Winners, wieners, and whiners colored in the week that was.

Somewhere between the bid and the ask, there's a handshake waiting

There's more churn in the trade trade now that Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD) is acquiring rival discount broker TD Waterhouse. The all-stock deal, originally valued at $2.9 billion, will unite the trading powerhouses under the proposed TD Ameritrade moniker.

The consolidation may continue in what is still a highly fragmented sector. In fact, just last month E*Trade (NYSE:ET) made not one, but two unsolicited buyout offers for Ameritrade. Neither one was accepted. Will the third time be the charm? That's unlikely, especially after Ameritrade swallows TD Waterhouse. Then again, the pressure to cut stock commissions has eaten into the industry's earnings power. That's why the leading players are likely to embrace the notion that savings can be realized by buying up smaller competitors. Fewer brokers? More active accounts for each surviving broker? Yep, so don't stray too far. More buyouts should be on the horizon.

I wonder if there's ever been a hot-dog-eating contest winner named Frank

Don't believe what dieticians have been telling you. We aren't really eating healthier. Just take a look at Nathan's Famous (NASDAQ:NATH). The hot-dog top dog saw its fiscal 2005 sales grow by 15% as more consumers took to the company's signature beef frankfurters. If you think that the company is packing a lot of fat into its performance, look again. Earnings rose by 45% as margins expanded for Nathan's.

The company behind Miami Subs, Kenny Rogers Roasters, and its namesake hot-dog stand has also seen its stock go in for some enhanced consumption. The stock has tripled since bottoming out three years ago.

Google is going to make you pay

Everyone knows how important PayPal has become to eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY). While eBay's domestic auction business slowed to just a 20% advance this past quarter, PayPal continues to be a big winner for eBay, with growth of 47% over the same period. That's why rumors that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) was readying a PayPal-killer spooked eBay investors.

Later in the week, it became a case of good news, bad news for eBay. The bad news? Google's CEO confirmed that his company was working on an online payment service. The good news? He claims it will not be anything like PayPal.

Google doesn't mind if you speculate on what the service will ultimately look like. It's just smart to be vague when the competitors are watching. Maybe it will be far closer to PayPal, if not cheaper, than Google is letting on at the moment.

That's OK. With 71.6 million PayPal accounts already open, it's not as if eBay's online financial services business is going to be trumped overnight. Just as companies like (NASDAQ:AMZN) and (NASDAQ:OSTK) figured that they could take on eBay in the auction space and win on price alone, eBay knows that there is more to the online realm than just being the cheapest option out there.

Then again, if you're a Google investor, you have to like the move. It's refreshing to see the company grow beyond its paid-search strength. Yes, if you were going to have all your eggs in one basket that is one impressive sturdy piece of woven wicker, but at 99% of the company's revenues, Google could use a Plan B in its get-rich-quick scheme.

Let's just hope that Plan C doesn't involve buying an online discount broker -- or winning a hot-dog-eating contest!

The headlines behind this week's stories:

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

eBay and Amazon are past recommendations of the Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter service. Overstock is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has never witnessed a hot-dog-eating contest but he wonders why the skinny guy always wins. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Foo l has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.