Top 10 News Items for 02/11 - 02/15: Once-in-a-Millennium Papal Event; Buffett's Big Buy; Comcast Takes All of NBCU

February 15, 2013 4:38 PM EST Send to a Friend
1. Pope Benedict XVI resigned his position this week, being the first pope to leave office under his own circumstances. This is the first papal resignation since Gregory XII back in 1415.

2. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) and 3G Capital made a move to acquire ketchup giant H.J. Heinz Co. (NYSE: HNZ) for $72.50 per share, or $23 billion net of debt. The per share price represented a 20 percent premium to Heinz’s closing share price of $60.48 on February 13, 2013, a 19 percent premium to Heinz’s all-time high share price, a 23 percent premium to the 90-day average Heinz share price and a 30% premium to the one-year average share price. For more color, click here.

3. On Monday, Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) announced that it will acquire General Electric’s (NYSE: GE) entire 49 percent common equity stake in the NBCUniversal joint venture for approximately $16.7 billion. NBCUniversal will purchase from GE the properties used by NBCUniversal at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and CNBC’s headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, NJ for approximately $1.4 billion. For more color, click here.

4. Activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed holding 14,015,151 share, or a 12.98 percent stake, in Herbalife (NYSE: HLF). Icahn did not hold shares previously, although rumors have surrounded the possible position. Icahn was back on CNBC Friday aiming to pass Herbalife off as a "solid investment," though most traders understand that the move is more of an ego trip aimed at getting even with Pershing Square's Bil Ackman. For more color on the stake, click here.

5. Hedge funds took leave of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) shares, according to latest data from 13F filings. Large funds sold about 21.7 million Apple shares in fourth-quarter 2012, ledg by Viking Global Investors, which unloaded 1.1 million shares. For an updated list of the latest Apple holders, click here.

6. AMR Corporation (OTCBB: AAMRQ) and US Airways Group, Inc. (NYSE: LCC) finally announced entering a merger agreement which would see the two companies combine in an $11 billion, all-stock deal. The move follows just about a year of chatter surrounding a potential bid by US Air, following AMR's entry into chapter 11 bankruptcy. For more on the deal, click here.

7. During his State of the Union address Tuesday evening President Barack Obama proposed boosting the Federal Minimum wage to $9 an hour from $7.25, in an effort to help reduce poverty and support low-income American. The news has stirred debate among economists and in political circles, but rhetoric aside investors are taking a more pragmatic view and examining stocks that could potentially be impacted by the proposed change. For more color, click here.

8. Investors punished shares of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE: CCL) (NYSE: CUK) on Wednesday after reports surfaced about foul conditions on board its stranded cruise ship, the Triumph. A fire broke out in the Triumph's engine room on Sunday, leaving the ship floating helplessly off the coast of Mexico for days. Far from being an extended vacation, passengers complained about terrible food, sweltering temperatures, and generally miserable conditions. For more on the Carnival saga, click here.

9. The February 2013 Empire State Manufacturing index reading came in at 10.0, from negative 7.8 percent the prior month and expectations for a flat reading. The new orders index also rose sharply, climbing twenty points to 13.3, and the shipments index increased to 13.1. The prices paid index pointed to a continued acceleration in selling prices, and the prices received index, while positive, inched lower. The index for number of employees rose for a third consecutive month and, at 8.1, registered its first positive reading since September, though the average workweek index remained negative.

10. Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt disclosed plans to sell up to 3.2 million Google shares under a Rule 10b5-1 trading plan. Many questions surrounded Google following the news, though Schmidt simply said it was to diversify his investments. The sake was worth about $2.5 billion as of the close on February 8, 2013.


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Carl Icahn, Warren Buffett, Pershing Square Capital, Viking Global Investors, StreetInsider.com Top 10 News Items for the Week, Hedge Funds, Bankruptcy, Barack Obama

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