Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The WSJ's "Heard on the Street" column discusses Leap Wireless (LEAP), whose shares have risen sharply this year and some investors are betting that they are in position to jump higher. To gain traction as a tiny carrier in the crowded cellphone industry, Leap took an unconventional approach. Under the brand name "Cricket," it targets niche mkts overlooked by larger carriers: young, low-income and ethnic customers. Leap doesn't require credit checks or contracts, and it offers flat-rate service rather than charging for minutes. That formula has paid off. The co has attracted 2m subs at a time when more than 3/4 of Americans already have cellphones. Shareholders have been rewarded: The stock is up 58% this year. The question now: Is the startling run over or will Leap sustain its fast-paced growth as it enters new mkts, fueling more gains? The answer could be continued growth, if investors are patient.

NY Times reports that the final burst of buying is expected to fall short of retailers’ expectations. Visa USA said that it would lower its closely watched forecast for holiday spending. Based on purchases by credit and debit card holders, Visa said sales rose 6.5% in Nov and Dec, compared with the same period last year, down from its initial forecast of a 7.5% gain. The co’s unexpected downward revision, and the millions of dollars in lost sales it represents, could have broad implications for the nation’s merchants, who count on purchases during the holiday season for nearly half of their business.

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