Monday, February 28, 2011

Ford's (F) CFO in Panic Over European Market?

Talking to reporters Monday, Ford's (NYSE:F) Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said he would like to see competitors in Europe drop the incentive rates they're using to drive sales, saying their actions are excessive.

Booth said, "We'd like to see a more rational marketplace. People are incentivizing cars so heavily it's not a long-term rational strategy. We'd like to see the European market stabilize."

He said Ford is challeged in the market because the company won't "chase market share" in Europe, which could ultimately result in losing share to competitors, although obviously the margins and earnings of competitors will come under pressure as a result, although revenue will surge.

In 2010, market share in primary marekts of Europe plunged by 11 percent from 2009, suggesting the strategy of their opponents is working, which seems to make Booth very nervous.

Calling for opponents to stop doing something successful is nonsensical, as if they want to sacrifice margins and earnings in the short term to grow share, that's their business, and as mentioned, is working as they had hoped for.

Ford will either be forced to respond or offer similar incentives as its opponents.

If not, they'll continue to lose European market share, which over the long term, could dramatically impact the company if people continue to buy the vehicles of Ford's competitors after the incentives are ended.

Ford (F), Toyota (TM), GM (GM) February Sales Expected to be Up

Sales for automakers Ford Motor (NYSE:F), Toyota (NYSE:TM) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) are expected to rise significantly in February over sales in the same period last year.

Estimates from a report from suggests General Motors Corp. will probably enjoy the biggest boost in sales, enjoying an estimated 37 percent increase. Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell said, “February started slow, but it gained plenty of momentum over President’s Day weekend. It was also the fifth consecutive month with a SAAR over 12 million, which is a good sign as the industry presses forward into March.”

Overall, car sales are projected to come in at around 937,000, according to Edmunds, a 20 percent improvement over February 2010 sales.

It also said the seasonally adjusted annualized rate will be 12.6 million, up from 12.5 million in January.

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Bank of America (BAC) Legal Liability Could Reach $1.5 Billion in 2011

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) legal losses in 2011 could come in as high as $1.5 billion, according to the recent filing of its annual report.

The giant bank gave a wide range of legal liability for the year; from $145 million to $1.5 billion. Those numbers don't include accrued liability, which the financial institution didn't reveal.

The majority of costs related to legal action will in connection to mortgage-securitization lawsuits against Countrywide Financial. A number of other banks are facing similar lawsuits and liabilities, but Bank of America more than others through its acquisition of Countrywide.

Plaintiffs claim the bank hid the weakness of the underlying mortgages that were bundled into securities they invested in, which resulted in massive losses for numerous institutional investors.

Related to the mortgage fiasco is the possibility of Bank of America having to pay out $230 million in fines because of lack of action on the foreclosing of bad residential mortgages. (CRM) Getting Crushed as Reality Hits

Shares of (NYSE:CRM) is getting hammered today, and is the worst-performing stock on the S&P 500, as the stock is down over 6 percent after running up well over 90 percent in the last 12 months.

This could be a simple pullback or the result of a closer look be investors at the company, as there are a number of questions as to its spending habits are starting to raise some eyebrows.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported:

"This is so often a problem for fast-growing companies, and Wall Street too often turns a blind eye until it is too late. Is it happening again?

"Salesforce's sales grew 29% last quarter, but its total operating expenses soared 40% to $365 million. As a result it actually booked a loss – of $391,000 – from operations. Even for the full year, sales rose 28% but costs rose faster, with the result that operating income actually fell by 15%. The company made a mere $97 million at the operating level out of $1.55 billion in sales.

"Where's the money going? So many places. It's hiring new staff aggressively, including around 500 just last quarter. It's paying sales staff huge commissions, plus big incentives including in stock. It is making "aggressive" acquisitions, by Mr. Benioff's own description, and spending freely on infrastructure too.

"Like real estate. The company needed new headquarters to house its growing staff. Most mere mortals would rent a bigger office. But that's so Old Economy. Instead, on Nov. 1 – the day after the end of last quarter – Salesforce spent $278 million cash buying 14 acres of land in San Francisco in order to build a new "campus."

"That doesn't even include the cost of building the offices. It's just the land."

And taking into consideration management has been selling off a lot of their stock, "especially true of CEO Mark Benioff. Admittedly, they have been doing this for several years. But according to InsiderScore, Benioff alone sold $220 million worth of stock in the past year," it could be that it may be time to take a little more sober view of and not get so caught up in drinking the kool aid. was trading at $130.00, down $8.83, or 6.36 percent, as of 1:41 PM EST.

TiVo (TIVO) Sued by Motorola (MMI) DVR Patents

TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ:TIVO) is the recipient of a lawsuit from Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. (NYSE:MMI), which claims Motorola invented digital video recording technology before Tivo.

Motorola is also seeking to find out if Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is using TiVo technology in its set-top boxes.

Motorola said in the lawsuit, “The TiVo patents disclose and claim the same technology that Imedia engineers invented years before. TiVo obtained patents on its DVR product and sued the industry.”

Verizon was sued by Tivo in 2009 in connection with Verizon's FiOS televison service allegedly violating DVR patents. (AMZN) Downgraded on Margin Pressures (Nasdaq:AMZN) was downgraded by UBS (NYSE:UBS) today, as the company sees them under margin pressure in the future.

UBS analyst Brian Pitz said, "While we maintain our long-term thesis that AMZN will continue to dominate eCommerce, taking share from offline / online competitors, we are concerned that a more prolonged investment period – namely due to increased content costs and new distribution deals with hardware providers (game consoles, TV’s, etc) – may pressure margins for longer than originally anticipated."

Pitz noted that estimates for the second half are probably too high, as they don't include Amazon's entry into free subscription streaming for its premium customers.

He sees "significant competition for content deals that will only continue to heat up."

UBS lowered its first quarter EPS estimates from $0.67 to $0.61, full year 2011 from $3.48 to $3.07, and full year 2012 from $5.33 to $4.40.

UBS downgraded Amazon to "Neutral," which was trading at $173.14, down $4.10, or 2.31 percent, as of 12:41 PM EST.

Cisco's (CSCO) Academy Announces 1 Millionth Student

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) announced that its Networking Academy has now surpassed 1 million students enrolled in the institution.

The Academy works in partnership with governments, education and community-based organizations around the world, providing information and communications technology education to students.

Networking Academy uses a cloud-based technology in order to aid students in designing, building, troubleshooting, and securing computer networks.

There are approximately 10,000 academies in 165 countries using the Academy.

Cisco says they trained close to 4 million students over the last 14 years in the program.

iPad 2 (AAPL) Ready to Take on RIM (RIMM), Motorola Mobility (MMI), Verizon (VZ), HP (HPQ), Dell (DELL)

RIM (NASDAQ:RIMM), Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), HP (NYSE:HPQ) are all taking aim at Apple's (NASDAQ:GOOG) iPad, as the anticipated unveiling of the iPad 2 is set for Wednesday.

Research In Motion Ltd., maker of Blackberry, is expected to ship its PlayBook tablet in either March or April at a price-point close to the iPad, which starts at $499. The PlayBook's major selling point: it will have tighter security and integration with corporations' back-software.

Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., meanwhile, just launched Xoom, a tablet that will support 4G, the next generation high-speed wireless network, through Verizon Wireless for $599 with a two-year contract.

Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL), Motorola Mobility, and Toshiba Corp. are all also preparing tablets to launch in 2011.

Coca-Cola (KO) Greek Bottler Issues $412.9 Million Bond

Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) second-largest bottler, Coca-Cola Hellenic (HLBr.AT), announced Monday it has issued a $412.9 million bond for the purpose of refinancing maturing debt.

CCH said in a statement, "The issue was significantly oversubscribed and has been placed with a diversified investor base."

The bottler said the bond will carry a fixed 4.25 percent coupon which will be due November 16, 2016.

Proceeds will be used to refinance a bond which is expiring on July 15. The issue should settle on March 2.

Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and The Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS) were joint lead managers of the issue.

Google (GOOG) Data Loss Shows Risks of the Cloud

Another breach in the cloud, this time by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and those using its Gmail services, reveals the risky underbelly of the increasingly popular means of story data and information.

Minyanvill says, "This weekend, Google's email cloud suffered a severe thunderstorm. Roughly 150,000 Gmail users found all of their data -- their emails, their chat logs, their contacts, their attachments, everything -- missing. Vanished. Gone. Once again, the convenience of having your data stored online and accessible from a wide variety of devices is rendered moot by a massive glitch.

"Currently, Google is working to restore the data lost in the error and has set up an Apps Status Dashboard to log any updates as they happen.

"The last report before the repetitive message: "Google Mail service has already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users in the near future. Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change."

"Although the company is ensuring a full recovery of data, this glitch underscores the necessity of email backups should you store your content online. Whether using Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, or work servers, everyone should have locally stored backups."

The bottom line is everything in the cloud must be thoroughly backed up.

Google was trading at $614.52, up $4.48, or 0.73 percent.

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Last Berkshire (BRK-a) Sell Call Removed

The last analyst having a "Sell" call on Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) has now removed it, as Stifel Nicolaus analyst Erik Holm maintains it was the right call at the time, although for the wrong reasons.

Dow Jones Newswires reported:

"Stifel Nicolaus analyst changed his “sell” call on Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, reports Dow Jones Newswires’ Erik Holm:

"Stifel had been the only major firm with a “sell” rating on the shares over the last several months. From the end of June through Friday, Berkshire’s Class B shares rose 6.5% compared to the 30% return of the Standard & Poor’s 500.

