After a rainy spring, we bet your mind is turning now to beaches, barbecue, and stocks. We can't help much with the first three, but you've come to the right place for investing help.
We have -- with the approval of the postmaster in Cut Off, La. -- designated June as Stock Up for Summer month, and compiled everything you need in one handy place. So put on your sunscreen and settle in for the best advice on investing strategies, how to value stocks, finding a broker, and beating the market with the Gardners.
Oh, and better flip those burgers now -- they're getting a little crispy on one side.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Palm Gets a Hand
- Get the Right Insurance
- Martha Stewart Indicted
- Quote of Note
- Ta-ta, Teaser Rates
- Discussion Board of the Day: Disney
- Quick Takes: Babies "R" Us recall, DaimlerChrysler, Sirius Satellite Radio, more
- And Finally...
Palm Gets a Hand
What do you do when demand for your product is waning, the competition's stiffening, and your company's in the red? Why, you buy a smaller company that's also in the red and suffering from slowing demand and increased competition! Welcome to the world of Palm
The long-rumored marriage between Palm and Handspring is finally happening. Palm offered Handspring shareholders 0.09 shares of Palm's hardware division, following the summer spin-off of PalmSource, the firm's software unit. Palm will issue 13.9 million common stock shares to complete the deal, which at yesterday's closing prices would be valued at $169 million.
The combination of the two handheld device makers is expected to produce $25 million in annual cost savings, assuming that 125 jobs and overlapping technologies (among other things) are eliminated. Greater manufacturing efficiencies and increased production and distribution volume should also help streamline operations.
By buying Handspring, Palm gains access to the company's popular Treo line of combination PDAs/cell phones, as well as Handspring's agreements and contacts among different wireless providers. Palm was slower to market a comparable product in this space, so having Treo in-house should be a good thing for it.
It should help Handspring, too, which once commanded the second-largest share of the PDA market behind Palm before deciding to focus more on the Treo line. That shift in strategy has been bumpy for Handspring, causing quarterly loss after quarterly loss.
Overall, however, the market for PDAs is suffering. According to market research group IDC, PDA shipments in the first quarter were down 21% to 2.45 million units. Increased competition from computer heavyweights like Dell
There's no quick fix for either Palm or Handspring. Any substantial benefits will take a while to work through the system. In the meantime, several of Handspring's top brass will hopefully enjoy returning home, in a sense. Handspring founders Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky started Palm in 1992, and then left to start Handspring in 1998.
Get the Right Insurance
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Martha Stewart Indicted
Martha Stewart was charged today with securities fraud, obstruction of justice, and making false statements -- all in connection with her sale of ImClone
Stewart, described by Reuters as "wearing a tan rain coat and under cover of a matching umbrella," surrendered to authorities at the federal courthouse in Manhattan. If convicted, she could face more than 10 years in prison.
Stewart sold 3,928 shares of ImClone stock the day before it announced its application for the cancer drug Erbitux had been rejected. Then-CEO Samuel Waksal, a close friend of Stewart, has already pled guilty to tipping off his family to the news.
Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
"First, the stock market always looks ahead and trades ahead," he said. "In Martha Stewart Omnimedia's case, the stock dropped 15% yesterday because it was a virtual certainty Martha would be indicted. Sellers, therefore, had already sold. The sellers were gone replaced by opportunistic buyers today who believe, like me, that both Martha and her company will survive. (I personally don't believe she'll do jail time.)
"And second reason: I think Martha Stewart stock is a good bet here. That's another reason it went up today. It is still cash-rich with no debt, and remains a worldwide brand with high-quality products. The founder may be disliked by many, and they get all their quotes in the headlines these days. But Martha is also loved by many others. I first recommended the stock at $6 because I believe the market dramatically overreacted to this story. I would buy more, here."
Quote of Note
"This criminal case is about lying... Lying to the FBI. Lying to the SEC. Lying to the investors... Ms. Stewart is being prosecuted not because of who she is, but because of what she did." -- U.S. Attorney James Comey, Jr., rejecting criticism by Martha Stewart's lawyers that she was singled out for prosecution because of her celebrity
Ta-ta, Teaser Rates
The market has hit the bottom. Yes, you heard us correctly. Though we Fools aren't ones to make market predictions, this is a call about which we're pretty confident.
You know those 0% balance transfer rates -- called "teaser rates" in the lending industry -- that have been clogging your mailbox for the past few years? They're about to become extinct. The full-throttle credit card interest-rate war is coming to its inevitable end.
Blame their reticence for continuing to offer low, low teaser rates on our savvy use of them. What was once a tool to lure new customers -- and keep them -- has backfired on the big banks. Consumers now commonly use 0% balance transfers to pay down their loans, then casually toss the card aside once the rate expires to take advantage of the next lender's teaser. Yeah, we encouraged that behavior, too. Sorry about that, Citigroup.
What's more, most of the outstanding balances on credit cards happen to sit on these low-interest rate cards, putting banks in the business of handing out free loans. Where's the profit in that?
We noticed interest rates starting to creep up around January. Now there's a proliferation of teaser rates in the 2% to 3.5% range. If you're lucky, you can find a 1.9% balance transfer rate that lasts nine months to a year.
Even our own six-month 0% balance transfer offer on The Motley Fool Visa Card (through MBNA) can't last forever, but we can guarantee that the sweet deal will stand through August. After that, MBNA, like all other credit card companies, will review its pricing on a monthly basis.
Don't worry, we'll be rooting for an extension on our 0% deal, and hope that you find the other rewards of carrying a Fool card enough to keep one in your wallet. But beware if you currently carry a balance on your credit card. You might want to snap up that 0% offer sooner rather than too late after the teaser-rate market completely bottoms out.
Discussion Board of the Day: Disney
Rick Munarriz listened in yesterday as Disney CEO Michael Eisner reflected on his company's past and future. If you were Eisner, would you have done anything differently in the last five years? Is the company well-positioned for an economic recovery? Will Disney command a seller's premium if the Anaheim Mighty Ducks win the Stanley Cup? All this and more -- in the Disney discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Good news from the U.S. services sector meant good news for the stock market today. The Institute for Supply Management said its non-manufacturing index -- which measures about two-thirds of the country's economic output -- grew much faster than expected. That pushed stocks up in early trading, and the Dow topped the 9,000 mark.
About 2,000 baby cribs sold at Babies R Us
An earnings warning from DaimlerChrysler
Shares of Sirius Satellite Radio
Today on Fool.com:
- For updated stories throughout the day, bookmark our ever-changing News section.
- Bill Mann on The Dangerous Warren Buffett.
- Robert Brokamp lists five reasons you need an IRA.
- Mathew Emmert on how to retire early.
- David Gardner slams Wall Street for its sudden reversal on NVidia.
- In Fool's School, saving on car insurance.
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim