Two for the 'Wait and See' Column

 | Jun 29, 2012 | 5:30 PM EDT  | Comments
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Although I spend a lot of time ferretting out little-known companies with price gains and earnings increases, a couple of high-profile names have risen to the top of my scans this week.

eBay (EBAY), a name that harkens back to the pre-2000 dot-com boom, has been rallying on the strength of its PayPal unit. eBay is definitely not your father's baseball-card auction company anymore.

PayPal has been expanding into the prepaid debit card market, among others. On Thursday, 7-Eleven stores rolled out a PayPal prepaid MasterCard. Cardholders can keep themselves well stocked with Slurpees and Big Gulps by adding funds to their accounts at 7-Eleven locations.

Overall, the mobile payment space is growing worldwide, another area where PayPal is seen as a beneficiary. EBay's stock is up 38% year-to-date, and has been trending along its 10-week moving average in a bullish fashion.

The volatile market conditions have not been conducive to sustainable gains -- although that has been true of many other market leaders. Shares of eBay cleared resistance above $41.96 in heavy volume on June 18, but were dragged lower again as the general market weakened. The stock is currently in a buy zone, as it regained its five-day exponential moving average in Friday's market rally.

However, as I have repeatedly noted in my recent columns, there is still plenty of room to be cautious about new purchases, despite widespread optimism Friday on the European situation. As we've seen over and over again, it's too easy for the latest round of news to send stocks sharply lower again.

eBay is set to report its second-quarter earnings results after the close on July 18. Wall Street is eyeing income of $0.55 per share on revenue of $3.36 billion. Those would mark year-over-year gains on the top and bottom lines.

Another closely watched name showing some technical strength recently is LinkedIn (LNKD). Since its IPO in May of 2011, LinkedIn has been a volatile stock. Its current beta is 1.31. In its most recent correction, it fell 27%. That's not an unusual rate for a growth stock, although the pullback appears quite severe on a weekly chart.

As of mid-session Friday, the stock was up 11.1% for June, and had regained key moving averages after falling below those price lines Thursday.

Although I don't use earnings estimates to make buying or selling decisions, I do use them as part of the screening process as a way of seeing the level of institutional confidence in a company at any given time.

Wall Street expects LinkedIn to show a 94% earnings gain this year, to $0.68 a share, and another 79% increase in 2013, to $1.22 per share. The company is expected to report its second quarter sometime in early August, with analysts anticipating earnings of $0.16 per share on revenue of $216.08 million. That would mark a continuation of strong year-over-year earnings and revenue gains in recent quarters.

Unlike other social media sites geared more toward entertainment or connecting casually with so-called "friends" -- think Facebook (FB) or Twitter -- LinkedIn is aimed squarely at the business community and job seekers. Its premium service gives greater access to other members and job providers. LinkedIn's revenue performance has been outpacing that of more "traditional" online job site (if there is such a thing) Monster Worldwide (MWW), which has seen declining revenues in recent quarters.

I'm also placing LinkedIn in the wait-and-see column, as the market sorts out whether or not it will begin trending in a particular direction -- or remain essentially trendless for a while longer.

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