Yahoo to Partner with Microsoft on Search? 

According to regulatory filings, Billionaire investor Carl Icahn increased his position in Yahoo by 6.78 million shares between November 24-26 (at about $10 per share), raising his total to 75.58 million Online Newsshares (about 5.5% of the company). I saw a recent presentation he made where he stated that he continues to believe Yahoo shares are undervalued, but admits that he also thought they were undervalued when he was last purchasing shares near $25 per share. So far, he is down about $1 billion on his investment. Ouch! He is still looking for some type of partnership with Microsoft on their search efforts which he believes could help save Yahoo a great deal of money. While there are no alleged talks going on at this time, I suspect these two will eventually work out some type of agreement. With Yang stepping down and both Icahn and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer expressing interest in a search deal getting done, I think something will eventually develop. I would also like to mention that I very much hope that Carl Icahn is a better investor than speaker because quite honestly, listening to him speak was a little painful. Sorry Carl, but it’s the truth.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Both Posted Impressive Increases Year Over Year

Sales during Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, saw an increase of 3% over the prior year. Last year’s sales of $10.3 billion on Black Friday increased to $10.6 billion spent this year. Though this gain appears promising for the economy, many fear that the increase in sales was at the expense of profitability. And though spending was up on this day, it may still be down for the Holiday season. One Gallup Inc. poll suggests that spending on gifts will be down 29% from a year earlier. We’ll soon know for sure.  

Online shopping saw a more dramatic increase in sales. According to data released by ComScore Inc., online sales for Cyber Monday, the Internet’s equivalent to Black Friday, jumped 15% from a year ago as Internet sites lured millions of consumers with offers of free shipping and dramatically reduced prices. Online sales increased from $733 million on Cyber Monday in 2007 to $846 million this year. Forrester Research expects 12% year-over-year growth for online holiday sales, or $44 billion in this November and December.

The US Economy Searches For Stability 

The US Economy continues to look a bit frightening and unstable. However, some good things are also taking shape. Gasoline prices are the lowest they have been in years, with prices at about $1.70 per gallon here in Illinois. That’s a far cry from the $4+ getting charged just 6 months ago. Additionally, mortgage rates are dropping and refinancing is rapidly picking up, enabling homeowners to lock in lower rates and lower monthly payments. Though we are clearly not out of the woods yet, there does seem to be shared hope that the economy will stabilize and business will pick up by the end of 2009. I suspect it’s going to be an interesting year.

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