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Anheuser Busch: The First Round Is On Bud Shareholders

Anheuser Busch: The First Round Is On Bud Shareholders

The saga over InBev’s (INBVF.PK) offer for Anheuser Busch (BUD) is finally quieting down, and it appears that all it took was more money. We were taken by surprise by the rapid succession of negotiations between the two brewing giants, as companies of this size rarely move at this speed. It was on June 26 that BUD officially rejected InBev’s offer of $65 per share, claiming that it undervalued the company. August Busch IV, the company’s recently installed CEO was not ready to give up control of the company that his family started 156 years ago. He felt that BUD should remain independent and through his leadership the company could turn around its uninspiring stock performance over the last few years. It is clear to us that the new $70 per share offer is more than a fair valuation and in this economy shareholders and board members alike would be foolish to reject it.

InBev’s reasons for wanting to acquire BUD are obvious; the Belgian/ Brazilian brewer has strong brands in nearly every beer drinking corner of the world except the United States. Budweiser, with its 132-year history—“The Great American Lager”— is one of the most recognized brands in the world. However, it is such an American icon and business institution that the takeover bid became increasingly political in nature, prompting even Barack Obama to comment that a foreign ownership of Anheuser Busch would be a “shame”.

While culturally this is a sad day for many in St. Louis and around the country, financially the deal makes sense. We would be stunned if the deal does not go through. The alternative for InBev was to continue its pursuit of a hostile bid, which may have eventually won out, but would most certainly have taken much more time and engendered even more opposition from BUD loyalists.

We look at stocks from a value perspective, and from our view BUD would simply be overvaluing itself if it were to reject the $70 per share offer. The stock was up 9% Friday after the new offer price was leaked. Prior to the talks with InBev, BUD stock had languished between $45 and $53 for years and the $70 price tag represents a 32% premium over the high end of that range. We have been positive on BUD from a value perspective for some time but even this price is more than fair. When we insert the $70 price into our valuation metrics, it puts BUD just slightly in overvalued territory. For example, historically BUD has traded between 11.54 and 14.34 times cash flow, given current cash flow and the $70 price, that metric pushes to 15.12. It is a similar story with price to sales as well. So, as we stated earlier, we are sympathetic to the blow to national pride of a foreign-owned Budweiser, but it is not pride that pays the bills, its money.

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The Dark Knight Hit At Box Office

Holy ticket sales, Batman!

With less than a week to opening, “The Dark Knight,” the sequel to “Batman Begins” featuring Heath Ledger’s final performance, has fans storming the box office.

“It is the fastest-selling movie in wide release for this year. It surpassed ticket sales for ‘Sex in the City,’ ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ in the same point in the films’ sale cycles,” said Harry Medved, spokesman for movie ticket distributor

Medved said “Dark Knight” accounts for 71 percent of all Fandango’s current ticket sales, “which is considerable figuring the movie hasn’t opened yet.”

According to a survey of 3,000 Fandango users, 53 percent say they want to see the film because of the late 28-year-old Aussie actor.

However, Charles Merzbacher, chairman of the film and television department in Boston University’s College of Communication, said Ledger’s death isn’t the only reason ticket buyers are flocking to the “Dark” side.

“It can contribute to ticket sales, but (Batman) is a very big franchise proven to be dependable,” Merzbacher said.

A star’s death can’t make a hit on its own, he said. “James Dean in ‘Giant,’ and Brandon Lee in ‘The Crow’ were equally successful. On the contrary, River Phoenix, after death his movies were not successful,” Merzbacher said.

Locally, tickets are still available for screenings at Regal Fenway Stadium 13 and AMC Loews Boston Common 19.

Fenway will screen the film in two 500-seat theaters at midnight Thursday and plans 10 showings Friday starting at 9 a.m.

Boston Common’s line-up includes two midnight screenings on Thursday and four showings on Friday.

Comcast IMAX 3D Theaters in Natick and Reading will have six screenings per day. Many of the opening weekend showtimes, begining at 9 a.m., have already sold out.

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Tony Snow Dies At 53

Tony Snow Dies At 53

Former White House Press Secretary Died of Colon Cancer

Tony Snow, a conservative political commentator who seemed to relish his brief stint as President Bush's White House press secretary, died in Washington, D.C., on Saturday of colon cancer at the age of 53.
Tony Snow
Conservative commentator and former White House press secretary Tony Snow has died of cancer. He was... Expand
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

"America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character," President Bush said in a statement from Camp David, where he was spending the weekend. "It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace, and a great love of country to his work."

Bush said his family's thoughts and prayers are with Snow's wife, Jill, and their three children.

White House aides told ABC News that the president tried to phone Snow last month but Snow was unable to speak to him. It was a sign of how Snow's condition was deteriorating.

The former Bush spokesman had been hospitalized for several weeks, telling friends he was having difficulty recovering from an intestinal problem. He and his wife, Jill, were upbeat and gracious with friends and reporters who called to check on him.

"For those of us battling cancer, he was beyond inspirational," said ABC News' Robin Roberts, who is a breast cancer survivor. "We are deeply saddened by his passing but will not forget his valiant fight.

"I also had the privilege of interviewing Tony in his office on his last day at the White House. He talked movingly about his cancer, his family, and was quite emotional at times," Roberts said.

As press secretary, Snow almost always wore a yellow "Live Strong" Lance Armstrong bracelet with his suit at the White House podium. As a former newsman himself, he charmed the White House press corps and was widely liked by reporters.

Snow's last on-camera White House briefing was Sept 12, 2007, when he said, "You know, everybody talks about what a horrible job it is to brief the press. I love these briefings and I'm really going to miss them."

Snow served as White House press secretary for 17 months, but left the White House podium shortly after being diagnosed with a reoccurence of cancer.

Doctors removed his colon in 2005, and he completed six months of chemotherapy. A cancerous growth was removed from his abdominal area in March 2007 and he spent five weeks recuperating before returning to the White House.

Tony Snow
President Bush, left, waves while walking with outgoing White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, upon their arrival on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2007. Snow died of cancer on Saturday July 12, 2008. He was 53.
(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

When he resigned as Bush's chief spokesman last September, Snow didn't cite his health, instead arguing he had taken a pay cut to work at the White House where he was paid more than $168,000 a year.

Snow explained he simply "ran out of money" and his White House job doesn't provide the salary he made in prior years as a Fox News anchor and conservative pundit. He later joined CNN in April as a commentator and did some other broadcasting work.

"Cancer has nothing to do with this decision," Snow said in April, 2007.

Snow thanked reporters, White House colleagues, family, and friends for their endless support saying, "Anybody who does not believe that thoughts and prayers make a difference, they're just wrong."

"I'm taking a cancer cocktail this time around -- a chemo cocktail that's going to contain two agents that were not in broad use two years ago," Snow said.

Standing beside Snow as he announced he was leaving the White House, Bush said he "sadly" accepted Snow's desire to leave his post telling the press, "It's been a joy to watch him spar with you. He's smart, he's capable, he's witty. He's capable of-- He's able to talk about issues in a way that the American people can understand."

"I love you and wish you all the best," Bush told Snow a year ago.

Snow served as the first host of the television news program "Fox News Sunday" from 1996 to 2003 and was working for Fox News Channel and Fox News Radio when he replaced Scott McClellan as press secretary in May 2006.

Where McClellan was cautious, Snow was a showman, cheerfully sparring with reporters in daily White House briefings.

As a former television commentator, he seemed to ooze charm and played to the television news cameras which delighted his White House bosses.

Popular among conservatives, Snow was the first White House press secretary tapped to travel the country raising money for Republican candidates.

Reacting to his death, Vice President Dick Cheney's press secretary, Megan Mitchell, said, "[I] spoke with the vice president earlier this morning and he is aware of Tony's passing. He is deeply saddened by the news. Tony Snow was a friend of the Cheneys and their thoughts and prayers are with the Snow family."

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Iran Says Talk Of US Attack 'Craziness'

Iran Says Talk Of US Attack 'Craziness'TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran on Saturday dismissed speculation that it risked being attacked by the United States over its contested nuclear drive, saying that a military strike would be "craziness."

"Any aggression or military action against Iran is an idiocy whose repercussions would hurt all," government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters.

"I don't think that such craziness and nonsense will prevail or is do-able militarily," he added.

Iran has repeatedly vowed a crushing response to any aggression against its soil and an aide to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Saturday that Iran would target US bases and Israel if it is attacked.

"If America and Israel shoot any bullets and missiles against our country, Iranian armed forces will target the heart of Israel and 32 US bases in the region before the dust from this attack has settled," the Fars news agency quoted Mojtaba Zolnoor as saying.

The United States and its top regional ally Israel have never ruled out attacking Iran over its nuclear drive, which the West fears could be aimed at making nuclear weapons.

