Opening Bell: 7.2.07

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Apple May Have Sold 200,000 IPhones, Meeting Estimate (Bloomberg)
Ok, so we had to lead off with the iPhone, duh. Let's start off with the numbers -- according to analysts, the company probably hit the upper end of volume estimates, which was approximately 200,000 units (there seems to be a discrepancy on this number as some reports are saying 500,000). Not bad at all. And judging from the reaction and word of mouth buzz that will be generated by everyone who got one, this 200,000 should help lay the groundwork for strong sales going forward. All in all, very little for Apple (and its shareholders) to be upset about. Apparently some people had activation troubles, but it doesn't sound like anything that will hurt the company for long. That being said, on Friday afternoon, we happened upon the Soho Mac store. Let's just dispense with something right now -- the people decamped outside of the store to get an iPhone were not "geeks" in any sense of the word. One woman got an iPhone as an engagement present in lieu of a ring. Two frat-boys in sandals let out a major holler upon leaving the store, while man employees cheered customers at the entrance. Odd? To say the least. Still, there's no doubt about it, the company is a money machine.
In a Bid for Dow Jones, an Entrepreneur Again Finds Murdoch as Rival (NYT)
The Times has a profile of Brad Greenspan, the MySpace founder that's making a rival bid for News Corp. Greenspan has been holding a grudge against Murdoch ever since MySpace was sold to News Corp. for less than he felt it was worth. Since then, he's been throwing out delusional ideas, like getting the merger unwound. Now he claims to have $1.25 billion raised from a group of investors, and he wants to buy %25 of Dow Jones, which would allow the company to get some money while leaving the Bancroft's in charge. Here's the thing -- Greenspan might very well be completely full of it. He won't say where the $1.25 billion is coming from, and we have a hard time believing he's really in a position to raise that kind of money. The move is plainly an attempt to needle Murdoch, and although the Times fears a Murdoch-led Wall Street Journal (you know it does), it still seems a bit much to give this much attention to Murdoch's "opposition"
Reddy Ice going private for $1.1 billion (MarketWatch)
Sometimes we're disappointed to read about a certain company getting taken private because that was the first time we even heard that they were public to begin with. Such is the case with Reddy Ice, distributor and maker of ice, which today announced that it's selling itself to GSO Capital Partners for $1.1 billion. Seriously, if only we'd known, that'd have been a fun company to follow. Hopefully GSO will flip it soon.
Maharishi’s Minions Come to Wall Street (Dealbook)
In the future, if you feel overcome with waves of positive energy, you can thank the folks at Maharishi Global Financial Capital. The firm is the financial wing of the Maharishi Institute, who are the original yogic flyers. The advocates of so-called transcendental meditation have two giant concrete domes out in Ohio just so that they can levitate in peace. Cranks or not, it's cool that they're into capitalism.


Railway Workers Stage Warning Strikes in Germany (Deutsche Welle)
A rail strike in Europe? Stop the presses. Of course, you have to feel for kids with the summer of of college traveling on their EuroRail passes for the first time.
'Sicko': Heavily Doctored (MTV News) (via Pejman Yousefzadeh)
Ugh, so here's the thing. We pretty much already have our mind made up about Michael Moore's Sicko and his view of the healthcare industry. At this point, we've read a million articles about it to know exactly the points it makes, and for the most part they all seem week and flimsy. But we just know that at some point we're going to get into an argument about the film and it will be asked whether we've seen it or not. So is it worth sitting through it just for the sake of critiquing it? Seriously, is that a positive investment of time and money? Meanwhile, here's a pretty strong piece from Kurt Loder, yes the MTV Kurt Loder, who pulls no punches in his stinging review of the film.
European Stocks Fall; Air France, Royal & Sun Lead Decline (Bloomberg)
A thwarted terrorist attack in the UK over the weekend lead to stock declines to kick off the week. Insurers, apparently, were hit by a double whammy, as continued heavy rains in the UK are expected to trigger more flood claims.
Gap Aims to Close In on Shoppers With Its New Credit Card (WSJ)
The Gap is set to launch its own branded credit card in a bid to increase profits and customer loyalty. Fair enough, but perhaps they're open to another suggestion: Fix your freakin' clothing line. Seriously. This past week we accidentally ambled into The Gap during a fruitless attempt to find a decent pair of shorts for the summer. Man, that store is so messed up. First of all, the men's clothes were in the front, while the women's were in then back. That's just stupid for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, displayed prominently in the window were the uber-iconic cargo pants. Uh, when was the last time you saw a guy wearing cargo pants? And then it basically just went downhill from there. Not only were the clothes out-of-date style wise, but even in their heyday, they would've been the clothes worn by nerdy engineering students trying to look cool on the weekends. So maybe instead of launching a credit card, the company should hire some new clothing designers. After all, it is a clothing retailer.

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