GE hits the bullseye
General Electric reported a 4 percent rise in quarterly profits, to $6.7 billion, meeting analysts’ forecasts. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) GE—the second-largest U.S. company by market capitalization, after Exxon Mobil—said that more than half of its revenue now comes from outside the U.S., helping protect it from the domestic economic slowdown. (Reuters) IBM, which reported a 12 percent jump in profits Monday, raised its earnings guidance for 2008 late yesterday, also due to its overseas operations, especially in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. There “is a virtual gold rush in these rapidly emerging economies,” IBM CFO Mark Loughridge said. (MarketWatch)
Hollywood studios, directors reach a deal
The Directors Guild of America reached a tentative, three-year contract deal with the major Hollywood studios. (Reuters) The deal, which roughly doubles DVD residuals and gives directors a cut of ad-supported work distributed over the Internet, could serve as a template to end the 11-week-old Hollywood writers’ strike. The writers’ guild is seeking higher Internet residuals. (The New York Times, free registration) But if it rejects the DGA framework, “there’s going to be a great deal of dissatisfaction among the membership,” said Law & Order creator Dick Wolf. “The bottom line here is: This town should be back to work in three weeks.” (Los Angeles Times, free registration)
AMD closer to profitablily
Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices reported a smaller-than-expected $1.77 billion loss in the fourth quarter, sending its stock up more than 4 percent in extended trading. The loss included a $1.61 billion charge related to its purchase of graphics chipmaker ATI Technologies. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) AMD managed to drive down costs and sell more higher-priced PC chips than expected. CEO Hector Ruiz said the company was “darned close to breaking even,” and should become profitable in 2008. “They are not out of the woods yet, but this is a step in the right direction,” said JMP Securities analyst Krishna Shankar. (Bloomberg)
Microsoft’s head trip
Microsoft is hoping to pick your brain to gain the upper hand in creating natural-feeling user interfaces. Coming up with a better interface is deemed crucial to Microsoft as it battles rivals, from Google to Apple. So Microsoft researchers are scanning brainwaves to come up with new ways for computers to respond to users’ thoughts. Analysts say that a mind-powered interface makes sense as computer users get bombarded with ever more information. “It’s our fundamental belief that computers are still relatively dumb, no matter how smart they act,” said Desnay Tan, who is leading Microsoft’s efforts to make mind meet machine. (MarketWatch)