Google announced today that it's eyeing a price range for its initial public offering (IPO) of between $108 to $135 per share. With 24.64 million shares expected to be sold, the company could rake in up to $3.3 billion for its coffers. That would be the eighth largest public offering of all time. The company also announced today that it would trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "GOOG."

In today's Motley Fool Take:

DoubleClick In the Green?


Rich Smith

Online advertiser DoubleClick(Nasdaq: DCLK) suffered mightily on Friday, losing 27% of its stock value, after disappointing Wall Street by failing to repeat its excellent first quarter of three months ago. DoubleClick posted a nearly 9% increase over its Q2 2003 revenues, but that failed to translate into higher earnings, which declined 33.5% for the quarter.

When you see a company post sales growth but report a decline in earnings, the logical assumption is that the company is getting squeezed on margins. Raw materials prices may be increasing (ask steelmakers Nucor(NYSE: NUE) or Allegheny Technologies(NYSE: ATI) about that), or customers may be demanding price discounts (a practice for which megabuyers Home Depot(NYSE: HD) and Wal-Mart(NYSE: WMT) are famous). Yet in DoubleClick's case, none of the above appears to be happening. The company actually increased its gross margins from 64.7% to 68.4% year over year -- a 370 basis point jump.

Proceeding down the statement of operations to look at DoubleClick's operating margins, we can see what really happened this quarter -- and also what appeared to happen. Operating margins apparently slumped drastically, from 14.2% to 4%. But operating margins were never really as high as 14.2% -- they only looked that way because of the effect of a $6.9 million restructuring credit in the year-ago quarter. Take out that credit, and the Q2 2003 "continuing" operating margin was 3.3%. Thus, DoubleClick became more, rather than less, efficient in its operations over the past year! It just didn't look that way by the time the numbers fell to the bottom line.

The free cash flow news supports that view. DoubleClick generated $15 million in cash from operations last quarter (vs. a nearly $570,000 loss in the year-ago quarter) and spent $6 million on capital expenditures. Result: $9 million worth of free cash flow vs. negative $3.6 million a year ago. (But bear in mind that DoubleClick remains free cash flow negative by more than $40 million over the past 12 months.)

Despite that cash burn, DoubleClick has a net cash position of about $400 million -- more than $3 per share. So to sum up, the company has become free cash flow positive, increased its "real" margins, and, at $5 and change, is trading for less than twice its cash. Sounds like a potential "green gene" to me, and more than a little reminiscent of one green gene idea that worked out very well for Foolish investors once upon a time: ValueClick(Nasdaq: VCLK).

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

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Waiting For Time Warner


Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)

You'll see tickers fly as we kick off another week that is rich in companies you know announcing their quarterly earnings. From consumer brand staples such as Gillette(NYSE: G) and Wrigley(NYSE: WWY) to defense titans Lockheed Martin(NYSE: LMT) and Boeing(NYSE: BA), the heavies will be busy this week.

However, the one report that I can't wait to hear will come from Time Warner(NYSE: TWX). The market seems to have glossed over this entertainment giant in recent years. Its shares have been toiling away in the teens longer than Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. OK, so technically it's been just a little more than two years since the stock traded beyond the teens, but that's pretty surprising when you begin to consider everything that has happened with the company since then.

On the celluloid front, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series couldn't have fared much better. Its America Online service has gone through some painful growing pains, but with companies such as Google and Yahoo!(Nasdaq: YHOO) mastering contextual text-ad marketing to the point where content is once again regal, it might not be fair to consider AOL to be simply a subscriber services specialist.

When America Online announced that it would be acquiring Time Warner, it was seen as a bold step in marrying new media with the old. Yet, these days, watching the company's market cap fetch far less than either of those two pieces were trading for while they were still courting is a painful reminder that synergy is a buzzword that is much easier said than done.

Time Warner has ditched the AOL ticker symbol and wiped the America Online name off the corporate moniker, but it still hasn't chased all of the demons away. That has been a gradual process. Perhaps that's why it's OK to wait every three months for the company to produce its fiscal report card. There is too much potential in the company, given all of its parts, to not make the grade eventually.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a satisfied America Online user for more than a decade. However, he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.

Discussion Board of the Day: Building/Maintaining a Home

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Paycheck Peekaboo


Dayana Yochim (TMF School)

Forget what the millionaire next door makes. How much money does that guy in the finance department pull in every month?

A new compensation survey offers a peek at the pay stubs of those who toil daily over the nickels and dimes of companies big and small. According to the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), the average salary of those in the field -- factoring everyone from the CFO to the cash manager -- is $96,000. That includes the industry-average 3.6% raise awarded in 2004. (That's only a smidge -- .1% -- more than what the rest of us got after our annual reviews.)

Obviously, the higher-ups on the organizational chart earn more than their reportees. For example, CFOs earn an average total compensation of $211,500 compared with $126,900 for the director of treasury/finance and $64,100 by the cash manager. Bonuses can make up a big portion of a financial professional's compensation. The average bonus earned by directors of treasury/finance, for instance, is $26,100 -- a nice topper on that $109,800 base pay.

There are a few factors that can make a big difference in take-home pay.

Working for Uncle Sam: Working for a nonprofit or the government can nearly halve the salary of a CFO. Utility industry CFOs averaged $260,000 in total compensation compared to $131,000 made by their public-service counterparts.

Company size: Companies with revenues greater than $1 billion pay financial professionals $44,000 more than their peers at companies with revenues less than $100 million. Also, public companies compensate their finance department staff higher ($29,100) than privately held ones.

Profitability: Half of the companies surveyed by AFP base bonuses on company profits. Executives, on average, receive bonuses equal to 33% of their base salary.

Amount of education: Professional acronyms spell m-o-n-e-y. Treasurers with a master's degree in business outearn their non-MBA co-workers by more than $25,000. Controllers with CPAs earn an average of $130,000 (including bonuses) compared to $120,000 earned by their peers who are not certified public accountants.

Still in the mood for some salary snooping? Here's a report on what the average CEO rakes in compared with the rank-and-file employees.

For advice on negotiating a better salary or bonus, Ask the Headhunter.

Quote of Note

"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it." -- Henry David Thoreau

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