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Mark Kurland, the co-founder of New Castle Fund and Danielle Chiesi's boss - the aging beauty queen whose charms allegedly persuaded ex-IBM SVP Robert Moffat to tell her company secrets - pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of insider trading but has refused to rat Dani out and cooperate with the authorities. (Man, she must be good.) Kurland's decision to waive indictment on conspiracy to commit securities fraud and move directly to a plea was taken to mean he was going to turn state's evidence and at least testify against Dani, having eavesdropped on a wiretapped conversation between her and Moffat about the restructuring of AMD. But no, he's going to play the gentleman. The government's allegations say Kurland encouraged Dani to get inside information and then, like Galleon chief Raj Rajaratnam, traded on her tips. Apparently he's looking at something like thre... (more)

Yahoo Promised Proxy Fight

Yahoo said late Sunday that it has named three independent board members in an attempt to foil Third Point, its largest stockholder, from staging a proxy fight at the next stockholders meeting whenever that is. Third Point said it offered "several significant compromises to strike a deal and avoid a proxy contest. Today, the board has shown yet again that they are unable to execute deals that are in the company's best interests. Sadly for shareholders - who will once more bear the costs - the consequence of the board's refusal to accept Third Point's shareholder-friendly proposals will be a time-consuming and distracting proxy contest that the company can ill-afford.... In the absence of independent shareholder oversight, the Yahoo boards of the past five years have given shareholders five CEOs and strategic plans in as many years and seriously damaged the value of t... (more)

Google’s Stock to Split 2 for 1

Rather than pay a cash dividend, which is culturally repugnant to so-called growth stocks, Google said late Thursday, after posting better-than-expected results, that it would repay its stockholders, who must be dizzy from all its up and down movement, by giving them more non-voting stock, effectively a two-for-one tax-free stock split. It will create a “new class C stock” that trades under a different ticker symbol. In a letter on the Google web site Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin restated their control over the massive company because they, along with chairman Eric Schmidt, own the only real voting stock, which won’t be part of the split. They also hold a lot of the non-voting Class A stock and even as Class B holders will get the new class C stock. Page said in passing that Google isn’t planning any big acquisition soon. Google has its eye on Apple’... (more)

Apple Sours

Apple has cut component orders for the four-month-old iPhone 5 because of weaker-than-expected demand, the Wall Street Journal said Monday citing "people familiar with the situation." It's unclear if Apple initially over-ordered out of concern for potential shortages or if it is moving to introduce new phones more frequently. The company reportedly informed suppliers of the cuts last month according to Wall Street analysts, many of whom called it "old news." The Journal's story, which followed the Nikkei saying the same thing, briefly sent the "world's most valuable stock" skittering below $500 before it staged a tiny comeback to around $504, down around 17 bucks. The stock peaked at roughly $705 in September. The Nikkei said that Apple's Q1 orders for the four-inch screens for the iPhone 5 from Japan Display, Sharp and South Korea's LG Display were sliced to half. ... (more)

Apple Borrows Billions for Next to Nothing

Apple has started borrowing money to underwrite the three-year $60 billion share buy-back program it promised stockholders last week. The company is also going to pay out $55 billion in dividends through 2015. It's issued floating-rate notes maturing in 2016 and 2018 and fixed-rate securities due in 2016, 2018, 2023 and 2043, it said in a regulatory filing, starting with a bond offering worth $17 billion on Tuesday, reportedly the largest non-bank bond offering ever. It was swamped with orders reportedly worth $50 billion. Apple will pay around 0.5% on three-year notes, 1.07% on five-year notes, 2.42% on 10-year notes and 3.88% on 30-year bonds. Next time the yields could be lower. Apple has $145 billion in cash but $102 billion of it is overseas and effectively out of reach because the company doesn't want to pay the taxes to repatriate it. Apple has no debt but s... (more)

