Remember; You read it here first: 2003 predictions

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management
January 5, 2003

Here's a look ahead to January 2004 with a review of the business headlines from 2003:

Major Wall Street firms announce additional policies separating investment banking from research functions. The two divisions will now be required to use different color business cards and will not be allowed to use the corporate health club on the same days.

AOL Time Warner will spin out its Internet services division, but retain the AOL name. The original America Online will be a separate company named World Online and will trade around 40 cents a share.

Accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, valiantly attempting a comeback, changes its name Accurate Andersen. Its first client is Value Jet - a company that changed its name to AirTran following the crash of one if its planes in south Florida in 1996.

New York Attorney General, Elliot Spitzer files anti-trust charges against the archdiocese of Boston on behalf of Protestants in New York. After weeks of negotiations, Spitzer suddenly drops the suit.

Just prior to filing for bankruptcy, the archdiocese of Boston makes a $1 million donation to a Jewish day care center in New York City. A week later, young Elliot Spitzer, III is named kindergarten student body president.

In an attempt to distance itself from allegations of conflicts of interest, Merrill Lynch announces that all analysts will be required to buy the stocks they recommend to their clients, at the same prices the stocks are trading when they make the recommendation.

The entire Merrill Lynch research staff resigns, claiming inhumane work conditions.

Former Goldman Sachs telecom analyst, Jack Grubman and defrocked 1980s junk bond king, Michael Milken, try their hand at selling tulip bulbs on World Online's Nostalgia Channel. predicts second quarter 2003 earnings of more than $500 million, if you ignore all of their administrative expenses and cost of goods sold.

United Airlines applies for a debt consolidation loan, using a pre-approved credit card application received in the mail by its CFO. After being rejected, the stock finally goes to zero. The consensus Wall Street recommendation on the stock drops to "Neutral."

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates form a partnership and purchase the remaining major airlines. They immediately shut them down, creating a near monopoly for Executive Jet, Buffett's private jet company.

The Wall Street Journal learns that Enron never actually existed at all, but was an elaborate financial hologram hoax perpetrated by baby-cloning/space alien specialist Raelians. projects fourth quarter earnings of more than $2 billion, if you assume everyone in the world buys 69 books from Amazon in the month of December.

In a record settlement with the Attorneys General from 42 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, the alcohol industry agrees to pay $472 billion into a special fund to assist the victims of drunk drivers. The first $150 billion of the fund will go to attorneys' fees. The next $100 billion will be used to subsidize the insurance premiums of people with DUI convictions.

Hershey's agrees to pay a $114 billion fine to the American Diabetes Association.

Walgreen's finally completes its plan to locate a drugstore immediately next to every home in America.

A bevy of former Internet mutual funds managers call a press conference to announce their new astonishing discovery: dividends.

In a reverse of his previous NAFTA position and in reaction to pressure from unions, President Bush travels to Ohio and promises to create a million high paying, meaningless jobs by November 2004.

The first one billion-dollar Super Lotto jackpot is won by former WorldCom CEO, Bernard Ebbers, who borrowed $2 billion to buy lottery tickets. Ebbers secured the loan by secretly pledging the assets of his neighbor as collateral.

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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