"Mr. Shields wrote that while the “sell” rating had been correct, it was “for the wrong reasons.”

"The recovery of Berkshire’s noninsurance units happened faster than Stifel anticipated, he said. And the company profited more from pulling funds from its insurance reserves than expected.

"In its annual report Saturday, Berkshire said its manufacturing, service and retailing operations earned $2.5 billion last year—more than double their combined profit in 2009. The firm attributed part of the increase to cuts in spending. But demand for products made and sold by many Berkshire companies is also on the rise, the company said."

Berkshire was trading at $129,848.00, up $2,298.00, or 1.80 percent, as of 11:38 AM EST.

iShares Silver Trust (SLV) Hits New High

The U.S. dollar continues to plunge as traders continue to punish the greenback. One of the main beneficiaries of that is iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca:SLV), which has jumped to a record high Monday.

iShares Silver Trust has more than doubled over the last year, rising early in the session by about 2 percent, soaring above $33 a share.

The silver ETF dropped last week, but today's rally has already overcome that plunge.

Spot silver is up by $0.50, reaching $33.88, as of 11:33.

With the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish Fund (UUP) down about 0.5%, that should be continually watched to see which direction the U.S. dollar may be going, as it could signal more weakness in the dollar if the UUP doesn't hold at support.

Comcast (CMCSA) and Benefit of NBCU Deal

Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has released their projections of how the deal with NBC-Universal will play out for them, and some analysts have chimed in with their own outlook.

Goldman Sachs analyst Jason Armstrong reinstated coverage of Comcast (CMCSA) shares with a Buy rating, offering estimates for how the combined business with NBC-Universal could lead to surge in free cash flow.

Armstrong writes the stock is worth $33 on a discounted cash flow basis, or $29 on a sum-of-the-parts basis, using a multiple of 6 times for the cable unit’s profit and 7 times for the NBCU joint venture.

While Comcast’s official projections of the economics of the new combined business are not expected until April, Armstrong today offers a preliminary calculation: revenue may grow 4% from this year through 2013, Ebitda may rise 6.5%, and free cash flow may rise 15% in that time, to $2.94 per share in 2013. Cash flow will be helped by a “significant increase in share repurchase activity over the next few years,” he writes.

In fact, Armstrong writes, following in the foot-steps of peers that have been doing a lot of buybacks, such as DirecTV (DTV), Time-Warner Cable (TWC), and Cablevision (CVC), Comcast, “has the potential to become the next big capital allocation story” in the industry.

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ConocoPhillips (COP), Halliburton (HAL) Top Picks After Mideast Turmoil

Philip Weiss of Argus Research said his top picks in the sector in the midst of the turmoil in the Middle East are ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL).

While this week’s oil price spike above $100 a barrel and turmoil in the Middle East raises uncertainty about energy supplies, companies in the business of drilling and producing oil continue to fare well in the U.S., but refining operations may find themselves under pressure.

With political violence in Libya causing oil to move into the triple-digit range for the first time in three years, experts are predicting a long period of unrest throughout the region and challenges for parts of the energy sector.

Meanwhile, companies in the business of alternative energy said they noticed an uptick in interest from the financial community in recent days.

“If you have refining operations, it’s not so great,” said Philip Weiss of Argus Research, pointing out that raw material costs for making gasoline and other fuels will go up with the price of oil. “In general it’s harder for refiners to keep up with rapidly rising prices.”

He said oil service companies will benefit as higher oil prices make it more economically feasible to boost spending on exploration. Companies that specialize in producing oil will also fetch higher prices for their crude.

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Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) Poised to Deliver on Promises

Wall Street regularly makes promises - and breaks them just as often. However, when Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) pledges a forward growth trajectory of epic proportions, I believe we have ample reason to anticipate a precious promise kept.

Goldcorp delivered precisely the sort of dazzling fourth-quarter earnings performance that I offered as one of five looming catalysts for gold stocks earlier this month. While the market continues to process a wave of similarly stellar results from mid-tier titans Agnico-Eagle Mines (NYSE:AEM) and Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY), I encourage investors to take time for a double-take with Goldcorp's latest results.

Goldcorp churned up 689,600 ounces of gold during the fourth quarter of 2010. Thanks to a byproduct cash cost of just $164 per ounce that continues to set the standard among major producers, the miner's immense cash flow of $646.1 million for the period equates to $937 for every single ounce of gold produced!

The revenue statistics are sweeter still, with a 70% increase to $1.32 billion, which represents a phenomenal $1,944 for every gold ounce sold. How is that possible, you may ask, when the company's average realized gold price for the period was $1,378 per ounce? Byproduct credits, primarily for copper and silver production, are providing substantial benefit to miners' cost and cash flow structures, now that prices for these metals have themselves rocketed higher. Those byproduct credits, along with gold's relentless ascent, carried Goldcorp's fourth-quarter margin to $1,214 per ounce.

To the delight of silver stream holder Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW), Goldcorp's newly ramped-up Penasquito mine yielded 4.6 million ounces of silver during the fourth quarter.

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Southern Union (SUG) Profits Surge 10 Percent in 4Q

Natural gas company Southern Union Co. (NYSE:SUG) said Friday its fourth-quarter profit increased nearly 10 percent, fueled by higher revenue at its transportation and storage and distribution segments.

Management said it expects its business segments to produce solid results this year.

The company reported net income of $55.9 million, or 45 cents a share, for the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with net income of $51 million, or 41 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, Southern Union's earnings amounted to 53 cents a share, the company said.

Revenue jumped to $670.3 million from $603.7 million a year earlier.

For the full year, Southern Union posted net income of $216.2 million, or $1.73 a share, compared with net income of $170.9 million, or $1.37 a share, in 2009. Revenue rose to $2.5 billion from $2.2 billion.

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Range Resources (NYSE:RRC) Call Volume Goes Crazy Ahead of Earnings

Range Resources Corp. (NYSE:RRC) call-option trades surged to an almost seven-month high before the natural gas producer with assets in the U.S. Southwest and Appalachia reports earnings next week.

More than 28,000 calls to buy the stock traded today (Friday), almost 10 times the four-week average and eight times the number of puts to sell. The most-traded contracts were the June $70 calls, which accounted for more than one-third of all call volume. Fort Worth, Texas-based Range Resources gained 4.2 percent to $54.28, the highest price since October 2009.

Range Resources advanced 6.4 percent in the past year, compared with a 38 percent increase for a gauge of energy companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Analysts forecast it will report fourth-quarter profit of 13 cents a share excluding some items, according to the average of 33 estimates from a Bloomberg survey. The company is scheduled to report earnings on Feb. 28. Range Resources beat third-quarter estimates by 32 percent in October.

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Hercules Offshore Soars in Wild Oil Market

West Texas crude, the U.S. benchmark for oil, was up 1% at $98 per barrel at the close of the week as futures contracts crept back up toward the $100 mark after a volatile run prompted by democratic unrest in the oil-bearing regions of North Africa and the Middle East. The ways to play oil’s future trading price in the market are as frenetic as the commodity’s activity, and many suggest caution in speculating now.

Nestled in the world of small-cap and distressed companies, there are a few other ways to play oil. Shares in Houston-based Hercules Offshore (NASDAQ:HERO) shot up more than 20% Friday and were trading at $5.20 briefly before pulling back slightly to close at $4.93. The stock took off as trading volume quadrupled to 13.5 million shares, compared with an average 3-month volume of 3.1 million shares.

The buying and selling surge came from an upgrade in a note that Credit Suisse released Friday in which analysts raised the price target for HERO by a dollar, to $5.50, and reiterated the stock’s Outperform rating.

After going public in 2005, the company today contracts offshore rigs and inland barges for oil and natural gas exploration focused in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Apple (AAPL) iPhone 4 for Verizon Loses Consumer Reports Endorsement

Saying Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4 for the Verizon Wirless network has similar faults to the one that has weighed on AT&T (NYSE:T), Consumer Reports said they can't give their endoresment to the phone because of the number of dropped calls in certain major regions of the United States.

After testing the phone, which was released this month, Consumer Reports said it won’t include the device on its list of recommended smartphones.

“The Verizon iPhone 4 closely resembles the original AT&T iPhone 4 in many positive respects, including offering great multimedia functionality, a sharp screen, and the best MP3 player we’ve seen on a phone,” Consumer Reports said on its website. “Unfortunately, it also shares with its sibling the possibility of compromised performance in low-signal conditions when used without a bumper or case.”

The iPhone, which first hit stores in 2007, has become Apple’s best-selling product. It accounted for 39 percent of $26.7 billion in total sales in the most recent quarter. Calls may be dropped when the phone is gripped a way that affects the phone’s signal strength, the group said.

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NovaGold AMEX:NG) Responds to Copper Canyon Press Release

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - 02/25/11) - NovaGold Resources Inc. (TSX:NG)(AMEX:NG) is issuing this press release in response to the press release of Copper Canyon Resources Ltd. ("Copper Canyon") issued on February 24, 2011. As previously announced, NovaGold has extended to March 8, 2011 its offer for all of the outstanding shares of Copper Canyon. NovaGold's offer, which is on the basis of 0.0425 of a NovaGold common share for each Copper Canyon common share, represents a premium of approximately 41.8%, based on the closing prices of NovaGold's and Copper Canyon's shares on the TSX and TSX-V on December 17, 2010, the last trading day prior to NovaGold's announcement of its intention to make an offer for Copper Canyon, and a premium of approximately 33.4% based on the 20-day volume-weighted average prices of both companies on the TSX and TSX-V ending December 17, 2010. In addition to this premium, the offer provides certain other benefits to Copper Canyon shareholders as outlined in NovaGold's offer and take-over bid circular dated January 18, 2011.

