Merrill May Buy a Piece of BlackRock

Google lower after bearish news story; Starbucks shares dip; plus more stocks in the news Monday

Merrill Lynch (MER) is in talks to buy a stake in the money manager BlackRock (BLK) for $8 billion, in a deal that would create a $1 trillion fund-management colossus and transform the nation's largest retail brokerage firm, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Google (GOOG) shares were lower Monday after a Barron's article said the company's share price could well be cut in half over the next year; the story cited growing competition, mounting concern about click fraud. S&P keeps hold. UBS Financial reiterates neutral.

Starbucks (SBUX) shares fell after UBS Financial downgraded its recommendation to neutral from buy.

Vimpel Communications (VIP) The Russian telecom heavyweight confirms that it has sent in the past week an offer to both the Norgwegian telecom operator Telenor ASA (TELN) and Altimo (the telecom subsidiary of Alfa Group) to acquire 100% of their jointly owned Ukrainian mobile operator Kyivstar G.S.M. for $5 billion in Vimpelcom shares, plus debt assumption.

K&F Industries (KFI) posts 41 cents fourth quarter earnings per share (EPS) vs. breakeven on a 10% sales rise. It sees $1.22 to $1.27 2006 EPS on revenue growth of 4% to 6%.

Swisscom (SCM) posts 8 cents vs. 56 cents fourth quarter EPS as higher costs offset a 5% revenue rise. It expects to deliver high-single digit revenue growth and low-double digit EPS growth in 2006.

Illinois Tool Works (ITW) says operating revenue rose 8% for the three months ended Jan. 31, 2006. It continues to see first quarter EPS of $1.12 to $1.18 and in 2006 of $5.60 to $5.78.

Opsware (OPSW) announces a multimillion dollar worldwide distribution agreement with Cisco Systems (CSCO), whereby Cisco will distribute Opsware's Network Automation System under the Cisco Systems brand.

Syntel (SYNT) posted a breakeven fourth quarter vs. 26 cents earnings per share (EPS) as $12.3 million expense associated with repatriation of foreign earnings of its Syntel Ltd. foreign unit offset a 27% revenue rise. It sees $1.00 to $1.05 2006 EPS on $250 million to $260 million revenue.

China Medical Technologies (CMED) posted 42% higher third quarter net income on a 62% rise in revenue.

Chindex (CHDX) The Chinese healthcare provider posts 7 cents third quarter loss vs. 69 cents loss on a 22% revenue rise.

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