Global Stock Notes: Veolia, Bombardier, Delek, Reckitt Benckiser, Astra Zeneca

by: Global Investing Editor

Some notes on global stocks:

*Let's start with my hometown. Veolia Environnement (VE) landed the Port Authority contract to run luxury buses to New York's three airports, for a $12.75 fee, or $22 round trip. The service, NYC Airporter, will also offer Frequent Flyer plans, Internet access on board, and comfy seats. The buses are not yet in place but may come from Bombardier (I hope) (OTCQX:BDRAF). VE is French.

*BDRAF is also active trying to sell more planes to Air India (20 CRJ700 regional jets), Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL) (up to 200 narrowbody aircraft). Dreamliner delays and its edge with low-fuel consumption planes are giving Bombardier a tailwind over the next few years and it should land orders.

*Reckitt Benckiser, (OTCPK:RBGPF) the UK household and healthcare firm, was rated outperform by Credit Suisse, with a new target of GBP 40 (vs 36.75 earlier). CS cited its higher market and faster growth from taken-over SSL, maker of condoms.

*Meanwhile the CS building in Zurich was sold for SwFr114.5 mn, booking what seems to be a net profit when the debt is repaid for Delek Real Estate, the spun off bit of Isaac Tshuva's Delek Group, (DGLKF.PK) which I and some readers own.

*Wendel (OTCPK:WNDLF) is taking ot the courts to appeal a judgment by the Authorité des Marchés Financiers over its former managment's actions during the now settleed takeover of Saint Gobain.

*Also appealing, to the constitutional court of Spain which can overrule its supreme court, is Santander (STD) CEO Alfredo Saenz..

*Anglo-Swedish drugmaker Astra Zeneca (NYSE:AZN) is also being investigated by the EU Competition Authority over deals to stop generics hitting the market. I only mentioned GlaksoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) yesterday but GSK is also a target for having joined a cartel in violation of Article 85 of the Treaty of Rome.

*Alice in Indexland. Cineplex (OTC:CPXGF) has been added to the Canada small-cap index by Standard & Poors, so now trackers of the index have to buy the company, no longer an Investment Trust, is down because its movie theater attendence did not match 2009 levels for lack of great Hollywood blockbuster films luring in Canadians last year.

*BAJ of Toronto, Baja Mining (OTC:BAJFF), borrowed $149 mn from the US Ex-Im Bank for 14 years at 3.02% for its Boleo mine in Mexico. That probably reflects NAFTA.

*Smiths Group (OTCPK:SMGZY) is up again, now firmly believed to be seeking a high bid for its healthcare ops. SMN:GB may be in talks with Covidien, say rumors.

*Canadian banks including Bank of Nova Scotia (NYSE:BNS) will be hurt by new mortgage rules in Canada aiming to limit household debt to prevent a US-style mortgage collape. With debts of C$6.1 trillion, Canadians owe 148% of their income. Measures announced yesterday hurt the whole banking sector and BNS.

*QBE Insurance (OTCPK:QBEIF) meanwhile is suffering from dried up mortgage backed transactions in its home Australian state, post flood. With about half Queensland real estate under water, insurers face arreas, defaults, and credit downgrades and the market has seized up. Meanwhile a report says QBEIF did not directly insure against inland flooding. It doesn't really matter because the latest punditry predicts that rebuilding will boost inflation in Oz by 3.4%, hurting the margins of insurance companies. It will also boost Oz GNP. What we are hoping, sans evidence, is that QBE offloaded enough of the reinsurance risk to other companies, and that its international business will help it overcome Oz risks.

*A big thrill for me (when I was a kid) and my children (when they were) was grinding Eight O'Clock coffee at the A&P supermarket. That came to an end about 15 years ago when the safety police decided that little fingers could get caught in the grinder. First customers griped about having to wait for a checkout staffer to grind their coffee; then staffers complained about having to grind coffee; then Great A&P sold the marque in 2006 to what is now called Tata Global Beverages Ltd (OTC:TTAZF). We own in the Global Investing Pro Minutewoman account shares of its GDR, TTAZF, trading in London, is an arm of the century-old Indian conglomerate which also owns Tetley Tea. The Tatas are Zaroastrian Parsees.

TTAZF was the first Tata firm sold on global markets. Retail investors can buy “seasoned” GDRs which have been trading over 90 days. The Tata clan subsequently created GDS for its IT and small car operations. TTAZF then bought a stake in what I considered the ultimate status drink line, Glacéau, and later bought 51% of Tata's Indian coffee ops, Tata Coffee. It also last year bought a majority of Activate Water shares.

TTAZF is now a $1.5 bn firm and the world's No. 2 in tea. About 2/3 of its sales are outisde India and now only just over 70% is account for by tea consumer brands. It employs 3000 people, sells in 40 countries, and has its HQ in Uxbridge, near London, in Britain. It is negotiating with PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) to distribute its products worldwide. The Tatas do not do things by halves.

TTAZF aims to more than triple its revenues to $5 bn in 5 years from current levels, with EBITDA (cash flow) rising 15%/yr.

Now the coffee sub has seen its price in Mumbai soar because of a deal signed with Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX). Asia's biggest coffee growing co. will supply beans to Starbucks. And under India's rules to protect its retailers, Starbucks will be allowed to open free-standing coffee shops co-branded with Tata, perhaps in Tata hotels. Tata Coffee, listed only in India, is 51% controlled by TTAZF. Sales of its coffee rose 56% in the 2009-10 fiscal year. India and the rest of Asia are not only drinking tea these days.