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Opening Bell: 1.30.08

China Snow Crisis Shows Vulnerability (AP)
This isn't a metaphor. The China snow crisis is just that, a crisis about snow. As in the cold white stuff that we've had none of this year. Apparently certain parts of the country are getting hammered, leading to all kinds of supply chain issues and shortages of food and fuel. Just like our politicians, the Vice Premier has "repeated calls" on coal deliverers to make sure gets delivered. And we thought only politicians that had to run for office "repeated calls".
Yahoo Profits Fall 23%, Cuts 1,000 Jobs (InformationWeek)
Investors were expecting a weak forecast and layoffs and that's what they got from Yahoo. There were probably some people holding their breath, hoping for some sort of shocking, out-of-the-blue surprise, but no. The company is still in shift mode, changing its strategy, realigning, repositioning itself, etc. And it sees "headwinds" this year, which means it's flying perfectly, but outside forces on which it has no control are slowing it down. Right.
The Bond 'Transformers' (WSJ)
Who says government is pure reactive? Well, they'd be right. And who says regulators often foolhardily attempt to fix complex problems with simple, band-aid solutions? Well, they'd be right too. New York regulators are, get this, looking to close a "loophole" that allows bond insurers to dabble in derivates. Great timing on that. You can read the details here, but the point is, it's pretty rich timing, with the bond insurers knocking on heavens door to start thinking about if they could've done business in some safer, more transparent manner.
A Dose of Realism for VMWare (MarketBeat)
After delivering some disappointing numbers on Monday night, VMWare got crushed yesterday, falling over 30 percent. The bloom, as they say, is off the rose. MarketBeat looks at the new sentiment towards the once-hot virtualization company. Funny how things can change overnight. Suddenly, it's just another enterprise IT play clawing it out for a chunk of scarce dollars.

Le naff Jerome Kerviel web industry (FT Alphaville)
It's not just Facebook where Jerome Kerviel is popular. All around the web, a cottage industry of Kerviel-related paraphanalia is cropping up, particularly on T-shirt sites. Some weird ones too, like you can get a pink tank top that says "Jerome Kerviel's Girlfriend". We're guessing this had one, two sales tops. Still, might be a good gift for that special someone.
UBS Reports Record Loss After $14 Billion Writedown (Bloomberg)
This is hardly even newsworthy, but for the sake of completeness we'll mention that UBS has reported a major loss on a $14 billion writedown, which was more than analysts had expected. Not surprisingly, it's the only loss since its merger nearly a decade ago. And, lest you think the prairie fire presages future growth, think again. They're warning of a tough 2008 ahead.
Pressure Mounts for Resignation at French Bank (NYT)
At this point, we're starting to believe a few more heads will roll, but we're not sure how to quantify the probability just yet. Unfortuntaely, there's no prediction market established that could quantify the probability of a SocGen exec being handed his hat. If we set the bar at $.72 on the dollar, would you be a buyer or a seller?
Clear Channel Investors Fret About Buyout (WSJ)
Another buyout on the ropes. Shares of Clear Channel fell sharply on no news, but fresh concerns about the viability of its sale to to private equity companies. The stock now trades at $29.17, a full $10 behind the buyout price.