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Research Highlights: Our Bullish and Bearish Opinions

Here's some of the best research we published this past week.

On behalf of all of us at Morningstar, Happy Holidays!

  • Bullish and Bearish Reports This Week
  • CEO of the Year Nominees
  • Casino Stocks
  • What's Up Next Week

Bullish and Bearish Reports from This Week
Among the new 
stock and fund Analyst Reports we published this week, here are some highlights: 

Michael Hodel’s  Take on AT&T (T) and its deal to sell its broadband unit to Comcast. According to him, if you’re an AT&T shareholder you’ve got to like the terms.

Stock analyst Travis Pascavis is a bull on  General Motors (GM). "Under these assumptions, we continue to believe GM's stock is attractive, despite the challenges brought on by a slumping U.S. economy."

Scott Cooley likes  Fidelity Strategic Income (FSICX). "In short, this fund offers a solid record, experienced management, and a reasonable expense ratio."

Gregg Wolper is a fan of  First Eagle SoGen Overseas (SGOVX). "In a category that boasts a number of stellar value-oriented offerings, this fund has proven that it's one of the best."

Jonathan Schrader doesn't like the stock of  FedEx (FDX). "Our new fair value is still well below the market price...because of the company's inability to consistently generate free cash flow."

Brian Portnoy doesn't see much to like at  Dreyfus Founders Growth (FRGRX). "Even with a new skipper, Dreyfus Founders Growth has a long way to go before earning our recommendation."

Laura Lutton is not impressed with  Nicholas Limited Edition (NCLEX) "Its results have been unimpressive over time, and its recent shift adds a bit of uncertainty to the mix."

Nominees for CEO of the Year
In the first week of January, our analysts will hand out awards for Fund Manager and CEO of the Year. On the fund side, Director of Fund Analysis Russel Kinnel has walked you through the nominees for
International Manager of the Year and Bond Manager of the Year. Look for his discusson of nominees for Domestic Manager of the Year next week.

For CEO of the Year, Director of Stocks Analysis Pat Dorsey has run down the four nominees. While our analysts love the four companies run by these CEOs, our opinions on their stocks are more muted:

Meg Whitman of eBay (EBAY)
From our  Analyst Report: "We have nothing but good things to say about eBay as a company, since its performance has been stellar. The stock, though, is just too expensive."

Jim Parker and Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines (LUV)
From our  
Analyst Report: "While we see improvements in Southwest's outlook and continue to believe that it is the class of the airline industry, we are holding off until the stock becomes undervalued."

Michael Dell of Dell Computer (DELL)
From our  
Analyst Report: "Dell has tremendous negotiating power and economies of scale, so gross margins are likely to either remain steady or perhaps even tick upward."

Richard Schulze of Best Buy (BBY)
From our  
Analyst Report: "We like Best Buy. It has a lot going for it as a company, and it's a great place to shop. But given some of the near-term risks to its business, we can't justify paying 32 times forward earnings for its shares."

To see our current view of the stocks of past CEO-of-the-Year winners, check out our reports on  Nokia  (NOK) and  Charles Schwab (SCH).

Casino Stocks
If you’ve seen the movie Ocean's 11, you know casinos have plenty of cash on hand. Morningstar analyst Josh Peters recently published new reports on several casino stocks, but he doesn’t think much of that cash will land in shareholders’ pockets.

 Harrah’s Entertainment (HET)
"We're still mindful of Harrah's long history of mediocre and often disappointing financial performance, and that alone is enough to keep us out of the stock."

 Mandalay Resort Group (MBG)
"Much of its outperformance was due to above-average table luck at Mandalay Bay compared to worse-than-normal luck at the same property a year ago."

 MGM Mirage (MGG)
"It's the stock's valuation where we have a bone to pick."

 Park Place Entertainment (PPE)
"With few avenues available to revive the returns on existing assets, improving Park Place's competitive standing will probably require humongous capital spending."

What’s Up Next Week

  • Free Star Ratings for Stocks. Starting on Saturday, December 22, and lasting one week, we'll highlight 10 new stock star ratings. Each week we highlight a different list. If you're not a Premium Member, you can still see these 10 star ratings. (To view each week's free star ratings, you do need to register, but it's easy--and free.)
  • Free Fund Picks. On Wednesday, we’ll showcase the week’s free Fund Analyst Picks. (Each week we feature a different category.)
  • Video Reports. Three times a day our analysts film video reports interpreting the major financial news stories of the day and highlighting our best investing ideas. Check out our weekly schedule for what’s on tap.
  • Pat Dorsey on Fox News Channel. Our director of stock analysis makes his weekly appearance on the Bulls & Bears show on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. EST. (The show also runs at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 9:00 a.m. Sunday.)
  • Russel Kinnel on CNBC. See our director of fund analysis each Friday morning at about 10:25 a.m. EST.
  • Christine Benz on CNNfn. See the editor of Morningstar FundInvestor talk funds every Friday at 4:45 p.m. EST.

If you read research you love or hate on the site, let me know at Also note that you can keep up with through two of our weekly e-newsletters: Weekly Wrap and SmartInvestor. They’re both free.