Andy Serwer Commentary:
Street Life by Andy Serwer Column archive
Three to avoid: Shell, Sirius and the new United
Shell's problems are deeper than hurricanes, Sirius is getting static, and United has a fuel gap.

NEW YORK (Fortune) - Here's three to avoid ...

SHELL: The oil company that couldn't shoot straight. All the big producers reporting record profits, right? Not Shell. It says that damage and disruption from U.S. hurricanes offset record high oil prices. Bottom line? Shell's profits FELL 4 percent in the fourth quarter. Really? This one of the biggest companies in the world with production all over the globe. Company (Research) just got some workers who were held hostage out of Nigeria. That's good. But remember too that Shell had to lower its reserve estimates several times over the past two years which led the resignation of its CEO and the consolidation of the British and Dutch pieces of the company into a single company HQed in the Netherlands. Buying Big Oil? Maybe look elsewhere...

SIRIUS: Remember John McEnroe's old line? "You cannot be serious!" Well that's what the satellite radio company is saying today. Turns out that pirated versions of Howard Stern's show are now appearing on file-sharing networks just hours after Shock Jock Numero Uno goes off the air. Ahhh, we are so sorry! Ironic that a company (Research) based on disruptive technology is itself being disrupted by new tech. As for the stock, I would avoid. Remember Howard's contract comes before the shareholder, all $500 million of it. Another business where it's great to be a customer, not an investor.

UNITED: It's out of bankruptcy, and the stock begins trading today. Will the skies be friendly to investors? You may get some sort of pop initially, but over time, not likely. Stock's priced at $40 bucks by the way. After 38 months in bankruptcy, most analysts think the carrier STILL won't make money. It was anticipating $50 a barrel oil. Well it's more like $65 plus nowadays. That's a huge gap. Who may make out? The 400 United execs who were issued shares. New ticker is UAUA (Research). Huh? An airline so nice, they named it twice.

Loose Change: So which boutique investment bank is about to go public?There aren't too many of them!.....Would you get busted for wearing a "Nebraska Cornhusker" t-shirt in the gallery of Congress? Only if the security guard is from Oklahoma!


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