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Preview: CNNMoney.com - Fortune

CNNMoney.com - Fortune



From CNN and Money magazine, CNNMoney.com combines business news and in-depth market analysis with practical advice and answers to personal finance questions.



Published: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 16:48:02 EDT

Copyright: © 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
 



Will the Cavemen's Evolution Boost Geico?

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

The news that ABC will produce a half-hour comedy pilot featuring the cavemen made famous in ads for Geico was a nice boost for the long-suffering Neanderthals. But opinions are mixed on how it will benefit the car-insurance giant owned by Berkshire Hathaway.



Preaching Green With the Zeal of a Convert

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

The Virgin king is set on saving the planet. Since the fall, Branson has pledged profits from his gas-guzzling airline businesses to alternative-fuels research and launched an eco-equivalent of the X Prize. His Virgin Earth Challenge, announced in February, offers a $25 million reward for a winning plan to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. (For other business responses, see our "Green Is Good" package.) On a recent visit to the UN to promote another worthy cause, blindness-prevention charity ORBIS, Branson spoke to FORTUNE's Eugenia Levenson about his new crusade.



CASTRO'S REVENGE

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

SOMETIME LATER this year, less than 70 miles from Florida, a consortium of Spanish, Indian, and Norwegian companies will probably start drilling for oil. It could mark the beginning of a Cuban oil rush--one that American oil companies won't be able to join, despite their proximity to the action. And that has some U.S. oil industry executives and lobbyists seething, especially since the American Association of Petroleum Geologists calls the offshore Cuban oil deposits a "significant find."



CSI: Subprime

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

You might not consider Mickey Mouse suspicious. But when Clayton Holdings, which monitors $419 billion in subprime risk for big Wall Street firms, recently saw the beloved cartoon character's signature on a delinquent loan--a crooked borrower signed the fraudulent papers "M. Mouse"--it knew it had grounds to evict the loan from the mortgage-backed security in which it resided.



Green Is Good

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

No, it's not just greenwash. Business in the U.S. really has become cleaner and greener. Environmentalists actually have embraced market-based solutions. And the politics are about to get very interesting. As a result, the changes that have swept through business are huge. So is the economic opportunity. Here is a look at what could be the business story of the 21st century: THE GREENING OF CORPORATE AMERICA.



A Company That Thrives on Market Volatility

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

If you believe that market volatility is here to stay, why not make some money on it? Violent swings tend to scare off retail investors, but they're catnip for institutions, hedge funds, and day traders. And they're a boon to TradeStation Group (TRAD, $12), an online brokerage that caters to hyperactive investors. TradeStation's proprietary platform lets users devise stock and options strategies and back-test their ideas against 20 years of data. It can also automatically place buy and sell orders within fractions of a second of a market move. The company plans to launch a similar platform for currency trading sometime this year.



IN SEARCH OF PRICING POWER

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

There's a lot working against investors right now. Despite the recent declines, stocks still aren't all that cheap, and the economic picture is hazy. But even in the best of times, trying to predict the market's direction is a terrible idea, says Craig Hodges, who manages the Hodges fund (HDPMX) in Dallas with his dad, Don Hodges; he'd rather focus on the strengths and weaknesses of individual companies. And the father-son team has done a good job: The fund, now with assets of $650 million, has a five-year annualized return of 18.8%, according to Morningstar, vs. 5.7% for the S&P 500. Hodges talked with FORTUNE's Katie Benner about where his go-anywhere, buy-anything strategy is leading him today.



Chairman of the Board

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

IN 1977, AT AGE 23, Jake Burton left a job at an investment firm run by Victor Niederhoffer for a wood shop near Stratton, Vt. His goal: transform the Snurfer, a precursor to the modern snowboard, into a sporting good that might rival skis. Three decades later, privately held Burton Snowboards has become an icon of the $2.3 billion snow sports industry, selling a full range of gear and funky apparel. Burton (he sometimes uses his full name, Jake Burton Carpenter) now presides as maverick chairman, recently pushing his Burlington, Vt., company beyond winter sports with the acquisition of Channel Islands Surfboards. FORTUNE's Oliver Ryan caught up with the 52-year-old executive just before the spring thaw.



10 Green Giants

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

HONDA Location: Japan Year founded: 1945



French Twist

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

Caen is a short drive from the Normandy beaches where American soldiers landed on D-Day to liberate Nazi-occupied France. Its 250,000 residents have a soft spot for the U.S., but the fondness stops short of American-style free-market policies.



LIVING HIGH? YOO BET

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

WHERE WOULD YOU expect to find the tallest residential tower in Europe? London, perhaps? Booming Berlin? Guess again. It's gritty Leeds, a former textile city in northern England. A 54-story, 680-apartment complex, designed by Philippe Starck and London property developer John Hitchcox, is scheduled to break ground in late May and be completed by 2010.



THE WORLD AT RISK

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

1. Brazil



Something to Cry About

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

ONION PRICES are a sensitive political issue in India. The root is essential in the diet of Indians, rich and poor, and price rises can rock governments--the regional administration in New Delhi was voted out of office in 1998 after steep increases. So when onion prices doubled over a six-week period this year, to 55 cents a kilogram, the current coalition government, led by the Congress Party, was alarmed. The price moderated slightly in March, but consumer prices overall have been rising by 10% to 12% a year, led by wheat, edible oils, and spices, as well as onions. And the more closely monitored wholesale price index rose at an annualized rate of 6.7% in February, well above the 5.5% limit preferred by economists at the Reserve Bank of India. A shortage of onions, like the ones above in Siliguri, helped drive up the price and make Congress politicians feel vulnerable. The party has done badly in two recent elections and faces more difficult votes soon. The government would like to stem inflation without slowing the country's 9% growth rate. Its budget, announced Feb. 28, proposed cutting customs and excise duties. Restrictions have also been introduced on wheat and other commodity exports to increase supply. But Rajiv Kumar, director of ICRIER, an economic think tank, warns that monetary policies designed to reduce demand, such as raising interest rates, "are likely to dampen growth."



The Reinvention of Nelson Peltz

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

In March 2006 power investor Nelson Peltz invited Heinz CEO Bill Johnson to dinner at Morton's Steakhouse in West Palm Beach. After the two men sat down, Peltz stunned Johnson with an in-your-face barrage, announcing that "I'm going on your board!" Peltz, whose Trian Group controlled 5.4% of Heinz shares, then lectured Johnson on his recipe for reviving Heinz, from ditching hard-to-open ketchup packets to multiplying the ad budget. "We disagreed," recalls Johnson of the bruising encounter. "It wasn't a cordial meeting."



The Art of the Deal

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

Great wealth generally finds art at some point," observes Marianne Boesky, fresh off the slopes in Aspen. She would know: As a well-known Manhattan dealer and the daughter of infamous financier Ivan (she's in Colorado with Dad to celebrate his 70th birthday), Boesky is at the nexus of two colliding galaxies: Wall Street and the art world. Her husband, trader Liam Culman, "is a Wall Street guy, and he had never been in a contemporary art gallery until we met," she says. "But as soon as he started understanding the numbers and seeing the margins, he became serious about art." And his Wall Street buddies? "At first they were like, 'What is this crap?'" says Boesky. "Now they're on my waiting lists."



BULLISH BEHAVIOR

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

Twenty years ago, if you were in the market for some exotic sheet metal, you would have lusted after the kind of experience only Lamborghini's Murciélago still delivers: a frighteningly powerful supercar blissfully free from the kind of right-now technology that would give such a fire-breather some manners. Sure, you'll suffer the occasional glitch (like a parking brake you have to stand in the seat to release), but it's worth it to sample something so undiluted.



Planet Cipriani

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

On a cold January night, Giuseppe Cipriani steps out of a Rolls-Royce and into the side entrance of what once was the Bowery Savings Bank. His family converted this ornate 1923 building opposite Grand Central Station into one of New York City's leading event spaces in 1998. A scrum of paparazzi jostle for position beneath the four-story archway, hoping to catch a glimpse of the boldface names--Sharon Stone, Whoopi Goldberg--who are heading into a benefit for amFar, the AIDS charity. Dressed in a conservative blue suit, the 41-year-old restaurateur has spent the day meeting with bankers in Greenwich, Conn. He nods to a security guard before taking the elevator up five floors to a warren of wood-paneled offices that he's converted into a combination of corporate headquarters and bachelor pad.



A Buena Idea? ¡Sin Duda!

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

I'm standing on the corner of 52nd Street and Sixth Avenue in New York City. At this time, the thermometer is grazing 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Factoring in the effect of the wind, which is blowing down my ears, nose, and throat at approximately 30 mph, it feels like six below. While this may seem like a romp in the Tropic of Capricorn for readers in the northern quadrant of the Korean peninsula, it doesn't feel too good to me. I have just returned from a week on the west coast of Mexico, and I can feel what's left of my tan melting off my face like flesh in a nuclear blast.



Silicon Siberia

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

Time passes slowly in Novosibirsk. In front of the opera house on Red Prospect, skateboard kids skid off the plinth of the Lenin statue. The tilting chimneys of roadside hovels, rusted auto husks, and sludge-slicked bus shelters appear to have been slouching into poses over many decades. At the boat hotel on the Ob River, the cook does not hurry with the kasha. The capital of Siberia, Russia's third-largest city, Novosibirsk in winter offers few explicit charms.



An anti-terrorist divestment campaign fires blanks

Wed, 21 Mar 2007 12:07:49 EDT

On its face, a drive to force public pension funds to halt investment in companies operating in countries believed to be sponsors of terrorism - primarily Iran - is in full swing. Presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney support it. Legislation is being introduced in Congress and five states, including California. And on March 12, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby known as AIPAC, launched similar campaigns in ten states.



The Governator's green agenda

Wed, 21 Mar 2007 09:24:58 EDT

Arnold Schwarzenegger's private office is in a commercial building in Santa Monica, and it bulges with manly-man props from the movies. It's a long way, then - in every way - from Theodore Roosevelt's rambling Long Island, N.Y., home, which is crowded with stuffed animal heads and books.



Blueprint for green business

Wed, 21 Mar 2007 09:23:58 EDT

"There is no business to be done on a dead planet."



Chemical reaction

Wed, 21 Mar 2007 09:22:51 EDT

Not so long ago the scene inside Room 406 of the U.S. Senate's Dirksen building would have been inconceivable. There, on a mid-February morning, sat top executives of three old-economy behemoths - DuPont, the 205-year-old science company; BP, the oil giant; and PG&E, California's largest utility. The corporate chieftains weren't there to fend off regulation, but to request it.



Lazard goes under the microscope

Tue, 20 Mar 2007 15:02:16 EDT

The international investment bank Lazard has always been synonymous with grand ambition. Long a high-touch shop where rainmakers like Felix Rohatyn and Steven Rattner cast far bigger shadows than the size of their firm seemed to justify, Lazard today is a publicly traded company with a hot stock (it has doubled since its May 2005 IPO), a bigfoot CEO in Bruce Wasserstein and a healthy stake in the white-hot M&A market.



Market volatility? No big deal

Tue, 20 Mar 2007 07:47:43 EDT

For ordinary investors, the market's recent heart-stopping plunge and only modestly reassuring rebound seemed to come out of nowhere.



The dangers of investing in subprime debt

Mon, 19 Mar 2007 09:22:13 EDT

Amid the chaos of the escalating subprime mortgage crisis, the three major credit-rating agencies - Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's - have been voices of calm. They've downgraded only a sliver of the debt backed by such mortgages, and they say they expect the mess to stay safely confined to the subprime sector.