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The Fokker Chronicles

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World Markets:
European markets were modestly higher half way through their day while the Japanese Nikkei lost 0.23% on its day. The Hang Seng added 0.82% today. US markets were creeping higher leading up to the opening of trading today following "non-event" type numbers that didn't add much in terms of volatility to the treasury market. Check out what Brian Reynolds had to say for more on the Housing Starts data released earlier.

Heads-up:
Lucent Tech(LU:NYSE) will be hosting its shareholders meeting today. After the bell lookout for earnings reports from Applied Materials(AMAT:NASD), Agilent(A:NYSE) and Intuit(INTU:NASD). Economic reports for tomorrow include the Janauary PPI, Initial Claims, Leading Indicators and the Phila Fed for February. Semi Book to bill tomorrow after the bell.

Brokerage Chatter:

Wachovia upgraded a few retailers this morning, individually naming Gap(GPS:NYSE) and Abercrombie & Fitch(ANF:NYSE) to outperform from market perform, and also upped American Eagle(AEOS:NASD) to market perform from underperform. Fulcrum initiated RadioShack(RSH:NYSE) with a sell. Morgan Stanley started coverage of Oracle(ORCL:NASD) with an overweight rating and placed a $17 target on the stock. CSFB kept its outperform rating for Deere(DE:NYSE) but raised its price target to $85 from $70.

CIBC upped GlaxoSmithKline(GSK:NYSE) to sector perform from sector underperform. Goldman Sachs upgraded Sprint PCS(PCS:NYSE) to outperform from in-line and Nextel(NXTL:NASD) to in-line from underperform. UBS also raised targets for PCS, NXTL, and Alltel(AT:NYSE). Morgan Stanley upgraded Semtech(SMTC:NASD) to overweight from equal-weight. CSFB downgraded BellSouth(BLS:NYSE) and SBC Comm(SBC:NYSE) to neutral from outperform. AG Edwards cut Teva Pharma(TEVA:NASD) to hold from buy. CSFB added Texas Instruments(TXN:NYSE) to its Focus List. Goldman Sachs upgraded UT Starcom(UTSI:NASD) to outperform from in-line.


Financial Headlines:
Stories :

CBS Marketwatch reports that The Walt Disney Co.(DIS:NYSE) announced late yesterday it has come to terms with Jim Henson's Muppet assets. In an undisclosed amount, Disney will acquire the film and television library and all affiliated copyrights. Some analysts are speculating that the deal could have been just shy of $50 million.

According to the New York Post, Microsoft (MSFT:NASD) will cut the price of its Xbox video game console this April from $180 to $150 in the hopes of grabbing more buyers away from its rival Sony's(SNE:NYSE) Playstation2.

The New York Times reports that Yahoo!(YHOO:NASD) has officially dropped Google as its default search provider late yesterday and has decided to replace it with its own propreitary search technologies. Yahoo acquired this technology from recent acquisitions including (Inktomi, Overture, AltaVista, FastSearch, and Transfer).

BBC news reports that Calisto Tanzi, the jailed founder of the now infamous Italian food giant Parmalat was rushed to the hospital and placed in intensive care for potential heart ailments. This is Tanzi's second hospital visit, this one coming the day after his children were arrested on fraud charges.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Len Short, executive vice president of brand marketing at Time Warner Inc.'s(TWX:NYSE) America Online unit, has announced his resignation from the company. Short was one of the key executives involved in AOL's sponsorship of Super Bowl XXXVIII which featured the infamous halftime show which left Janet Jackson with half her top and Justin Timberlake holding a piece of the malfunctioned undergarment.

24/7 Media(TFSM:NASD) announced a 1 for 5 reverse stock split.

Earnings:

Dobson Comm(DCEL:NASD) missed estimates by nearly 50cents posting a loss of $0.53 versus consensus of a $0.06 loss. Stock was trading down nearly 25% in pre-market trading.
Metro-Gldwn-Myr(MGM:NYSE) beat by $0.04.
Agilent(A:NYSE) missed by a penny.
Network Appliance(NTAP:NASD) beat by a penny.
Abercrombie(ANF:NYSE) beat by a penny

Around the world in 80 ticks:
The Washington Post reported from Iran, that a train derailed and killed at least 200 people. The runaway train crashed through the mountainside spilling dangerous chemicals along its path.

According to the LA Times, Howard Dean has decided to drop off the campaign trail today when he returns home. Dean will, however, remain on the ballot for nomination allowing his supporters to vote for him in the upcoming primaries. AP news is already reporting that the race has now come down to a two man show; John Kerry and John Edwards.

The Associated Press reports that a German scientist is currently under investigation for possible arms export violations after he had sent equipment to Pakistan which could have been destined for the country's nuclear weapons program.

USA Today citing army officials reported that 30 coalition soldiers were wounded and 11 Iraqi civilians were killed when a pair of homicide bombers attempted to drive their trucks carrying explosives into a Polish army base today. Coalition forces opened fire on the trucks which ultimately triggered the blasts before it could reach the base.

Despite pleas for Haiti's premier that his country is in the midst of a coup, both the US and France declined to offer military aid. USA Today quoted Colin Powell as saying the U.S. has no "enthusiasm" for adding a military force in the middle of a bloody struggle and prefers to handle the crisis with a political solution.

Have a great day.

Fokker


No positions in stocks mentioned.
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