Like a chimp, I don't mind going out on limbs. Like a chump, I keep doing so even when the branch cracks and I fall flat on my face. Like a champ, I'll dust myself off and get back on that limb.
Chimps? Chumps? Champs? Why don't I just stop beating around the metaphors and get into the four things that I see happening in the marketplace this year.
XM and Sirius will beat the market in 2008, deal or no deal
The deal that seemed so unlikely to receive regulatory approval is still on the table more than 10 months later. The fact that it hasn't been shot down is a good thing, with every passing month making it more likely to get approval, as regulators will be criticized for not killing the merger earlier if they lean strictly on the language of the original creation of the two satellite radio operators.
You also have the thinning crowd of objectors. Consumers want a combination because XM
I can't speak on behalf of the politicos, but what does it tell you if conventional radio's National Association of Broadcasters is the loudest critic of the deal? Do they see a merger as a competitive threat, and if so, doesn't that render the argument that this is a monopoly moot?
Let me go further than predicting the outcome of the merger. Whether or not it happens, I argue that XM and Sirius will beat the market averages this year. Shares of both XM and Sirius were slammed in 2007, even with the deal announcement. The market has not only devalued the substantial synergies of a merger, but failed to account for a pair of companies that continue to grow as standalone operators. With more than 16 million subscribers and taking baby steps toward positive cash flow, maybe axing the merger would be the best in terms of starting to view these companies as growth vehicles and not broadcasters mired in FTC regulatory tape.
Microsoft will snap up Yahoo!
I've said it before, and I'm not alone. Microsoft
If Google is able to complete its $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick, the prediction isn't even debatable. Google will be an unbeatable cyberspace monster in contextual and display advertising. It's not a matter of Microhoo or Yahoosoft killing Google in the crib. It's a matter of taking a stand before they're the ones going horizontal in the coffin.
Yahoo! knows this already. It's been running in cement shoes ever since Google went public, dazzling us with its quarterly sprints. Microsoft knows that it's not immune, even if it's still offsetting losses at its MSN online subsidiary through high-margin software sales. Mr. Softy knows that Google is making inroads into application software and browsers. Operating systems will become less relevant in the Web-powered future.
Joining forces now would help both companies. They need a thicker Rolodex to compete with Google's market dominance in paid search. They also need to do something dramatic to shed the image of the companies as dot-com stalwarts. Get a room, you two!
will beat the market averages in 2008
It may no longer be cool to talk about China as a growth stock market, but that doesn't mean that elements aren't in place for another rocking good year there. The Olympic Games in Beijing are an obvious catalyst, but this is still an economy growing at a 10% annualized clip in recent years.
Some of the trading within China's exchanges is of the tulip bulb variety, with uneducated speculators bidding up overpriced junk. You don't have to play that frenzied game. I'm seeing growing online gaming companies like NetEase
The valuations get a little more uncomfortable once you start sizing up China's leaders in travel, real estate, and Internet search, but the growth -- and more importantly the potential for continued growth -- justifies many of the markups.
Chinese stocks may start 2008 slowly, but I expect them to come on strong by the second half of the year to deliver another year of thumping the world averages.
The United States will also perform above its historical norm
It's easy to get down on stateside stocks. They're the ones being dumped by foreign investors as the dollar continues to weaken. Even the defensive sectors like pharmaceuticals, consumer nondurables, and financial services have come under fire in 2007.
Recessionary fears loom, even if the market is typically robust heading into an election year. I'm not bold enough to predict that some of the hardest-hit industries like real estate developers or subprime mortgage lenders will bounce back. That may not happen until 2009 at the earliest. However, the Fed is committed to keeping the economy stable and I think tech stocks will have no problem carrying us on their backs as we all climb the wall of worry.
So get out there and enjoy 2008. I predict it will be far more upbeat than the hibernating bears may have you believe.
Yahoo! has been recommended to Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter subscribers. Microsoft is an Inside Value stock selection. NetEase is a Rule Breakers stock pick. I predict you will be handsomely rewarded if you take any of these newsletters for a free 30-day trial subscription.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't mind taking out the crystal ball from time to time, if only to dust it for fingerprints. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.