If you aren't already doing this, it's a good idea for you to check out the news on your companies on a regular basis, be it daily, weekly, or at the very least, quarterly. I'm a bit of a news junkie, so I look every day. All you have to do is type in your favorite quote in the box above and the most recent news will pop up.

The one observation I have is that for some of the bigger, more popular companies, there are literally hundreds of stories written each week. I don't know about you, but I don't have the time to read that many stories, so I'm forced to scan the headlines for what look like the most important ones. In today's Maker column, let's look at some of the most important stories on our companies in the last few weeks or so. Much of it has been positive, and that bodes well for us as shareholders.

As a quick follow up to last week's review, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) held its mid-quarter analyst call and, as predicted, raised revenue guidance for the quarter to a range of $6.7 billion to $6.9 billion. Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) also raised its revenue targets for the quarter as well. When the two largest microprocessor makers raise their revenue targets, that bodes well for the strength of the industry as a whole, so pay attention to it.

Shares of most of the drug companies are down today after Merck (NYSE: MRK) warned last night that 2002 earnings would be flat. Gotta give props to BusinessWeek for writing a solid article (registration required) about this in the most recent issue. How does this impact our Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Schering-Plough (NYSE: SGP) holdings? Honestly, not that much. Merck's woes stem from a lack of drugs in the pipeline, patent expirations on some of its existing drugs, and slow sales of Vioxx and Zocor. These are company specific issues for Merck that don't have any bearing on Pfizer and Schering at all. The rest of the drug companies are falling "in sympathy" with Merck, though, so this may be an opportunity to capitalize on the babies being thrown out with the bathwater.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) continues to rock 'n roll lately, further entrenching itself into the lives of consumers everywhere. Windows XP is out there, and has received some great reviews, unlike Windows ME that shipped in 2000. X-Box is out there and will hit sales forecasts, with more than 1.1 million shipped already. Yesterday, Microsoft released its newest beta version of the Windows Media Player, codenamed "Corona." The new software boasts broadcast-quality video without buffering and is available for beta download now.

In sugar water news, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) has had a few bits and baubles in the press lately, none of which is exactly earth-shattering, but perhaps worth a quick mention. Today is the day that Coke is planning to close its Odwalla acquisition. Odwalla brings a wide variety of juices and waters to Coke's portfolio. Speaking of water, the latest industry buzz is that Coke and Pepsi (NYSE: PEP) are going to turn up the heat on the bottled water industry. The rumors are that Coke is going to play around with adding flavors to Dasani water, as well as some vitamins and sell it as a more nutritional flavored water. Gotta love it, though it's uncertain how such a move will impact Coke's bottom line. Read more Coca-Cola news.

Finally today, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) has been on the rise recently based on the belief that a deep cyclical trough in the online advertising market is bottoming out. Any strength in the online ad market will be a positive for Yahoo!, which derives more than 50% of its revenue from advertising.

On the subscriber side, Yahoo!'s deal to market DSL for SBC Corp. (NYSE: SBC) may be worth as much as $3-$5 per subscriber per month. Jeffrey Fieler, an analyst at Bear Stearns, went so far as to say that Yahoo! is worth "at least $30" per share, based on long-term earnings prospects. A few weeks ago, I opined that Yahoo! is not a Rule Maker, speculating that Yahoo! will have a difficult time providing shareholders with a 2x5y return. We'll see how things play out, but I will admit that if Yahoo! can gain some traction on the subscription services side of the business, it will be a whole lot easier to see those returns.