Our editorial staff debated just how much we should cover the anniversary of Sept. 11. We feared super-saturation, and that some people might actually come to Fool.com to read something completely different today.
But now that the day is here, it seems impossible to avoid. The weight of 9/11 hangs over us now as heavily as it did a year ago when we were huddled around a TV at Fool HQ, watching the events unfold while smoke from the Pentagon (just a few miles down the road) billowed up over the horizon.
Amidst the chaos, confusion, and pain of that day, money -- our subject matter -- hardly seemed to matter. As Bill Mann wrote today, it's important, but it shouldn't come at the expense of life itself. What Fools wrote last year at this time, though, is a great reminder that our mission here really is about life, and how using and saving money should foster it rather than dominate it.
That's why so many of us are proud to work here and bullish about the future, despite the worst of years.
Peace, from all of us at The Motley Fool.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Vivendi's Book Burning
- Discussion Board of the Day : Turnarounds/Value Investing
- Quote of Note
- Good News!
- Shameless Plug: Credit Karma
- Two More Expense Stock Options
- Quick Takes: Hershey Foods , Boeing , WorldCom, more
- And Finally...
You can't script your way out of a cash crunch. Entertainment and environmental services giant Vivendi Universal
From the company's hamstrung cable empire in Europe to its vast stateside media properties under the Universal banner, it's hard to call this a fire sale, when even the weakest piece of the troubled conglomerate would fetch billions in the open market. Yet, Bloomberg is reporting that a $3.4 billion offer has been made for the company's publishing assets, including its Houghton Mifflin operation.
Publishing might seem like an odd choice for Vivendi to give up. This is the steady business, predictable when the highs and lows of its volatile entertainment holdings rock the company. However, the consistency of the company's publishing division is what makes it such an easy sell, and, let's face it, Vivendi needs greenbacks right now like the company's environmental clients need water.
While the company's Universal business is meaty, cashing out now, while the advertising market remains iffy and the music industry is reeling from piracy and a lack of quality product, would be a mistake. Buying high and selling low is not a sound business practice. So, the sleepy book business is a good start for a company that will still need to raise at least another $2 billion come March.
With the stock languishing in the low teens, vulture investors might be tempted to sample Vivendi. The shares are marked down to less than the sum of its parts, even if many of those parts appear to be damaged goods right now. But, as opportunistic value hunters will tell you, some of the best bargains occur when the horizon appears the darkest.
Is Vivendi a worthy candidate for a turnaround? Do you know of other companies that seem ready to turn the corner? All this and more -- in the Turnarounds/Value Investing discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
All too often, we focus on the world's bad news. And today, Sept. 11, is even more difficult than usual. Here, then, are a few pieces of good news, to offset the rest of your day.
From the Good News Network:
The Heimlich Maneuver, which was designed to help choking people, can also help prevent deaths from asthma.
Violent crime has been plummeting in recent years.
- There's a promising West Nile virus vaccine in the works.
From the Positive Press:
Brazil recently opened the world's largest tropical national park (bigger than Maryland), which is likely to preserve many endangered species.
Learning comedy can make you a better businessperson.
- When you die, you can be transformed into an underwater reef.
From The Fool Community (our acclaimed discussion boards, which you can try free for 30 days):
Many Fools are successfully digging themselves out of crippling credit card debt. Just two days ago, Azotic explained how he paid off $20,000 in debt. A few days earlier, Fromagetorte did a happy dance after paying off $25,000. Tune in for support and to learn how others are succeeding.
- On our Quitting Smoking board, folks like Markoose are kicking the habit and finding themselves amazed at how they feel and how much money they're saving. Read the board's Frequently Asked Questions for more insight and inspiration.
Also, do your heart some good, and read about the five amazing charitable organizations we supported last year in our Foolanthropy campaign. Each is doing an immeasurable amount of good in the world, in incredibly efficient ways, partly through our help.
Shameless Plug: Credit Karma
Who cares about your credit? You might be surprised. Get the lowdown on your credit karma and how to improve your lot in the lending world in our new Credit Center.
Two More Expense Stock Options
Two businesses added their names to the growing list of companies that will start expensing employee stock options. Oil company Sunoco
Sunoco plans to begin expensing options in its fourth quarter, and the change will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2002. The move by Sunoco is expected to decrease its fiscal 2002 net income by $5 million, or $0.07 a share. The company said had this policy been in place in the past, its 2001 and 2000 earnings would have been reduced by $3 million, or $0.03 a share. Its 1999 earnings would have been lowered by $6 million, or $0.07 a share.
H&R Block will begin expensing options in its next fiscal year. The company said it can't anticipate how the measure will impact its net income, as it's awaiting clarification from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) on which accounting method is most appropriate. The FASB has not yet issued its final judgment on the matter but is expected to before year's end.
H&R Block did say using one of the FASB's most common accounting methods for stock options, Statement 123, would have reduced basic earnings per share for 2002 by $0.19. This was noted in H&R Block's annual report. The company reported basic earnings per share for 2002 of $2.38.
Sunoco and H&R Block join Coca-Cola
It creates more transparency, and in a world of headlines screaming corporate scandal after corporate scandal, transparency is one of the greatest weapons available for open, honest businesses. Bravo to both companies.
The injunction that is blocking any sale of Hershey Foods
A couple of weeks after their Seattle brethren acceded to the wishes of federal mediators and decided not to strike, 1,500 workers at Philadelphia's Boeing
After just four months at the helm, John Sidgmore is out as WorldCom's CEO. Sidgmore, who replaced the fired Bernie Ebbers, had planned to guide the company through bankruptcy. But USA Today says insiders want a CEO who was not employed by the company during the accounting scandal.
We'll close with yet another reminder of the incredible strength of the American economic system. Argus Research economist Richard Yamarone, speaking of the quick rebound after the events of last Sept. 11, told USA Today, "It's probably the greatest story economically that's ever been told."
Today on Fool.com: The Fool's commentary on a difficult day.... Bill Mann discusses what matters most.... Celebrating 50 stocks from 50 states.... The importance of long-term care insurance, in Fool's School.
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim