Opening Bell: 4.18.08

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Citi Reports First Quarter Net Loss of $5.1 Billion, Loss Per Share of $1.02
What's another $10 billion or so in writedowns? After all, the company booked a 63 percent gain in transaction income and international revenues were strong. And it hardly needs mentioning that ex-writedowns, Citi actually turned in something like a $5 billion gain, which is actually a monster quarter. Pandit: "During the first quarter, valuations of our sub-prime related exposures in fixed income markets and leveraged finance assets have further declined and credit costs in our consumer lending businesses have increased."
Citi beats doomsday scenario (Fortune)
Well, you've gotta start somewhere, and beating a doomsday scenario is better than beating nothing, so we're sure they're glad to take it. The $10 billion writedown was less than the most dire forecasts of an $18 billion write down (again, hats off).
Google Quiets Growth Fears (WSJ)
It was probably one of the most scrutinized quarters of all time, as analysts pored over morsel after morsel of Google data. And the general view was that it was going to be tough, with only an outside chance of a solid score. Well they did it, solidly beating expectations on the revenue and earnings front, while sending shares of comScore into a tailspin after hours -- comScore being the traffic analysis firm that had been warning the loudest of a deceleration in paid clicks.
Iceland, a Tiny Dynamo, Loses Steam (NYT)
Wow, an article about Iceland in the NYT, and it's not in the travel section (there's someone over at travel who loves Iceland). Anyway, yeah, you probably know the story. The little mis-named island that could has been running into trouble (it probably means they're going to have to put their plans to go 100 percent hyrdogen on the backburner). Anyway, maybe the island need to get its name back in the travel section some more -- you know, to boost those tourism dollars.


Google's Biggest Data Center Investment Yet (Data Center Knowledge)
One of the big standout points in yesterday's Google release (see above) was the $842 million it spend on capex, a huge, gargantuan, ginormous number. And this number keeps getting bigger. Data Center Knowledge, a great blog on, well, data centers, which has been chronicling the business of building gigantic server factories and the like, takes a look at this number and puts it in some historical context: "The higher capital expenditures are likely due to ongoing construction on the four major data center projects Google announced in the U.S. in 2007, including facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Iowa."
Amazon 2007 Letter To Shareholders
This is itneresting. Amazon filed a copy of its 2007 letter to shareholders this morning with the SEC. No groundbreaking stuff in there -- mainly a lot of horn tooting about the Kindle (we've tried one... we're not sold on it). But, we like this: they also included a copy of their 1997 letter to shareholders. More companies should do that. A little historical perspective never hurt anyone, especially on the internet, where 10 years ago was multiple generations ago.
U.S. 10-Year Notes Headed for Biggest Weekly Drop in Four Years (Bloomberg)
Some interesting turnaround action in a market that's gone only one direction: "Ten-year note yields have risen 27 basis points this week, the most since April 2004, on speculation the Fed will reduce its target rate by a quarter percentage point on April 30 instead of the half-point reduction traders expected a month ago."
Record Stores Fight to Be Long-Playing (NYT)
Another casualty: your favorite independent music joint with a snobby music nerd at the counter. Even back in the day when we collected vinyl, we were never terribly comfortable with record stores. Well, we hated CD stores. At least with vinyl, there's something to caress while you're picking through. Oh, and conveniently for the article, it's National Record Store awareness day, or something like that. So if this trend of dying shops worries you. Hit your local one up and buy something.

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