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Tickers in this Article: KKD, MOT, NOK, DELL, BBY, WMT
Over the last few days a number of news items have hit the tape that shouldn't be overlooked. Below you'll find a quick overview of each event and what I think it means to investors.

Motorola's (NYSE:MOT) Earnings Surprise
On Thursday December 6, Motorola's chief financial officer, Tom Meredith, confirmed that he expects fourth-quarter earnings from continuing operations to come in between 12-14 cents per share. That is essentially in-line with the current consensus estimate.

The comments, which were made at a sell-side conference came as a welcome surprise. Ever since Motorola's CEO Ed Zander said that he will be stepping down in the new year, there's been speculation on the Street that perhaps the numbers could be a little weak. Adding fuel to that speculation was the fact that arch-rival Nokia (NYSE: NOK) reported a somewhat disappointing forwarding looking outlook. (For related reading, check out Earnings Forecasts: A Primer.)

I think it makes sense to nibble at these levels. That said, one of my biggest concerns at this point, as I mentioned in a previous piece on Motorola earlier this month is that it's common for new CEOs to "clean the decks" and get rid of what they may perceive as corporate deadwood. Now does this mean that we are looking at charge offs to earnings in the first couple of quarters next year after Greg Brown takes the helm? It's too early to tell, but it is something to be wary of. (To read my previous discussion on Motorola, see Zander's Exit Leaves Icahn Free To Pull The Strings.)

Krispy Kreme's (NYSE:KKD) Turnaround
The one-time high-flying doughnut chain reported a third quarter loss of a penny a share. The fact that Krispy Kreme was so close to break-even (previously it had been bleeding some serious red jelly) seems to have some on Wall Street speculating that the company could be in the midst of a serious turnaround.

However, I'm not so sure that I'd call it a full-fledged turnaround just yet. It's important to note that revenue was down about 12% in the quarter, and that its franchisees continue to struggle. But frankly, what I am most concerned about is the stiff competition the company is seeing from the likes of Dunkin' Donuts.

I'll continue to steer clear of the stock, and I'm not currently a believer that a turnaround is in full motion. Earlier in the year, I said I'd consider bottom fishing the stock in the December time frame. However stiffening competition and a lack of progress on the earnings front make me believe investors should proceed with caution. (To learn more, read Catching Comeback Stocks For Clients.)

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) Beats Expectations
The 800-lb gorilla of retail reported a 1.5% increase in November U.S. same-store-sales. Analysts had been expecting an increase of just 1.2%. Another positive was that Wal-Mart saw "very solid Black Friday sales" the company stated in the press release.

In short, this is a very pivotal time for this retailer and really almost every retailer. And the fact that Black Friday and the month of November appear to have been so successful suggests to me that the company is probably on track to report a solid quarter. Note: The current consensus expectation for the period ending January 2008 is $1.02 per share.

Dell (Nasdaq:DELL) Computers for Sale at Best Buy
The Associated Press has reported that Dell Computers will be sold at Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) stores beginning in January. I view Dell's pursuit of a more direct sales model as an intelligent move. Also, I have a suspicion that other retail chains could begin selling the company's wares in the new year as well.

Too bad Best Buy couldn't have started selling Dell's computers a month or two ago in time for the holiday selling season!


Oil Prices
Oil is now flirting with the $90-level as opposed to the $100-level that it was a couple of weeks ago. It's hard to tell if this recent decline in the price of black gold is sustainable. However, given the fact that we're officially done with hurricane season, I see this as an encouraging sign.

In short, keep an eye on oil because if it continues to drop in price, I think we could begin to see 2008 earnings estimates at a number of companies rise across the board.

Bottom Line
Over the last few days there have been several news items that I think deserved some additional attention. It will be interesting to see how these stories pan out.

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