Home Wealth  Money Weekly Wrap: Greek Drama On Center Stage

Weekly Wrap: Greek Drama On Center Stage

Posted: Nov. 5th, 2011  |  By Forbes

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This trading week of 2011 comes to a close with investors fretting about Greece's reaction to Europe's plan to prevent an economic cataclysm on that continent.

The S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the Nasdaq were all lower for the week.

Crude oil futures are little changed this week, trading around $94.22 per barrel on Friday afternoon.

Gold futures are up slightly for the week in afternoon trading, to around $1757.11 an ounce.

In notable economic news this week, the Labor Department announced that hiring slowed in October but the unemployment rate hit a six-month low and job gains in the prior two months were stronger than previously thought. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 80,000 last month, below economists' expectations for a gain of 95,000. Employers did add 102,000 more jobs than previously estimated in August and September, pushing the jobless rate down to 9 percent from 9.1 percent.

In corporate news this week, Honda Motor Co. (nyse: HMC - news - people ) said today its second quarter net income fell by 55%, to $788 million, or 60.4 billion yen. Honda said net income per share fell to $0.44, compared to $0.54 in last year's second quarter. Results largely met analyst expectations. Revenue fell 16%, to $24.6 billion, due primarily to the impact of the earthquake that struck Japan in March. Honda said auto sales fell 14% compared to last year's second quarter, to 772,000 units, largely due to supply chain disruptions related to the earthquake. Motorcycle sales rose 20% compared to last year. Honda said it could not give a full year outlook because it is still assessing the impact of flooding in Thailand on its production.

Unilever has agreed to sell its Culver Specialty Brands Division to B&G Foods (nyse: BGF - news - people ) for $325 million. The unit includes Mrs. Dash seasoning blends, Molly McButter flavorings, Bakers Joy banking spray and Static Guard anti-static spray. Unilever acquired Culver Brands as part of its Alberto Culver Company (nyse: ACV - news - people ) deal. The unit generated revenue of $90 million in the year ending September 30, 2011. B&G chief executive David Wenner said adding the brands to his company's portfolio will enhance the company's already high margin structure, and will be immediately accretive to earnings per share and free cash flow. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year, pending regulatory approval.

BB&T Corporation (nyse: BBT - news - people ) said it had agreed to acquire BankAtlantic, the wholly-owned subsidiary of BankAtlantic Bancorp . (nasdaq: BBXT - news - people ) BB&T will acquire $2.1 billion in loans and assume $3.3 billion in deposits for an estimated premium of $301 million about the net asset value of Fort Lauderdale-based BankAtlantic at closing. BB&T said the acquisition will bring in $3.3 billion in core, low-costs deposits, expanding its presence in Southeast Florida and boosting market share to #6 in the Miami market. The acquisition is expected to be accretive to earnings per share, said BB&T. The transaction has been approved by the board of both companies, but requires regulatory approval to be completed.

Kraft Foods (nyse: KFT - news - people ) () reported third quarter earnings late yesterday. Profits rose to $922 million, or $0.52 per share, from $754 million, or $0.43 per share, in last year's third quarter. Adjusted earnings of $0.58 per share beat analyst estimates, as did a 12% increase in revenue, to $13.2 billion. Kraft is splitting itself into two companies, dividing its snack and candy business from its grocery business, by late next year. Kraft raises its earnings forecast by $0.02 per share, to earnings of at least $2.27 per share. Also late yesterday, high-end natural and organic grocer Whole Foods (nasdaq: WFMI - news - people ) () reported fiscal fourth quarter earnings that rose to $75.5 million, or $0.42 per share, up from $57.5 million, or $0.33 per share, last year. Earnings per share were just ahead of analyst expectations. Revenue rose 12% to $2.35 billion, just about in line with expectations.

Two of the world's best-known stock markets indices - the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average - will soon be under the same roof. McGraw-Hill (nyse: MHP - news - people ) () and CME Group (NASDAQ:CME) made an official announcement today that the two plan to combine their S&P and Dow Jones indices units. McGraw-Hill will own 73% of the S&P/Dow Jones Indices venture, while CME Group will own 24.4%. Dow Jones, owned by News Corp (NWS, NWS.a), will own 2.6%. The venture is expected to be operational in the first half of 2012, subject to regulatory approval and closing conditions. The new company will be part of McGraw-Hill Markets, once the company separates its financial information service from its publishing unit. McGraw-Hill said the transaction will be immediately accretive to earnings.

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