There's lots movin' and shakin' on today. First off, changes abound in Fool Community. If you've never taken a peek at our discussion boards, now is the time to check them out. We've made some dramatic changes to our directory listings to better show you the depth of conversation taking place amongst all Fools. There's something for everyone, so dig in and find a topic that interests you. (If you haven't visited the Fool Community before, please be our guest for 30 days.)

Also today, our annual stock guide, Stocks 2004, launches. Bill Mann has the scoop on how we did last year and looks ahead to the future.

Now, on with today's Motley Fool Take:

Future Shock for Sprint?

For an area that is so integral to our daily lives, the telecommunications industry hasn't been a bedrock of safety for investors -- or workers. Sprint(NYSE: FON) said Monday it's laying off 3% of its workforce, or 2,000 employees, as it attempts to reduce costs and streamline operations. That might not sound like much, but given tepid demand and red-hot competition, the worst may not be over.

Sprint's not the only telecom concern hanging up on workers to control costs. The move follows similar announcements by Verizon(NYSE: VZ), BellSouth(NYSE: BLS), and SBC Communications(NYSE: SBC).

Technology has been changing the demand for traditional telecom for a while. As a result, companies have been bundling services and instituting price wars to get customers signed up. I recently switched long-distance service to Sprint, and my monthly bill has been a mere couple bucks a month -- about the price of a latte.

Why? The lion's share of my coast-to-coast communication is conducted via America Online's(NYSE: TWX) Instant Messenger and email, and many people operate the same way. Special occasions may warrant a call, but in most cases I let my fingers do the talking.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post said Monday that tech-savvy adults under 30 are so enamored of their cell phones that 27% of those surveyed consider ditching landlines altogether. In addition, the study indicated that 21% of overall users -- regardless of age -- were thinking of canceling regular phone service in favor of cells.

It may not be the majority, but it seems a trend destined to continue. Mobility has become as American as frozen apple pie. And after a protracted economic downturn, consumers may look at their household costs and see redundancies, such as the chitchat overlap of cell phone and landline service.

While that may be some degree of good news for cellular providers, we all know that number portability is a big worry regarding cell plans' reception with subscribers.

It is far too early to say that landlocked phone service is about to become as old-school as 8-track tapes, or that cell providers are going to dig themselves in way too deep to vie for subscribers. However, while the market may have cheered Sprint's cost reduction news, it's obvious times in telecom are as tough as ever. -- Alyce Lomax

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Target, Wal-Mart, and a Runaway Disco

You might not think of your Sunday newspaper's advertising circulars as a battleground, but they are. Flip through them looking for prices on various popular items, and you'll see Best Buy(NYSE: BBY) duking it out with Circuit City(NYSE: CC), and Home Depot(NYSE: HD) and Lowe's(NYSE: LOW) mixing it up with hammers and drills.

A recent Reuter's article explains how Wal-Mart(NYSE: WMT) and Target(NYSE: TGT) are also engaging in this kind of competition -- to the point of creating "loss leaders." A loss leader is something sold at a major discount in order to attract customers who are expected to also buy other, more profitable items. In this case, one battleground is toys.

The article describes the price history of the popular Bratz Formal Funk Runway Disco, noting that while K-Mart(Nasdaq: KMRT) recently offered the item for $80, at a decent discount off other major retailers' prices, Target was practically giving it away for $64.88. Not to be undone, Wal-Mart, which had been selling it for $100, quickly dropped its price to match that of Target's.

The thinking here is classic loss-leader rationale, as Target aims to beef up its market share in various categories such as toys and electronics. You might rush to Target to snap up a Runway Disco for your young one, but while there, you're likely to buy some soda, towels, and maybe even a book or CD. And if you would have normally gone to Wal-Mart to do this shopping, then Target has just raked in a bunch of dollars it previously wasn't going to get. Not a bad deal, as long as shoppers check out with more than just loss leaders.

For many retailers, these are do-or-die days, as the holiday season can supply up to 40% of a store's annual sales. Doing poorly during the holidays can easily translate to net losses for the year. And when there's a price war afoot, it can be hard to not join in, though it will likely hurt profits. Beleaguered K-Mart, for example, is not well positioned to slash prices.

Investors should keep an eye on the degree to which various retailers are able to command higher prices, thereby retaining higher profits, or compensate with higher volume.

Quote of Note

"My favorite time frame for holding a stock is forever." -- Warren Buffett

Boeing Ejects CFO

Yesterday, Boeing(NYSE: BA) announced that it had fired CFO Mike Sears for his part in hiring former Air Force procurement official Darleen Druyun while she was still working for the government on matters involving Boeing. Druyun, who has worked as deputy general manager of Boeing's Missile Defense Systems business for the past year, was also let go.

Boeing said that an internal review found that both Sears and Druyun had attempted to cover up their misconduct, leading to their dismissal.

At the heart of the controversy is a $22.5 billion deal involving the lease and eventual purchase of 100 Boeing 767 airborne refueling tankers. In September, the government launched an investigation into whether Boeing received insider info on rival bidder Airbus' bid for the deal, which Druyun had helped negotiate on behalf of the government. Documents revealed that Druyun had communicated to Boeing that Airbus had submitted a lower bid.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), who had criticized the approved Boeing plan as a bad deal, is still awaiting the findings of the government investigation.

This is just the latest in the company's troubles. Boeing is still smarting over $1 billion in rocket contracts the U.S. Air Force took back this summer, after determining that Boeing employees had stolen documents from Lockheed Martin(NYSE: LMT) to gain the contracts in the first place.

You almost have to believe that this is part of a larger problem with Boeing's culture. If Boeing didn't appear the pillar of ethics back in July, this certainly hasn't helped. Perhaps the real surprise is that none of this has done much damage to Boeing's stock -- Boeing closed up three cents to $38.89 yesterday.

Also today Delta's(NYSE: DAL) CEO, Leo Mullin, needs a parachute as well: He'll be stepping down on May 1.

More Fool News

And for a list of all our stories from today, see our Today's Headlines page.

And Finally

Dayana Yochim serves up a cornucopia of money-saving, e-shopping, and gift-giving holiday articles.... Part 2 of David and Tom Gardner's interview with the CEO of Kellogg.... And Tom Jacobs finds five excellent cash managers -- and five not so good.

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