Opening Bell: 2.5.07

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Vornado Sweetens Its Bid for an Office Landlord (NYT)
It's been quite a see-saw battle between Blackstone and Vornado to see who gets to Equity Office. As you'll recall, the latest high bid came in from Vornado, topping Blackstone's second bid for the REIT. But while Vornado's offer was technically higher, the board of EOP determined that it wouldn't be as safe, and so it cast its lot with the lower, but safer Blackstone bid. Now Vornado is trying to make its bid more appealing, not by offering more money, but by promising rapid payment of the cash portion of the offer. It's hard to say what's going to happen, or if that'll be enough. Vornado's $56/share bid (half in cash/half in stock) is just slightly above Blackstone's $54 offer, which is all in cash. Even with Vornado's fast cash offer, it's easy to see Blackstone shareholders just going with the sure thing, and leaving a couple of dollars on the table.
Dow Theory Seems in Play for Some Bulls (WSJ)
We noticed on Friday that the oft-ignored Dow Transports were "back", not all that surprising, considering that its been the year of the airline. So with the Dow Transports and the Dow Industrials both performing well, it only makes sense that the Dow theorists come out of the woodwork. These people, who write Dow theory newsletters and speak at conferences, contend that when the two indexes are in agreement, it represents a consensus about the market's future. So, it's bullish when both are making new highs. This is no contrarian approach, clearly. No doubt, many Wall St. bulls of all stripes will point to the Dow theorists to support their optimism. However, many of these same guys will claim that Dow theory is utter bunk, when it's not signaling good times. "The Transports is a nonsense index", they'll say. Or, "Cisco and Akamai should be in the Transports index, not some rail company". Just bear that in mind when things turn the other way.
Ryanair sees profits soar by 30% (Ireland.com)
Irish discount airline Ryanair saw its profits rise by 30%, on the back of higher ticket fares (not all its seats are sold for a single euro, apparently), as well as the institution of baggage charges. The company is notorious for tacking on extra fees. Of course, economists will tell you that extra fees are good for the consumer, if they're theoretically avoidable. If you really don't need a pillow, a drink or luggage, then you really can make out quite well on Ryanair. But if you insist on bringing a bag, then you have to pay up for the cost of bringing one. Of course, at other airlines you have to do that too, they just build it right into the ticket price.
Yahoo’s Panama Ad-Ranking To Launch This Week (PaidContent)
When Yahoo announced its quarterly earnings a couple weeks ago, the company's stock rose, not on the results themselves, but on the promise that its new ad-delivery system, dubbed Panama, would be ready to hit the market soon. According to many, this is Yahoo's shot at catching up to Google in the online ad market. It's a sophisticated, algorithm-driven system for serving up the ads that are most likely to be clicked on. And there's hopes that at its core is a system that will work well not just with text ads, but also ads for audio and video. So here it is, up and working, and if it sinks, expect Yahoo's stock to sink right along with it.


Swiss Re Sells Landmark 'Gherkin' London Tower to IVG (Bloomberg)
The Gherkin, the most recognizable office building in London, and the home of almost every fictional business in films set in London has been sold. It's primary resident and owner, Swiss Re, has sold it for $1.2 billion, making it the most expensive real estate deal in the city's Financial District. And it looks like a decent profit was made on it for Swiss Re, which spent only $400 million to build it, just a few years ago.
Late Interceptions Seal Sloppy Win Against the Bears (NYT)
Bad news if you're banking on the theory that NFC Super Bowl wins translate into bull markets. And if you're thinking that the score was fairly close (for a Super Bowl), so maybe that means we'll just get a steady drift downwards, then you didn't watch the game. It really wasn't that close at all. Then again, there's another theory that says that if the NFC wins or one of the league's original teams, which the Colts happen to be, then that's good for the market. Ah, the joy of the Goldilocks economy.
Budweiser wins with crabby crawlers as Anheuser-Busch takes seven of top 10 (USA Today)
...And the obligatory nod to the Super Bowl ads, which seem to be getting worse every year. Seems like it might be time to deep six the beer ads. They're really getting aweful. Here's a question, why don't men ever? complain about their portrayal in the media> That complaint seems to be exclusively the domain of women, but at least they're not constantly depicted as unmitigated morons, whose love for beer trumps everything else going on in their feeble little minds. Check the link above for the top ten ads, which miraculously puts the beer ads near the top.
Barron's Roundtable 2006 Scorecard (Controlled Greed)
Barron's published its regular roundtable recently, and as usual, it's worth reading. Not necessarily for the stock picks, mind you, but because it's a pretty interesting conversation, and it's interesting to see what top stock analysts sound like when they're trying to talk seriously, but are on drugs. This isn't to say that they are, but just that they sort of sound like it. This is particularly the case with guys like Dr. GloomBoomDoom Marc Faber, who simultaneously straddles the line between bullish and optimistic. If you're curious, here's a scorecard of how the crowd did last year. Big winner was Meryl Whitmer, whose stocks rose by 61.1%. In fact all of them made money last year, even Mario Gabelli.
A Medical ID Business, Much Criticized, Plans a Stock Offering (Dealbook)
If exotic IPOs are a sign of speculative froth, then watch out for VeriChip later this week. The company, a spinoff of Applied Digital Solutions, makes RFID tags designed to be implanted in humans. There are some (seemingly) benign applications of this, such as tagging policemen and firefighters, so that if they're rushed to the hospital, they can be treated quickly. And there are some (seemingly) sinister applications, such as tagging all foreign workers, which the head of the company proposes on TV during last year's immigration debates.

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