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Sprott Announces it's Going Public; Intel Triples its China Investments; Pending Home Sales Plunge; Levi Strauss Stitches Up Profit; Venezuela and India Enter Joint Oil Venture; USEC Gains on Analyst Upgrade; BOJ Solidifies Governor; Lehman Likes Fannie and Freddie
- Canadian fund manager Sprott Asset Management Inc. is planning to sell about $200 million of its stock to in an upcoming initial public offering. The IPO could value the firm at nearly $1.5 million and would reduce founder Eric Sprott's stake in the company from 78% to 67%, Reuters reported.
- Intel Corp. (INTC) has formed a $500 million fund that will target investments in China, the world's biggest semiconductor market, Bloomberg reported. The fund will more than triple the Intel's investments in China, with Holdfast Online Technology Co. and Newauto Video Technology Inc. being two of the businesses targeted by Intel. "We want to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in China," Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital, said at a briefing in Beijing today.
- The National Association of Realtors' seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes fell to 84.6 from January's upwardly revised reading of 86.2, the . The index registered 107.6 in February 2007. A reading of 100 is equal to the average level of sales activity in 2001, when the index started. The previous low was August's reading of 85.8.
- Levi Strauss & Co. said yesterday (Tuesday) that its profit rose 12% in the first quarter thanks to a lower tax rate and a drop in interest expenses. The company said income grew to $97 million from $87 million year-over-year. Revenue climbed 4% to $1.08 billion, up from $1.04 billion. Levi attributed the increase in revenue to foreign currency exchange rates and strong overseas sales.
- Petroleos de Venezuela SA, announced it would take a 60% stake in a joint venture with Oil and Natural Gas Corp., India's top petroleum exploration company. Venezuela estimates that over the next 25 years, the venture will yield 232 million barrels of crude from the San Cristobal oil field, which spans 62 square miles. Production is expected to begin within three years, the .
- Shares of USEC Inc. (USU) the only uranium enrichment company in the United States, rose yesterday (Tuesday) after an analyst raised his earnings estimates on the company. Jefferies & Co. Inc. analyst Laurence Alexander said in a client note that he expected the company to post full-year 2008 earnings per share of 25 cents, up from his previous estimate of 20 cents, the . He also raised his 2009 earnings per share estimate from 50 cents to 65 cents.
- The main Japanese opposition party backed the government's third pick for Bank of Japan governor yesterday (Tuesday), ending a standoff that left the world's second largest economy without a permanent central bank chief for three weeks, Reuters reported. Masaaki Shirakawa, the current acting governor, will be formally voted on in Parliament today (Wednesday).
- Lehman Brothers Holding Co. (LEH) upgraded Freddie Mac (FRE) and Fannie Mae (FNM) yesterday (Tuesday), saying recent developments – including moves by the Federal Reserve – will likely help boost results at the government-backed lenders. Analyst Bruce Harting upgraded both companies to "Overweight" from "Equal weight." Harting has a $46 price target on Fannie Mae and a $45 target on Freddie Mac, BusinessWeek reported.