Applied Materials Ups Dividend; Sets $2B Stock Buyback Plan

Applied Materials (AMAT) this morning announced an increased in its quarterly dividend rate to 7 cents, from 6 cents. The dividend is payable June 16 to holders of record May 26. That gives the stock a yield of 2.3%.

The semiconductor equipment company also said its board approved the repurchase of up to $2 billion of its common stock over the next three years. AMAT has a market cap of $16.5 billion.

“Today’s dividend increase reflects our confidence in the company’s near and long-term prospects for growth and profitability,” CEO Michael Splinter said in a statement. “The buyback program provides a flexible means to return excess cash to shareholders.”

AMAT this morning is up 30 cents, or 2.4%, to $12.29.

Citadel Capital Launching Eastern Africa Co-Invest Fund

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital said on Monday it is setting up a new $150 million co-investment fund for Africa, focusing particularly on the east of the continent.

The main investors in the fund will be PROPARCO, a French development financial institution, the Dutch development bank FMO, along with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and potentially a fourth financier, which Citadel Capital would not disclose.

“(It is) our first ever fund, a co-investment fund. We are looking at closing for it by the end of the second quarter,” Citadel’s Karim Sadek, a managing director, told Reuters in an interview.

“They will be co-investing two-to-one for every dollar they have invested equity to. They are looking at a number of deals; waste management, the agrisector, transport.”

Citadel Capital, which manages $8.3 billion in investments, has said it is looking to expand its investments in Middle Eastern and East African countries, especially those with big domestic markets in commodities, such as Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Citadel Capital, which has created 17 companies to invest in the Middle East and East Africa, said in October it had set up at least two new funds for investment in these regions.

The Africa-centric fund is expected to take the lion’s share of the $500 million total Citadel Capital is targeting for the two new funds.

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)


Kabel Deutschland Launches $1 Billion IPO

LONDON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany’s biggest cable television firm Kabel Deutschland on Monday published a prospectus for its 700 million euros ($958 million) initial public offering, making a trade sale very unlikely.

A series of failed IPOs in the last three months have lowered expectations of strong investor demand for public equity sales. 

Private equity players have speculated, even after KDG announced its IPO plan on Feb. 23, that the deal could turn into a last-minute trade sale with the planned flotation acting as a smokescreen.

When German peer Unitymedia was sold to Liberty Global (LBTYA.O) in November the company’s planned IPO had not yet reached the stage of a published prospectus.

KDG has now announced, via a prospectus, that existing shareholders including private equity firm Providence aim to raise 700 million euros by offering up to 45 million secondary shares. A further 6.75 million shares would be offered in a potential overallotment offering – otherwise known as a “greenshoe option”.

KDG shares will begin trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Mar. 19. (Reporting by Daisy Ku; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)


Xyratex Ups FY Q1 Forecast; Shares Soar In Early Trade

Xyratex (XRTX) shares are trading sharply higher Monday morning after the storage subsystems company lifted its guidance for the fiscal first quarter ended February 28.

The company says it now expects to report revenue of $313 million to $318 million, up from previous guidance of $245 million to $285 million.

The company sees GAAP EPS of 77-87 cents, up from previous guidance of 24-52 cents.

“We have continued to see an improvement in demand in both our businesses and across all of our major customers,” CEO Steve Barber said in a statement. “The actions we undertook with regard to the supply chain have helped mitigate the component constraints that impacted our fourth quarter revenue within our Networked Storage Solutions business. Our upside in revenue this quarter is primarily attributable to the NSS business and reflects the shipment of fourth quarter backlog as well as incremental demand during the quarter. We are confident that the fundamentals within the markets we serve will continue to improve into our second quarter.”

XRTX is up $2.64, or 17.2%, to $17.97.

Fastest Mutual Fund Cash Depletion Since 1991

“It’s not a red light, but it’s a flashing yellow light that the strongest part of the rally is probably over. There’s not as much buying power out there.”

-Jerome Dodson, president of Parnassus Investments

>

This is a datapoint worth keeping an eye on:

“Equity mutual funds are burning through cash at the fastest rate in 18 years, leaving them with the smallest reserves since 2007 in a sign that gains for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index may slow.

Cash dropped to 3.6 percent of assets from 5.7 percent in January 2009, leaving managers with $172 billion in the quickest decrease since 1991, Investment Company Institute data show. The last time stock managers held such a small proportion was September 2007, a month before the S&P 500 began a 57 percent drop, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”

I have no idea what the velocity of this drop means — the speed at which mutual fund cash drops is not something we’ve researched previously.

Any thoughts?

>

Source:
S&P Rally Slowed by Fastest Cash Depletion Since 1991
Lynn Thomasson
Bloomberg, March 8 2010
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aPidmY6Nga30&


Vault Co-Founder Joins Lightspeed Venture Partners

Samer Hamadeh has joined Lightspeed Venture Partners as an entrepreneur-in-residence. He is the former co-founder and CEO of Vault.com.

