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Stocks To Watch: General Motors, Google, Novastar Financial, PDL BioPharma, Sprint Nextel


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


Stocks to watch for Tuesday, July 17:

  • Swiss eye-care company Alcon (ACL) said it has named Richard Croarkin as chief financial officer.
  • Answers (ANSW) said it has agreed to buy Lexico Publishing Group LLC, owner of, and, for $100 million in cash. The deal is expected to close by fall of this year. Answers said Lexico generated net income of $2.8 million in 2006 on revenue of $7 million. New York-based Answers also cut its second-quarter revenue forecast to a range of $2.75 million to $2.8 million from its earlier outlook of $2.8 million to $3.2 million.
  • Basell Holdings will acquire Lyondell Chemical (LYO) for $48 per share, a 45% premium to May 10 when interest was first discussed, in an all cash transaction with total enterprise value $19 bln including assumption of debt.
  • Canon (CAJ) to spend $450 mln on a new factory to make parts for digital cameras, will start operation in July '08 and eventually double capacity to 3mm optical sensors/year.
  • Carl Icahn said he believes his American Real Estate Partners (ACP) offered a full and fair price for Lear (LEA) and that he respects the decision of the company's shareholders to reject the $2.9 billion bid. In a statement, Icahn said that he and his affiliates continue to be large stockholders of Lear, the manufacturer of automotive seating.
  • General Motors (GM) said it has reached a joint-venture agreement with Penske (PAG) to acquire 50% equity of VM Motori SpA, a designer and manufacturer of diesel engines based in Cento, Italy. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The investment builds on GM's relationship with VM Motori and its relationship with Isuzu Motors the Detroit automaker said. Penske is a transportation services company.
  • Google (GOOG) is developing technology that could enable cellphone users to search for mobile services and content such as ringtones. Google has been developing the technology with entertainment and mobile companies for months, the report said. The technology uses the same type of high placement for "sponsored links" currently used in Google's Web search, though it is unclear when any related mobile content search service will launch, the report said.
  • News Corp. (NWS) reached a tentative agreement to buy Dow Jones (DJ) at its original $5 billion offer price, although the Bancroft family remains divided. The deal will be put to the full Dow Jones board on Tuesday evening.
  • Nike (NKE) is committed to expanding its business in Indonesia, despite a decision to scrap contracts with two of its suppliers, a company director said on Tuesday.
  • Novastar Financial (NFI) unveiled a deal with private-equity funds run by insurer Mass Mutual and investment bank Jefferies Group (JEF) that will provide the struggling subprime mortgage lender with $150 million in new equity.
  • PDL BioPharma (PDLI) shareholder Third Point LLC reiterated its call for PDL Chief Executive Mark McDade's ouster, alleging McDade has a record of "incompetence, egregiously bad business judgment and serious ethical lapses." In a detailed letter, the New York investment management company criticized McDade for not moving the company to Redwood City, Calif., fostering a "dysfunctional work environment," and missing financial targets, among other things. Third Point, PDL's largest investor, proposed adding three Third Point nominees to the board, slowing the progression of PDL's Ularitide & Nuvion partnerships, as other possible solutions.
  • Sprint Nextel (S) is set to announce the launch of Loopt's "friend finding" service, which allows users to view on their cellphones the location of friends who are also Loopt users.

Market Update:

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +0.45%, Nikkei -0.12%, Sensex -0.14%, Taiwan +0.98% and Shanghai +1.94%.
  • A quick check across the pond finds the CAC -0.94%, DAX -1,10%, FTSE -0.90%, ATX -0.67%, Swiss Mkt. -0.71% and Stockholm -0.81%.
  • Crude oil is trading higher +0.71 to 74.86 while gold is lower -2.2 to 664.1 this morning.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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