Opening Bell: 12.20.07

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Price Increases Lift Profit at General Mills (NYT)
We still haven't seen $100 oil, and for all we know we may never, but there's been a lot of excitement over $10/bushel wheat. It's sort of the poor man''s $100 oil. Perhaps it's a spillover effect, as people look for other stuff to get excited about. A couple years ago, when we first started writing here, we might have said something to the effect of, "oh, is there such thing a 'peak wheat' now too?" But now nobody talks about peak oil anymore, despite the commodity's rise. Pretty much everyone is in agreement that it has more to do with inflation, the weak dollar and overall demand/supply, as opposed to geological factors. So no need to take a pot shot at the peak oil crowd. Meanwhile, wheat king General Mills was able to pass along price increases, though it may not be able to do so in perpetuity. Perhaps it's all just a message: people, stop eating so much damn grain.
The Bear Flu: How It Spread (BusinessWeek)
The Bear Flu is serious, but let's not let it take our eyes of the real killer: bird flu. We must have a dual preventative track to avoid problems.
G.M. Said to Be Selling a Truck Unit (NYT)
GM may sell 'a' truck unit, not its main one, to Navistar, the maker of big industrial rigs. Obviously GM wouldn't sell its core pickup truck unit, since that's still regarded as a key cash cow, but its doubtful that investors will miss its medium-duty truck business. The automaker even shut down production of the vehicles to reduce market supply, never a real positive sign.
Oracle Beats Wall Street’s Expectations for Quarter (NYT)
By all accounts, Oracle is crushing right now.

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Wanted: SWFs' Money Sans Politics (WSJ)
In the end, commerce will conquer all. We can complain the growing political sphere of Abu Dhabi and China, but as long as they have fat wads of cash, there's very little anyone will do to stop them. And here's the thing: nobody's in position to tell them how to use their money. The best that's likely to happen is a series of window dressing measures that loosely suggest sovereign wealth funds shouldn't be vehicles for politics. We're sure that after a century in which the US leveraged its vast wealth for political impace, these other countries will be perfectly understanding of our minor requests.
Albert Lord: The Deathwatch Begins (Felix Salmon)
Felis Salmon is taking bets on the tenure of Albert Lord at Sallie Mae, so if you have any guesses, go over there and place a wager. Our guess (as in the Opening Bell's): 3 months.
Spitzer Cites Hoax in Game Report (TLF)
Ah Spitz, how we love to see you get egg on your face. Totally unfair as it is. Nothing to do with finance, but as part of crusade against video game violence (weak) he actually cited a total hoax site as a resource for parents. Brilliant.
Netsuite doubles IPO price to $26 a share (FT)
Good times all around for Larry Ellison. In addition to a nice Oracle report, NetSuite ended up pricing very high in its IPO, around twice its original projections. The company, ticker "N" (love it), will sport a market cap of over $1 billion. The real winner though: The Dutch Auction. Finally it produced a result that worked out pretty well by all accounts. Certainly better than Google's IPO.

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