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
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Coke Frosts Analysts
- Quote of Note
- P&G Ends Special Items
- Shameless Plug: Your Stock Wish List
- Warehouse Retailers Clubbed
- Discussion Board of the Day: Costco
- Quick Takes: United Airlines , Dow Chemical, Pitt and Webster news, more
- And Finally...
In a move guaranteed to tick off analysts, Coca-Cola
Analysts may be fizzing, but one important person's drinking it up: board member Warren Buffett. Coke joins another Buffett investment, Gillette
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."
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.
"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 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 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.
And it's not just Costco. BJ's Wholesale Club
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.
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.
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
In local news, nothing happened for the second day in a row.
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
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