With a slew of scandals, a handful of investigations, a gaggle of trials, and one lonely perp walk or two, here we are. You might not believe it, but such is the foundation of a healthy market. In one curious twist, Goldman Sachs(NYSE: GS) is cutting back on stock traders. Apparently, the once-fat commissions for shuffling stock from one investment firm to another are not what they once were.

We hate to see anybody lose a job, but this is good news. Transaction costs -- rightly known as frictional (not fictional!) -- eat away at our investments and our efficient markets. As for you, we know you've been to our Broker Center and always keep your transaction costs low.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Apple's Juice Problems

By Alyce Lomax

The wildly popular Apple(Nasdaq: AAPL) iPod is seen as the answer to flagging sales of the company's core computer products. However, today news agencies mined a nugget of class action lawsuit news out of Apple's quarterly regulatory filing, shedding a slightly less positive light on the iPod.

As of late December, a series of class action lawsuits had been launched in California. The iPod may be infinitely cool, but the lawsuits imply some customers thought Apple exceedingly uncool about the gadget's lithium battery.

Apple's had an extremely successful renaissance based on the hip iPod, bringing to mind the possibility that the company might become a new name in consumer electronics. During its first quarter this year, it sold out of iPods; there are reportedly about 2 million of the gizmos out there, keeping users up to their ears in tunes.

Controversy, however, has been building behind the scenes. In January, MTV News reported rumblings of customer dissatisfaction regarding juice. Despite Apple's claim that the iPod contains eight hours of battery life per charge, some customers reported that as time wore on, they only got a fraction of that; some also said that the problems began after the one-year warranty expired.

According to MTV, a young man named Casey Neistat claimed that Apple's only solution to his problem was for him to buy himself a new iPod or pay dearly for the repair. Last fall, he launched a website that contained a video of himself spray painting the words, "iPod's unreplaceable battery lasts only 18 months" throughout New York City. Talk about some "power to the people" press.

Since then, Apple offers a better solution than supposedly blithely suggesting customers replace the whole iPod; it now offers a $99 replacement battery or a $59 extended warranty. However, some still grumble that common sense should have ruled over Apple's well-known design tendencies. For example, some argue that a less aesthetic vehicle juiced by old-fashioned AA batteries would have been better, sort of like the Sony(NYSE: SNE) Walkman, an earlier generation's answer to portable music.

If the lawsuit flies, one can imagine a hefty price tag for Apple to repair or replace juiceless iPods launched prior to its new plan. More than that, Apple has come between avid iPod users and their music. That in itself may yet prove costlier to the company.

Want to talk about iPods and Apple? Have you had any similar problems with your iPod's battery? Key up the Apple or Apple User's Group discussion boards to talk about the company and its products with other Fools.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned; however, she is a longtime Macintosh user.

Sha meless Plug: Small Caps, Big Potential

Small-cap stocks have beaten large caps five years in a row now. Small caps, as measured by the Russell 2000 index, returned 47% last year vs. the S&P's gain of 29%. Is it time to diversify your portfolio with the power of America's up-and-coming companies? Are you ready to start your search for the next Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT)? Take a free trial to Tom Gardner's Motley Fool Hidden Gems and find out what it's all about.

New Exchange-Traded Fund for Dividends

By Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena)

Aficionados of index funds are probably aware of "exchange-traded funds" (ETFs), which are stock-like beasts typically based on indexes. The best-known ETFs are probably "Spiders," properly known as Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipts(AMEX: SPY), or SPDRs. They're essentially small versions of an S&P 500 index fund, which you can buy and sell in small amounts. Spiders have recently been trading for around $115 per share. (Learn more about ETFs before investing in them -- perhaps start with this Bill Mann article.)

There are now many ETFs out there, based on large-cap and small-cap indexes, industries such as utilities, and other market niches. A new kid on the block, though, is the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index Fund(NYSE: DVY). Just a few months old, DVYs sport the 50 of our stock market's highest dividend-yielding, non-REIT companies. Stocks in the index also feature a positive dividend-per-share growth rate and an average dividend payout percentage rate less than or equal to 60% of earnings over the past five years.

The index's components get reviewed and rebalanced yearly, and they're weighted according to their dividend, not to their market value or price. One reason that DVYs will be of great interest to many investors is recent legislation that reduced the tax rate on dividends to 5% or 15%, depending on your tax bracket. Another reason to like DVYs and many other ETFs is that they often sport lower fees than their fund counterparts. While the average stock dividend mutual fund has an expense ratio of 1.40% (according to Morningstar), DVYs only charge 0.40%, a marked difference.

Learn more about ETFs in our 60-Second Guide to ETFs .

Discussion Board of the Day: Webmaster's Corner

Are you a potential Web sponsor? Do you run your own site or work in the Internet field? Have some tips to share or looking to collect some timely Web-savvy advice? All this and more -- in the Webmaster's Corner discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Finding FindWhat.com

By Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)

Raised bars are pretty cool, don't you think? Back in September, FindWhat.com(Nasdaq: FWHT) was looking to earn $0.48 a share in 2003. A month later, that became a rounder $0.50 target. In December it was raised to $0.51. Five months and five pennies later, the company posted annual earnings of $0.53 a share last night on a 69% surge in revenues.

Readers of Stocks 2004 are familiar with the story. The stock has gone from $14 at the time of the special report's publication to the high teens today. Selling text ads on popular search portals, even if sponsors pay as little as a nickel for each clickthrough, really adds up.

To be sure, the company has beefy competition in Google and Yahoo!(Nasdaq: YHOO). Others like AskJeeves(Nasdaq: ASKJ) and LookSmart(Nasdaq: LOOK) are also in the mix. But now, FindWhat looks poised to become a global force.

Last summer, FindWhat announced that it would acquire Europe's Espotting for $27 million in cash and 8.1 million shares. It hit the brakes a few months later, citing concerns over Espotting's books, but last night revealed that the merger is back on. Waiting paid off, as FindWhat will now pay just $20 million and issue only 7 million shares to swallow its British counterpart.

Before factoring in the acquisition, FindWhat has taken a softer look at 2004. For the year, it is looking to earn just $0.60 a share on $95 million in revenues. The market was expecting at $0.63 a share.

That may sting investors who were spoiled by the gravity-defying antics of the recent past. Then again, the market smacked FindWhat down after it broke off its Espotting marriage proposal in the fall. Now that the transatlantic lovebirds are back, a more powerful FindWhat bears watching.

Rick does not own shares in any company mentioned in this article.

Quo te of Note

"Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love." -- Charlie Brown in "Peanuts"

Mor e on Fool.com Today

Craving something sweet? Indulge in a Superglazed, Supercharged Stock. But wait! You may find yourself with One Stock to Get Hooked On. Get revved up with High-Octane Investing for a lesson in relative strength, or find what to do with that hefty inheritance in The Windfall Whipsaw.

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