Under The Radar News - Friday

by: SA Eli Hoffmann

UK's Brown: Worst yet to come. UK PM Gordon Brown told the World Economic Forum in Davos the worst is yet to come for the world economy, and said banks have been guilty of underestimating risk and undertaking too much off-balance sheet activity.

iPhone surplus? AT&T (NYSE:T) activated just 900,000 iPhones in Q4, it said on its earnings conference call Thursday, ending 2007 with "just at or slightly under 2 million iPhone customers." Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) says it has sold 4M iPhones, the majority of which should have stayed in the U.S., leading some to believe the company may have a demand shortfall. Others say the shortfall is "less significant than it sounds."

MacBook Air's first benchmarks. Apple's (AAPL) new MacBook Air's performance is weaker than all other MacBooks due to its integrated graphics, 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo processor, and 1.8-inch hard drive.

Japan may get Android phone. NTT DoCoMo (NYSE:DCM) said Thursday it is considering a cell phone based Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform.

IBM/AMD tie-up "nothing but speculation." Sources close to AMD (NYSE:AMD) say rumors of a merger between the company and IBM's (NYSE:IBM) microelectronics division (see Under The Radar News - Thursday) "is nothing but speculation." AMD shares were up almost 11% Wednesday on the hopes such a deal would be a big vote of confidence for the much maligned AMD.

Cuts at NYT's Boston Globe. Troubled New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) property Boston Globe will fire "hundreds" of workers and raise the price of its print paper to $0.75, as its subscription base shrinks at a 7%/year clip. The move also suggests the NY Times Co. is having another challenging quarter.

2008: recession-proof ad market. Ad-spending usually plunges when economic growth slows, but some industry pundits say 2008 will be a solid year for ad-space sellers regardless, due to the Olympics, U.S. presidential election, and European football championship.

Subscription wall revival? Falling CPM rates, and Thursday's news that WSJ.com is not going (completely) free, may signal a trend to return to paid subscription websites.

Gaming growth outpaces movies, music. 2007 was a banner year for video gaming, with console sales taking in the lion's share of revenues. The movie industry posted modest growth, while global music sales are thought to have fallen.

Sandisk in talks with Samsung to buy excess NAND. Samsung has approached several memory companies, including Kingston and SanDisk (SNDK), and asked them to purchase its excess NAND flash stock, as Apple (AAPL) is expected to cut its NAND purchases from the company.

Gemstar, Virgin Media dispute patent. Gemstar (GMST), 41% owned by News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS), is suing Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED) for patent violation. It says Virgin set-top boxes infringe on its patent.

WellCare on selling block? WellCare Health Plan's (NYSE:WCG) troubles could lead to a sale of the company after the departure of three executives.

No weakness in 2008, says Reuters CEO. Reuters Group plc (RTRSY) had a signature 2007, and sees no major weakness in the U.S. markets in 2008, CEO Tom Glocer says.

Motorola bleeds market share. While Nokia (NYSE:NOK) continues to grow its lead in global handset sales, Samsung, Sony Ericsson (NYSE:SNE) (NASDAQ:ERIC) and LG Electronics are expected to further increase their shares at the expense of struggling Motorola (MOT). Worldwide handset shipments totaled 342 million units in Q4, for a full-year total of 1.15B units, a 15.8% increase.

Baidu's China domination grows. Search engines in China generated $127M in revenue in Q4 2007. Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) took 60.1% of total revenue, followed by Google (GOOG) at 25.9% and Yahoo China (NASDAQ:YHOO) at 9.6%.

Yahoo China layoffs. Yahoo China (YHOO) is said to have reduced its workforce. Yahoo may close its Chinese new media units.

FedEx considers buying DHL. FedEx (NYSE:FDX) could cooperate with Deutsche Posts' DHL unit, or acquire the unit outright.

Nothing cooking at Vodafone. Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) does not plan sell its U.S. business. Rumors that CEO Arun Sarin will resign, and that VOD was considering a bid for Carphone Warehouse are likewise untrue, a source says.

Who might want Societe Generale? If Societe Generale (OTCPK:SCGLY) goes on the block after Thursday's revelation of a $7.1B rogue trading loss, BNP Paribas (OTCQX:BNPQY) and Barclays (NYSE:BCS) could be among the likely bidders.

Not everyone's a Circuit City bear. Mark Wattles disclosed an 11M share (6.5%) stake in Circuit City (NYSE:CC). Wattles is "very entrepreneurial; he understands the retail space well and has made himself and shareholders money in the past," InsiderScore.com Ben Silverman says.