If you listen closely, you just might hear the engines of earnings season revving up. Or is that the grand parade of talking heads clearing their throats in anticipation? This week, we'll hear from everybody from Yahoo! to Sun Microsystems to Bank of America. Most everybody expects that the news will be good.

The markets rarely behave precisely as we expect. This past quarter may well be the best for earnings in years, but it's also been a pretty good quarter for stocks. It just might be a whole lot of the coming good news -- if coming it is -- is already priced in. Which is of little consequence to us, since we don't time the market.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Nasdaq Battles NYSE

The Nasdaq "hunters" have bagged six prey, but have not yet filled their limit. In a few weeks, several companies that now list on the New York Stock Exchange will also be found on the Nasdaq, under their same three-letter symbols.

The six -- Apache Corp.(NYSE: APA), Cadence Design Systems(NYSE: CDN), Charles Schwab(NYSE: SCH), Countrywide Financial(NYSE: CFC), Hewlett-Packard(NYSE: HPQ), and Walgreen(NYSE: WAG) -- are among many NYSEers that have been wooed by the Nasdaq in recent months. In fact, the exchange's president and CEO, Bob Greifeld, told The Wall Street Journal that he has divided some of his managers into "hunters" and "farmers." The former try to lure defectors from the NYSE, while the latter cultivate relationships with existing Nasdaq members.

Greifeld had hoped to convince many companies to leave the NYSE altogether, but that has yet to happen.

It's clear why Nasdaq wants to grow more robust, but what's in it for the companies? Schwab CEO David Pottruck says he hopes the dual listing will result in "innovative applications of technology, heightened transparency, and improved trading outcomes for all investors."

We think we speak for all investors in asking, what in the heck does he mean?

There's probably little impact here for individual investors. It is, however, likely another shot across NYSE's bow in protest of its specialist trading system. Unlike the computer-run Nasdaq, the Big Board still employs floor traders who match up buyers and sellers. The NYSE defends the practice, claiming it usually gives traders better prices. But many see it as an inefficient system, with too many possibilities for wrongdoing.

Another aspect to think about is the possibility of a change in some of the stock indexes. Could some of the dual-exchange companies make it into the Nasdaq 100, for instance? The exchange has not yet commented.

In the meantime, investors in these dual-listed stocks can get ready to check prices on two exchanges before buying and selling.

Quote of Note

"The path of least resistance is the path of the loser." -- H.G. Wells

Goodbyes to Levi's

Levi Strauss, the privately held 150-year-old maker of jeans and more, is closing down its last two sewing plants in America. (We pause now for a 21-button salute.)

Call it an inevitable result of free markets or call it a crying shame. Either way, due to difficulties competing with clothing stitched overseas at a fraction of the cost, the denim icon has struggled in recent years. A recent article by Dave Marino-Nachison pointed out some other problems, including sub-optimal distribution methods that ignored discount chains such as Wal-Mart(NYSE: WMT) for too long.

Levi's has also been criticized for neglecting its brand, allowing it to fall from that top shelf of American icon brands that boasts the likes of Coca-Cola(NYSE: KO), Ford(NYSE: F), and McDonald's(NYSE: MCD).

Levi Strauss's revenues peaked in 1996, at $7.1 billion, but that plunged to $4.1 billion by 2002 and is projected to come in even lower in 2003. Twenty years ago, Levi's 63 plants across the U.S. cranked out millions of pairs of jeans annually. Soon, the company will abandon the continent altogether, once three remaining Canadian plants are closed. Who's getting the business? China, and other nations with less expensive labor.

Levi's struggles are far from over. But if the company is to survive, the shift to overseas production is probably sensible. American shoppers might like to see a "Made in America" label on their jeans, but they're probably not eager to spend twice as much for that label. Levi's also needs to work on boosting the image of its Levi's and Docker's brands, while paying down debt and getting costs under control.

In a related story, Levi's scored a legal victory when it was dismissed from a lawsuit that tied some 20 clothing retailers to alleged sweatshop abuses. Levi's refused to participate in a $20 million settlement which solicited payments from retailers who also claimed no wrongdoing. The settlers included Target(NYSE: TGT), Abercrombie & Fitch(NYSE: ANF) and Nordstrom(NYSE: JWN).

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Don't Trust the Dutch

By Bill Mann (TMF Otter)

Friday brought news that Royal Dutch(NYSE: RD) was restating its financials going back to 1996 because about 20% of its proven reserves were not actually proven. Immediately, this disclosure threw into turmoil not only Royal Dutch's sister company Shell Transport(NYSE: SC), which dropped 7%, but industry players across the board.

Other oil companies involved in the Nigerian and Australian oil field projects in question -- ChevronTexaco(NYSE: CVX) and ExxonMobil(NYSE: XOM) -- dropped as well. Most likely on the assumption that, if Royal Dutch got it wrong, the other operators may not be far behind.

I have another take on this fiasco. Given recent events, you may safely ignore any company that has received "Royal" status from the first family of the Netherlands. Yep, I said it. Don't trust the Dutch.

After all, we are only just now coming to terms with the frauds committed at Royal Ahold(NYSE: AHO). Then there's the billions in shareholder equity vaporized by Dutch telecommunications carrier Koninklijke (Royal) KPN(NYSE: KPN) by overbidding on 3G cellular licenses. Not to mention, KPNQwest, a doomed co-venture with Qwest(NYSE: Q). The right to call yourself "Royal," when the honor has given by the Dutch monarch, seems to be the kiss of death for shareholder equity.

By this logic, one should rightly stay far away from Koninklijke Philips Electronics(NYSE: PHG), better known as Philips, KLM(NYSE: KLM), and Royal Nedlloyd (OTC: RNLGY). Of course, this is horrible logic upon which to make an investing decision -- as horrible as choosing to invest in companies because hemlines are rising or because one conference or another won the Super Bowl in football.

It is a fantastic coincidence, though. Of the five Dutch companies trading in the U.S. with honors given by the monarchy, two have recently been involved in scandal, and a third came awfully close to bankruptcy. There are countries in the world which offer regulatory oversight and legal framework insufficient to offer any sense of protection at all to minority investors. The Netherlands is nowhere near this list.

Discussion Board of the Day: Disney

Will Disney pay the price for closing down its East Coast animation studio or is it a worthy cost to shave? What will it take for Disney to reestablish itself as the undisputed leader in feature animation? All this and more -- in the Disney discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

More Fool News

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

And Finally...

Today on Fool.com, Mathew Emmert sizes up A Winning Year for Dividends and David Forrest wants to know if it's possible to find brilliant ideas in dark places, in Up 547% in 5 Years?

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