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Platinum Propels Anglo American Profits; BET to Adopt ‘British Accent’; Winn Dixie Gains; A Slight Buildup in January Housing Starts; Sharper Image Blurred by Dismal Sales; Toshiba and Sony Develop Joint Venture; Pfizer Goes Shopping; Thomson Buys Reuters
- Anglo American plc (AAUK), the world’s second-biggest mining company, rode record platinum prices to post a 21% increase in profit in the second half of 2007. Net income rose $3.92 billion, up from $3.25 billion the year earlier. Bloomberg reported that the U.K.-based company slowed its $4 billion share buyback program because of credit market conditions, increased spending and rising debt.
- Next week, Viacom Inc. (VIA) will launch BET Networks in the United Kingdom, hoping to target the country’s black audiences. It will air popular U.S. shows but also develop local programming that reflects the U.K. marketplace. “…We look forward to partnering with the UK creative industry to give BET an even stronger British accent,” BET International General Manager Michael Armstrong said in a statement.
- Shares of Winn Dixie Stores Inc. (WINN) soared 11.36% yesterday (Wednesday), the day after announcing better than expected fiscal second quarter earnings. The grocer reported net income of $4.1 million, or $0.08 per diluted share for the quarter. In a statement, Chairman, CEO, and President Peter Lynch said, “We are executing according to plan and, given our better than expected second quarter results, we are raising our financial guidance for the fiscal year.” Shares rose $1.86 for the day to close at $18.23.
- The number of January housing starts rose 0.8% to a 1.012 million unit annual rate, up from the slightly lower revised December number of 1.004 million units the Commerce Department reported yesterday (Wednesday). Economists had been expecting a mild rebound after a combined drop of more than 20% in November and December.
- Sharper Image (SHRP) a retailer of high-tech novelty gadgets, and Lillian Vernon, which sells low-cost gifts through its catalog and Web site, have filed for bankruptcy Reuters reported. Both companies have been plagued with falling sales, but a weak holiday season and unsteady consumer spending were enough to drag the retailers under. Sharper Image has reportedly experienced declining sales since 2004 and recorded net losses in fiscal 2005 to 2007, continuing into 2008. Meanwhile, Lillian Vernon, which has a highly cyclical business that peaks during the Christmas holidays, said it has experienced declining sales and rising costs over the past decade as well.
- Toshiba Corp. (OTC: TOSBF) and Sony Corp. (SNE) announced yesterday (Wednesday) that they would form a joint venture to start making advanced chips in April. Last October Toshiba announced it would pay $835 million (90 billion yen) for Sony's high-performance semiconductor operations. Now, the two companies will step up the deal to form a semiconductor joint venture, in which Toshiba will own 60%, and the remaining 40% divided equally between Sony and its game unit Sony Computer Entertainment Inc, the .
- Pfizer Inc. (PFE) has agreed to purchase biopharmaceutical company Encysive Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ENCY) in a deal valued at $195 million or $2.35 a share. The New York-based pharmaceutical company will acquire the rights to Encysive's Thelin product, which treats pulmonary arterial hypertension. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter, MarketWatch reported. Pfizer’s shares rose $0.06 [a 0.27% increase] yesterday (Wednesday) to close at $22.43, while the shares of Nasdaq-listed Encysive soared 110.19% [or $1.19] to close at $2.27.
- Toronto-based Thomson Corp. (TOC) was granted antitrust approval to buy London-based Reuters Group PLC (RTRSY) from both U.S. and European regulators. After the merger, the resulting entity will be valued at $15.4 billion (7.9 billion pounds) and be the largest provider of financial information. Acquiring Reuters, a 156-year-old news organization with 2,400 journalists in more than 130 countries, will increase Thomson's sales to $11 billion and triple its share of the financial data market to 34%, while saving an estimated $500 million in expenses, Bloomberg News reported.