|More Is (Wire)less |
AT&T comes full circle
1. Bell CurveAT&T's ( T) global ambitions rang out again this week.
Just four short months after closing on a
"This combination is good for our employees, our customers and our stockholders," BellSouth CEO Duane Ackerman (right, in photo above) adds. The match may also end up being good for AT&T's rivals. Though Cingular is the leading U.S. wireless service, AT&T is hellbent on dropping the name in favor of
|Enron Enrages |
It's getting personal this business
2. Rogue's GalleryThe Enron trial is getting personal.
Prosecutors are trying to prove that ex-CEOs Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling oversaw a massive fraud at the once-highflying energy trader. The defense claims there was no fraud at Enron -- in spite of the company's conspicuous collapse and the many guilty pleas collected by the feds. And upping the ante, Skilling's lawyer contends that the government's star witness is a lousy family man.
There's certainly no shortage of villains in the case. Skilling is the guy who in early 2001 called an analyst an "a--hole" for questioning the company's accounting. Lay hyped Enron while selling his stock right up to the bitter end. "The company is probably in the strongest and best shape that it has ever been in," he
On the other hand, prosecution witness Andrew Fastow has admitted to stealing money from Enron and has pleaded guilty to fraud. He faces 10 years in jail. "I lied to Enron," the former finance chief told the jury. Fastow faced off this week with Skilling lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, who earlier claimed in apparent seriousness that Enron "wasn't a crooked company." Petrocelli says Fastow's lying and plea deal undermine his credibility. At one point the lawyer vented that Fastow's answers sounded well rehearsed, The Associated Press reports. "With all due respect, your questions sound very rehearsed to me," Fastow replied. Petrocelli didn't like that one bit. "We're talking about the fact that your wife, because of your conduct, spent one year doing hard time," he thundered. "And you think that's funny?" Fastow didn't. "No, sir, it is not funny at all," Fastow said. He's right. What's funny is the defense's claim that Enron was clean. Dumb-o-Meter score: 91. Enron "was a company that
3. Talk Is CheapFlip-flops are in fashion at Google ( GOOG). The search-engine giant wants to share more information with investors, but the effort hasn't been paying off so far. Twice in recent days, Google has offered up its view on the future -- only to change its tune soon after. The stock has gotten trampled as a result. The latest about-face came Tuesday afternoon, as the Mountain View, Calif., company
|Corner of Wall and Blowhard |
Some on 'the floor' don't put stock in NYSE
4. Boo Who?NYSE ( NYX) shares roared out of the gate this week, but that wasn't the loudest noise at the corner of Wall and Broad streets.
The spanking-new stock surged as individual investors finally got a chance to snap up a piece of the iconic stock exchange. CEO John Thain (pictured at right) opened the proceedings Wednesday morning by buying 100 shares on the floor at $67 apiece, Marketwatch reported. By midday Thursday, those shares fetched nearly $85, a nice 27% return over two days.
The historic moment came a day after the NYSE completed its takeover of the electronic transaction processor Archipelago, putting NYSE Group shares in public hands for the first time -- and unleashing a flood of high-flown sentiment.
"The Opening Bell, which has long symbolized the success and vitality of our capital market system, today rings in a new era for the Exchange, our customers, and investors," said Thain in a statement. "We will do our utmost to serve the interests of our customers, our shareholders, and all those who rely on our market," NYSE Chairman Marshall Carter said. Apparently, the NYSE's utmost isn't enough for some exchange players, though. Many longtime exchange floor brokers see their jobs threatened by Thain's focus on electronic trading, as competition mounts with the Nasdaq ( NDAQ) and other big computer-driven operations. Just ahead of Wednesday's triumphant market open, the brokers unleashed a chorus of boos, overwhelming the tinkle of NYSE-issued bells. "A lot of people are upset because these seat holders are retirees, and these guys have worked 30 years here and they're not getting anything," one broker told Dow Jones. To them, the Big Board's new era is just a bunch of bull. Dumb-o-Meter score: 85. The Grasso's always greener on the other side.
|The Cablevision Thing |
The Dolans look ahead -- to that dividend
5. Cash CowsApparently money is no object at Cablevision ( CVC).
The Bethpage, N.Y., cable-system operator is locked in a turf war with big telco Verizon ( VZ) over Cablevision's tony Long Island customer base. But you'd hardly know it to compare the companies' spending priorities.
Verizon is spending billions of dollars on a