The market zigged and zagged today, with the Nasdaq coming out slightly ahead and the Dow and S&P slightly in the red, but much of the country focused on the death of American icon and comedian Bob Hope.

Always self-deprecating and a poster boy for good, clean fun, Hope surely was a Fool's Fool. He passed away in his California home last night at the age of 100 -- a testament that laughter indeed is the best path to longevity. Rest easy, Mr. Hope.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

More WorldCom Fraud?

Ever since the extent of WorldCom's accounting fraud was revealed a year ago, many of its competitors have battled its attempt to reemerge from bankruptcy. Now there's a possibility those efforts may pay off, thanks to still more alleged wrongdoing by the long-distance provider.

A new Justice Department investigation is looking into complaints that WorldCom -- which is changing its name to match the moniker of its MCI long-distance unit -- has been rerouting calls to avoid charges from local phone companies, and even dumping some calls onto competitors' networks so they will have to pay the charges. Such a tactic is known as "laundering" calls, and it allegedly affected Verizon Communications(NYSE: V), AT&T(NYSE: T), and SBC Communications(NYSE: SBC). According to reports, WorldCom/MCI had code names for the laundering operations, such as "Canadian Gateway" and "Project Invader."

The new allegations come at the wrong time for the troubled company, which has a court hearing in about a month to determine whether it can emerge from bankruptcy. There are signs it may face tough opposition on other fronts, as well. It has continued to receive government contracts over the past year, but "it's critically important ... to be shutting the door to entities that pervasively commit misdeeds," Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) told the Associated Press.

It's not hard to see why competitors are crying foul; as Bill Mann (TMF Otter) said, why should a company be able to "run up debt, build a network, pay itself millions, go into Chapter 11, emerge on the other side, and grant the management team stock options so they can participate in the company's further 'success'"?

By some estimates, the alleged laundering scheme may have involved hundreds of millions of dollars over a nine-year period. If true, the bankruptcy proceedings would be thrown into disarray and critics and competitors might get their wish and see this company -- which got off with just a $750 million fine for its previous transgressions -- liquidated.

Quote of Note

"I do benefits for all religions -- I'd hate to blow the hereafter on a technicality." -- Bob Hope, 1903-2003

Quality Systems Delivers

Medical software company Quality Systems(Nasdaq: QSII) is looking healthy following today's blockbuster first-quarter earnings release. The stock's up nearly 15% on the news and deserves the pop.

Across the board, Quality Systems produced outstanding results for the quarter, with its crucial NextGen Healthcare software again leading the way. And even given today's run-up, the stock's still not overvalued.

The nuts and bolts: Total revenues rose 33% to $16.3 million. Net income grew to $2.27 million, up 40% from last year's $1.62 million. Earnings per share on a fully diluted basis jumped 35% to $0.35, beating expectations by $0.07.

NextGen's revenues shot up 51% to $12.2 million. The product produced operating income of $3.4 million, 62% ahead of the same period last year.

As Matt Richey wrote back in May, NextGen's electronic medical records (EMR) product was recently named as the top application in its category, earning a five-star rating. With only 15% of all physician's offices currently using EMR software, there's still tons of room for Quality Systems' product to grow -- establishing an ever greater lead on the competition and building customer loyalty, stickiness, and switching costs.

Quality Systems is a familiar name to Fool Tom Jacobs in addition to Matt Richey, and both have featured the company in great columns. Fool co-founder Tom Gardner recommended Quality Systems twice during the past year in the Motley Fool Stock Advisor.

Quality Systems remains an attractive value, all the attention notwithstanding, and trades at an EV/FCF ratio of around 20, after backing out $6+ cash per share. For a business generating better than 30% revenue growth, that looks like a sweet price indeed.

Couples & Cash: How to Handle Money With Your Honey

Written by the Fool's Dayana Yochim, this is the one book to put you and your significant other on a path to financial bliss. According to The Washington's Post's Michelle Singletary: "If you're planning to get married, read this book. Actually, it's helpful for anybody in a relationship that requires you to handle money with your honey." To chat online with Dayana and Ms. Singletary on Wednesday, July 30, at 1 p.m. ET, click here.

Online Music's Silence?

Given Apple's(Nasdaq: AAPL)success with the early results of its iTunes Music Store, one might come to the logical conclusion that after years of piracy and peer-to-peer MP3 swapping, online music is on the verge of becoming a viable business model.

Unfortunately, no one is telling the sector's heaviest hitters. Earlier this month, Vivendi's(NYSE: V) announced that it would be shutting down its Europe subsidiary. Last week, stopped accepting new applications and announced that the site -- which has aimed to connect independent songwriters and performers with commercial opportunities -- may close in a month if deep pockets aren't found.

The cacophony is creating mixed signals. With the Recording Industry Association of America cracking down on file-trading by going after even the casual end-user, one would think that many fans who have been living off the free music hog are about to be scared straight. That should mean a revival for fresh music -- and that's exactly what Tonos and have been peddling for years.

Yet Roxio(Nasdaq: ROXI) has been able to acquire Napster's shell and Vivendi and Sony's(NYSE: SNE) pressplay subscription service on the cheap. Meanwhile, streaming giant RealNetworks(Nasdaq: RNWK) announced a wider second loss for the June quarter.

The companies that stand to gain if online music becomes legitimized are either struggling financially, cashing out, or folding. It's sad, really. It's a lot like fans who leave a concert when the band exits the stage, completely unaware that the musicians are about to regroup and return for an encore, saving the best for last.

Discussion Board of the Day: Apple User's Group

Don't have an Apple but want to know what's driving the Mac minority to purchase 6.5 million song files? Thinking of switching from the Wintel ranks and seeing how the Apple faithful live? All this and more -- in the Apple User's Group discussion board. Only on

Quick Takes

The Securities and Exchange Commission has settled its Enron-related charges against Citigroup(NYSE: C) and J.P. Morgan Chase(NYSE: JPM). The companies will shell out a combined $255 million, with J.P. Morgan paying $135 million and Citigroup coughing up $120 million. The SEC had charged the two firms with helping Enron create fake operating cash flow from what were really loans to the company, effectively assisting Enron in misleading investors. Today's settlement means that neither company admitted or denied the charges.

Cereal king Kellogg(NYSE: K) reported higher revenue and earnings today for its second quarter. Sales were up 5.8% to $2.25 billion, while net income grew 17% to $203.9 million vs. $173.8 million. Earnings per share for the period shook out to $0.50, three cents better than expectations. The company earned $0.42 a share in the year-ago quarter. Driving Kellogg's growth were strong cereal sales. Its Keebler cookies and snacks division looked less than crisp, though. Kellogg noted that customers seem to be shifting increasingly away from high-fat cookies, leading the company to consider reducing the fat content in some of its products.

Printing and copying company Xerox(NYSE: XRX) announced lower earnings today, thanks to a one-time charge. For its second quarter, the company netted $86 million, or $0.09 a share. Excluding the charge, it earned $0.14 a share, better than analysts' forecast of $0.12 a share. Xerox earned $87 million, or $0.11 a share, in the prior year's Q2. Revenues also dropped a bit, off 0.8% to $3.92 billion.

American Express (NYSE: AXP) returned better quarterly results today. The credit card company's earnings rose 11.5% to $762 million, or $0.59 a share (analysts anticipated $0.57 a share). Revenues also improved, up 7% to $6.36 billion.

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