Today's the first day to sign up for the Federal Trade Commission's "National Do Not Call Registry." Starting Oct. 1, most telemarketers must avoid phoning people on the list, or face fines of up to $11,000 per call.

It's free to get onto the list, and you can register online at (The website is receiving extremely high traffic and may be inaccessible today.) Those in states west of the Mississippi River can register by calling 1-888-382-1222 toll-free. On July 7, phone registration will be open nationwide. If you do sign up by phone, be sure to call from the number you want registered.

Though faced with the loss of business, telemarketers aren't getting much sympathy today. As one businessman told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "This never would have happened if some people hadn't abused the medium."

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Nike's Air Ball

Remember when Nike(NYSE: NKE) mattered? Air Jordans were all the rave. CEO Phil Knight was cocky, but always delivered the goods. The signature Nike swoosh could have very well been a checkmark, with Nike's task of global brand domination complete.

While Nike is far from inconsequential these days, there is little to cheer about its first $10 billion year.

For starters, its $2.77 a share in earnings in the 2003 fiscal year was pumped up by a weak dollar, creating favorable currency translations on sales overseas. Domestically, which many would argue is the critical battlefield for the company as trends eventually carry over on a global basis, sales suffered. While it was able to gain some ground stateside during the fourth quarter, it still suffered a 10% dip over the course of the year.

Meanwhile, rival Reebok(NYSE: RBK) is gaining on Nike while leading retailer Foot Locker remains swoosh-free. From "Just Do It" to Nike "Just Blew It," the company, in a move to stay relevant, is now down to gambling on basketball stars who have yet to prove their worth on the professional level.

Nike may be proud of its record year, but investors have every reason to worry about the asterisks behind that "record" year. That swoosh can be many things, but right now it is not indicative of the market's affirmation of the company's recent track record.''

Discussion Board of the Day: Nike

Is Nike's best really in the past or will it bounce back? Why did the company pay so much money to eventual Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James and will it be a sound investment? All this and more -- in the Nike discussion board. Only on

Too Slim for Circuit City

Circuit City (NYSE: CC) , which recently reported a $43.9 million first-quarter loss and 8.7% decline in sales, turned down Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's $8-a-share offer for the company.

As the second-biggest player behind Best Buy(NYSE: BBY) in the consumer electronics market, Circuit City's been attempting to stave off sales weakness and contain its credit card ills. Despite the troubles, however, it wants to keep up the fight alone.

Slim and his family already are the second-largest shareholders of Circuit City, owning 9.2%. When the $8-per-share bid was given on June 16, Circuit City shares were trading at $6.75. The offer valued the company at $1.65 billion.

Slim also owns CompUSA, the Dallas-based computer and electronics chain. His plan for Circuit City would most likely include combining it with CompUSA. Done right, the move could make sense, giving both companies greater distribution and supply networks and improving economies of scale. Further, underperforming stores in both chains could be closed.

Circuit City's board may have shut down the bid, but that doesn't mean that Slim's days are done here. With investors sending shares of the beleaguered company to their highest levels in six months, many are probably hoping that he'll come back with a higher bid.

The market hasn't shown much faith in current management, or its turnaround plans, driving shares down from early 2000 highs of around $60 to current $8 levels. Thanks to Slim, though, it may now be showing confidence in the possibility of new ownership.

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McCormick's Spicy Gains

Spice seller McCormick(NYSE: MKC) reported second-quarter results that were in line with expectations after one-time gains are backed out (many news services are generously saying results were better than expectations).

Second-quarter sales rose 8% (what other news organizations are calling "solid sales growth"). However, favorable foreign exchange rates accounted for a whole five percentage points of the 8% increase, leaving just 3% sales growth.

Last month, we wrote that investors would soon see stronger results from international corporations because the dollar had fallen sharply in value, effectively inflating overseas earnings when converted back to dollars. As such, second-quarter results from the likes of international players Coca-Cola(NYSE: KO), Intel(Nasdaq: INTC), Gillette(NYSE: G), Johnson & Johnson(NYSE: JNJ), and McCormick stand to gain.

McCormick's net income was up 18% to $39.9 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, on $569 million in sales. To management's credit, gross margins grew nearly 1% to 35.8%, smart acquisitions continue to add upside, and even a 3% fundamental sales increase is decent for the spice and food packaging giant.

For the year, the company expects 8% to 10% sales gains (aided by currencies and acquisition) and up to 12% earnings growth. In 2004, it expects to return to its 3% to 7% rate of long-term sales growth. The $27 stock trades at a generous-looking 18.6 times this year's $1.45-per-share estimate, about 33 times last year's free cash flow, and yields 1.8%.

Quote of Note

"Variety's the very spice of life." -- William Cowper (1731-1800), poet, The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 606

Quick Takes

A federal appeals court granted Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT) a legal win late yesterday against Sun Microsystems(Nasdaq: SUNW), overturning a ruling that ordered Microsoft to include Java in its Windows operating system.

Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT) will take a $622 million charge in its second quarter to settle civil and criminal investigations into the marketing of its Ross Products division. The drug company said that the $0.34-a-share charge should not affect its ongoing business or relationships with any of its customers.

According to the Commerce Department, consumer spending rose 0.1% in May, matching April's gain. However, the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment report for the month of June showed that feelings and expectations about the economy worsened. The report's reading was 89.7, compared to 92.1 for May.

New York Community Bancorp (NYSE: NYB) is acquiring Roslyn Bancorp(Nasdaq: RSLN) for around $1.58 billion in stock. The combined company will operate 145 branches in the New York metropolitan area, and will have $11.3 billion in deposits and $20 billion in assets. New York Community expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter, and it will take a $45 million charge for the merger costs.

The country's largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin(NYSE: LMT), is forming a new business unit. The Integrated Systems and Solution unit will focus on finding ways to better integrate and more efficiently use the company's information technology. Lockheed didn't adjust its business forecast, and is still expecting sales to rise 8% to 12% for 2003, with earnings per share between $2.20-$2.30.

And Finally...

Today on

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Reggie Santiago, Kate Southerland, Dayana Yochim