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Price of Gas Hits Record High; Ford and Tata to Seal Deal Tomorrow; VMWare Expands India Operations; Walgreen's Rings Up Strong Sales; Tiffany's Earnings Shine; Ardrea Biosciences Can't Deliver; Big Fine for Biovail; Easter Monday in Europe
- The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose to a record high $3.26 Sunday, and the cost of diesel fuel soared to a record $4.06 a gallon. The national average price for self-serve regular unleaded gas rose 6.9 cents to $3.2645 a gallon on March 21 from $3.1955 two weeks earlier, according to the nationwide Lundberg Survey of about 7,000 gas stations. The higher prices, largely a result of pricier oil, are expected to put even more pressure on the average consumer, as well as companies that deliver their goods.
- Ford Motor Company (F) is due to announce a long-awaited agreement to sell Jaguar and Land Rover to India's Tata Motors Ltd. (TTM)tomorrow (Wednesday). The sale is expected to have a price tag of about $2 billion. Ford has also agreed to contribute to the two brands' pension fund, and Tata to continue buying engines from Ford. "There will be an announcement on Wednesday, about noon UK time, assuming everything gets signed off," a person close to the deal told the Financial Times on Monday.
- Software company VMware Inc. (VMW) said yesterday (Monday) that it would invest $100 million in the next two years to expand its research and development operations in India. The company plans to double its development work force in the country to 1,000 people and open a facility in Bangalore, BusinessWeek reported. VMware makes virtualization software, which allows a computer perform the duty of different machines, each with its own operating system and software.
- Drugstore retailer Walgreen Co. (WAG) announced earnings for its second fiscal quarter yesterday (Monday). Net earnings for the quarter ended Feb. 29 were up 5.2% to $686 million or 69 cents per share (diluted), from $652 million or 65 cents per share (diluted) in the same quarter a year ago, the company said in a statement. Shares increased $1.83 (5%) to close at $38.61 the day of the announcement.
- Yesterday (Monday), jeweler Tiffany & Co. (TIF) announced fourth quarter and full-year earnings. Net earnings from continuing operations excluding non-recurring items increased 22% to $2.33 per diluted share in the year and increased 19% to $1.27 per diluted share in the fourth quarter, the company said in a statement. Shares increased $4.05 (10.5%) to close at $42.65 the day of the announcement.
- Ardea Biosciences Inc. (RDEA), which develops products to treat viral diseases, cancer and inflammatory diseases, posted a quarterly loss of $9.1 million, or 86 cents per share, on revenue of $268,000, Reuters reported. Earnings were well-below analyst expectations of a loss of 78 cents a share, before exceptional items, on revenue of $1.1 million, according to Reuters Estimates. Shares dropped $1.19 (8%) to close at $13.00 yesterday (Monday), the day of the announcement.
- Canada's largest publicly traded pharmaceutical company, Biovail Corp. (BVF), will pay $10 million in fines related to fraudulent accounting, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced yesterday (Monday). Four current and former officers still remain under investigation and may face further charges, Reuters reported.
- Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and many European bourses, including the Paris-based CAC40, London's FTSE 100, Madrid's IBEX 35 and the Frankfurt-based DAX were closed yesterday (Monday) in celebration of the Easter Holiday weekend. Europe's exchanges will reopen for trading today (Tuesday).