Opening Bell: 6.8.07

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Retail Sales Fail to Disperse Clouds (WSJ)
So yeah, retail sales in May weren't all that great, just like April sales. But don't worry, there was almost certainly some freak weather to explain the situation. Or maybe some holiday that typically lands in June fell in May this year (though we can't think of one, offhand), causing everyone to stay home on what would have been a huge day. What's crazy is that people are already starting to talk about the Christmas shopping season, which seems way premature. Then again, they're already holding Presidential debates, and the election won't be for 18 months (like, there's a whole nother summer to get through!), so what can you expect?
Coke, Campbell in V8 Distribution Pact (Reuters)
It appears that Coca-Cola is extending itself further into the white hot non-carbonated drinks market by signing a distribution deal with Campbell's somewhat popular V8 line. V8's okay, but it would seem that the line could use a bit of a refresh. Frankly, it screams 90s. It's been a long time since we've drank or seen anyone drink a can of the stuff. Sure, it's vegetable, but it's also really salty, which is the only reason that it's palatable. Maybe if they added a bunch of caffeine in taurine it might have a shot, though that might just make it ridiculously foul.
Pepsi buys Ukrainian drinks firm (BBC)
Meanwhile, the foot race continues as Pepsi has outbid Coca-Cola for a Ukrainian juicemaker, which it will pick up for a cool $542 million. That's a lot bigger than we'd ever expect a juicemaker in Ukraine to be, although it is a market leader with 46 million customers. Among other things, the company has a vegetable drink.
One City’s Home Sellers Do Better on Their Own (NYT)
Two budding Freakonomists in Madison, WI have demonstrated that, at least in that city, selling one's home through a real estate agent isn't worth it. Any higher prices that agents achieve, it would seem, are simply eaten up by their commission. However, their study did reveal that homes sold by agents do sell faster (important), and presumably there's less of a headache when you're dealing with a pro, which does have value. Still, real estate agents are on the ropes these days with the rise of DIY sites like RedFin as well as Steve Levitt's bizarre comparison of them to the Ku Klux Klan, which has to sting a little bit.


MIT Scientists Pave the Way For Wireless Battery Charging (WSJ)
So some MIT prof claims to have developed a vaguely efficient mechanism for charging an electronics device, like a cellphone, without the use of wires. Maybe he did it in the lab, but we're still highly doubtful that he's come up with anything that's even remotely commercially viable (please, though, prove us wrong). Fact is, these reports of wireless energy breakthroughs pop up every once in a while, promising to cut the "last chord", but it never seems to go anywhere. So yeah, if they've got something, that's great, but don't hold off on charging your Blackberry while waiting for this to hit the market.
U.S. Stock-Index Futures Decline; Citigroup, Goldman Drop (Bloomberg)
Well, this week pretty much bit for everyone, eh? Stocks dropped with little resistance all across the globe, and we wear we read at least 15 articles this week calling for the death of private equity. So, in light of the week we had, it only makes sense to end on another down day. After all, this kind of move is "healthy". Right?
Patent Ruling Strikes a Blow at Qualcomm (NYT)
The wireless industry has been thrown into a tizzy on news that the US International Trade Commission will prevent the import of certain phones, which contain a chip by Quallcomm that enfringes on a patent held by Broadcom. Got that? The whole thing is fairly convoluted, and Quallcomm has been fighting intellectual proprety battles for quite some time now. The company sometimes wins and sometimes loses, although this seems to be a real big loss. It's also got the various wireless carriers pretty freaked out. Verizon says it will appeal to the President himself to intercede.

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