Opening Bell: 7.26.07

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Apple's Quarterly Earnings Show The iPhone Revolution Is Succeeding (InformationWeek)
So there was some initial confusion over Apple's earnings reports. You shoulda seen the Yahoo message boards -- a mix of elation and despair, a volatile situation caused mainly by the fact that the posters on it seem to have a hard time grasping financial statements and the fact that Apple isn't the most transparent company in the world. The iPhone, it's selling like crazy, but not that crazy. Initial estimates that the company may have sold nearly a million handsets in the first weekend proved waaay too optimistic. On the other hand, the company sold regular, old-fashioned computers at a scary clip. Articles will note that the company's guidance was "cautious", as its estimates for the coming quarter are well below what Wall Street's finest have been predicting. We have a message to Apple: stop predicting earnings. You lowball every single time, and it's a totally obvious, bush-league move. It's one thing to under-promise and over-deliver on the product side -- that's good business. But you accomplish nothing by taking such an extreme approach to earnings.
Federal Minimum Wage Increase Goes Into Effect (Cato Daily Dispatch)
Ah, we'd been wondering why there were so many homeless people picking through our trash this week. Turns out a minimum wage hike went into effect earlier this week. That explains it.
Buffett Buys Kraft Stake, But Goal Is Unclear (WSJ)
Next time you go to Omaha for Buffett-stock, it looks like you'll be getting some Oscar-Meyer weiners topped with Velveeta to eat alongside your Coca-Cola. And then when you're done with all that, you'll be so intoxicated with the sheer deliciousness of it all, you'll go drop a few thousand on a diamond ring at Borsheims. Yes, Buffett is at it again, adding another iconic American brand, Kraft, to his portfolio of expensive high-priced "value" stocks. Not that there's anything original about buying Kraft -- we can't tell you how many times we saw some analyst on CNBC tout the company because their daughter couldn't stop eating their macaroni and cheese.
Toyota, UC researchers to test plug-in hybrid vehicles (San Jose Mercury News)
Apparently, the Prius isn't the end all and be all, at least to Toyota. Not that that should be any surprise. They're all about kaizen baby -- continuous improvement. You can't rest on your laurels, not even for a moment. The company is planning on doing more research into plug-in vehicles, a nice concept (in theory), because power plants are more efficient than engines, but a challenge, because typically plug-in vehicles are bound to traveling short distances. Crack this nut and there may be a niche for this model.


Garnier forecasts US will back Avandia (Telegraph)
GlaxoSmithKline is set to learn the fate of its diabetes drug, Avandia, today. The drug has come under fire in recent months after Dr. Steve Nissen, whose whole goal in life it seems is to bash drugs, warned that it could cause heart problems. And Dr. Steve Nissen doesn't take any money from the drug industry, so you know he's being totally forthright. The expectation is that the FDA will put a "black box" warning on the pills.
In Poker Match Against a Machine, Humans Are Better Bluffers (NYT)
So in a big man/machine poker competition that took place this week in Canada, the humans prevailed, maintaining poker as one last redoubt of human superiority. It was a tight match, but in the grand scheme of things, humans still dominate the game, and probably will continue to do so for some time. Perhaps this should be viewed as a hopeful sign for traders and other money runners, worried that algorithms are going to steal their jobs. At the intersection of quantitative reasoning and intuition, there's still a role for the human brain. At least for a couple more years.
AOL Starts Remake Of Money & Finance Site (PaidContent)
As dumpy as Yahoo and its Yahoo Finance site are, it's still pretty much the go-to if you want to grab a quick quote or keep clicking refresh until Apple's quarterly earnings pop up -- at least if you're a retail investor and don't have a Bloomberg. Lately we've been using Google's site a little more, although it still feel spare, which is odd, because that's the exact reason we like the rest of Google and hate the rest of Yahoo. Apparently AOL is trying to get back into this game, as it prepares to revamp its finance site, adding more blogging and, er, vlogging content to it. Best of luck to 'em, but honestly, inertia is a pretty powerful force online. It's gonna be tough to get many switchers.
NETeller Shares Relisted on London's AIM Board (Pokernews)
Share of NETellter, the European PayPal that did a brisk business helping American gamblers connect with online gambling sites, has finally put its legal issues to bed. The company's stock had been halted for much of the year, but it's finally resumed trading on London's AIM. Granted, the stock should take quite a drubbing, given that much of its business has been taken away. Of course, it's on the AIM, so caveat investor always applied.

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