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Opening Bell: 4.26.07

Nissan's Net Profit Drops 46% Due to Restructuring Costs (WSJ)
It's been a rough year for the golden boy, Carlos Ghosn. Just last summer, people were likening him to Midas, and GM was thought to be stupid for not embracing him with open arms. But maybe he could've spend more time tending to matters at home. Nissan's financial house continues to be in disarray, and Ghosn himself has missed key performance benchmarks. In the US and Japan, the company was hurt by a lack of new products, which is funny, since that's something that Ghosn pushed heavily early on in his tenure. Maybe he's bored. Or maybe he's like moses, not fit to lead the new kingdom once his people arrive.
Ford's Net Loss Narrows, Boosted by International Units (WSJ)
As a rule, we don't trust any figures put out by American auto companies. Our first inclination is to assume that they're completely misleading and that in fact they're losing more money than they ever have before. That being said, if we take off our skeptical glasses for one second, and just look at what seems to have been reported, Ford has narrowed its losses to a mere $282 million. Think that's bad? Last quarter it was over a billion. But, that's still really bad, no? Ford isn't exactly in the position to be dropping $282 million in the recycling bin. The company benefited by solid sales growth internationally, and some life at its finance division. Acquires
We're not sure why it's being overlooked by the mainstream press, but last night announced that it would acquire the reaming 50.1% of that it didn't already own, which is a blockbuster deal that represents the marriage of online personal finance 1.0 and online personal finance 2.0 (you know it's 2.0 because doesn't have an 'e' in its name). The sub headline for the press release says: "Leading social networking site that shows you how the rich get richer". Great, so now they've confirmed that cliche.
Why Freakonomics Bothers Me (
We're going to take credit for being early on this trend (see last line here), but if you haven't been paying attention, there seems to be a full-on revolt against Freakonomics. The gist seems to be that people are tired of what's being dubbed "cute-o-nomics", the focus on small, quirky things, as opposed to the big problems. This is becoming a real meme. It was started by an article in the New Republic, but now many of our favorite bloggers are talking about it. Then again, maybe it's jealousy.

As profit jumps, Jobs has support (San Francisco Chronicle)
That headline pretty much says it all didn't it? Apple's stock price is pushing new highs, while the company's board defends him. And now for the easiest thought experiment of all time. Imagine if Apple's stock price looked more like Dell's. Granted, he might've been gone a lot earlier, just based performance, but would it be remotely conceivable for him to receive so much board support. One thinks not.
China bans melamine in food products (AP)
China denied that the chemical melamine is what contributed to all the pet deaths, but, just in case, the country is going to ban it in food products. It also said that it would cooperate with the FDA in figuring out exactly what happened. Does this sound like the tone of a guilty party? After all, the guilty always say that they're eager to work with investigators. Or is this just the tone of a country that's seriously trying to clean up the mess? Who are the big winners here? We'd have to say it's protectionists in Congress, and buy local hippies.
Asian shares close higher as Dow surpasses 13,000 points (AFX)
Remember when the markets caught the flu last month. It was a real ugly cycle. First China dropped, which caused the US to drop, which prompted Japan to drop the next night, which freaked the US out the next day, which scared the bejeezus out of China the following night, which gave the US daymares the next day, etc. In times like that, you really wish that all the markets could be traded in a single timezone so that they wouldn't snowball like that. The good news is that they can snowball to the upside, as yesterday's rally seems to have fueled another strong day in Asia. We say "seems to" because neither we nor the AFX reporters have any damn clue whether yesterday's rally contributed to strength in Asia. In fact, Asia's been strong for several years now right? Whatever is fueling that probably has more to do with a rally than one day on the Dow.
Extradition of Former Comverse Chief Delayed in Namibia (NYT)
Kobi Alexander's announcement that he was setting up a scholarship fund for the children of Namibia seems to have bought him a little time. A hearing on his extradition was delayed until June, after his lawyers demanded a new judge be put in place. It's not clear what grounds he had, but when you're facing years and years in prison, every month of freedom is worthwhile. Then again, it's also just extra months on the backside, delaying his eventual release.