Thursday, April 12, 2007

Paperstand (NDAQ, GOOG, CBS, HUM, WCI)

Reuters reports that Nasdaq (NDAQ) has made an 23bn Swedish crown ($3.33bn) bid for its Nordic peer OMX. Nasdaq offered 192 crowns per share for the Nordic and Baltic exchange owner and technology firm, representing about 20% premium over yesterday’s close. OMX said on Thu it was in cooperation talks with several exchanges, but added it had not received any bid.

The WSJ reports that Google (GOOG) appears headed for a battle with Microsoft (MSFT) and others over voice-based search technology, which can take the place of conventional directory assistance and offer new benefits for mobile-phone users. Google released a free experimental service last week called Google Voice Local Search. It allows users to dial a number, 1-800-GOOG-411, and search for businesses in specific cities, using technology that recognizes what callers say. Google's test comes less than a month after Microsoft announced plans to buy Tellme Networks, that specializes in services that combine voice-recognition technology with the Web, and already provides automated directory-assistance services for AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

According to the WSJ, in a deepening of its online reach, CBS (CBS) is close to announcing a flurry of deals to distribute network TV shows and other video programming to various Web portals, including MSN and AOL. CBS could announce as early as today agreements which will make available to these portals previously aired full episodes of shows such as "NCIS," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," the "Evening News with Katie Couric" and certain sports programming. Aside from MSN and AOL, the media co is also expected to announce an agreement with Joost, an online-video service founded by the creators of the Skype. CBS will become the first broadcast network to sign with Joost.

Barron’s Online discusses Humana (HUM), saying that investors hoping to cash in on the co’s big gamble on Medicare may have missed their chance, at least for now. Rebounding from a selloff last fall, the stock has gained 21% since late Nov and is now flirting with the all-time high price reached in Oct, before Democrats took control of Congress. For investors, the election outcome ignited fears that congressional Democrats would cut payments to health plans sold by private insurers to provide seniors with Medicare benefits and prescription drugs. Luckily for Humana, those fears have not been realized. Payments to private Medicare health plans will rise in ‘08. But with Democrats gearing up for a fight over future funding, it could be a treacherous year for Humana's stock. "It's a good co and it runs well, but it's risky being tied so closely to the govt," says David Heupel, of Thrivent Large Cap Growth Fund. "It's a high threshold for us to get over. If this is an area where the Democrats decide to cut costs, it won't make Humana's life easy."

“Inside Scoop” section reportas that Hotchkis & Wiley Capital Mgmt reported it reduced its WCI Communities (WCI) holdings to 2.77m shares, or a 6.6% stake, down from 6.73m shares, or a 16.1% stake. Ben Silverman, of, says, "I think certainly the selling suggests the stock is as good as it gets right now, that these guys don't feel that there will be a higher offer than $22 per share, and that there is no near-term catalyst in the stock."

No comments: