Chit Chat

Chit Chat

Chit Chat

Moneybox
Commentary about business and finance.
July 9 1998 8:34 PM

Chit Chat

The fireworks are over, and we suffered only minimal casualties (along with the inevitable "collateral damage"). The barbecue grills have been put away for the next few weeks, allowing us to return to our regularly-scheduled installment of Cocktail Party Chatter, a mind-numbing--I mean, mind-altering--collection of bon mots that can be dropped into the deadly conversational lulls that imperil cocktail parties everywhere. Don't be dull. Be chatty! And feel free to embellish as you wish. Everything here is accurate, so you don't have to be.

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1. "The Wall Street Journal finally caught on to the fact that cargo pants are hot. (I don't know why they're hot, but they are, and have been for what seems like forever.) What's next, a piece on how skateboarding is the new in thing?"

2. "Let's see. Every semiconductor manufacturer in America is reporting weak demand, lower revenue, and shrinking earnings. Disk-drive makers keep trying -- and failing--to convince themselves that their troubles are over. But somehow Wall Street decided this week that PC makers--who of course must be the reason why semiconductor and disk-drive companies are having so much trouble--are the best values on the planet. EARTH TO INVESTORS. COME IN INVESTORS! WE'RE LOSING YOU!"

3. "I've come up with a new metric for valuing Internet stocks: Price-to-value-of-letters-in-company-name. (A=1, B=2, and so on.) Excite, Lycos, Yahoo, Amazon: they all have x, y, or z in their names. So according to my calculations, they're still pretty cheap."

4. "Motorola squeaked out a one-cent profit for the quarter, thereby evading the shame of reporting its first quarterly loss in nearly a decade. But it did so only because it took a one-time charge of a couple of billion dollars. If the charge had been much smaller, Motorola would have lost money and missed estimates. Do we really believe that accounting for a restructuring charge is an exact process? 'It will cost precisely $2.3245 billion, I tell you.' Permit me to scoff."

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5. "After intensive negotiations and a public-relations campaign by golf-club makers that featured full-page ads in the Journal and elsewhere, the U.S. Golf Association has decided that drivers with huge heads are legal. Titanium, though, will probably be entered on the list of proscribed substances. Callaway lives to fight another day!"

6. "Yahoo crushed earnings estimates, but its stock closed the day Thursday down 20 points from its high. It looks as if Internet investors finally looked at the hard numbers and were struck dumb by the fact that 15 cents a share was as good as it was going to get for a while and that this wasn't really all that good, at least not with Yahoo's stock at $200 a share."

7. "General Motors' stock is now actually above where it was when the UAW strike began. Apparently it really is okay to lose hundreds of millions of dollars as long as you talk very tough in the process."