When's the last time you received a chair massage at work? What about a Friday night beer bash in the office kitchen?
No, we're not trying to get you fired. A new survey ranks the country's best places to work, and these are just a few of the perks employees appreciated from their companies. A commitment to training, profit sharing, and high pay scales were also high on the list.
Taking top honors for the second straight year is "Main Street" stockbroker Edward Jones. Based in St. Louis, the company pays an average annual entry-level salary of $64,070.
The survey, conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute, is published annually by Fortune magazine. Ironically, the Great Places to Work Institute failed to make the cut.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- IBM, Cisco Pull the Switch
- Quote of Note
- Dueling Proposals
- Bristol-Myers Settles Suit
- Shameless Plug: 60-Second Guides
- Debtors Get a Reprieve
- What's in Store for EMC?
- Discussion Board of the Day: EMC
- Quick Takes: Circuit City, Guitar Center, Sonic , more
- And Finally...
Storage networking switches help companies effectively route information, giving them access to data stored in different areas or on different servers of their storage networks. Brocade Communications
Characteristically, Cisco isn't afraid of a little preexisting competition. It has said it wants to be the largest or second-largest seller in this market within two to three years. And it's expected to be a heckuva market, worth $4.3 billion in 2006, up from $1.2 billion last year, according to research firm Gartner.
Cisco's storage network switches became available for testing last month, and are currently being tested by several companies (in addition to IBM). While IBM is the first to publicly announce its intention to sell switches, others will undoubtedly be added to the lineup over the next few months.
It appears that Cisco is getting into the storage market at a good time. Several companies in the data storage industry indicated yesterday that perhaps the tide is turning for corporate spending in that market.
All of this bodes well for Cisco. IBM already accounts for about $1 billion of the company's sales, and the new switches will only improve that number. Plus, EMC and others will likely begin selling switches, giving Cisco a quick foothold in a growing and apparently strengthening market. Its size and reputation among corporate customers give it an advantage at a most opportune time. That's good news for Cisco, but not for the competition.
"There are 60,000 economists in the U.S., many of them employed full-time, trying to forecast recessions and interest rates, and if they could do it successfully twice in a row, they'd all be millionaires by now... as far as I know, most of them are still gainfully employed, which ought to tell us something." -- Peter Lynch, One Up On Wall Street
After weeks of buildup, President Bush unveiled his "growth and jobs" package today. The $674 billion plan is designed to boost the economy by accelerating tax cuts, eliminating the dividend tax, and providing incentives for businesses to invest in new equipment.
The White House claims the proposal would provide 92 million Americans an average tax cut of $1,083 this year and create 2.1 million jobs over the next three years. Democrats have attacked the plan, saying it helps mainly the rich and is designed to boost Bush's reelection chances in 2004. They have provided a $136 billion counterproposal that would give a $300 rebate to every taxpayer, extend unemployment benefits, and offer breaks to small businesses and state governments.
The central question surrounding both proposals is how much they would actually help the economy. Fool co-founder David Gardner told CNN's TalkBack Live that when aggregated over the entire economy, Bush's tax cuts would bring significant results for both businesses and individuals. "Most Americans do a better job of spending their own money than Uncle Sam," he said.
Many experts believe neither proposal would have much effect in 2003. An Associated Press story suggests a slow recovery this year, with the possible war with Iraq or terrorist activities being the biggest threats to that scenario. The proposed stimulus package, on the other hand, won't help much in the short term because of the length of time it will take to work through both houses of Congress.
[Bill Mann will provide detailed analysis of the president's proposal in Wednesday's Rule Maker column.]
Giants in distress sometimes make attractive investment options, but often investors rush to buy them too soon.
Drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb
One issue was resolved today. Twenty-nine states, generic drug makers, and pharmacy chains sued the drug maker for antitrust allegations regarding two of its drugs: anti-anxiety drug BuSpar and anticancer drug Taxol. The claim is the company kept cheaper, generic drugs from customers by filing misleading, last-minute patents. Management stands by its actions but agreed to settle. It'll pay an additional $580 million (it already coughed up $90 million).
