Antivirus software maker McAfee(NYSE: MFE) has warned of a new "Mydoom" worm that can infect computers when users simply click on Web links in emails rather than downloading infected attachments.

Many of the bogus emails appear as though they came from eBay's(Nasdaq: EBAY) PayPal, so be on the lookout. McAfee labels the new virus as a "medium" threat and has received only 100 reports of it affecting computers so far, but caution is always the best policy.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Buy This Bear?

By

Seth Jayson (TMF Bent)



A couple of months ago, my wife and I were strolling through a local mall, doing a bit of shopping. It was something of a Peter Lynch shopping trip, because we weren't looking for stuff; we were looking for companies.

One outfit that really turned our heads was Build-a-Bear Workshop(NYSE: BBW), an interactive retailer where kids put together their own stuffed animal through an elaborate and fun-looking process. It's simple, goofy, and slap-yourself-on-the-forehead obvious when you see it in action. In that way, it reminds me of concepts such as Netflix(Nasdaq: NFLX) or Buffalo Wild Wings(Nasdaq: BWLD).

The place was packed, and staff members told us that not only were children in on the fun, but teenage girls were also regular customers, often bringing boyfriends in tow for pre-prom cuddlies. Like Disney's(NYSE: DIS) best entertainment, the concept spans age groups. We heard that the store was pursuing relationships with well-known brands such as Limited Too(NYSE: TOO) and Skechers(NYSE: SKX).

We were quite impressed -- and more excited when we found out the firm was about to go public.

When fellow Fool David Meier penned his critique of the IPO, he found most of the nits that I noticed: With most of the shares coming from current holders, it looked a lot like an insider cashout; there were some scary comps drops; margins had eroded; and free cash flow was less than abundant.

On the other hand, we're talking about a growth company of sorts, where enterprise value-to-free cash flow (EV/FCF) ratios are often in the 30s and 40s -- if there's any FCF at all. So, today's release of third-quarter numbers offers us a chance to check in and see what exactly the bears are building. It's impressive enough.

Revenues were up 39% over last year's Q3, with much of the gain owed not to new stores but to near-19% comps growth. There was more great news on margins, as a 5.3% increase keeps up the high levels recorded year-to-date, marking noticeable improvement over the past few years. There are other reasons to snuggle up to the firm, such as high insider ownership and its habit of expensing stock options right where we can see them.

And there could well be more growth on the horizon. In addition to upcoming bear locations, the firm is planning to open a pair of doll-building stores, the first of what looks like another winning idea in interactive retail. (Anyone seen the action at American Girl or Libby Lou?) If you're interested in Rule Breakers or Hidden Gems, take a peek at this nifty firm. It isn't exactly bargain-priced, but there's plenty of room for the experienced management to overdeliver.

For related Foolishness:

Seth Jayson hasn't built a bear yet, but he's knows his time is coming. At the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.

Discussion Board of the Day: 77's House of Foolish Pigskin

How is your favorite football team doing at the midway point of the season? Are you playing fantasy football this season? Will the New England Patriots repeat, or is the amazing resurgence of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the offensive renaissance in Philadelphia the better call? All this and more in the 77's House of Foolish Pigskin discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Crazy Like a Firefox

By

Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

Today, the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser officially launched -- welcome, version 1.0. In a way, it's much ado about nothing, seeing how it wasn't that long ago that we reported on how Mozilla had set its sights on chipping away at Microsoft's(Nasdaq: MSFT) Internet Explorer browser's ubiquity. However, the Firefox launch does bode mention, especially considering a top story from CNET today pointed to the fact that the MyDoom virus is back in action.

When I opined on Mozilla's aggressive claims several weeks ago, I noted some interesting things about this "little engine that could." Most interesting, perhaps, is its grassroots, guerrilla-type marketing and subsequent appeal to the common tech user. Given Microsoft's long history of ubiquity and loyalty through default, that's one piece of powerful momentum for Mozilla, as well as other browsers, such as Time Warner's(NYSE: TWX) Netscape browser, Opera, and Apple's(Nasdaq: AAPL) Safari.

And, according to Spread Firefox, within a scant two weeks, Firefox downloads have swelled 60% to 8 million. It's a reminder of the strength of the Internet in viral surges of popularity for certain services, a phenomenon that have been proven by the early success of services such as Friendster (since fizzled) and the continued success of Craigslist.

Meanwhile, news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal noted that the fully launched Firefox gives prime real estate to Google's(Nasdaq: GOOG) Web search. Although many of us, including Foolish contributor Rich Duprey, have theorized on the idea that Google might have a browser of its own in its labs -- or maybe even team up with Mozilla on the effort -- the companies still deny existence of such a relationship.

Microsoft's security issues have been well-known and well-reported during the course of the last year, including this recent missive. Meanwhile, today it turned out that a new MyDoom variant is targeting IE users once again, since it exploits an unpatched flaw in the IE browser. This new virulent version of MyDoom victimizes users who click on certain links in emails (not attachments, as many Web users are more accustomed to worrying about), luring them to malicious Web sites that then infect and hijack their PCs to carry out nefarious tasks. (Among the other oddities, according to CNET -- the virus sets up a Web server to infect other systems.)

