Opening Bell: 11.16.06

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Dell knocks back Q3 results as SEC probe turns formal (The Register)
That's the problem with informal SEC investigations, they have a knack for becoming formal ones. Sure, the first time they show up in their jeans and grey SEC T-shirts with black lettering, then the next time they're wearing suits and you know you're on the road to trouble. Unlike every other SEC investigation going on at the moment, this one doesn't necessarily appear to be options related (though they'll probably find some of that too if they look hard enough). There's some hint that it has to do with stock buybacks, which the company has used rather liberally over the years, in a manner that's been fairly wasteful. Meanwhile, HP looks like it's already putting its woes behind it, as the malefactors in its scandal done gone and plead already.
Hertz IPO prices at $15, below expectations (MarketWatch)
The IPO of Hertz priced last night below the expected range, dealing a small blow to Ford Motor, which could use every penny right now. They can thank Jim Cramer for that. He apparently warned investors about the stock on Mad Money on Tuesday night. demonstrating that even institutional investors, and the types that get to buy IPOs pre-market take their cues from the man. It also stings that investors seem to have more enthusiasm for Halliburton unit Kellog Brown & Root, which priced at the top of the range, despite the fact that it's bound to come under lots of scrutiny in the next two years from the Democratic-led Congress.
La Senza sold for $710M (National Post)
Bra maker La Senza has sold out to arch rival Limited Brands inc, the parent company of Victoria's secret, for $710 million. The move ends some bitter cleavage in the lingerie market, as Victoria's secret had actually sued La Senza over a patent dispute. Yes, a patent relating to bras. La Senza won a preliminary judgment in that case, but it was the case that got the two sides talking, leading to the deal. So who says that patent lawsuits are dead weight on the economy?
Will iPhone Save Handset Business? (GigaOM)
We really hope that Apple releases an iPhone. Not because we're actually planning to buy one. Hell no. But because once there's an iPhone on the market, there won't be more rumors about an iPhone. Actually, that's not true at all. There will be plenty of rumors, like what colors are coming out next, whether they'll be able to play video in the later versions. Either way, it does seem like it may finally happen, as concrete rumors about specific orders to Asian manufacturers have surfaced. Look for 'em sometime next year.


Acting on Restaurant Industry Complaints, City Will Revise a Plan to Limit Trans Fats (NYT)
It looks like freedom will see another day in New York. After lobbying from restaurants, the city government will delay, and possibly revise a proposed ban of trans fatty acids in food. It sounds like there won't be much of a revision to the law, unfortunately, rather restaurants will now be given more time to come up with new recipes. Though fast food joints, the primary users of the devil fat, were the most vocal, McDonald's ensured investors yesterday that it's ready to comply with the law. Too bad, it should engage in some civil disobedience. Let's face it, eventually it will be banned, and then eventually after that it'll be banned all across the country. But why couldn't it have started in California first, which would have fit with the natural order?
TEXAS-SIZE PICKUP: Tundras are nearly ready for rollout (Detroit Free Press)
Toyota's about to go in for the kill. There is one area that the Detroit automakers still do a decent business in, that's the truck market. They carry high margins, and real men all over the country still prefer Fords and Chevys. But Toyota's been licking its chops for some time. They already sell some, which have done well, and now it's really about to ramp up its production of its popular Tundra line. It's San Antonio plant is already building 'em, and they'll be for sale by next year. It's the company first true full-size truck, though actually it clocks in at 7/8th the size of similar offerings from Ford and GM. The company thinks it can double its sales of 'em next year, and hit 200,000 units. Notice they've been priming the market for this by running tons of ads about how they're basically an American car company now, which appeals to all of our inner Lou Dobbses.
Citigroup Signs $3.1 Billion Deal to Buy China Bank (Bloomberg)
It's official, Citigroup is now the proud owner of a Chinese bank, the formerly state-owned Guandong Development Banks. The first thing they need to do now is drop the word 'Development' from its name. That just smacks of state ownership and bureaucracy.
Russia's Gazprom Fires Its Leader Of Oil Expansion (WSJ)
Gazprom's fired its deputy CEO. That's probably all we need to tell you. The part about the new deputy being a close Putin ally, with deep personal ties, you probably already supplied in your head. Of course you did. And his icy grip over the world's energy market gets tighter and tighter...
Surprise Hostile Bid for Delta May Spur Airline Merger Wave (WSJ)
We knew it; after the news of US Airways' bid for Delta came out, it was easy to envision several articles in the coming days pondering other possible tie-ups, and heralding a new period of consolidation. But as we mentioned, it's not easy to merge airlines, and it's not an accident that it hardly ever happens, despite what journalists, and willing accomplice analysts would have you believe. So it begins.

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