Folk rocker Dan Bern dreamed of a new American language a while back, and Merriam-Webster is finally coming through. The company, which reprints its best-selling Collegiate Dictionary every 10 years, released its latest edition today with 10,000 brand-new words, including "headbanger," "longneck," and "Frankenfood." The new version may bring considerable relief to former "dot-commers" now searching for "McJobs." Once you're in the dictionary, you're legit. Keep your head up!
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Kraft Cuts the Calories
- Quote of Note
- Wal-Mart Wears the Crown
- Motley Fool Visa Card
- Fat Pay Harder to Hide
- Discussion Board of the Day: Foolish Golf Tips
- Quick Takes: Activision vs. Viacom, XM Satellite Radio, Dean Foods, more
- And Finally...
Kraft Cuts the Calories
The maker of cheese, Oreos, and Oscar Mayer cold cuts says it will begin offering healthier products "in response to rising obesity rates around the world," but you can bet the threat of litigation is playing a role, also.
In a sweeping overhaul, Kraft Foods
What may be most helpful is the company's promise to eliminate all marketing in schools and to "encourage appropriate eating behaviors and active lifestyles" in children. A healthy diet helps, to be sure, but an active lifestyle (i.e., exercise) is an essential part of curbing obesity.
Other food companies are also making the move toward healthy. USA Today says McDonald's
Far from altruistically motivated, food makers are hoping to minimize future litigation. As USA Today says, "The nearly $1 trillion U.S. food industry has emerged as the fall guy for a coast-to-coast epidemic of obesity." Kraft's parent, Philip Morris-turned-Altria
No matter how you feel about the litigation, it's obviously forcing some changes.
Quote of Note
"The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit." -- Somerset Maugham, British novelist and playwright, 1874-1965
Wal-Mart Wears the Crown
Stores, the National Retail Federation's magazine, recently released its list of the top 100 largest retailers based on 2002's sales results. The usual suspects occupied the top three slots, but there was a bit of shuffling down below.
Wal-Mart has changed everything in retailing. Its influence reaches so widely that -- love it or hate it -- you can't deny its presence. In fact, because of the company, Fayetteville, Ark. (which is near Wal-Mart's Bentonville), recently surpassed Las Vegas, Nev., as the fastest-growing place in America. Making Arkansas an economic mecca? Now that's power.
Warehouse supernova Costco
Three of the main movers -- Target, Lowe's, and Costco -- all share innovation as a common trait for success. They've all differentiated themselves, their products, and their approaches from their larger competitors. Wal-Mart may remain entrenched at the top, but expect these three to keep shaking things up below as time goes on.
Motley Fool Visa Card
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Fat Pay Harder to Hide
Around 6,200 publicly traded companies will have to put all equity compensation plans to a shareholder vote -- including stock option plans -- under new rules passed yesterday by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The rules apply to material changes to existing plans, such as repricing of stock options.
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Nasdaq proposed the rules, which are requirements for listing. The NYSE had a pilot program that exempted broad-based equity compensation plans from the shareholder approval requirement, but the new rules boot the exemption.
The rules come on the heels of heated battles between shareholders and managers at such companies as Hewlett-Packard
Will this benefit investors? Probably, but we can't sit on our hands.
Everyone wants to pay managers properly and to align their interests with shareholders, but it has been hard to find the information. Huge institutional stockholders such as CalPERS, the $130 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, are exercising more of their shareholder muscle and publicizing more pay details that are sometimes buried in company filings -- and sometimes not even buried anywhere.
CalPERS cites plans of companies such as JDS Uniphase
If the new rules not only subject these plans to a vote but also make the information more easily available, informed investors can decide whether to join the fight or vote with their feet. That will be the best way to hasten the end of what John Wasik calls today's corporate twist to Harry Truman's "The buck stops here": The bucks never stop.
Discussion Board of the Day: Foolish Golf Tips
Video game software company Activision
More and people are signing up for satellite radio service from XM
Yes, Virginia, there are IPOs. Bermuda-based insurer Axis Capital Holdings
Traditional food producer Dean Foods
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Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Reggie Santiago, Kate Southerland, Dayana Yochim