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5/31/2006

AMD/ATI Merger Possible

Filed under: — 5:00 pm

“Advanced Micro Devices may be looking to buy graphics company ATI Technologies, a move that would benefit the overall graphics industry, according to RBC Capital Markets.”

“Walia based his prediction on recent checks in the PC food chain. RBC has an ‘outperform’ rating and $23 price target on ATI, and no rating on AMD. The firm expects ATI to report fiscal 2007 earnings per share of $1.06.”

Read More: Forbes

The RAZR Story

Filed under: — 4:03 pm

FORTUNE has a great article on the story behind the Motorola RAZR. A phone that was to help revitalize the company’s image wound up turning into a commercial success that they never expected. It also proves that companies can make great phones when they aren’t listening to everything the wireless companies want. It’s definitely worth a read.

“The phone was supposed to be something beautiful, like jewelry - a pricey gem in the $500 range at retail, rather than a mass-market staple. Motorola needed a reputation builder, badly. The moneymaker phones would come after, or so the plan went, piggybacking on the company’s restored allure.”

“The ‘thin clam’ project became a rebel outpost. Money wasn’t an object, but secrecy and speed were. Normally Motorola consults closely with the wireless companies that sell the phones to try to integrate whatever favorite features they request. It also conducts ‘mall intercepts’ to gauge consumers’ reaction.

Not this time. Jellicoe hid the details of the project even from company colleagues.”

Source: FORTUNE

5/30/2006

Bush Names Paulson as Treasury Secretary

Filed under: — 10:51 am

“The dollar pared early losses Tuesday on news that Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Henry Paulson will be named to replace outgoing Treasury Secretary John Snow.”

“The dollar was sharply lower earlier after the New York Times said that Don Evans, a former U.S. commerce secretary, may fit the profile of past Treasury secretaries who have favored a weaker dollar, given his political background.”

“However, the greenback’s losses were pared after a Wall Street Journal report said Bush was leaning toward naming Paulson to succeed Snow.”

Source: CNNMoney

5/25/2006

Nintendo Wii Pricing

Filed under: — 2:00 pm

Nintendo has said that the Wii will launch in the fourth quarter of 2006 and will cost less than $250. Nintendo has recently said it will cost a maximum of 25,000 yen. With taxes figured in and shipping costs, that comes out to about $223.

A very attractive price when compared to the high price of Sony’s Playstation 3 ($499 - $599). And you get an innovative remote with built in motion sensing, and possibly a port on the Wii for an audio device such as a microphone. I wonder if the recently discovered audio-in port in Wii schematics could be used to connect a device such as an iPod. That would definitely put it on-par with other gaming machines. Nintendo innovates and does it at a low price.

Source: VideoGamesBlogger (Via Slashdot), CNET News

Jury Finds Lay, Skilling Guilty in Enron Case

Filed under: — 12:30 pm

BREAKING NEWS: “Former Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth Lay was found guilty on all six counts against him for his role in the former energy giant’s collapse. Former President Jeffrey Skilling was found guilty on all counts except for those related to insider trading.”

Source: WSJ

Yahoo and Ebay to Partner

Filed under: — 12:28 pm

Yahoo and eBay have announced that they are partnering. Under the terms of the agreement, Yahoo will become the exclusive provider of graphical advertising throughout eBay’s site and will provide some sponsored search results. PayPal will also become the preferred payment provider for purchases made on Yahoo. Skype will also be used as another marketing avenue for advertisers.

The PayPal agreement could be a huge win for eBay, as Yahoo has many paid services. It could be especially valuable if PayPal is then promoted as the preferred payment method on all of the Yahoo Stores, where merchants can easily create their own online stores. I’ve noticed in at least one Yahoo Store that PayPal is already a default, so this may not have as much of an effect as I originally thought. I’m not sure how other stores are setup.

Sources: CNNMoney, AP, Forbes

5/23/2006

Vonage IPO Coming

Filed under: — 1:35 pm

Vonage is set to price its initial public offering today for between $16 and $18. Despite their user growth, they have yet to make money. The VoIP sector is increasingly getting more crowded, and Vonage continues to lose money. Reports have showed that Vonage’s customer acquisition costs appear to be around $275 for each new customer, based on how many users they added in 2005 and the amount of money they spent on advertising.

Source: BusinessWeek, VoIPNews

5/19/2006

Panel Backs Cervical-Cancer Vaccine

Filed under: — 8:56 am

A Food and Drug Administration panel said a proposed Merck vaccine designed to protect against cervical cancer in women was safe and effective.

The decision of the outside panel of medical experts amounts to a recommendation that the agency approve Gardasil for use in girls and women ages 9 to 26.

The FDA typically follows its panels’ advice but isn’t required to. The agency is set to make a decision on the vaccine by June 8. If approved, it would be the first vaccine on the market that would offer protection against many cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.

