Reuters reported today that the Mortgage Bankers Association of America expects a record $3.4 trillion in new housing loans this year. But with gradual economic growth, mortgage rates should begin to rise in the second half of 2003 and demand for mortgages will subside a bit. Quick, to the Fool mortgage center to lock in those rates!

Seriously, we don't have a crystal ball or any more insight into interest rates than you do. If you can save money over the long term by taking advantage of historic interest rates, do it. If you can't, don't. For more, see our recent 9 Facts About Mortgages article.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Yahoo! Takes Overture

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) ended weeks of speculation this morning by announcing the $1.6 billion acquisition of pay-per-click search specialist Overture Services(Nasdaq: OVER). As we told you last month, this move makes a good deal of sense for Yahoo! by bringing the entire search process in-house and giving it more strength in its battle with privately held Google.

Overture is involved in one of the fastest-growing segments of the Internet advertising market. (One source, Piper Jaffray, expects the industry to generate $5 billion in revenue by 2006 -- an annual growth rate of 35%.) To see how the technology works, type the phrase "cell phones" into the search box at the top of this page. Along with the regular listings, you'll see a few "sponsored links" at the top. This lucrative real estate goes to the companies that bid the most for various search terms. As I write this story, AT&T Wireless(NYSE: AWE) is paying Overture $1.19 each time a user clicks on its link. (You can find this information on Overture's website.) A1 Wireless, listed second, is paying $1.18 per click. Overture shares that revenue with its many partners, in this case with The Motley Fool.

Yahoo! is also a partner, and along with Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT), accounted for 65% of Overture's revenue in the first quarter of this year. That reliance on a few customers, in addition to increased competition from Google, are major reasons the stock price is down over 10% this year.

Similarly, Yahoo! relied on Overture for 19% of its total revenue during the same period, and the world's top portal was not comfortable being that dependent on any one company. While some speculated that it was looking to develop its own pay-per-click model, in the end it made more sense to buy a proven, profitable leader.

The deal calls for Yahoo! to pay $4.75 in cash and 0.6108 of a share for each share of Overture -- a 13% premium for Overture stockholders. Considering Yahoo!'s share price has soared over 80% this year, it was a shrewd move to pay for more than half of the acquisition with its stock.

Might we see more consolidation in the industry? The market seems to think so, with shares of Looksmart(Nasdaq: LOOK) soaring 25% on speculation of a possible bid from partner Microsoft.

Quote of Note

"To be in the game, you have to endure the pain." -- George Soros, international investor and philantropist

Disney's Hidden Treasure

Releasing a big-budget pirate film has always been a cursed practice in Hollywood. With money spent typically finding a watery grave in Davy Jones' Locker, it has been a practice paid in fool's gold. Well, until now.

Putting the buck in swashbuckler, Disney's(NYSE: DIS)Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a hit. It more than doubled its domestic box-office take over the nearest competitor to score an estimated $70.4 million in ticket sales in its first five days.

Turkey spirits left behind from Geena Davis' turn in Cutthroat Island and Kristy McNichol and Chris Atkins in The Pirate Movie have been lifted. The list of pirate flick duds at, which have averaged less than $30 million at the multiplex over the past two decades, has found the exception to the rule in Disney's bold gamble.

Folks had every reason to doubt Disney's decision to spend roughly $140 million on a film based loosely on -- but branded tightly to -- a popular theme park ride. The last time Disney spent heavily on a high-action pirate adventure, it wound up taking a hefty $47 million after-tax bath on Treasure Planet. The entertainment giant had also botched its first attempt to tie a movie to an existing attraction when The Country Bears flopped last year.

So in came the plundering Pirates with a clever script, an artsy cast, and a storyline that borrows from more popular recent blockbusters like The Mummy with its fleet of skeletal warriors.

It works. It's also cause for a great sigh of relief by Disney because another attraction-branded feature -- The Haunted Mansion -- hits theaters come November. But before it starts licking its chops and announces new projects like It's a Small World: Ride It or Turnstile Trouble at the Ticket and Transportation Center, let's hope it realizes that Pirates became a winner despite being anchored to a park ride -- not because of it.

The movie works surprisingly well not because it stayed the course, but rather because it veered off in an entirely different and fresh direction. That's where the gold lies.

Discussion Board of the Day: Disney

What did you think of Pirates of the Caribbean? Was Disney just "Goofy" to start making live-action films based on its theme park attractions? Is this the kind of product branding that we'll be seeing more of in Hollywood? All this and more -- in the Disney discussion board. Only on

Your $3,000 Tan

Does your credit card statement hold a place of prominence in your photo album? If you financed your summer vacation with plastic -- and about 40% of vacationers do -- move over the snapshots and make room for your bill. It may be the most lasting memory of your trip.

Credit cards financed almost 40% of summer vacations last year, according to "Americans, Summer Vacation and Debt," a national study by AmeriDebt and Opinion Research Corp. What's troubling about that stat is that more than half of vacationers who put their trip on plastic will not pay it off right away.

With vacationers spending an average of $1,500 on their trip, that's a lot of mai tais and inner tube rentals. Putting just $20 a month towards that balance at an interest rate of 14%, those tan lines end up costing $3,428.43 over the next 14 years. Your card will be paid off just in time for you to put that laser skin resurfacing treatment on plastic!

If you've already taken your cruise/camping trip/Civil War reenactment outing, total your expenses, divide them by 12, and start stashing away that amount to cover next year's summer blowout. If you've already financed your travels with Visa and can't pay it off, negotiate for the lowest rate possible, or transfer the balance to a low-interest card (check out the current rates on The Motley Fool Visa) and pay it off pronto.

And if you're still planning your warm-weather jaunt, keep an eye on the biggest vacation expenses -- hotel accommodations, airfare (see what fares Fools are finding), and Disney doodads.

Save for the Unexpected

Here at, we spend a lot of time talking about investing in the stock market. But that's for your long-term savings -- money you won't need for at least five years, right? Right! What about those unpredictable zingers life throws at you at the worst times? Why, that's why you need a stash of short-term savings. Let us tell you how to start saving today.

Quick Takes

Citigroup (NYSE: C) and Bank of America(NYSE: BAC) provided a double dose of good news for the markets today, with both financial institutions delivering strong second-quarter earnings. The better-than-expected results were driven by credit cards and mortgages.

PeopleSoft (Nasdaq: PSFT) gained clearance from the Justice Department for its $1.75 billion acquisition of fellow software maker J.D. Edwards(Nasdaq: JDEC). An Oracle(Nasdaq: ORCL) spokesman said even if the deal goes through, it remains "fully committed" to its hostile takeover attempt of PeopleSoft.

Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) has delivered some bad news to Boeing(NYSE: BA), saying it will defer delivery of three dozen 737 jetliners. "We've given it all the room we can to see a glimmer of hope for an economic recovery," Continental CEO Gordon Bethune told Reuters. "It's not a prudent thing to continue to commit to add more capacity because we're not making any money with the airplanes we have."

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) appears on the verge of halting a months-long string of disappointing same-store sales. The world's No. 1 retailer said today it expects to hit the high end of its forecast of a 2% to 4% revenue increase for stores open at least a year.

And Finally...

Today on

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