Right of First Refusal

In its press release, Copper Canyon suggests that its right of first refusal with respect to the Copper Canyon property may have been triggered as a result of arrangements between NovaGold and the Galore Creek Partnership. NovaGold denies that this right has been triggered or that it is in breach of any obligations to Copper Canyon with respect to the Copper Canyon property. NovaGold will vigorously defend any action commenced by Copper Canyon with respect to this matter. NovaGold notes that, although not legally required to do so, it has now provided to Copper Canyon's solicitors the Galore Creek Partnership document requested by them.

Shareholder Rights Plan

NovaGold intends to pursue its application to cease trade Copper Canyon's shareholder rights plan (the "Plan"). The British Columbia Securities Commission is scheduled to hear this application on March 4, 2011. It is a condition of the offer that the Plan be waived, invalidated or cease traded prior to the expiry of the offer. NovaGold believes that Copper Canyon shareholders should be given the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they wish to accept NovaGold's offer.


This press release does not constitute an offer to buy or an invitation to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy or invitation to sell, any of the securities of NovaGold or Copper Canyon. Such an offer may only be made pursuant to an offer and take-over bid circular filed with the securities regulatory authorities in Canada.

NovaGold has also filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") a Registration Statement, which includes the offer and take-over bid circular relating to its offer to Copper Canyon shareholders. NOVAGOLD URGES INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS TO READ THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT, THE OFFER AND TAKE-OVER BID CIRCULAR AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS TO BE FILED WITH THE SEC AND CANADIAN SECURITIES REGULATORY AUTHORITIES, BECAUSE THEY CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION. Investors may obtain a free copy of the offer and take-over bid circular and other documents filed by NovaGold with the Canadian securities regulators at and with the SEC at the SEC's website at The offer and take-over bid circular and other documents may also be obtained for free, from NovaGold's website at or by directing a request to NovaGold's Director, Communications and Investor Relations, Suite 2300, 200 Granville Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 1S4, telephone 604-669-6227, or by contacting the Information Agent, Laurel Hill Advisory Group, toll free at 1-877-304-0211.

NovaGold's financial advisor is TD Securities Inc. Its legal advisors are Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Canada and Dorsey & Whitney LLP in the United States.

How to Tender

Copper Canyon shareholders wishing to accept the NovaGold offer are encouraged to act as soon as possible and tender their shares by completing the letter of transmittal accompanying the documents mailed to them and returning it, together with certificates representing their Copper Canyon shares and all other documents, to the offices of Computershare Investor Services Inc., the depositary for the offer, in Toronto, Ontario in accordance with the instructions in the letter of transmittal. If Copper Canyon shares are held by a broker or other financial intermediary, Copper Canyon shareholders should contact such intermediary and instruct it to tender their Copper Canyon shares. If you require assistance tendering your shares, please contact NovaGold's Information Agent, Laurel Hill Advisory Group toll free at 1-877-304-0211 (416-304-0211 collect) or by email at

The offer is open for acceptance until 5:00 pm (Eastern time) on March 8, 2011.

About NovaGold

NovaGold is a precious metals company engaged in the exploration and development of mineral properties in Alaska, U.S.A. and British Columbia, Canada. The Company is focused on advancing its two core properties, Donlin Creek and Galore Creek, with the objective of becoming a low-cost million-ounce-a-year gold producer, and offers superior leverage to gold with one of the largest reserve/resource bases of any junior or mid-tier gold company. NovaGold has a strong track record of expanding deposits through exploration success and forging collaborative partnerships, both with local communities and with major mining companies. The Donlin Creek project in Alaska, one of the world's largest undeveloped gold deposits, is held by a limited liability company owned equally by NovaGold and Barrick Gold U.S. Inc. The Galore Creek project in British Columbia, a large copper-gold-silver deposit, is held by a partnership owned equally by NovaGold and Teck Resources Limited. NovaGold also owns a 100% interest in the high-grade Ambler copper-zinc-gold-silver deposit in northern Alaska and has other earlier-stage exploration properties. NovaGold trades on the TSX and NYSE-AMEX under the symbol NG. More information is available at or by emailing

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release includes certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein including, without limitation, plans for and intentions with respect to the acquisition of Copper Canyon, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve various risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from NovaGold's expectations include uncertainty as to the completion of the purchase of Copper Canyon in accordance with the terms and conditions of the proposed offer; the accuracy of management's assessment of the effects of the successful completion of the offer; the timing and prospects for shareholder acceptance of an offer and the implementation thereof; the satisfaction of any conditions to an offer; uncertainties involving the need for additional financing to explore and develop properties and availability of financing in the debt and capital markets; uncertainties involved in the interpretation of drilling results and geological tests and the estimation of reserves and resources; the need for continued cooperation with Teck Resources in the exploration and development of the Galore Creek property; the need for cooperation of government agencies and native groups in the development and operation of properties; the need to obtain permits and governmental approvals; risks of construction and mining projects such as accidents, equipment breakdowns, bad weather, non-compliance with environmental and permit requirements, unanticipated variation in geological structures, ore grades or recovery rates; unexpected cost increases; fluctuations in metal prices and currency exchange rates; the outcome of litigation pending against the company; and other risk and uncertainties disclosed in NovaGold's Annual Information Form for the year ended November 30, 2010, filed with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities, and NovaGold's annual report on Form 40-F filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and in other NovaGold reports and documents filed with applicable securities regulatory authorities from time to time. NovaGold's forward-looking statements reflect the beliefs, opinions and projections on the date the statements are made. NovaGold assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements of beliefs, opinions, projections, or other factors, should they change.

Contacts:NovaGold Resources Inc.Rhylin BailieDirector, Communications & Investor Relations604-669-6227 or 1-866-669-6227NovaGold Resources Inc.Elaine SandersChief Financial Officer604-669-6227 or

Marathon (MRO) CEO's Compensation Hits $8.8 Million

The CEO of Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) saw his compensation jump 34 percent last year, to $8.8 million.

The bigger paycheck for President and CEO Clarence P. Cazalot Jr. came as net income for the big oil company rose 75 percent to $2.57 billion last year, and it began work in the Kurdistan portion of Iraq. Revenue for the year rose 36 percent to $72.2 billion.

Cazalot's base salary stayed the same, at $1.4 million. But his bonus grew by $400,000, to $2.5 million. And the value of new options awarded during the year jumped to $4.7 million, from $2.8 million in 2009. Those options were granted almost a year ago, and Cazalot has to stay with the company for three years to get all of them.

The company said its bonuses for Cazalot and other top executives were above target "for their contributions to our overall strong performance" for the year.

Marathon shares closed at $48.62 on Friday, near their high for the last 52 weeks of $50.56.

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Monsanto (MON) Won't Destroy Sugar Beet Plants

Monsanto (NYSE:MON) has had the decision by a judge to destroy genetically modified sugar beet seedlings planted in 2010 reversed by a federal appeals court in San Francisco.

The appeals court said the environmental and organic seed groups filing the lawsuit failed to prove the Monsanto sugar beats would have a detrimental impact on natural sugar beet plants.

In a decision on November 30, Monsanto had been ordered to destroy sugar beet seedlings on 256 acres because of unproven concerns over contaminating other sugar beets.

Monsanto's sugar beets are modified to resist Roundup herbicide, also made by the company.

American Crystal Sugar Co., Betaseed, Syngenta and SES vanderHave USA have received permits from the Department of Agriculture to plant the modified sugar beet seedlings.

Monsanto closed Friday at $72.21, gaining $1.67, or 2.37 percent.

El Paso (EP), Range Resources (RRC), Williams (WMB) Driving Options Interest

Worries abated over another fast surge in the price of oil, but options traders are still betting that turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa will continue to ripple through the energy sector.

Traders accumulated bullish positions in companies that focus on oil-and-gas production, transport or exploration, like El Paso Corp. (NYSE:EP), Range Resources Corp. (NYSE:RRC) and Williams Cos. (NYSE:WMB) Analysts said energy bulls are looking past oil's stabilization to around $98 a barrel and Saudi Arabia's supply assurances.

"The view is that the spike in crude oil will help the industry over time, [that] demand for things like drilling or oil-related services will remain strong," analyst Frederic Ruffy said.

The activity came after similar moves in options to buy shares in Brazil's Petrobras (NYSE:PBR), GMX Resources Inc. (NYSE:GMXR), Quicksilver Resources Inc. (NYSE:KWK), Petrohawk Energy Corp. (NYSE:HK) and Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (AMEX:KOG) earlier last week.

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Chesapeake (CHK), GeoResources (GEOI), Abraxas (AXAS) Jumping as Oil Prices Rise

For consumers, the return of $100-a-barrel oil is nothing but bad news. But investors see an opportunity: They're piling into unconventional energy stocks, betting that high oil prices could translate into big profits for some smaller U.S.-based oil companies.

In fact, companies that specialize in extracting crude from oil shale and oil sands are posting the biggest gains among energy companies this year.

212Email Print Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) has seen its stock jump 30% this year. Shares of small-cap GeoResources (NASDAQ:GEOI) are up nearly 40%. Abraxas Petroleum (NASDAQ:AXAS), which pulls oil out of the shale in the Rocky Mountains, has had a 27% runup.

"These [oil shale] companies basically start printing money once oil is above $90 a barrel," said Fadel Gheit, an oil industry analyst with Oppenheimer & Co.

