Here are five stocks to avoid, unless you are a short-seller, and why:
Apollo Group (NASDAQ: APOL) is in the for-profit education business, owner of the well-known University of Phoenix and other institutions. Apollo's stock jumped in June along with the stocks of other for-profit education companies including DeVry Inc (NYSE: DV) and ITT Corporation (NYSE: ESI) when new federal aid rules were passed reducing regulatory risk to the schools in getting federal student loan dollars. But the for-profit education business that soared during the recession is coming under increasing fire as of late for costing too much and delivering too little in return. Many students claim they end up saddled with debt and can't get decent employment once they graduate. Also, education costs are being threatened in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Even though Apollo has a strong cash position and marketing and brand prowess, there's little but downside when it comes to the stock price ahead for Apollo, trading near a 52-week high.
General Motors (NYSE: GM) was added Wednesday to Morgan Stanley's Best Idea List, comprising just a handful of the bank's favorite risk-adjusted investments. But what does Morgan Stanley know? The investment bank didn't seem to recognize the real estate bubble, and it had a buy recommendation on Enron until late in that late company's game. Jokes aside, if any of that is funny, GM's stock does have upside potential in the short term future because the company is trying hard to pump up its stock through "channel stuffing," or flooding dealers with inventory that's not in demand so sales can be booked by the manufacturer. GM wants to get Uncle Sam its money back by August from a remaining 500 million shares holding by the U.S. Treasury, and the company wants a higher stock price. Lately, the stock has been responding from doldrums, up 12 percent from its 52-week low. But if for no other reason than GM's channel stuffing practices, this stock is one to avoid.
lululemon athletics inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) has been all the rage in this yoga-crazed society, engaging in the business of designing, manufacturing and selling at 142-company owned retail stores and a company-owned website athletic apparel for men, women and youth. The focus, though is high-end yoga apparel, mats and instructional DVD's. And while the yoga craze shows no signs of letting up anytime soon, many competitors are entering the popular realm of yoga apparel and accessories and they are going after lululemon with better price points in many cases. In tough times, lululemon may not thrive as it has over the past few years. The company's stock is trading very near its 52-week high, but it has been downgraded by a couple of analysts in the last couple of months over concern of rising costs and lackluster sales numbers.
News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWA) was on a roll before Rupert Murdoch's media company got entangled in a hacking furor that resulted in the company's impending closing of its tabloid The News of the World. The Wall Street Journal has actually grown in an era most traditional newspapers are shrinking, if not closing. But now the company has lost one revenue source, The News of the World, and since it's stock has been rising throughout the year and still trades after the hacking scandal at $17.74, near a 52-week high of $18.35, it's probably a good time to sit this one out -- unless you want to play the short sell. News Corp has a low short ratio, and most analysts are bullish on the company -- but any global media company that doesn't have the word "social" attached to its sector trading near its yearly high is always a good reason to look in other directions in this environment.
Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) is the maker of the popular Blackberry smartphones, but the company has been having a very hard time lately. Many industry observers think it's just a glitch, and that the company's stock will make a comeback from its current depressed levels near a 52-week low. So beaten in RIM's stock that its trading at $28.53 at a multiple of only 4.53, despite presenting as a growth stock. Oops. But RIM is getting clobbered in the smartphone business by Apple's iPhone and Google's Android and the trend shows no signs of letting up. Problems RIM faces includes too few apps for Blackberry smartphones compared to the iPhone and Android because developers are focusing efforts on those, more popular devices, management controversy, pricing pressures, and products that seem clunky in comparison with the iPhone and Android. The stock may seem like a bargain compared to its previous levels, but just because something has been discounted doesn't mean it won't be discounted further.