Like a Rollins stoned
Poor Kevin Rollins. He fell into the Nardelli trap! Yes, just like the recently dethronedHome Depot (NYSE:HD) chieftain, Rollins found himself taking over Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) at the top of its game, with a lofty stock price to boot.

Naturally, it didn't help that Dell was also struggling financially. That was one of the reasons why I put Rollins on the hot seat as one of four CEOs to go in 2007. I'm feeling a bit like a market-minded Nostradamus after that December article, because half of those CEOs have been axed in January alone.

This should be a turnaround year for Dell, with the new Vista and Office 2007 products spurring computer upgrades. It's a pity that Rollins won't be there to see inertia run its course, but sometimes a company has to give its shareholders what they want.

Hilton? That's hot.
Don't ever take a hotel bill at face value. Look it over. Did you really raid the mini-fridge for almonds? Did you really tip that much on the previous night's room-service tab? Are you sure you watched Talladega Nights? Twice?

That same kind of vigilant eye on checkout charges probably would have come in handy a few days ago. On the surface, Hilton Hotels (NYSE:HLT) posted a monster quarterly report, with profits nearly doubling to $0.50 a share. Wall Street expected just $0.33 a share in earnings, so it was a huge win. Right?

Not so fast. There were more than a few Talladega Nights in the report. This past quarter's numbers were inflated by $0.11 per share in one-time charges and another $0.08 per share in favorable tax-rate revisions. On that basis, earnings would have actually come up just shy of the market's target.

The stock still inched higher on the news, because just about everything else in the company's report was like soothing lobby music to the hotelier's ears. Occupancy levels and room rates rose across the board. The company's timeshare business posted double-digit percentage gains.

With expectations for revenues per available room looking to inch even higher in 2007, that is good news for Hilton as well as other high-end lodging specialists, including Four Seasons (NYSE:FS), Orient-Express (NYSE:OEH), Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick Vail Resorts (NYSE:MTN), and boutique hotel operator Morgans (NASDAQ:MHGC).

So go ahead and relish the growth at Hilton. After all, Talladega Nights wasn't really that bad, was it?

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Dell and Home Depot are selections in the Inside Value newsletter. Dell is also a pick for Stock Advisor subscribers.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does now own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.