Opening Bell: 3.5.08

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Costco Profit Rises as Shoppers Stock Up on Food (Bloomberg)
Coscto shoppers stocking up on food? Does this mean their worried about some cataclysmic event and feel the need to have 6 months worth of non-perishable items in the basement? Or does this mean they're worried about inflation, and don't want to pay more for a tub of mayonnaise next month? Or is it just a matter of shoppers doing their big purchases more frequently at Costco, instead of saving the Costco trip for a "special occasion." The quarterly release is here.
Filings for Bankruptcy Up 18% in February (NYT)
Not a surprising stat: 3960 folks per day filed for bankruptcy in Feb, an 18 percent from just the previous month. On an annualized basis, it's 28 percent. In the article, some experts are quoted suggesting not to get too concerned about a one-month reading. And we're definitely in favor of not extrapolating too much on anything. But still. Also, we wonder whether there's been any effects from the anti-bankruptcy laws. Says one Harvard prof: "The credit industry did its best to drive up the cost of filing but when families are in enough trouble they will fight their way through the paper thicket and higher attorneys’ fees to get help.” Now that's the kind of can-do American spirit we're talking about.
Butte picked for turbine plant (Billings Gazette)
Butte Montana, has been selected as the site of a new wind turbine factory built by German firm Fuhrlander. The site will employ 150 folks -- just the kind of "green collar" jobs both of the Presidential candidates love. And the company may employ some 600 more, depending on whether it does other manufacturing there. The company cited the potential market for wind turbines in Montana as a reason for locating there. The various subsidies and incentives probably didn't hurt much either.
WaMu Board Shields Executives' Bonuses (WSJ)
This will raise eyebrows: The big thrift WaMu has set up an executive compensation scheme that, to some extent, shields its leaders from the effects of the housing market. It makes sense though: the housing market isn't really central to its core business (sarcasm), so why should its chief suffer because of some tertiary issue? No, really, the company just wants the ability to: "evaluate performance across a wide range of factors."


Editors' Pathetic Attempts To Fact Check Lying Author (Gawker)
Ever since yesterday morning, we've been sort of fascinated by this train wreck of a story having to do with the fabulist Margaret Seltzer. Not having worked in publishing, we can't speak to how it works, but we're still baffled that the lady was able to pull off the fraud at all, for as long as she did. With all of these stories it tends to be the same: utter shock that it could happen, and 20/20 hindsight that it should've been caught. At least she didn't lost $7.1 billion, which would probably have been the equivalent in this world.
$435.78 (All Things D)
The matter of Google's slide has been debated endlessly. One interesting tid-bit about the company's latest drop: first time it's traded at a 52-week low.
Don't Trust Prediction Markets in the Final Hours (Portfolio)
As you know, Obama ended up losing Texas, after leading in the prediction markets for awhile. It happens. But what's interesting, and as we observed ourselves last night, he was actually up big even after the votes had counted. Pretty much as soon as they counted the early votes, the Obama contract spiked up. We've seen this before. If you could go back to the day of the Chesepeak primaries, check out the Huck contract after the voting started. All of the exit poll data suggested a McCain triumph, but the early votes came in from the rural, Christ-belt section of the state. And sure enough, Huck jumped before sliding. Not the most impressive show.
Yahoo Looks at New Way to Survive (NYT)
Yahoo continues to grasp for a flotation device as it tries to fend of Microsoft's advances. The latest possibility, a deal with AOL whereby it merges with the TWX-owned internet company, and then TWX takes a big chunk of YHOO. This deal would seem to run into the same issues as every other non-MSFT possibility: it doesn't give shareholders as much money, but maybe something can be worked out. And it does seem tough to imagine TWX, with the ghosts of the AOL buy not really all that old, turning around and buying a monster chunk of Yahoo, but who knows.

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