Here is Hamadeh’s bio, from the Lightspeed website:

Samer joined Lightspeed in January, 2010 as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Prior to that, Samer Hamadeh was co-founder and CEO of Vault, the most trusted name in career information, which was sold in October, 2007 to Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a New York-based media-and-communications private-equity firm. Samer continues to serve as a director on Vault’s Board of Directors.
Before co-founding Vault, Samer was an associate at the Los Angeles management consulting firm LEK Consulting, where he focused on corporate and business strategy. Prior to that, Samer co-founded and managed a customized-textbook printing company, worked at the Chevron Corporation, and co-authored The Internship Bible and America’s Top Internships (Random House/Princeton Review).

In addition to the Vault board, Samer sits on the boards of the PeaceWorks Foundation and Dotmenu, Inc., which owns and operates campusfood.com and allmenus.com, as well as serves as an advisory board member at numerous early-stage companies. Samer is also a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the Georgetown McDonough School’s Entrepreneurship Advisory Board.

A David Rockefeller Fellow, Samer holds a BS in chemistry and an MS in chemical engineering from Stanford University.


Offshore wind farm construction – more pictures

After showing you pictures of offshore wind turbine foundations in this story, I am pleased to be able to now post pictures of the above-the-water parts, before their installation at sea:



Left: nacelles with the hubs being installed
Right: blades (45m long) stacked

Part of the Wind power series. More below:

If you remember, there were ovality issues with one foundation last time round - well, that was solved and that foundation has now been corrected and installed at sea. The foundation site has just one big item remaining:


the transition piece for the offshore high voltage transformer station

This transition piece is heavier than the others, and required a re-fit of the jackup barge to be installed. That refit was being done when we visited:



Left: two of the legs that go down in water to lift the platform above the water when it needs to work
Right: the jackup is in the "raised" position in order for the re-fit work to be done in perfectly stable conditions, even in the port

After installing the foundation for the transformer, the vessel will be refitted a second time to begin in a few weeks' time the installation of the towers and turbines, which are arriving at a nearby site:



the nacelles (Vestas V90 - 3MW)




the hubs




the blades


the first part of the tower

The installation method chosen for this project is to install the turbines with the hub (but not the blades) on top of the towers (which are brought in two parts and are assembled on site) onshore, and transport the full unit to the site at sea in one piece, in a vertical position. Thus, other than the installation of that unit on top of the foundations, the only work offshore will be the installation of the blades, one by one, on the hub.

On the port site, various bits of assembly are happening now: the towers are being erected:


The fully erected towers stand at above 100 meters

The hubs are being attached to the nacelles:



The hubs are first positioned alongside the nacelles



after having being raised into position (something I did not witness), the hubs are bolted to the nacelle



a complete nacelle + hub set in front, with one to be installed behind it

I hope to be able to post more installments in the future - but joining the installation work at sea is usually more difficult as the safety requirements are absolutely stringent and the boats can be mobilised for more than a few days... to be continued.

Posterous Raises $4.4 Million

Posterous, a San Francisco-based blog publishing platform, has raised $4.4 million in Series A funding. Redpoint Ventures and Trinity Ventures co-led the round, and was joined by SV Angel, Founder Collective, Lowercase Capital, Brian Pokorny, Aydin Senkut and XG Ventures.

Read more at the Posterous blog.


Alien Technology Raises Another $11 Million

Alien Technology, a Morgan Hill, Calif.-based RFID company, has raised $10.9 million in new VC funding. Return backers include Advanced Equities, New Enterprise Associates and Sunbridge Partners. The company previously raised around $300 million over nine rounds of funding.

PRESS RELEASE

Alien Technology today announced that it has secured an aggregate of $10.9 million in new financing, led by existing investors Advanced Equities, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Sunbridge Partners.

Despite challenging economic conditions in the 1st half of 2009, sales in the RFID industry are suggesting a healthy path to recovery. Alien is pleased to report an all-time record volume quarter for RFID IC and Inlay sales for the quarter ending December 2009. Alien’s inlay and IC volumes have been growing at a rate of approximately 50% quarter over quarter for the past 2 quarters.

Along with the 2009 economic challenges came fruitful opportunities. One very successful example was a response to fluctuating volumes and a transition from a fixed-cost inlay manufacturing process to a scalable, varibable-cost process. As a result, Alien fully transitioned to an all new inlay product family in 2009, along with innovative, new features in its industry leading Higgs™-3 RFID IC. Additionally, a new and improved enterprise category reader was announced for the European market.

