Opening Bell: 8.14.07

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Accredited Home Lenders Sues Buyout Firm To Salvage Deal (Dow Jones)
Accredited Home Lenders is suing the private equity firm that had promised to buy it out for attempting to go backsies on its deal. The firm, Lone Star, says it will not accept tendered shares, although Accredited insists that there's no "in case the mortgage market gets really messed up" clause that would allow Lone Star to renege. Needless to say, even if you haven't heard of Accredited Home Lenders (ticker: LEND!), you can probably guess that things aren't so hot at the company these days.
Europe's Economic Growth Slows More Than Forecast (Bloomberg)
Europe had a lot of explaining to do last night on its conference call with analysts. The continent announced 2nd quarter growth that was slower than what had been forecast. What's more, the continent never gave a pre-announcement warning, leaving investors feeling blindsided. Of course, leaders tried to put an optimistic spin on things, citing seasonality and deal timing for the shortfall.
Wal-Mart Profit Climbs 49% on Increased Sales of Electronics (Bloomberg)
Wal-Mart claims that its attempts to goose sales by moving deeper into the electronics market is helping, but we're more than a little skeptical that people are really breaking down the doors to buy Skype-branded VoIP handsets. We're sure some are, but it's probably not a big deal in the long run. The company also cited Dell computers as contributing to its growth. However, margins are down across most of the business and it's forecasting weakness ahead. So it's going to have to sell a damn lot of Skype phones at a pretty high margin to turn things around.
Another day, another Chinese stock market record (FT Alphaville)
For the first time in a while, the morning headlines aren't completely dominated by the subprime mess, which is to say that only half of the day's business stories will be about it. Apparently, in China, there's no concern about things whatsoever. While European and Asian markets slide, the Chinese stock market is at yet another record. One investor is quoted as being unconcerned and unaware of the subprime mess, as if he were an idiot. Frankly, it's entirely possible that plenty of retail investors in the US are equally clueless.

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Mattel to announce new recall of Chinese toys (MarketWatch)
Just one day after a Chinese manufacturing boss commit suicide due to his company's involvement in a Mattell toy recall, the company is set to announce even more recalls, again to lead found in children's toys. Of course, as we've argued, the real problem here is toys. Get rid of those and the lead issues will pretty much take care of themselves.
Bullish IPO hopes for VMware (San Jose Mercury News)
You could argue that we're just products of the bubble, but to us, 'tech' and 'IPO' just go together. Add in 'opening day gap up', and you've got as feeling all warm and fuzzy. That's what we've got on our hands today with the much-anticipated IPO of VMWare, the virtualization technology division of EMC. EMC bought out VMWare just a few years ago and since then has seen a major return on its investment as its technology has many uses and enthusiasts. Should be interesting to see whether market woes have any depressing effect on this stock
Dell, Apple Slip in Customer Satisfaction; Yahoo Beats Google (Bloomberg)
Pretty much any survey about customer satisfaction or brand value is going to be suspect. How many times have you seen a study that claimed that Ralston-Purina was the most admired brand in America? This survey claims, among other things, that Yahoo users are more satisfied than Google users. Let's just say that we don't buy it and if anything it just confirms are inclination not to trust these types of studies.
Hollywood Agent Wins the Right to Join Rival (NYT)
Leaving a company, but taking your clients with you is a classic recipe for personal career success. It happens in all kinds of business all the time. Turns out, it can even happen in HollyWood, as a California state arbitrator has ruled that agent Ed Limato could leave International Creative Management and take his clients (Steve Martin, Mel Gibson, et. al.) with him to another firm. It doesn't sound like Limato wanted to leave ICM, but he had been demoted there in an attempt to keep his clients but cut costs. The whole thing sounds very Entourage to us. Too bad we stopped watching that long ago (okay, four or 5 episodes ago).
Home Depot's Net Falls 15% Amid Housing Market Woes (WSJ)
The ongoing housing slump continues to take its toll on Home Depot, although so far, the weakness at the company seems to be within a reasonable range of expectations. Earnings are down, along with the forecast, but then again, everyone anticipated as such. All told, things are going about the same as under the Nardelli era, except with a lower amount going to executive compensation.
Why a Goldman Sachs Hedge Fund Investment Might Look Attractive (Market Movers)
Felix Salmon explains why these billionaires might be pumping their money into Goldman's flagging hedge funds. Basically, since the funds down so far from their high, it'll be a long time before the company charges any sort of performance fees again. They need to break back above their high water mark before they can, which could be awhile. At a minimum, you'd get nearly 35% profits fee free. Sounds good -- we're sure that'll be mentioned in Goldman's next brochure.

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