Baseball fans around the world can now rejoice: Mighty Casey will get another chance! The players and owners reached a historic collective bargaining agreement this afternoon, averting what would have been the ninth work stoppage in the sport's history... just before the strike deadline.
Both sides sacrificed to get this deal done, and the end result should be a better competitive balance between large- and small-market teams. Besides the compromises on payroll taxes and minimum salaries, the players consented to random steroid testing, and the owners agreed to not eliminate any franchises during the four-year contract.
As a result of today's agreement, The Motley Fool 50 finished the session nearly even, and then boarded a bus for Chicago to catch the Cards-Cubs game. Woo-hoo!
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Strike None!
- Quote of Note
- Ericsson Threatens Sony
- Shameless Plug: Refinance and Save
- Nothing to Fear but feardotcom
- Discussion Board of the Day: New Paradigm Investing
- Quick Takes: Boeing, United Airlines, Sun Microsystems, more
- And Finally...
More than a few publicly traded companies were biting their nails as the future of the 2002 baseball season hung in the balance. Let's go over a few of these Cracker Jack stocks.
While a few companies have ownership ties with individual major league teams, they're usually large conglomerates with more going on than a 3-2 count with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. In short, News Corp.
Smaller companies would have taken even bigger relative hits. After hailing the large number of paying fantasy-baseball customers earlier this year, SportsLine
Don't forget companies that rely on the strength of baseball's merchandising. From athletic-apparel makers to sporting-goods retailers, baseball is more than just a game. And more than just fans are welcoming the "play ball" cry from the home-base umpire.
Quote of Note
"If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there is a man on base." -- Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist, The Miami Herald
Ericsson Threatens Sony
Ericsson's tormentors are legion. The difference between Ericsson's experience in this market and George Custer's in his last stand at Little Bighorn is that Ericsson knows in advance who its tormentors are and recognizes its position is dire. Starring as Sitting Bull is Nokia
Ericsson and Sony announced this partnership last October. Even then, it was a poorly kept secret that both were seeking to bolster their respective money-losing handset divisions with some good ol' economy of scale. At the time, the companies projected the joint venture would achieve profitability by its first year of existence. This hasn't happened, and rapidly dwindling sales threaten any possibility of it happening anytime soon.
Less than two years ago, it seemed to many that Ericsson's price at below $20 per share was unbelievably cheap. As of this afternoon, it was $0.75. While none of the handset manufacturers has had a good go, from a share-price perspective, they haven't endured these kinds of shattering declines, either. Ericsson's evaporation shows what can happen to a company with a declining position in a maturing market. It's the mobile-phone version of former PC giant AST. And for all intents and purposes, it's setting itself up to evacuate from a position that's no longer tenable.
Shameless Plug: Refinance and Save
Does saving potentially hundreds of dollars per month on your mortgage sound good to you? Mortgage rates remain historically low, so now might be the time to refinance and save yourself some dough. Our Home Center can help.
Nothing to Fear but feardotcom
Horror buffs looking to dumb down after the heady chills of the late-summer sensation Signs might be flocking to the movies this weekend. Under the AOL Time Warner
The premise of feardotcom, in which bad things happen to folks lured into pursuing tantalizing fantasies online, sounds awfully familiar. Wasn't that what the Internet bubble was all about? Granted, you have to draw the line to separate capitulation from decapitation, but neither movie nor mania spared much in terms of bloodshed. feardotcom is rated R for, among other things, "grisly images of torture," and that pretty much sums up what happened as Silicon Valley touched down on terra firma.
It's a different scene out there in the Internet sector right now. Companies that no longer have a license to burn money are running more efficiently or folding. Companies who figured eyeballs were the only metric that mattered are now more concerned with the pocketbooks behind the eyeballs.
It's true. A study by Forrester Research and Boston Consulting Group revealed that the majority of the 107 largest Internet retailers turned an operating profit last year. Meanwhile, content sites are also recovering nicely now that ad spending has stabilized this year. So, walk through the ruins of the online sector, and it doesn't look all that scary right now. Less players carving larger slices of the market is good enough for growth, even through stagnancy.
No, that's not very frightening at all. At this point, there's nothing to fear but feardotcom itself.
Discussion Board of the Day: New Paradigm Investing
Do you still have an interest in new economy stocks even if they're not exactly in fashion right now? Isn't that a good sign? What the heck were Stephen Dorff and Stephen Rea thinking when they signed up for feardotcom anyway? All this and more -- in the New Paradigm Investing discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Even though Major League Baseball settled its problem, there's still lots of labor news to talk about. Midwest Express Holdings
Finally, United Airlines
Today on Fool.com: Two years ago, Barron's called 207 dot-coms to the carpet. Where are those companies now?... You're better off repairing your own credit, in Fool's School. In our Tax Center, paperwork to keep for tax time.
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Tom Jacobs, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim