Investment News Briefs

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.

All Three Markets Rise on Earnings Beats; Government Now Citi’s Biggest Shareholder; Jobless Claims Up but Subsiding; Crude Surges More Than 5%; Motorola Surprises; Recession Takes a Toll on House of Mouse; Ballmer Defends Yahoo Partnership; Southwest Makes Bid for Frontier

  • U.S. taxpayers yesterday (Thursday) became Citigoup Inc.’s (NYSE: C) largest shareholder with a 34% stake in the company. The federal government swapped $25 billion of its $45 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) investment into common stock. The remaining $20 billion will remain in the form of preferred shares that pay an 8% annual dividend.
  • Initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 584,000 last week the Labor Department said yesterday (Thursday). However, the number of people still on benefit rolls after collecting an initial week of aid fell by 54,000 to 6.20 million in the week to July 18, the lowest since early April. That fueled optimism that the economy is on the mend.
  • Light, sweet crude for September delivery yesterday (Thursday) rose $3.59, or 5.6%to settle at $66.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). The surge left some analysts miffed, as there was no obvious motivation. "You need to really worry about a market that sells off on a very large build and supply one day, and then it rebounds on no headline at all," analyst and trader Stephen Schork told The Associated Press.
  • Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) yesterday (Thursday) posted an unexpected profit for the second quarter after several quarters of losses. Motorola said cost cuts including 8,000 layoffs so far this year were largely responsible for the turnaround. Revenue dropped 32% to $5.5 billion for the quarter, but the company reported a profit of $26 million, or 1 cent a share. That’s up from $4 million a year ago.
  • The worst recession in more than 60 years is taking its toll on the Walt Disney Co.’s (NYSE: DIS) advertising and theme park revenue. The Burbank, Calif.-based company saw its net income drop to $954 million, or 51 cents a share for the quarter ended June 27. That compares to a net income of $1.28 billion, or 66 cents a share in the same quarter last year. Operating income from its highly seasonal theme parks dropped 19% to $521 million in the quarter, compared to last year’s $641 million, which was up 3% from 2007. Advertising on its media networks which include ESPN decreased: The operating revenue was down 13% to $1.3 billion, compared to last year’s 9% increase to $1.5 billion.
  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer weighed in on the beating his company’s new partner Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) took Wednesday, when investors unloaded shares to send Yahoo’s stock down more than 12%. "People haven't figured it out," Ballmer said. "Yahoo gets 88% of the search revenue they have today. They have 0% cost of goods sold against 88% revenue and they have no [research and development] expense and no ongoing [capital expenditure]," Ballmer said in a Dow Jones Newswires report, which cited an event at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash. Yahoo’s Wall Street beating continued yesterday (Thursday), with its shares closing at $14.60, down 54 cents or 3.57%. Microsoft’s shares climbed 1 cent yesterday, closing at $23.81, up .04%.
  • Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) made a minimum bid of $113.6 million for Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc. (OTC: FRNTQ) in a bankruptcy auction that would eliminate its low-fare rival. The bid would compete with a pending offer of $108.8 million from Republic Airways Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: RJET). The winning bidder will get a bigger foothold in the Rocky Mountain region. “Taking the Denver gates and equipment from Frontier would give them a large presence there, and the cities that aren’t on Southwest’s route map now could easily be integrated,” said Dave Swierenga, president of an aviation consulting firm AeroEcon told Bloomberg News.