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Net's New "Utility" Status Will Boost This Company

Net Neutrality

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has been hamstrung by ISPs like Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), which have slowed its streaming service as a negotiating tactic, allegedly to make the company pony up money to retain the ability to serve its millions of clients. That's now over, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now sided with net neutrality.

But more importantly, there is an opportunity to exploit this legal development.

U.S. Stock Futures Bounce on ECB Bond-Buying Announcement

U.S. stock futures

U.S. stock futures for Thursday, Jan. 22, forecasted a 70-point increase from yesterday's close.

This morning, investors jumped on an announcement by Mario Draghi and the European Central Bank (ECB) of a massive bond-purchasing program to help kick-start the struggling continent's economy to the tune of 60 billion euros a month.

Here's what else you should know about the stock market today - including your "Money Morning Tip of the Day" - to make it a profitable Thursday...

Will New iPhone Give Boost to Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) Shares?

The buzz surrounding the long-awaited release of a Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) iPhone is reaching a fevered pitch as it appears the telecom giant is ready to bring the device to market.

Verizon is expected to confirm it will start providing service for the iPhone early next year, according to a report last week in The Wall Street Journal.

January may be a strange time to launch the much-anticipated product, but AT&T (NYSE: T) reportedly convinced Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) to give it one last holiday season as the iPhone's exclusive U.S. provider, according to a report in Tech News World.

With millions of frustrated AT&T network users making noise and millions of loyal Verizon customers anticipating the iPhone's release, investors are wondering if the iPhone could give shares of both Apple and Verizon a shot in the arm.

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Verizon iPhone On the Way – But Not Before Christmas

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) will escalate the war for smartphone dominance in early 2011 by releasing a new version of its iPhone to run on the popular Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) network, the biggest U.S. carrier by subscribers.

However, the phone won't make it out in time for the Christmas season, as many had hoped.

Apple will be ramping up to mass produce the new touchscreen handset by the end of 2010 and release it in the first quarter of 2011, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. While the phone would be similar to the iPhone 4 sold by its current carrier, AT&T (NYSE: T), it would be based on an alternative wireless technology used by Verizon, the people said.

The Verizon iPhone will mark the end of AT&T's agreement with Apple that gave the telecommunications giant exclusive rights to market and sell the handset since 2007, when Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone.

Verizon has been testing its networks and capacity to handle the heavy data load by iPhone users, seeking to avoid the kind of bad publicity that plagued AT&T after booming sales of data-hungry iPhones crippled its network.

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Buy, Sell or Hold: Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) Gives Income Investors a Reason to Get Wired

Yield-seeking investors who need cash to live on are being punished by the U.S. Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy. The concept of a free market - or of a natural, risk-free rate of return - has been obliterated by the central bank, which has driven the benchmark U.S. Treasury yield down to a meager 2.5%.

So, where can an investor go to find both yield and real assets?

I would suggest looking at components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow is full of companies that pay real yields on their common stock. And right now, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is the highest-yielding stock in the Dow Jones index. The stock is yielding more than 6% per year.

Verizon has a market capitalization of $91 billion and an enterprise value of $144 billion. While the company is fully levered up at the balance sheet, it is generating a staggering $63.5 billion in gross profit. This is one of the largest companies in the world, and should be able to weather the current economic upheaval.

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Google-Verizon Deal Could Spell the End of "Net Neutrality"

A proposed agreement between Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) could spell the end of "net neutrality," and have smartphone users seeing red instead of their favorite videos.

The arrangement, which has yet to be unveiled, would allow Verizon to charge content providers more to give their services priority on its network, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the plan.

News of the agreement spread like a virus on Thursday, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called off industry-wide talks, saying it had failed to reach an agreement on a "robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet."

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Google's Android an iPhone Killer?

The struggle for dominance in the smartphone market is heating up and Google Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android operating system for handsets appears to be winning the war against Apple Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone system.

When Apple debuted the iPhone 4 on June 24 it broke sales records. In the first three days, the company sold 1.7 million devices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France and Germany, the most for any version of its top-selling product.

But the popular device has been plagued by misfortune - including the suicide of a Chinese worker, lost prototypes, reception problems, and an inauspicious introduction to the press and public when Chief Executive Steve Jobs could not get the phone to connect to the Internet.

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AT&T Rocks Smartphone Industry by Dropping Unlimited Data Plans

In a pioneering move likely to shake up the mobile telecom industry, AT&T (NYSE: T) today (Wednesday) abandoned unlimited-pricing plans for new wireless subscribers accessing data on smartphones.

The changes could lower the cost of service for the vast majority of AT&T's users but potentially raise rates significantly for heavy data consumers. The new plans go into effect on June 7, the same day Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is widely expected to unveil the next generation of its popular iPhone.

By instituting usage limits on what were previously unlimited smartphone data plans, AT&T embarks on an important and long-awaited shift in how carriers bill their customers.

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With a Record Amount of Cash on Hand These Companies Are Delivering Dividends

Dividends are one of the most overlooked ways for investors to notch big gains in their portfolio. And with earnings for companies in the S&P 500 surging 176% in the fourth quarter of 2009, more and more companies are using this as an opportunity to reward their investors. Read this report to find out what stocks could bring much needed income to your portfolio.

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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.

Kraft Raises Cash Bid for Cadbury; Google Phone Sales Begin; Automakers See Strong U.S. Sales Gains; Whitney Slashes Goldman Forecast; Gulf Infrastructure Gets a Boost; Construction Collapse; IT Obstacle

  • Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE: KFT) has agreed to sell its DiGiorno and Tombstone pizza brands to Nestle SA (OTC ADR: NSRGY) for $3.7 billion, using all the net proceeds from the sale to boost the cash portion of its offer for Cadbury PLC (NYSE ADR: CBY) . In related news, Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A, BRK.B) voted against Kraft's offer to issue up to 370 million shares for the Cadbury acquisition, saying it would change its vote if the transaction doesn't "destroy value for Kraft shareholders." Berkshire's stake of more than 9% in Kraft makes it the food maker's largest shareholder. Nestle, meanwhile, formally took its name out of the running of any possible bidders for Cadbury in a terse statement.

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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. Yum Beats Estimates, Raises Forecast; Exxon Considering $4 Billion African Oilfield Stake; Phone Manufacturers Targeting iPhone; Worldwide Mobile Subscriptions To Hit 4.6 Billion; Costco Profit Down, Family Dollar's Up; ING […]

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Verizon to Buy Alltel for $28 Billion, Vaults Past AT&T as No. 1 U.S. Mobile Provider

By Mike Caggeso Associate Editor Verizon Wireless has agreed to buy Alltel Corp. (PINK: ALTEO) for $28.1 billion in a deal that should vault Verizon past AT&T Inc. (T) as the country's No. 1 mobile phone company. Verizon Wireless is 55% owned by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and 45% owned by Britian's Vodaphone Group PLC […]

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