How much does it cost to show your breast on international TV? Well, $550,000, almost a buck for each complaint received (540,000) after Janet Jackson bared her breast during the Super Bowl halftime show last February. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) smacked 20 network-owned CBS affiliates with $27,500 apiece for one of the largest fines it has ever levied.

You'd think the market would have been relieved now that we've had some closure in Breastgate. But we ran into a sell-off this afternoon with the Nasdaq dropping some 1.8% and the Dow and the S&P falling around 1.4%. Traders apparently just couldn't handle the naked truth.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Not Fed Up With FedEx


Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve upped interest rates by another quarter of a percent, a move interpreted as a signal of continued strength within our economy. Today, FedEx(NYSE: FDX), a company many watch for other indications of economic health, said that its first-quarter earnings soared.

Earnings at FedEx, a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick, more than doubled to $330 million, or $1.08 per share, as the company said the global economy is expanding. Revenues increased 23% to $6.98 billion, with increases across all business segments. Its relatively new initiative, FedEx Kinko's, added $490 million to sales for the quarter.

Overall average daily volume growth increased 6%, although overseas potential is one of the things investors are counting on. Indeed, according to its conference call (transcript courtesy of Thomson StreetEvents), average daily volume growth was 21% in Asia, with China -- a coveted market for many businesses -- representing 52% of that growth. "The global economy is expanding steadily, particularly the manufacturing and industrial sectors, giving our business and, more important, our customers' business more opportunities to grow," management said in the call.

However, another major theme is how FedEx Kinko's is going to figure into things. Of course, there are no year-over-year comparisons, seeing how Kinko's was still operating as an independent entity this time last year, before FedEx snapped it up for $2.4 billion.

FedEx said that the first quarter is seasonably weaker for FedEx Kinko's (read, summer doldrums), and that margins have been negatively impacted by that fact and costs associated with rolling out new product offerings. These costs are expected to continue through the remainder of fiscal 2005.

And, of course, FedEx still faces competition in the form of UPS(NYSE: UPS) and DHL, as well as the U.S. Postal Service (which is also a customer).

FedEx shares have generated tons of excitement over recent months, given the company has served up increased earnings guidance several times over the course of recent months. Some investors seem a little spooked today, though it might have been a case of buyer's remorse for some. After all, FedEx shares have continually trekked upward over the last year, powered by excitement over continued upward guidance, international adventures, and FedEx Kinko's.

Maybe investors are a little spoiled, what with headier days of upward guidance, which they missed today. (Even though it was as recently as August 23 when it last provided an upbeat glimpse.) It doesn't seem there's much cause to be fed up with FedEx just yet.

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

Discussion Board of the Day: For-Profit Education

If it passes, a new bill will allow students of non-accredited schools to transfer credits to accredited institutions. What impact do you think this will have on the for-profit education market? Will it boost sagging profits? Share your views with other Fools on our Corinthian Colleges and DeVry discussion boards.

Browsing at Google


Rich Duprey

Now that Google's(Nasdaq: GOOG) IPO has come and gone, with differing opinions of the relative success of the Dutch auction model, it's been relatively quiet over at the search engine's Mountain View, Calif., offices. Speculation, though, has been mounting over what Google may ultimately become. Fool contributor Rick Munarriz suggested it should become more like a portal.

Right now, the heady speculation seems to be coalescing around the idea of a Google Web browser.

To back up that idea, note that the company held a Mozilla Development Day on its campus, where programmers spent the day improving the renamed Netscape browser. The theory goes that building a new browser from the ground up might be unproductive, while adding to an already existing platform -- the open-source Mozilla, for example -- would be a huge kick-start.

Google's recent hiring spree is another sign that the company is moving to challenge Microsoft's(Nasdaq: MSFT) Internet Explorer superiority. Google snagged one of the main developers of Java, the Internet programming language, from Sun Microsystems(Nasdaq: SUNW); it brought on the lead developer of Avalon, the next-generation user interface for Internet Explorer; and it hired a few people who have been working on Internet Explorer itself.

Google has already added a number of enhancements to its search engine, such as searching for images and the photo organizer Picasa, and it has expanded into webmail with its Gmail service. There's also the local computer search utility for Windows users and the Deskbar, a utility that lets you search from within any application. Is a G-browser in the works? Well, Google has already snapped up the domain name

The promise of a Google browser would undoubtedly be the clean interface similar to its search engine. It would be an immediately recognizable brand, would be easy to use, and wouldn't muck up the inner workings of your computer. At least that's the theory -- or the rumor. Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine is just one open-source possibility. Another is KHTML, which is used for Apple's(Nasdaq: AAPL) Safari browser, as well as OmniWeb and Konqueror.

A G-browser would be able to tie in all of Google's offerings in a single, neat package: Gmail, Froogle, Blogger, and search. Would instant messaging be far off? The possibilities seem endless and would vault Google well beyond Yahoo!(Nasdaq: YHOO) or AOL(NYSE: TWX).

Whether it could ultimately supplant Internet Explorer as the premier Web browser is open to speculation. Yet there are plenty of people who are looking for someone -- anyone -- to offer a viable, competing product. There have been pretenders to the throne before. Does Google have the wherewithal to wear the crown?

Fool contributor Rich Duprey wonders how an office complex metamorphosed into a "campus." He does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article.

Quote of Note

"Education is a state-controlled manufactory of echoes." -- Norman Douglas, author

Regal Goes to the Lobby


Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)

I'm a sucker for those vintage cartoon vignettes that they used to show at movie houses and drive-ins with oversized candy bars and soda cups singing about going to the lobby as they marched along with cannibalistic glee.

The world's largest theater operator, Regal Entertainment(NYSE: RGC), has certainly been trying to give its shareholders an intermission treat. Letting everyone know that $8 tubs of popcorn can make for a good business, the company has been spending its money liberally lately.

After a controversial distribution of $5 per share to its investors, the multiplex master opened its pocketbook even wider earlier this month when it initiated a $50 million share buyback and hiked its quarterly dividend from $0.20 to $0.30 a share. That last move may inspire some of our Income Investor newsletter readers to take a closer look at the company and its fat 6.3% annual yield.

Last night there was another tab to pay as the company was cleared to go through with its proposed acquisition of the Signature chain of theaters in California and Hawaii. Before the company breaks into some zany "Free Twizzlers for everyone" offer, let's take a closer look at Regal and its generous ways.

A cynic would point to Qwest(NYSE: Q) founder Philip Anschutz and his 57% stake in the company. He holds an even larger share of Regal's voting power so these massive payouts that are filling his pockets also come with his blessing. He's obviously entitled to the greenery -- as is any Regal investor.

So is this some grand, theatrical curtain call? A secret exit strategy? One look at Regal's balance sheet and one has to wonder what the company is thinking. This isn't Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT) or Intel(Nasdaq: INTC), with wads of cash lying dormant. As of June the company was sporting more current liabilities than current assets -- along with $1.6 billion in long-term debt.

There is nothing wrong with being a leveraged company, but isn't this like asking a charity whether it will take credit card donations because you just don't have the money? Scooping up smaller rivals in a fragmented sector may make good business sense, but hold on to that pocket change, OK? Someone's going to have to pay for all of those Twizzlers!

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz enjoys Regal's cinemas, but you will usually find him at a nearby AMC. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story.

More on Today

In Global Stock Alert, James Early names one company to consider for your portfolio.... Bill Mann wonders if AIG, Citigroup, and Fannie Mae simply have corrupt cultures in Three Financials Behaving Badly.

In other news:

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