BP: Reinstating the Dividend
BP (BP) announced on Feb. 1 that it would reinstate its dividend, which it suspended last spring following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The British oil major is setting payments at 7 cents a share for the final three months of 2010, half the previous level. BP also said it's shopping two U.S. refineries, saying it hopes to gain at least $4 billion from the sales. Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley has committed to making the company "smaller" and "more agile" but says he should not be bound by his predecessor's pledge to sell as much as $30 billion in assets. BP posted a $5.6 billion profit for the fourth quarter, compared with $4.3 billion for the same period a year earlier.
Roche: Avastin's Prospects Dim
Roche Holding cut its peak sales forecast for Avastin, the world's best-selling cancer drug, by about 20 percent as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved to revoke approval for its use in the treatment of breast tumors. The Swiss drugmaker won U.S. approval of Avastin for breast cancer in 2008 under an accelerated review. Yet trials conducted since haven't established that the drug slows progression of the disease. Roche now expects the drug to generate about $7.5 billion in annual sales, vs. a previous forecast of $9.6 billion.
EMI Group: A Buyout Ends on a Sour Note
Citigroup (C) seized control of EMI as the British record label struggled to meet the terms of loans used to finance its takeover by Terra Firma Capital Partners. The U.S. bank will likely get $2 billion in any future sale, narrowly covering EMI's $1.94 billion debt, according to Needham Group analysts. Warner Music Group (WMG)and BMG Rights Management are eyeing some of EMI's assets. In November, Terra Firma Chairman Guy Hands lost a court battle against Citigroup in which he claimed the bank misled him into overpaying for EMI.
Abercrombie, Aéropostale: No More Monthly Sales Reports
Teen clothiers Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), Aéropostale (ARO), and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) will stop releasing monthly sales figures as of March. The move may make it harder for investors to evaluate the companies. Many retail executives say reporting same-store sales (revenues from outlets open at least a year) puts too much focus on short-term results. Among the companies that have put an end to the practice, which is voluntary, are: Ann Taylor Stores (ANN), Chico's FAS (CHS), Pacific Sunwear of California (PSUN), and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT).
Nokia: On the Verge of a Ratings Downgrade
Nokia (NOK), the world's No. 1 maker of mobile phones, may have its credit rating lowered for the first time. A recent report by Standard & Poor's (MHP) noted that Nokia's declining global market share in smartphones—down to 31 percent in the fourth quarter from 40 percent a year earlier—puts it at risk for a downgrade. Nokia faces intensifying competition from Apple' (AAPL)s iPhone and handsets that run on Google's (GOOG) Android platform. Android overtook Nokia's Symbian to become the No. 1 operating system for smartphones at the end of 2010.
On the Move
• JBS: Wesley Batista to replace his brother Joesley Batista as CEO
• CareFusion: Ex-ResMed (RMD) CEO Kieran Gallahue named CEO, effective Jan. 28
• Affiliated Managers Group: COO Nathaniel Dalton named president (AMG)