If you're like many Americans, you're buying at least some of your holiday gifts online this year. And if you're like some loafers here at the Fool, you're not finished yet.

Don't despair -- we've got some suggestions for you last-minute slackers... er, shoppers. Google has launched Froogle, a search engine that deftly scours the Internet for products. And sites such as Epinions and Amazon(Nasdaq: AMZN) provide consumer feedback to help you make educated gift decisions. Heck, just read 4 Ways to Savvy Shopping, and you'll be a regular online shopping expert!

The FOOL 50, down nearly 1.5% today, wants a Lexus next year, so Mom and Dad are getting Stocks 2003 and The Motley Fool Select this year.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Coke Frosts Analysts

In a move guaranteed to tick off analysts, Coca-Cola(NYSE: KO) today announced it will stop providing specific quarterly or annual earnings guidance.

Analysts may be fizzing, but one important person's drinking it up: board member Warren Buffett. Coke joins another Buffett investment, Gillette(NYSE: G), and his own Berkshire Hathaway(NYSE: BRK.A) in keeping the golden silence. Yet another Buffett company, The Washington Post Co.(NYSE: WPO), also recently refused to give specific earnings guidance to inquiring analysts.

Coke's leadership is simply tired of the constant, short-term focus created by an environment of earnings guidance and estimates. Tired of the drive to eke out that one last cent per share so the Almighty Street isn't disappointed, instead of paying attention to longer-term business plans. We can't say we blame 'em.

The company will still provide information for investors, but it will be more strategic, long-term stuff. Coke doesn't want to stop the flow of information altogether, but it does want to shift its focus.

In one response, and in what has to be one of the more hilarious quotes of the year, a Bear Stearns analyst told the Associated Press, "One of the byproducts of this measure is that you're going to have analysts doing more analysis."

God forbid.

Bravo, Coke, for taking an unpopular stand. Shareholders will be better served by executives who spend time actually running the company and planning for future growth, rather than just meeting short-term, short-sighted expectations.

Quote of Note

"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts." -- Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), English novelist, playwright, and essayist

P&G Ends Special Items

Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) isn't the only company making a change that will help investors. Procter & Gamble(NYSE: PG) says it will no longer treat restructuring charges as one-time or special items. The new policy will take effect once the consumer-products giant ends its current restructuring program in July 2003.

"P&G can sustain growth without special restructuring charges by staying focused on the strategic choices that got us back on track," said CEO A.G. Lafley. Those charges have added up to over $3.5 billion since 1999, according to The Wall Street Journal, but they shouldn't total more than $150 million to $200 million a year in the future, and will be absorbed into a "single-number reporting system."

When a company classifies expenses as one-time events, it sometimes excludes them and reports earnings on a pro forma basis. Though it's also required to report GAAP numbers that include the expenses, it usually places more emphasis on the pro forma results. The two-tiered system can be extremely confusing, as investors try to figure out which number is most meaningful. Many companies classify expenses as "one-time" that actually recur quite frequently, clouding the issue even further.

Here's hoping P&G sticks to its guns in the future, and that more companies will follow its lead.

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Warehouse Retailers Clubbed

Warehouse clubs once ruled the retail space. Business was strong, as folks strolled through the stacked aisles to find cheap prices on large packages.

But sometimes there's just too much of a good thing. The major players grew beyond their regional strongholds, and competition became as fierce as choice real estate became scarce.

Yesterday, Costco(Nasdaq: COST) guided analysts off their fiscal second-quarter expectations. In November, it had also warned Wall Street over its first-quarter results. While the company has shown steady margins, the top line is failing the entrenched discounter. October and November same-store sales rose by just 2%. It may appear to be forward progress, but those are the company's weakest comp gains in two years.

And it's not just Costco. BJ's Wholesale Club(NYSE: BJ) reported a slim 0.5% increase in November same-store sales, while Wal-Mart's(NYSE: WMT) Sam's Club chain closed out the month with comp gains of just 1.3%. What has become of this can't-miss, red-hot growth niche?

With the sector's fundamentals as barren as the industry's penchant for bare-bones décor, the lure of big-box warehouse clubs is wearing thin. The chains should be thriving in this economic lull, as folks try to stretch their buying dollars. Instead, they're all coping with the reality that the market has become saturated with the warehouse concept.

But with Costco and BJ's trading at four-year lows, is it time to approach the stocks the way shoppers do its stores -- bargain hunting? Give it some thought. The valuations may appear attractive, but the sector's heady growth days may be a thing of the past.

In short, buyer beware.

Discussion Board of the Day: Costco

Are you still a warehouse club shopper, or did you get a hernia carrying out a two-ton box of Frosted Flakes last time? Do you think the industry can resume its once-healthy growth rates? All this and more -- in the Costco discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Quick Takes

The Washington Post reports that Harvey Pitt, who resigned last month as SEC chairman, may not deserve all the blame for the botched appointment of William Webster as head of the new accounting oversight board. According to the paper's sources, former SEC chief accountant Robert Herdman failed to relay some information, and General Counsel Giovanni Prezioso, who conducted background checks, may not have done exactly what Pitt expected.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require SUVs and light trucks to increase fuel efficiency by a half-mile per gallon by 2005 and 1.5 miles per gallon by 2007.

Bankrupt United Airlines(NYSE: UAL) is hoping to launch a new low-cost carrier next year, similar to a venture planned by Delta(NYSE: DAL). United is negotiating with union leaders in an effort to trim pay for employees who will be involved with the new airline.

Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW) fired CEO Michael Parker today and replaced him with chairman William Stavropoulos. The company says it made the move because of its "disappointing financial performance" over the last two years, with no improvement expected this year.

In local news, nothing happened for the second day in a row.

And Finally...

Today on Fool.com: Selena Maranjian shares 15 stock picks for the holiday season.... With tax time around the corner, take note of how your 1040 will look different next year.... In Fool's School, how risky is investing in the stock market?... And the Post of the Day: an amusing mock interview with the CEO of Gillette(NYSE: G).

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim