Money Matters - Simplified

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News

Life found in deep layer of Earth's crust

Corvallis, Ore. -- A U.S. expedition drilling into the deepest layer of the Earth's oceanic crust, just above the mantle, has found evidence of life there, researchers say.

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program sank its drill into the Atlantis Massif in the central Atlantic Ocean where seismic forces have pushed the deep layer, known as the gabbroic layer, to within 230 feet of the ocean floor making it easier to reach, NewScientist.com reported.

A team from Oregon State University drilled down to 4,500 feet, where temperatures reach 215 degrees Fahrenheit.

At that depth, they found widespread communities of bacteria, Stephen Giovannoni of OSU said.

Ancient seaweeds could be oldest plants

Fresno, Calif. -- Two kinds of ancient seaweed growing more than 650 feet under the ocean surface are "living fossils," a U.S. researcher says.

Frederick Zechman of California State University, Fresno, says they represent previously unrecognized ancient forms of algae and could belong to the earliest of all known green plants, diverging up to 1 billion years ago from the ancestor of all plants.

Zechman's team studied the genetic makeup of the two algae belonging to the scientific groups called Palmophyllum and Verdigellas.

They discovered that both types of algae belong to a distinct new group of green plants, one that is incredibly ancient.

Planet 'alien' to Milky Way discovered

Heidelberg, Germany -- European astronomers say they've discovered the first "alien" exo-planet in our Milky Way, one that originated outside our galaxy and was later captured by it.

Researchers writing in the journal Science say the Jupiter-size planet is part of a solar system that once belonged to a dwarf galaxy that was devoured by our own galaxy, the BBC reported Thursday.

The planet, HIP 13044 B, is orbiting a star nearing the end of its life 2,000 light years from Earth.

Almost 500 exoplanets outside our Solar System have been discovered, but all of those so far discovered are indigenous to our own galaxy, the astronomers say.

Iceland volcano 'restless' for months

Madison, Wis. -- The eruption this spring of an Icelandic volcano was preceded by months of geologic unrest as magma flowed through its "plumbing," researchers say.

Researchers analyzing geophysical changes in the long-dormant Eyjafjallajoekull volcano leading up to its eruptions in March and April suggest that magma flowing beneath the volcano may have triggered its reawakening, ScienceDaily.com reported.

"Several months of unrest preceded the eruptions, with magma moving around downstairs in the plumbing and making noise in the form of earthquakes," Kurt Feigl, a professor of geosciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said. "By monitoring volcanoes, we can understand the processes that drive them to erupt."

Is This Trend Your Friend at Skyworks Solutions?

 Margins matter. The more Skyworks Solutions (Nasdaq: SWKS) keeps of each buck it earns in revenue, the more money it has to invest in growth, fund new strategic plans, or (gasp!) distribute to shareholders. Healthy margins often separate pretenders from the best stocks in the market. That's why I check on my holdings' margins at least once a quarter. I'm looking for the absolute numbers, comparisons to sector peers and competitors, and any trend that may tell me how strong Skyworks Solutions' competitive position could be.

Are You Watching This Trend at JDS Uniphase?

 Margins matter. The more JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU) keeps of each buck it earns in revenue, the more money it has to invest in growth, fund new strategic plans, or (gasp!) distribute to shareholders. Healthy margins often separate pretenders from the best stocks in the market.  That's why I check on my holdings' margins at least once a quarter. I'm looking for the absolute numbers, comparisons to sector peers and competitors, and any trend that may tell me how strong JDS Uniphase's competitive position could be.

 

Is Rackspace Hosting Growing or Slowing?

 There's no foolproof way to know the future for Rackspace Hosting (NYSE: RAX) or any other company. However, certain clues may help you see potential stumbles before they happen -- and before your stock craters as a result. Rest assured: Even if you're not monitoring these metrics, short-sellers are.

 

Are United Parcel Service's Earnings Better than they Look?

Although business headlines still tout earnings numbers, many investors have moved past net earnings as a measure of a company's economic output. That's because earnings are very often less trustworthy than cash flow, since earnings are more open to manipulation based on dubious judgment calls.

 

Is It Time to Break Up Microsoft?

 Is Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) worth more as an organ donor than alive in one piece? A shareholder raised the idea during yesterday's annual meeting: "Is it time to consider breaking this company up?"

 

Do You Trust Amazon?

 

If you think of Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN)as nothing but an online retailer, think again. The house that Jeff Bezos built is very serious about treating its computing services like a real business.