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Coke’s Smile, Rio’s Raspberry
Coke finds a winning formula in Vitaminwater. Rio Tinto uses its favorable earnings report to stick its tongue out at hostile suitor BHP Billiton. And after 100 days of reality TV, the writers’ strike is officially over.
 

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EWS AT A GLANC

Coke’s sweet year

Coca-Cola Co. reported a 79 percent rise in quarterly profits, to $1.21 billion. The earnings beat analysts’ estimates. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) Coke was able to counter rising commodity prices and a shift in demand from carbonated beverages by boosting its overseas sales and expanding into noncarbonated drinks like Vitaminwater, which it bought for $4.1 billion last year, and low-calorie soft drinks. (Reuters) “They’re really putting a lot of money behind this Vitaminwater,” said Walter Todd at Greenwood Capital in South Carolina. “I think Coke’s doing the right thing by trying to diversify away from the soft drinks.” (Bloomberg)

Rio Tinto profit helps independence bid

Mining giant Rio Tinto reported a 9 percent rise in profits in the second half of 2007, to a better-than-expected $3.91 billion, on record iron ore production and its acquisition of Canada’s Alcan Inc. (Reuters in Forbes.com) For the full year, Rio Tinto’s profits fell 1.7 percent, to $7.3 billion. Rio also reiterated it opposition to the $138 billion takeover bid from larger rival, BHP Billiton, saying the offer “considerably” undervalues the company. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) Rio would have had trouble fending of BHP “if the result had been weak,” said Ken West at Perennial Investment Partners. “It’s a good financial front which the company can use to defend its independence.” (Bloomberg)

Hollywood writers end the strike

The Writers Guild of America voted overwhelmingly to end its 100-day strike against Hollywood producers. The guild did not vote on the contract negotiated over the weekend, but the lopsided vote suggests that it will be approved. (AP in BusinessWeek.com) Los Angeles Development Corp. economist Jack Kyser said the total cost of the strike to L.A. will top $3 billion. Meanwhile, some experts said the writers’ gains could be short-lived, as studios use the strike as an excuse to cut budgets and shows. “Writers got hard-fought and well-earned improvements, but it could be tougher sledding for the rank and file in the future,” said entertainment lawyer Steven Beer. (Los Angeles Times, free regisration)

A taste of Android

Google’s open-source Android mobile operating system is having a coming-out ball of sorts in Barcelona this week, as cellphone, chip, and software makers show Android-related prototypes. Android-powered phones are still months away for consumers, but analysts say that Google could capture a big share of the consumer smart-phone market. Texas Instruments, which as the largest cellphone chip maker stands to gain from a rise in phone sales, unveiled its own Android prototype. “People are doing crazy new things with mobile communications,” said TI’s Greg Delagi. “I want you to buy a new cellphone because you’ve absolutely got to have some new capability.” (AP in The Wall Street Journal)
 

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