Opening Bell: 10.5.06

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Fiorina Pursued Leaks at H.P., Too (NYT)
Now that she's seen what happened to some of her ex-HP colleagues (they've been indicted, they're probably going to prison), it's clear that getting fired was the best thing ever to happen to Carly Fiorina. In her new memoir (Tough Choices), Fiorina confirms that it was she who first launched leak investigations. Now, by the time that Fiorina was fired, the investigation probably hadn't yet veered off into the Nixonian direction it eventually did. But if history had taken a similar course, and the early stages of the investigation weren't getting anywhere, and private detective agency decided to up the ante -- with the blessing of lawyer Larry Sonsini -- it seems likely that the same thing could've happened under Carly's watch, and then she could've been among the indicted. Now, she has a book coming out that nobody would have read were it not for the fact that it's coming out now.
Wal-Mart Cuts Growth Estimate After Finding Mistakes (Bloomberg)
No really. Wal-Mart is lowering its growth estimates from 1.8% comparable-stores growth to 1.3% after discovering calculation mistakes. 235 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores had been "incorrectly coded". We just have one bit of advice for the company. Costs savings are great, but maybe it's not a good idea to pay minimum wage to the people doing the spreadsheets. But now that it's done, you can add this story to the list of great spreadhseet errors.
Ryanair plans bid for Aer Lingus (Reuters UK)
Ireland's infamous budget-cutting airline announced a bid for national rival Aer Lingus, and indicated that it had already 16% of the company's shares. Ryan Air said that should the two companies merge, they would be kept as separate entities, and even compete on routes where they both operate. It would be pretty two integrate the two fleets, given how unorthodox Ryan Air's strategy is. The company charges next to nothing for its flights and spends next to nothing either. The interior is filled with advertisements, and they'd probably charge you to go to the bathroom, but there's probably an EU directive against that, or maybe the right to pee is some UN basic human right. Still, it's going to be hard for Ryan Air management and sit back, watching what it sees a profligate waste at Aer Lingus, like spending on seat cushions.
Morgan Stanley's Andy Xie Quit After E-Mail Attack on Singapore (Bloomberg)
As chief economists go, Morgan Stanley's Andy Xie -- the firm's top man in Asia -- was one of the more visible, along with Stephen Roach, also at the firm. Now Xie has resigned after an embarrassing email was leaked in which he characterized Singapore as being a top destination for corruption, saying "Actually, Singapore's success came mostly from being the money laundering center for corrupt Indonesian businessmen and government officials. Indonesia has no money. So Singapore isn't doing well.". It's a good line, and it may even be true, but the old political adage, that a gaffe is just accidentally telling the truth, seems to hold in finance as well. Morgan Stanley's been having problems across South East Asia lately. It's cuddly relationship with the old regime in Thailand doesn't look great post-coup, so dumping Xie was probably seen as the only way to preserve a relationship with Singapore.


Airbus lagging 'decade behind Boeing' (FT)
Airbus is spiraling into Microsoft territory, as the release of its new jumbojet mirrors the software company's struggles to push out Vista. CEO Christian Streiff laid it out pretty stark, admitting that the company had fallen a decade behind Boeing. And it's not just the A380 that's in trouble; the A400M, a military transport plane, also key to the company's strategy, is behind schedule -- just like Vista and Office 2007. Airbus' saving grace is that Boeing is maxed out to capacity, meaning that Airbus customers don't have anywhere else to turn. And with less super jumbojets floating around the skies, the days before you play racketball on your flight from NYC to London are getting pushed back dramatically.
G.M.’s Talks on a Partner Fall Apart (NYT)
GM wanted billions upfront to agree to an alliance with Ford and Renault, and whet it couldn't get its billions, the company said "no deal". That then prompted major groans from its family, when it wound up with only $1,000 for all the agony. There did seem to be a pretty major disconnect from the beginning. Team Ghosn seems to have gone into the discussions, thinking it was there to offer its support for the ailing GM. But GM couldn't shake its inflated self image, as it felt that it was a lucrative catch, for which Team Ghosn should pay up big for. Now, GM actually has to do something, like cut costs, increase sales, and a lot else.
Ford Probably Won't Seek Renault-Nissan Alliance, People Say (Bloomberg)
For some reason, Ford always things that it's somehow involved, or potentially could be involved, in the Renault-Nissan talks even though it's never been invited. Last year, Ford was the belle of the ball among US automakers. It's a industrial Detroit ball, so even the belle wasn't to belle, but among Ford's peers, it looked pretty good. Then people decided that GM was back, and Ford's sales rapidly plunged, and now its all alone, drunk, sitting on the stoop with torn nylons screaming "we didn't want to be with you anyway!!" to anyone who would listen.
Steve Wynn Betters The Odds for Bosses At Las Vegas Casino (WSJ)
Long ago -- when we were developing our work ethic -- we worked the counter at a real divey restaurant that didn't see much business. From time to time there would be a customer, and from time to time, one of those customers would leave a tip -- they collected their food at the counter, and paid for it there, which is a recipe for disaster tip-wise. To make matters worse, the owner took all the tips for himself. Now, dealers at Steve Wynn's Vegas casinos are being forced to Share tips with their superiors. Because of the tips, many dealers end up making more than their bosses, which subverts the natural order of things. This has to be pretty humiliating for the bosses, and make many dealers cocky. Hopefully, this won't put the bosses at a higher pay rate than their bosses. And don't the shareholders deserve some of this, too?
Viacom's Redstone rules out bidding for Facebook (Reuters)
Speaking to Charlie Rose, Viacom's Sumner Redstone confirmed that his company would not be making a bid for popular social networking site Facebook, at least not any time soon. And he admitted that when news Corp. snatched MySpace for a now paltry-looking $500 million, it was a stinging defeat for Viacom. For Facebook, there seems to be a gap between its own perceived value, and the value that others are willing to pay for it. It definitely wants at least $1 billion, but everyone sees that as too expensive. And really, it almost certainly is, given the fickleness of this market, and the difficult time making money from it, even with a popular site. A couple days ago, there was a strange piece in the NY Post suggesting that Facebook was having trouble selling itself, because it would have to pay a breakup fee to Microsoft, which has an ad deal with the site. But the fee in question only came to $10 million. If anything, the story is probably being promoted by Facebook people as an excuse for why nobody will buy the company up.

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