Opening Bell: 5.3.07

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Wall Street Journal Weighs Life Under Rupert Murdoch (WSJ)
One of the big questions on everyone's mind is, what will the Journal look like under Rupert Murdoch? Will it just become a non-tabloid, business-focussed version of the New York Post. A lot of people seem to think so, but this would surprise us. Murdoch isn't going to shell out $5 billion (or more), just so that he can dramatically change its tone or content. Sure he might make some shifts here or there (on the editorial side, most likely), but it's hard to see him doing much to damage the whole thing. After all, he hasn't turned MySpace into a site to brainwash highschoolers. And even if it did became all New York Post-like. Would that be such a horrible thing? We're big Roddy Boyd fans -- and it seems as though the Post has done a great job of getting scoops and breaking stories over the past few years. We're seeing synergies.
GM Posts 90% Decline in Net, Hurt By Loss at GMAC (WSJ)
As we've said many times before, as a rule we don't trust earnings from auto companies. Sorry, not gonna happen. Too many moving parts. It seems that we're not the only ones that find it hard to see the big picture. Analysts had been predicting earnings of $.87 per share this quarter from GM, but the final score, ex-charges, came in at $.17 per share. When was the last time you saw a normal company miss by such a wide margin. It's not GM's fault. There's almost certainly an excuse. It's just that nobody seems to be able to get a handle on how GM and Ford are doing. Meanwhile, the company's 49% stake in GMAC is looking ugly, as the lending arm swung to major losses in the quarter. Again though, we have no idea what that means.
'Spider-Man 3' Hauls in $29M in Opening (AP)
Back when we were in college, we had the chance to meet some representative of the OECD, who talked to us about global trade. Being young (and totally ignorant), we asked her why she was so optimistic about things when the US was running an enormous trade deficit. She should've answered "y'aint seen nothing yet", but what she said was that much of the data was flawed, in part because it didn't take into account many services and the entertainment industry. Anyway, to this day, we've still never bothered to look into this, or try to figure out how significant the measurement errors are. In part it's because we're more skeptical about the meaning of the trade deficit today than we were back then. That being said, Spider-Man 3 is breaking all sorts of overseas records. So between that and stuff like Yum Brands, which is doing well in China, all of the sudden the trade pictures doesn't look so sorry.
Fannie Mae boosts dividend, reports 2005 income (Reuters)
Update your models, Fannie Mae has released its 2005 income statement.


Cablevision Deal Remains Very Much Up in the Air (NYT)
The Times explains why the deal to take Cablevision private by the Dolans isn't yet a sure thing, despite all of the report s about a "done deal" yesterday. Please, just let it be over, seeing as this story has gone on way too long. I'm not sure we could stomach a 5th attempt by the dolan family to take it private.
Sarcastically, judge tosses KFC trans fat lawsuit (AP)
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against KFC, brought by a doctor who claimed that KFC's trans-fat laden friend chicken helped clog his arteries, damaging his health. In a victory for common sense, the judge pointed out that nobody thinks fast food fried chicken is particularly healthy, and that there was no evidence that the plaintiff had suffered directly from eating at KFC. It's actually really embarrassing for a doctor to be making a suit like this. What is he going to tell his patients? "Yeah, I know it looks bad, but I really thought that eating at KFC constituted a healthy diet." Man, everything is going good for Yum these days.
Carbon credits market triples (FT Alphaville)
Despite its lack of impact -- on anything -- the carbon credit market continues to grow. According to the World Bank it actually tripled in 2006, hitting $30 billion. Pretty impressive. Apparently, carbon abatement is so big in Europe, that there's a shortage of people skilled in measuring carbon abatement projects. It makes sense that there'd be a shortage. After all, it's hard to believe that anyone really knows how to do it, even those who proclaim to be skilled in the craft.
BlackBerry Maker Launches Consumer-Focused 'Curve' (WSJ)
We've always felt that Research In Motion has to be careful about making its Blackberry too popular among the masses, since it would be a disaster to lose its biz cred. But then it came out with the Blackberry Pearl, which clearly targeted the consumer user. Despite a lot of hype, it's certainly no T-Mobile Sidekick. So it looks like the company is trying again. This time it's the Blackberry Curve, which at least has a full qwerty keyboard, unlike the Pearl, which only had a few buttons, each of which had to represent several letters (weak). One problem we can see right away, just from the picture, is that it sort of looks like a Treo, which definitely isn't cool.
UBS Profit Falls as Hedge Fund Losses Hurt Bond Fees (Bloomberg)
At a time when everyone else is partying, UBS is having a pretty rough time of it, having posted its third straight loss. The company is doing what all compulsive gamblers must eventually do -- cut its losses and stop throwing good money after bad. The company is closing up shop and scrap a major hedge fund, which has been stung by losses in the subprime market.

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