With U.S. manufacturing on the skids and outsourcing the buzzword, watchword and panic of the day, what in the wide world of failed preconceived notions is going on at Illinois Tool ( ITW)? The giant widget, tool and machine maker based in, well, Illinois, posted great results Thursday.
Speaking of reason, with all of the attention the awfulness at dial-up dinosaur AOL has been getting, not enough has been paid to the awfulness at EarthLink ( ELNK). One kind of business story The Business Press Maven always gets huffy about is the knee-jerk how-much-worse-can-it-get story. In other words, a company's basic business is mortally wounded, its stock price is through the floor -- so someone concludes, "Now might be a good time to buy." But if a company is flailing because its basic business is an anachronism -- well, just because the stock price seems low doesn't mean it won't go lower. There is the floor. But there is also the concept of through the floor. That's why I want to direct your attention to an Alyce Lomax
story on The Motley Fool. It's about EarthLink, a company selling for less than 10 times earnings, an apparent bargain for a tech name ... at least for a tech name with a future. Not surprisingly, hopeful investors have made runs into EarthLink, but Lomax tells you why, even at the prices and with the recent bump up in sales (don't get too excited, it was by a factor of 2%), you should still stay clear of EarthLink. And speaking of EarthLin -- uh, Time Warner's ( TWX) AOL -- Forbes runs a new opinion piece by the intelligent Joan Lappin of Gramercy Capital Management and RealMoney. Its gist is that AOL should stick with getting what cash flow it can from AOL, and that, for the stock to ever get going, Dick Parsons has to be whacked. They should bring in someone like Motorola's Edward J. Zander. Both EarthLink and AOL have a lot of long-shot plans for how they might reposition themselves toward relevancy, but at least none of them involve 3-D glasses. Read a big story in today's Los Angeles Times about how the studios, beset by problems, are hoping people will stop watching movies on their big screens at home and start paying big bucks to see lousy, predictable features in the movies, all because of new and improved 3-D glasses. You can't make this stuff up. Or if you did, no one would come watch it. Anyhow, Monster House, a Columbia Pictures animated film, opens today in 3-D. The Business Press Maven would like to go, but he will be washing his hair. And, in the end, if you thought that Illinois Tool headline up top was p-unny, then set off into the weekend with an even p-unnier one. Wrote Reuters Thursday of Domino's ( DPZ) lame earnings and same-store figures: " Domino's Pizza Disappoints, Shares Sliced ." With headlines like that, who needs stand-up comedy?