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*Extra* Sitting Pretty, and Comfortably, on a Cash Cushion

Also, more on Mede (in) America.

One of the best moments in this past weekend's "" television

show on

Fox News Channel

was when

James J. Cramer

softballed fund manager

Bob Olstein

into comparing

Federated Stores


(which Olstein likes) and

(AMZN) - Get Free Report

(which Olstein doesn't). Cramer -- in his now-to-be-expected

review of the show -- paraphrased Olstein as saying, "One has oodles of cash, the other burns it (you figure which is which)."

Actually, it ain't exactly so.

According to easy-to-access figures at

Yahoo! Finance

, Amazon most recently reported having $1.4 billion in cash, or $8.94 per share, an amount equal to 9% of its market capitalization. Real-world retailer Federated has about $239 million in cash, or $1.14 per share, 2% of its market value.

What Olstein meant, of course, is that Federated


cash, while Amazon


it. As Cramer undoubtedly would remind investors, a good cash cushion may make for a good company even if it doesn't make for a great stock.

Healtheon vs. Mede America, Part 2



merger partner

Mede America


made up a tiny portion of its gap Friday after

this column pointed out that billing processor Mede is trading below the "collar" at which Healtheon must renegotiate its purchase price or risk cratering the deal. Healtheon's shares were up 1.5% to 34 5/8 (still below the 38 11/16 floor in the Mede America deal), while Mede's shares rose 2.5% to 20 5/8 (below the corresponding floor of 25 1/2).


Kevin Grehan

, a corporate lawyer from Mamaroneck, N.Y., wrote in with an important reality check for investors persuaded that investing in Mede now is an easy bet on Healtheon.

"I think you may have overlooked one scenario," Grehan wrote. "Healtheon does not have to renegotiate to get the better deal. If Healtheon does not 'top up,' Mede's board is faced with a very difficult decision -- close below the collar or call off the deal and risk having its stock fall some more. This happened with the


(MT) - Get Free Report



deal. Because of adverse developments in


for paired-share real estate investment trusts, Meditrust's stock fell below the collar and the company refused to top up. LaQuinta, however, didn't call off the deal, fearing an even lower value on its stock if the merger were called off. Just some food for thought as to why that $2 may not be akin to shooting fish in a barrel."

Good food. And in one additional comment, a different reader wants to know my long-term thoughts about Healtheon? "Say five years out..." Five years? Beats me.

But here's a question back atcha. Ask your doctor if he or she uses any form of electronic record-keeping, referral-processing or supplies-ordering now. Then ask the doc if they'd like to, especially if it could lower their costs without involving an HMO.

Then you be the judge.

Adam Lashinsky's column appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Lashinsky writes a column for Fortune called the Wired Investor, and is a frequent commentator on public radio's Marketplace program. He welcomes your feedback at