Source: WSJ

5/18/2006

Symantec Sues Microsoft Over Storage

Filed under: — 10:34 pm

Symantec sued Microsoft on Thursday, citing a misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract. The lawsuit “seeks an injunction that would block the further development, sale or distribution of Vista - the already-delayed next version of Windows - and other products until all Symantec intellectual property is removed.”

“The suit … involves Symantec’s Volume Manager product, software it acquired with its purchase of Veritas Software Corp. Volume Manager allows operating systems to store and manipulate large amounts of data and protect systems from data loss when storage hardware fails.

Symantec alleged that Microsoft, which had licensed the Volume Management technology from Veritas, violated terms of its license agreement by using the technology to develop competing features and products. Microsoft improperly incorporated the technology into its operating system products, including Vista, and then concealed its use of the technology, Symantec said.”

We’ll find out whether this has an effect on the Windows Vista release, considering there was recently a Supreme Court decision that was not in favor of lawsuits seeking injunctions. Though in that instance they were talking about companies that make no products and hold onto patents for the sole purpose of extorting money from other companies.

Sources: WSJ, CNNMoney

disclaimer: I own some Microsoft stock. Though I would probably be better off personally not telling you this news.

5/12/2006

Best Buy Purchases Majority Stake in Chinese Retailer

Filed under: — 10:16 pm

Best Buy Co. agreed to purchase a majority stake in China’s fourth-biggest appliance and electronics retailer, Jiangsu Five Star Appliance Co., for $180 million, securing a foothold in China’s booming consumer-goods landscape.

Best Buy, the largest consumer-electronics retailer by revenue in North America, will use Five Star as part of a broader expansion into China. The Richfield, Minn., company expects consumer-electronics sales in China to reach nearly $100 billion in 2010. In April Best Buy announced a plan to build a store in Shanghai, to open next year, that, at 86,000 square feet, will be about twice the size of its U.S. stores.

Best Buy is hoping that teaming up with Five Star will help it to compete against the country’s dominant electronics retailers, such as GOME Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. and China Paradise Electronics Retail Ltd.

Source: WSJ

EU Will Cancel Tariff Plan If U.S. Scraps Tax Rule

Filed under: — 6:13 pm

Europe will cancel plans for punitive tariffs on U.S. imports, if Congress repeals legislation that grants tax breaks to U.S. companies such as Boeing Co.

The European Union’s decision could end one of the most contentious and costly trans-Atlantic trade disputes. It also could warm relations strained by stalled global trade talks.

If signed into law, the measure would end a U.S. tax break that the World Trade Organization ruled illegal despite numerous revisions. It also would cut short a lengthy phase-out plan that the WTO also ruled illegal. Sometimes called the foreign sales corporation export subsidy, the rule has been in dispute for decades in various guises.

Source: WSJ

Trade Deficit Narrowed in March

Filed under: — 3:50 pm

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply by surprise during March, but analysts predict mounting oil prices will widen the gap going forward.

The U.S. deficit in international trade of goods and services shrank by 5.6% to $62 billion from $65.64 billion in February, the Commerce Department said Friday. Exports rose, but the value of imports fell as oil prices dipped, Commerce data showed.

The $62 billion gap was the smallest since $58.46 billion in August 2005. A separate report Friday, though, showed petroleum import prices surged last month. That could cause the trade deficit to resume rising.

Friday’s trade report showed U.S. exports increased by 1.9% to a record $114.66 billion in March from $112.52 billion in February.

Exports increased by $510 million for capital goods, including industrial machines and computer accessories. Exports rose by $181 million for consumer goods, like diamonds and toys. Sales of industrial materials like fuel oil were up $1.25 billion. Exports of foods and beverages increased by $213 million. Foreign sales of autos and parts fell $377 million.

Imports fell by 0.8% to $176.66 billion.

Source: WSJ

Stocks Slide amid Inflation Concerns

Filed under: — 3:04 pm

Stocks moved down Friday afternoon, as a surprising jump in import prices drove up Treasury yields and kept inflation fears in focus. Sustained dollar weakness contributed to these worries.

Source: BusinessWeek

5/11/2006

Stocks Slip

Filed under: — 11:30 am

April retail sales rose less than expected, sparking hopes the Fed may pause its tightening cycle. Crude futures surged near $74

Stocks were trading modestly lower early Thursday, as investors weighed a tame retail sales report and surging oil prices. A lower-than-expected increase in April retail sales is being taken as a sign of less pressure for the Federal Reserve to keep raising interest rates, but concern is growing that the stock market is due for a correction.

Source: BusinessWeek

5/10/2006

Fed Raises Rates

Filed under: — 2:23 pm

The Fed has raised rates 1/4 pt. to 5.00%. They also said that some further policy firming may yet be needed. Timing of future firming depends on data.

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