Opening Bell: 5.20.08

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Home Depot reports 1Q profit drop (AP)
You can't blame 'em for having a weak quarter: they are called Home Depot after all, and it doesn't get much worse than homes. But apparently if you factor out a big one-time charge (conveniently) they beat earnings estimates by $.04. The charge was related to the closure of 15 stores (over or under 7, the number of those closures in Arizona, SoCal and Florida?), as well as eliminating 50 stores from the pipeline (ok). Also good: revenue of $17.9 billion, beat estimates of $17.6 billion. Thank you analysts for not setting the bar too high.
U.S. Raises Forecast for Food Prices (WSJ)
You know. We bought groceries last night and they did seem pretty expensive. Normally, we don't notice that stuff. Everyone else moans about how food prices, but if you don't have five mouths to feed, then you don't pay such close attention. But in reality, yeah, things are started to tick up a bit in grocery receipts. Another major food issue: where are the peaches!? Is anyone else in the city noticing that their local grocery chains are pitifully peach free? What's the deal? Is it something to do with bees?
Microsoft Sees Yahoo Being Split in New Offer (WSJ)
This is becoming an exercise in game theory. Seriously, just try to take a step back and parse everyone's motivation. Yahoo threatened to get into bed with Google to avoid the wrath of Microsoft. Icahn bought into Yahoo to push it closer together with Microsoft. Now Yahoo might be talking with Microsoft again to avoid Icahn. On the other hand, Microsoft's newest proposal wouldn't necessarily satisfy Icahn, as it would involve breaking up Yahoo, and only a targeted investment -- the main point it seems is... preventing Yahoo-Google from happening, an idea that only came about after Microsoft proposed Microsoft-Yahoo. Maybe everyone should just take a week off. We'd certainly like that.
[NAR Forecast] You Can't Make This Up (Matrix)
It's been awhile since we've checked in on the National Association of Realtors, the famous cheerleaders of the housing economy. A couple year sago (boy, we've been doing this too long) when the NAR started to change their tune -- just slightly -- we wondered if the housing market had bottomed. Ha! But really, they haven't changed their tune that much as our friend Jonathan Miller points out. Instead, they still stick to their core competency: taking whatever facts they like and making whatever argument they like out of 'em.


Finding the Best Way to Cook All Those Vegetables (NYT)
As we frequently like to say: it's all about the meat and veggies. You can pretty much skip everything else. And realistically, we probably talk about the meat side a little bit too much: raving about Texas BBQ or linking to beef price analysis at Beef Magazine too much for your liking. So, to the veggie side of things, this link is for you.
Buffett Sees 'Plenty' of European Acquisition Targets (Big Picture)
Just in case you're one of those Buffett adherents and want to follow his every move as he tours Europe looking for family business, Barry points to an hour-long video (yep, carve out a chunk of your morning... maybe take the laptop to the park with some headphones and watch it there) of the Oracle talking European deals.
New book by Gladwell: Outliers (Kottke)
We're not going to lie here: Malcolm Gladwell has bigger fans those whoe write the Opening Bell. That's not to say we don't have respect for the guy. Certainly he has a very fertile imagination, and his conception of the world is probably more interesting than it is. And we mean those things as total compliments. Seriously. On the other hand: People seem to take his ideas pretty seriously, and one gets the impression that he, oh, likes to extrapolate a bit. Anyway, his latest book is summarized here, and it's apparently about people who excel extraordinarily and what's behind that. again: expect some big-time over massaging of the data/ignorance of counterpoints/over-reliance on a few anecdotes.
German Investor Confidence Unexpectedly Fell in May (Bloomberg)
Germany is apparently backsliding, or at least weakening. Which means, perhaps, that Warren Buffett is coming to town at just the right moment. If the economy and confidence are sliding, it should be easy for him to find nervous family business owners looking for a Berkshire-endorsed exit, no?

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