Analysts and investors think these unconventional energy outfits could benefit the most if oil remains in the neighborhood of $100.

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Citigroup (C) Bearish on First Solar (FSLR)

Citigroup (C) analyst Timothy Arcuri wasn't impressed with the spin of First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) in its latest earnings report, and is a bear with the company.

He called the profit outlook of an additional 37 cents "of low quality," citing the majority of that coming from 12 percent tax rate as against a 13 percent break, and lower start-up expenses.

Concerning foreign exchange impact, Arcuri noted the assumptions “have crept higher, creating risk in the event the Euro goes the other way.”

He boosted his 2011 EPS estimate from $9.05 to $9.58 while slashing his revenue estimate from $3.8 billion to $3.7 billion.

First Solar closed Friday at $155.72, dropping $8.96, or 5.44 percent. Citigroup maintains a "Hold" rating on them and a price target of $150.

Exxon (XOM) Boosting Capex Up To $37 Billion

Exxon Mobil Corp(NYSE:XOM), said its annual capital spending could rise to as much as $37 billion, evidence the world's largest publicly traded oil company is confident that crude demand is returning with economic growth.

Exxon's annual capital spending will range from $33 billion to $37 billion during the next several years, up from $32.2 billion last year, the company said on Friday in its annual filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Exxon will likely provide more detail about its planned spending increase at an analyst meeting next month, but many other oil companies, encouraged by prolonged high crude prices have raised capital expenditures.

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NW Natural (NWN) Investing $250M in Encana (ECA) Deal

Northwest Natural Gas Co. (NYSE:NWN) on Friday said it will invest $250 million in a joint venture with Canadian natural gas giant Encana Corp. (NYSE:ECA) to develop reserves from a natural gas field in Wyoming.

The Portland-based natural gas utility (NYSE:NWN) said the partnership will supply up to 10 percent of its average annual requirements for the first 10 years and provide long-term gas supplies for more than 30 years.

The joint venture between Northwest Natural and Encana Oil & Gas Inc., a subsidiary of Calgary-based Encana Corp. (NYSE: ECA), will focus on developing sections of the Jonah Field, a natural gas field about 65 miles north of Rock Springs in southwestern Wyoming.

In a news release, NW Natural said the field is considered one of the 10 largest gas fields in the nation with more than two trillion cubic feet equivalent of proven reserves.

Under the agreement, NW Natural will pay between $45 million and $55 million per year over five years to cover drilling costs. In exchange, the company will receive working interests in certain sections of the Jonah Field that include both future and currently producing wells.

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ConocoPhillips (COP) Joined by Sinopec (SHI) in Aussie LNG Deal

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) announced Friday it will be joined by Sinopec (NYSE:SHI) in a liquefied natural gas venture in Australia, where they'll acquire a 15 percent stake in the project.

Also known as China Petrochemical Corp., they will purchase a stake in a venture dubbed Australia Pacific LNG Pty Ltd.

Before the deal ConocoPhillips was a 50/50 partner with Origin Energy in the project, with each dropping their stakes to 42.5 percent.

While financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed, what was disclosed is Sinopec will take 4.3 million tons of liquefied natural gas from the project over a 20-year period.

After passing Australian environmental hurdles this week, ConocoPhillips said LNG shipments should begin in 2015.

Apple's (AAPL) iPad Expected to Ship Soon

With most believing Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will unveil the iPad 2 at an announced special event on Wednesday, the question is how long the company will take before the first shipments begin.

Not long at all, say supply chain sources, who tell Barclays (NYSE:BCS) that the iPad 2 will likely arrive at market in April, just like its predecessor. Evidently, its design and specifications were finalized earlier this month and it’s headed into manufacturing now. Barclays analyst Kirk Yang expects iPad 2 shipments to start in early April, with two million units for that month.

“The April shipment time frame (vs. the earlier market expectation of small shipments in March) is primarily due to production line setup and training, and not likely due to any product re-design,” he says. “None of the component suppliers suggest any type of re-designs nor delays.”

Like most everyone else, Barclays expects the iPad 2 to be faster, thinner and lighter and outfitted with cameras and FaceTime support. Its unit shipment forecast for the device: 28.8 million for fiscal 2011 and 40 million for fiscal 2012.

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Petrobras' (PBR) Earnings Soar while Costs Dive

In the most successful quarter in the history of the company, Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) - the state-owned oil giant based in Brazil - generated a 38 percent increase in net income while slashing expenses.

Chief Financial Official Almir Barbassa noted, "Earnings in the fourth quarter were a record high. We invested part of the money raised in the (share offering) ... and we rearranged the international portfolio."

Profit soared to 10.6 billion reais ($6.4 billion) for the quarter, far higher than the 8.84 billion reais analysts were looking for.

Expenses plummeted by $300 million as the company cut back on exploration expenditures.

Petrobras closed Friday in New York at $40.38, gaining $0.64, or 1.61 percent. The company has a market cap of just under $260 billion.

Still No Permits After BP (NYSE:BP) Oil Spill

The Obama administration continues to drag its feet in awarding deepwater drilling permits to companies after the BP (NYSE:BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said, "We are carefully and rigorously reviewing drilling plans. I am quite confident we will again get to the point where we can begin issuing deepwater permits."

When asked about the possible effects from the Libyan and Middle Eastern crisis, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said it was "not changing at all what we are doing here," and weren't in a hurry to issue permits.

It seem he and Obama better start getting a sense of urgency, as it should have happened long ago on the basis of American oil demand and needs.

Even with a new rapid-response systems in place the Obama administration refuses to grant the drilling permits, suggesting they're attempting to require perfection no human being or company could provide, probably based on political expediency rather than the good of the country.

Caterpillar (CAT), Joy Global (JOYG) Should be Huge Beneficiaries of

When Vale (NYSE:VALE) recently said the global mining industry could spend as high as $120 billion to expand capacity in 2011, it raised a few eyebrows, but company off one of the best mining years in history (the best if you ask Vale), most are taking their projections seriously. If accurate, it should be a huge boost to equipment makers
like Caterpillar (CAT) and Joy Global (JOYG) in the U.S.

Whether it will ultimately benefit the major miners like BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP), Vale or Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) remains to be seen, as that will for the most part depend upon the amount of money China decides to spend.

Although there is no indication China has lost its will to spend, there is the very real threat of inflation there, which could cause some difficulties, although the timing of when that could happen is anyone's guess, and so the assumption is 2011 will be another big spending year for the middle kingdom.

Consequently, Caterpillar (CAT) and Joy Global (JOYG) should experience an extraordinary year, being the major providers of mining equipment in America.

They won't be affected by China as much as the miners may, as they're convinced China's buying, and with that in mind, they're definitely going to be buying equipment to meet that perceived demand.

Vale SA (NYSE:VALE) Ready to Resume Record Performance

Brazilian miner Vale SA (NYSE:VALE) is looking forward to "a very, very good year," following the company's record financial results in 2010, Chief Executive Roger Agnelli said Friday.

Agnelli told analysts on a conference call that "2010 was the best" and that "higher output of all our products, including iron ore, nickel and copper" bode well for 2011's results.

Global copper prices look set to reach record highs this year, the Vale CEO said.

Vale reported late Thursday that its fourth-quarter earnings rose nearly four-fold to $5.917 billion, contributing to a record-high annual profit of $17.264 billion, about 21% above its previous best in 2008.

Revenue, profit margin and investments also reached record levels, which the company said put it ahead of peers BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE:BHP), Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO), XStrata (LSE:XTA) and Anglo American PLC (LSE:AAL).

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Peabody (BTU) Lands Another Indonesian Coal Sourcing Deal

Peabody Energy Corp. (NYSE:BT& announced Friday that it has a deal with Indonesia's PT Cahaya Energi Mandiri (CEM) to source 2 million tons of coal for Asian export.

The coal from PT CEM will come over a period two years from a mine in East Kalimantan.

Export will be through Peabody COALTRADE's international trading hub in Singapore.

Peabody said the relationship with PT CEM could be expanded over time.

Peabody said this is the third agreement it reached recently to source Indonesian coal, including a deal inked in December with PT Supra Bara Energi in Indonesia, and together the deals total 5.5 million tons.

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Iamgold's (IAG) 2011 Inflation, Costs Pressures

Gold miners like Iamgold (NYSE:IAG), while performing solidly, have been receiving attention from investors who are concerned over how the company will respond to higher inflation and rising costs.

Even coming off of great quarters, and Iamgold itself generating 39 cents a share on revenues of $495 million, which far surpassed analysts' estimations, there is still a sense of uncertainty for the year going forward.

In the case of inflation it's somewhat surprising, as well-run gold miners tend to do well in those circumstances, with gold prices usually pushed up as a result of money flowing into the sector for safety.

Concerns over higher costs in the case of Iamgold are well-founded, as they rose by close to $100 an ounce from last year in the same quarter, to $574 an ounce.

But high gold prices can be forgiving, and it appears that should continue on into 2011, helping negate that factor, although they'll perform lower than some of their peers.

Guidance for 2011 is for cash costs to range from $565 and $595 an ounce on production of 1.1 million to 1.2 million ounces of gold.

Iamgold recently raised its dividend to 8 cents a share.

Goldcorp (GG) and Inflation, Rising Costs Challenges

Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) and other gold miners have been getting the attention of some who are worried over the possible negative impact rising inflation and mining costs and how they what the impact on the mining companies will be.

