Opening Bell: 4.24.06

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Chávez Plans to Take More Control Of Oil Away From Foreign Firms (WSJ)
There's a headline you probably never expected to see. Chavez is accusing the private oil companies of making large profits at the expense of the poor nation. Wait, what were those last two words "poor nation"? Isn't this one of the largest oil exporters in the world? Isn't the rest of the oil-exporting world making record profits (working with those same oil companies), building a Middle East theme park fantasy world in Dubai? And yet Venezuela, with its rigid socialist government remains poor? Yeah, nationalize... history shows it to be a proven winner.
Trying to Halt A.M.D., Intel Plays to Business Market (NYT)
According to this article, in The Times, Intel's been feeling the heat from AMD, and is altering their selling strategy to bolster their presence in business. It's too bad they're not the smaller company, then they could just file an anti-trust lawsuit -- like AMD is doing now. Of course, AMD has shown excellent market gains in the last year and a half, something that should be impossible if Intel really had a monopoly. In fact, you'd think that their recent gains would undermine their case, though real-world facts rarely seem to enter into the court system.
Microsoft, EU face off over antitrust (AP)
While we're on the subject: Are we dreaming, or is there really still an anti-trust case going on against Microsoft in Europe? The answer is of course we're not dreaming, and the Europeans (insert cheap joke about them being behind) still think that Microsoft has an unassailable fortress. For some reasons, the EU really doesn't like anything that smacks of bundling. The big issue remains (are you sitting down) the fact that Windows comes pre-loaded with the Windows Media Player. This is what the EU claims harms all innovation, and why the company should face huge fines. At this point all of Microsoft's enemies who championed legal attacks against the company might be wondering whether it's all worth it. Apple saw their iTunes "monopoly" dealt a setback in France, and Google is building what some believe is a monopoly on the web. How long before an investigation is launched into the company -- "But Judge, in the Firefox searchbar, one can easily change search engines". Yeah, that'll work.
Specter Says Rising Gas Prices May Lead to Tax on Oil Profits (Bloomberg)
How is it that politicians implore the oil companies to spend more money on exploration, yet threaten to tax them extra when they have more cash on their hands. And aren't oil companies already being taxed more as their profits are going up? Besides, as Peter Drucker famously said, "Profits are an accounting illusion, just the deferred costs of staying in business".


You Can't Win If You Don't Play (Corante)
Meanwhile, if you're sitting around waiting for a windfall profit, you're probably experiencing a lot of setbacks on your way to the prize. Safe and steady does not enter into any industry capable of experiencing a windfall. And if it does, that means there's probably something wrong. The pharmaceutical industry is beset by constant setbacks, with firms and researchers rarely producing anything of value, but when the do... On Wall St., of course, they never go a year without celebrating Christmas. So, say you're graduating with a bio-chem degree, do you go into industry, or do you go the Joe Kernen route and become an analyst? Most rational people should probably choose the latter.
Corel is Back (CNNMoney)
Remember Corel? They made Wordperfect to go against Microsoft Word, and when Linux was the hot thing on Wall St., they started distributing that too. Basically, whatever was hot, they tried to do. It wasn't really much of a strategy, and the company soon fell on hard times, dropping to the pink sheets. There they were swooped up for a song. The private equity firm that picked them off made out pretty well on the deal. The company claims to have recuscitated their sales (their founder long gone), and they're set to go public tomorrow. It doesn't look like the company has changed very much, still offering the same kind of products, competing with the larger offerings from Microsoft and Adobe. And, at the moment, the company hasn't turned increased sales into profits. They plan to use the IPO proceeds to make acquisitions.
Stocks could slip on oil, dollar (CNNMoney)
You have to pity the person whose job it is to wake up at the crack of dawn to write a morning business news roundup... oh wait. Of course stocks could slip on oil, but why should they start now? Have stocks ever slipped on oil, despite the fact that this headline has certainly been written 50,000 times in the past few years? It's also possible that stocks could slip, oil could rise, and the two have nothing to do with each other. However, such subtleties as the appearance of causation would probably elude anyone at 6:21 AM. Maybe will stocks will drop on inflation worries, or fed worries, or earnings worries, or political worries, or Bush's poor poll numbers. Or maybe because we're on a major winning streak, and nothing lasts forever.
The $1B Startup Whose CEO's Card Reads - "I'm CEO...Bitch" (Alarm Clock)
That would be the CEO of the hot social networking site Facebook. They've been yakking to the media about how they hope to collect $2 billion for their website that lets college students to hook up with each other. No doubt, plenty of summer interns in Wall St. banks will get caught Facebooking this summer, as they trawl for drinking partners (remember to close those browser windows!). And apparently the CEO of the company, his business cards reads "I'm CEO... Bitch". Impossibly lame.

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