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Remember when folks were lining up to buy gold in the early 1980s, only to watch the price go into a death spiral? Wait a minute, that was yesterday. In a wrenching reminder of gold's nasty side, the metal tumbled 4 per cent on Friday - its biggest drop in a year - as a better-than-expected U.S. employment report sent the U.S. dollar up. All that glitters … eventually bites you in the ass.

In an insult to shareholders that won't soon be forgotten, Royal Bank posted a paltry profit of $1.24-billion in the fourth quarter, up a thoroughly unacceptable 10 per cent from a year earlier. Reacting to this shocking and upsetting news, investors drove shares of Canada's largest bank down 2.6 per cent and stomped out of the room crying "I want my mommy."

Pipeline stocks are dull, boring - and so very, very profitable. Just ask shareholders of Enbridge . As other companies slash dividends, the oil and natural gas transporter hiked its payout by 15 per cent and forecast a 12-per-cent profit rise in 2010. And there are more double-digit earnings increases to come thanks to new oil sands pipelines and wind power projects. Boring is beautiful.

Guns don't kill investors, gun stocks do. Shares of Smith & Wesson collapsed after the firearms maker issued a disappointing sales forecast, saying it sees "more normalized levels of demand" after a spike in sales last year. Seems Americans who were concerned that President Barack Obama would impose stricter gun laws have already bought all the pistols, automatic weapons and ammo they need.

Video games are all about creating a fantasy world. So it's no surprise that Take-Two Interactive's forecast turned out to be make-believe, too. Citing weak sales of Major League Baseball , the maker of Grand Theft Auto slashed its fourth-quarter profit outlook to less than one-third of what analysts were expecting and said it now expects a loss in 2010. Unfortunately for investors, the money in this game is real.

Take-Two Interactive

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About the Author
Investment Reporter and Columnist

John Heinzl has been writing about business and investing since 1990. A native of Hamilton, he earned a master's degree from the University of Western Ontario's Graduate School of Journalism and completed the Canadian Securities Course with honours. More

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