Opening Bell: 5.29.08

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Bear Stearns Neared Collapse Twice in Frenzied Last Days (WSJ)
Well we're a little sad this is coming to an end... in all seriousness, knowing the third installment would be up when we opened our computer today helped us wake up to to the Opening Bell -- always a difficult chore. This one is all about those last couple of days, which was of course covered in the famous "A guard lay out a buffet spread" article from March. No mention of whether they ordered Chinese food th time (why re-open old wounds?) but a good timeline of how JPM's bid came down, and the reaction (none too pleased) at Bear Stearns. Anyway, a lot more good stuff in there, though obviously you'll check it out.
Sears Holdings Reports First Quarter Results and Increased Share Repurchase Authorization
Even before you crack into an earnings report, it's usually a little ominous when the headline trumpets an upcoming share repurchase -- which is usually just designed to soften the blow of bad news. Though we're not sure why it has that effect. When the market is selling, do you want your company spending its own money on its own stock? Anyway, the company that Cramer once compared to Berkshire Hathaway ('you have to buy just one share!') reported a net loss from the quarter, a decline in revenue amid a "difficult economic environment and intense competition for consumer business." We've no doubt that that's true. The comps were particularly terrible: "For the quarter, Sears Domestic's comparable store sales declined 9.8% while Kmart's comparable store sales declined 7.1%."
Spam spam spam: Sales of Spam rise as consumers look to trim food costs (Star Tribune)
Courtesy of Barry... Now you've got to take Spam seriously. Not the email kind but the food kind. The spiced ham that comes in a can. It is, as an economist would suspect, an inferior substitute good, the demand for which rises when the established good gets too expensive. But of course the Spam also rises: "The price of Spam is up too, with the average 12 oz. can costing about $2.62. That's an increase of 17 cents, or nearly 7 percent, from the same time last year." For what it's worth, here's the chart for Hormel.
High Oil Prices Eroding Asian Manufacturing Advantage (Research Recap)
The actual cost of shipping stuff across the world doesn't get brought up too much, probably because in recent history it's just not that big of a chunk of an item's cost. But with these high oil prices we've heard so much about, that may be changing. At least a report from CIBC predicts as such.


100 Most Desirable MBA Employers (Fortune)
This is from a couple of days ago, but it had us thinking... a survey of MBAs found that Google is the most desirable place to go to work. It makes sense (it's Google!) but you have to ask yourself why. It's not like there's some major equity upside there, nor are the salaries all that high. Bureaucracy: supposedly they've got it in spades just like anyone else. Seriously, what does it say about perception, the risk aversion of MBAs and so on that Google is seen as the top place to go out of school?
D: Zuckerberg and Sandberg On The State Of Facebook (TechTraderDaily)
Facebook has the opportunity to become the one real megadeal of the whole web 2.0 thing, either through a sale (though to whom, we have no idea) or an IPO, though then it gets hard to justify its valuation. But it's probably a ways off from either of those, and for now the company declines to give much in terms of red meat on news.
LVMH Urges Sharon Stone to Clarify China Quake Remark (Bloomberg)
From now until the Summer Olympics are over, there will be no end to celebrities making thuddish and embarrassing statements. The latest comes from Sharon Stone, of course, and her comment about the earthquake in China being karma for the way the government has handled Tibet. Anyway, her sponsor LVMH wants her to "clarify" her comments. Um, we don't think a lack of clarity was her mistake, nor do we suspect a clarification will do much good.
Boeing Goes Back to Drawing Board for 737 Follow-on (AviationWeek)
From a few days ago, but an interesting look at the roadmap and pipeline at Boeing, which is already struggling to get its freshest products out the door. The basic gist of this: the future is pretty uncertain and before it gets to pushing out next-gen products, it needs to do a lot of research yet. (via James Wallace on Aerospace)

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