Further, Alien is pleased to announce positive developments related to all patent infringement claims asserted against Alien’s Gen2 tag products. All infringement claims alleged have either been adjudicating in Alien’s favor on summary judgment for non-infringement, stayed following initial rejection by the US Patent and Trademark Office upon reexamination, or voluntarily withdrawn.

Next week Alien will be hosting its 2010 Global Alien User and Partner Conference in Dayton, OH, adjacent to its RFID Solutions Center where over 100 partners and end users from around the world will meet to share innovations, strategies, experiences, and the newest RFID developments. Join us by registering at www.AlienTechnology.com!

About Alien Technology
Alien Technology is a leading provider of UHF RFID products and services, including RFID ICs, inlays, readers, and education. Alien is headquartered in Morgan Hill, California, with Alien Technology Asia in South Korea and the RFID Solutions Center located in the Dayton, Ohio region. Alien also maintains sales offices in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Learn more about Alien’s award-winning Higgs™-3 RFID IC, our performance-leading Squiggle® inlay product line, and the renowned RFID Academy at: www.alientechnology.com.


Drumbeat: March 8, 2010


How food and water are driving a 21st-century African land grab

We turned off the main road to Awassa, talked our way past security guards and drove a mile across empty land before we found what will soon be Ethiopia's largest greenhouse. Nestling below an escarpment of the Rift Valley, the development is far from finished, but the plastic and steel structure already stretches over 20 hectares – the size of 20 football pitches.

The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1,000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 200 miles to Addis Ababa and flown 1,000 miles to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world with more than 13 million people needing food aid, but paradoxically the government is offering at least 3m hectares of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world's most wealthy individuals to export food for their own populations.

POLL - OPEC to keep oil production targets steady

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC will keep oil production targets on hold this month but could raise output later year as the world recovers from recession, pushing up demand for fuel, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.

Fourteen analysts were unanimous in saying the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would roll over its existing commitment to pump no more than 24.84 million barrels per day (bpd), equivalent to about 30 percent of global demand.


ADNOC eyes 50% boost to drilling

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) will increase oil and gas drilling by 50% this year to sustain and enhance output, a senior company official said today.


Diesel shortage paralyzes Egypt's highways

Diesel fuel shortages continued throughout Egypt on Sunday, causing cars and buses to form 500- meter-long queues at some gas stations, as supply quantities were cut by half in many areas of Cairo and the provinces. Several fights between drivers over limited supplies of diesel fuel were reported, with police having to intervene in some cases.


Lyondell files restructuring, rejects Reliance

MUMBAI/NEW YORK (Reuters) - LyondellBasell filed a restructuring plan on Monday, rejecting a takeover bid from India's Reliance Industries that valued the bankrupt petrochemicals firm at $14.5 billion.


Gulf braces for huge petrochemicals expansion

The Gulf is undergoing massive capacity expansion in petrochemicals and will soon account for a lion's share of world's ethylene production, investment bank Alpen Capital has said in its new report.


Arroyo warned vs bypassing Congress in dealing with Mindanao power crisis

Opposition senators on Monday warned President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo against bypassing Congress in addressing the energy crisis in Mindanao.

Senator Francis Escudero said failure to seek the approval of the both the Senate and House of Representatives would make the contracts entered into by the government voidable.


The first wind farm in Venezuela will be installed in June and July this year

The towers of the 24 wind turbines of the first wind farm in Venezuela will be installed in June and July this year, said Stella Lugo, Governor of Falcon state, where the wind farm is built. The wind farm Paraguana will have 100 megawatts in its final phase.

The power plant is part of Venezuela policy to diversify its energy sources for electricity production, which now depends on more than 70% of hydropower.


Zimbabwe: Full-scale ethanol production on the cards

Government has set up a team of experts to finalise modalities on full-scale commercial blending of petrol and ethanol produced from sugarcane at Triangle in Chiredzi to ease petrol importation pressures on the fiscus.

The ethanol plant at Triangle resumed production in 2008 following refurbishment and last year produced over a million litres of fuel grade ethanol.


It Came From the Sea

Since mapping the human genome 10 years ago, J. Craig Venter has found plenty of work. The biologist now is burrowing into DNA in as many forms as he can discover, in organisms from the sea and deep underground. His goal: to use the building blocks found in naturally occurring DNA to make synthetic cells. He and his partners at Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC believe genetically engineered life forms hold great promise for energy and other industries.


China lawmakers call for more crude, fuel reserves

BEIJING (Reuters) - China should step up efforts to build up state reserves of crude oil and refined fuel to enhance the country's energy security, state media cited lawmakers as saying.

National crude demand would exceed 550 million tonnes by 2020, compared with about 400 million tonnes in 2009, National People's Congress member Chen Geng told the China Energy News in an interview published on Monday.

Chen, also a former general manager of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the country's top oil producer, said it was unlikely China would increase domestic oil production above 200 million tonnes in the next 10 years.

