Opening Bell: 2.2.07

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In a Well-Worked Pattern, Amazon’s Revenue Rises and Its Profit Drops (NYT)
Of all the .coms, Amazon always took the "growth over profit" mantra closest to heart. Other companies gave lip service to it, but that's just because they knew they could never turn a profit. Amazon has turned a profit -- in fact it turned a profit very early on in its existence, which few people know. But whenever it starts to make a little bit of money, it brings out the big marketing guns, or does something crazy like free shipping. All of it, one day, intended to make Amazon the Wal-Mart of the net. As for the bottom line, the company now promises that it will focus on that soon enough. Sellouts.
Dell's Woes Mount as Investors File Improper-Accounting Suit (WSJ)
Just as Michael Dell is returning to the helm at his firm, he's got fresh legal troubles to worry about. A shareholder lawsuit accuses the company of accounting violations, claiming that the company improperly inflated earnings with a series of "rebates" from Intel. It also alleged that the company took kickbacks from Intel, as a payoff so that it wouldn't use AMD chips. It's a little hard to know how the shareholders know this. If the SEC of the Justice Department were bringing these charges, it'd be easier to understand, since they've been examining the company for some time. Also, if true, it should give ammunition to AMD, which has been pursuing its own anti-trust complaints against Intel.
U.N. Report Adds Pressure To Global-Warming Fight (WSJ)
Someone clue us in here please, because there's a question we've just got to get the answer to. What happened in the last three months that caused the global warming debate to just surge out of control in terms of attention. Not a single day goes by without some new report, from some international body (composed of Europeans, we presume), proclaiming that man has to do something now, now! And we keep hearing about the "consensus of scientists", which, to us, sounds like "if you disagree, you must be an uneducated idiot". Anytime there's this much unanimity on a subject, it's suspicious more than it is compelling.
Oil giant primes the biofuel pump with $500 million (LA Times)
BP has been going by the unofficial moniker of "Beyond Petroleum" for some time now, and really, we think that it's only a matter of time before the company officially renames itself that. Beyond Petroleum, it's just so cool. As evidence that the company is indeed moving beyond petroleum, the oil giant has pledged a $500 million to Cal Berkeley to set up alternative energy research, with a focus on biofuels. There's an easy joke in there about driving VW buses running on restaurant grease, but there's no real reason to make it.


Minimum Wage Bill Heads to Negotiations (AP)
As a general rule of thumb, any measure that passes the Senate by a score of 94-3 is probably a bad bill. Really, what could possibly so palatable to politicians on both sides other than something terribly noxious and unnecessary. It was with this score that the Senate passed a major increase in the minimum wage, bumping it up by $2 over the next few years. But because it was a bipartisan bill, it also had some tax break riders attached to it, so that the Republicans could appease their constituents.
Oil edges up on lower stocks and OPEC cuts (AFX)
There are plenty of stories about how oil has been dropping, finally, and how the oil regimes like Chavez' and Putin's are in for a wake up call. Oh wait, oil is back up to $57/barrel, some decline. Meanwhile, Putin feels emboldened and is talking about introducing an OPEC for natural gas, an idea that the rest of the world will just love. Specifically, the country may work together with Iran, which also has large gas stocks. Lovely.
Equity Office Rejects Vornado Offer, Citing `Risks' (Bloomberg)
Unfortunately, we may not get the thrilling battle we were hoping for in the Equity Office bidding. The company's board said it's rejecting the (higher) Vornado bid, because it entails more risk, with the Blackstone bid being more of a sure thing. That means that the pressure is off Blackstone to come over the top, once again, while Vornado must scurry back to see if it can come up with something else.
It’s ‘Squawk Box’ Meets ‘Saturday Night Live’ (NYT)
What, you just heard of WallStrip? Come late to the party much? Really, it's getting a little tiresome to congratulate the crew every time some major business media picks up on the WallStrip story. Squawk Box meets Saturday Night Live, eh? Well then where's their Mark Haines.

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