For years, we've been saying the lottery doesn't pay, but we never thought it'd cause somebody to do time. This week a Boston man went berserk in a convenience store when he didn't win on his scratch tickets. Allegedly, he knocked over the lottery machine and grabbed the clerk, who was cut in the fracas. Then, fleeing the scene, the perp's truck almost collided with a police cruiser. He was arrested on charges of assault and battery, malicious destruction of property, driving an uninsured vehicle, and being a hopeful Red Sox fan.
Let that be a lesson to you. The lottery doesn't pay -- but you might.
U.S. stock markets are closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day. So sign off of your online broker and breath some fresh air, or play with the cicadas before they're dead for another 17 years. Have a great weekend, everybody!
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Google Draws Legislation
- Shameless Plug: Save $5 on Your Credit Report
- eBay's Happy Camper
- Discussion Board of the Day: eBay
- Chico's Charms
- Quote of Note
- More on Fool.com Today
By Seth Jayson
It's stuff like this that makes you realize why fed-up Californians elected Arnold as their governor. Today, the newswires are buzzing with rapturous reports that State Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont, Calif.) has won senate approval for a bill that purports to shield citizens from the dangers of Google's Gmail. The trouble is, like the delusional Don Quixote, Figueroa is protecting us from a nonexistent threat.
Yeah, Gmail again. I am one of those kooks who feel that robot-reading policy is too creepy. A couple of my Fool colleagues -- who obviously haven't spent as much time as I have playing the bongos and occupying government offices -- think it's just fine.
Here's the real story. Figueroa's bill doesn't stop the infamous email scans. Its major "triumph" is to require that other email or instant messaging services, such as those provided by Yahoo!
What this looks like is grandstanding on a hot issue. Figueroa's alarmist "fact sheet" (read: propaganda page) has the cheek to invoke images of lonely troops overseas, along with painting a scary portrait of impending violations of patient-doctor and attorney-client privacy privileges. Lay off it, Liz. No one is forcing anyone to use Gmail, or any email service, for that matter. Worried about privacy? Don't get an account, and don't send sensitive information to addresses ending with gmail.com.
The only reasonable protection in this bill is the prohibition on compiling databases of user-identifiable information. I actually asked Google if this was a part of its strategy for Gmail. I didn't get a real answer to the question, but the firm's public "neutral" stance on this legislation answers the question for me. It's not doing it. (Note that, as currently written, the legislation does not appear to prohibit the compilation of non-identifiable information.)
This legislation, more than anything, shows Google's amazing ability to overhaul Internet commerce and the flack such moves can draw. Issues like these should be on the minds of anyone considering a bid in the impending IPO.
When was the last time you checked your credit report? Come to think of it, have you even seen it? You might be surprised to discover what's in it, who's looking, and what they're doing with it. And right now, when you order your instant 3-in-1 credit report from our partner TrueCredit, you'll get your credit score for free! You save yourself $5... and from all those sleepless nights wondering who's been peeking into your credit history.
eBay's Happy Camper
By Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)
While most summer camps won't kick into high gear until next month, eBay
Promising 525,000 prizes worth $750,000, you do the math. The odds of winning are very good. The prize you are entitled to is more likely than not to be worth a buck in credit somewhere else. How do you become eligible to win prizes? Earn badges.
The auction masters at eBay have always put out the finest grade of flypaper on their sticky namesake site, and this marketing campaign is no different. While some of the merit badges can be collected by doing things as basic as answering a few questions about PayPal or soliciting feedback -- all great ways to allow folks to learn more about eBay's services, naturally -- others involve making purchases at the various eBay auction and fixed-price areas.
With eBay winning its own merit badges on Wall Street, it's only fitting that, as nervous as the market may feel these days, the online juggernaut closed at an all-time high yesterday. The company has defied traditional definitions. I mean, here's a company that will produce well more than $3 billion in revenues, yet it is nimble enough to have grown that top line by 59% this past quarter. The stock is also up better than 155% since being recommended two summer camps ago in our Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter.
A sucker for a good gimmick, I went ahead and enrolled in eBay's free camp. It will be going on through September, but I'm an early riser. Registration was painlessly quick, and with my first camper badge earned for doing just that, I was up for my first contest entry and won. Would I get the touted $10,000 grand prize? Would I be on the receiving end of a free year of ice cream courtesy of Allied Domecq's
Nope. I wound up with a coupon for a buck off Sony's
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz thinks he remembers how to tie a square knot. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.
So will you be enrolling in Camp eBay? Has the online auction giant's televised ads excited you or turned you off? Should eBay's stock have a "Buy it Now" button or is it overpriced? All this and more -- on the eBay discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
By Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)
The retailer, which targets women ages 35 to 55 as customers, said that its first-quarter net income jumped 52.6% to $36 million, or $0.40 per share. Sales jumped 52% to $257 million, while same-store sales rocketed by 20.1%. In its conference call (transcript courtesy CCBN StreetEvents), Chico's management implied that May is showing that the trends, so far, are continuing into the second quarter.
Chico's improved its operating margins to 22.3% from 22.1%, due to higher initial margins on its clothing, and a low rate of markdowns. That's been the case with many of the more popular retailers recently -- customers' willingness to pay full price for garments.
It's been a tough struggle for other women's retailers that cater to the same demographic. For example, J. Jill
Although we here at the Fool tend to fault a company for not including a statement of cash flows with its press announcement, Chico's gets off the hook because it files its SEC Form 10-Q on the same day as it releases its earnings announcement. So, among the things we're able to determine is that Chico's grew its free cash flow to $47 million from $19 million in the same quarter last year, which is pretty exciting, considering its free cash flow figure is higher than its earnings figure.
What's there to look forward to? In the third quarter, Chico's plans to launch Soma, its intimate apparel stores. Meanwhile, its recent White House/Black Market acquisition continues to add to earnings. (For those that don't know, the concept provides only black and white clothing, for any ladies out there who have been struggling with this spring's emphasis on pink and pastel apparel.)
Chico's stock price didn't do much in this morning's trading. Despite the company's consistent popularity with shoppers, its stock price has doubled over the last year, which of course starts to spook investors. Today, you'd pay 28 times forward earnings for Chico's shares, which may sound pricey to those who think Talbot's forward P/E of 17 sounds like a relative bargain.
On the other hand, Chico's continues to excel, and its proving ground was during a period when its rivals struggled mightily, and it's still showing signs that it will continue on its growth trajectory. While it may sound expensive, Chico's certainly deserves a watchful eye and due consideration.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.
Stand on solid ground by learning to assess the value of future drug programs. Find out more in Don't Be a Biotech Gambler.... Higher gas prices may be the best thing that ever happened to online retailers. Read on in Dot-Com Fuel.
In other news:
- Here! Take Our Money!
- Boston Scientific's Stent Gold Mine
- Quality Systems a Picture of Health
- Savvy VimpelCom
For a list of all our stories from today, see our Today's Headlines page.