Belated happy National Towel Amnesty Day, everyone!

Yesterday's collective sigh of relief from petty thieves everywhere slipped by quietly even as Holiday Inn(NYSE: IHG) granted them a historic reprieve from prosecution. According to the Associated Press, the hotel chain is eager to know what becomes of the 500,000 towels a year that guests swipe from its 2,638 hotels.

So, in exchange for their stories about how they've used their "borrowed" towels over the years, Holiday Inn is willing to forgive and forget its wayward guests -- and use them in a national charity promotion. For every story submitted to its website through September 30, the company will give $1 to Give Kids The World, which helps children with life-threatening illnesses.

In an ironic twist that's not lost on anyone, the 25 winners will each receive a limited edition souvenir towel.

Personally, we couldn't think of a better way to start out the long Labor Day weekend than to throw in the towel and start fresh. See you on Tuesday!

In today's Motley Fool Take:

eBay Halved

You got out of bed, poured yourself a cup of coffee, and casually logged on to see how your portfolio was doing this morning. Everything was going fine. Pleasant thoughts rattled about as birds chirped outside your window.

That was, of course, until you pulled up a quote on eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY) to find that it was trading at roughly half what it was fetching yesterday.

What in bidding blazes is going on here, eBay? Meg, Meg, Meg, what have you done? "This was the same company that once acquired," you mutter, "and now it's halved and I'm gone!"

Relax. Wipe those java stains off your computer monitor. It's only a stock split. Yes, prices were halved on shares of eBay last night, but investors now own twice as many shares as they used to in the world's leading swap site.

Why do companies split? The common argument is that a lower price point makes a stock more attractive for investors. Don't believe it!

You don't need to be babied like you're ordering a footlong sub at Subway. However, it's the same principle. You're getting that sandwich cut in half, but if you eat two halves, it's the exact same meal eaten whole.

Thanks to the emergence of low-cost discount brokers, it's no longer a commission-gouging task to buy in odd lot sums. Fundamentals will ultimately dictate a fair price, regardless of how many shares it has to be divided into to get there.

So feel free to go on with the rest of your day as planned. There's really nothing to see here, so it's best to move along.

If you still think stock splits are necessary to achieve long-term capital appreciation, two words will always serve as the ultimate argument killer: Berkshire Hathaway(NYSE: BRK.A).

Quote of Note

"Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy." -- George Carlin

P&G CEO's Worth Every Penny

Lest people think that we Fools are Pollyannas when it comes to executive pay, I'd like to make one thing clear: Good performance ought to come with substantial rewards.

Case in point is this morning's announcement by Procter & Gamble(NYSE: PG) that President and CEO A.G. Lafley has been rewarded a $3 million bonus. In the three years that Lafley has been at the helm, P&G has transformed itself from a strategic basket case to a company that once again has shown the marketing and brand management prowess that made it one of the largest consumer products companies in the world.

Under Lafley's watch, P&G has gotten back to basics. It sold off its Crisco and Jif brands to J.M. Smucker(NYSE: SJM), and has purchased Clairol and German hair-care company Wella. Clairol has been a smashing success for P&G, accounting for nearly one-fifth of its total revenues. P&G's stock has responded, up 11% in 2002, and up nearly 50% from the troughs hit during the tail end of his predecessor's reign at the company.

The market has reacted strongly to the revitalization of P&G's core brands. For example, its Crest Whitestrips have proven a runaway success. Meanwhile, Pampers and Tampax, which in the not-so-recent past were being eaten alive by Kimberly-Clark's(NYSE: KMB) Huggies and Playtex's(NYSE: PYX) Feminine Care lines, respectively, have shown substantial rebounds. P&G has exactly one product -- Olean -- with any kind of protective moat, while the others are dependent upon brand, marketing, and distribution to keep ahead of the field.

None of this is singularly due to Lafley's efforts, naturally. And our willingness to tolerate bonuses much greater than base salary is by no means infinite. However, Lafley has taken a company that had been set adrift by lack of focus and pulled on the bridle, hard. His shareholders have been rewarded substantially as a result, and the longer-term prospects for P&G look better than they have in years.

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Not Taking a Flyer on Orbitz

Having been around the world, Orbitz is right back where it started. The popular online travel site was all set to go public last year before a weak market grounded all outgoing flights. Orbitz did what any laid-over air passenger would do. It sighed, cracked open a bag of peanuts, and waited out the storm.

With the market regaining that IPO tingle, Orbitz is back, and this time it's got a ticket to ride. The company amended its registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission and now looks to raise $125 million in its stock market debut.

And why not? The online travel sector has been hot, with such proven portals as InterActive's Expedia and Travelocity parent Sabre Holdings(NYSE: TSG) faring well on Wall Street. Priceline(Nasdaq: PCLN) has appreciated sixfold since bottoming last year.

But before you start rallying around Orbitz, know what you're boarding. Most of its travel-site peers have won investors over by making money, but the same can't be said of Orbitz. Last year, the company posted a loss of $17.9 million on $175.5 million in revenue. Expedia, on the other hand, produced $21 million in earnings on $164 million in revenue.

Why the disparity? Is it because Orbitz was founded by a collection of airlines such as UAL(NYSE: UAL) and Delta(NYSE: DAL) that have been groomed to bleed money? No, Orbitz was just late to the party. By the time the company emerged on the portal scene, Travelocity and Expedia had already carved out the market and signed the exclusivity contracts worth signing.

So think twice before buying a seat on this flight. Orbitz must go farther than full circle to get investors where they want to go.

Discussion Board of the Day: Cheap Air Fares

With Orbitz getting ready to raise $125 million in its dusted-off IPO, did someone say "road trip"? Got tips for traveling on the cheap? Want to know where the air travel bargains are? All this and more -- in the Cheap Air Fares discussion board. Only on

Quick Takes

Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) brewed up another month of strong same-store sales growth. For August, its comps were up by 9% while total revenues for the month increased 26% to $335 million. The coffee king's new "shaken" iced drinks, along with its new malted beverages, helped boost results.

Things are looking up for some employees at Delta Airlines(NYSE: DAL). The company announced today that it's calling 250 furloughed pilots back into service. It also said it's backing down from plans to lay off 1,050 flight attendants.

It's going to be a loud Labor Day weekend in Milwaukee, as legendary Harley-Davidson(NYSE: HDI) throws a giant four-day birthday bash for its 100th year. The party started yesterday -- 300,000 revelers are expected to attend the festivities. There will be parades, concerts, and exhibits showcasing antique motorcycles and memorabilia.

Lovable Sesame Street character Elmo is teaming up with Merrill Lynch(NYSE: MER) to teach kids about investing. The campaign, called "Investing Pays Off," will begin September 10, with the distribution of 20,000 Elmo posters along with a special publication called "Talking Cents."

And Finally...

Today on Bill Mann wants no part of it as Janus plays "hide the debt".... Rick Munarriz uses star quarterback Michael Vick as a painful reminder to companies not to build a team around one player.... In our Tax Center, index options over exchange-traded funds?... And if you find yourself in Manhattan on September 17 from 6-8 p.m., drop by the 25th Annual "NY Is Book Country" Festival and get answers to your financial questions from Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner and a panel of experts.

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, Dayana Yochim