Looking for a woman with eyes like Phyllis Diller? Friends tired of hearing you ask, "Why can't I just meet a man like Gary Coleman?" Now you're in luck!
A new reality TV show from the E! network follows celebrities on blind dates with regular Joes (and Janes). Already slated to take part are Family Ties' Tina Yothers, Dustin Diamond (Screech) from Saved By the Bell, and Kim Fields from The Facts of Life. Yes, the beloved Tootie.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Schering Sheds a CEO
- Quote of Note
- Intuit's Growth Quickens
- Discussion Board of the Day: Self-Employed Fools
- Dueling Debit Cards
- Shameless Plug: The Motley Fool Credit Center
- Quick Takes: Sprint PCS, Target Stores, Cisco Systems, more
- And Finally...
Six weeks after a controversial meeting with analysts and a mysterious stock price drop, Richard Kogan is retiring as CEO of Schering-Plough
The trouble started the first week of October, when shares of Schering slipped 15%. Then, late in the evening on Oct. 3, the giant drug maker warned its third-quarter and full-year earnings would be sharply lower than expected.
Furious investors wanted to know why the stock fell in the days leading up to the warning. Did Kogan tell analysts and influential investors beforehand, triggering a selloff? The SEC opened an investigation, presumably to find out if anything said at the meeting was in violation of Regulation Fair Disclosure. The company pledged cooperation and "believes that it has complied with all applicable securities laws in this matter."
The 61-year-old Kogan has been at the helm for six years, and while he undoubtedly had many successes, recent issues have violated investors' trust. Major manufacturing problems, for example, drew regulatory scrutiny and delayed the launch of new drugs.
"There was that law of life, so cruel and so just, that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same." -- Norman Mailer, The Deer Park
Things keep getting better and better for Intuit
Why the loss? Consider the company's product lines.
TurboTax doesn't sell briskly until February, March, or even April, before the April 15 filing deadline. The company's flagship money management gem, Quicken, is an easier sell by year's end, when folks resolve to get their finances in order and budget for a better tomorrow.
The company's third core product, its QuickBooks suite of small-business accounting tools, is at its strongest when folks are cheery about the economy and want to don the warm, fuzzy hat of entrepreneurship.
But wait a minute. QuickBooks sales shot up by 55% during the quarter, helping the top line surge overall by 32% to $223.3 million. A lot of that comes from home-office users and small-business owners, who hadn't updated their software since Y2K compliance three years ago. Intuit also created enhanced versions, complete with enterprise solutions and remote access capabilities, which helped sales. And the recent wave of corporate downsizing has caused many to go into business on their own.
So Intuit expects sales to grow by at least 27% this fiscal year. Margins are set to expand, as profit growth is targeted at a healthy rate between 34% and 40%. It's no wonder the stock has bucked the technology trend.
Shares have been trending higher over the past two years, while the rest of the business-software market went the other way. With the stock trading at highs unseen since 2000, Intuit's not exactly an undiscovered stock. It's not exactly a bargain, either, at nearly 40 times earnings.
Don't dismiss the solid fundamentals. Just don't give in to the pricey euphoria.
Thinking of starting your own business? Want to know the difference between QuickBooks and QuickBooks Pro? All this and more -- in the Self-Employed Fools discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Have you been cheating on your bank? The twin towers of the lending industry sure hope so. In fact, they are alleged to have done everything in their power -- legally or not -- to assure that you use their debit cards when it's your turn to pony up at the checkout counter.
According to recently unsealed depositions and company memos (we just love this secret stuff!), Visa USA, Inc. and MasterCard International, Inc. systematically set out to keep smaller credit networks out of the debit card business. According to a report in today's Wall Street Journal, the card giants spent millions to convince banks to curtail their debit card business with regional issuers. The suit also charges them with forcing retailers to favor Visa and MasterCard's costlier and less efficient debit card offerings.
The federal antitrust suit alleges that the Plastic Powers That Be lorded over the credit card market by threatening retailers with pulling access to credit card sales if they didn't take their debit cards. (Such allegations are nothing new for the companies.) According to the Journal's report, Visa and MasterCard went so far as to dress up their debit cards to deceive merchants into believing they were credit cards.
What's a retailer to do? Fight back, that's what. The class action suit is led by the world's largest merchant -- Wal-Mart
Oh, and guess who ended up paying the padded costs? Yup, you and me.
Credit can be your best friend or your worst enemy. And you know what they say.... Don't turn your back on your enemies. Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate. So it's time to address that big elephant in the closet -- your credit. We've got your back! Visit our new Motley Fool Credit Center, and learn how to make credit work for you.
PC(S), phone home. Sprint PCS
The British are coming! The biggest U.K. bank, HSBC Holdings
Bull's-eye. Target Stores
The Commerce Department said retail sales were flat for October. But without a 1.9% drop in auto sales, they posted a 0.7% gain, the biggest in six months. Retail buyers fuel 40% of overall consumer spending. The rest get it wholesale, apparently.
It's not enough, but it's something. Thirty-plus companies, including Intel
Today on Fool.com: Rick Munarriz wants to know what you do when good stocks are doing bad things.... Tom Jacobs nails homebuilders on potential inventory problems.... The Fool Community discusses whether Europe's gone soft, thereby hurting its ability to compete in a global economy.... In Fool's School, help out a charity and save money via a tax trick.... And the Post of the Day: Living below your means.
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim