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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

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Marriott International Inc. -- The hotelier is splitting into two publicly traded companies. The company said as it reported on its earnings that it will spin off its timeshare development and management company later this year. The remaining business will concentrate on its lodging management and franchising business. Marriott said the move will help both companies focus on opportunities in their respective industries. It also helps the hotel chain shed the less-profitable timeshare business. Marriott will continue to receive franchise fees from the timeshare company's use of the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton brands. The Marriott family will hold a roughly 21 percent stake in each company. Stephen P. Weisz, president of Marriott's timeshare business since 1997, will become CEO of the new company. William J. Shaw, who recently announced his retirement as vice chairman of Marriott International and resigned from its board, will be chairman of the new timeshare company's board. The company reported a 63 percent increase in its fourth-quarter net income to $173 million, or 46 cents per share. That's up from $106 million, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time impairment charges and other special items, Marriott earned 39 cents per share, up from 32 cents per share. Marriot's total revenue rose to $3.6 billion from $3.4 billion. Analysts anticipated adjusted earnings of 36 cents per share and revenue of $3.58 billion, according to data from FactSet. Looking forward, Marriott said it expects to earn $1.35 to $1.45 in the current fiscal year. Analysts on average expect $1.41 per share. Marriott International will continue to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and the company expects the new timeshare business also to list there. The new timeshare company does not expect to pay a quarterly cash dividend or be investment-grade in the near term. The company is hosting a conference call today to discuss the news with investors. Shares of Marriott, based in Bethesda, Md., rose $1.40, more than 3 percent, to $43 in after-hours trading.




Berkshire Hathaway Inc. -- Warren Buffett's company has sold off several of the smaller investments in its $53 billion U.S. stock portfolio during the fourth quarter, including Bank of America, Comcast, Nike, and Lowe' s. The company revealed a number of changes in its holdings in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Berkshire also eliminated holdings in Becton Dickinson, Fiserv, Nalco Holding Co. and Nestle. Officials at the Omaha-based company Buffett leads as chairman and CEO said no one was immediately respond to a request for comment, but they don't typically comment on the company's stock holdings beyond what it is legally required to disclose. Shares closed at $127,850.00, up $450.00.



MGM Resorts International -- The casino operator, in which billionaire Kirk Kerkorian is a major investor, said it narrowed its loss for the fourth quarter, though the company saw gambling revenue and room revenue decline. MGM said it had a loss of $139 million, or 29 cents a share, during the quarter, compared with $433.9 million, or 98 cents a share, a year earlier. The 2009 quarter's results were weighed down by a hefty impairment charge against the company's undeveloped land in Atlantic City. Excluding one-time items, MGM Resorts said it lost 20 cents per share during the fourth quarter of 2010. The Las Vegas company said revenue was $1.47 billion, up from $1.45 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet expected MGM Resorts to lose 21 cents per share on $1.49 billion in revenue. The company's loss for the full year was $1.44 billion, or $3.19 per share, compared with a loss of $1.29 billion, or $3.41 per share, in 2009. Revenue was up slightly to $6.02 billion, though casino, room, food and beverage and entertainment revenues were all down. Shares were $15.07, down 47 cents, or 3 percent.



Credit Suisse Group -- The Swiss bank says it is raising some $6.1 billion from Arabian investors to satisfy new capitalization rules. Credit Suisse says it is issuing contingent capital notes worth $3.5 billion to Qatar Holding LLC and notes worth 2.5 billion Swiss francs ($2.57 billion) to Saudi Arabia's The Olayan Group. The Zurich-based bank says the move would satisfy emergency capital requirements proposed by Swiss regulators. It said Monday the notes can be redeemed after Oct. 2013. Qatar's sovereign wealth fund already holds more than 6 percent of Credit Suisse's shares.



Dynegy Inc. -- Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is extending an offer for the power producer for a final time. Icahn Partners LP said its offer for the Houston company will expire Friday afternoon. The $665 million bid, which values Dynegy at $5.50 per share, was scheduled to expire Monday. It said it will not extend the offer further or increase its bid. Icahn Partners agreed to buy Dynegy in December, but shareholders have not supported its offer. The stock closed Friday at $5.67 a share -- 17 cents above the offered price. Icahn Partners is Dynegy's largest shareholder with about 15 percent of the company. For the deal to go through, 50 percent of Dynegy's shares must be voted in favor of the Icahn bid. But it said Monday that only about 1.4 percent of the shares not owned by Icahn had been tendered in support of the offer as of this past Friday. Last week. Icahn Partners had said 4.4 percent of the shares had been tendered and not withdrawn. Shares were $5.81, up 14 cents, or 2.5 percent.



Leighton Holdings Ltd. -- Profits at the construction and mining giant fell 25 percent to 218 million Australian dollars ($218 million) in the second half of 2010 due to floods, a strong currency and wet weather in Indonesia that also will undermine its full year result, the company said. The result was down from AU$289 million for the same six months in 2009, despite revenue growing by 5 percent to AU$7.37 billion, the Sydney-based company said in a statement. The world's largest contract miner forecast its profit for the full fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, would fall more than 20 percent below the previous year's record AU$612 million to "around AU$480 million." Leighton shares fell almost 2 percent in early trading after the announcement, but rebounded to end Monday almost 1 percent higher at AU$30.97.



Foster's Group Ltd. -- The Australian brewer and winemaker reported a 12 percent drop in half-year net profit, as torrential rain and flooding across parts of Australia cut into domestic beer sales. The Melbourne-based company said in a statement that profit for the six months ended Dec. 31 was $312.1 million Australian dollars ($313 million), down from AU$355.7 million in the same period a year ago. Foster's said much of the drop was a result of a 7 percent decline in Australian beer market volume. The company blamed the weak sales on the spate of extreme weather.
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