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In the news: A new bidder for Dell, BP to repurchase shares, Coke layoffs and earnings reports

Headlines this morning include a big share repurchase at BP, a possible new bid for Dell, layoffs at Coca-Cola, a new bottle for Pepsi, earnings for Darden Restaurants, Tiffany and Tibco and Research in Motion's CEO taking shots at Apple.

BP plc
The oil giant formerly known as British Petroleum (BP) plans to repurchase $8 billion of its own shares after it completes a deal to sell its 50 percent stake in TNK-BP to Russian oil giant Rosneft. BP still holds a 19.75% stake in Rosneft. The company plans to use $4.48 billion from the sale of the joint venture to reduce debt.

Computer maker Dell (DELL) may find itself with another suitor as Blackstone Group (BX) and the finance arm of General Electric (GE), GE Capital, have reportedly discussed teaming up to make an offer for the compnay's financial services business. Blackstone has been rumored to be in discussions with a number of parties about deals for some or all of Dell. Any deal from Blackstone would compete with a $24.4 billion offer already on the table from company-founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners to take the company private. That offer has been opposed by several of the company's largest shareholders.

Soda giant Coca-Cola (KO) said it will cut 750 jobs, or about one percent of its North American workforce. The cuts will be made across the board with about a quarter coming in Atlanta, where the company is based. The company also said that “kosher for Passover” Coca-Cola would not be available in California this year. The company traditionally makes a kosher version of its flagship Coke for the Jewish holiday, replacing its normal high-fructose corn syrup with sugar. The company recently changed its caramel-production process to reduce levels of 4-methylimidazole after California listed that chemical as a carcinogen. The company is not yet able to use that new caramel process to produce a kosher cola that meets the company's standards.

On the other side of the cola wars, Pepsi is redesigning a new 20-ounce bottle for its flagship drink. The new bottle is contoured on the bottom to make the bottle easier to grip and also has a shorter label, making more of the soda visible.

Research in Motion
The CEO of Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (BBRY) called rival Apple's iPhone outdated on Thursday, a day before the company's new touch-screen Blackberry Z10 was scheduled to launch in the U.S. Thorsten Heins said the company plans to launch several new phones soon, including one with a full keyboard, although that phone will not be available for several months. Heins said the iPhone has an outdated user interface that does not allow for multitasking like his company's new phone does.

Darden Restaurants
The company behind Lobsterfest and the Never-Ending-Pasta Bowl reported an 18 percent drop in net income for its third quarter on a 4.6 percent decline in same-store sales. The company earned $1.02 per share, edging out estimates for $1.01 per share. Revenue was $2.26 billion, in line with estimates. The company also affirmed its guidance for fiscal 2013 of earnings from $3.06 to $3.22 per share while also implying that revenues will range from $8.48 billion to $8.56 billion. Analysts expect $3.17 per share on $8.52 billion in sales.

Tiffany & Co.
Blue-box jeweler Tiffany (TIF) reported  earnings of $1.40 per share on sales of $1.24 billion for the quarter ended Jan. 31. Analysts had forecast earnings of $1.36 per share on $1.25 billion in sales.

Tibco Software
Software company Tibco (TIBX) said Thursday that net income for its first fiscal quarter was 6 cents per share, or 18 cents per share on an adjusted basis. Revenue was $237.8 million. Analysts had expected non-GAAP earnings of 18 cents per share on revenue of $242.3 million.

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.