Americans' need for speed is rapidly becoming a reality. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, as of March 1, some 68 million of us have broadband Internet connections at home or work. Among home Internet users, 39% -- or 48 million adults -- use a broadband connection. So, if you're still clinging to that dial-up connection, know that you'll probably succumb sooner or later.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

G M 's Wow Factor

By Rich Smith

The world's largest auto maker, General Motors(NYSE: GM), reported first-quarter earnings today that trounced Wall Street's predictions. In the prior year's quarter, the Detroit car giant earned $1.84 a share (excluding the $0.90 profit from the sale of GM Defense, particularly its Stryker operation, to General Dynamics(NYSE: GD)). Wall Street was looking for GM to post lower earnings this year, expecting only $1.79 -- but GM stunned the critics with a walloping $2.25 in per-share diluted GAAP earnings -- a 22% increase -- on revenue that was up a scant 3%.

In large part, GM can thank its General Motors Acceptance Corp. financing division for today's results. The Fed's continued low interest rates gave that division the ability to continue offering sales incentives to car buyers of as low as 0%. But the non-financing segment of the business turned in a pretty impressive performance as well, with global automotive earnings growing 12%.

Still, success is not guaranteed for GM. To help temper the market's expectations for coming quarters, CEO Rick Wagoner set up what seems to be, in this Fool's humble opinion, a straw man, in forecasting the company's future performance. He noted that "the effects of the artificially weakened Japanese yen" posed problems for the company's ability to compete worldwide -- this, despite recent analyst musings that the yen could soon break the 100:1 yen-to-dollar exchange rate not seen since 1995.

That prospect bodes very well for GM and for investors willing to take a gamble on the company's recovery. After all, GM saw its strongest profit growth over the past 12 months in the "Asia Pacific" region. Profits there more than tripled as GM's market share increased by nearly 10%, from 4.3% to 4.7%, with especially good results coming in from China and India. Such strong gains for GM in Toyota's(NYSE: TM), Honda's(NYSE: HMC), and Nissan's(Nasdaq: NSANY) collective back yard already hint that the weakening U.S. dollar and GM's improved execution are combining to help pull the company out of its slump. And if the Japanese titans' products become yet more expensive due to the strengthening yen, GM's prospects in the region will only improve.

Rich Smith owns no shares in any company mentioned in this article.

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Pfizer's Fight

By Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

There's a medicine cabinet full of drug makers reporting earnings this week, and Pfizer's(NYSE: PFE) one of the latest in the bunch. While it had a dose of what some may consider bad news -- its first-quarter net income was half of last year's figure, while revenues just barely missed analysts' expectations -- that doesn't change the fact that delivered a pretty impressive revenue jump, with the help of several acquisitions.

Namely, Pfizer's sales increased 47% to $12.49 billion. It reported earnings of $2.33 billion, or $0.30 per share, as opposed to $4.67 billion, or $0.76 per share, in the same time frame last year. (Last year, however, some onetime gains beefed up the quarterly numbers.)

However, if you back out costs related to the acquisitions, including Pharmacia and Esperion, the drug maker reported net income of $3.98 billion, or $0.52 per share, exceeding the consensus view.

How did Pfizer's stable of well-known drugs fare? Some of them, of course, face intense competition. Much anticipated has been the heated rivalry facing erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. After all, within recent months, Viagra has faced GlaxoSmithKline(NYSE: GSK) and Bayer AG's(NYSE: BAY) Levitra, as well as Eli Lilly(NYSE: LLY) and ICOS'(Nasdaq: ICOS) Cialis.

No longer enjoying the pleasure of a monopoly, Viagra sales have gone a bit flaccid, having dropped 12%. Though it seems the defection rate could be worse, Pfizer sees the threat of a fickle customer who will follow the newest pretty face and is taking new marketing measures. According to The Wall Street Journal, loyal customers of the erectile dysfunction drug can expect that for every six Viagra prescriptions filled, they'll get the seventh free. It's an odd turn to incentive-based marketing that seems alien to pharmaceuticals and underlines the recreational aspect of the drug.

When it comes to other familiar Pfizer names, the company reported a 15% sales slip of antibiotic Zithromax, despite what seemed like a formidable flu season; the well-known antidepressant Zoloft increased its sales, but mostly internationally.

Meanwhile, Pfizer's star, cholesterol drug Lipitor -- one of that class of popular drugs called statins, and renowned for being the best-selling drug in the world -- enjoyed a 19% boost in sales. It now boasts 43.4% market share. Sales of blood pressure drug Norvasc increased 16%.

Today's numbers imply the wisdom of the mergers, and the continued success of many of its important drugs. However, despite the good news, Pfizer didn't budge its full-year guidance. It still sees earnings of $2.13 per share for the year. Investors weren't impressed, and Pfizer shares sagged in recent trading. While Pfizer still has a whole portfolio of strong, well-branded meds, maybe some little signs of weakness crept in.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.

Di scussion Board of the Day: Low Carb Way of Life

Do you think Kraft will be able to execute on its sustainable growth plan, or is it time to cut the cheese? Is the Atkins' phenomenon here to stay or just another passing fad? All this and more -- in the Low Carb Way of Life discussion board. Only on

Al tria's Still in the Money

By Seth Jayson

Altria Group (NYSE: MO) , parent of Philip Morris smokes and majority holder of Kraft(NYSE: KFT), food maker to the world, is barely budging on the market today despite releasing earnings that put it slightly ahead of the game.

Strictly by the numbers, it looks like the firm was spinning its wheels. After all, earnings of $1.07 per share were the same as in the prior-year quarter. But this year's bottom line included $0.09 per share in charges.

Management would like us to put our thumbs over that line and come up with $1.16, better than the $1.13 that the average analyst was hoping to see. Of course, it'd also like us to keep our thumbs over the $0.09 per share in favorable exchange-rate benefits, without which we're back to the same old $1.07 per share.

At the very least, it looks better than the way Kraft cut the cheese this quarter, with a decline in earnings.

Net revenues were spunkier, posting a 13% gain to hit $21.8 billion. Marlboro led the way to an increase in market share in the U.S., while decent gains overseas were brought down by decreases in Italy and France.

Altria is one of those money makers that lives under a cloud, even when it's smokin'. It's working through a settlement with the EU, though it always seems like there's a new litigation threat behind every corner for Altria.

But as a consistent performer slated for 8% earnings growth this year, and packing a nearly 5% dividend yield, it's tough to argue against owning a piece of this rock.

Fool contributor Seth Jayson has Kraft cheese in his fridge, but no stock in any of the above companies. View his Fool profile here .

Qu ote of Note

"Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must." -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Mo re on Today

Got a big-ticket item looming in your future? Go ahead, dream big. But also plan smart. Dayana Yochim shares tips in How to Spend a Bundle.... When it comes to gauging a fund's prospects, few attributes have more predictive power than its expense ratio. Shannon Zimmerman explains that when it comes to mutual funds, costs matter.... With compelling fundamentals and a good price, Richard Gibbons has an insurer that he thinks is promising. Find out more in RenaissanceRe: Old-Fashioned Value?

In other news:

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