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News Corp Bids For Dow Jones

Filed under: — 6:27 pm

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has made a $5 billion unsolicited bid for Dow Jones. Dow Jones, which publishes The Wall Street Journal and has the Dow Jones Newswires and MarketWatch news properties, is said to be examining the offer. Down Jones cannot be taken over without the Bancroft family’s consent and they have owned the company since 1902.

Murdoch has apparently had his eyes set on the Journal for a while, and he is planning to start a cable news channel to compete with CNBC. “Murdoch has said the channel’s programming will be generally more favorable to companies and executives than CNBC’s” so that could mean less objectivity.

Source: BusinessWeek


SocialPicks: Stock Picking the Social Way

Filed under: — 7:41 pm

SocialPicks is an attempt at using the social aspect of the web to create a site where users manage their stock portfolio while making and reading stock picks. The main page has the standard ajax-based customizable modules and boxes to manage the information you want displayed there. The idea of using the knowledge of many to help pick good stocks is an interesting one, but one that is hard to get perfectly right. In the following article I delve into this relatively new site that is currently in alpha testing.

Read the Review


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.

Dell Burns Itself with Low Prices

Filed under: — 1:30 pm

By all accounts Dell has not been doing well. In recent weeks they have been offering many PCS at rock-bottom prices. They often discount machines before a fiscal quarter ends, in hopes of meeting expectations. “On May 8, Dell said it would post fiscal first-quarter revenue of $14.2 billion, at the low end of its earlier projection of $14.2 billion to $14.6 billion. Worse, Dell said it expects earnings of about 33 cents a share, falling short of a projected range of 36 cents to 38 cents, including an estimated three cents of stock-based compensation. The announcement sent shares down by almost 6% in extended trading.”

“The trouble for Dell is that unit volumes aren’t compensating for price reductions. Besides hurting Dell’s sales and profit, sluggish unit growth is also eroding market share, another key measure of overall health. In the calendar first quarter, Dell’s share slipped for the first time in memory, analysts said. According to market researcher IDC, Dell’s worldwide share of the PC market fell to 18.1% from 18.6%, and in the U.S., share fell to 32.3% from 33.9%.”

While dell is selling mid-range and high-end machines, those sales aren’t sufficient adn Dell is still being forced to cut prices. Dell also recently announced the acquisition of high-end computer manufacturer Alienware. Alienware always held a special place in my heart, and I hope that Dell doesn’t take them down with the ship.

Source: BusinessWeek

Wachovia to Merge with Golden West

Filed under: — 9:30 am

On Sunday, Wachovia announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Golden West, one of the last major savings and loans in California, for about $25.5 billion in stock and cash. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2006, pending approvals.

Analysts seemed optimistic about Wachovia’s intended acquisition of Golden West Financials, though they admitted the deal would be expensive and risky. Analyst Mark Hebeka believes the deal would give Wachovia a national presence with significant branch additions in the key markets of California, Florida and Texas, and would also add higher returning assets to Wachovia’s balance sheet with minimal risk exposure.

Source: Forbes

News is also being reported that two top Wachovia Corp. executives sold shares of the bank valued at $5.8 million around the same time that it began talks to buy Golden West Financial Corp. Wachovia said the executives, Benjamin Jenkins III, Wachovia’s vice chairman and head of consumer banking, and investor-relations chief Alice Lehman, weren’t aware of the discussions when they sold the shares on April 27 and 28.

Does that mean they don’t have much faith in a combined company? Wachovia said the stock sales were consistent with its internal policies and procedures for executives who buy or sell company stock. But it still seems fishy.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Fed Announcement Coming and More

Filed under: — 2:28 am

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee meets to discuss monetary policy. An announcement by the Fed will come Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. Economists polled by Action Economics unanimously believe the central bank will raise the federal funds rate by 25 basis points. The current funds rate is 4.75%. Following Chairman Bernanke’s Apr. 28 testimony before Congress, economists now believe the Fed will not make a move in June.

Today is a big week for numbers. Wednesday sees the numbers on mortgage application volume and the federal budget. Thursday brings the latest figures on jobless claims, retail sales, and business inventories. And Friday the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center will report its initial reading of consumer sentiment for May.

Source: BusinessWeek


Google to Report Pro Forma Earnings

Filed under: — 1:46 pm

“Google Inc. on Thursday said it plans to meet Wall Street halfway on how it reports quarterly results … Mark Fuchs, chief accountant of the Mountain View, California-based company, detailed the plan in a statement released on Google’s company blog.” Basically, analysts have looked at two different versions of Google’s EPS (Net Income/Shares Outstanding). Google wants to eliminate confusion presented by these two different numbers. Google’s version of its EPS (non-GAAP) just adds back (tax-adjusted) stock-based compensation charges to their net income (making the numerator slightly larger, thus increasing the EPS). This practice isn’t too uncommon, they’re basically doing it to distinguish between operating and nonoperating items. More detail and an example can be found on Google’s Blog.

As a side note, I’m impressed with Google’s effective use of the company’s blog. It shows a level of transparency (despite the lack of “conversation”). In any case, it’s neat to see news sources refer to a “blog”…

pro forma: Latin term, refers to a presentation of data where certain amounts are hypothetical to provide investors with relevant comparisons.

Sources: Official Google Blog, Yahoo


Chipotle IPO

Filed under: — 3:30 pm

As a loyal burrito eater this news hardly comes as a surprise:

McDonald’s Corp. said it plans an initial public offering for its Chipotle Mexican Grill chain, in a move to “optimize Chipotle’s potential” and create shareholder value.

It’ll be filed near the end of October and will be launched in the first quarter of 2006.

Update: Details from a presentation by William Espy, Creative Directory at Chipotle.


Oracle’s Ellison to Pay Charity

Filed under: — 1:55 pm

Speaking of Oracle, from the New York Times:

Oracle’s chief executive, Larry Ellison, has reached a tentative agreement under which he would pay $100 million to charity to resolve a lawsuit charging that he engaged in insider trading in 2001, a lawyer involved in the case tells the New York Times.

Fact of the Day: According to the Times this will be one of the largest payments made to resolve a derivative lawsuit.

Go ahead, impress your friends with that little tidbit…

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