Opening Bell: 3.23.07

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Palm 3Q Profit Drops 61 Pct. Amid Rumors (Forbes)
Yesterday came and went without a buyout bid for Palm. Instead, investors were forced to look at the company's results and assume that for the time being, it'll be a standalone firm. And, not surprisingly, their results were really ugly. Again, Palm could've gotten away with bad results if it had simultaneously announced that Silver Lake Partners or Nokia would be coming to rescue them. But, alas, there was no savior to be, at least not yet.
Senators blame mortgage crisis on "neglect" by Fed, Greenspan (Washington Post)
It's time to give Alan Greenspan the title of Fed Chairman Emeritus. After laying low for awhile, and letting Ben Bernanke get comfortable at the job, Greenspan has roared back onto the scene of late. Not a day goes by when you don't hear his name, or his opinion on something or a Senator attacking him, as in yesterday, when he was accused of being the person responsible for the subprime fiasco. It's not clear how, exactly, the whole thing is his fault, but since he was at the helm when all of this began, and most politicians have no idea what the Fed chief does, it's not surprising that they'd lay into the guy. Knowing Greenspan, he'll certainly take it in stride. We're more worried about Bernanke, who never gets mentioned about anything. Meanwhile, if you don't get in the winning bid to have lunch with Alan Greenspan, you can go skateboarding for a day with Tony Hawk and support the same charity, so whatever floats your boat.
Wal-Mart: Thanks for the Bonuses, But… (BusinessWeek)
Well this was utterly predictable. The big Wal-Mart bonuses that were discussed yesterday are being met with criticism from some who say "too little, too late". Actually, the critics of Wal-Mart are really self defeating. See, they acknowledge that the $500 million disbursed among its 800,000 workers really isn't all that much, which means they'd have to concede that if they took all of the executive bonuses away for a year and gave them to the foot soldiers that wouldn't amount to much either. Ultimately, there's no changing the fact that Wal-Mart jobs are never going to be real high paying.
Citigroup said to eye ABN AMRO bid (Reuters)
Financial supermarket Citigroup is looking to be the financial supermarket to the world. It's in involved in a frustrating, and so far futile bid to acquire Japan's Nikko Cordial, and now there's word that it may spring for ABN AMRO, which as the news has been report for the last couple of weeks, is being sought by Barclays. While Barclays is ostensibly the sole bank negotiating right now, others suspect that HSBC and Banco Santander may be looking to make a play. All of the sudden, it seems like it's gonna be a fun summer.


Coldwell Banker's Second Life (Fortune)
The adage repeated ad nauseum by real estate investors if that real estate is always a good investment cause they ain't making any more of it. That's not really true enough to justify an investment theme, but whatever. If it makes them happy, then what's the problem? Apparently, like every other company looking for some media hype, real estate broker Coldwell Banker is entering the world of Second Life, the online virtual world that's a mix of virtual sex and Fortune 500 companies looking to burnish their 2.0 cred. It's funny that a real estate firm (remember the adage) should get into Second Life, because there's no limit on the amount of real estate that could be created there. Things getting a little cramped? Just build a new continent. Is your house a little snug? Just blow out the walls. The only thing sillier about their going into Second Life are all the stories acting as if it's a big deal.
Oil Trades Near Two-Week High on U.S. Gasoline Demand Increase (Bloomberg)
Can you feel it, summer's around the corner! Well, there's spring first, but everyone knows that season is a joke, since it's over in like three weeks. And besides, there's no spring driving season, as far as we know, so there's no economic impact to spring. Anyway, watch those few remaining patches of snow melt, because once the roads are clean, here come the cars, and here comes the higher gas prices. Crude oil is rising on higher demand, which apparently is running about 2% higher, on a barrels per day basis, than last year.
Blackstone Workers Produce Nine Times More Profit Than Goldman (Bloomberg)
All night, journalists have been mining for nuggets in the Blackstone filing, looking for nice juicy bits. Here's one sure to create some tension. Bloomberg is claiming that the average Blackstone employee is responsible for nine times as much profit than the average Goldman worker. But something seems off. The article states that each blackstone employee (there are only 770) accounts for $2.95 million in net income, while the each Goldman employee accounts for just $360,000. But, as everyone knows, the average Goldman bonus last year was over $600,000, so maybe what it's saying is that the average Goldman employee contributes $360,000 in profit to the firm after their much larger cut has been taken out. That's reasonable, since net income comes below compensation, although as it's presented it's not clear whether they're making an apples-to-apples comparison. Any ideas
NBCU-News Corp.: Early Ad Payoff (PaidContent)
By now, you've certainly heard all the news about the big YouTube killer announced by News Corp, NBC and a few other companies. Frankly, we'll be surprised if it actually kills YouTube. And the reason for that is something we'd never hear ourselves think. It sounds really, well.... corporate. Know, we haven't jumped on the trend of using corporate as pejorative term, not at all. In fact, we typically detest things like "this coffee tastes corporate". But, whatever, for once it applies. The new YouTube clone is going to be really corporate, and for that reason it will probably fail. There, got that off our chests.

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