Opening Bell: 6.21.07

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Luxottica to Buy California's Oakley for $2 Billion (Bloomberg)
Now here's a monopoly for you. Luxottica, the maker of Ray-Bans and other glasses, will buy out Oakley, the maker of the Oakley Thump (sunglasses + mp3 player) and other sporty shades for $2.03 billion. Both of these companies have been pretty hot lately. Ray-Bans are enjoying an awesome surge, as the classic Wayfarer frame is suddenly very trendy again. Unfortunately, a lot of hipster have become fond of fake, non-Ray-Ban Wayfarers, which are actually really ugly and cheap looking. Analysts see the consolidation of the two companies as cementing Luxottica's dominance.
Goldman Recommends Buying Apple Call `Spreads' Ahead of IPhone (Bloomberg)
Psst. You gotta keep this news real quiet. It's only between us, you, and Goldman? Lips sealed? Okay. Apparently, this trendy consumer electronics company called Apple (right, the maker of the iPod) is coming out with a phone in a couple weeks, and there's a good chance that the stock will jump on the day it goes on sale. Why will it jump? Because nobody is seeing this news coming. Nobody realizes that the iPhone is coming out, and when it does (and news reports show a lot of people lining up at stores), everyone will be shocked at this phenomenon. So here's your chance to get in now! Ground floor baby. Before the masses realize what's going on.
Few Choices for Workers at Dow Jones (NYT)
It's apparently news tat the workers at Dow Jones aren't terribly enthused about the prospect of seeing their company get acquired. Well, duh. Nobody at Dow Jones (except common shareholders) seems to like the prospect. What's more, we know how the workers feel, because they write about it every day on the front page of the paper, dropping not-so subtle hints about what a Rupe-led Dow Jones might look like. If you believe their vision, it ain't pretty.
Whole Foods to Unload Wild Oats Stake to Apollo (Dealbook)
If you were to just look at the store footprint of Whole Foods and Wild Oats, you'd have a hard time seeing how a combination of the two companies could really be such a market disaster. Nevertheless, the companies are prepared to make some concessions in order for this deal to go through. Whole Foods said it will sell 35 Wild Oats stores to Apollo Management, should the deal be allowed to go through. We're guessing that this will be a good deal for Apollo, seeing as they could be rescuing the deal by taking on these 35 stores. Apparently, Apollo is pretty familiar with Wild Oats, as it once considered buying out the whole chain itself.


FedEx Delivers Mediocre Results (BusinessWeek)
There's probably no company that's seen as more of a proxy for the overall economy than FedEx. Legend has it that even Federal Reserve Chairmen are known to ring up the company in order to get a heads up on any slowdown that might be in the works. It's almost certainly more useful than reading a Beige Book. So, it was a little unnerving that the company reported underwhelming results yesterday, however the company says it's seeing a pickup in late summer or fall. We're totally confused about what the economy is doing right now. We've seen plenty of articles talking about strong growth and slow growth, as if everyone were in agreement that we were in one or the other.
At Wal-Mart, a Back Door Into Banking (NYT)
Wal-Mart has been thwarted in its efforts at opening up a bank, but the company isn't letting that stop it from strengthening its position in financial services. It plans to offer things like prepaid debit cards and check cashing at more of its stores. Perhaps there's even a backdoor into things like mortgages. Instead of writing loans, with points and interest rates, it could use the Islamic Finance model, and just purchase homes and then sell it to the buyer at a slightly higher price than what the home was on the market for. Buyers could pay it back over, say, 30 years, or in some cases 40. Essentially, Wal-Mart would be acting as a middleman. Nah, there's no doubt that regulators would lose it.
Taleb is right ... he knows nothing (Mahalanobis)
On our desk, right next to our computer, we have a copy of Nassim Taleb's new book, The Black Swan. And although we were impressed by Fooled by Randomness, it's been really hard to get into this one. Like, really difficult. After two months, we're about five pages in, maybe 10. Perhaps our slow going is the result of discussions, like this one, which do a pretty good job of taking Taleb to task on some points. Plus, Taleb seems to insist on becoming a caricature of his own ego, as he launches broadsides against those who take umbrage with some of his points.
Nasdaq faces tough choice over LSE expansion (MarketWatch)
At some point, the NASDAQ is going to have to come to grips with its 30% stake in the London Stock Exchange and figure out what to do with it. At the moment, it's just sort of the oversized investment hold, which is obviously not what the exchange intended. The issue is coming to a fore as the LSE pursues Borsa Italiana. If the LSE is successful, it could make the NASDAQ's longshot dreams of acquiring the LSE even harder. On the other hand, it could improve the LSE's competitive position, which is something that the NASDAQ might like, as a shareholder. So, this issue may finally force the NASDAQ's hand.

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