Market Preview: Riding the Seesaw

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Updated from 6:45 p.m. ET to include additional information about Berkshire Hathaway, Cree and Intel.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Things look a whole lot better at the top of the seesaw than they do at the bottom.

The great rally of 2012 has mostly been a slow-and-steady affair with triple-digit swings in the Dow Jones Industrial Average few and far between. Tuesday's stellar rally was broad and convincing but it also feels like Wall Street may have a "too much, too soon" situation on its hands with volatility slowing creeping back into the mix.

Last week was the worst one for equities all year, with even Apple taking a breather, and there's an argument to be made that a bit of churning at those levels would've done the market's internals some good. Instead, the Dow roared to its best day in more than a month on Tuesday.

All of a sudden, the blue-chip index is comfortably above 13,000 again, the S&P 500 is sitting 20 points above its 50-day moving average, and the Nasdaq has reclaimed 3000 in high style. First-quarter earnings season has started out well, but not quite that well.

It makes for a bit of a schizophrenic feel from one day to the next, and Peter Tuz, a portfolio manager at Chase Investment Counsel, expects these conditions to persist for a while.

"I think it's a daily seesaw between Europe and earnings," says Tuz. "On the one hand, you have economic issues in Europe coming to the forefront and that tends to weigh down the market; earnings, by and large, have been beating diminished expectations ... I think it's going to go back and forth for the rest of the year. I don't think the worries in Europe are over by any means. You saw Greece, you're starting to see real problems in Spain. There will be solutions in Spain and then there will be problems in another country."

Tuz also weighed in on Apple, a stock that he believes investors should look to take advantage of any weakness in. Apple shares broke a five-day losing streak on Tuesday, surging more than 5% in a move that The Wall Street Journal said was the biggest one-day dollar advance in the company's history.

"It's more like a balloon than a bubble," says Tuz of Apple. "They opened the bottom and let a little air out ... There are a lot of people who don't have iPhones and Mac laptops and they're taking market share."

As for Wednesday's scheduled news, eBay is reporting its first-quarter results after the close, and the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for earnings of 52 cents a share in the March-ended period on revenue of $3.15 billion.

An in-line performance on the top line would represent a slight decline from eBay's fourth-quarter revenue total of $3.38 billion, but it would constitute a 23.5% boost from revenue of $2.55 billion in the same period last year.

Shares of the online auctioneer are up 17% so far in 2012, bringing the stock's forward price-to-earnings multiple to 13.5X vs. 74X for Amazon.com and 13.4X for the S&P 500 as of Friday's close.

The sell side is bullish with 19 of the 33 analysts covering eBay at strong buy (11) or buy (8), and the 12-month median price target at $40, implying potential upside of 11% from Tuesday's close at $36.08. The stock's 52-week high of $38.18 on March 27.

Think Equity is bullish on eBay, and it's expecting both PayPal and the company's Marketplaces businesses to do well.

"We believe eBay will report 1Q12 results that are above our projections on revenue and in line on pro forma earnings per share," said the firm in a preview of the results on April 11. "Intra-quarter channel checks across Marketplaces have come back largely positive and we believe the extra shopping day in February and mix-shift to fixed price should help overall growth."

Think Equity has a buy rating and a $43 price target on eBay, calling the stock a "top pick." The firm noted that foreign currency translation will provide some headwinds for the company's results, but said buyback activity will likely provide some downside support for the shares. As for the conference call, Think Equity will be listening for an update on the progress of PayPal's "everywhere" strategy.

"We believe PayPal is expanding its market opportunity by aggressively enabling mobile payments and launching its point-of-sale offering," the firm said. "During the quarter, PayPal expanded its POS partnership with Home Depot and we will be listening for early feedback from the national roll-out and plans to add more retailers by year's end."

Check out TheStreet's quote page for eBay for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.

Qualcomm will be another report to watch late Wednesday. Wall Street is expecting the San Diego, Calif.-based wireless chip maker to deliver earnings of 96 cents a share in its fiscal second quarter ended in March on revenue of $4.84 billion.

One of the stocks often mentioned as benefiting from Apple's world domination, Qualcomm shares have risen 21% since the start of 2012, hitting a 52-week high of $68.87 on March 27. J.P. Morgan listed the company as one of the 15 companies it believes shares both "quantitative and qualitative characteristics" with Apple, possibly giving investors exposure to similar appreciation going forward.

"I would say that there is a huge amount of growth still go in smartphones and QCOM is very well tied to that," said analyst Rod Hall on April 5, noting that two-thirds of the company's revenue comes from royalties though, so it's not realistic to expect Qualcomm to enjoy the same kind of customer loyalty as Apple. He has an overweight rating on the stock and sees decent potential for the company to return more cash to shareholders.

The majority of analysts are on board with Hall's bullishness as 35 of the 43 analysts covering the stock are at either strong buy (13) or buy (22) with the 12-month median price target at $75. Qualcomm shares closed Tuesday at $67.23, up 1.5%.

Check out TheStreet's quote page for Qualcomm for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.

Wednesday also brings quarterly reports from two more Dow components: American Express and United Technologies .

The morning roster features Abbott Laboratories , Amphenol , Amylin Pharmaceuticals , Bank of New York , BlackRock , Halliburton , Huntington Bancshares , JAKKS Pacific , PNC Financial , Quest Diagnostics , St. Jude Medical , Textron .

After the bell will bring reports from F5 Networks , Greenhill & Co. , Kinder Morgan , Marriott International , Noble Drilling , Select Comfort , VMware , and Yum! Brands .

Wednesday's economic calendar is light with just the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly index of mortgage application activity at 7 a.m. ET, and weekly crude oil inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.

And finally, Wall Street will also be reacting to the news that Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has stage I prostate cancer.

Buffett disclosed his diagnosis in a press release after Tuesday's close, saying he's been told by his doctors that "my condition is not remotely life threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way," but the news is sure to bring another round of succession questions for Berkshire. The stock dipped 2% in after-hours trading.

Elsewhere in the extended session, Intel looks set up to be a drag on the Dow tomorrow after the world's biggest chip maker gave a mixed outlook for the second quarter, hinting at possible downside on the top line and forecasting a sequential decline in non-GAAP gross margins. The stock was last quoted at $27.58, down 3%, on volume of 7.2 million.

Also, Cree took a big hit in late trades, losing more than 7% to $29.50 on volume of more than 1 million. The LED lighting company came in a penny short of Wall Street's consensus profit view for its fiscal third-quarter results and said it sees non-GAAP earnings of 20 to 26 cents a share in the fourth quarter ending in June, below the average analysts' view for a profit of 28 cents a share. Revenue is projected within a range of $295 million to $315 million, short of the $322.9 million consensus view.

--Written by Michael Baron in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Michael Baron.

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