1. For Fans of Clarity, a Red-Letter DaveWe've got a big shout-out for Dave Pottruck, who stepped down Tuesday from his post as CEO of ailing broker Charles Schwab ( SCH). See, we've spent weeks complaining about how companies regularly dispense euphemistic, truth-evading non-explanations of why top executives are unexpectedly exiting their well-paying, highly responsible jobs. Judging from the usual press releases, it's as if there's an epidemic of execs who suddenly realize it's time to spend more time with their families or pursue other interests. But when it's Pottruck's turn to hit the road, does he mince words? No. "The last few years have been difficult in the securities markets," he says to the world, "and I accept the Board's decision that it's time for me to step aside." In other words, Pottruck is leaving because the board told him to get the hell out. You can't ask for greater honesty than that.
2. Weigh in on Microsoft's GiveawayAttention all you Microsoft ( MSFT) watchers out there: It's time for a reader contest. Yes, it's time to put your mouth where Mister Softee's money is. For lo these many years, you see, the colossus of Redmond has has insisted it couldn't possibly hand out its cache of cash to shareholders. No, it had big plans for that money, big plans. Maybe it would all fly away in lawsuits. Or maybe the company would use it to buy something really special with it. "The long-term goal of our cash is to utilize it for our business," Microsoft treasurer Greg Maffei told The Wall Street Journal seven years ago. "We look to make investments where we think it's a good strategic value as well as a good equity investment." So this week, what grand idea does Microsoft come up with for what to do with the $56 billion it has on hand? Why, exactly the same thing people have been telling it to do with that money for years: Give it to shareholders. Microsoft said Tuesday it plans to pay out $75 billion to shareholders over the next four years, via a $32 billion special dividend, a $30 billion buyback and a pumped-up regular dividend.
|Lab Clearinghouse Sweepstakes |
No, you don't get cash
A good idea. But as far as the Five Dumbest Things Research Lab is concerned, it's not good enough. After all these years, we think Microsoft could have come up with something more original on the subject. We know you can. Which brings us to the latest on our sporadic series of reader contests. We call it "Where Should Microsoft Have Stuck its Money?" To enter, all you've got to do is tell us what Microsoft should have done with its money to get a better return for shareholders. Send your idea, plus a brief explanation, to the research lab, in care of
3. Salesforce.com Finds a FloorAnd this week's "The Guy Can't Help It" award goes to salesforce.com ( CRM), the customer relations management service firm headed by extraordinarily efficient Dumb-Thing-generator Marc Benioff. Benioff, you'll recall, was the guy who had to apologize for printing up a poster
4. Waking Up From a Bad DreamWorksJust this past weekend, we at the research lab went out to see Shrek 2. It was great. Undeniably high-quality stuff. But then Wednesday rolls around, and Shrek 2 producer DreamWorks Animation goes out and files for an initial public offering. Talk about an unhappy ending. You see, we had always thought that Atlantic City and Las Vegas were the national capitals of separating suckers from their money. Now that we've looked at the DreamWorks Animation IPO filing, however, we have to remember to include Hollywood in that list of dollar-draining cities. It's not that Shreks 1 and 2 aren't great. They are. And they made a decent amount of money, too. The problem is everything else. Shrek 2 has done $425 million in domestic box office receipts, yes. But the other seven movies DWA has released theatrically -- ranging from the hit original Shrek to the turkey known as Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas -- garnered an average of $102 million. (We assume the eighth prior title, the straight-to-video Joseph: King of Dreams, would have brought the average down from there.)
|IPO Pipe Dream |
Does Shrek get options?
5. Grasso and Spitzer Go Head to HeadWhat with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer having sued former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Dick Grasso back in May, and what with Grasso filing a counterclaim Tuesday against the NYSE -- well, you'd almost get the feeling that Spitzer and Grasso are growing apart.
|A Little Off the Top |
Hair you go again
|Source: The Wall Street Journal|