Under The Radar News - Friday

by: SA Eli Hoffmann

IBM conference call highlights. IBM (NYSE:IBM) said Thursday acquisitions remain a strategy for the company due to the business's solid cash generation. IBM said it has substantial flexibility to make investments where its sees the best opportunities. IBM also noted its significant exposure to fast-growing economies; in Q4 65% of revenue was from outside the U.S.

AT&T iPhone goes corporate. AT&T (NYSE:T) will be announcing iPhone (NASDAQ:AAPL) pricing for corporate and business accounts on January 21. Presently, customers can at best put a primary phone on the corporate account, add the iPhone as a secondary phone, and even then would not receive a corporate discount on the iPhone parts of the bill.

iPhone en Francais. France Telecom (FTE) CEO Didier Lombard said Apple's iPhone (AAPL) is selling better than expected in France.

Only bailout will save U.S. from credit spiral. Lou Barnes, principal of Boulder West Financial Services, says a massive government bailout may be necessary to end the U.S. credit crisis. Barnes warned loan defaults could lead to a credit spiral.

Recession warnings. Analysts say "treacherous economic waters are suddenly much deeper than anyone expected," and fear we may already be in a recession. Some predict rocky waters for the next 12 months.

Tata may pony up more than expected. Ford's (NYSE:F) Land Rover and Jaguar units could cost Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM) more than the $2B expected, because Tata needs Ford's research facilities for model upgrades, and is in negotiations for 15-20 long-term pacts with Ford which may add to the price.

Volvo's next. Ford (F) will sell Volvo in the summer, after it completes a deal for its Land Rover and Jag units. It wants about $6B.

GM pushes reductions. GM (NYSE:GM) will offer retirement incentives to almost two-thirds of its hourly workers, and may further reduce its U.S. production in 2008.

GPS going global. Shipments of GPS devices and systems will surpass 900 million by 2013, ABI Research says. Advances in GPS development will enable GPS integration in all mobile devices at a low cost by 2013, driving new apps such as automatic geo-tagging of pictures, road toll systems and tourism.

BHP to sweeten pot. BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) will increase its $110B hostile takeover bid for Rio Tinto (RTP); it may bid 3.5 shares and $14 for each Rio share.

UniCredit not looking at Merrill. A spokesperson for European banking giant UniCredit denied rumors that the firm was considering acquiring Merrill Lynch (MER) after an article in an Italian business daily said UniCredit CEO Alessandro Profumo "could see this as the right time for a deal."

Foxy Yahoo. Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) is in negotiations to acquire Israel's FoxyTunes.

Intel gets aggressive. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is looking to aggressively expand its shipments of notebook CPUs, aiming to almost double shipments within the next few years. In 2008, Intel will push into WiMAX, launching several WiMAX products.

AMD's low power move. AMD (NYSE:AMD) plans to launch several low-power variants of its quad-core Phenom and dual-core Athlon CPUs late in Q1 or in early Q2.

HSBC to China: Open the door! UK bank HSBC (HBC) will list in China as soon as authorities lift restrictions on the presence of foreign companies on the Shanghai stock exchange, it says. “There's no country I regard as strategically more important to us than China. We'd love to be [listed] there and the day they allow it, we will be queueing up at the door,” Chairman Stephen Green said.

SLM layoffs. Troubled student lender Sallie Mae (NYSE:SLM) will lay off 350 employees, or about 3% of its workers, as it looks to cut costs amid shrinking federal subsidies and a credit market crunch.

UBS beefs up risk management. UBS (NYSE:UBS) is cutting employees in its real estate and securitization division by 50%, in an effort to better control spiraling risks and costs. It also plans to pull out of fixed-income proprietary trading in the U.S.

Early retirees sue Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) is being sued by former employees of Eastman Kodak (EK) seeking nearly $500M. They allege MS misled them by advising them to retire early. MS says none of the employees was coerced to retire early.

Glaxo courts AstraZeneca? Shares of AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) traded higher overseas on rumors that GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) could bid for the company.

Timely bargain? Shares of New York Times (NYSE:NYT) have fallen from $53 in 2002 to $15.39 this year. Its flagship paper has begun revenue-boosting initiatives including more color ads, and has added more special magazines to its newspapers and online. Some investors see it as a bargain; S&P analyst James Peters says shares could rebound to $23 in 2008.

Smart buy. William Blair analyst Jon Andersen says Smart Balance's (SMBL) sales and earnings are set to grow more than 30% over the next three years due to strong organic sales growth and smart management. One money manager says shares could double to $20 in two years.