Wall Street to Main Street: News, Views and Commentary: May 10, 2006

It’s Wednesday May 10, 2006, and the metals mania continues as worry over the weakening dollar grows. Gold hit a level that it has not been in over 26 years, it reached the $700 mark and moving upward on the road to $800 an ounce. Now do not discount the other metals as Silver is working its way to the $20 mark as it is closing in on the $15 number. Other metals making historic movement include Copper, Aluminum, Zinc, Platinum, Palladium and the rest of the spectrum. Some analyst feel that since crude oil is making its way to the $80 a barrel mark that Gold is just catching up and could reach the $1,000 mark or better. Now its anyone’s guess if it would go that high but with China looking to ramp up their gold bullion reserves to the tune of double or triple, $1,000 or better may not be such a stretch.

Now for those of you that didn’t get wind of the raid in Spain and the collapse of Escala Group (NASDAQ: ESCL) let’s just give you an update, the stock crumbled yesterday when word got out that the government raided the offices of Escala due to stamp investing fraud. The stock closed down $19.77 to close at $12.23 and falling, the only thing that saved it from going into the single digits was the closing bell, but there is always an opening bell. I bet that the powers that be at Escala wished that this happened on a Friday instead of a Tuesday.

Keep in mind that the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will be speaking today and they may announce one more hike to the 5% mark, actually it’s expected that this will happen. So keep a close on banks stocks such as Citigroup (NYSE: C), J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) for opportunities if the stocks should pull back after the announcement today as we explained on Wall Street to Main Street yesterday.

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Political Front

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his national address yesterday but he did not touch on the comments made by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, but this comes as no surprise as Putin traditionally only speaks about domestic issues but make no mistake he has not forgotten the comments. This may cost Cheney’s little Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) potential business in the region as Russia is looking to build several pipelines in the near future.

An unlikely nation has stepped up to try and ease tensions in Iran, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that they would mediate in International talks to ease the tension over Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said that he supports the nomination of a military general as the head of the CIA but some critics see this as the pentagon extending their reach.

After the big delay that former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Burlesconi caused following the elections in Italy finally the incoming Prime Minister Romano Prodi can get to work. He said that his centre-left coalition aimed to elect Italy’s first former communist as president and be asked to form a government next week.

Movers and Shakers

Some major movers in yesterdays trading session included OM Group (NYSE: OMG) which traded up $4.30 to close at $33.90, RTI International Metals (NYSE: RTI) which traded up $8.82 to close at $70.42, Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) which traded up $7.78 to close at $67.05, they posted great numbers and though we initially had our doubts about the company no one can dispute their recent success, FMC Technologies (NYSE: FTI) which traded up $7.23 to close at $66.92, BlackBoard (NASDAQ: BBBB) which closed up $5.34 to close at $33.42.

Hansen Natural Corp (NASDAQ: HANS) which surged up $24.59 to close at $176.24, just one year ago the stock was trading under $30 a share and we’ll be featuring the next Hansen in a special Investors Corner segment later today, General Motors (NYSE: GM) which traded up $2.25 to close at $25.80 on its way to $30 a the company’s restructuring plan includes them reviving the American Icon and bringing back to its former glory, Empire Resources (AMEX: ERS) traded up $6.72 to close at $41.74, and the last for today is Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA) which traded up $1.96 to close at $15.18.

Analyst Upgrades/Downgrades

Recent Analyst upgrades include Equity Lifestyle Properties (NYSE: ELS) which was upgraded to a Buy from a Hold by A.G. Edwards, SanDisk Corp (NASDAQ: SNDK) was upgraded to a Buy from a Hold by WR Hambrecht, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) was upgraded to an Outperfrom from a Neutral by Cowen & Co, Westlake Chemicals (NYSE: WLK) was upgraded to an Outperfrom from a Neutral by Credit Suisse and Advanc Auto Parts (NYSE: AAP) was upgraded to an Outperform from a Neutral by Credit Suisse.

Recent Analyst downgrades include BlackBaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) was downgraded to a Hold from a Buy by WR Hambrecht, Golden West Financial (NYSE: GDW) was downgraded to a Neutral from a Buy by FTN Midwest Research, Usi Holdings (NASDAQ: USIH) was downgraded to a Neutral from a Buy by SunTrust, Robinson, Humphrey, IndyMac Bancrop (NYSE: NDE) was downgraded to a Sell from a Neutral by Banc of America Securities, and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) receives a downgrade from Robert W. Baird to a Neutral from an Outperform.

Analyst Coverage Initiations include The Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG) was initiated with a Buy rating and price target of $12 by Banc of America Securities, sticking to the advertising industry Banc of America Securities also initiated Omnicom Group (NYSE: OMC) with a Buy rating and a price target of $98, Somanetics (NASDAQ: SMTS) was initiated with a Hold rating and a $23 price target by Citigroup Investment Research and China Grentech Corp (NASDAQ: GRRF) was initiated with an Outperfom and a price target of $19.80 by Bear Stearns.

Tid Bits

After the NYSE (NYSE: NYX) went public no one anticipated that this would create a trend but it looks like the sidekick to the American Stock Exchange, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange is looking to go public and they actually forecast that the Philadelphia Exchange Floor itself will not exist in the next two years.

At this years E3 Sony (NYSE: SNE) made some strong statements saying that the next generation of video games do not start until they say so while Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) stated they that are ahead of Sony in releases their Xbox consoles and will gain additional market share with the help of Japanese video game makers prior to the launch of the PS3. But the price of the PS3 could top $400 and Microsoft says that is an advantage for the Xbox, but both companies need to keep an eye out for Nintendo as they intend on releasing a comparable model at a cheaper price, so this would force for lower numbers on the PS3 and Xbox, possibly.

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) may be shopping around their telephone line business as Voip is taking market share away from traditional phone companies. This may fetch over $8 billion that Verizon could use to get ahead of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) and Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA).

Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) is looking to take advantage of the growing Hispanic market as they are close to merging the Spanish language Yahoo site with Telemundo’s web site. This could be a strategic move for Yahoo to gain market share in that area, there may be similar deals like this made in the future in other languages.

Altera (NASDAQ: ALTR) makes a move to avoid them joining the Power Integrations (NASDAQ: POWI), United Healthj (NYSE:UNH), Vitesse (NASDAQ: VTSS) and Comverse Technology (NASDAQ: CMVT) club just yet. The board of Altera has demanded an independent probe into historical stock options practices by the company. So we’ll see if this proactive move pays off for Altera.

In the Spotlight

In the spotlight today is a company that has felt the pain for some time, so let us give you out take on Elan (NYSE: ELN).

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This is the Second of our “Furious Five” companies that we see excelling in their industry in 2006. The second addition to this week’s Furious Five is Radyne Corp (NASDAQ: RADN) it trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol RADN.

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