It's not fair for me to spend December rattling off predictions for the year ahead without checking back on my own work.
In early January, I wrote out six things that I expected to happen in 2008, and I'm no runaway psychic. I'm here. I'm accountable. Let's dig in.
1. E*Trade will find a suitor
Did online broker E*Trade
E*Trade may not be a world beater at the moment. Its shares are being exchanged for pocket change. Its latest quarterly report fell short of Wall Street expectations. However, the company has been growing its account base after a brief step back last year.
It wouldn't surprise me to see a buyout in 2009, given the nature of consolidation in the brokerage industry, but I clearly missed on this one.
2. The January Effect will be the January Defect
"A healthy first month for stocks is historically a precursor to a healthy year," I wrote nearly a year ago. "I think this year will break from the plan."
I was wrong here, too. I was banking on a sluggish start in January to be the exception to the rule. It wound up being the rule.
3. The CEO bloodbath is just beginning
I was right on this one, and it wasn't just CEOs of battered financial services companies that took hits. Changes at the helm were also announced for dot-com heavies like eBay
4. Google will finally get to double down on DoubleClick
This one is a layup in retrospect, but there really was European resistance building to Google's
Companies like Yahoo! and Microsoft
It still wasn't easy. European regulators finally gave the deal its blessing in March, 11 months after it was originally announced. It actually set a bad precedent domestically, when stateside regulators took even longer to clear the Sirius XM Radio
5. Amazon will continue to grow faster than the e-tail market
"I see the growth rate at Amazon finally decelerating in 2008," I wrote. "The bar is just too high. Still, I see Amazon growing faster than the e-tail market as a whole."
I nailed it on both counts. Growth did slow at Amazon.com
6. Yahoo! will beat the market
There were several clairvoyant bits in my final prediction for 2008.
- "I stand by my prediction that it will join forces with Microsoft later this year."
- "Yahoo! will finally beat the market averages in 2008."
- "It may not close out the year with Jerry Yang at the helm."
Microsoft made its buyout bid three weeks later. Yang did announce his resignation, though my prediction of Sue Decker being tapped as CEO is highly unlikely at this point.
Did Yahoo! actually beat the market, though? Let's break out the measuring stick. It was a rollercoaster ride for Yahoo! with the Microsoft tugging, but the end result is that Yahoo! is trading 49% lower as of last night's close this year. The Nasdaq Composite has shed 43% of its value. This isn't really "too close to call" so I'll go ahead and concede defeat, though I'll have to pat my own back for calling Microsoft's takeover play and Yang's departure.
Other stories to read before the ball drops: