SEC probes Countrywide stock sales
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating questionable stock sales by Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. Mozilo sold more than $130 million in Countrywide stock in the first half of 2007, as Countrywide shares hit the skids amid the broader real estate slump. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) Countrywide’s shares have shed 61 percent since February; they dropped another 2.2 percent in after-hours trading on news of the probe, after closing down 4.1 percent. “Mr. Mozilo spent a good part of his career hurting homeowners,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D, NY). “Now it appears he’s been hurting his stockholders, too.” (Los Angeles Times, free registration required)
Nokia beats the calls
Shares of Nokia jumped more than 5 percent after the mobile-phone giant reported an 85 percent boost in profits this morning. Nokia’s earnings beat analysts expectations, as strong demand for new lower-end phones more than compensated for a drop in the average price of handsets. (Reuters) Nokia’s 39 percent market share is now higher than its three closest competitors—Motorola, Samsung, and Sony Ericcson—combined. “Nokia’s gap to the number two handset manufacturer has never been this big before,” said analyst Michael Schroeder at Kaupthing Bank in Helsinki. (Bloomberg)
Sony unloading PS3 mircrochip unit
Sony agreed to sell its advanced microprocessor operations to Toshiba for about $858 million. The sale will include the Cell chip that powers Sony’s PlayStation 3 console and other sophisticated electronics. (AP in The high-tech chip was developed by Sony, Toshiba, and IBM. By unloading the unit, Sony avoids having to invest in upgrading its operations to produce more advanced versions of the chip. (The Wall Street Journal) Sony also said it is cutting prices on its 80-gigabyte PS3 unit and introducing a lower-cost 40-gigabyte version in the U.S., in an effort to capture market share from Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s Wii. (Reuters)
Saving the world, $25 at a time
Kiva offers anyone with $25 and an e-mail address the chance to get in the micro-lending game. The San Francisco-based nonprofit is less than two years old, but it has lent $13 million to 1,800 small-business ventures worldwide and its business model has won it some high-status boosters, including Oprah Winfrey and former President Clinton. Donors search the Kiva Web site for a business they want to support—the average request is $650, and the default rate is a minute 0.3 percent. It’s hard for Americans to relate to famine or drought, says Kiva spokeswoman Fiona Ramsey, but “everyone can relate to needing to borrow money.” (Hartford Courant in the Los Angeles Times)