You can never underestimate the value of a late-night omelet at a greasy-spoon diner, but some people will try. Norma's restaurant in Le Parker Meridien hotel in New York City is selling an omelet for $1,000. It has six eggs, a lobster, and 10 ounces of sevruga caviar, for which the restaurant pays $65 an ounce.

So far, no one has ordered the dish. But if you do, let us know how it is, would ya?

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Intel's Option Ugliness

By Seth Jayson

It's hard to understand how a company that has led the world into the computer age can be run by managers who stick their fingers in their ears, squeeze their eyes shut, and chant "Nah nah nah nah!" when the firm's real owners ask them to clean up their accounting.

But that's exactly what happened yesterday when Intel's(Nasdaq: INTC) cuff link class gave shareholders the proverbial finger amid an initiative requesting that the firm expense its stock options on the income statement. The advisory referendum, sponsored by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America pension fund, passed with 54% of the vote. Intel officers were not pleased.

Before the vote, they had urged shareholders to reject it. CFO Andy Bryant called the vote "wrong," and reiterated his opposition. For his part, CEO Craig Barrett told a crowd that expensing options would make Intel's financial statements less accurate.

When I embarked upon this modest essay, I really, really wanted to steal a line from Dave Barry, which then would have compared Barrett, somewhat unfavorably, to a specific kind of weasel.

Barrett has continued with the same, puddle-deep arguments that Intel has been rolling out since the '90s, trying to scare investors, lawmakers, and the public with an endless stream of misrepresentations about the "danger" of expensing options. In addition to the usual spurious threats of impaired job growth, last month he upped the rhetoric to invoke the threat of Red China and, even scarier -- pull the blankets over your head, kids -- the trial lawyers!

Expensing options will lead to less accurate accounting? Fools, options are not subject to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. My colleagues have explained again and again… and again how the mere act of measuring something does not make it any bigger.

Options have real costs. Barrett wants to keep those costs buried in the footnotes rather than accounted for on the income statement, where it matters. Is that because Intel distributed nearly $1 billion worth of options last year, or is it that Barrett himself collected $14 million in options? I leave it to you to decide if this behavior qualifies as weasel-like.

Barrett's conduct makes Fool contributor Seth Jayson glad that his computers don't run on Intel chips. He owns no stake in Intel. View his Fool profile here.

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Buffett Continues to Sell

By Salim Haji

Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK.A) (NYSE: BRK.B) latest Securities and Exchange Commission filing demonstrates that Chairman and uber-investor Warren Buffett is still unable to find suitably attractive investments in the equities market.

After selling off $430 million of equities in the fourth quarter of 2003, Buffett sold about $150 million of U.S. stocks between Dec. 31, 2003, and March 31. While the $150 million sold represents only a small fraction of Berkshire's $35 billion portfolio, it is important to keep in mind that most of that portfolio comprises what Buffett has termed "permanent" holdings for Berkshire. These are shares in companies such as Coca-Cola(NYSE: KO) and The Washington Post Co.(NYSE: WPO), many of which he has held for decades.

Berkshire sold off all of its shares in two companies: Automatic Data Processing(NYSE: ADP) and Dover(NYSE: DOV). Buffett had begun reducing his position in both companies in the previous quarter. These two stocks have outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 in the last year, and both are richly priced today. ADP currently trades at 3.5 times sales with a trailing P/E of 29, while Dover stock trades at 1.6 times sales with a trailing P/E of 25.

Berkshire also continued to make reductions in its holdings in two other stocks, H&R Block(NYSE: HRB) and Zenith National Insurance(NYSE: ZNT), after selling off shares of both companies in the fourth quarter. However, Berkshire still holds a significant position in H&R Block, valued on March 31 at over $730 million. The company's position in Zenith is down to under $5 million, and my expectation is that Berkshire will fully exit that stock shortly.

In addition, although Berkshire's cash position increased to a staggering $41 billion in the latest quarter, the company did not make any additions to its equity portfolio.

As I have written in previous articles, investors who are actively buying any of the stocks that Berkshire is selling are essentially betting against Buffett -- a rather bold gamble. And all investors should be conscious of the fact that even with $41 billion burning a hole in his pocket, Buffett is struggling to find opportunities to invest in the U.S. equities market.

Fool contributor Salim Haji lives in Denver, Colo. He owns shares in Berkshire Hathaway. His current cash position is, sadly, somewhat less than $41 billion.

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Another Song and Dance

By Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

Delta Air Lines' (NYSE: DAL) answer to low-cost air flight, Song, has come up with what is quite possibly the weirdest promotion I've ever heard of: It will offer free tickets to passengers who are... nice.

It's a clear attempt to differentiate itself in a market where one low-cost carrier changed all the rules -- namely, JetBlue(Nasdaq: JBLU). The airline shook up the industry by offering leather seats, television entertainment, and XM Satellite Radio(Nasdaq: XMSR) in addition to low fares. Its ability to differentiate itself in a struggling industry through innovation is one reason why it's among the stocks picked for Motley Fool Stock Advisor.

It's a strange time for Song's odd promotion, since airlines probably aren't feeling all that nice right now. Delta itself is in the midst of a reorganization, while rival Continental(NYSE: CAL) warned that it will post losses for 2004 and beyond.

Meanwhile, yesterday's news was fraught with headlines about the high price of fuel driving carriers to hike fares. Delta, Continental, UAL's United, Northwest(Nasdaq: NWAC), and AMR's(NYSE: AMR) American Airlines are all on board with the idea, with varying degrees of selectivity concerning what kinds of fares will be hiked. The consensus seems to be a $10 or $20 increase.

Delta said it will raise the price of your ticket, and discounter Southwest(NYSE: LUV) said it will consider such an increase. JetBlue, on the other hand, said it's holding firm to its current fare rates.

Song's interesting promotion will occur in June, and involves 5,000 tickets to be given away for the September through November period. CNN reports that each Song flight attendant will award four tickets to whomever's not naughty but nice.

While interesting (and bringing up lots of fascinating ideas, like the definition of the word "nice" on an airplane -- let's hope it doesn't mean who's the best-looking passenger), it seems unlikely that the promotion will do much more than generate some buzz. That may be needed, judging by JetBlue's mettle in attracting a boatload of customers, nice or not. Some contend that despite Song's attempts to follow JetBlue's footsteps, it's still the same old song and dance, unable to break away from Delta's more traditional roots.

Flying the friendly skies could have a whole new ring now. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of those cabins.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any companies mentioned. She has a roommate who likes to travel and is exceedingly nice -- who knows, she could be on to something here.

Qu ote of Note

"Why is it drug addicts and computer aficionados are both called users?" -- Clifford Stoll, professor and writer at University of California at Berkeley

Mo re on Today

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