Weekend Cocktail Chatter

Weekend Cocktail Chatter

Weekend Cocktail Chatter

Moneybox
Commentary about business and finance.
April 1 1999 7:34 PM

Weekend Cocktail Chatter

And so the flirtation continues. The Dow did poke its head above 10,000 this week and stay there at the close of one day's trading, which was important because it meant that CNBC could get its three-hour "Dow 10,000" special out of the way and that its poor anchors won't have to keep intoning, "If the Dow closes above 10,000 today, stay tuned for ..." But the market almost immediately pulled back, falling a couple of hundred points over the next two days. Which proves ... absolutely nothing. The myth of round numbers is just that: a myth.

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In any case, the stock market is closed on Friday, I guess in honor of Good Friday, though how this one gets explained away is beyond me. That's especially true when you consider that the bond market is open. Who knew that the division between stocks and bonds was really a religious one? Anyway, enough of sectarian follies. On to the chatter.

1. "Planet Hollywood, the ever-struggling celebrity-restaurant chain, announced that it either needs to sell assets, convince some new fool to lend it money, or experience a dramatic upturn in business in order to be able to pay its debts. On a more positive note, it hoped that Shari and Lambchop would soon agree to be a new star attraction."

2. "After a buoyant first day of trading, Priceline.com's shares zoomed higher on the second day as well, leaving it with a market cap larger than that of any airline in the world. Of course, this means that we're going to be stuck with William Shatner, company shill, repeating that damn 'I told you it was going to be big ... really big' line from now until forever."

3. "Long-Term Capital Management, the hedge fund that nearly went broke last September before being bought by a consortium of Wall Street firms, has bounced back sharply and is on track to start paying off its investors by the summer. 'We're ready to bring the world's economy to the brink of disaster again,' one insider exulted."

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4. "After snapping up Amoco last year, BP--well, now it's called BP Amoco, but as the joke goes, the name is still pronounced BP because in British the Amoco is silent--is now buying ARCO for $27 billion. There's been some concern that Alaskan rules about restrictions on how much land one oil company can own might pose an impediment to the new deal, but BP has offered an easy solution: It'll simply buy Alaska as well."

5. "Coke's shares tumbled after the company announced that it was going to fall short of analysts' estimates for earnings because of unexpectedly low sales in North America. Apparently those Pepsi ads featuring the little girl channeling Vito Corleone, combined with the fact that it cost me $3.00 to buy a medium Coke at the movie theater last night, are making people doubt whether Coke really is the real thing."

6. "Yahoo announced today that, as expected, it would be buying Broadcast.com, a company with $22 million in revenues last year, for $5.6 billion in stock. You can almost hear the negotiations now: 'We'll give you $5.6 billion in stock, or you can take $232,000 in cash.' "

7. "U.S. Airways, whose stock has been meandering along, announced yesterday that it planned to buy back $500 million of its own shares. Dismayed investors clamored instead for U.S. Airways to buy $500 million of Priceline.com's shares."