Take that, demon dogs of September! After a painful start to the week, the markets rebounded today to post positive gains across the board. At least for a day, investors breathed a sigh of relief. September has historically been a bad month for stocks, and with the anniversary of Sept. 11 looming, a sluggish economy, and an ongoing debate over invading Iraq, expect to see a market that operates on delirium tremens for the next month or so. Where it will go, nobody knows (er, if you do know, tell us -- "Fool Psychic" would look great on your resume).

The Motley Fool 50 gained nearly 2% today.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Oakley Lowers Shades

Beware of cute ticker symbols. When Oakley(NYSE: OO) went public back in 1995, it was clever in singling out a ticker symbol resembling one of the spec maker's pricey sunglasses. But today, it's Wall Street that's mouthing those same two letters, in a fit of fiscal rage. The company announced it would miss its 2002 targets, dramatically.

The future isn't looking too bright for Oakley. With sales growth coming in lower than expected, the company now sees third-quarter profits coming at just $0.16 a share. Back in July, Oakley figured it would be good for about $0.27-a-stub in earnings for the period. The company is also hosing down its fourth-quarter outlook.

While the market trounced the stock today, reacting as if in a state of shock, not everyone was fooled. Back in April, our own Matt Richey pointed out Oakley's troubling trends of growing receivables faster than growing the top line and posting hefty inventory levels. While his cash flow concerns may not have been the sum of the company's recent undoing, it certainly served up some hearty warning signs.

All hope is not lost. Sales are moving in the right direction, and the brand remains as viable as it does popular. But that's not enough if the results don't bleed down to the bottom line. Oakley spokesman and board member Michael Jordan may have been a Bull in Chicago, but it was the bears that scored this last shot on the company.

Quote of Note

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." -- Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

Much Ado at GE

General Electric's (NYSE: GE) stock may be languishing, but the massive conglomerate (the world's largest firm, with a market capitalization of nearly $300 billion), isn't standing still. The Wall Street Journal reported today that the Swiss-based engineering company ABB Ltd.(NYSE: ABB), in order to pay down a heavy debt load, plans to sell most of its leasing and finance business to GE's Commercial Finance division for $2.3 billion.

GE management explained, "This strategic move expands GE Commercial Finance's global reach in project financing, particularly in the energy, transportation, and infrastructure sectors" -- and particularly in Europe.

Glance at GE's press releases from just the past month or two, and you'll see what this large but growing company has been up to lately: acquisitions, new products, new big contracts, awards, increased sales, and so on. It's also adjusting to its new CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, in the wake of legendary Jack Welch's retirement.

Does all this activity mean that the company is a good buy right now? Perhaps. It's certainly a better buy now than it was two years ago, when its share price was about twice today's price. Still, it's important to remember how huge the firm is, and that it can be difficult for huge firms to be nimble or grow quickly. Here are a few more numbers, courtesy of SmartMoney.com. Draw your own conclusions:

     Current  5-Yr Low  5-Yr High  Industry
  Trailing P/E           18.70     19.10     49.60     26.20

Price/Sales 2.23 1.77 4.73 1.33
Price/Cash Flow 13.40 12.80 30.20 12.40
Price/Book 4.82 4.55 12.32 3.12
Return on Equity 25.80% 23.80% 25.80% 13.10%
Return on Assets 2.80% 2.60% 2.90% 2.50%
Debt/Total Capital 80.00% 80.00% 80.00% 70.00%

Discussion Board of the Day

Things haven't been the same at General Electric since Jack Welch retired. Was it merely coincidence, or was he vital to the company's success? Will GE bring good things to life again? All this and more -- in the General Electric discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Boeing Loses Ground

Boeing's (NYSE: BA) turbulence continues. The world's largest commercial airplane manufacturer announced yesterday it delivered only 21 jetliners in August, marking the slowest month since March of 2000. Boeing is feeling its customers' motion sickness, as airlines struggle to operate in a dismal travel environment and, in some cases, struggle to remain afloat -- or rather, aloft.

Boeing shipped 30 jetliners in July, down from an average 37 per month for the first six months of the year. The company has delivered 273 jets out of the planned 380 for 2002. If Boeing's to reach its delivery goal this year, it will have to ship between 26 and 27 jetliners a month between now and the end of the year.

Meeting that goal could be difficult if the company doesn't avert a possible strike from its 25,000 machinists. The March 2000 low point of jetliner delivery for Boeing, when just 15 planes were delivered, was a result of the 40-day strike by Boeing's engineers' union.

Now Boeing is trying to convince its machinists' union to accept what the company calls its "best and final" offer. The machinists' current contract expired this past Sunday night at midnight. Workers did report for work yesterday, in advance of Boeing and union officials' meeting today with federal labor negotiators. Boeing is adamant that it will not renegotiate the contract; union leaders are equally adamant that they won't accept Boeing's offer.

At stake here, from the machinists' point of view, is job security. The union wants Boeing to guarantee jobs tied to a production schedule, revenues, or some other measure. Between a quarter and a third of the union's members have been laid off this year, and it wants to protect the rest. The contract offered by Boeing included pay raises and bonuses, but the company refused to change language concerning job security. Given the state of the commercial airline industry, Boeing likely wants to leave itself room to lay off more workers, if necessary.

A strike from its machinists would certainly hurt Boeing's production for the year, if the company sticks to its goal of 380 jetliners. But given the ill health of the airline industry, the company may not have the demand needed for its goal. Should demand for jetliners further drop this year, a workers' strike may not greatly concern Boeing.

No company welcomes a strike, but for Boeing, the real problem right now is the ailing airline industry, not the workers.

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Quick Takes

There's a temporary ceasefire in the chocolate war. A judge in Pennsylvania has issued an injunction to prevent the trust that controls Hershey(NYSE: HSY) from selling the venerable chocolate maker until State Attorney General Mike Fisher has more time to review the possible impact to the community.

USA Today says free pizza delivery will soon become a thing of the past. Already, such heavyweights as Yum! Brands'(NYSE: YUM) Pizza Hut, Papa John's(Nasdaq: PZZA), Domino's, and Little Caesars are experimenting with delivery fees of $0.50 to $1.50 in some markets. Not surprisingly, drivers are reporting a dip in tips.

Philip Morris (NYSE: MO) CEO Michael Szymanczyk says his company is feeling some pressure from smaller, deep-discount manufacturers. The world's top tobacco firm lost a 0.7% of market share in the second quarter. In order to stay ahead of the little guys, the company will increase promotional spending for the second half of the year and launch "a first-generation reduced risk product" next year. No details on what that may be. Bubble gum, perhaps?

There appears to be no end in sight to the automobile finance wars. General Motors(NYSE: GM) says it will be extending its interest-free three-year loan program to cover 2003 models. Consumers could opt for cash rebates of up to $2,000 instead. Ford(NYSE: F) and DaimlerChrysler(NYSE: DCX) have been forced to follow GM's lead since it started the price wars following Sept. 11, and will likely do so again.

Drugstore retailers CVS(NYSE: CVS) and Walgreen(NYSE: WAG) each reported a 7.9% increase in same-store sales for August. Investors must have been expecting better, however, as both traded a few percentage points lower today.

In local news, Mrs. Miller's cat, "Tuffy," finally came down out of the oak tree after two days. Mrs. Miller, a retired teacher, is reportedly relieved. Tuffy refused to comment.

And Finally...

Today on Fool.com: Bill Mann wonders when the other shoe will fall.... Whitney Tilson goes fishing for tech stocks.... Turn pocket change into big returns, in Fool's School.... And do these four principles guide your investing?

Contributors:
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Tom Jacobs, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim