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With our investment news briefs, Money Morning provides investors with a quick overview of the most important investing news stories from all around the world.

Yum Beats Estimates, Raises Forecast; Exxon Considering $4 Billion African Oilfield Stake; Phone Manufacturers Targeting iPhone; Worldwide Mobile Subscriptions To Hit 4.6 Billion; Costco Profit Down, Family Dollar's Up; ING Selling Julius Baer Group; GM, eBay Nix Online Experiment;

  • Yum Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) – owners of fast-food chains Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut – beat its third quarter earnings forecast and raised its full-year 2009 earnings outlook, MarketWatch reported. Yum said it now expects adjusted earnings per share of $2.14 in 2009, up from $2.10, because of stronger-than-expected performance in China and an unexpectedly lower full-year effective tax rate. Money Morning recently cited Yum as one of five stocks that could have an important impact on overall earnings season that's just beginning.
  • Google Inc. (NASDAQ :GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Palm Inc. (NASDAQ: PALM) are ramping up smartphone efforts and options to induce holiday season shoppers, but also to ward off competition from the increasingly popular iPhone from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: APPL). Google said it was joining forces with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) to bring two new phones based on its Android operating system on the market this year. And Microsoft introduced Windows Mobile 6.5, and said the software will be in 30 new devices in more than 20 countries by Dec. 31.
  • Mobile phone subscriptions worldwide will rise to 4.6 billion by the end of this year, as mobile phones continue booming in emerging economies, Reuters reported. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the figures represent two mobile subscriptions for every three people in the world. The lack of mobile subscriptions in rural Africa is offset by the fact that many people in developed countries have multiple subscriptions. "Rapid high-speed internet growth in the developed world contrasts starkly with the state of play in the developing world," ITU said in a statement.
  • Fiscal fourth quarter profit declined 6% at wholesale retail chain Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST), while discount retailer Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE: FDO) reported a 13% quarterly profit rise, MarketWatch reported. Costco cited slowing demand as well as higher costs for employee benefits, whereas budgets crimped by unemployment and foreclosures increased demand at the discount retailer.
  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) won a $200 million IT infrastructure and service deal with India's Datacom Solutions, which is part of Videocon Industries Ltd. The announcement comes a day after IBM unveiled a seven-year deal with India's IDEA Cellular Ltd. and its 50 million clients. "Communication service providers in India … are choosing IBM to help deliver differentiating services to keep pace with market shifts, customer demand and competitive pressures," Scott Stainken, general manager for IBM's telecom business, told Reuters at a telecom conference in Geneva.
  • General Motors and eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) canned their two-month experiment to show and sell new vehicles online, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. "My understanding from the numbers I've been told is that (the program) drove a lot of inquiries and a lot of traffic but didn't sell a lot of cars," Peter Welch, president of the California New Car Dealers' Association, told the Chronicle. "I suspect it was because consumers decided it was more convenient to go to the dealership."

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