Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Paperstand (IBM, NDAQ, F, WB, ZUMZ)

According to the WSJ, IBM (IBM) is launching a software giveaway that takes aim at Microsoft (MSFT) on the office desktop. Today, IBM plans to post on the Internet a package of its own software with applications that square off against components of Microsoft's ubiquitous Office suite, a word processor to rival Word, a spreadsheet to go up against Excel and business-presentation software as an alternative to PowerPoint. The IBM package, called Symphony, can be downloaded free of charge. IBM will also give away the Symphony software to customers who buy the latest version of its Notes collaboration software.

The WSJ reports that Nasdaq (NDAQ) has considered selling a piece of itself to an overseas investor such as Dubai or Qatar to help it clinch its own deal to purchase OMX. While it is unclear if Nasdaq will ultimately resort to this approach, the fact that it has been discussed in recent weeks by the No. 2 US stock exchange shows how serious the co is about completing its intl push.

The WSJ reprots that the head of Ford’s (F) North and South American operations said the co could accelerate cost cutting if a slowing US economy puts the auto maker at risk of missing key financial goals in ‘08 and ‘09. "There's more risk than there is opportunity going forward" for the US auto mkt amid uncertainty about the housing mkt and job growth, said Ford Exec VP Mark Fields. "If we see weakness on the rev side, we have to take up the slack on the cost side," he said. Mr. Fields said Ford adjusts its plans month to month. He said that as of now, the co's N-American turnaround is on track to meet the ‘08 cost-cutting target and ‘09 profitability goal.

An interview with Punk Ziegel managing director highlighted in Barron’s Online. Manager top pick currently is Wachovia (WB). The firm is buying WM, WFC, STI and NTRS. He does not like GS and would wait with C. Avoids CFC, IMB, BSC, JPM. Manager is very worried about MI and ZION.

“Inside Scoop” section reports that 2 execs at Zumiez (ZUMZ) have decided to sell some shares. Pres and CEO Richard Brooks sold $4.7m in stock, or 100K shares. Also exec VP of stores, Ford Wright, sold 12K shares for $552K. Much of the stake came from a simultaneous options exercise.

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