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Stocks To Watch: ABN, Barclays, Google, Transocean, United Rentals


Today's top stories and some stocks with potential to move...


Stocks to watch for Monday, July 23:

  • American Physicians Capital (ACAP) reported second-quarter net earnings of $16.3 mln, or $1.44 a share, up 52% from $10.7 mln, or 86 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The provider of medical professional liability insurance said net written premiums in the three months ended June 30 fell to $27 mln from $30.1 mln in the comparable period last year. Analysts were expecting, on average, a per-share profit of 91 cents. The company posted a combined ration of 58.7% in the second quarter versus 89.6% in the same period in 2006.
  • Barclays (BCS) will use cash infusions from China Development Bank and Temasek Holdings to increase its bid for ABN (ABN) to $93.34 bln and offer more cash. BCS's offer is now more than $4 bln higher
  • Broadcom (BRCM) disclosed that it and its co-founder and Chairman Henry Samueli have received Wells notices from the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to the company's stock option accounting problems. A Wells notice indicates that the SEC staff plans to recommend the agency pursue civil actions against the company and Samueli. Broadcom and Samueli will have the opportunity to respond in writing to the Wells notices before the SEC staff makes its final recommendation. They will take that opportunity, and may seek meetings with the staff, Broadcom said in an SEC filing. Broadcom, a telecommunications chip maker, disclosed the Wells notices in its second-quarter report filed with the SEC. Earlier this year, the company concluded its internal stock option review and recorded a $2.2 bln charge. Broadcom blamed its option accounting problems on former company officers, including former Chief Executive and co-founder Henry T. Nicholas III.
  • Cerberus Capital reached a $4 bln pact for United Rentals (URI). The deal for the world's No. 1 equipment-rental company could boost confidence for LBOs. United said in April it was seeking a buyer. Cerberus' $34.50 per share offer for URI represents a premium of $2.63 per share on United's close Friday but a 25% premium to where the company's shares were trading in April when it put itself up for sale.
  • Internet entrepreneur Brian Greenspan outlined what he described as a strategy for Dow Jones (DJ) that would push its stock price to the $100 level while paying off those members of the controlling Bancroft family who want to sell the company now.
  • Google (GOOG) said it could spend at least $4.6 billion for wireless licenses if the FCC adopts auction rules that allow open access for users and wireless resellers.
  • Roche Holdings (RHHDY) and Trimeris (TRMS) said that new interim results from an ongoing study demonstrate a high response rate with Fuzeon plus darunavir, regardless of existing protease inhibitor resistance. The data showed that about 64% of three-class, treatment-experienced patients achieved undetectable HIV at 24 weeks, and that baseline sensitivity to darunavir didn't appear to influence patient response to the regimen, the companies said. Fuzeon, co-developed by Roche and Trimeris, is a fusion inhibitor available for the treatment of HIV, while darunavir is a commercially available, ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor, marketed by Tibotec Therapeutics.
  • Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) first discussed a deal with ABN Amro Holding (ABN) more than two years ago, according to documents released late Friday, the FT reported on its Web site. The documents show RBS Chief Executive Sir Fred Goodwin first met ABN Amro CEO Rijkman Groenink to discuss a possible combination of the two banks back in February 2005, though nothing came of the talks, according to the FT.
  • State Street (STT) said it has entered into a $1 bln accelerated share buyback with an affiliate of Lehman Brothers (LEH). The total number of shares to be repurchased is subject to certain conditions, the Boston-based financial services company said. The transaction is expected to be completed within the next six months, State Street said. The company said it will have a total of about 13.2 mln shares of remaining capacity under its existing stock buyback program, based on the Thursday closing price of $71.39 on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • Transocean (RIG) and GlobalSantaFe (GDF) agreed to merge to form an oil-drilling firm with a combined market capitalization of $48 billion.
  • UAL Corp.'s (UAL) United Airlines is set to overhaul international business-class cabins, installing seats that recline 180 degrees, as U.S. carriers upgrade planes to catch up with overseas rivals
  • Wal-Mart Stores' (WMT) executive vice president of apparel merchandising, Claire Watts, has resigned, a company spokesperson said. Watts, who announced her resignation to the discount retailer yesterday, is leaving "to pursue other career interests," spokesperson Sarah Clarke said. Wal-Mart has subsequently shuffled the ranks of its apparel merchandising division, which has struggled over the past year, hampering the retail giant's overall sales momentum. Among the changes, it has named Dottie Mattison as senior vice-president and general merchandising manager of women's apparel; Mattison will also oversee women's jewelry, shoes and accessories, as well as product development for apparel. Mark Larson will continue to preside over men's, kids and babies, but now he and Mattison will report directly to John Fleming, chief merchant for the U.S. division of Wal-Mart's namesake stores.

Market Update:

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +0.32%, Nikkei -1.07%, Sensex (India) +1.07%, Taiwan +0.37% and Shanghai (China) +3.81%.
  • A quick look towards Europe finds the CAC +0.14%, DAX -0.21%, FTSE +0.18%, ATX -0.24%, Swiss Mkt. -0.39% and Stockholm +0.02%.
  • Crude oil is lower -0.55 to 75.24 while gold is also lower -1.1 to 683.6 this morning.
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