Opening Bell: 7.20.07

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Toyota Loses Top Spot To GM In Global Sales In 2Q (Dow Jones)
We mentioned yesterday that the Detroit automakers needed to rev up production in light of the production stoppages at the Japanese companies, due to the earthquake. See, it's all about small victories, because a victory is a victory. Take this for instance. Toyota is generally seen as the world's biggest car company, but miraculously, GM reclaimed the mantle in q2. Just so happens that Toyota sales plummeted in Japan this past quarter, as the company has been slow to refresh its product line. Very un-Toyota like. Very impressive GM. It's still assumed that Toyota will resume its leadership role through the rest of the year.
Microsoft’s Profit Rises Despite Xbox Charge (NYT)
Microsoft's Xbox division is a black hole where money goes to die. But even if you factor in the $1 billion lost because of manufacturing defects, the company on the whole still posted a 7% gain earnings in its recent quarter, helped mainly by sales of Vista and Office. Those two things may be old dinosaurs in some respect, but even a few dinosaurs managed to survive. Okay, that's not true. But they're definitely not dead yet. Analysts were roundly positive on the company's results, which is a refreshing twist.
Wal-Mart Could Spend $1 Billion on Chinese Retailer, Report Says (Dealbook)
Wal-Mart will go big in China any way it can. It's on a mission. Either the company is going to rapidly expand its locations there, or it's going to make a major purchase of a Chines hypermarket, or it's going to do both, which is what we'd place our money on. If they're going to buy a chain, we really don't see how it could be anything other than Wu-Mart. All they'd have to do is change a couple letter on the sign and the integration would be complete. They probably wouldn't even have to take a one-time charge associated with the deal.
Financial IPOs Want for Love (WSJ)
Although there's been a boom in alternative investment vehicle IPOs, the stock market hasn't had much love for the hedge funds or private equity firms that have gone public. This raises an interesting and disturbing question: are public investors more rational and level-headed than the "smart money". After all, it seems that these days, everyone with money is clamoring to get in on hedge funds, etc. as they sneer at the common folks that have to simply go long on stocks and ETFs. But it would seem that while money keeps flowing into these funds, the public remains skeptical. Obviously, putting money into a hedge fund and investing in a company that manages hedge funds aren't exactly the same thing. Still, there's an interesting disparity between the attitudes.


Verizon Wireless agrees to deal with Broadcom (AP)
Verizon has struck an intellectual property licensing deal with Broadcom, which will avert restrictions on the import of certain handsets. We just hope that Verizon had its lawyers look over the deal closely and that whoever agreed to it wasn't under the influence of any spiked cocktails before signing the dotted line.
China lifts interest rates 0.27% following strong 2Q growth (MarketWatch)
China has taken the art of monetary policy to a science. See, when we raise interest rates, it's pretty much always in .25% increments. But if we were honest with ourselves, we'd have to admit that sometimes the economy is calling for an increase that's not exactly a multiple of .25%. Sometimes, the economy needs a .27% increase, in order to get that nine-point soft landing. Watch and learn Ben Bernanke. Wait, is numerology technically a science?
What does a sinking CEO sound like? Ask Moto (Chicago Sun-Times)
According to one analyst, Ed Zander has exactly six months to right the ship at Motorola. Not sure how they arrived at that number, but it sounds good to us. Let the countdown begin!
FDA: Don't eat that chili sauce! (FoodConsumer)
Turns out, even food that's made in America can be tainted. The FDA has issued a warning for a certain brand of chili sauce that's made in Augusta, Georgia, saying it could result in botulism. Safe or not, you're better eating Sriracha sauce anyway.

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