The Unusual Suspects for the Week Ahead (AAPL, BP, DANG, EMC, XOM, DVN, GENZ, JCG, RVBD, SNN, VOD, WMT, FXI, MUB, PZA)

There are many new characters in this week’s installment of “The Unusual Suspects for the Week Ahead.”  We have tracked news and added color on each where applicable.  The cast of characters in “The Unusual Suspects” includes Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), BP Plc (NYSE: BP), E-Commerce China Dangdang Inc. (NASDAQ: DANG), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), Devon Energy Corporation (NYSE: DVN), Genzyme Corp. (NASDAQ: GENZ), J. Crew Group Inc. (NYSE: JCG), Riverbed Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: RVBD), Smith & Nephew plc (NYSE: SNN), Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT).  In ETFs were have some calls to watch in the iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (NYSE: FXI), iShares S&P National AMT-Free Muni Bond (NYSE: MUB) and the PowerShares Insured National Muni Bond (NYSE: PZA).

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is back in the health focus as Steve Jobs sent a memo to employees saying that he is taking a second medical leave of absence in two years so that he can focus on his health.  Be advised, Frankfurt trading in Apple is generally quite thin but Frankfurt trading on Monday had Apple shares down about 6.7%.  If that were to hold in the U.S. on Tuesday then we’d be sitting just above $325 all over again.

BP Plc (NYSE: BP) rose 2% in London trading on Monday after it signed a ROSNEFT share exchange pact that allows it to get access into Russian oil.  BP made our own “Best Big Oil Stock for 2011” but we would caution that if the Monday gain holds that BP’s ADR shares will be back above $50.00 for the first time since May after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

E-Commerce China Dangdang Inc. (NASDAQ: DANG) is one where the plot is thickening over hot Chinese IPOs for US ADRs.  The quiet period is about to end and a blogging post from China Dangdang’s CEO criticized Morgan Stanley for under-pricing its IPO.  AT $33.86 on Friday, the post-IPO range has been $22.57 to $36.40 after its 17 million shares sold at $16..00 per share after an initial price target range of $11 to $13 per share.

EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) was touted by Barron’s over the weekend as it heats up in a data-storage war at the retail level against NetApp, IBM, HP and Hitachi.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and Devon Energy Corporation (NYSE: DVN) were listed as being more attractive now with higher oil prices in this weekend’s Barron’s.

Genzyme Corp. (NASDAQ: GENZ) is still in the merger mix, maybe.  Our latest we saw was a $70 to $71 cash price but with a performance hurdle workout that could get shares closer to $80 through time.

iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (NYSE: FXI) will be one to watch, even if it is just an ETF.  While U.S. markets were all closed for Martin Luther King Day, the Shanghai Composite dropped 3% as the Chinese President visits the U.S. on concerns that the central bank may be choking off the growth too much with rate hikes and policy-tightening measures.

J. Crew Group Inc. (NYSE: JCG) has not received any rival takeover bids to compete against the $2.86 billion buyout offer from TPG and Leonard Green during its “go shop” period.

Riverbed Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: RVBD) was given a repeat weekend as being the #1 stock in the Investors Business Daily 100 of the best stock charts out there with last week’s gains being roughly 3%.  IBD 100 others were #2-SWKS; #3-NFLX; #4-FFIV; #5-LULU; #6-CXO; #7-PCLN,

Smith & Nephew plc (NYSE: SNN) was its shares in London trade up about 4% more after the Sunday Times reported that Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is considering a fresh bid to acquire the medical devices maker.  S&N’s ADRs closed at $54.83 on Friday and the 52-week range is $41.26 – to $56.80.

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) was listed as perhaps the best way to invest in the Verizon iPhone against AT&T by Barron’s this weekend.  UK-based Vodafone saw shares up nearly 2% in London trading Monday.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) will get into Africa after Massmart agreed to let Wal-Mart acquire 51% of the company.  Some 97% voted for the deal when some 75% was needed.

The concerns over municipal bonds keep growing and two of the key ETFs which track this are now showing 10% discounts from recent highs due to the massive capital outflows in the sector.  Two we are watching in this are iShares S&P National AMT-Free Muni Bond (NYSE: MUB) and PowerShares Insured National Muni Bond (NYSE: PZA).

Also, in case you missed the weekend’s news from us, we have several features for investors:

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