Opening Bell: 1.31.07

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Bristol-Myers hires banks for sale advice
Everybody knows that it's a bad idea to just reach into your parents' medicine cabinet and mix their pharmaceuticals, unless you want to get high. Mixing pharmaceutical companies will probably lead to the same result, but it's pretty dangerous. Although there's nothing official yet in terms of a Bristol-Myers/Sanofi deal (wonder what they'd call the company), word is is that Bristol-Myers has hired Lehman and Morgan to help it work out a deal. So, deal or no deal, the company is definitely interested in something.
Drug Safety Oversight Will Be Strengthened, U.S. Says (Bloomberg)
Yeah, because the FDA does such a good job in its current capacity, riiiight. No, in all seriousness, does anyone feel comfortable now that the FDA will expand its oversight of drugs after they've been released to the market? Yes, in a sense, this should bring some measure of comfort to those currently taking medicines, that the long-term effects are being studied, but given how much of a burden the FDA already is, and how many good treatments get taken off the market because of a few spots of bad data, this seems like it could easily cause more pain than it's worth.
Is Wall Street Really Losing Its Edge? (Dealbook)
Now that Chuck Schumer is on the anti-SarbOx bandwagon, penning articles with mayor Bloomberg about how Wall St. is deteriorating, everything is hunky dory, right? Well, it's great to have someone like Schumer unexpectedly reach his conclusion about SarbOx, but maybe he got there for reasons that aren't so appealing. Maybe it's just a form of populism -- like if he were from South Carolina, he'd be writing op-eds about the textile industry going overseas. What looks like a free-market position might not be so principled. And maybe Wall St. isn't doing that badly. Certainly the staggering earnings and record bonuses don't portend much doom, except from a contrarian point of view. And other things, like the global dispersion of IPOs may not be as damning as originally thought.
Baquet Rejoins Times as Washington Bureau Chief (NYT)
The grunt reporters at the Times are gonna love this. The Paper of Record has hired Dean Baquet to be its Washington Bureau Chief. Dean Baquet stands somewhere between Joe Hill and Casey Jones, in the eyes of many, for his one-man fight against Tribune Co. management, when, as the chief at the LA Times, he refused to institute the job cuts that were demanded of him. This radical insubordination certainly earned him a lifetime of speaking to college J-schools about the good old days of the craft -- in the short term, it got him a gig at the Times.


Earnings Analysis by Sector (Ticker Sense)
The folks at Ticker Sense have a nice breakdown of where we stand this earnings season. Despite a number of high profile misses, for the most part, companies have been consistently beating expectations. Health care and telecom companies have sailed past estimates, while financials and industrials have had a harder time making the grade.
Measuring the social impact of corporate behavior (Marginal Revolution)
A new site wants to gather the "wisdom of crowds" to score companies for there corporate behavior, as it reflects on society. We're going to go out on a limb and coin a new phrase here. What they'll get is the "conventional wisdom of crowds". So we can expect a lot of Wal-Mart bad, Microsoft bad, Whole Foods good and Starbucks mediocre. Oh, and Apple good. If it turns out differently, then feel free to correct me down the road.
How Boss's Deeds Buff A Firm's Reputation (WSJ)
And speaking of corporate reputation, but not the crowd wisdom kind, a new study put out by the Journal and Harris Interactive puts Microsoft, surprisingly, at the top of the list. This is mainly due to Bill Gates good works around the world, using his fortune to battle diseases and poverty. Coming in second is Mohammad Yunus' Grameen Bank. Just kidding. Second place actually went to Johnson & Johnson, for continuing to sell its No More Tears baby shampoo. And that's not a joke.
California may ban lightbulbs by 2012 (CNNMoney)
Ok, are we the only ones who sort of feel like this whole global warming thing has gotten really pitched, like just in the last three months. It's really weird. Ostensibly, the earth has been growing (ever so slightly) warmer since the introduction of man made greenhouse gases, which is many years ago. And yet, all of the sudden now is the time that something has to be done, or it'll be too late. Now all the reports have come out, along with the books and movies and hysterical statements from European politicians. And now, some in the California legislature want to ban incandescent lightbulbs entirely, favoring instead the more-efficient fluorescent varietal. Perhaps it'd be best if we didn't make such policy during times of panic.

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