** HEADLINES **
- Schering Shares May Rise on Unsolicited $17.7 Billion Offer by Merck KGaA
- Caisse d’Epargne, Banque Populaire Discuss Merger; Shareholder to Resist
- Solarworld, Suzlon, Alternative-Energy Shares May Drop as Oil Price Slides
- Euro Gains Before German Report That May Add to Case for ECB Rate Increase
- U.K. Retail Sales Probably Rose, Eroding Case for a Rate Cut, Survey Shows
- Electrolux, European Consumer-Goods Stocks May Beat Market as Profit Grows
- Switzerland’s Central Bank Poised to Increase Benchmark Rate, Survey Shows
- Spain’s Fake Monks Make Habit of Dunnin Deadbeats as Interest Rates Rise
- Enel Chief Conti May Get Hostile After Bungling Friendly Offer for Suez
- Turkey May Sell 20-Month Bonds at Lowest Yield in Two Decades at Auction
** IN PLAY TODAY **
- Earnings of note: Deutsche Postbank, Salzgitter, Veolia Environnement.
- Shares of Schering AG, the world’s largest maker of contraceptives, may rise
after the company said Merck KGaA made an unsolicited 14.9 billion-euro
cash bid to create Germany’s second-biggest drugmaker. Merck, controlled by the
Merck family, will offer 77 euros a share, Schering said in a statement
yesterday. Schering Chief Executive Officer Hubertus Erlen said his board
doesn’t plan to recommend the bid, which is 15 percent more than Berlin-based
Schering’s 66.86 euro closing price last week.
- Deutsche Postbank AG, Germany’s biggest consumer bank by clients, said
fourth-quarter profit fell 1.5 percent as revenue stagnated. Net income dropped
to 134 million euros from 136 million euros a year ago. That compares with the
131 million-euro median forecast of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Interest income, the Bonn-based company’s main source of revenue, was almost
unchanged at 420 million euros.
- Veolia Environnement SA, the world’s biggest water company, said full-year
profit rose 59 percent, helped by cost cuts and new contracts in Europe and
Asia. Full-year profit rose to 623 million euros, from 392 million euros in the
year-earlier period. That’s less than a median estimate of 658 million euros
forecast by six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Sales rose by 12 percent to
25.2 billion euros, Veolia said last month.
- Salzgitter AG, Germany’s second- largest steelmaker, said 2005 profit more
than tripled, helped by higher demand for the metal. Net income rose to 842
million euros, from 246.7 million euros a year ago. The figures
from this year include a one-time gain of 137 million euros. The expansion of
China’s $1.6 trillion economy has buoyed demand for metal in the world’s biggest
steel consumer. Oil prices reached a record in London in August, spurring
companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, to
invest more in exploration and use more steel for pipelines and rigs.
** UPS & DOWNS **
+ ACCOR PRICE EST. RAISED TO EU53 FROM EU47 AT MORGAN STANLEY
+ ABB PRICE EST. RAISED 27% TO SF19 AT CREDIT SUISSE
+ INTERCONTINENTAL PRICE EST. RAISED TO 970P AT MORGAN STANLEY
+ DIAGEO PRICE EST. RAISED 5% TO 1,040P AT UBS
+ TECHNIP RAISED TO `BUY’ FROM `NEUTRAL’ AT UBS
- AGFA-GEVAERT CUT TO `REDUCE’ FROM `NEUTRAL’ AT UBS
- HBOS CUT TO `UNDERPERFORM’ FROM `NEUTRAL’ AT CREDIT SUISSE
- RBS CUT TO `NEUTRAL’ VS. `OUTPERFORM’ AT CREDIT SUISSE