Opening Bell: 4.25.08

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Arby's owner buying Wendy's for $2.34 billion in stock (AP)
Wendy's won't have to worry about investor Nelson Pelz pushing them around anymore. That's cause he's going to own the company. Pelz' company Triarc has agreed to pay $2.34 billion for the fast food chain, which has been struggling of late. Among its longstanding problems: the death of Dave, who charmed audiences in his commercials. He was probably the best-known restaurant founder to appear in commercials since the mustachioed bald man in the Dunkin Donuts commercials. That was his place, wasn't it? Amusing fact about Wendy's: the company cited money spent on looking for ways to boost his share price as an excuse for its profit slide in its latest quarter. Pathetic.
Load Up the Pantry (WSJ)
This is from a couple days ago, but in light of the topic du jour, thought it was worth pointing out that a columnist at the Journal recently called for Americans to stock up on food. The best is his first line: "I don't want to alarm anybody, but maybe it's time for Americans to start stockpiling food." It's one of those things: if you say you don't want to alarm anybody, you're about to say something alarming. Anyway, good thing he's (just) talking about food and not telling fox to stockpile their dollars under their bed.
Microsoft Net Falls 11%; Outlook Low-End (WSJ)
This earnings season continues to confound the analysts. Everyone seemed to think that Google would come in light. It didn't and the stock added a fifth of its value. With Microsoft, everyone assumed the company would show all kinds of upside. It didn't. It wasn't horrible, but light-ish. Meanwhile, the company made its strongest noises to date that it could walk away from the Yahoo bid if Yahoo keeps holding out. Will they? At this point, it's still a little hard to believe, but Yang & Co. have to be a little nervous.
Ford Posts a Profit, Surprising Wall Street (NYT)
You know what we're going to say: don't believe it. Ford says it made a profit of $100 million, so they can take a bow for that. But come on. The company lost $15 billion over the last couple of years, and it expects to go back into the red for the remainder of 2008. So to believe that they really made $100 million is to believe that Q1 was a major anomaly from the overall trend.


Scanning world's every book means turning many, many pages (AP)
Just posted that for the headline.
Spanish Unemployment Rate Jumps the Most in 15 Years (Bloomberg)
Spanish unemployment is up to 9.6 percent, the most its been in 15 years. A major culprit: "The global credit shortage is exacerbating the contraction in the Spanish real estate market following the construction boom that saw almost five million homes built in the past decade. Home sales fell by more than a quarter in the year to January as banks withheld credit from potential buyers." Sounds familiar.
Snipes offers surprising $5M payment in court before sentencing (AP)
Wesley Snipes was sentenced to 36 months (3 years) in jail yesterday, following misdemeanor convictions on tax stuff. For awhile there, we thought he was going to get away scot-free, but apparently not. Too bad. We hadn't realized from the initial reports that Snipes tried to bribe his way out of jail, by offering up $5 million to the government to keep him out of jail. Prosecutors, who were looking to make a point as much as anything else with this case, called the move "grandstanding" -- which it clearly was.
Manganese Comes of Age (MetalMiner)
Metal prices are doubling left and right, so it doesn't even make news. Take for example: manganese. Yep, it's doubled, according to MetalMiner, and not even one above-the-fold screamer in the NYT business section. And it's too bad nobody's paying attention: "That would be a mistake, however, because manganese is not some minor alloying element that can be easily substituted, it is widely used as both an alloying element and as a crucial additive in steel production. Whether it is as manganese ore, as ferro- manganese or as silico-manganese, the US imports virtually all of its manganese. It is considered a strategic metal by the US government." There's a lot there about manganese that you should really be reading up on. So go!

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