Bucking the Trend: Petrobras, Darden

There are a few standouts in bad sectors.


Online brokers: 27/7 Wall Street notes climbing short interest in most of the sector—except in TD Ameritrade.

Restaurants: Darden, home to the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, won an upgrade to "buy" from Merrill Lynch and others this week, despite high food costs that have pummeled the sector this year. Food and fuel costs matter, but Merrill is betting the chain's size mean efficiencies will keep profits flowing.

IPOs: Public offerings may have been sunk by the credit crunch, but two trends—Brazil and oil—haven't soured at all. There, Bloomberg says, OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA is planning a $3.37 billion offering. A well-timed deal could catch what has become a real boom in Brazilian oil. Shares of state-run Petrobras have climbed this year on rising prices and hopes that the Tupi field, one of the largest offshore finds in decades, will prove hugely profitable. Offshore drillers are salivating at big new projects, and Petrobras confirmed new Gulf of Mexico finds just this week.