We practically had a regional holiday here in the Washington, D.C. area yesterday after football great Joe Gibbs was named -- once again -- head coach of the Washington Redskins. Ahh, for one day it seemed all the cruelties of the world could be solved by football. Of course, while Gibbs -- studious, tireless, and serious -- may be the Warren Buffett of coaches, he still needs to turn around a franchise that has been flailing for years.

Nonetheless, Washingtonians celebrated with glee in the streets for one day. In fact, after our collective hangover and a mini-snowstorm this morning, we feared we'd never get anything published today. But team Fool rebounded to publish nearly 30 stories for your education and amusement -- and to help you make some good investing decisions, too.

Quote of Note

"Ninety percent of the people in the stock market, professionals and amateurs alike, simply haven't done enough homework." -- William J. O'Neil, founder of Investor's Business Daily

AOL Blinks

After losing some 2 million subscribers last year, Time Warner's(NYSE: TWX) America Online finally blinked. The world's largest ISP yesterday launched a new low-cost dial-up service under the Netscape banner, hoping to keep some of the subscribers who are fleeing to cheaper competitors.

The Netscape Internet Service offers unlimited access and web-based email for $9.95 per month -- the same priced charged by United Online's(Nasdaq: UNTD) NetZero and Juno. Investors must think AOL will be successful in retaining a significant number of its users: When rumors of its $9.95 offering hit last October, United's stock took an 18% hit, and hasn't recovered.

To understand why competitors have cause for concern, consider this likely scenario of an AOL user who decides that $23.90 per month is too steep for dial-up service. Perhaps she has heard about NetZero's $9.95 deal, or its $14.95 "high-speed" service (still dial-up, but a bit faster than normal because of special downloading technology for certain files and pictures).

In order to cancel AOL, she has to call the company. At that point, the phone representative offers to switch her to the new low-priced service. Why should she go through the trouble of signing up with a new ISP when she can just get her bill cut by more than half right then and there?

In an interview with The Washington Post, an AOL spokesman said the new service will also be marketed to the 20 million users visiting the Netscape website each month.

Finally, in a unique twist, Netscape is auctioning off 200 of the most popular email names on eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY). If you want to be the only "bob@netscape.com," for instance, you'll have to pay for it. Bidding in that particular auction is already up to $78 with six days still to go.

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GM, Ford See Fewer Bumps

As "Hot Rod" Rick Munarriz pointed out on Monday, there's a bit of a spark in Detroit this week as manufacturers gather for the 2004 North American International Auto Show. With the economy thawing out and some interesting new models hitting the showrooms, carmakers are as optimistic as they've been in years.

Today, Ford(NYSE: F) added to the fun by saying it expects profits of $1.20 to $1.30 per share this year, about 12% to 21% higher than in 2003. That followed a similar growth forecast from rival General Motors(NYSE: GM) yesterday. Both companies -- and the last of the Big Three, DaimlerChrysler(NYSE: DCX) -- are encouraged by a sales uptick at the end of last year. Also telling is the fact that results overseas are on the rebound.

The only piece out of place here is GM's announcement that it will offer 0% financing or rebates on most of its new vehicles through March 31. If there truly is optimism at the world's largest automaker, it's hard to see why it would yet again start chipping away at profit margins. Why not bite the bullet and drop the incentives? If sales do start to wane, there's always time to restart the program.

So far, Ford and DaimlerChrysler have yet to follow suit this time around. As for Japanese competitors Honda(NYSE: HMC), Toyota(NYSE: TOYOF), and Nissan(NYSE: NSANY), they've largely managed to stay above the 0% fray.

HP and Apple Jam

Cats and dogs aren't just living together, they're breeding, too. That's right, personal computing rivals Hewlett-Packard(NYSE: HPQ) and Apple(Nasdaq: AAPL) are teaming up to produce an HP-branded iPod.

What? That doesn't leave you counting down the days to the apocalypse? Let me try again. New HP computers will come pre-installed with Apple's iTunes software, drawing music fans hungry for legal downloads to Apple's site. Meanwhile, Apple will make consumer products and slap the Hewlett-Packard name on them.

Now do you see the oddity of this peculiar tryst? It could only get more shocking if Dell(Nasdaq: DELL) showed up cracking a whip and wearing a leather teddy.

Seriously, this is a win-win. Apple has managed to sell two million iPod music players, but only half of those have ventured beyond the Apple-user kingdom. With HP's muscle, that's going to change. While iTunes is already popular, with more than 30 million song files purchased since last year's launch, coming pre-installed on HP systems will be a huge boost.

What's in it for HP? Edge. Think about it: Dell is the people's choice and Gateway(NYSE: GTW) is trying to make a splash in consumer electronics. HP is that forgotten vanilla swirl juggernaut. Apple is saving the music industry. Now HP is being invited onstage.

They're going to make some beautiful music together.

Discussion Board of the Day: Apple

Do you think that Apple's iTunes will save the music industry, or are illegal downloads here to stay? Who will be the real winner of this high-powered pairing? Apple? HP? Music fans? All this and more -- in the Apple discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

More on Fool.com Today

Don't miss today's Fool Commentary: Whitney Tilson says it's a scary time for stocks.... With the college bowl season just completed, we've got the scoop on the NCAA's corporate sponsors that might make the best investments.... And Rick Munarriz has "Five People You Meet in Finance."

Plus, we were giving you our take on the most relevant business news all day. Here's just a few more:

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

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