The massive gold miner looks strong in reference to that, as looking at earneings 57 cents a share in the fourth quarter with production reaching 689,600 ounces of gold at total cash cost of $164 an ounce. Minus metal bi-products, Goldcorp's cash costs were $461 an ounce. Goldcorp also realized record production from three of its mines, as well as the first full quarter of production at its newer Penasquito mine.

Margins at Goldcorp also reached record levels for the company, mostly on the record high gold prices and record operating cash flows of $646.1 million, $1.7 billion for all of 2010.

Goldcorp boosted its annual dividend to 40 cents share, an 11 percent increase.

Like with its peers, inflation shouldn't be a worry to them as investors seek a safe haven to protect their assets, with gold among the favorite targets.

Barrick (ABX) and Inflation, Rising Costs, Guidance

Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) and other miners have been garnering the attention of some who are concerned over the impact rising inflation and costs will have on the companies in light of their guidance.

The giant gold miner looks solid in that regard, as based on revenue topping $2.95 billion and gold production reached 1.7 million ounces at cash costs of $486 an ounce, or $326 an ounce if you include sales of byproduct metals. Barrick said it should produce from 7.6 million to 8 million ounces of gold in 2011 at cash costs from $450 to $480 an ounce. Cash costs will be up in 2011 over 2010 because of rising raw material costs and lower grade gold at some of the mines the company works.

But with Barrick generating 95 cents a share in the last quarter, a big boost of 55 percent over the same quarter last year, while also declaring a 12-cent dividend, it appears they're confident they can continue to generate healthy profits in a tough environment.

As for inflation, that should help all the gold mining companies, and investors flock to gold to protect against rising inflation, which should help drive up the price of gold.

Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC) Facing Risk with Foreclosure Fines

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC) and Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC), the largest U.S. mortgage firms, said they may face fines or enforcement actions from regulators amid investigations into foreclosure procedures.

The probes may also lead to “significant legal costs,” Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America said yesterday in its annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, said in its filing that penalties are likely.

“I’m sure the banks are ready to put this past them and investors would certainly like to but this is not an issue that is going to go away,” Blake Howells, an analyst at Becker Capital Management Inc. in Portland, Oregon, said in an interview. “There will be more lawsuits that come down the road.” Becker Capital oversees $2.4 billion.

The largest U.S. banks have been trying to reassure investors that costs from faulty foreclosure documents are manageable. Wells Fargo said yesterday it didn’t expect litigation costs to have a “material adverse” impact on its financial position. Bank of America said it faced $230 million in fees from slowed foreclosures.

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Apple (AAPL), Nintendo (OTC:NTDOY) Products Appeal to Seniors

Products from tech companies like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Nintendo (OTC:NTDOY) are increasingly becoming a part of the lives of seniors, and it appears they like to have fun while exercise the brain or getting fit.

With the first baby boomers turning 65 this year, companies in the youth-centric consumer electronics business are turning more attention to older customers.

This gray-tech trend covers everything from video games for exercising older minds and bodies, such as Nintendo's (NTDOY) BrainAge and Wii Fit, to Skype video conferencing for seniors to interact with their kids and grandkids.

In some cases, general-interest tech products will be marketed differently to senior citizens. In other cases, new products will be developed specifically with older people in mind .

Gray tech has moved beyond those telephones with ridiculously large buttons for seniors with poor eyesight. Today's seniors want many of the same cool tech products prized by younger consumers.

There's more focus on gray tech because it's a growing market with big spending power, analysts say.

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The Real Challenges Facing Toyota (NYSE:TM)

Toyota (NYSE:TM) announced yet another recall on Thursday, adding 2.7 million more vehicles in the U.S. to its ongoing attempts to address sticking gas pedals. It comes on the heels of another recall announced a few weeks back that affected 1.7 million vehicles around the world, including 265,000 Lexus sedans that came almost entirely from the U.S market. There were a few different issues involved in that one, but none is trivial: Each of the defects could cause gasoline leaks.

These were the company's first recalls since October, but that's not saying much. According to Reuters, Toyota has now recalled almost16 million vehicles since the company's quality woes began to surface in the fall of 2009, at a hefty cost in both cash and credibility.

But lingering recall woes aren't the only thing causing buyers to hesitate. Toyota is stumbling on a couple of different fronts just as its key global competitors are picking up steam. Can it recover?

The real trouble with Toyota

At least one analyst thinks the gas-leak recall will end up costing the company around $240 million all by itself, but the real costs will be hard to determine. Toyota (barely) led the world's automakers in sales again last year, but its U.S. sales were down 0.3% in a year where nearly all rivals saw big gains., which tracks a number of car-shopper metrics, estimates that 17.9% of buyers considered a Toyota in December, down 2.3 percentage points from December 2009, just before the recall scandal broke into mass public awareness.

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Wells Fargo (WFC) Expects Fine in Mortgage Probe

Wells Fargo & Co.’s (NYSE:WFC) lending and foreclosure practices probably will draw an enforcement action that may include a fine, the bank said today (Friday) in a regulatory filing.

“It is likely that one or more of the government agencies will initiate some type of enforcement action against Wells Fargo, which may include civil money penalties,” the San Francisco-based lender said in its annual report. “Wells Fargo continues to provide information requested by the various agencies.”

Wells Fargo said the high end of estimated litigation losses could be $1.2 billion beyond the reserve already set aside, according to the filing. The bank, which ranks as the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, said it didn’t expect litigation costs to have a “material adverse” impact on its financial position.

Wells Fargo completed its own review of foreclosures in the fourth quarter and doesn’t believe any unwarranted seizures occurred, according to the filing.

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Microsoft (MSFT), Facebook Ramping Up Online Privacy Protections

Technology majors Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Facebook Inc. are working to strengthen and clarify their efforts around the controversial issue of online privacy—the latest steps by the Internet firms to call for stronger consumer protections.

On Thursday, Microsoft endorsed the concept of adding a do-not-track tool to its Web browsing software, signaling a shift in support for a system that could let people avoid having their movements monitored online. Microsoft slipped its mention of the tool—specifically, adding a reference to a do-not-track feature in its Internet Explorer browser—into a technical paper it submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium.

On Friday, meanwhile, Facebook unveiled a new draft of its highly watched privacy policy. While the new policy doesn't change the social network's data-handling practices, it contains chunks of information organized around more practical headings such as "your information and how it is used" and "how advertising works."

The moves underline how some tech companies are continuing to grapple with online privacy concerns. The Wall Street Journal has been running an investigative series, "What They Know," which chronicled the scope and increasing intrusiveness of online-tracking technologies. The Federal Trade Commission has since weighed in with proposals on improving online privacy, as efforts to simplify privacy policies and controls have also gained steam across a range of companies.

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Burlington Northern Berkshire's (BRK-A) Top Move Says Buffett

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s (NYSE:BRK) quarterly profit rose 43 percent to the highest since 2007 on derivative gains and earnings from the railroad that billionaire Chairman Warren Buffett bought last year.

Fourth-quarter net income advanced to $4.38 billion, or $2,656 a share, from $3.06 billion, or $1,969, a year earlier, Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire said today on its website.

Buffett acquired Burlington Northern Santa Fe for $26.5 billion to add the second-biggest U.S. railroad to Berkshire’s collection of insurance, energy and consumer-goods units. The 80-year-old chief executive officer issued stock and debt to fund the deal for Fort Worth, Texas-based Burlington. Economic expansion in the U.S. fueled profit gains at the freight-hauling unit in 2010.

“The highlight of 2010 was our acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, a purchase that’s working out even better than I expected,” Buffett said in his letter to shareholders today. He said he’s looking for more “major acquisitions.”

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GE (GE) Slashes Workforce by 5.6 Percent in 2010

General Electric (NYSE:GE) cut its global workforce by 5.6 percent in 2010, dropping the overall number of employees overall to 287,000. Much of that was attributed to overseas businesses at its GE Capital division.

The number of U.S. employees dropped less than 1 percent to 133,000, according to the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company’s annual regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt is shrinking the finance unit’s total contribution to GE profit and sales in part by shedding some consumer finance assets overseas while adding jobs via research and manufacturing projects in the U.S. GE last year drew 53 percent of its sales from outside the U.S., the company said today (Friday).

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Newmont (NEM) Records Highest Net Income in its History

Miners had an extraordinary last quarter, with companies like Vale (NYSE:VALE and Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) generating amazing results, and that was the same for Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) as well.

The company reported that adjusted net income rose 39% to a record $1.9 billion or $3.85 per share in 2010, compared to $1.4 billion or $2.79/sh in 2009. Net income increased 76% to $2.3 billion or $4.63 per share in 2010, compared to $1.3 billion or $2.26/sh in 2009.

Adjusted net income for the fourth-quarter 2010 was reported at $574 million or $1.16 per share, up slightly from $561 million or $1.14 per share reported during the same quarter of 2009. Net income for the fourth-quarter 2010 was reported at $812 million or $1.65 per share, up from $588 million or $1.14/sh reported during the fourth-quarter 2009.

Newmont has budgeted for $2.1 billion to $2.5 billion in capital expenditures this year, up from $1.4 billion in 2010. Approximately 40% of the capex is expected to be related to major project initiates including further development of Akyem in Ghana, the Conga Project in Peru, Hope Bay in Canada, and the Nevada project portfolio.

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Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) in Record Net Earnings, Gold Production

Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) reports record gold production and net earnings for 2010.

Adjusted net earnings of $1 billion or $1.37 a share were reported in 2010, up from net earnings of $588.2 million or 80-cents a share reported for 2009. Net earnings for 2010 were a record $1.6 billion or $2.14 ar share, compared to net earnings of $240.2 million or 33-cents/sh reported for 2009.

