In case you missed any of these catchy tunes last week, it's not too late to boogie down. Grab your headphones, CD player, iPod, speakers, guitar, cowbell -- whatever you need -- and let's kick it.
by No Doubt and IBM
If ever there were a dog that has staked its claim by learning new tricks, it's probably IBM
As computing has changed over the years, so has IBM. Or, maybe more accurately, it could be said that as IBM has changed, so has computing. In an ever-changing industry such as technology, though, keeping up can be tough for even a longtime leader like IBM, and in the late '80s and early '90s, the company started to stumble during the PC revolution. Between 1990 and 1993, revenue fell 9% while operating income dove 97%.
But like Madonna and her constantly changing style, IBM found new life when it brought in former RJR Nabisco CEO Lou Gerstner. Moving past the machines themselves, Gerstner moved IBM aggressively into the software and services side of the business, with the acquisitions of Lotus Development and Tivoli Systems. IBM further cemented its new focus on software and services when it sold its PC division to Lenovo in late 2004.
So what's next for IBM? How about social networking? Last week at Lotusphere, IBM's annual Lotus-centered conference, the company announced Lotus Connections, a new piece of software from IBM's Lotus Group, which features five components: activities, communities, bookmarks, profiles, and blogs. The platform isn't quite going to be Facebook or News Corp.'s
Looking at IBM's recently announced fourth-quarter results, we can see that software and services still seem to be working for the company. Whether social networking will be a major part of the next new face of IBM is yet to be seen.
"We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey, Sun Microsystems, Intel, and KKR
Before the announcement, the only Sun servers not based on Sun's SPARC processor architecture were using x86 chips from Intel's competitor AMD. So while the new agreement is good news for Intel, it's a solid blow to AMD. Though AMD has for a long time been considered an also-ran in the x86 processor market, the company has stepped up processor performance significantly, particularly within its multicore processors, and has become a much tougher competitor for Intel. For Sun, the agreement will allow the company to offer its customers the choice in processor that is typical from other server manufacturers.
In a week rife with new relationships for Sun, the company also announced a $700 million investment by KKR. The investment was made by KKR's publicly listed KKR Private Equity Investors and is structured as two $350 million convertible notes paying 0.625% and 0.750%, respectively. There are many theories -- including the potential for Sun to look at some large acquisitions -- as to why the company, with more than $3 billion in combined cash and marketable securities, would bring in an additional $700 million from KKR. For KKR, some value from the investment was delivered almost immediately -- the day after the investment was announced, Sun announced its first profitable quarter since the quarter that ended in June 2005, and the stock shot up nearly 9%.
"Promise" by Ciara and President Bush
Though it was ethanol getting traders excited before last Tuesday's State of the Union address, the president chose to cover a broader swath of non-oil energies in his ode to alternatives during the speech. Bush put forth the goal to reduce overall gasoline usage in the U.S. by 20% over the next 10 years and cited clean coal, solar, and wind power, nuclear power, plug-in and hybrid vehicles, biodiesel fuel, and, of course, ethanol, as potential avenues to reach that goal. He also recommended reforming the fuel-economy standards for cars.
Though it has received a lot of attention recently, because of environmental issues as well as concerns over the United States' dependence on foreign oil, alternative energy is still a fairly nascent area. While this puts uncertainty and risk into the equation, it also means that there is plenty of room for growth. Popular ways to play the alternative-energy boom include Evergreen Solar
More Foolish fun:
Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer is currently ranked 6,465 out of more than 21,000 Fools participating in the Motley Fool CAPS service, and he encourages everyone to get heard. He owns shares of News Corp. but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. Intel and Microsoft are Inside Value picks. The Fool's disclosure policy is always in tune.
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