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.
GM May Salvage Pontiac Car; CIT Void to Be Filled, More Expensive; Dell Expects Higher Q2 Revenue; U.S., UBS Lawsuit Delayed for Possible Settlement; U.S. Deficit Grows; Russian Investor Boosts Stake in Facebook; Microsoft Office Goes Online
- General Motors Co. (OTC: GMGMQ) is "actively" looking to salvage the relatively new Pontiac G8 from the discontinued Pontiac brand – renaming it as the "Caprice" – to provide a large performance sedan to the Chevrolet division, which will soon account for 75% of GM's U.S. auto sales, company Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told The Wall Street Journal. In an e-mail to the newspaper, Lutz said the two-year-old G8 is "finally being discovered" and is attracting a cult following. The car, which is built in Australia, will draw performance-oriented buyers into Chevy dealerships and will help GM compete in the lucrative police-car market currently dominated by Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F).
- The void left by troubled bank CIT Group Inc.'s (NYSE: CIT) bankruptcy will be filled in time, but the borrowers it serves – primarily entrepreneurs and small businesses – will likely incur a higher cost than they did with CIT. "There will be other lenders that can take CIT's place," said Bob Seiwert, head of the American Bankers Association's commercial lending and business banking in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "The challenge will be the time it could take CIT borrowers to find a home, given current conditions." Among the competitors mentioned that could fill the void CIT left are Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC), Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), General Electric Co.'s (NYSE: GE) General Electric Capital Corp. and some regional and community banks.
- Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) said yesterday (Monday) that it expects to report a slight sequential boost in its revenue for the second quarter ending July 31. The Round Rock, Texas-based company said that year-over-year demand for its information technology products appears to have stabilized and it also expects a modest decline in its gross margins as a result of higher component costs, a competitive pricing environment and an unfavorable mix of product and business-segment demand. "We continue to believe that customers are deferring IT purchases, and that we will see demand return to more typical levels at some point," said Chief Financial Officer Brian Gladden.
- A Miami judge granted a postponement of an evidentiary hearing while Swiss bank UBS AG (NYSE: UBS) works with U.S. and Swiss governments to settle a lawsuit seeking the names of 52,000 American account holders suspected of using Swiss secrecy laws to evade taxes. The hearing date is now set for August 3 and 4, and could be postponed longer if settlement talks are unfinished. "We are anxious for the governments of these two democracies to resolve these issues," UBS attorney Eugene Stearns told Bloomberg News. "It's a minefield trying to resolve these issues." UBS may be able to afford to pay up to $5.5 billion in a potential settlement, Reuters reported last week.
- The U.S. cumulative federal budget deficit grew to a record $1.08 trillion in June, MarketWatch.com reported, citing Treasury Department information. That's a stark contrast to the same time last year, when the deficit was $285.8 billion. Outlays increase to $309.6 billion and receipts rose to $215.3 billion for the month. The outlays included $11.3 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. The Obama administration is projecting a $1.26 trillion deficit in FY2010, which begins in October.
- Russian investing firm Digital Sky Technologies will boost its stake in Facebook Inc. to as much as 3.5%, paying $14.77 a share for the privately held social network's common stock, valuing Facebook at $6.5 billion. Digital Sky did not say whether it would impose a cap on the amount of shares participants can offer, spokeswoman Jennifer Gill told Reuters. Prior to Monday's pricing, investors in secondary markets valued Facebook's common stock between $10 and $10.50 a share, or up to $4.7 billion, according to SecondMarket Managing Director Adam Oliveri.
- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) will release three web-based versions of its ubiquitous Office suite, finally competing with Google Docs, a similar (and free) product Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) launched three years ago. "Microsoft is in a tough spot. Their competition isn't just undercutting them. They are giving away the competitive product," Forrester Research Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) Sheri McLeish told Reuters. Shares of Microsoft closed at $23.23, up 3.75% or 84 cents in trading yesterday (Monday), while Google stock was up $9.90, or 2.39%, closing at $424.30.