You'd think that all things Wall Street and all things Foolish were necessarily at odds. Not true. We're almost certain we could name a bunch of investment bankers and sell-side analysts whom we'd have over to Fool HQ for a game of foosball. OK, for now, make that one.

The Wall Street Journal's Robin Sidel recently profiled a major-house banker -- M&A no less -- who not only kept a level head through the bear market, but through the manic bull as well. Very Foolish. Come to think of it, Journal writers are Wall Streeters, too. So, make that two.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Oracle's Epic War

Sun Tzu, a Chinese general, circa 500 B.C., wrote a collection of essays called The Art of War. His philosophy has lasted through the ages, influencing generals and foreign ministers.

But as is typical in modern business, Sun Tzu is a popular guide for hard-charging CEOs -- perhaps the most notable being Larry Ellison, the samurai warrior of Oracle(Nasdaq: ORCL).

Of course, in corporate wars, the battle is typically waged in the press, with the support of high-paid lawyers, investment bankers, and PR flacks. Somehow, in these battles, the winners and losers all tend to walk away with millions.

Ellison believes that there are simply too many enterprise software companies and that there will be a relentless Darwinian struggle to weed out the weak. No doubt, he believes Oracle will be one of the survivors.

So, when PeopleSoft(Nasdaq: PSFT) purchased JD Edwards, it was a validation of Ellison's vision. The problem: Oracle was not involved. So, why not try a hostile takeover of PeopleSoft?

In theory, a hostile takeover seems fairly straightforward, especially when you have the immense resources of Oracle. But, in corporate warfare, it is not necessarily the big that win.

PeopleSoft put in place a defensive fortress in the form of a poison pill. Then, the company wasted no time with its integration of JD Edwards.

Oh, there is also help from the antitrust laws, which seem to be enforced more nowadays. And, perhaps most importantly, PeopleSoft cleverly offered assurances to customers that, in the event Oracle did win, they would get refunds anywhere from two to five times the licensing fees paid. This helps keep customers from leaving, while at the same time making the hostile bid extremely expensive.

Oracle is suing over the refunds. But this is doomed to fail in court. PeopleSoft's refund policy appears well within its discretion.

If the refunds stay, Oracle has indicated that it might be "forced to abandon its bid."

Sun Tzu would be proud -- of PeopleSoft, that is.

Quote of Note

"My belief is own the entire stock market and hold every stock in it forever. That is the formula for success." -- John Bogle, Vanguard founder, on The Motley Fool Radio Show

Online Ads Booming Again

After the Great Dot-Com Crash of 2000, many wondered if online advertising -- an industry that had once powered Yahoo!(Nasdaq: YHOO) to a $90 billion market cap -- would ever again be relevant. But figures released this week confirm what we've known for several months: It's alive and well -- and growing.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) says Internet ad sales totaled $1.66 billion in the past three months. That's a spike of 14% over the same period last year, and the third straight quarter of growth -- following seven straight quarters of decline. "Our prognosis for a continued and steady recovery is being realized," says IAB president Greg Stuart, "and the outlook remains bright."

The recovery would look even better, The Wall Street Journal points out, if not for the performance of Time Warner's(NYSE: TWX) America Online unit, which has seen a 45% drop in ad revenue in the first half of 2003. AOL has been hurt for months as long-term contracts have expired without renewal, but it is predicting ad growth next year for the first time in three years, according to the paper.

Keyword search advertising has led the comeback. Better known as pay-per-click, advertisers generally bid for choice placement in a list of search results. Yahoo!'s Overture and Google are the leaders in this category. Keyword search is now responsible for nearly a third of all online ad revenue. And good news for surfers: Banner advertising continues to decline, falling from 32% of total sales a year ago to 22% today.

Even with all the optimism, it's important to keep things in proper perspective. Last quarter's $1.66 billion is still off the $2.09 billion recorded in the second quarter of 2000. Still, continued strength in broadband growth bodes well for the industry. "The Internet holds the promise of delivering the right audience at the right time," says Tom Hyland of PricewaterhouseCoopers New Media Group, which conducted the study for IAB. And that's "a winning combination for marketers of any type."

Discussion Board of the Day: Yahoo!

Do you think the online ad market will continue to grow, or will it head back south? Let us know your thoughts, on the Yahoo! discussion board. Only on

Broker Switching

ESPN? CNBC? They are four-letter network words that have a lot more in common than you might think.

Take an ailing company or a pathetic ball club. Owners will often make a change at the top, if only to send a message that losing will not be tolerated. You won't find too many coaches or corporate executives canned when the going gets good and the incentive to retire at the top is easy to resist when you're smiling.

But E*Trade(NYSE: ET) will be bidding farewell to Chief Financial Officer Leonard Purkis at the end of next month. He will retire knowing that shares of the discount brokerage firm that he joined back in 1998 have more than tripled off last year's lows.

After a painful drought during the past few bearish years, the market's return to somewhat bullish glory has been especially sweet for the discount brokers that have capitalized on the empowering ways of online trading. Other publicly traded discount specialists such as Schwab(NYSE: SCH) and especially Ameritrade(Nasdaq: AMTD) have seen their shares roar back to life as consumers warm up to the art of investing again.

E*Trade can feel it, too -- in its coffers. Last month, the company posted healthy third-quarter results, revising its guidance substantially higher as commissioned trades shot up by nearly 50%. Back in February, we reasoned that one shouldn't discount the discount brokers. While the stocks have a long way to go to reach their all-time peaks, they have certainly performed well over the past few months of riding the market's coattails.

So, while Purkis retiring means that he may have to forgo the pleasure of counting even more beans next year, he should consider himself fortunate to have weathered the storm and moved on while his company is near the top of its game. Not too many company executives -- or team leaders -- can make the same claim.

Shameless Plug: Broker Center

Our Broker Center can help you choose and use a broker, compare notes with others, and even get started investing online. While you're there, check out the Broker Comparison Table and see how various brokers stack up. It could be the best thing you've ever done for your financial well-being -- and your peace of mind.

More Fool News

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

And Finally...

Today on, Selena Maranjian walks you through Investing in Preferred Stocks, Bill Mann shows you the uglier side of The Great Stock Options Battle, and Vanguard founder John Bogle asks David and Tom Gardner: What's Your Fund's Stewardship Quotient?

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, Tom Taulli, Dayana Yochim