Weird Financial News

Lest you be focusing just on the more serious stories in the financial press, such as Vodaphone (NYSE: VOD  ) investing $1.5 billion in telecommunications in India or Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) faring well despite hurricane-related disruptions, here's a brief recap of some weird financial news:

  • Did you hear that a company recently made a bid to buy ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) for $450 billion? Well, it's true, but it seems that the bid came from a $120-per-month apartment on the outskirts of Beijing, rented by a tall, thin young man whose New Zealand-incorporated firm has also made outsize bids for major global firms. In short, ExxonMobil isn't too concerned.
  • How do you know when your company is in trouble? Maybe when it starts timing how long employees spend in the bathroom. Bathroom breaks are apparently being monitored in a Ford (NYSE: F  ) plant in Michigan. In response, DaimlerChrysler (NYSE: DCX  ) said that it doesn't plan to do the same. It seems that the two companies give workers a little more than 45 minutes for bathroom breaks (or whatever) per shift, compared with 30 minutes for counterparts in Japan.
  • Pity the poor San Francisco Giants baseball team. As a Reuters story noted, "The professional baseball franchise has had the same name for nearly half a century, but soon they will likely rename their ballpark for the third time in three years." What had been named after Pacific Bell (thanks to $53 million) became SBC Park after SBC Communications (NYSE: SBC  ) . But now SBC is buying AT&T (NYSE: T  ) and taking its name. This is all amusing, but costly for those who once again have to pay to have labels changed on signs, apparel, food containers, stationery, and more.
  • Pay attention, all you struggling companies: When the going gets tough, the tough should get creative. That's what toymaker Jakks Pacific (Nasdaq: JAKK  ) did, introducing a "Bark 'n' Bake" oven in which urchins can make tasty treats for Rover and Fido. Why? Well, a CNN/Money article explained that, ".toy industry sales continue to flatline -- sales last were $21 billion, about the same versus the year. By contrast, total U.S. pet industry expenditure is expected to hit $36 billion this year, up 4.6% from last year and up 26% from 2001, according to American Pet Products Manufacturers Association." [Our Inside Value and Stock Advisor newsletters have each recommended a major toymaker as a promising investment. Try one or both newsletters -- for free -- and get the full scoop.]

SBC Communications is aMotley Fool Stock Advisor pick.Vodafone is a recommendation ofMotley Fool Inside Value. If you think the stories I've cited are just plain silly and you crave some serious stock investment ideas, check out oursuite of stock and mutual fund newsletters, which deliver promising recommendations each month. Or just curl up with an informative and amusingFool book.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.


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