Opening Bell: 7.10.07

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Home Depot Cuts Forecast on Unit Sale, Housing Market (Bloomberg)
Nobody's really been predicting anything good for Home Depot, whose fortunes are tied in with the overall housing market. But in case people needed it spelled out for them, the company announced lowered forecasts, to the tune of a 15% earnings drop. So obviously there isn't as much building going on, but what's going to happen to the home-improvement boom? You know. At some point in the last 5 years, it suddenly became really hip to get handy with respect to home improvement. That's why Home Depot opened a location in Manhattan, because installing showerheads and kitchen counters suddenly became a popular yuppie exercise. Heck, even sawing up two-by-fours gained a certain appeal.
Apple plans cheaper, Nano-based phone (Reuters)
Analysts are already starting to guess what the next iterations of the iPhone are going to look like. Yesterday, someone came out and confidently predicted a phone-less iPhone, which would be a.... iPod? Basically, but with a wide screen. Now it's being predicted that the next iPhone will have a similar form factor to the Nano, which is a little hard to believe, seeing as the wide screen and the scrolling seem to be at the core of the iPhone's appeal.
Hedge Fund Performance Heated Up Slightly in June (Dealbook)
Hedge funds turned in a solid June, averaging gains 1.11% for the month. That's great, but these statistics are pretty much rubbish no? After all, what the hell does it mean to take the average performance of a group that includes things like Bear Stearns' CDO bet and leveraged investments into emerging markets (which were the best performers as a class). An average really don't mean squadoosh, as they say.
China Executes Former Head Of Food Safety Agency (WSJ)
China has executed the former head of the country's food safety agency for corruption and dereliction of duty. Seems a bit harsh, but given all of the problems that the country's been having on the food safety front, you have to have figured that some heads were going to roll (rimshot!!). Ok, that may have been in poor taste, though certainly killing the guy was much worse. Meanwhile, China's trade surplus hit a new record in June, confirming that, well, foreign trade is a really big deal to their economy.


Bumped fliers may get a raise (Chicago Tribune)
Advocates of a so-called "Flyers' Bill of Rights" have to strike now, while the iron is hot, as virtually everyone is dissatisfied with commercial travel these days. Seriously, these opportunities don't come around all the time. Under pressure from Congress, the Department of Transportation may be set to award significantly higher monetary rewards to fliers that were bumped for reasons beyond their control. Of course, while the airline will be cutting a check, the cost will be imposed on fliers that weren't bumped, essentially making this a bizarre sort of redistributive transfer payment.
A Maverick of Industry in Canada (NYT)
Interesting article about the chairman and founder of auto parts maker Magna, a sometimes forgotten powerhouse of the North American auto industry. Basically the company, from its inception, has never been content to just produce parts requested by its automaker customers. Instead, it's always been interested in part design and the higher-value engineering work that goes alongside parts. It's even built a few concept cars of its own, over the yars. One of them, a car completely free of electronics looked awesome, but we haven't seen it on the road yet.
Condé Nast to Close Jane, Ending Effort at Revival (NYT)
After a very respectable 10-year run, and the establishment of a moderately-sized, but loyal following among 20-something women that feel that they're slightly hipper than everyone else, Jane Magazine, a Conde Nast publication, is folding. The magazine industry is pretty baffling, no? There appear to be thousands of magazines that nobody ever reads, which seem to last in perpetuity, while other, more popular pubs can't keep it going. Conde Nast wouldn't say whether Jane was profitable, but it's obvious why it was canceled: it wants to send more resources towards Portfolio. Besides, Portfolio wants to be a business magazine with a significant chunk of women readers. Some ex-Janes should fit right in.
Oil experts see supply crisis in five years (Telegraph)
Analysts at the International Energy Agency are predicting an extremely tight oil market in five years, possibly leading to a crisis. Really, though, who cares. Five years from now is 2010, which everyone knows is going to be the end of the world (according to the Mayan calendar). Really, it's hard to believe that oil will be the worst of our problems, come the end time.
Heat Wave Is Igniting Outage Fears (New York Sun)
So we're finally seeing the first of what will probably be several heat waves this summer. Let's recap what we know is likely to happen. Starbucks will probably report bad earnings, as its stores buckle under too much demand for cold coffee-based drinks. Some neighborhood in Queens is going to go without power for a whole week, while Con Edison tries to figure out what's going on. The mayor will then launch a council to examine the city's energy infrastructure. Oh yeah, and the Wall Street banks are going to "do their part". As a favor to the city, they'll go off the grid and switch over to their own generators, at least during peak hours. This might mean reduced light, however, so you might want to grab a seat by the window, if you're going to have to do a lot of reading on paper.

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