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In the news: An exchange merger, Focus Media going private and another Apple patent loss

Headlines this morning include merger talks between NYSE Euronext and IntercontinentalExchange, Focus Media going private, Ally Financial repaying government-backed loans, more bad patent news for Apple and earnings from Bed Bath & Beyond, Darden Restaurants and Jabil Circuit.

NYSE Euronext
The New York Times is reporting that that NYSE Euronext (NYX) is in talks to be acquired by the IntercontinentalExchange (ICE). The deal is reported to be for about $33 per share, with two-thirds of the offering to be paid in stock. This deal seems less likely to face the intense regulatory scrutiny that kept ICE and NasdaqOMX Group (NDAQ) from acquiring NYSE Euronext. That deal would have combined the NYSE and Nasdaq's stock trading operations, which raised monopoly concerns. The IntercontinentalExchange focuses mainly on commodity and derivatives trading so adding NYSE's mostly equity-focused trading operations should raise fewer issues.

Focus Media Holdings
The Shanghai-based display advertising company's board of directors approved a $3.7 billion deal to take the company private from a group that includes the Carlyle Group, several Chinese private equity firms and its chairman. The deal is another in a string of delisting transactions by Chinese companies this year. Aggressive short sellers and a series of allegations of fraud and accounting irregularities have hurt the valuations of U.S.-listed Chinese companies recently.

Ally Financial
The company formerly known at GMAC, which became a bank holding company during the 2008 financial crisis said Wednesday that it repaid the last of the loans it took under the F.D.I.C.'s Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program. Ally (GKM) repaid $4.5 billion in loans, after repaying 42.9 billion on Oct. 30. The government still holds a 74% stake in the company, but a senior Ally executive said the repayment of FDIC-backed debt markets a significant step towards the company's exit of government support programs.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office declared a patent issued to Apple (AAPL) that led to a $1.05 billion damage award against Samsung should not have been granted. The patent, which has been refered to as the “pinch to zoom” patent is one of six Apple patents that Samsung was found to have infringed at a Jury trial that ended in August.

Darden Restaurants
The parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster reported fiscal second-quarter earnings of 26 cents per share on sales of $1.96 billion. Analysts had expected Darden (DRI) to report earnings of 27 cents on revenue of $1.96 billion. Same-store sales at Olive Garden fell by 3.2% while same-store sales at Red Lobster were 2.7% lower.

Bed Bath & Beyond
Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) reported third-quarter earnings of $1.03 per share on sales of $2.7 billion, beating earnings estimates for $1.02 per share, but falling short of revenue estimates for $2.73 billion. The company said it expects fourth-quarter earnings of $1.60 to $1.67 per share for the fourth quarter, well below the mean analyst estimate for $1.75 per share. For the full year, the company said it expects earnings between $4.48 and $4.54. Analysts had been forecasting EPS of $4.62 for 2012.

Jabil Circuit
Jabil Circuit (JBL) reported adjusted EPS of 61 cents per share on revenue of $4.64 billion. Analysts had expected the company to earn 56 cents per share on revenue of $4.41 billion.

Bobby Raines

Bobby Raines is the Managing Editor of the Market Intelligence Center. He has degrees in Mass Communications and History from Emory & Henry College. Bobby worked at a mid-sized daily newspaper before making a switch to covering the financial industry full time in the years leading up to the financial crisis. He has been a member of the Fresh Brewed Media team since 2011 and has served as a writer and analyst. You can write to him at braines@marketintelligencecenter.com or follow him on Twitter: @BRatMICenter.