This year has been hard to bear (and we know that pun's not lost on you). As we look forward to better news in 2003, we reflect, with some amazement, on 2002.
Who knew CEOs would contribute to the nation's overcrowded prisons, and the beloved Mickey D's french fry would get dumped for a younger, leaner model?
In an effort to beckon the bulls, we wave our red cape and offer you the Top 10 business stories of 2002.
|Top 10 Business Stories of 2002|
|10.||Lean Times for McDonald's|
|9.||Jack Welch's Pedestal Crumbles|
|8.||Companies Begin to Expense Stock Options|
|7.||Real Estate Bubbles Over|
|6.||Airline Industry Crashes|
|5.||SEC Chairman Pitt Resigns|
|4.||Hot Water for Martha Stewart|
|3.||WorldCom Cashes Out|
|2.||CEOs Trade Watches for Handcuffs|
|1.||America Bears the Recession|
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Losing Confidence
- Quote of Note
- Tyco's Fortunate Flub
- Discussion Board of the Day: Turnaround/Value Investing
- Quick Takes: Hillenbrand Industries, Ariba , CompuDyne, more
- And Finally...
Dour, gloomy, sullen. You'll see similar words in newspaper headlines tomorrow describing today's release of the Consumer Confidence Index. The numbers fell sharply in December, which apparently surprised the experts.
What is the index all about? It's published by The Conference Board, a not-for-profit organization that conducts market-based research. The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.
The index fell from 84.9 in November to 80.3 this month, the sixth decline in the last seven months. The Conference Board's Lynn Franco says rising unemployment and a discouraging job outlook are the main factors affecting Americans these days: "Weak retail sales over the holidays clearly reflect the current mood of consumers."
Why should anyone care? It's an interesting measure for a lot of market watchers, because consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of the nation's economic activity. If the average American decides to keep more money in her pocketbook, it's likely businesses will feel the pinch. Some of that may have already shown up in the form of disappointing holiday sales.
The falling index is certainly not a signal to go out and sell your stocks. No one can predict with certainty the future course of the economy, much less the market itself. After all, the index is a short-term indicator, and mostly a measure of retail activity. Investing, meanwhile, is a long-term endeavor.
"Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear." -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
You know a company's oversold when its stock climbs higher on news that auditors have found $382 million in accounting errors. Then again, when you're talking about Tyco
Rocked by CEO shenanigans, fiscal irregularities, and a nasty case of indigestion after a string of iffy acquisitions, the new optimism seems to indicate Wall Street believes it has overcome its checkered past. Once regarded as the poor man's General Electric
It's definitely welcome news for the company that the internal investigation failed to uncover fraud beyond the aggressive bookkeeping. Tyco has spent the last few years picking up hundreds of smaller companies. While the jaded can wonder if the frenetic shopping spree was simply a cover for financial trickery to keep the stock buoyant, most will agree that even the hodge-podge collection Tyco has amassed is worth something.
Even the most cynical analysts expect the company to earn at least $1.50 a share this fiscal year, and $1.75 a share come fiscal 2004. As the company trims its debt through asset sales and begins to earn back what previous management squandered, it wouldn't be all that surprising if this ugly duckling becomes one of the better performing large-cap stocks of 2003.
While Tyco investors are pondering everything from the merits of jail time to the company's eclectic collection of properties over in the Tyco discussion board, is the company a worthy turnaround story now? With so many stocks beaten down over the past few years, are there diamonds in the rough among the fallen? All this and more -- in the Turnaround/Value Investing discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
You have to walk a fine line when your business interests lie in both health care and funeral services, but Hillenbrand Industries
Fading B2B star Ariba
Has the security been breached at CompuDyne
In local news, Bethany Rodgers from Pine Street dialed up her favorite rock oldies station, bent on requesting Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne" to close out the year. By the time morning man DJ Daddy-o picked up the phone, Bethany got cold feet. "It felt too trite," she admitted. "It was just too obvious a song request." After a nervous pause, she asked to hear "Daydream Believer" by The Monkees, instead.
Today on Fool.com: Matt Richey covers his best investment of 2002.... Tom Jacobs reveals the power behind Johnson & Johnson's new breakthrough.... In Fool's School, what exactly does a CFO do, anyway?... And the Post of the Day: Why do mutual funds underperform?
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
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