Intel Market Share Up a Snip

This may not be the best time to mention this - given New York's antitrust suit - but Intel's share of PC processors was up marginally year-over-year in Q3 from 81.2% to 81.5% according to Mercury Research and AMD gained a tenth of point year-over-year to 17.8%, but lost 0.7% sequentially. Between the two of them they've got 99.3% of the market. Via's got what's left over. Mercury figures 90 million-100 million PC chips went out the collective door, a third-quarter record despite the economy. Mobile chips were up 22%. ... (more)

Karl Rove and Neil Bush Unite at Summit

The latest in the highly anticipated NG O&G summit has just taken place in New Orleans. Today, energy is at a crossroads. While the energy crisis has made its mark in the media the industry met to discuss the impacts on the sector. It is of utmost importance for the industry to pull together securing the future of all involved in America. With the weak dollar affecting Oil prices and a demand for action within the industry the discussions quickly turned to the pulling together and working towards a viable energy policy, acceptable for both the industry and government. Production, distribution, and consumption were all key and discussed in detail by lead speaker Karl Rove “Huge pressures are being faced with the need to go green and find a sustainable future. With the Oil and Gas industry still a major factor within the world’s energy supplies it is of imperative to ... (more)

Server Sales Stop Slip Sliding Away – Except at Sun

Economics for Investors on Ulitzer Gartner thinks the server business has stopped sliding into the abyss. Third-quarter sales weren't as bad as second-quarter sales - well, for most everybody except Sun that is. The numbers give Oracle, Sun's prospective buyer, another data point it can try to rub the European Commission's nose in to express its outrage that the acquisition has been held up over MySQL. Sun sales were down 32% year-over-year to $784.6 million in Q3 while IBM was only down - only being a relative term - 12.3% to $3.38 billion, HP down 15.1% to $3.22 billion and Dell down a mere 5.1% to $1.42 billion. Everybody was up sequentially except Sun. IBM's market share by revenue increased to 31.7% (up 1.1%), HP's to 30.2% (up 0.1%) and Dell 13.4% (up 1.5%). HP sold more units than anybody else - taking a 32.1% share largely on the back of its x86 ProLiant serv... (more)

Google Founders to Sell Shares

Google Journal on Ulitzer In the name of liquidity and asset diversification, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are each going to sell five million shares of Class B stock in the company over the next five years, a move that should ultimately reduce their combined voting rights from 59% to 48%. CEO Eric Schmidt still controls 10% of the vote and together with the rest of the chi-chi Class B holders Google's founders will still control the company. Dragging out the sale is supposed to lessen the impact on Google's share price. This news Friday was the second shock to the Google nervous system after the company threatened to abandon the Chinese market on account of hacking by the Chinese government. ... (more)

Innovation Corruption - Why Our Government Isn't Working

For those of you who follow my writing, you know of my admiration for Professor Lawrence Lessig. He is one of the most relevant thinkers of our time. His recent speech “Innovation Corruption” was delivered May 20th at the Yahoo! campus in Santa Clara, CA (video below). The message was clear: government and business are corrupted by money. This corruption blocks innovation because regulation is designed not for everyone's good but to maximize money paid to Congress. The system Lessig referrs to is the “economy of influence.” Our government is completely corrupted, that it is why it doesn't work and people better wake up and pay attention. From the Obama presidency, to the food business, to the broadband deployment problem in the U.S. and EU, Lessig cites examples of money's influence from a number of sources. His plea to the audience was to do something: the public ... (more)

Dell Offers First Guidance Since 2006

Dell is predicting that revenues for its fiscal year, which ends in January, will be up 14%-19% compared to last year, roughly what Wall Street expected. It's counting on companies and consumers replacing the old PCs and selling more servers, storage, networking and services. It says the refresh has started. It figures its non-GAAP operating income will be tickled 18%-23% and that cash flow from operations will be up more than net income. The rare guidance did nothing for its stock. It's still perceived to be in the rut it got itself into. ... (more)