Would you bet everything you have on one spin of the roulette wheel? London resident Ashley Revell did just that yesterday in Las Vegas.
The 32-year-old sold everything he owned -- even his clothes -- to raise about $135,000 for his one big moment. Standing in a rented tuxedo and with Britain's Sky One television cameras rolling, Revell plunked down his life savings and bet it all on "Red." That gave him a slightly less than 50% chance of winning and doubling his money. The wheel spun, the ball bobbled... and finally settled on Red 7.
Even as Revell reveled in his winnings, his father fumed. "He shouldn't have done it. He's a naughty boy," Dad said. "I tell my kids they shouldn't gamble. I've got four others and they're all going to want to go the same way."
Perhaps the younger Revell -- formerly a "professional gambler" -- should become a money manager.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Gannett's Ad-vantageous Q1
- Shameless Plug: Motley Fool Income Investor
- Kimberly-Clark's Blowout Quarter
- Discussion Board of the Day: My Dumbest Investment
- Content and Discontent
- Quote of Note
- More on Fool.com Today
Gannett's Ad-vantageous Q1
By Seth Jayson
It's been a long time coming. When we last checked in with media powerhouse Gannett
We were still waiting for the paper to pass through the doldrums caused by a sagging economy that had long made newspapers positively skittish about ad revenue. Peers and competitors such as Knight Ridder
For Gannett, at least, it looks like the wait is over. First-quarter earnings, released today, show strong increases in advertising revenues across every segment of the company. Overall, operating revenues reached $1.73 billion, an 11% increase over the prior-year period. The strongest gain came in newspaper advertising, which climbed 15%. That's good news, because those sales are worth twice as much as all the company's other revenues combined.
However, even last quarter's laggard, television, came through with a 7.1% increase over the prior quarter. The better top line helped drive record earnings on the bottom line. For the period, earnings per share (EPS) hit $1.
The stock currently trades just above $90 a ticket, near a 52-week high, so it looks like investors have been expecting good things. At a trailing P/E of 20, the company is valued at the high end of its 10-year average. Looking ahead, with this year's earnings estimated at $4.95 per share, the forward P/E stands at about 18 on assumed growth of 12%. The shares, therefore, look fully valued by either measure.
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Kimberly-Clark's Blowout Quarter
By Rich Smith
There was a lot of talk last month about paper products companies such as Kimberly-Clark
The company previously predicted earnings of $0.85 to $0.87 per share for its first quarter. But Kimberly-Clark now expects its profits will be significantly higher, about $0.91 per share. That is nearly 6% more than everyone was expecting, and a startling 16.7% increase over the first quarter of 2003.
While Kimberly-Clark is still not raising its forecast for 2004 earnings (a prudent decision this early in the year), the company did suggest that analysts look toward the high end of its predicted $3.55 to $3.65 range.
Kimberly-Clark's stock price has barely budged on the news and is still in the neighborhood of $64 per share. At that price, the company sports an enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio of 20. Pretty respectable for a multinational corporation with strong brands, but not really a bargain if the company's earnings growth slows down over the next five years to meet analyst expectations of 9%. Assuming those expectations play out, the company's EV/FCF/growth ratio is about 2.2, and, indeed, that is slightly more expensive than the market in general.
Given that Kimberly-Clark is already pretty fairly valued then, the market's lack of enthusiasm over a single quarter's earnings growth spurt is not surprising. The more so, since the company appended to its good earnings news a warning that it still anticipates higher raw materials costs to hurt earnings in the second quarter.
One final caveat: Remember that Kimberly-Clark will be raising prices on its products by about 6% in the third quarter. That should help to boost profits despite the higher raw materials costs. And there appears to be little need to worry about competitors undercutting its prices and stealing revenues and market share from the company. One competitor, Georgia-Pacific, has already announced it will be matching and, in some cases, surpassing, Kimberly-Clark's 6% price hike.
Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.
Don't be shy. Everyone's got a dud that sure seemed like a stud at the time. There are lessons and laughs to be had on the My Dumbest Investment discussion board. So go on, check it out. What have you got to lose? Only on Fool.com.
Content and Discontent
By Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)
Two companies that deal in information took opposite approaches to content, the consumer, and the impact of both on business last week. Time Warner's
AOL's move shouldn't be too surprising to those who have followed the Internet service provider's fortunes. Not only is the average Internet user more sophisticated than in AOL's heyday, but high-speed Internet is cheap. Free email from Microsoft's
Flagging subscriber numbers have led AOL to new ideas for retention. Now, it's come around to the idea of letting potential users sample its content, such as concerts and news.
Meanwhile, Reuters plans to curtail its free content, hoping to woo consumers to its own site. MarketWatch.com
Indeed, for many individual investors, Yahoo! Finance's news feeds might spring to mind, whereas Reuters is a keystone of free bulk business and stock news. (Individual investors may not miss its updates on pork belly futures and the like, but I digress.) Incidentally, Dow Jones
Reuters' plans are an attempt to garner some of those robust advertising revenues that are bolstering profits at Yahoo! and others. Eventually, its significant content will be available on a subscription-only basis.
Whether stand-alone Reuters will attract high levels of Web traffic is questionable. Though it worked for WSJ, will Reuters have the same draw? There's a lot of information out there, and this will require that consumers change their traffic patterns or pony up for news that has been free for years, unless Reuters plans significant value adds such as WSJ's online version boasts. Meanwhile, competition's still steep -- MarketWatch and Thomson
Though there are forces at work that support the decisions, both AOL and Reuters seem to be showing some late-onset desperation over the idea of having missed the party. However, embracing the free Internet with its content may work very well to remind users that AOL exists -- Reuters' move to isolate itself now may leave it out in the cold.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. She's been a WSJ Online and Yahoo! Finance user for many years.
"If an idea's worth having once, it's worth having twice." -- Tom Stoppard
MedImmune's recent troubles may have created a buying opportunity for long-term investors. Charly Travers has more in Bargain Hunting in Big Biotech.... And Mathew Emmert has how you can achieve maximum returns without taking on the maximum risk. Read on in Beating the Market With Less Risk.... It may sound like a lesson in semantics, but Bill Mann's got several words every investor should be able to dissect in Won't, Maybe, Could, Should, Will.
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