Boston fans are once again distraught after watching the Yankees advance to yet another World Series last night, edging the Red Sox in a classic extra-inning duel.

As someone just reminded us, Sox fans -- who haven't seen their team win since 1918 -- must feel like Apple loyalists who watch Microsoft pull out win after win after win in the business world.

For proof, check out this chart of the two companies' performance since 1986, the year Microsoft went public and Buckner let the ground ball slip through his legs. It's easy to tell which stock is which: Microsoft's line is colored Yankee blue, while Apple's is Red Sox red.

After looking at the chart, head to our home page to vote in our special World Series poll.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

DoubleClick Doubled Quick

The way Internet stocks had performed, today's pullback was bound to happen -- much as it hurts. But online advertising is alive and well. Thanks for asking. Thanks for clicking. And notwithstanding today's brutal haircut, banner-ad guru DoubleClick(Nasdaq: DCLK) has nearly doubled on the year.

Last night, the company posted its third consecutive profitable quarter. That may seem like baby steps by today's earn-or-burn standards, but it's pretty impressive when you consider that the online ad market was left for dead when the dot-com boom went bust.

But now there is new life in Web-based advertising. You saw that in Yahoo!'s(Nasdaq: YHOO)ad-fueled earnings last week. Even the mighty Google moved into the banner ad market earlier this year.

We're spending roughly 15% of our leisure time in front of the Internet, yet companies are devoting roughly 2% of their ad budgets to the medium. Lagging advertising money spent on radio, television, and newspapers, the upside is there to capitalize on this truly targeted platform.

The market has seemed more enamored with conventional Web favorites like Amazon(Nasdaq: AMZN), Netflix(Nasdaq: NFLX), and eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY) -- and enamored not at all with the Web today. Don't dismiss DoubleClick.

Despite today's warning and expectations to earn just $0.25 a share next year, it's also packing nearly $4 a share in cash and has some business momentum on its side. All it needs now are willing sponsors.

Quote of Note

"Life is divided up into the horrible and the miserable." -- Woody Allen

eBay: Steady as She Goes

Ah, there's nothing quite like the first few moments after a company announces earnings. Yesterday afternoon, for instance, this email landed in my inbox: "BULLETIN -- eBay warns it won't meet Q4 analyst estimates." But clicking through to the actual story revealed this headline: "eBay tops revenue estimate -- Earnings per share in line; Q4 outlook matches Street." (The media outlet later corrected the error.)

We imagine such dramatics caused more than a few heart palpitations, but not around here. Let's look at some of the important stuff from yesterday's eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY) news, such as year-over-year growth rates:

  • $530.9 million in revenue, up 84%
  • $103.3 million in net income, or $0.16 per diluted share, up 69%
  • $168.4 million in free cash flow, up 84%
  • 85.5 million registered users, up 56%
  • 37.4 million active users, up 55%
  • 235 million listings, up 47%
  • $5.8 billion in gross merchandise sales, up 53%

The free cash flow picture definitely warrants a closer look. My calculations show the stock is trading at about 60 times trailing-12-month FCF -- meaning its P/FCF-to-cash flow growth ratio is below 1.00. It will have to grow FCF by some 43% annually to reach its $1 billion goal by the end of 2005 -- certainly not a huge stretch considering its current growth rate.

The stock was down this morning because management's projection of $0.98 per share in 2004 pro forma earnings is below analysts' consensus estimate of $1.05. But this company is still firing on all cylinders, and the big picture hasn't changed -- as should be apparent from reading Jeff Fischer's fine Take, eBay Nears 2005 Goals.

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You've Got iTunes

Yes, folks. Apple(Nasdaq: AAPL) does Windows.

Yesterday, the company launched its popular iTunes music download service in the Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT) world. The buzz has been huge for Apple's entry as it has managed to sell -- yes, sell -- 13 million downloads since launching the service for Apple users back in May.

Before you start working the numbers in your head -- given Apple's exponential potential under the significantly more popular Windows platform -- let's be realistic here. When Apple rolled out Windows-enabled iPods, the portable audio players didn't outsell the Apple models. They simply matched them.

So, sure, if opening up iTunes to the Wintel world translates into a doubling in digital music sales, it would be noteworthy. But hasn't the Windows world been given too much time to feed the freeloading ways of peer-to-peer MP3 networks? While Apple users are bred to pay for quality, can the same be said for the Windows citizenry?

Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX) America Online hopes so. It will be providing a convenient and contextual iTunes gateway for its subscribers throughout the leading online service's music areas. That's a good move for both companies. AOL subscribers are already accustomed to paying more for access than vanilla dial-up connections.

Apple also beefed up its spoken word library by announcing a partnership with Audible Inc. (OTCBB: ADBL.OB) to provide audio books and other spoken content for the upstart service.

But Apple isn't stopping there. It's teaming up with Pepsi(NYSE: PEP) for an ambitious online promotion that will give away as many as 100 million downloads. Yes, the company is going to give away six times as many downloads as have been already purchased. Free trials are great, especially if they hook a potential customer, but this might also backfire by cheapening the value of an iTunes song file.

Apple has to watch its step as it walks a thin guitar-string line separating its established crowd of loyal users and the thrifty masses. It's a long fall down either way.

Discussion Board of the Day: Apple

Have you checked out Apple's iTunes Store? Do you think it will fly in the Windows world? What about giving away all of those downloads to Pepsi drinkers? Good move? All this and more -- in the Apple discussion board. Only on

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And Finally...

We're talking roughed-up stocks today on If you're wondering how McDonald's is doing after a difficult few years, just look at how CEO Jim Cantalupo has engineered a remarkable turnaround. If that's not enough to get you in a good mood, Rick Munarriz pays homage to Gov.-elect Schwarzenegger in 3 Terminator Stocks.

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