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The Fokker Chronicles



World Markets:
Europe was modestly weaker today as the IBEX, DAX and CAC40 led the region lower on its session. The US Dollar continued to break out against many of the major currencies today, breaking four month highs versus the yen. US treasuries were weaker in response to the dollar's surge.

Earnings remain light today but the economic news will keep us busy at 10amEDT. Look out for the ISM non-manufacturing for February. The Fed's Beige Book is due out at 2pmEDT.

Brokerage Chatter:

Prudential downgraded Ann Taylor(ANN:NYSE) to neutral-weight from overweight. CSFB increased its 2004 estimate on Express Scripts(ESRX:NASD) to $3.92 from $3.88 and 2005 to $4.59 from $4.54. Needham upgraded Adaptec(ADPT:NASD) to buy from hold. AG Edwards upgraded Burlington Resources(BR:NYSE) to buy from hold. JP Morgan initiated coverage on Hershey Foods(HSY:NYSE) with an overweight rating. Verizon(VZ:NYSE) was upped to buy from hold at AG Edwards. JP Morgan upgraded Corinthian Colleges(COCO:NASD) to overweight from neutral. UBS upgraded Cognos(COGN:NASD) to buy from neutral and raised its target to $40 from $35. Banc of America upped Altera(ALTR:NASD) to neutral from sell.

Financial Headlines:
Stories :
Lookout for news on Walt Disney(DIS:NYSE) this evening as board is set to meet tonight following its 2 day meeting. The results of which could mean the end to Michael Eisner as chairman of Disney should a vote of no confidence persuade the board to take action. According to the Los Angeles Times, George Mitchell could replace Eisner as chairman.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Freddie Mac's (FRE:NYSE) top lobbyist, R. Mitchell Delk, will be departing from the company.

Bloomberg newswires report that Toys R Us(TOY:NYSE) announced that it has finalized a deal with Office Depot(ODP:NYSE) that gives up 124 of the former Kids "R" Us stores for $197 million in cash.

The Governator of California claimed victory yesterday after his $15 billion bond won approval. Standard & Poors said it was a good step.

In a crushing blow to fat kids everywhere, McDonald's(MCD:NYSE) announced it will drop its `Super Sizes' from the menu. Don't fret Toddo, I'm moving the corporate lunch account over to Burger King.

CBS Marketwatch reports that Interbrew and Brazil's Ambev finally agreed to an $11 billion merger making the combined company the world's largest brewer by volume.

WalMart(WMT:NYSE) raised its annual dividend 44%, from 0.36 to 0.52/shr.
Xilinx(-XLNX:NASD) said last night that it sees its 4th quarter sales +9-10%, previous guidance +7-10% and consensus was at +8.9%
Taiwan Semi(TSM:NYSE) according to Digitimes said its 1st quarter wafer shipment may beat market expectations.
Biovail(BVL:NYSE) guides below consensus.
AutoZone(AZO:NYSE) beats by $0.04.
Costco(COST:NASD) beats by a penny.

Around the world in 80 ticks:
Reuters reports that NBC TV, a unit of General Electric(GE:NYSE) said yesterday that February rating "sweeps" initially look to put the network at number one among the target demographic of 18 to 49 year olds. CBS TV, a unit of Viacom(VIA.B:NYSE) appears to hold the title again for most total viewers.

According to Reuters, the widely anticipated announcement from NASA confirmed what scientists have been searching for, the possibility that life once existed on Mars. Where did you think we found G-Lo? In a press conference yesterday, NASA experts told reporters that Mars robotic rover Opportunity confirmed parts of the planet had once been "drenched" with water. So much so, that life could have been sustained at one point in time. Experts were quick to point out that this finding can not conclude life was actually there, but that it was once habitable.

Reuters reports that Democratic nominee hopeful John Edwards was set to formally announce today that he will be dropping out of the Presidential race. Determining that John Kerry is unbeatable following his ultimate defeat on Super Tuesday, Edwards is expected to give a speech at 4pmEDT announcing his campaign is over. President Bush commented that Kerry had won the Democratic race and looked forward to a "spirited race" leading up to November 2nd .

The Associated Press is reporting that the 1,100-mile Iditarod dog-sled race which stretches across Alaska is set to have a record number of teams competing this year. A record 87 teams will compete in the 2004 Iditarod this weekend. This year's purse is over $700,000, with the winner getting $69,000 and a brand new Dodge pickup truck valued at $41,410 and possibly a year supply of Molson Golden beer. Not bad 'eh hosers.

Have a great day.


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