Francis Uy deserves our thanks. The tech specialist has been waging war against spam and, with a court victory yesterday, it appears he's gaining the upper hand.
Uy operates a website that posts the addresses and phone numbers of known spammers. It's been an effective tactic, because outing the violators allows ISPs or website operators to block their emails. It has also motivated individuals to give the reviled spammers a taste of their own medicine by flooding them with email and phone calls.
Uy's tactics landed him in court yesterday. George Allen Moore, Jr., an alleged spammer, sued Uy for harassment. Yes, the man known as "DrFatburn," who has flooded many an inbox with ads for Fat-N-Emy and Extreme Colon Cleanser, has the stony gall to claim he is being harassed.
A district court judge disagreed and allowed Uy to keep his website up and running.
Read more to learn how this may affect you.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- UPS, FedEx Fight Dirty
- Quote of Note
- Earnings: What to Watch
- Shameless Plug: College Savings Center
- The Draw of Animation
- Discussion Board of the Day: Pixar
- Quick Takes: Altria , Qwest, Tenet Healthcare, more
- And Finally...
Fighting their own war with rival Airborne
The amendment calls for airlines carrying military cargo to be "effectively controlled by citizens of the United States." Although the language of the amendment is military-specific, the Department of Transportation is expected to take its cues from Congress when it comes to enforcement of ownership requirements for airlines. And that would mean the deal, as it currently stands, wouldn't pass regulatory muster.
Deutsche Post-owned DHL Worldwide Express wants to buy Seattle-based Airborne's ground operations in a deal worth $1.05 billion. Airborne's 116 planes and air business would then be spun off to meet ownership requirements. Current regulations hold that foreign interests can't own more than 25% of U.S.-based airlines. So, by creating a separate company owned by Airborne's shareholders and not DHL, the German firm could circumvent this rule.
FedEx and UPS have complained for years that the Chicago-based DHL Airways is heavily reliant on its German parent for support and resources, although it's technically an American company. The two shippers are finding more traction for their past and present arguments, given the current pro-U.S./anti-German/anti-French feelings in Congress. It's not lost on anyone that the German government owns 70% of Deutsche Post.
Lobbying is a fact of life and business in Washington, but that doesn't make the actions of UPS and FedEx right. Keying off anti-German sentiment to preserve market share and impede competition is political influence at its worst.
"The country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer." -- Will Rogers (1879-1935), comedian
April may be the best month of the year. The weather warms up, birds start singing, and the trees turn green. In the world of money, April means rich men chasing baseballs, tax refunds (hopefully!), and first-quarter earnings.
Yes, by mid-April, the reporting season for Q1 of 2003 begins in earnest, setting the tone for the year. And you can bet we'll hear a lot of the same excuses.
Many companies will attribute soft first-quarter numbers to record amounts of snowfall and a very cold winter. They'll also blame fears leading up to war in Iraq, and then the start of the war. Finally, continued economic uncertainty has slowed consumer spending. In other words, "It's not our fault."
Those are all valid reasons to post lackluster results, and if they're the only reasons, then the company is in good shape -- these are temporary, external factors. But how do you know a company isn't masking internal weakness by pointing to external conditions? While there are no guarantees, you can safeguard yourself by looking at specific numbers in quarterly results.
First and foremost, study free cash flow. You'll need to see the cash-flow statement for this, so you may need to wait until the company files its quarterly SEC document. Free cash flow is cash from operations minus capital expenditures, giving you the cash generated by the business and left over for use. It's a lifeblood. If your company misses its earnings-per-share estimate but generates strong free cash flow, worry not, long-termer.
Second and always, look closely at the balance sheet. How are cash and investments holding up in this tough environment? Has the company added debt? Are you OK with it? Any company that holds more debt than cash should be highly scrutinized. Can you do better by investing elsewhere?
Look at accounts receivables (AR). Are they up more than sales? That could be a warning sign that the company is pushing inventory out the door at the last minute to make its revenue numbers. Look at inventory. Is it up sharply? That could be a sign that demand is weak. Run the Foolish Flow Ratio to see how your company manages working capital.
Additionally, don't just look at your companies' results. Look at results from its closest competitors. Is a competitor growing more than your company? Is your company gaining or losing market share? Read company comments. How do business strategies differ between competitors?
Then be sure to look at diluted share count. Is a company adding shares at a clip that dilutes your ownership? For most companies, anything more than 1.5% a year may be too much dilution to accept.
Nobody ever said owning individual stocks is easy. It takes diligence to stay abreast of companies, making certain that each stock you own truly deserves a coveted slot in your portfolio. Life is too short to own laggard companies. By studying key results every three months and ideally tracking them in a spreadsheet, you'll stay on top of your investments and better know when to buy and sell.
Have you thought about how you'll finance Junior's four (or five) years of college? Well, you're in luck. Our College Savings Center is open for business. We'll show you how much you need to save, the best ways to do it, and a backpack full of other tips and tricks that will (hopefully) save you from mortgaging the house or taking on a mortgage-sized school loan. And for extra help, check out Robert Brokamp's new book, Paying for School: How to Cover Education Costs from K to Ph.D.
Ever since Disney
Just one animated film makes the list of the country's 10 highest-grossing movies of all time -- The Lion King, at No. 9 -- and only Beauty and the Beast has earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
Yet, 2001 was a banner year for animation, as DreamWorks' Shrek and Pixar's
Last year, no single release came close to 2001's one-two blockbuster blow. The 2002 Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film went to Spirited Away, a huge hit overseas, but the recipient of a lukewarm reception stateside. Trying to strike while the inked iron was hot, Disney rushed the award winner back into theaters two weeks ago. Surely, the country would fall in love with the classy Japanese epic in its second theatrical run....
Nope. It didn't crack the top 10 in its first week back, and lost 41% of its audience this past weekend. The third time may be the charm, as the film hopes for more than its $10 million box-office take in the home video and DVD market.
This year's crop of animated films has been off to a slow start, too, with neither of Disney's sequels (The Jungle Book 2 and The Piglet Movie) topping the $50 million mark.
The genre's popularity will be put to an important test when Pixar and Disney team up to release Finding Nemo next month. Pixar has been the box-office powerhouse since 1995, with its first four full-length computer animated features averaging $214 million, domestically. Anything less than $150 million for the marine-life release, and the whole sector might be all wet in the near term.
With many of the studios scaling back on animated talent lately, the ink-and-paint club may have a new mantra this summer: Go fish!
Is the state of animated features really on the decline? Is it a quality issue, or are folks just moving on, as fickle fashion dictates? Are you excited about Finding Nemo, or do you think it smells fishy? All this and more -- in the Pixar discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Shares of Altria Group
Here's one for ya: Some months ago, ailing telecom Qwest Communications
In a bid to take advantage of European growth and double its revenues there, supply giant Office Depot
No. 2 U.S. hospital operator Tenet Healthcare
In local news, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf watched Syracuse defeat Kansas last night in the NCAA basketball finals. Mr. al-Sahhaf immediately called a press conference and congratulated Iraq Tech for its inspiring victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Today on Fool.com:
- For updated stories throughout the day, bookmark our ever-changing News section.
- The Foolish 500: Tom Jacobs flushes the famous list in favor of a better one.
- Dayana Yochim says couples should treat their finances like a fixer-upper.
- Exercise equipment company Nautilus continues to disappoint investors.
- A Maryland man makes a small dent in the battle against spam.
- In Fool's School, what's a turnover ratio? Find out how much your fund will raise your taxes.
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim