An entire country has disappeared, right under our noses. Yugoslavia no longer exists. Seriously. Tuesday, Parliament endorsed the constitution of a new union between the republics of Serbia and Montenegro. The new state will be called -- surprise -- Serbia and Montenegro.

The Montenegrins have long fought for independence, and Serbs received an edict decreeing that the Balkan borders will not be further redrawn.

The Fool offers the Top 5 things we'll miss about Yugoslavia:

5. Inspired the Yugo.
4. Responsible for the balkanization of the Balkans.
3. Put the "Slav" back in Slavia.
2. Slapping five and saying, "You go, Slav!"
1. Nothing.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Pepsi Pops, Coke Fizzles

PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) , owner of Frito-Lay, Tropicana, Quaker, and Gatorade, has flown straight through the economic slowdown. The company grew earnings 15% in its fourth quarter ended December, marking its 13th consecutive quarter of 13% or better earnings growth.

For all of 2002, earnings rose 14% to $1.96 per share, or $3.5 billion, while sales increased about 5% to $25 billion. Synergies with recently purchased Quaker and gains at Frito-Lay improved profit margins, while return on invested capital (ROIC) rose 2 points to 28%.

For the year, volume on snacks, beverages, and Quaker products rose a very strong 8%, while Gatorade's volume soared 17%. The company is ahead of schedule in integrating the Quaker division. It saw $250 million in merger synergies this year, and expects $400 million in annual synergies by 2004.

The company also announced a management shuffle and the formation of a new division, PepsiCo International, to oversee food and beverage operations outside the United States and Canada. Pepsi is working toward its goal of being the No. 1 beverage company in the U.S. It just may have a chance.

Ineffective commercials continue to plague rival Coca-Cola(NYSE: KO). The latest tagline attached to drinking Coke is, "Feel... Real." (Well, sure, we didn't feel anything before, and we especially didn't feel real. We need Coke for that? Thanks.)

The ads target (as always) young people, and here's what the company had to say: "... It's about talking to them at a deeper level. No one's going to slam back a Coke in a way that seems forced or staged. They may slam back a Coke, but it has to feel real."

Wow. That's deep.

At $40 per share, Pepsi trades at 20 times trailing earnings and 18 times the 2003 estimate, which calls for $2.19 per share, or 12% growth. The company is valued at 22 times trailing free cash flow.

Quote of Note

"The return we reap from generous actions is not always evident." -- Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1538), Counsels and Reflections

Cheap Love

OK, it might not be the most poetic declaration of your adoration, but considering the price of roses and side effects of chocolate, an affordable alternative to the holiday standbys is due.

The romantics at Money Management International came up with 15 ways to say "I love you" that cost less than $15. They contend that most women agree real romance comes from the heart, and not the wallet. (We don't even want to know where men claim real romance comes from.)

Below, we present our favorite five, accompanied by the requisite Fool commentary. Forgive our alarmist nature, but better safe than sorry, lovebirds.

  1. Make your beloved a macaroni necklace and present it in a jewelry box. Enclose a note that says, "When I am with you, I feel like a kid again." Then partake in an activity little kids do for fun -- roller skating, bike riding, swinging as high as you can on the swing set, a trip to the zoo. But before donning your daredevil attire, make sure you have adequate disability insurance. After all, the chances of becoming disabled before dying are three in 10.

  2. Head down to your local hardware store and have a key made and engraved with your initials. Present the "key to your heart" to your loved one. While you're at it, make sure your beloved has a key to the safe-deposit box -- or knows which sock drawer you keep it in -- so s/he can get to the important papers, should an emergency arise.

  3. Make a special photo album of your most cherished times together, with notes on each page as to why that moment was important to you. While you're at it, collect snapshots of your valuable belongings for insurance purposes. Then store them in the aforementioned safe-deposit box along with a copy of your insurance papers.

  4. Create a scavenger hunt for your loved one, with stops at special places the two of you have in common. As long as you're in the mood for a hunt, you might as well gather all the paperwork you need to do your taxes. When you present the bundle, we guarantee your Sig-O's heart will go a-flutter.

  5. Create a homemade coupon book for gifts, such as one free, uninterrupted afternoon of golf/football or one evening away from the kids. Free, customized gift certificates can be found at Show your long-term commitment by including a few coupons that vow to create an emergency stash and a solid plan for your retirement together.

Shameless Plug: College Savings Center

Have you thought about how you'll finance Junior's four (or five) years in college? Well, you're in luck. Our College Savings Center is open for business. We'll show you how much you need to save, the best ways to do it, and a backpack full of other tips and tricks that will (hopefully) save you from mortgaging the house or taking on a mortgage-sized school loan. And stay tuned for our new book, The Motley Fool's Guide to Paying for School: How to Cover Education Costs from K to Ph.D -- out in April!

Online Travel Takes Flight

When the 9/11 attacks slowed the travel sector to a crawl, investors in online travel companies such as Expedia(Nasdaq: EXPE), Sabre's(NYSE: TSG) Travelocity, and ROOM) weren't sure what to expect. The voice of logic from the cockpit warned of turbulence. Was it best to memorize the evacuation safety instructions, or simply tighten those seat belts and ride it out?

Patience has paid off, and the dot-com travel companies have never looked better. Expedia's fourth-quarter revenue has doubled to $164 million on $1.38 billion in gross bookings. Net income more than quadrupled during the period, for a $0.33-a-share showing.

The moral of the story is you can still make money gaining market share even as the market shrinks. Expedia is confident its stock will gain in altitude this year. It has declared a two-for-one stock split, and will be buying back $200 million worth of its own stock. This is no deadhead. The company is looking for revenue and pretax profits to grow by at least 42% this year. We even featured Expedia in our Stocks 2003 report.

Sure, your local travel agent may be mumbling about lousy business, but that's mostly because the online convenience and access to savings is winning globetrotters over.

Yesterday,'s stock shot up 11.4% after a decent quarterly report and an upbeat outlook on lodging rates for the year. USA Interactive(Nasdaq: USAI) is all smiles because it owns a controlling interest in both Expedia and

While this doesn't make the sector recession-proof, it's worth noting that the slowdown in tourism last year only helped online players. Why? Because travelers could be more selective, given the number of airfare and hotel deals out there. The future -- like the sky -- is wide open.

Discussion Board of the Day: Cheap Airfares

Are you a frugal flyer? Smitten by the online convenience of shopping for rock-bottom flights? You're not alone. Care to share your finds? Care to learn from other budget-conscious airline passengers? All this and more -- in the Cheap Airfares discussion board. Only on

Quick Takes

Home Depot (NYSE: HD) nailed down plans to build "Home Depot Landscape Supply" stores, starting with several in Texas. The gardening stores will target regular Joes and professional landscapers. Home Depot's flagship chain is suffering weak same-store sales. The Fool recently dueled about the company.

It was a rocky road for Coors(NYSE: RKY) today. The brewmeister spilled lower after disappointing fourth-quarter results. Flat sales in the Americas led to much lower earnings growth than anticipated. Following European acquisitions, management called 2002 "transitional." Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch(NYSE: BUD) announced potent results -- even more potent than its brew.

Royal Dutch/Shell (NYSE: RD) , No. 2 behind ExxonMobil(NYSE: XOM), announced geyser-like earnings, with fourth-quarter growth of 46%. Apparently, developed countries rely on oil. When prices rise, the stuff still sells. Who knew?

Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) rang up big gains after calling Mr. Carl-Henric Svanberg and asking, "Will you be our new CEO?" Carl-Henric, head of the Swedish lock maker Assa Abloy (we don't make this stuff up), said, "Yes, I'd be mighty delighted." Ericsson's current CEO is retiring.

In local news, goldfish "Petey," belonging to 14-year old-Katie [last name withheld for privacy], passed away from overfeeding this afternoon. Katie's mother immediately replaced him or her (how do you know?) with a duplicate. Katie continues to believe Petey is 11 years old, unaware of 18 replacements.

And Finally...

Today on

  • For updated stories throughout the day, bookmark our ever-changing News section.
  • It was a dreary January for most big retailers, although some small fries weathered the cold.
  • United Online continues to gain strength in the dialup ISP market.
  • Gap finally broke its streak of same-store sales declines. But LouAnn Lofton says it's too early to throw on your jeans just yet.
  • In Hot Topics, investors have counted on AOL's growth in subscriber numbers. Has the well finally run dry?
  • Rex More explains why, after a tough stretch, the plot's improving for Cree's inventory story.
  • In Fool's School, are you buying a house? Should you use a buyer broker?

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