Goldcorp reported adjusted net earnings of $417.1 million or 57-cents per share in the fourth-quarter 2010, up from $182.7 million or 25-cents/sh reported in the fourth-quarter 2009. Net earnings in the fourth quarter of 2010 were $331.8 million, compared to $66.7 million in the fourth-quarter 2009.

Excluding the Pueblo Viejo operation, capital expenditures for 2011 are forecast to be $1.5 billion including $300 million each for Éléonore and El Morro, $200 million for Red Lake and $200 million for Cerro Negro.

Exploration expenditures are expected to be $170 million this year, of which one-half will be expensed, with efforts focused on replacing reserves mined throughout the year and on extending existing told zones at all of Goldcorp's prospective mines and projects.

Goldcorp reported record gold production of 2,520,300 ounces for 2010, up from 2,421,300 ounces mined in 2009. Gold production for the fourth-quarter 2010 was 689,600 ounces, up from 601,300 ounces for the same period of 2009. Gold production was higher during the fourth-quarter 2010, mainly due to record production at Marlin and Los Filos.

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Vale (NYSE:VALE) Says Earnings Best Ever in Mining Industry

Vale (NYSE:VALE) reported what they called the ‘best ever' annual result in the mining industry: $17.3bn in 2010.

Vale CEO Roger Agnelli says - that given the company's project pipeline and the demand for its metals and minerals production-"even better days are ahead for us."

Vale Thursday reported its "best ever annual result, characterized by all-time high figures for operating revenues, operating income, operating margin, cash generation and net earnings."

Vale reported record net earnings of $17.3 billion or $3.25 a share in 2010, which the company claimed were "the largest ever in the mining industry." The company reported net earnings of $5.35 billion or $1 per share in 2009.

During the fourth-quarter 2010, Vale reported net earnings of $5.9 billion, compared to $2.5 billion in net earnings reported during the fourth-quarter 2009.

Vale reported $19.4 billion in investments in 2010, which the company said were "the largest in the world's mining industry." Record capital expenditures-excluding acquisitions-were reported at $1.27 billion last year.

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Bank of America (BAC) Rolls Out New Checking Fee Structure, Follows (JPM), (C), (WFC)

Following in the footsteps of JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) has launched its new fee structure for checking accounts, starting it off in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts.

The formerly free accounts will include fees ranging from $6 to $25, depending on a variety of factors. After working through the system, Bank of America will expand the program nationally later in 2011.

Adding fees to checking accounts was a response by banks to the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill which cut back on fees used to process debit card transactions.

"Essentials" is a basic account with a monthly fee and a debit card. "eBanking" accounts have no fees if the customer opts for e-statements and makes deposits and withdrawals online or via an ATM. "Enhanced" accounts include a fee if a customer doesn't keep a minimum of $2,000 balance. "Premium" accounts must have a $20,000 balance and will offer free check printing and money orders.

Bank of America was trading at $14.19, gaining $0.22, or 1.61 percent, as of 2:59 PM EST.

Newmont (NEM) Still a "Buy" Says Goldman (GS)

Newmont Mining Corp. (NYSE:NEM) continues to be attractive in the eyes of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), which said in a report Friday that they're maintaining their "Buy" rating on the giant miner.

Goldman Sachs wrote in a note to clients, "Despite inflationary headwinds in FY2010, Newmont reported net income of $2.3Bn (a 76% increase), and $3.2Bn of operating cash flow. Adjusted net income rose 39% from the previous year to $1.9Bn. Adjusted EPS of $3.85/sh was above the consensus estimate of $3.77/sh and our estimate of $3.54/sh. Gold operating margin increased by 30% to $737/oz, as realized gold price outpaced cost increase. The company ended the year with $5.6Bn in cash and marketable securities. Our Buy rating reflects our positive view of NEM's strong leverage to gold price and discount to its peer group."

Newmont was trading at $54.30, falling $0.46, or 0.84 percent, as of 2:46 PM EST. Goldman has a price target of $73.95 on Newmont.

Comcast (CMCSA) and Level 3 (LVLT) Battling it Out Behind the Scenes

The battle between Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Level 3 (NASDAQ:LVLT) hasn't abated in any way, it has just removed itself from the public eye and is being pressed on the FCC.

Big headlines about the dispute between Level 3 Communications and Comcast over the latter's access charges may have subsided, but don't let that fool you. Like so many telecom wars, this one has migrated to the antechambers of the Federal Communications Commission. There, both sides are battling over whether the feud comes under the FCC's authority via its still-unofficial net neutrality rules.

"It would be ironic and unfortunate if, as we begin the era of growing broadband connectivity and use, the Commission effectively abdicated jurisdiction over broadband Internet services in a way that reduces choice and openness for the American consumer," Level 3 is warning the agency.

Au contraire, insists Comcast. "This has been, is, and will remain a dispute about the terms of an existing arrangement for network interconnection. It is not properly before this Commission."

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NRG Energy (NRG) Acquiring Solar Projects Before Pullback

NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), which recently entered into a venture fund with ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE), has been scooping up solar projects from companies like First Solar Inc. (FSLR).

CEO David Crane says he sees demand for large solar projects shrinking over the next several years, and has been on an acquisition spree for those with over 20 megawatts in size and are more centralized before that happens.

NRG's most recent acquisition was a 290 megawatt project from First Solar.

Along with First Solar being an important source of revenue for NRG in the U.S., there's also SunPower Corp. (SPWRA), which its been increasing business with.

Concerning renewable energy generation, Crane said he sees solar having more upside than wind.

Google (GOOG) Going After Streamers Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN)

Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) has barely left the gate with its streaming content, and Netflix (Nasdaq:NFLX) hasn't had time to really respond, and they already have another major competitor emerging from the shadows, as Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) looks to add more value to their YouTube franchise by offering a subscription streaming video service.

Netflix has yet to explain how they're going to respond to the two giant companies entering the video streaming segment, as they don't have near the capital to compete head-to-head with the two in what will eventually become a commodity service competing on price.

While never in the best of graces with Hollywood, tinseltown knows they need Google, and will hammer out some type of deal, as reports are the search giant has set aside about $100 million to make content deals. Negotiations have also reportedly been going on for months.

Adding a subscription service to the existing advertising model for YouTube should make shareholders happy, who have pressured the company on associated costs which may be weighing on the share price of Google.

As for Amazon, thev've recently released a streaming video service to premium members, and will surely roll it out to others sometime in the near future.

NetFlix could get crushed in the crossfire between the two giant companies.

Monsanto (MON), Mosaic (MOS) Leading (MOO) Up

Shares of Monsanto (NYSE:MON) and Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) are helping push Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (MOO) up, while the iPath DJ-UBS Cotton ETN (BAL) is up over 5 percent today on positive production comments.

The Department of Agriculture reported greater production by U.S. cotton farmers, as well as for soybean and wheat farmers as well, as agricultural prices are jumping again.

Farmers have been increasing inputs on the basis of rising food prices and demand, which appears to be not going away any time soon.

Even with the unrest in the Middle East and other concerns, people have to eat, and governments will do what they must to be sure they are in order to quell potential riots which is already unseating leaders.

Is Potash (POT) a Buyer or Seller?

Investors are talking about whether Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE:POT) will start to monetize its strategic investments, with an ultimate goal of returning the cash to shareholders.

Potash Corp. owns a 32% stake in Chilean specialty fertilizer and industrial chemicals producer Soquimich Comercial SA, 28% of Jordan-based miner Arab Potash Co., 22% of Chinese agricultural giant Sinofert Holdings Ltd. and 14% of Israel Chemicals Ltd.

Together, these investments are worth about $33 a share (pre-split), according to Scotia Capital analyst Ben Issaacson.

In a note to clients, he explained that BHP Billiton’s (NYSE:BHP) $130 a share hostile takeover bid for Potash brought the fertilizer giant’s four strategic stakes into the spotlight.

Cargill Inc.’s decision to start selling its 64% stake in Mosaic Co. (NYSE:MOS) has also prompted investor interest in monetization for Potash Corp., as have fertilizer equity valuations that Mr. Issaacson believes look “somewhat rich,” suggesting the cycle peak is approaching.

However, the analyst thinks Potash Corp. is more of a buyer than a seller. His discussions with the company this week show that it is is maintaining its investment positions due to the fertilizer-related market intelligence provided, their potash-first strategies, and the low-cost positions of some of these stakes.


Nokia's (NOK) New Symbian Homescreen, NetQin Mobile

Over in China, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) has been detailing more of its device-related plans including a quick glimpse at a possible version of the overhauled Symbian UI.

Although Nokia's new deal with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) means that Symbian won't get the same level of attention that it's accustomed to, Nokia has promised upgrades for existing devices.

The new homescreen shows a number of widgets, including weather, inbox and what look like floating browser and Facebook shortcuts.

The inbox seems to have just about been dragged into the 21st century, having done away with the awful '90s-style Nokia font and incorporating more interactive contact images on the homescreen.

Separately, Mobile security services provider NetQin Mobile Inc said today that its Mobile Manager software is pre-loaded into the Nokia E7 mobile phone.

NetQin Mobile Manager, a productivity management app, is built to help business people better manage their calls, text messages and private data. It features an advanced spam filter engine and also empowers users to set a blacklist and the rejection mode to decide whose call will be blocked and how the phone will reject the caller in a nice way.


AIG (AIG), First Solar (FSLR), JC Penney (JCP) All Plunge

While the overall market looks better Friday than it has in several days, shares of AIG (AIG), First Solar (FSLR) and JC Penney (JCP) have all dropped over 5 percent on the day.

Stocks climbed Friday, breaking three consecutive sessions of losses, led by the tech and financial sectors and as oil prices stabilized at lower levels.

The major indices are poised to end the week with their worst weekly percentage decline since August. However, they continue to be in positive territory for the month and year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up almost 60 points, after ending slightly lower in the previous session.

Intel (INTC) and Boeing (BA) led Dow components higher, while Wal-Mart (WMT) and Pfizer (PFE) fell.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also advanced. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, sank almost 10 percent to trade below 20.

All key S&P 500 sectors were higher, led by financials, technology and materials.

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Hecla Mining (HL), Goldcorp (GG), Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners (GDXJ) All Up

Miners Hecla Mining (HL), Goldcorp (GG) are moving up today, as well as Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) and the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners (GDXJ), which are all jumping.

Gold futures were down slightly in New York in morning trading with contracts for April delivery at $1,405.60 an ounce. Spot gold was up $3.90 to $1406 an ounce as of 1:16 PM EST.

While a number of analysts believe there has been some downward pressure on the sector because of profit taking and what some assume are better alternatives at this time, there are just as many that see mixed signals and enormous uncertainty in the Middle East, sovereign debt crisis in Europe and soaring inflation as just as powerful factors in determing where capital will flow.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Makes Changes to Search Engine Algorithm

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) made a major change to its powerful search engine in order to reduce the appearance of what it calls "low-quality" websites in search results.

The move comes after months of criticism from a few technology-industry insiders and an acknowledgment by Google last month that it "can and should do better" to beat back sites that game its system to rise up in search results but offer users little value.

In a post on the company's blog Thursday night, Google search engineers Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal said the change to the search algorithm, which helps rank sites based on how relevant they are to the user's query, would lower the rankings for sites that "copy content from other websites" or "sites that area just not very useful" but have found a way to rise up in Google's rankings anyway. About 12% of U.S.-based search queries would be affected, they said.

"It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down," the Google engineers wrote, adding that sites with original content "such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on" will move up.

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Bank of America (BAC) Gets Big 'No' From Countrywide Investors

Several large institutional investors have rejected a court settlement where Countrywide Financial Corp. had agreed to pay $600 million to a number of national pension funds.

Those pulling out of the agreement include BlackRock Inc.; the California Public Employees Retirement System, or Calpers; T. Rowe Price Group Inc.; Nuveen Investments Inc.; and the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, according to a document from the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The investors decided the settlement, initially agreed to last May, wasn't enough and will seek their own terms with the mortgage originator and its current owner Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC), as well as Countrywide's auditor KPMG LLP. KPMG had committed another $24 million to the settlement.

A spokesman for New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who represented the massive New York State Common Retirement Fund in the litigation, said the fund intends to remain part of the "very reasonable settlement." Ola Fadahunsi, the spokesman, noted the comptroller's office is "very happy" with the work of its counsel on the case.

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Advanced Micro Devices' (AMD) Battle Against Intel (INTC), Nvidia (NVDA)

Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD) competes with Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) in the PC microprocessor and graphics businesses.

Our price estimate for AMD stands at $9.30, which is roughly in line with market price. The company recently launched a marketing campaign to better promote its products against competitors. Intel, for one, has continuously overshadowed AMD.

Does AMD's stock value stand to gain from these initiatives? Here we assess the outlook for a few key metrics.

Intel and AMD have competed against each other in the PC
microprocessor space for decades, with Intel consistently holding by far the majority market share. AMD holds a decent position in the desktop market with about 28% market share, but the stagnation of the desktop market remains a major concern. What hurts AMD is that it is losing a foothold in the markets that are growing: servers and notebooks.

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Ford (NYSE:F) Trying to Keep Mercury Owners in Fold

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) is offering some Mercury vehicle owners $500 toward the purchase of a new Ford vehicle and as much as $1,500 to buy a Lincoln as the auto maker looks to retain customers after dissolving the brand last year.

The customer loyalty incentive, which started earlier this week, runs through April 4, according to three dealers briefed on the discount. The offer is confined to the Midwest states which had been the heart of the Mercury market.

This is one of the first steps Ford has taken to reach out to Mercury customers after the auto maker stopped producing Mercury vehicles at the end of last year. The move also comes as stand-alone Lincoln dealers—those without a Ford franchise—adjust to life minus their Mercury showrooms which helped pull in shoppers.

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Wells Fargo (WFC), Fifth Third (FITB), BAC (BAC) UP, Citigroup (C) Down

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) and Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ:FITB) led bank stocks higher Friday as the financial sector shook off a downward revision to fourth-quarter U.S. economic growth.

Wells Fargo and Fifth Third were the top-gaining components in the Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF), which rose more than 1% in late-morning trade.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) on Friday upgraded shares of Wells Fargo to conviction buy from neutral, while cutting its rating on Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) to neutral from conviction buy.

In upgrading Wells Fargo, the Goldman analysts pointed to solid core pre-provision operating profit trends, improving credit, a possible dividend increase and share buybacks, and overreaction to the recent departure of the bank’s chief financial officer.

Meanwhile, FBR Capital Markets lifted its rating on Fifth Third Bancorp to outperform from market perform and boosted its price target on the shares to $17 from $14.

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SandRidge (SD) Soars After Upwardly Revised Oil Production Guidance

SandRidge (NYSE:SD) is up nearly 12% after raising its oil production guidance for the first time in six quarters.

It plans to produce 23.3 million barrels in 2011, up from the original 21.6 million.

The raised outlook came out with its fourth-quarter earnings release yesterday which reported a slightly narrower loss than analysts had expected.

It posted a net loss of $208.02 million or $0.53 per share, smaller than the $434.24 million in the same quarter in 2009.

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Coca-Cola (KO) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Ready to Jump?

Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) are among large cap stocks that could be poised to break out.

If you follow investment news, you likely agree with my headline. Everybody and their mother seems to be talking about large-cap stocks. Sure, I might be a bit biased since I've been an awfully broken record on the subject.

A Bloomberg article yesterday continued the chorus. The article started with the thoughts of Michel Moreno, the CEO of oil-services company Moreno Group, saying that he's putting money into well-known, blue-chip stocks. It went on to note that Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo guru Jeremy Grantham sees the largest U.S. stocks, including Coca-Cola (KO) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) as "overdue for gains." It points out that investors put $5.2 billion into large-cap mutual funds in January. And it includes a number of other comments from investment advisors singing the praises of large caps.

So surely large caps must be soaring? Nope. Not even close. For now, the "big ups" to big companies is all lip service. Investors flocked to small caps in 2010, pulling $77 billion out of large-cap mutual funds and sending the Russell 2000 index to a 27% finish versus a 13% gain for the S&P 100. And small-caps just keep going.

But it's pretty plain to see that bargain opportunities for investors that care about valuation are harder to come by in the smaller end of the market. The average trailing and forward price-to-earnings ratio for the 100 largest U.S.-traded stocks is 17.5 and 13.5, respectively. For stocks in the $500 million to $2 billion range, the multiples are 30 and 23.3.

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Boeing (BA) Gives Stocks a Boost

U.S. stocks advanced, snapping three consecutive days of losses, as shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) surged and easing fears over supply helped crude-oil prices stabilize.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 47 points, or 0.4%, to 12116. Boosting the measure, Boeing climbed 2.3% after the Air Force awarded a $30 billion tanker deal to the company late Thursday.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) was also strong, rising 2.8%.

Stocks rebounding as oil flattens as investors catch their breath. GDP revision comes in weak, and the economy still faces a nasty mix of headwinds. Kathleen Madigan, Kristina Peterson and Paul Vigna report.

The Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.2% to 2770. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gained 0.8% to 1316.

Helping to end the market's streak of losses, crude-oil futures stabilized as worries faded about supply shortages related to the unrest in Libya. Crude-oil prices hovered around $97 a barrel.

"We've seen some decent economic data in the consumer sentiment survey, [and] Saudi Arabia's announcement yesterday that they would meet any oil deficiency seems to have settled the markets quite a great deal," said Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington. Investors were still eyeing oil closely for signs that energy costs could filter through in ways the market hasn't yet anticipated, Mr. Farr added.

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Analysts Say Buy Wells Fargo (WFC) Before Report

Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) shares burst out of the gate on Friday, reversing recent performance, as Wall Street analysts suggested investors buy ahead of the company's filing of an annual report.

Earlier in the day, Goldman Sachs analysts added the stock to its firm's "conviction buy" list from a previous rating of neutral. Additionally, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher Mutascio said the recent sell-off in Wells Fargo, related to the abrupt departure of the bank's former CFO, is overdone. Mutascio believes the resignation of the executive, Howard Atkins, was announced after the close on Feb. 8. Since that time, Wells' share price has plunged 7.8%.

Wells Fargo Investors Want Answers

"Given the number of times management has denied that the CFO's departure has anything to do with the company's financial condition or its financial reporting," said Mutascio, "we would be buyers into the release of the company's 10-K as we do not believe there will be any restatements or surprise disclosures tied to the CFO's departure contained within the regulatory filing."

The analyst made an especially bullish call on the stock, saying it not only offer long-term value but was a great short-term play as well. Mustacio also said that Wells, at current price levels, is a better deal than other large-cap peers that were trading lower in recent days.

