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UPS Delivers Upgrade


More Americans shopping from home.


Greetings from New York where I'm wondering who, exactly, stands outside the Exxon Mobil (XOM) meeting with a banner protesting "Big Oil" and how did they get to the protest? I'm all for activism, shouting at old rich guys and saving the environment (in no particular order). I just don't think it's any way to run a company or exert influence over a board. These are oil companies we're talking about here, Minyans. More specifically, these are publicly traded oil companies. Their job is to invest where they can get Return on Investment. Everything else is just marketing.

To the marketing point, if you ask most people to name a "Green Oil Company" they'll go with British Petroleum (BP), at least if its award-winning marketing group has anything to do with it. The "rub" is more than five years after BP dedicated itself to being known as "The Energy Company Going Beyond Energy" BP shut down 8% of American crude production because it neglected to service the Alaskan pipeline. Why? "Misguided cost-savings," according the BP executive we had on Fast Money after the event. Oh the sweet, crude irony.

If the solution to the energy problem involved tag board and yelling, believe me, I'd be all for it. Here's what else I'm watching while pondering subjects where the solution would involve shouting in order to play to my strengths...

  • Polo Ralph Lauren (RL) and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) are ripping like fashionably aged jeans today as both companies reported better than expected numbers in the most recent, most meaningless for retailers, quarter. Would I like to have caught the dip? Sure. Do I take a lot of stock in Polo's ability to accurately forecast Christmas based on results through April? No, no I don't.

  • UPS (UPS) is getting upgraded today in a way that makes no small amount of sense, given the probability of a "cocooning consumer." It's not that America is going to stop spending; it's that consumers are going to do it more from home.

  • TiVO (TIVO) reports today, ironically on the same day that Sony (SNE) announced a partnership with most American cable companies which would eliminate cable boxes on Sony televisions. It gives me pause on TiVO and makes me want to fast-forward past the next year or so to get to the end of the story at Motorola (MOT), which has lost the cell phone market and now stands to lose the set-top box market to both Cisco (CSCO) and obsolescence.

  • Martha Stewart (MSO) was on CNBC discussing how she writes a "positive blog" even as I implore Melissa Francis to "probe Martha's skull for abnormalities based on the ancient science of phrenology!" via email. Not as ironic as "the Green Oil Company" spewing oil into Alaska because they neglected to clean a pipeline but, still, I found it odd.

  • For what it's worth, I've gotten a surprisingly small amount of email from folks boasting about shorting the recent near-term top in crude oil. Enter that information into your Media Attention and Topping Commodities formulas as you see fit.

  • And, just to be clear on my positive nature, the first place I wanted Melissa to probe on Martha's skull was for "Protuberances in the Stylish Zone." That's a lost opportunity for television magic, from where I'm sitting.

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