Opening Bell: 6.14.06

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S.E.C. Ends Decades-Old Price Limits on Short Selling (NYT)
After a long arduous fight, we have to give congratulations to Patrick Byrne, as the SEC has voted to institute anti naked shorting rules. So, Patrick, maybe you should go back to running your company (into the ground...), eh? At the same time, the SEC also voted to lift a restriction on short selling that prevented individuals from shorting after a downtick, a rule put in place in the 30s after the crash. That always seemed like a silly, arbitrary and antiquated rule, and apparently Christopher Cox, in a rare moment of Ayn Rand-inspired thought, felt the same way.
Southwest CEO might slow down expansion (The Star)
Southwest is realizing what jetBlue has already recognized, that just because you're a "low cost" carrier, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to grow your business at a breakneck pace and assume full planes. The company's CEO said that it will, like jetBlue, slow down its expansion, amidst disappointing capacity and higher fuel prices. For a long time, Southwest's fuel hedges were the envy of the industry, as some timely bets many years ago allowed the company to get jet fuel at a cut rate. But there was no way to continue this forever, and slowly many of these hedges are expiring.
Colgate finds fake branded toothpaste in 4 states (MarketWatch)
The toothpaste mysteries continue to deepen. First there were allegations that Chines toothpaste manufacturers were putting poisonous chemicals in the product, a la pet food made in the country. Now Colgate is claiming that it's found tubes of fake Colgate floating around in this country. And what country is known for fake brands? Exactly. Nobody is fingering the Chinese directly on this one, but it seems like the likeliest guess. Oh, and the toothpaste also contains poison. Then again, if poison somehow got in actual Colgate tubes, they'd probably insist that the tubes were counterfeits.
Intel plans 50% price cut for Core 2 Quad chips (Electronics News)
When you buy a computer, an ever-increasing chunk of the price goes to Microsoft and Intel (or AMD). Intel and AMD have been aggressively battling for market share for some time (with Intel getting the best of it lately), and now Intel is looking to fall on its sword in order to keep AMD at bay. The company is promising dramatic price cuts -- up to 50% - in order to hold onto its market share. Meanwhile, the SIA drastically cut its estimates for chip sales yesterday from a growth rate of 10% to 1.8%. And yet the Semiconductor Index barely budged, suggesting that nobody is paying attention or that nobody feels this is news.


Kellogg to Phase Out Some Food Ads to Children (NYT)
Kellogg has announced that it will stop marketing its extremely sugary cereal to children. As much as we find sugar to be evil (more evil than beer or tobacco), it's obvious that the company is simply wilting in the face of legal pressure, which is lame. Public health scolds have been promising for some time to sue marketers of junk food for selling to children, even though it's parents that actually buy the stuff (every single time). Perhaps parents should be sued for buying it. So, sadly, chalk up another victory for the noxious Center for Science in the Public Interest crowd
Dubai Government Nears Deal To Buy Barneys New York (WSJ)
Over the past several years, we've sent a lot of cash overseas for things like electronics and oil. And every day it seems like more of it is finding its way back home. It seems an inexorable fact that cash wants to make a pilgrimage back to its birthplace. It appears that the government of Dubai (which would have plenty of Greenbacks) is set to purchase tony clothing retailer Barneys from Jones Apparel for double what Jones paid for it just back in 2004. That's a pretty nice return no matter how you slice it. If the US economy/stock market really is at some sort of peak, as some are saying, a sale of Barneys would probably be timely.
One Card Away from the Final Table at the World Series of Poker (Freakonomics Blog)
This is pretty crazy. The Freakonomist Steve Levitt has been getting into poker lately (he has a whole "pokernomics" {yes} project that he's been working on), so he's playing at the World Series of Poker this year, spending all his book money on high stakes tournaments. Anyway, he's apparently pretty decent because he came on card away from getting to the final table of a tournament. But his opponent cut a gut-shot straight draw on the river, beating Levitt's top pair. That's just sick. It's sick enough to get beat that way, but it really stings when it's the critical hand in a World Series of Poker tournament. Like, that's just really sick is all we can say.
The Economist To Look For Larger Acquisitions; 39 Percent Jump In Electronic Revenues (PaidContent)
Reading the economist is great because it helps you look smart. It also has a vaguely rebellious attitude (in a stuffy British sorta way) that makes the buttoned-down feel radical for believing in fairly conventional viewpoints (trade is good, war is bad, etc.). So, the company is looking for acquisitions that will appeal to this demographic, as it wants 'intelligent brands' that appeal to a 'high end' reader. If you've got any ideas, you should send them an email.
I Don't Want An iPhone, I've Got A Curve (A VC)
There's little doubt that the day the iPhone launches will be madness -- whether it actually produces as much madness as Apple investors seem to think (or hope) it will is another story entirely. Anyway, there are actually a handful of folks out there with no interest in the device, including VC Fred Wilson, who would happily stick with his Blackberry, thank you very much.

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