Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Paperstand (GOOG, CAJ, TJX, ROSS, BNI)

The WSJ reports that Google (GOOG) is in advanced talks with two top US cellphone operators, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel, about selling handsets tailored to its new mobile-phone OS. Deals with the carriers would represent a major breakthrough for the co, which until now has encountered wariness from some quarters of the wireless industry about its mobile-phone plans. Within 2 wks, Google is expected to announce new software and services that handset makers could use to build customized Google-powered phones. The co needs wireless operators to sign on to the project in order to get its mobile devices in front of consumers by the middle of next year. Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel are both in advanced discussions with Google.

"Heard on the Street" column discusses Canon (CAJ), saying that the co is on track to post another record profit this year, but that hasn't stopped its shares from falling to near year-low levels in recent months. That is b/c the co, which takes in 3/4 of its sales overseas, is one of Japan's biggest exporters. In this position, it is more vulnerable than most Japanese co's to fluctuating exchange rates and a slowing US economy. Analysts nonetheless continue to be optimistic about Canon's future. Many expect it to outperform the rest of the Japanese mkt over the next yr. "We think the shares are oversold," Goldman Sachs analyst Shin Horie wrote in a note last week.

Barron's Online highlights TJX (TJX) and Ross Stores (ROSS), saying that the nation's 2 largest off-price retailers promise strong future earnings relatively immune to the economy. And both stocks are in the bargain bin. Like the rest of the retail sector, shares of TJX and Ross dropped this year thanks to slower sales growth and signs that US consumers are worn out. Yet cash-strapped holiday shoppers still need to fill Christmas stockings. Off-price retailers can flourish when wallets look empty. "These are as close to recession-proof retail stocks as investors are going to find," says Allison Fisch, analyst with Pzena Investment Mgmt.

"Inside Scoop" section reports that the Burlington Northern Santa Fe's (BNI) Chmn and CEO Matthew Rose sold 30K shares. Also, CFO Thomas Hund exercised options for 50K shares. He then sold the stake, plus an additional 1,200 shares, for $4.4m. That same day director Robert West exercised 9K options and then sold the same number of shares.

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