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Opening Bell: 5.22.08

Understanding and Outrage From Air Travelers (NYT)
It's been interesting to hear the reactions from travelers and folks we've talked to about AA's new policy of charging $15 to check a bag on a plane. You can probably guess, but we like it. The problem though is how they positioned it. They should've just said anyone who doesn't check their bag will get $15 knocked off the ticket price (of course, at the same time, raising all ticket prices across the board by $15). On the other hand, while that would've come off as less outrageous, perhaps their headline fairs would then look too expensive, compare to their peers, kind of like the way cable and wireless operators like to make the headline number low, before tacking on all kinds of charges. Anyway, we will like the idea either way, and we wouldn't be shocked to see others follow suit.
High gas prices drive farmer to switch to mules (AP)
Obviously, this link comes courtesy of Drudge. Notice the headline is "farmer" not "farmers". Yes, one farmer in McMinnville, TN found it economical to buy a pair of mules rather than some gas guzzling farm equipment. That's our economy today folks. Well, that's one little anecdote in today's interesting economy.
Bush tests Cuba by easing embargo (FT)
Bush is obviously in the "reclaiming whatever's left of his Presidency" stage of his Presidency. Regardless of what happens to the economy, or how things play out in Iraq, he will go down as the President that allowed people to send mobile phones, as gifts, to Cuba. Presumably this is some little overture to Cuba with Castro I having stepped down, but really, given the destabilizing power of communications technology, shouldn't this have been done ages ago?
UBS to Sell Shares at 31% Discount in Rights Offer (Bloomberg)
Get 'em while you can. UBS is selling shares at a 31 percent discount, so it can take on another $15.1 billion in cash. And current investors will have the right to buy 7 new shares for every 20 that they own, so it's very democratic... not some sweetheart sale to a well-connected investor. Meanwhile, several folks noted an interesting data point yesterday, that the financials are no longer the biggest sector in the S&P 500. It's now tech. Not sure what that means

PC maker Lenovo quarterly profit up 133 percent (AP)
Here at the O'Bell we steadfastly refuse to jump on the Mac bandwagon, like so many in our industry. We're Lenovo fanboys all the way and that's how we like it? Macbook Air? Meh. Give us a Thinkpad built like a tank and we're happy. So glad to see things on the up and up there. Quarterly profits jumped 133 percent. Sales in the US jumped 9 percent to $1 billion (modest, but not bad), and China revenue was up 18 percent.
Say-on-Pay Doesn't Play on Wall Street (WSJ)
Can't say this comes as a surprise. Say-on-Pay has not proven to be particularly popular among investors of Wall St. firms. Even if the financial industry in doing poorly, and even if there's some view (emanating from the business section of the NYT) that financial executives are robbing their shareholders blind with outsize salaries, say-on-pay votes have received support from 37 percent of voters. On the other hand, that's not that small. It's small, but it's not nothing.
Cow Size - A Foundational Issue (American Cowman)
This article came out like a week or so ago, but none of you will be able to deny the timeliness of the content: "As the search for grass and feed continues, one needs to reflect on research regarding cow size. The simple answer is that one size does not fit all operations." Read the whole thing.