The largest concern for investors, though, is the company's accounting. After "irregularities," Bristol-Myers is slated to restate earnings for the last several years. Until it does, there's no way of knowing its current value. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating possible sales-figure manipulation.
The company has the cash to pay the $600 million, and it has a strong product line, despite recent drug expirations. But it's probably best to wait for the restated numbers -- and build trust in management -- before buying the stock. This is one to put on your watch list, though, if you're interested in a $55 billion pharmaceutical company with a strong yield -- one that could be well-priced when the clouds start to clear.
Sixty seconds can take you farther than you think. None of us has enough time to do everything we want, and, unfortunately, we put off too many financial decisions. Have you wanted to open up a brokerage account, sock away some money in a CD, start an IRA, or just get out of debt, but not had the time to figure out what to do? Don't be daunted. You can take on all these and many more (are you looking for a mortgage?) quicker than you think. Our 60-Second Guides are here to make it easy, so stop procrastinating.
Companies are using your credit score to determine much more than your eligibility for low interest rates and sweet rewards, such as those offered by The Motley Fool Visa Card. That little number can play a role in what you pay for home and car insurance premiums.
A law restricting how insurance companies use the information they glean from your credit history is now in effect in Washington state. Look for other legislators to follow suit.
Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said insurance companies are no longer allowed to cancel insurance policies or deny coverage based on certain information in a consumer's credit report, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.
The things that cannot affect your coverage are:
- The absence of credit history
- The number of credit inquiries
- Collection accounts identified as medical bills
- The initial purchase or finance of a vehicle or house that adds a new loan to the consumer's existing credit history
- The use of a particular type of credit or debit card
- The total available line of credit held by the consumer
Beginning July 1, insurers in Washington must also disregard the same factors when determining premiums. Those companies that based policies on inaccurate credit histories must reissue or rerate the policy retroactive to the effective date of the current policy term.
It's easy to keep a secret when your specialty is data storage.
"While EMC's competition has jockeyed for position during the industry's downtime, both the company and the stock will see brighter days once corporate spending flicks the switch," we argued at the time.
Well, someone flicked the switch. Absent a $160 million restructuring charge, the company this month will announce a fourth-quarter profit of a penny or two a share on a healthy sequential uptick in sales.
Even better, EMC's in the black before the one-time charge -- even the most upbeat Wall Street analysts pegged a breakeven quarter, at best. But the real surprise is that the tech bellwether is looking to report more than $1.47 billion in fourth-quarter revenue. That's well above Street forecasts and a substantial gain from the third quarter's $1.26 billion showing.
The company's new line of CLARiiON networked storage and software solutions has kick-started the necessary return of corporate spending.
While it's unclear how much progress the company made in the 250-million share buyback announced in October, when its stock dipped below $4 a stub, any stock it bought back then was money well spent, as shares have nearly doubled over the last three months.
Can the company keep it going? Will corporate spending continue to shine kindly on EMC? Are the profits here to stay? The company might shed some light on these beefy questions when it reports final fourth-quarter financials in two weeks.
Is this the match that ignites the tech recovery in 2003, or is it just an EMC-specific one-time blip? What is the company doing right, and can it stay ahead of the competition? All this and more -- in the EMC discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
While Circuit City
Strumming a better tune, Guitar Center
Big Blue means big business for Sanmina
Don't let the myriad problems at McDonald's
Today on Fool.com: The Motley Fool Select gang is out to beat the market with dividend-paying stocks.... Jeff Fischer reflects on Rule Breaker's 2002 and Amazon's soaring success.... A Fool proposes a new metric to calculate how to spend time wisely in the New Year.... Why a guy should take notes when his woman drags him shopping.... In Fool's School, is online banking right for you?.... And the Post of the Day: One Fool bets you can't win at poker.
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