Global Investing Roundups

Whirlpool Beats Analyst Expectations; Flotek to Acquire Teledrift; GMAC Posts $724 Million Loss; Australia Raises Rates to 12-Year High; BP To Cut Jobs After Dismal Quarter; Nikon Snaps a 13% Profit; Keppel Inks $2.1 Billion Deal with Exxon.

  • Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) announced fourth-quarter profits that beat analyst expectations on the strength of international sales and cost-saving measures, Bloomberg reported. Net income increased 72% to $187 million, or $2.38 per share, from $109 million, or $1.37 per share, from the same period a year prior.  Strong sales in China and Brazil were boosted by favorable currency exchange rates for the Benton Harbor, Mich.-based appliance manufacturer. "These are blow-away numbers in this environment," Morgan Keegan Inc. analyst Laura Champine told Bloomberg. "People were focused on North America and surprised that they were able to do as well as they did." Champine has a buy recommendation for the stock.

  • Flotek Industry Inc. (FTK) has agreed to purchase privately held Teledrift Inc. for $95.2 million. Flotek expects the purchase of the wireless survey and measurement tool manufacturer to complement its existing line of technology- enhanced drilling equipment, while also expending its global footprint. The deal is expected to close in late February. Flotek will finance the purchase with a sale of $100 million of convertible senior notes, Retuers reported.

  • GMAC LLC (GMA), the auto and mortgage lending company 49% owned by General Motors Corp. (GM), posted a $724 million loss for the fourth-quarter as bad loans in the United States rose to a record high. The net loss compares with a profit of $1 billion a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Falling home prices and record U.S. foreclosures led to a $2.3 billion loss for 2007.

  • In an effort to tame soaring inflation, Australia's central bank raised interest rates to 7% yesterday (Tuesday), their highest level in almost 12 years. The Reserve Bank of Australia said underlying annualized inflation was around 3.5%, above the upper end of its 2% to 3% target, the Financial Times reported. "Indicators of demand remained strong through the second half of 2007, and reports of high capacity usage and shortages of suitable labor persist. In the short term, inflation is likely to remain relatively high," the bank said in a statement.

  • BP plc (BP) said yesterday (Tuesday) that its profit rose 53% in the fourth quarter, but fourth-quarter replacement cost profit - which strips out unrealized gains on fuel inventories - fell 24% to $2.97 billion. The company also said it would cut an additional 5,000 jobs by mid-2009 the International Herald Tribune reported. "Our fourth-quarter results were very disappointing," Tony Hayward, the BP chief executive, said in a statement.

  • Nikon Corp. (NINOY) posted a 13% net profit for its fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31. Revenue increased 14% and operating profit rose 9.8%, prompting the Tokyo-based company to raise its full-year forecasts for net income [from 70 billion yen to 74 billion yen], operating profit [from 127 billion yen to133 billion yen] and sales [from 948 billion yen to 970 billion yen].

  • Singapore-based holding company Keppel Corp. Ltd. (OTC:KPELY) said it entered a long-term, $2.1 billion contract with Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) to supply natural gas to the oil company's plants in Singapore, Bloomberg reported. Keppel said the contract will begin next year and isn't expected to contribute to earnings this year.