"That means we have to import about 350 million tonnes of oil by then," he told the newspaper.


Oil Advances to Two-Month High Above $82 on Economic Optimism

(Bloomberg) -- Oil rose to a two-month high above $82 a barrel in New York amid growing confidence that the economic recovery is proceeding and set to bolster fuel demand.

Crude advanced for a second day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the group of nations using the euro is ready to rescue Greece should the government struggle to fund its deficit. Hedge-fund managers and other large speculators increased their bets on oil prices rising for a third week, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.


India’s ONGC May Borrow $10 Billion to Buy Assets

(Bloomberg) -- Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest energy explorer, may borrow $10 billion over the next decade as it competes with rivals from China and South Korea to buy oil assets overseas to meet domestic fuel demand.


Essar Group Said to Plan $3 Billion Debt, Equity Sale

(Bloomberg) -- Essar Group, owned by Indian billionaires Shashi and Ravi Ruia, plans to raise $3 billion overseas to fund acquisitions and expand its oil, power and steel businesses, two people familiar with the matter said.


CNPC sees China oil output up 1-2% in 2010

China's crude oil output will rise by 1-2 percent this year, Yu Baocai, vice president of China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), said on Sunday.

The forecast is slightly below a previous estimate of 2 percent given in a CNPC research report but above the 0.5 percent growth target issued by China's planning ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission, in its 2010 economic plan.


Saudi Arabia to promote private sector: Saudi king

RIYADH - Top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia has been largely unaffected by a global financial crisis and will continue to encourage private sector growth and pursue a moderate oil policy, King Abdullah said on Sunday.


Total to Invest in EDF LNG Terminal Near Site of Shut Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- Total SA, under fire from unions for the planned closure of its Dunkirk refinery in northern France, will invest in a 1 billion euro ($1.4 billion) liquefied natural gas terminal nearby that’s being spearheaded by Electricite de France SA.


Basra has a 'good feeling' about vote

Turnout is 60% in the southern Iraqi city. Many voters express optimism about the nation's fifth post-Hussein elections. But some fear rivalries could spill into violence.


Shell, PetroChina Offer $3 Billion for Australia’s Arrow Energy

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc and PetroChina Co. made an offer worth more than A$3.3 billion ($3 billion) to acquire Arrow Energy Ltd., the holder of Australia’s biggest coal-seam gas acreage, triggering a record gain in the shares.


Queensland Coal Producers to Bid for QR Coal Network

(Bloomberg) -- Queensland coal producers will bid for the state government’s rail network and counter a planned A$3 billion ($2.7 billion) initial share sale of the assets, the local resources council says.


Goldman Sachs partner Jeffrey Currie goes against the flow

The Goldman Sachs oil research team, which reports to Currie, who is global head of commodities research, consistently tops forecasting league tables. But in early 2008 it made an uncharacteristically poor call. Oil analyst Arjun Murti forecast oil could spike to $200 a barrel in two years if spurred by a 1970s-style oil crisis event. Murti’s claim carried weight as he correctly predicted oil’s rise to over $100 a year earlier.


Sasol’s First-Half Profit Falls 52% as Oil Declines

(Bloomberg) -- Sasol Ltd., the largest producer of motor fuel made from coal, said first-half profit fell 52 percent as the rand strengthened against the dollar and as the price of competing crude oil declined.


Kairiki Energy Seeks Partners for 600 Million-Barrel Oil Field

(Bloomberg) -- Kairiki Energy Ltd., an Australian oil explorer whose shares have tripled in the past year, is seeking partners to develop a crude field in the Philippines with potential reserves of 600 million barrels.


China positive toward resolving gas field dispute

BEIJING — China has a positive attitude toward addressing a dispute with Japan over gas field development in the East China Sea, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Sunday. ‘‘The attitude of China is positive, not negative,’’ Yang said at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament.


What’s wrong with exploiting nature?

The filmmakers interview local indigenous people whose lives have been disrupted by the works. Where once this was an isolated, tranquil landscape, it is now scarred by strip mining and the air in some areas reeks of ‘stink bomb’ fumes from the extraction process. But this is just the latest instance of the industrialisation of wilderness. What gives these indigenous inhabitants the right to the unfettered use of this land? While it is right that oil companies should leave the land in a state where it can be used for other purposes afterwards, there is nothing wrong with making use of natural resources.


Energy Group Proposes North Sea Electricity Super-Grid, FT Says

(Bloomberg) -- A group of 10 companies including Areva SA and Siemens AG will propose a plan today for a North Sea electricity “super-grid” connecting the U.K., Germany and Norway, the Financial Times reported, citing the group.


ANALYSIS - Smart grid spending powers ahead in Asia

SEOUL/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Japan, South Korea and China are investing about $9 billion this year in infrastructure and information technology to make electricity networks more efficient, creating lucrative opportunities for niche technology and equipment providers.

