If you think the airport's a zoo now, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Waiting for laptops and strollers to clear security can be a hassle, but imagine being stuck in line behind a colony of penguins.
A partnership and promotional stunt from Southwest Airlines
The promotion was shut down for security reasons after the 9/11 attacks, and some concerns remain. "One of the things that [the Transportation Security Administration] mentioned was, 'Would it be possible that we would be able to wand the animals?'" said Melanie Jones, Southwest creative manager.
SeaWorld said, sure, why not. "We feel like they really brighten people's days," said Fran Stephenson, a park spokeswoman. "Besides, they don't have any pockets to empty."
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- AOL's Triple Whammy
- Quote of Note
- Lessons From a Debt Collector
- Shameless Plug: Motley Fool Stock Advisor
- All Smiles for Colgate-Palmolive
- Discussion Board of the Day: Model Railroads
- Quick Takes: Paccar, Celgene, CVS, Avon , more
- And Finally...
AOL Time Warner's
Until now, that is. The company reported a sequential decline in subscribers last week for the first time ever. Mind you, with over 35 million users, it's still far and away the world's No. 1 service. But many AOLers are waking up to the fact that $23.90 is a big chunk to pay for dialup every month, when reasonable alternatives are available for under $10.
Throw in the fact that more and more people are moving to broadband, and you can see why AOL is getting hit coming and going.
But wait -- there's more. The number of Americans who surf the Web is no longer growing, one researcher told The Wall Street Journal. Jeff Cole of the UCLA Center for Communication Policy says about 71% of Americans used the Internet in 2002, the same as the year before.
So, AOL is losing subscribers to lower-priced services and to broadband, and there's not much growth on a macro basis. Its advertising revenue, buffeted from the industry meltdown by long-term contracts, is plummeting now that the contracts are coming due.
Not exactly a recipe for success, and a clear indicator of the challenges that lie ahead.
"Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge." -- Winston S. Churchill
Are you terminally underwater? Do you find that frequently there's more month left at the end of the paycheck? You may be able to adopt the same strategies used by debt collectors (or those in the "debt recovery" industry, as they more gingerly describe themselves) to cure your debt woes.
In a recent editorial for industry newsletter CollectionIndustry.com, a trainer conceded that "Debt Has a Human Face" (registration required) and that collectors need to recognize the feelings behind the facts. He identifies three main reactions by those carrying the burden of debt: panic, sadness, and resignation. They result in people avoiding the situation, denying the problem, then becoming angry or tackling the problem logically.
"The best collectors are firm, realistic, fair and tuned into both facts and feelings," says Barry Leckenby, Training and Quality Analyst with Australia's third-largest bank, the ANZ.
Firm, realistic, and fair are great starting points for a Fool-proof debt attack plan, in our opinion.
Be firm: Decide today to turn your financial wagon to the high road. Then resolve to make a difference with every resource that you have -- whether that's directing more dollars to pay down the debt, or taking one evening to negotiate a lower interest rate with your lender.
Be realistic: We know you're raring to begin your debt destruction plan. But don't get so aggressive that you end up in a worse spot than where you started. Make a realistic debt repayment plan, then review when necessary. The reality is that you will probably have to adjust your plan over time.
Be fair: There's a difference between "wants" and "needs." Be fair to your future self by learning the difference. Identify what got you into debt in the first place, and vow to avoid those potholes in the future.
And finally, don't ignore the feelings that debt brings on. Celebrate your successes and learn from any shortcomings. Need a support group of like-minded folks? Come on over to our Consumer Credit/Credit Cards discussion board for sound guidance and encouragement.
Are you looking for stock recommendations and other financial insights to help you achieve your financial dreams? Then consider David and Tom Gardner's Motley Fool Stock Advisor. They'll give you the unvarnished truth about investing and show you how you can manage your own money better than the pros on Wall Street.
All this attention to our pearly choppers is good news for Colgate-Palmolive. The company's toothpastes, whitening products, and electric toothbrushes are competing well against Procter & Gamble's
Sales for the fourth quarter, on a dollar basis, rose 4% to $2.4 billion. Stripping out currency effects (Colgate-Palmolive gets 74% of its business outside of North America), sales were up 6%, with worldwide unit volume improving 6%.
Quarterly earnings were also shinier. Colgate-Palmolive netted $341 million, 15% ahead of last year's $295 million. Excluding a charge in the year-ago period, that translates into $0.59 a share, versus $0.52.
The stalwart credited its many new products for its solid results. Chief among them is Colgate Simply White, a gel that users paint onto teeth for whitening effects. It sells for half of what rival Crest White Strips cost, and according to the company, Colgate grabbed over 40% of the American at-home whitening market in 2002.
Lest you think we're the only country obsessed with ivory teeth, Colgate reports that its whitening toothpastes and products sold extremely well in all markets. (Hold your "bad British teeth" jokes!) And Colgate promises many more new items are in the pipeline for 2003.
Everybody loves Thomas -- and by that, I mean our own Jerry Thomas, who hosts the irreverent yet always hip Cheeze-O-Rama discussion board. But how many of you can connect with Thomas the Tank Engine fans because you, too, are smitten by the rail? Collect model trains or always wanted to? Just how do they make those steam puffs as they go around the track? All this and more -- in the Model Railroads discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Trucking along, Paccar
How can a company announce quarterly earnings of $0.43 a share and still beat the Street when analysts are looking for $0.44 a share? Elementary, my dear Watson. Drug maker Watson Pharmaceuticals
It's hard to decide who's cheering the loudest -- Celgene
Expanding drugstore chain CVS
Today on Fool.com:
- For updated stories throughout the day, bookmark our ever-changing News section.
- 10 Things I Hate About Finance: The drudgery. The tedium. Well, the alternative is even worse. Dayana Yochim explains.
- Jeff Fischer says online loan leader LendingTree looks unjustifiably cheap.
- Grains, Trains, and Automobiles: Thomas the Tank Engine will answer to a new yardmaster, and this ain't just child's play.
- Human resources stock Hewitt Associatestakes a tumble on cautious revenue guidance.
- In Fool's School, how to dig out of debt? Let us count the ways.
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