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Opening Bell: 7.19.06

Coke Beats Analysts’ Estimates, Helped by Growth Overseas (Reuters)
Every quarter it's pretty much the same story for Coke. The company claims that its days of growth in the Western world are long gone, and that it needs to dial into the developing world in order to grow. Of course, if they are going to show growth in developed economies, it has to be on the backs of non-carbonated beverages, like water or sports drinks. One problem is that nobody in their right mind would choose Powerade over Gatorade. Another problem is that Coke is really good, and no water can compare to it. So that's pretty much the deal once again. Though the company would like to remake itself into a conglomerate that sells bottled water as much as it sells CDs and music videos, it's not happening anytime soon. Maybe though, whatever that secret drink those guys tried selling to Pepsi was, will finally be the next breakout hit for the company.
BetonSports stops taking bets (The Register)
In accord with the arrest of its CEO, BETonSPORTS has stopped taking bets, as of late last night. The publicly traded UK company has seen its world implode this week, as its boss was arrested in Texas for running a business that is perfectly legal in the country where it's being run and operated. Though the law is rather murky, the US has decided that its legal tentacles extend well beyond its borders. Stop and imagine for a moment if an American were arrested in China for running afoul of the country's anti- free speech laws. Perhaps we've even said a few things that would be illegal in some country. The media and our government (hopefully) would have a fit.
Reed Concedes Georgia Lieutenant Governor Primary to Opponent (Bloomberg)
Normally, we'd try to stay away from the whole politics thing, but there are those that see big, national political trends as somehow being important to the market and the economy. And so occasionally, when something stands out as being significant, it seems worth covering. Last night Ralph Reed (remember him?) lost his battle for the Republican nomination for the Lt. Governor of Georgia. Why is it a big deal? Because Reed was seen as a likely winner, until his campaign got derailed over a prior association with Jack Abramoff. Because it was the primary, it's not obvious that the issue would cause voters to switch parties, but it's the first indication that voters are paying attention to the issue. So come the general, look for Democrats to bring up that name a lot, and pound away.
Kill-the-penny bill introduced (CNNMoney)
If you'll recall, a few weeks ago famed monetary historian Kevin Federline signed a petition to save the penny, saying "I feel good about the penny". It was a Virgin Mobile publicity stunt, but still sent shockwaves, particularly at a time when the government is losing money on every penny it presses out (to the tune of $0.004). Well, now K-Fed's bete noir, Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe, has re-introduced legislation to kill the $.01 piece, and demand that all prices be rounded to the nearest $.05. Kolbe's been on this kick for years, and every session it never goes anywhere. But could it be different this time around, now that the the Fed's precious seignorage isn't a factor? We shall see, but at the moment it looks like Jim Kolbe and Mr. B Spears are going to have to rumble.

A Bronx cheer for Yahoo's earnings (SF Chronicle)
It's been a tough season already for the tech bellwethers. First EMC and Lucent disappointed, followed by SAP. Slowly, all the pundits who confidently stated that we'd comfortably see yet another quarter of double-digit earnings growth stopped talking so much. Now Yahoo is the latest company to upset the street. It warned that growth would come slower than expected, and that a major overhaul of its search advertising system would be delayed. The company acknowledged that its advertising technology trailed equivalent systems at Google and Microsoft. The company also noted it's been in this game for over a decade now and still doesn't have it together. Well, it didn't say that, but it might as well have.
Insider trading and market crashes (Ideoblog)
A new paper adds to the corpus of evidence suggesting that insider trading, particularly if its disclosed, is probably a good thing. Or, conversely, the lack of insider trading could be a bad thing, and possibly lead to a market crash. Basically, if insiders have been selling but then stop (and aren't buying) it's perceived, rightly or wrongly, that bad news must be on the horizon (which is legally preventing the insiders from selling). Thus, this sentiment creates the scenario for heavy, crash-inducing selling. Obviously, this isn't the only word on the subject, but yet another interesting take.
Technical Analysis: The Big Picture (Professor Bainbridge)
One definite problem in Dealbreaker-land is that we don't get a lot of knock-down, public spats on blogs or even from the people we cover. So when we do, we'll totally try to stoke the flames as much as possible. Yesterday we reported on the debate between bulldog Barry Ritholtz on one side and Eddy Elfenbein and Larry Ribstein on the other. Now Porsche-driving, Catholic, wine connoisseur, law prof Stephen Bainbridge steps in and basically accuses Ritholtz of being a snake-oil salesman, because he employs technical analysis (oh no he di'n't). Of course, there are many in finance, particularly of the efficient markets school who regard technical analysis as bunk. Will Ritholtz respond? We can only hope.
Procter & Gamble Plans to Close Its Rochas Fashion Label (NYT)
Yeah, honestly, didn't even know that Procter & Gamble had a fashion label, let alone that it appears to be fine couture. Still, while the company will discontinue its critically acclaimed Rochas line of dresses and suits, it will continue to produce perfume under the same label. To be fair, the unit was only acquired in 2003, with the purchase of the German cosmetics company Wella. Fashion insiders, including Anna Wintour expressed confusion over the decision to shutter the unit, which had become popular of late.
Wal-Mart ATMs create controversy (Miami Herald)
While Wal-Mart waits around to deal with federal banking regulators, the company is very quietly adding retail financial services to its locations. They're starting small by adding ATMs to some stores, which in the company's view is just working to lower the cost of transactions. Naturally, because it's Wal-Mart the move is raising red flags (honestly, we're surprised they didn't already have ATMs). But it's hard to see what the problem is; there are ATMs all over the place, why shouldn't there be one in Wal-Mart? Are people going to drive to Wal-Mart just because they have an ATM, and stop using the one at the corner store? Are they going to drive the mom & pop ATM operators (of which few exists, many are owned by chains) out of business? Absurd.