The "smart grid" system, through computerised monitoring of electricity flowing through a power grid, allows utilities to automatically manage electricity usage in a way that is more reliable and flexible.

Asia's spending on smart grids is expected to outpace the United States, with China alone seen investing $7.3 billion in the sector this year, according to Zpryme, a market research firm based in Austin, Texas.


Will smart meters help reduce energy bills?

Smart meters that monitor exact energy usage multiple times a day, resulting in accurate bills, have to be in all households by 2020, the government said last year. It is hoped they will also cut carbon levels by encouraging householders to pay more attention to energy usage and make more effort to control it. So should you switch to a smart meter now, and will it really save you money?


EBay Highlights Conservation as a Benefit of Buying Used

On the site, green.ebay.com, and in the ads, eBay makes the case that buying something used is as environmentally correct as conservation and recycling.

“Most people think you have to make a product in a certain way with a certain set of ingredients for it to be green,” said Amy Skoczlas Cole, director of eBay’s green team. “What we’re saying is you don’t have to make this new product at all.”


Australia: Why didn’t I get my personal financial ‘stuff’ sorted earlier?

The age pension makes up a third of the annual Federal Budget and is set to increase at double the inflation rate to reach $45 billion in four years.

Future governments will look to scale down this commitment as the number of future taxpayers declines.

It is clearly obvious that managing this expectation gap of future retirees is an understatement. With rising inflation and living costs and fundamental changes such as a reaching "peak oil" and the question of who knows whether the age pension will be around in 10 to 20 years from now, only add to challenges in managing the expectation of these future retirees.


A social conscience

Steve Earnshaw is talking the talk and walking the walk as the spokesman for Transition Timaru. Feature writer Claire Allison met the environmentally aware orthopaedic surgeon.


The painful limits of localism

Every field of endeavour produces its classic conundrums, the tough nuts it never quite cracks. For centuries, engineering sought the secret of perpetual motion. Applied physics keeps looking for an efficient means of storing electrical power. In democratic politics our age is not the first to struggle to devolve decision-making without throwing sand into the wheels of big national plans: to reconcile bottom-up with top-down.


Solon Shares Jump After Report Says State Aid May Be Approved

(Bloomberg) -- Shares of Solon SE, the German maker of solar panels, jumped as much as 21 percent following a report that the unprofitable company may get state aid guarantees.


Small biofuel farm bears fruit

If the vision of father and son farmers Christian and James Twigg-Smith becomes reality, acres of now-fallow sugar cane land will be growing crops again.

But rather than producing food, the land would be used to grow fuel oil.

About two years ago they planted jatropha, an oil-rich nut native to South America, on 250 acres in Keaau on Hawaii island. They have leased another 750 acres that could be put into production if the crop is successful.


Deal to Save Everglades May Help Sugar Firm

When Gov. Charlie Crist announced Florida’s $1.75 billion plan to save the Everglades by buying out a major landowner, United States Sugar, he declared that the deal would be remembered as a public acquisition “as monumental as the creation of the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone.”

Standing amid the marshes at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in June 2008, Mr. Crist said, “I can envision no better gift to the Everglades, the people of Florida and the people of America — as well as our planet — than to place in public ownership this missing link that represents the key to true restoration.”

Nearly two years later, the governor’s ambitious plan to reclaim the river of grass, as the famed wetlands are known, is instead on track to rescue the fortunes of United States Sugar.


Asia seen as growth driver for voluntary CO2 market

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Fear of Western-imposed carbon tariffs on goods and services from Asia is likely to drive growth in offsetting emissions by large firms in the region, a voluntary carbon market executive said.

The market, worth $705 million in 2008 and likely much less in 2009, relies on businesses to voluntarily manage their carbon emissions, for example from the energy they use to produce and transport goods around the globe.


The Maldives Buys a New Island – That Floats

Sea level rise creates new business opportunity and “green jobs” that we’ll see more of, borne from the effects of climate change, as sea levels rise. The first floating island has just been commissioned this week by the sinking island nation of the Maldives, from Dutch Docklands, whose past work includes part of the artificial islands comprising The World off the coast of Dubai.

Options Update: Toyota Motor Volatility Decreases as Share Price Stabilizes

Filed under: ,

Toyota Motor (TM) closed at $76.94. March put option implied volatility is at 32, below a level of 46 from early February, April puts are at 32, versus its 26-week average of 30, according to Track Data, suggesting non-directional price movement.

MGM Mirage (MGM) closed at $11.27. MGM March put option implied volatility is at 54, June is at 59, and September is at 62, below its 26-week average of 73, according to Track Data, suggesting decreasing price movement.


Options Update is by Stock Specialist Paul Foster of theflyonthewall.com.