As I've said before, there's still little reason for Microsoft investors to get too bent out of shape about Mozilla. At this point, about 90% of Web users apparently still use Internet Explorer. However, as I've also said before, the slow slippage in Microsoft users' trust, and sense of safety, that has made it all possible for Firefox's early success bears watching -- and, from Mr. Softy's perspective, fixing. (In the meantime, IE users should activate their firewalls as Microsoft suggests and not click on any email links that look sketchy.)

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

Quote of Note

"To obtain a man's opinion of you, make him mad." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Genta's on the Ropes

By

Charly Travers

I thought things were looking bad for Genta(Nasdaq: GNTA) back in May when the Food and Drug Administration's oncologic drugs advisory committee said it could not recommend Genasense for treating melanoma, given that the drug's benefits did not outweigh its toxicity. On that news, Genta's stock took a 70% hit.

Last night, the other shoe dropped. Aventis(NYSE: AVE) was Genta's partner for Genasense, but now that agreement has dissipated, with Aventis packing up and going home. It is never, ever a good sign when a pharmaceutical partner leaves. As a result, Genta's stock opened down 40% this morning and is now down 85% for the year. Ouch!

Genta tried to take the edge off of this blow by announcing top-line results from the phase 3 trial in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). While there was a benefit in adding Genasense to chemotherapy in complete or partial remissions, there was no improvement in patient survival or time-to-disease progression. Full data will be released at the American Society of Hematology meeting next month. An important piece of info revealed during the conference call this morning was that Aventis saw this data prior to ending the partnership. That begs the question: Would Aventis have bailed out if it thought Genasense was going to be a successful drug in the treatment of CLL? Probably not.

There are financial ramifications to Aventis' exit. At the end of its third quarter, Genta had $36.7 million cash on hand. Genta had a line of credit with Aventis and now owes Aventis $19 million by May 2005. So the company really only has $17.7 million to work with. That's a dicey situation. It's not easy to raise funds on good terms with a stock under $2. Especially when the only drug under development is of dubious value because of toxicity and efficacy concerns.

Genta is not yet out of options, but the proverbial fat lady is in back warming up.

For additional articles on the biotech industry, see:

Fool contributor Charly Travers does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Charly is an analyst on the new Motley Fool Rule Breakers growth newsletter. Take a free trial and check it out today.

A DirecTV Touchdown

By

Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)

Football has come a long way -- and I'm talking about a lot more than just the hundred yards that separate the goal lines. Last night DirecTV(NYSE: DTV) announced a $3.5 billion deal with the National Football League that will extend its killer app -- the NFL Sunday Ticket -- another five years.

Just 25 years ago the league received a mere $8.8 million from television networks for broadcasting rights. This year that sum will top the $2.25 billion mark, as Fox(NYSE: FOX), Viacom's(NYSE: VIA) CBS, and Disney(NYSE: DIS) help the NFL keep its owners and players happy and wealthy.

Obviously things will only continue to get better with DirecTV's new deal. So my nickel advice to NFL owners is to hurry up and offer extended contracts to your players. My nickel defense advice to NFL players is to ignore the owners and keep those deals short as there will be more and more money to be had in the coming years.

Last December it seemed as though satellite radio specialist Sirius(Nasdaq: SIRI) was overpaying the NFL to the tune of $220 million over the next seven years for the right to air the league's gridiron duels. The NFL revenue streams are pouring thick, and that is likely to continue.

The new deal has DirecTV also receiving the rights to broadcast contests throughout the playoffs -- including the Super Bowl. That may diminish the value to network bidders for the games, since sponsors may be reluctant to bid up those coveted commercial spots to an incomplete, divided audience.

CBS and Fox also extended their pacts with the league, paying 25% more for the extra years. However, the league yielded more flexibility. The strategy of providing more non-Sunday broadcasts, and reserving the right to switch games late in the season so the more attractive match-ups receive prime-time coverage, should improve ratings late in the gridiron calendar.

Who loses? Well, the fans that actually pay for the stadium tickets to attend the games will come up short. The NFL has been cruel to its most ardent supporters by forcing them to sit through the lull of television time-outs. Now they also face the possibility of late-season tweaks throwing a wrench into their tailgating plans.

Then again, with the money that the satellite and network broadcasters are throwing around these days, they can practically afford to play in empty stadiums. The NFL is now a game for the armchair quarterback. Let's hope the league doesn't fumble its priorities in the process.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz realizes that his home team Miami Dolphins have won just one game this year. He still supports them in a half-empty stadium. He owns shares in Disney but in no other company mentioned in this story.

More on Fool.com Today

Parting isn't always such sweet sorrow, Shannon Zimmerman says in 3 Reasons to Sell.... It's time for Gen-X to take a shopping "time-out," Dayana Yochim says in The Overspent Young American.... In Are Stem Cells a Rule Breaker?, Charly Travers asks: Does the science offer real hope or just hype?

In other news:

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