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2008 is so yesterday. It's time to start looking ahead, so let's dust off this crystal ball to see what the future may hold for some of your investments.
Naturally, going out on a limb can be a risky pastime. However, it's really the only way to invest since the best stock pickers are the ones who train themselves to see what others don't.
So, in no particular order, let me go over a few of the financial news events that I see going down next year.
1. Yahoo! will trade higher in 2009
The answer you're looking for is 2005. That is the last year that found shares of Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) trading higher. The stock tanked 35% in 2006, slipped 9% in 2007, and is being hammered with a 48% drop so far this year.
The streak will end in 2009, as there are too many catalysts working in the company's favor:
- Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) can always come back. The bid will be substantially lower than the original $31 offer, but enough of a premium to put shareowners out of their misery.
- A new CEO may prove to be the visionary that can spark market share growth and margin expansion.
- Yahoo!'s Asian investments, including chunky stakes in Yahoo! Japan and China's Alibaba may become market darlings again, even if Yahoo! itself does not.
Even if none of this happens, Yahoo! is still a huge traffic magnet in cyberspace. Once ad rates stabilize, the Internet should bounce back stronger than more traditional advertising platforms.
2. Sirius XM won't file for bankruptcy
Wall Street is braced for the worst with Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) . The stock has shed 95% of its value this year, trading for pocket change as if a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is around the corner.
It's easy to be fearful. The company has a third of its $3.4 billion in total debt due next year. Refinancing isn't easy when credit markets are tight, and a $0.15 share price makes a dilutive recapitalization unattractive.
CEO Mel Karmazin doesn't really have much of a choice, though. As a consumer-facing company, filing for bankruptcy reorganization could be fatal. Subscribers will back off from prepaying for long-term subscriptions, and automakers will want sweeter customer acquisition royalties. Either way, cash flow will take a colossal hit that is not offset by emerging out of bankruptcy with a cleaner balance sheet and wiped-out common stockholders. It won't be easy, but Sirius XM will do everything possible to avoid getting that far.
3. Tech will lead the market recovery
Some of this year's biggest laggards, like homebuilders, investment bankers, and banks are starting to bounce back. I don't buy it. It may be years before real estate developers have a reason to break ground on new homes or for investment bankers to underwrite deals. The one sector that will lead the country out of recession is technology.
It will be companies like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , which were smoking hot leading into the meltdown, that will regain their sizzle. They have been gaining market share during the lull, even as analysts talk down their near-term earnings prospects.
4. Chinese stocks will outperform stateside equities
I took a look at the one stock in China that I believe investors should own next year, but they should fare well with just about any of them. China's economy is showing signs of cracking, but the government is taking a proactive approach in beefing things up to nip the malaise in the bud, unlike the reactive approach elsewhere .
There are bargains to be found everywhere you look. Online gaming leader NetEase.com (Nasdaq: NTES ) -- growing nicely and with insane profit margins -- is fetching just 11 times next year's projected profitability. Leading real estate agency E-House (NYSE: EJ ) is trading at just 13 times next year's bottom-line targets, and this is actually a fast-growing industry in China.
I am optimistic when it comes to the chances for the United States to bounce back next year. However, I am even more confident that the sturdier Chinese equities will lead the way higher.
Other stories to read before the ball drops: