Tim Berners-Lee is finally getting his due -- sort of. The MIT scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web has been awarded $1.2 million in cash as the first recipient of the Millennium Technology Prize. The award, given for an "innovation that directly promotes people's quality of life, is based on humane values, and encourages sustainable economic development," according to the prize committee.
Given that Berners-Lee never attempted to commercialize his contributions, a million in cash sounds like a cool payday. But given that he likely could have reaped billions in stock options from a tech-centric market (or even from a dot-com back in the day), in retrospect, this is definitely taking one for greater good. Thanks, Tim. We owe ya.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Apple Profits Off Pod People
- Shameless Plug: Motley Fool Hidden Gems
- PepsiCo No Joke
- Discussion Board of the Day: Viruses, hoaxes & spam, oh my!
- EMC's a Savvy Shopper
- Quote of Note
- More on Fool.com Today
Apple Profits Off Pod People
By Seth Jayson
It may be expensive, and it may still use that homely, old-fashioned Mac font, but the iPod is selling like, well, like the iPod. In its second quarter, Apple
Overall, sales growth was 29%, and the revenue boost trickled down to the bottom line, yielding earnings per share of $0.14 -- before a charge -- tripling last year's results, and topping analysts' expectations for a dime per stub.
And there was much rejoicing. The stock shot up over 7% to a 52-week high. Analysts are gushing. The Mac faithful are cheering. So why am I just sitting here with a curious look on my face? It's because Apple's got a few questions to answer before it looks smart for investors to rush into this party.
First, a nit to pick. Hey, Apple, what's the effect of foreign exchange? When 43% of your revenue comes from overseas, and the dollar has seen an ugly haircut over the past year, you need to explain how much of your 29% year-over-year revenue growth is owed to the currency fluctuation.
Next, what about computers? Central processing unit (CPU) sales were up a slim 6%, which lags the worldwide computer market's recent gains. During today's conference call, management didn't have a good answer to that criticism, other than to say that they "hear" that people who are buying iPods are also buying Macs. Sure, guys. Mind if we see some numbers on that?
And finally, how good is this music business? The much talked-about iTunes service may make headlines, but it's barely profitable. And margins on the iPod are expected to drop drastically once the mini can keep up with demand. Until now, competition in both segments, from the likes of Wal-Mart
Apple has earned the right to enjoy the iPod's success, but investors need to be very careful that they aren't saddling up a one-trick pony.
Each month, Motley Fool co-founder Tom Gardner hunts for undervalued companies that have what he thinks it takes to hit the jackpot. Don't take our word for it. The numbers speak for themselves. Tom Gardner's picks are up 45.49% to the S&P 500's 8.55%. Check out Motley Fool Hidden Gems risk-free for 30 days.
PepsiCo No Joke
By W.D. Crotty
Soft drink and snack food powerhouse PepsiCo
North American operations did well, but it was growth in overseas sales and profits -- 19% and 34%, respectively -- that were most bubbly. Among the highlights, the company experienced "explosive growth in India" for snack foods.
Operating margins, meanwhile, are improving but still no match for those delivered by archrival Coca-Cola
As always, the question is valuation. Pepsi's guidance of $2.29 per share for the year puts the stock at 24 times forward earnings, which seems reasonable enough given the strong performance in recent years. The company is also projecting $3.4 billion in "management operating cash flow" (net cash provided by operations, minus capital spending).
To translate that to the more useful metric free cash flow (FCF), we simply annualize this quarter's $275 million in depreciation and amortization (non-cash) expenses, then add back the resulting $1.1 billion to arrive at $4.5 billion in 2004 FCF. That puts PepsiCo at roughly 21 times estimated FCF, which, based on the S&P 500's average of 23 times, again seems reasonable.
To its credit, PepsiCo plans to use some of that cash to buy back $7 billion of its shares over the next three years. It also recently announced a 44% increase in the annual dividend to $0.92 a year (a 1.7% yield). Bravo.
Truly a great company, Pepsi seems to be pretty fairly priced. Investors looking for big names and solid growth but less bubbly forward price-to-earnings ratios might consider Proctor & Gamble
Fool contributor W.D. Crotty owns stock in PepsiCo and was sorry to learn that Fritos, the snack of choice at the Crotty household, saw declines in sales.
CNET's download.com site is a popular hub for authorized software downloads, including many worthy popup blockers and spam killers. Have any recommendations on that front? What is the best anti-virus program? All this and more -- in the Viruses, hoaxes, & spam, oh my! discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
EMC's a Savvy Shopper
By Tim Beyers
I know several people who won't purchase anything that isn't on sale. They value a dollar so much that they won't spend it till they feel they're actually getting more than their money's worth.
Too bad these folks aren't stock pickers. Buying at a steep discount is one of the premises of value investing. Some smart managers apply this principle in acquiring resources for growing their businesses. Unsurprisingly, finding the ones who do this best can be a profitable stock-picking strategy. (Indeed, it happens to be key to Tom Gardner's approach for Motley Fool Hidden Gems.)
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome EMC
EMC's efforts to buy a turnaround paid off spectacularly this morning. For its 2004 first quarter, the data storage supplier grew revenue by 35% to $1.87 billion, and net income by 300% to $140 million, over the same period a year ago.
The genesis of the gains is three acquisitions EMC made last year. Although initial skepticism surrounded the strategy -- and its attendant $3.6 billion price tag -- investors have warmed to the deals for Legato Systems, Documentum, and VMWare. EMC's shares are up 17% since the announcement of its first acquisition for Legato made on July 8, 2003. The total return of the S&P 500 is 13% over the same period.
Any remaining skepticism should be swept away with this morning's results. According to EMC executives, the acquired companies combined to contribute 14.7% of the firm's revenue growth during the quarter, while core operations grew 20.5%.
But EMC isn't without its problems. A Forbes article cites a study from Merrill Lynch
EMC also faces considerable competition from the likes of Network Appliance
Still, EMC isn't without resources, and its management strikes me as talented and aggressive. But perhaps most importantly, I've found throughout my life that it's nearly always smart to stick with a savvy shopper. There have been few more savvy than EMC in the past year.
"Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him." -- Aldous Huxley
At $75 a stub, Is Whole Foods Overvalued? Salim Haji thinks it's a bargain. And Don Crotty's got another bargain stock -- if you're willing to stomach a speculation or two.... Read on in Strikeout or Home Run?.... Selena Maranjian is definitely banking on a home run with her stock selection: The Washington Post Co. Get the down-low on why Selena thinks The Post is More Than a Newspaper.... And back to the basics. Seth Jayson takes a stroll throught the stock market with value-investing legend Benjamin Graham. See what he finds in Looking for Graham Crackers.... Last but not least, Phil Wohl thinks the Sun Has Sets Over Microsoft. Why? Hey, click and find out.
In other news:
- Coca-Cola: Minor Burps?
- Dollars and Cents in the Citi
- EchoStar vs. Turner
- Texas Instruments Stands Out
For a list of all our stories from today, see our Today's Headlines page.