Anyone who thinks old-line stocks don’t carry a lot of risk should look at the performance of Sears Holdings this week. We’ve been watching the retail sector because this is supposed to be a make-or-break period for the big-box retailers, providing some clues about whether consumer spending can hold off an economic recession.

Share prices for Sears were up as much as $11 Thursday from the low of the week before closing at $116.34. Then prices collapsed as much as $20, falling below $100, Friday after Sears announced earnings of 1 cent a share versus $1.57 for the same period last year and expectations of 53 cents. What a ride, especially for those who got caught up in buying Thursday’s rallly!!!! Sears accountants, executives or other insiders could probably see what was happening with the numbers, but what about the individual investor or even the pension fund managers? No wonder I and others are so wary of individual stocks, where we seem to be totally at the mercy of whatever news a company releases and the fickle responses of traders reacting to the news.