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Opening Bell: 11.3.06

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Microsoft and Novell Make Windows, Linux Compatible (Bloomberg)
A lot of people are likening this to the freezing over of hell. Microsoft, the evil empire, announced an alliance with one-time arch rival Novell to make their version of Linux work better with Windows. Additionally, Microsoft customers will be able to buy Linux service as part of a package. To think there are some people -- mainly in the EU -- that think Microsoft has an unfair monopoly. The fact that they're going out and touching Linux should put that idea to rest. Just think, a few years ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he was going to strangle the Linux penguin. My how the mighty have fallen. Interestingly, it comes just a week after Oracle announced that it would support Red Hat's Linux, though at half the price that Red Hat does, making it the equivalent of a backhanded complement.
Retailers may face price war (Chicago Tribune)
The retail industry has never been known for its fat margins, but this Christmas they could be waifier than normal. That's in part due to Wal-Mart's weak sales, which may prompt the company to go medieval on the competition, cutting prices like crazy. We know the company's probably going to sell a $389 laptop, and for anyone who likes to buy generic prescription drugs for their loved ones, it's definitely the place to go.
Aer Lingus reiterates rejection of 'derisory' Ryanair offer (AFX)
For the last time, no means no! As if Aer Lingus intentions weren't clear enough, the company's reiterated that it really doesn't want to get in the sack with Ryanair. It really doesn't feel comfortable about it, and in fact it called the price that Ryanair was offering 'derisory', meaning Ryanair made the company feel like a cheap whore, instead of the glamorous lady it wants to be treated as. From what we understand that's Ryanair's general approach, as many of its customers can attest.
BA profits nosedive after terror scares (Telegraph)
A few months ago, after the whole liquid panic, some European airline chiefs called on the government to reimburse the companies for all the lost business and extra expenses. As important as security is, you had to applaud them for their audacity. Besides, they were right. The idea of restricting liquids and subjecting passengers to these ridiculous rules was a silly idea that had no hope of actually working. In its latest report, BA said the little 'incident' cost it £100 million up from an earlier estimate of £40 million. Presumably, it's already sent the bill to the Prime Minister.

Some Californians to Pick Their Utility at the Polls (NYT)
The market economy has often been likened to an election where consumers are constantly voting with their dollars for what brands and products they like best. But it's even better than an election because the loser still gets what they want. So those weirdos who prefer Pepsi still get to drink Pepsi even though Coke is clearly superior, and most people recognize it. It'd be like if all the Gore voters got to have Gore as a President, while the Bush voters had what is now. Of course, that doesn't work when business decisions are made through the ballot box, as is happening in one California town where voters are deciding what company they want to supply their electricity. Then, voters for the loser have to go with whatever the majority wants. That's why some call democracy a system whereby two wolves and a sheep vote on what's for dinner.
Golf and the Public-Company CEO (Infectious Greed)
Here's a little bit of statistical analysis relating to companies that have a golfer in chief. Just by looking at the top CEO golfers, it appears their companies suffer for all the time spent out on the links. Of course, this is just statistical noise (probably), but you may want to look into it if your looking for your first big hedge.
China Raises Bank Reserve Ratio to Curb Lending Boom (Bloomberg)
Here's another one of these stories that we just hear over and over and over and over again. China is, get this, taking measures to curb investment. Sorry China, face the facts. Everybody wants to put their money with you. Even if that means building 20 of the world's tallest skyscrapers that nobody can afford to occupy, or building Wal-Marts in areas where nobody lives, nothing you do is going to stop them. Certainly not some demand on banks to increase their reserve ratios.
Pensions Funds Warn About Pay Consultants (Dealbook)
Apparently, people really pay attention to Gretchen Morgenson. A couple months after warning about pay consultants, who in her view helped inflate executive pay, a group of pension funds is echoing the sentiment. Pretty scary.