** HEADLINES **
- Vivendi Fourth-Quarter Profit Drops 35 Percent; Asset Sale Isn’t Repeated
- Holcim Profit Soars 90 Percent After Cement Maker Bought Companies in Asia
- ECB’s Trichet, Issing Pushing Higher Rates to Contain Housing `Bubble’
- Volkswagen, Cycle & Carriage in Talks to Set Up Car Dealership in Malaysia
- Euro Advances on Speculation Central Bank’s Trichet to Signal Higher Rates
- Berlusconi’s Mondadori May Consider Bid for Emap’s French Unit, Times Says
- Gold Trades Near Two-Week High in Asia as Dollar Declines Against Euro
** IN PLAY TODAY **
- Earnings of note: ENI, Telefonica, HBOS, Xstrata, Wolters Kluwer, CSM, LogicaCMG, Vivendi.
- Vinci SA, the world’s biggest construction company, said second-half profit rose 19 percent, helped by contracts for roads and buildings and gains from managing toll highways and parking lots. Net income climbed to 515 million euros from 433 million euros a year earlier. Analysts had expected 497 million euros.
- Eiffage SA said annual profit rose 33 percent, helped by its French building unit. The company also said it isn’t planning a tie-up with Sacyr Vallehermoso SA of Spain. Net income climbed to 303 million euros from 228 million euros a year earlier, the company said today in a statement. Analysts expected 280 million euros.
- Vivendi Universal SA said fourth-quarter profit fell 35 percent as it didn’t repeat a gain from selling a stake in Veolia Environnement. Net income declined to 1.25 billion euros from 1.92 billion euros a year earlier Net income in the fourth quarter of 2004 included a 1.5 billion euro gain from the Veolia stake sale. Analysts had anticipated fourth-quarter net income would be 259 million euros.
- Telefonica SA : Spain’s largest telephone company will probably say fourth-quarter profit rose 38 percent, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Net income climbed to 1.09 billion euros from 786.5 million euros, while sales increased to 10.26 billion euros from 8.2 billion euros
- Xstrata PLC said Wednesday its 2005 net profit had jumped 59.9% and that it plans to spend $1.7 billion to acquire a third of Cerrejon, a Colombian coal operation. While the Anglo-Swiss mining company’s Chief Executive Mick Davis said commodities prices could ease from exceptional levels of recent months, he added, “I have little doubt they will remain above their long-run averages for a number of years. As a consequence, the outlook for 2006 is very encouraging.