Options Update: Toyota Motor Volatility Decreases as Share Price Stabilizes originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Mon, 08 Mar 2010 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Reasons to buy high yielders

Morgan Stanley’s Graham Secker offered three reasons, to be precise. But first a bit of context.

Secker calculates that since 1926, the real price return on European stocks...

Dataxu Raises $11 Million

Dataxu, a Boston-based operator of a real-time bidding platform for online display advertisers, has raised $11 million in Series B funding. Menlo Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backers Atlas Venture and Flybridge Capital Partners. The company previously raised just over $6 million.

PRESS RELEASE

DataXu, provider of the leading real-time bidding platform for online display advertisers, today announced it has closed $11 million in Series B funding led by Menlo Ventures. Atlas Venture and Flybridge Capital Partners, who provided DataXu’s Series A funding in April 2009, also participated in the round. The proceeds will be used to fund new product development, sales and marketing, and international expansion. John Jarve, Managing Director of Menlo Ventures, will join DataXu’s board of directors.

Since the company launched its demand-side platform (DSP) in September 2009, market response has exceeded expectations. DataXu’s technology offers a transformative approach to media buying, helping brands and their agencies use data-driven decisioning to improve media performance and reduce operating expenses. The DataXu platform creates campaign-specific data models and algorithms that value, buy and optimize ad placements across all major ad exchanges and other ad inventory sources. Unlike current solutions, DataXu’s optimization considers media context, consumer profiles, and choice of creative when making each ad placement decision.

“At Menlo Ventures, we invest in companies with significant technologies that can successfully create new markets or redefine existing ones. After evaluating the companies in the new DSP market, we chose to back DataXu, because of their proven leadership team and scalable, differentiated technology, which is delivering significant value for its customers. DataXu is well-positioned to be a market leader in the new online advertising ecosystem,” stated John Jarve, Managing Director of Menlo Ventures.

“We are very pleased with the early results that our system has achieved for some of the world’s leading brands and their agencies,” said Mike Baker, President and CEO of DataXu. “With this investment from Menlo Ventures, we gain not only a valued financial partner, but also the ability to deliver broader solutions and support to our growing customer base.”

About Menlo Ventures

Menlo Ventures provides long-term capital and management support to early-stage and emerging-growth companies. Menlo is one of Silicon Valley’s oldest venture capital partnerships, and has organized and managed ten venture funds since their inception in 1976. With over $4 billion under management since inception, and a team with over two hundred years of collective experience in technology, marketing, sales and general management, they have the resources to support the most ambitious of projects.

About DataXu

DataXu, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, provides the leading real-time bidding platform for online display advertisers. This powerful technology improves digital campaign performance and delivers unique insights to advertisers. DataXu’s executive team unites leading executives in digital media with MIT technologists. The private company is backed by Atlas Venture, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Menlo Ventures. For more information, visit http://www.dataxu.com or follow us on Twitter at @dataxuinc.


SensAble Technologies Raises $8 Million

SensAble Technologies Inc., a Woburn, Mass.-based provider of 3D touch-enabled (force feedback) solutions, has raised $8 million in new VC funding from HLM Venture Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners.

PRESS RELEASE

SensAble Technologies, Inc®, a leading provider of 3D modeling software, haptic devices and dental restoration design and fabrication solutions, announced that it has received an $8 million investment to propel sales, marketing and engineering efforts for its digital dentistry product line. Existing investor HLM Venture Partners led the round and was joined by North Bridge Venture Partners, both of whom are headquartered in the Boston area, and have extensive expertise with medical device company funding.

“As dentistry goes digital, the dental lab business is in the early stage of a massive transformation – with less than 20% of all dental labs currently leveraging digital technology – while demand is on the rise as aging baby boomers need more and better dental restorations”
SensAble will use the new capital to better compete in the $3 billion worldwide market for dental restoration equipment and supplies. In 2008 SensAble introduced the SensAble Dental Lab System, an award-winning solution that helps dental labs of all sizes migrate to the use of digital tools in scanning, designing, and fabricating dental prosthetics and oral devices. Since then, SensAble more than doubled its dental business revenues and won key strategic customers worldwide. The additional funding will allow SensAble to build upon its initial success in a sizable and growing market.

“As dentistry goes digital, the dental lab business is in the early stage of a massive transformation – with less than 20% of all dental labs currently leveraging digital technology – while demand is on the rise as aging baby boomers need more and better dental restorations,” said Curt Rawley, chairman and CEO of SensAble. “It’s an enormous market with multiple opportunities to improve dental lab productivity and quality of output with solutions that integrate a wide range of newly advanced technologies. We’re pleased to have the support of two high-caliber venture capital firms who share our vision and will help us achieve these goals.”

