Who has most influenced your investing philosophy? Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch combined to capture three-fourths of the vote in our recent front-page poll. Here are the results:

Warren Buffett, 43%
Peter Lynch, 32%
Matt Richey, 12%
Benjamin Graham, 11%
Philip Fisher, 2%

The big question, though, is how many votes did Fool Matt Richey steal from Peter Lynch? Did Graham loyalists siphon support away from Buffett? Find out a week from Friday, when we pitch Buffett against Lynch in a special runoff.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Ford to Cut 12,000

Ford Motor (NYSE: F) says it will cut 12,000 jobs, or 3.5% of its worldwide workforce of 350,000. DaimlerChrysler(NYSE: DCX) also reportedly plans to ax employees.

Recent agreements with the United Auto Workers union give the Big Three -- Ford, DaimlerChrysler, and General Motors(NYSE: GM) -- more "flexibility" in closing plants and laying off employees. All three labor under worldwide industry overcapacity and aging workforces and are desperate to slash expenses. At General Motors alone, about half of its 118,000 employees can retire over the next five years, according to The Wall Street Journal. (No wonder Congress and various accounting standards bodies are toying with how to account for pension liabilities. If they grow too big, just change them.) Things don't look good.

Wait a minute. Did we say these are the Big Three? Actually, Toyota is the third-largest auto power in the U.S. This burns DaimlerChrysler, which wants to cut 5,000 jobs through buyouts, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Ford targets $7 billion in profits by 2005, after losing not much less than that in the last two years. General Motors is barely profitable and DaimlerChrysler was $1.1 billion in the red last quarter. Their shares have underperformed the S&P 500, including dividends, for the past one and five years, though DaimlerChrysler is slightly ahead for two years. Their dividends are some consolation, but it may be years -- if ever -- before their expenses and capacity decline to a healthy balance with demand.

In other cutting news, Verizon has offered up severance packages to all of its managers.

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Prudential Brokers Sacked

The office manager and five of the 24 brokers in Prudential's(NYSE: PRU) Boston office were forced to resign after parent Wachovia(NYSE: WB) conducted an internal investigation into their mutual fund trading practices.

The six employees, including one of the office's largest revenue generators, were accused of taking advantage of the untimely nature of mutual fund share price updates. They basically purchased shares at the end of the trading day, hoping to take advantage of a quick move the following morning -- a practice that's supposed to be prohibited by mutual fund companies.

Apparently, Wachovia conducted an internal review on the heels of a Boston Globe article that broke the story last Wednesday. The company also stated that the internal review is continuing, which suggests more heads may roll before this thing is put to rest.

State and federal regulators are currently investigating both mutual fund companies and brokerage firms in relation to this questionable trading activity.

The investigation was announced just weeks after the closing of a merger between Wachovia and Prudential's brokerage divisions. Wachovia has a 62% stake in the dynamic duo, which has become the third-largest brokerage firm in the business, behind only Merrill Lynch(NYSE: MER) and Citigroup's(NYSE: C) Salomon Smith Barney unit.

Despite the fact that these folks were taking advantage of the system, we'd really like to know if all this "rapid-fire trading" actually made any money. We've discussed countless examples here at the Fool where aggressive trading practices have resulted in huge losses for investors.

It would be interesting to see whether these folks were able to turn their unfair advantage into actual profits. If not, it appears they went through a lot of trouble for nothing, and lost their jobs to boot. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Quote of Note

"I don't think of work as work and play as play. It's all living... I'm living and learning every day -- it's like being at a university, studying a course you're really fascinated by." -- Mogul Richard Branson as told to Fortune magazine

Constellation Feels Hardy

One of the dangers naturally acquisitive companies face is that their new purchases may not integrate well with the existing business. When Constellation Brands(NYSE: STZ) -- a maker and distributor of beer, wine, and spirits -- paid about $1.4 billion for Australia's BRL Hardy earlier this year to become the world's largest wine producer, that was a big concern.

Constellation's second-quarter earnings report, however, shows the acquisition is going smoothly thus far, with sales jumping 32% year over year. More importantly, sales were still up by 9% when factoring out the Hardy results and a favorable currency impact. That compares well with CEO Richard Sands' long-stated target of 15% overall growth -- with half from acquisitions and half from organic growth.

Though still in a "challenging environment," Constellation is also showing off its power by planning a third price increase in the last four years for its Mexican beer portfolio, which includes Corona, Pacifico, and Modelo Especial.

A double whammy of softening consumer demand for wine products and a price-lowering grape glut has made for a tough market over the past year or so, but Constellation has held up well. Sands believes conditions will improve over the next 12 to 24 months, and said in yesterday's conference call (transcript provided by CCBN StreetEvents), "The picture will brighten even more for those companies who have managed to increase brand value during these tough times."

If Constellation is one of those companies, as Sands believes, its price-to-free cash flow of 17 (based on 2003 full-year estimates) seems rather modest.

More Fool News

For a list of all our stories from today, see Today's Headlines.

Discussion Board of the Day: eBay

As Rick Munarriz reported, Paypal's been takin' it to Citigroup's c2it unit. Why do you think c2it failed? Was PayPal right to let itself be bought out by eBay? Where does the field of micropayments go from here? All this and more -- in the eBay discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

And Finally...

Bill Mann holds little regard for the benefits of registering hedge funds.... Robert Brokamp has been ripped off, but, instead of getting mad, he's getting even.... The Twins are 1-0 vs. the Yankees in their MLB divisional series!

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Paul Elliott, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, Jeff Hwang, LouAnn Lofton, Alyce Lomax, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Dave Marino-Nachison, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim