertainment giant from neutral to buy. He's propping up his price target from $77 to $87. 

Morris is encouraged by the performance of Disney's latest theatrical releases and what the future holds in the coming years as the House of Mouse milks its acquired Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm properties. 

3. Cheering on the Cheerios 
General Mills
(NYSE:GIS) has become the latest company to stamp out genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in a flagship product. The cereal giant's signature Cheerios will now be free of GMOs. The move doesn't apply to all of its brands, but it's naturally a step that's being applauded by activists arguing that introducing modified harvest enhancers into crops are hurtful in the long run.

Are GMOs really bad for you? That debate is beyond the scope of this weekly column. The point here is merely that a growing number of people are rallying against GMOs, and that makes it a smart move by General Mills to sidestep the rage of activists. 

4. Baidu bows
Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) has had an unfortunate knack for being on the wrong end of piracy issues over the years, and this time the National Copyright Administration of China has fined the company for unofficial copies of movies and TV shows that show up in the search giant's query results. 

Baidu quickly agreed to play nice, promising to ramp up its filtering technology to stamp out the links to pirated videos. It's the smart response on Baidu's part, and it also opens the door for legitimate video companies in China that pay up for licensed content. 

There will never be a perfect cure for rampant piracy. This problem is not limited to China. However, it should provide a boost to China's video providers, and that ultimately includes Baidu itself.

5. Pandora ads it up
 (NYSE:P) got a boost when Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Graham issued a bullish note on the streaming-music leader. 

Sticking to his earlier buy rating, Graham's encouragement stems from trends in advertising revenue. His taste test found that December treated listeners to a marginally lower number of ads -- and a larger mix of shorter 15-second spots -- than earlier in the quarter. However, he still sees revenue per hour improving.

Investors have already seen this trend in play. Pandora's revenue grew roughly three times faster than the number of listener hours it served in its previous quarter. Graham is modeling $198 million in revenue for its latest quarter, well ahead of the $187.9 million in revenue that is the average forecast of his peers. 

Keep it going with six more smart moves
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Baidu, Pandora Media, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Baidu and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.

A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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