As part of the funding, Carmichael Roberts of North Bridge and Ed Cahill and Enrico Picozza of HLM have been named to SensAble’s board of directors.

“SensAble has taken a very unique approach to the dental restorations market – a huge market that is still dominated largely by artisans designing by hand in wax and porcelain. The company applied extensive expertise in haptics and voxel modeling to create a system that is not only intuitive for technicians to learn, but creates interesting possibilities for future fabrication technologies and advanced materials,” said Carmichael Roberts, a general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners. “We see this market as a huge and untapped opportunity, just waiting for real innovation from a company like SensAble.”

“For several years, we’ve watched SensAble develop and pursue this market and have been very impressed by the management team’s dedication, tenacity, vision and success,” said Ed Cahill, a managing partner of HLM Venture Partners. “We have spoken or met with most of SensAble’s dental laboratory customers, and have found that the company has earned an exceptional reputation for performance, and service and support, as well. We believe the additional resources of this financing will position SensAble to be a leader in the most exciting and fast-growing segment of the dental restorations market.”

The SensAble Dental Lab System is the only solution on the market to support the design and fabrication of both partials and crown and bridge in a single integrated solution. The system also uniquely incorporates a 3D “virtual touch” stylus that allows technicians to work by holding a haptic (touch-enabled) device instead of a computer mouse, and use virtual wax-up tools to literally feel the onscreen model as they apply, smooth and carve digital wax. This touch-enabled approach mimics the traditional method of hand-modeling dental restorations, allowing technicians to keep the artistry and manual dexterity they have spent years perfecting.

About HLM Venture Partners

HLM Venture Partners is a leading venture firm providing capital to emerging companies focused on healthcare service, health care information technology and medical devices. HLM Venture Partners supports entrepreneurs as they turn innovative ideas into market-leading businesses, offering guidance on financial structuring and mergers, resource allocation and deployment, strategic planning, strategic introductions and recruitment. For more information, please visit www.hlmvp.com.

About Northbridge Venture Partners

North Bridge Venture Partners is an active, bi-coastal, early-stage venture capital firm based in Boston, Massachusetts and San Mateo, California. Established in 1994, North Bridge provides seed-to-growth financing and company-building expertise. Together with North Bridge Growth Equity, our mid-market focused growth capital fund, North Bridge manages over $3 billion. For North Bridge Venture Partners, success is derived through a partnership with entrepreneurs that produce industry-leading companies in large emerging markets. Historically, the firm’s partners have played a significant role in organizing, starting and building successful companies. Working in concert with entrepreneurs, North Bridge adds value by providing strategic guidance, sharing operating experience, industry specific knowledge, team-building skills and an in-depth understanding of both private and public financings. North Bridge’s sector focus includes Software, Communications, Healthcare Technology, Digital Media, and Materials. For more information about North Bridge go to www.northbridge.com.

About SensAble Technologies

Founded in 1993, SensAble Technologies is the leading developer of 3D touch-enabled (force feedback) solutions and technology that allow users to not only see and hear an on-screen computer application, but to actually “feel” it. With 41 patents granted and over 8,000 systems installed worldwide, SensAble Technologies’ haptic technology is being used in applications ranging from designing toys and footwear, to surgical simulation and stroke rehabilitation, to dental restorations, as well as a range of research and robotic applications. The company markets its own 3D modeling solutions as well as its haptic devices and developer toolkits to medical, dental, design, and manufacturing companies; educational and research institutions; and OEMs. SensAble products are available through direct and reseller channels worldwide. www.sensabledental.com.


The Morning Leverage: Lessons About Risk From Mark Twain

morningleverage_E_20090803175649.jpgMike Lucas for Dow Jones

In this morning’s media roundup:

News: Our colleagues at the Wall Street Journal report that CCMP Capital Advisors will buy Infogroup Inc., which owns database and sales-lead companies like Salesgenie and infoUSA, for about $460 million. It is CCMP’s second deal in two weeks and the first led by Richard Zannino, the former head of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of this blog.

Allied Capital Corp.’s offer of a 20 cent dividend to shareholders if its merger with Ares Capital Corp. is completed appears to have done the trick, as unwanted third wheel Prospect Capital Corp. has ended its pursuit of Allied. Prospect says it believes its efforts “unlocked additional value for Allied’s shareholders,” but now it needs to think about its own. We’ve got the story in LBO Wire.

Bain Capital-backed Sensata Technologies Holding BV, which makes sensors for autos, airplanes and other things, is among the IPOs expected to price this week. The consensus seems to be that it’s richly priced. Here’s Bloomberg’s headline, for instance: “Bain Seeks 177% Return in IPO of Sensata After Losses Since ‘06.”

TA Associates is in talks to buy U.K. retailer Cath Kidston. Our colleagues at Private Equity News report that the Boston-based firm has the edge over U.K. firms in part because the weakness of the pound has made homegrown bids less competitive.