The sell-off in Wells' stock was exacerbated by another analyst's assertion earlier this month that Atkins left because he found the company's accounting too "aggressive" and because its disclosures were wanting. TheStreet has also reported that Atkins left over clashes with his boss, John Stumpf, although the reasons weren't clear. Wells has said repeatedly that his departure was due to "personal" reasons, but won't disclose further information.

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IBM (IBM), Oracle (ORCL), Dell (DELL), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Microsoft (MSFT), Intel (INTC) Taking Up MFG Slack

IBM (NYSE:IBM), Oracle (Nasdaq:ORCL), Dell (Nasdaq:DELL), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT), and Intel (NYSE:INTC) are all doing their part to take up the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

Danger is when something can be stated as fact, without facts backing it up, and still be accepted by most.

Take, for example, the rampant fear that our manufacturing muscle has eroded over the years. Just yesterday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) bemoaned that this country "needs a real strategy on making things. We ought to make things in this country." Implying, of course, that we don't.

We hear these comments all the time. So often that they don't need to be questioned. We used to build things. We don't anymore. Manufacturing is dying. That's what we've come to believe.

Problem is, it's not really true.

We're making more things today than almost ever before. Even adjusted for inflation, manufacturing output is near an all-time high. In real terms, we're making more than twice as much today as we were in the early 1970s.

Why such a disconnect between perception and reality?

When people bewail manufacturing's decline, what they really mean is manufacturing employment.

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Hyundai Targets Ford (F) in Brazil

South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. on Friday unveiled ambitious plans to surpass U.S-based Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) as the fourth-largest auto maker in Brazil.

The company's intention is to reach fourth place as early as 2013.

"Without a local plant, we reached a market share of 3% in 2010. The plan is to reach 10% of the market, passing Ford, by 2013, with our own plant," said Hyundai Director Kim Ki-tae.

In 2010, Brazilian auto sales reached their highest annual total ever as rising wages and consumer confidence boosted purchases. Total sales in 2010 were 3.5 million vehicles, up 12% compared with 2009.

Hyundai sold a total of 106,012 vehicles in Brazil last year, while Ford sold 336,297, for a 9.6% market share.

Global players are increasingly interested in Brazil because of the country's obvious potential for growth. Brazil's economy expanded by an estimated 7.5% in 2010.

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General Motors (GM) Price Target Slashed by Barclays (BCS)

A Barclays Capital (NYSE:BCS) analyst has cut his 2011 earnings estimates and 12-month stock price target for General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM), due mainly to expected increases in seasonal and recurring costs in North America, GM's biggest profit center.

GM's stock slid nearly 5 percent Thursday to $33.02, despite the company's solid earnings report. GM announced Thursday a $510 million net profit in the fourth quarter and a $4.7 billion profit for all of 2010, an impressive turnaround considering the company was in bankruptcy protection for part of 2009.

Barclay's analyst Brian Johnson wrote that the company remains attractive despite a near-term stall in the stock price.

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Bank of America (BAC) Boosts Retirement Assets 10 Percent

Bank of America Corp.(NYSE:BAC - News) is no Fidelity Investments when it comes to retirement accounts, but it boosted retirement assets under management by nearly 10 percent last year and is gunning for more by guiding bank depositors to Merrill Lynch advisers and its new online brokerage channel.

BofA managed $535 billion in corporate and individual retirement accounts and pension plans at the end of 2010, up from $489 billion 12 months earlier.

Like many wealth management giants, the bank wants to corral the nest eggs of aging Baby Boomers in an otherwise sluggish economy and has made retirement one of its few domestic growth priorities in 2011.

"We think we're just scratching the surface," said Andy Sieg, head of retirement and philanthropic services at the bank's Merrill Lynch unit.

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Freddie Mac (OTC:FMCC) Drops Another $1.7 Billion

Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac (OTC:FMCC) managed a narrower loss of $1.7 billion for the October-December quarter of last year. But it has asked for an additional $500 million in federal aid up from the $100 million it sought in the previous quarter.

Freddie Mac also posted a $19.8 billion loss for all of 2010.

The government rescued Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae in September 2008 to cover their losses on soured mortgage loans. It estimates the bailouts will cost taxpayers as much as $259 billion.

Freddie Mac's October-December loss attributable to common stockholders works out to 53 cents a share. It takes into account $1.6 billion in dividend payments to the government. It compares with a loss of $7.8 billion, or $2.39 a share, in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The company said the recovery of the housing market is still fragile.

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Fannie Mae (OTC:FNMA) Loses $2.1 Billion, Let it Die!

Government-controlled mortgage buyer Fannie Mae (OTC:FNMA) has posted a narrower loss of $2.1 billion for the October-December quarter of last year, and asked for an additional $2.6 billion in federal aid.

The new request is slightly more than the $2.5 billion it sought in the July-September quarter. The mortgage buyer also reported a $21.7 billion loss for all of 2010.

The government rescued Fannie Mae and sibling company Freddie Mac in September 2008 to cover their losses on soured mortgage loans. It estimates the bailouts will cost taxpayers as much as $259 billion.

Fannie Mae's October-December loss attributable to common stockholders works out to 37 cents a share. It takes into account $2.2 billion in dividend payments to the government. It compares with a loss of $16.3 billion, or $2.87 a share, in the fourth quarter of 2009.

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Has Silver Wheaton (SLW) Reached a Technical High?

Taking a quick look at the chart the question is: Is this a double top or can (NYSE:SLW) blow right through it and make a new all time high? The technical indicators are now in the overbought zone with the RSI standing at 71.92, so tread carefully. The chartists may well take profits here and who could blame them?

However, there is still a little room to squeeze a tad a higher before we get a serious breather come along and spoil the fun. And should SLW exceed and hold above its previous high of $42.34, it will be into uncharted waters and it could well go on a bit of run. It all depends on silver prices, of course, which are pretty volatile and will remain so for some time to come.

Although we are of the opinion that silver prices have further to go, we opted to cash in now as the time premium would erode the value of these options and silver might just experience a pull back. In which case, we could be left with nothing.

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Moody's (MCO) Likes Las Vegas Sands (LVS), Wynn (WYNN) in Gaming Sector

While Moody's (MCO) isn't positive on the gaming sector in general, within the industry, they see Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Wynn (WYNN) better positioned to weather the tough climate.

"The Las Vegas casinos have a high mountain to climb to grow earnings to anywhere near their previous peaks, as citywide hotel room rates remain below 2005 levels," said Peggy Holloway of Moody's.

Moody's likes the two large casinos better because of their stronger global position.

Room rates on low-to-mid tier casinos could come under extreme pressure because of their more localized markets.

The recovery in gaming will be a long one, concluded Moody's, even with the recent performances by some companies in the sector.

AIG (AIG) Looking to Sell More Assets After Turning Profit

American International Group Inc. (NYSE:AIG), the insurer selling assets to repay a U.S. bailout, will weigh raising funds from International Lease Finance Corp., the company’s plane-leasing unit.

“To the extent that we ultimately find a way to monetize that asset for the benefit of ILFC, its customers, and for AIG, we would consider that,” Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche said in remarks posted late yesterday on the website of the New York-based insurer. “While it’s not core, the company has been a very good value investment for us. ILFC management is managing it for the long haul.”

AIG has raised more than $50 billion selling assets including non-U.S. life insurers, a consumer lender and equipment guarantor. The insurer said in a Nov. 19 letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it wasn’t attempting to sell the unit “at the present time.”

Chairman Steve Miller didn’t outline a timetable for a sale in remarks on AIG’s website.

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Choose Mosaic (MOS), Las Vegas Sands (LVS), State Street (STT), Cummins (CMI), Alcoa (AA), Cameco (CCJ) if Unrest Wanes

If the current unrest in the Middle East begins to wane, Vadim Zlotnikov, a strategist at BernsteinResearch, says he would choose stocks like Mosaic (MOS), Las Vegas Sands (LVS), State Street (STT), Cummins (CMI), Alcoa (AA) and Cameco (CCJ).

Assuming unrest continues, he would choose plays such as Chevron (CVX) and Conoco (COP), Bristol Myers (BMY), Sony (SNE) and DirecTV (DTV).

Big increases in the VIX, also known as the fear index, tend to weigh especially heavily on companies whose earnings prospects are tied closely to economic growth. These so-called procyclical stocks won't look like a good bet if the unrest in Libya intensifies and the New York price of oil soars to, say, $120 a barrel.

But Zlotnikov says he doesn't expect that to happen – which should be good news for the global economy and companies whose profits are strongly tied to global growth.

"While potential for spread of unrest to other major oil producing countries is clearly possible, this is not our base case as governments of oil-producing countries will seek to mitigate unrest through wage and other concessions," he writes. "Under the scenario of sustainable $100 oil during 2011, the adverse economic impact should be contained and a 'normal' decline in VIX should ensue during the next couple of weeks."

Full Story's (CRM) Results Blast Past All Expectations, Shares Skyrocket

“It’s been an amazing year, just amazing,” beamed Marc Benioff, co-founder and CEO of (NYSE:CRM) on today’s earnings call. Investors are agreeing: Salesforce’s stock jumped over 7% in after-hours trading, to $144 a share, beating highs reached earlier this week — and following upgrades by financial analysts.

The company grew revenues 29% to $457 million in its most recent quarter. Salesforce beat its own revenue projections for the year by some $100 million. That additional growth funded a whopping 40% ramp up in sales capacity, but those new hires are taking a bite out of profits, which reached 8 cents a share, compared to 16 cents a year ago.

Salesforce is on track to grow sales to $2 billion in the upcoming fiscal year. It reached the $1 billion mark just two years ago.

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