|Miss, Apprentice |
Show not warranting the hype
1. Let's Make a DealThey really drive a hard bargain at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia ( MSO).
The lifestyle outfit got hammered Thursday after its latest
But that's not the worst of it. No, Martha Stewart Living revealed that the latest-quarter loss included an $11 million charge related to the vesting of certain warrants granted in connection with the airing of NBC's The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. That may strike you as strange, given that the New York company has repeatedly described the Apprentice spinoff as "a show in which we have no economic interest." Instead, the show -- whose ratings haven't been up to snuff -- "provides great promotional value," the company claims. Hmm, so Martha Stewart puts on a prime-time network reality show, and Martha Stewart Living gets no claim on the revenue -- but it does get to foot the bill for some stock handed out to entertainment business grandees? Stock warrants, $11 million. Publicity on a show no one is watching? Priceless. Dumb-o-Meter score: 91. We've got a bridge we can sell CEO Susan Lyne if she's interested. To view Colin Barr's humorous video take on creative math with Martha,
|No Can-Do Cendant |
CEO takes stock of company setup
2. Portrait of the ArtistCendant ( CD) chief Henry Silverman has had it up to here with the barbarians on Wall Street.
Silverman is the architect of the acquisition spree that put the Orbitz travel site, the Avis rent-a-car agency and the Century 21 real estate brokerage under one oddly named roof. Yet despite the broad brush on the acquisition canvas, Cendant shares have wallowed between $10 and $25 for more than seven years.
So this week, Silverman
|Do Tell, Ma Bell |
What's in a name if the revenue falls?
3. Brand FlakesFor the first time in recent memory, AT&T ( T) is shaping up as part of the solution, not part of the problem.
The New Jersey telco is in the midst of being acquired by its San Antonio-based offspring, SBC ( SBC). After practically inventing the telecom business, AT&T was driven into SBC's arms earlier this year by a series of strategic missteps that left Ma Bell with its good name, a cash-cow long-distance business and little else.
But what a name it is. This week SBC said it would
"The AT&T name has a proud and storied heritage, as well as unparalleled recognition around the globe among both businesses and consumers," said SBC chief Ed Whitacre. "The AT&T brand reflects what customers are looking for in a provider. They want the latest technology and services, but they also want reliability, quality and trustworthiness." Of course, its
4. Spring ChickensIf it's a double talk you're looking for, Federated Department Stores ( FD) answered the call this week. The Cincinnati department store giant said it would
|Step On It, Chiron |
Flu-vaccine production in the shop
5. Lemon SongBuckle your seatbelts. After a year in the shop, Chiron ( CHIR) is ready to put it in gear.
The Emeryville, Calif., biotech revved up its
The news comes as Chiron's vaccine-making operation continues to spin its wheels. After getting a vaccine plant shut down last year for safety issues, the company has cut its dose-output forecast three times. Where Chiron once was expected to churn out 50 million doses of Fluvirin, now it expects to make barely a third of that total. CEO Howard Pien blames new procedures at the company's rehabilitated Liverpool, England, plant and promises further vaccine-output updates soon. With all that sputtering and misfiring, Chiron sounds like an old junker. But on Tuesday's postclose conference call, Pien had something far sportier in mind, as TheStreet.com's Bob Steyer reported. "It is like breaking in a new Maserati," Pien said. "You don't step on the gas too hard for the first 1,000 miles." Well, you know what they say about exotic foreign cars: always in the shop. Dumb-o-Meter score: 70. Of course, you can hardly expect the guy to compare his company to a Chevy Vega or something more apt.