Dan Rather said today he'd step down as the anchor of CBS News so that he could once and for all find the answer to the question "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" -- er, rather, to do more investigative reporting for 60 Minutes. After 23 years (40 total at CBS), it's time for the 73-year-old newsman to take a backseat. He'll leave the anchor desk in March on the 24th anniversary of taking over for the iconic Walter Cronkite.

No replacement has been named. The announcement comes about a week before NBC's Tom Brokaw retires from the anchor desk. Will ABC's Peter Jennings be next?

In today's Motley Fool Take:

AMD: Lean and Hungry


Seth Jayson (TMF Bent)

Sometimes, we're in the right place at the right time, looking at the right info, and we still do the most boneheaded thing imaginable. Such is my feeling regarding the CPU world's secondary player, Advanced Micro Devices(NYSE: AMD). As someone who builds his own computers -- out of AMD chips, no less -- I could clearly see the writing on the wall when AMD's 64-bit Opteron began taking a bite out of Intel's(Nasdaq: INTC)vision-impaired line of 64-bit processors.

Peeking at a chart like this, in conjunction with a quick read of the headlines, ought to serve as a reminder to pay closer attention to our watch lists. By failing to pay attention to the great potential in AMD's increasing market share, I missed out on a quick double. (The sound of a forehead smacking a keyboard? That's my colleague Bill Mann -- no stranger to this battle -- also wishing he'd acted on the obvious.)

Are we too late to join the party? According to computer trend-watchers at Gartner, AMD tripled its chip shipments over the same period last year, increasing its market share yet again at the expense of Intel. But to put the numbers in perspective, consider that Intel still commands nearly 95% of the market. From a shareholder perspective, Intel has other historical advantages over AMD as well, including much better margins in part because it has greater resources to invest in plant upgrades that lower production costs, such as 300mm fabrication facilities.

Unfortunately for them, Intel's expensive capacity expansion could turn into a liability, especially if AMD continues to poach its market. In fact, AMD is one of few chipmakers that's not having major inventory hair balls. It's always dangerous to paint with too wide a brush, but recent results at the likes ofCisco(Nasdaq: CSCO) and Broadcom(Nasdaq: BRCM) should have interested semiconductor investors looking for the leanest and the meanest.

At the present time, AMD looks like a standout in this crowd. Lower margins? Hey, maybe we should look at it as yet another opportunity for improvement. If this optimism happens to put me in agreement with the rest of the Street (horrors!), so be it.

For related Foolishness:

Seth Jayson wishes he'd spent some of that Athlon budget on AMD stock, but 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: Give Me all the Chocolate!!

Macadamia nuts work well as a standalone snack or in decadent cookies, but would it fly well in a mainstream chocolate bar? What is your favorite type of chocolate? Do you go crazy for cocoa stuff? What is your favorite cocoa treat? All this and more -- in the Give Me all the Chocolate!! discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

More Changes at McDonald's


Dave Marino-Nachison

Late last night fast-food giant McDonald's(NYSE: MCD) announced the next steps for its management team: Vice Chairman Jim Skinner will become CEO and a board member, effective immediately, while McDonald's USA CEO Mike Roberts will become president, CEO, and a board member himself. Roberts will report to Skinner; together, they'll replace Charlie Bell, who's stepping down to fight his cancer full-time.

The appointments are news, but the fact that they're happening really isn't. We'd known of Bell's cancer for some time; only the succession plan had yet to be announced by Chairman Andrew McKenna. (It's been a sadly eventful year in McDonald's executive chambers: Bell himself took the top job earlier this year after Jim Cantalupo, widely credited with re-energizing the massive company, died unexpectedly.)

McDonald's investors, at least, can rest assured that their company is more than equipped to handle change swiftly -- though it has certainly dealt with more change, of a certain type, in 2004 than it would have liked. That, too, isn't really news. What's perhaps more notable, if not entirely surprising, is that the board has now turned several times to its own people to fill its highest-available vacancies: Both Roberts and Skinner have substantial company experience.

It's easy to understand why McDonald's hasn't opened up its talent search too far and wide: It's performing. It's performing well operationally and on the back of strong branding marketing that's got 'em coming through doors at impressive rates. This, meanwhile, has led to powerful financial performance. Investors, meanwhile, have been rewarded for their ownership.

In short, the company is lovin' it -- and its top people have earned the right to run the ship, given its performance in a constantly challenging marketplace.

Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own McDonald's, but he did eat there recently.

Quote of Note

"It is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterward." -- Baltasar Gracian

Tough Times for TiVo?


Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

Scrappy TiVo(Nasdaq: TIVO) reported third-quarter numbers last night, and while there were bright spots, there was plenty to foster unease. Judging by the stock's punishment today, many investors are likely thinking this is as good as it gets.

TiVo, a Motley Fool Stock Advisor stock, reported a net loss of $26.4 million, or $0.33 per share. While that loss did widen over last year's figure, it's important to note that TiVo had already said that the next couple of quarters were going to be tough, what with increased advertising and rebates, among other initiatives. Total sales dipped 11%, although service revenues increased 73%.

The marketing blitz might be called a success, judging by the fact that TiVo more than doubled the number of subscribers it reported last year at this time. The company also forecast 3 million subscribers by year's end. However, a great percentage of those new subscribers are funneling in through TiVo's relationship with DirecTV(NYSE: DTV), as opposed to its stand-alone service -- an issue that many find troubling (click here for Foolish contributor Rich Smith's two cents).

We already know about the threats posed by DVR offerings from cable giants like Comcast(Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Cox(NYSE: COX). Furthermore, TiVo is in a race to capture analog cable subscribers -- cable companies pitch DVR service to their digital customers, who are still a small percentage of total users, but growing rapidly.

In its conference call, TiVo pointed to ways it plans to differentiate itself from "generic" DVRs. It counted DVD recorders, the soon-to-be-delivered TiVo2Go, and making TiVo boxes digital cable ready (eliminating the need for digital cable set-top boxes), among its upcoming initiatives.

Furthermore, TiVo has been busy shoring up its future by making deals with advertisers -- as well as performing some audience-monitoring services -- in order to enhance chances of catching the DVR-savvy users who fast forward through ads. There's also its deal with Netflix(Nasdaq: NFLX) to try to combine services to stream movies from PC to television.

Investors looking for reasons to be optimistic should note that TiVo boxes will be available at 4,000 retail hotspots during the holiday season, including Best Buy(NYSE: BBY), Costco(Nasdaq: COST), and Target(NYSE: TGT).

Today may very well be a foolish (and that's with a little "f") day for investors to lose their cool, given TiVo's stock drop and the accompanying negativity. After all, TiVo's third quarter should have come as no surprise to any investor who has been paying attention. However, TiVo remains at a critical -- and, granted risky -- juncture. All eyes should be fixed on the crucial holiday season, as well as TiVo's ability to innovate and differentiate.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned, but she is a loyal TiVo user.

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In other news:

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