Analysis: In the wake of the death of a trainer at Sea World, Fortune magazine looks at some controversies that have surrounded Blackstone Group, Sea World’s owner, in recent years.

The World Economic Forum says that the world’s top firms are still failing to “make the most of the talents of their female workforce,” the BBC reports. Hey private equity guys, on International Women’s Day, what are you going to do about that?

Just for fun: Azzaro designer Vanessa Seward pays tribute to her cat Monsieur Joe in her latest collection, the WSJ reports. Azzaro is owned by Spanish firm Reig Capital.

A lesson from Mark Twain on risk (Street Capitalist, via Simoleon Sense).


PCCW Net Up 19%

PCCW Limited 2009 revenues fell 22% to HK25.08 billion and net profit rose 19% to HK$1.51 billion or 22.23 cents a share.

Before the Bell: Futures Higher Following AIG Deal

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U.S. stock futures were only slightly higher Monday morning despite a fresh batch of deal news as investors took a breather from the rally on Friday brought on by nonfarm payroll data that took the Nasdaq to 18-months high.

This morning, however, with no major economic data out, investors are left to ponder the recent AIG deal. American International Group (AIG) said it will sell its overseas life and health insurance unit, Alico, for $15.5 billion to MetLife (MET) -- $6.8 billion in cash, and the rest in stock and equity units. This sale follows last week's sale of AIA to Prudential PLC (PUK), as AIG attempts to repay billions in government aid. The cash portion of the sale will be used to reduce a $47.9 billion investment in AIG by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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Deutsche Post Sales Down 15%; EADS Net Loss

Deutsche Post AG 2009 sales fell 15% to €46.2 billion and net profit was €644 million or €0.53 a share. EADS NV 2009 sales fell 1% to €42.8 billion and net loss was €763 million or €0.94 a share.

eXo Raises $6 Million

eXo, a France-based provider of Java middleware for cloud services, has raised $6 million in VC funding from Auriga Partners and XAnge Capital.

PRESS RELEASE

eXo, provider of Java middleware for cloud services, today announced an infusion of $6 million in venture capital financing from Auriga Partners and XAnge Capital. With the new funds, eXo accelerates its U.S. operations, including ramping up marketing and sales.

In addition, eXo has created a new Board of Directors, naming Bob Bickel as Chairman. Bickel is a 25-year software industry veteran with experience building profitable, high growth enterprise software companies, including Bluestone Software (acquired by HP) and JBoss (acquired by Red Hat). He also served on the board and as an advisor to Hyperic and SpringSource respectively before their acquisition by VMware. Philippe Granger, partner at Auriga Partners, and Nicolas Rose, partner at XAnge Capital, will also be joining the new board on behalf of eXo’s new investors.

“At eXo, we see a huge opportunity to bring higher level services that can extend installed enterprise Java applications with consumer web features such as collaboration, social and content management,” said Benjamin Mestrallet, founder and CEO of eXo. “We now have the capital and collective business guidance of our new board to execute on this opportunity and take eXo to the next stage of growth.”

With an existing footprint in French-speaking markets, eXo opened its first U.S. office last October following a partnership with Red Hat. The new financing will help fuel sales and marketing in North America, including a strong emphasis on forging partnerships with OEMs, ISVs, SIs, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers that want to enhance their offerings with eXo’s out-of-the-box services for Collaboration, Content Management and Social Computing.

Bickel commented: “Benjamin and his team have done a great job of getting eXo to this unique position in the market where it can be the unifying, modernizing framework and user experience platform that Java needs to remain relevant in today’s web-driven world. I look forward to working with the eXo team to enhance this position in the months and years ahead.”

Auriga Partners (http://www.aurigapartners.com) is an independent venture capital firm based on Paris with more than 180 million euros under management. The firm provides seed or early stage investment in information technologies and life sciences in Europe, North America and Israel.

Founded by the French public postal operator Group La Poste, XAnge Capital (http://www.xange.fr/) invests primarily in businesses whose activities are related to La Poste’s core businesses and present potential for synergies and partnerships (e.g., electronic exchanges and e-commerce, transaction security, CRM and direct marketing, document intelligence and logistics).

About eXo

eXo (http://exoplatform.com) offers the next generation of Java middleware designed for the new era of cloud-based services. The eXo Platform makes Java websites and applications faster to build and easier to deploy, and offers modern features such as content, collaboration, social and knowledge on a services-based architecture. The company has established technology leadership and proven value by their large European installed base and strategic partnerships with Red Hat, Capgemini, Atos Origin and Bull. eXo maintains U.S. headquarters in San Francisco, Calif. with global headquarters in France and offices in Tunisia, The Ukraine and Vietnam. For news and updates from eXo, follow @exoplatform on Twitter.