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By Jason Stipp | 10-15-2010 05:09 AM

Who's Making Amends in the Market?

Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser on Gap's no-go logo, banks' foreclosure fumbles, and more.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar and welcome to the Friday Five.

Now here on the Friday Five, we often have to make amends for our bad jokes. But this week we have five companies that are either trying to make amends or they are setting themselves up to be sorry.

Here with me to offer the details is Morningstar Markets Editor, Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for joining me.

Jeremy Glaser: Always a pleasure, Jason.

Stipp: What do you have for the Friday Five this week?

Glaser: Well, we're going to look at five companies that are going to have make amends or are making amends right now, and those are Google, Gap, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and J.P. Morgan.

Stipp: There's some interesting news about Google this week and not all of that had to do with their earnings, what do you see on that front?

Glaser: Google had incredible earnings yet again. They're really on a roll; advertising is coming back, but there are a lot of stories about Google secretly testing driverless cars, investments in cables to connect wind farms, and other alternative energy.

Google has been known for a while that they make a lot of these kind of alternative investments that really are very far field from their core competency. And you can't help but wonder, if this is really in the best interest of shareholders. Seems like it's the founders are using their company as a piggybank for their hobbies; they're probably using it as a retention tool. I talked to our analyst Larry Witt earlier, he said that's probably one of the primary reasons they're doing it. But as a shareholder, I have to be wondering could this money be given back to me as a dividend or in a share buyback versus being spent on some hobbies.

Stipp: So Google trying to make amends for some of its drudge work to its employees by giving them something fun to work on.

Glaser: Yeah, I guess so.

Stipp: So this is the second one, Jeremy, this is a store, I have to admit, I've passed by a lot and haven't really taken a lot of time to look inside, but they got a lot of attention this week, because they changed their label, and that's Gap. What is the story with the Gap label?

Glaser: Gap very quietly rolled out a new logo that was not particularly well received. The Gap blue squares, one of the most iconic corporate logos, they decided to move the square to the side, and to make it, I don't know, maybe a little bit more modern, but it really looks like something that came out of a high school Photoshop class, not really a professional logo.

They made amends extremely quickly; about as fast as they rolled out the new one, they rolled back the old logo. I think it was probably a good decision. I don't think anyone would've recognized that that was the Gap clothing store. But it always shows another adventure in corporate branding.

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