There has been concern an attack against Iran could be imminent after it emerged Israel had carried out manoeuvres in Greece that were effectively practice runs for a potential strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Tensions over the nuclear standoff have surged again in recent days after Iran test-fired a broadside of missiles -- including one it says brings Israel within range -- in war games that provoked international concern.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has also warned that if the United States or its regional ally Israel attack Iran, "then our response to them will be harsh and devastating."

On Wednesday, Tehran said it test-fired its Shahab-3 missile -- the longest-range weapon in its arsenal -- and eight other missiles, adding it fired more missiles on Thursday in land manouevres at night and naval war games by day.

Mottaki described the missile firing as a show of "Iran's capabilities and ability in the military field."

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts aimed at solving the five-year nuclear standoff have also continued.

World powers last month presented Iran with a package aimed at ending the nuclear crisis by offering Tehran technological incentives in exchange for suspending its sensitive uranium enrichment programme.

Iran has proposed its own package -- a more all embracing attempt to solve the problems of the world including the nuclear standoff -- and has made much of the common ground between the two proposals.

Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is to meet EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana -- who leads the talks on behalf of world powers -- in Geneva on July 19 in their latest effort to break the deadlock, Iranian officials said.

Elham again insisted that Iran would not give up enriching uranium, saying "no issue depriving our people of their rights can be debated. We will never accept any preconditions for negotiations."

Western powers fear Tehran could use the process to make a nuclear weapon but Iran rejects the accusations insisting its nuclear programme is aimed solely at generating energy for a growing population.

Indeed, Elham said it was the world powers who had changed their position and implied he believed they had dropped their demand for a suspension.

"They themselves have retreated from their positions and became aware that such a request (for suspension) is an illogical one. Thus they have taken a rational move," he said.

"The US position is showing that they are taking a logical path," he added, without giving further details.

However, the offer handed to Iran by Solana last month makes it clear that Iran must suspend enrichment for full negotiations on the incentives package to begin.

Iran has already responded to the offer in a document that has yet to be published but has been described by Solana as a "complicated and difficult letter that must be thoroughly analysed".

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Iran Says Attacking It Would Be "Madness"

Iran Says Attacking It Would Be "Madness"TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran warned the United States and Israel on Saturday it would be "madness" to attack the Islamic Republic over a nuclear programme the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.

The comments by government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham came a few days after Iranian missile tests heightened regional tension and helped send world oil prices to record highs.

Israel staged an air force exercise last month that stoked speculation about a possible assault on Iranian nuclear sites.

Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, has vowed to strike back at Tel Aviv and U.S. interests and shipping in the region if it is attacked, threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, conduit for about 40 percent of globally traded oil.

"We do not imagine that anybody would commit such madness and stupidity ... and nobody has the power to make such aggression," the state broadcaster quoted Elham as saying.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is not a threat at all and will not accept any threats."

Iran says its nuclear projects are aimed only at generating electricity. Western nations and Israel fear the Islamic Republic is seeking to build bombs.

Washington has said it wants diplomacy to end the row but has not ruled out military action should that fail.

Israel, long assumed to have its own atomic arsenal, has sworn to prevent Iran from emerging as a nuclear-armed power.

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said he believed neither of Tehran's arch-foes would want to get entangled in a new Middle East crisis by launching strikes against his country.

"The Zionist regime is still involved in the aftershocks of the war with Lebanon," he told the IRNA news agency, referring to Israel's inconclusive 2006 war with Hezbollah guerrillas.

"And the U.S. still does not possess the capacity to enter another crisis in the Persian Gulf region."


Elham said the aims of this week's wargames, during which Iran says it fired missiles that could hit Israel and U.S. bases in the region, included strengthening its military readiness.

Analysts say any U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran would be limited to air strikes, rather than a full-scale attack with U.S. ground forces, which are tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They say Iran could respond with unconventional tactics, such as deploying small craft to attack ships, or using allies in the area to strike at U.S. or Israeli interests.

The United States and five other major powers have offered Iran economic and other benefits if it halts its most sensitive atomic activities, something Tehran says it will not do.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is expected to meet European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Geneva on July 19 for talks on the long-running dispute.

Elham said Iran was ready for talks in "fair conditions" but would not accept giving up what it sees as its nuclear rights.

Iran's oil minister said the country would press ahead with "renewed strength" in developing a major gas field in the Gulf, a few days after French firm Total said it would not invest in the South Pars Phase 11 project for now over political tension.

The United Nations and Western countries have stepped up sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear plans, which analysts say is deterring foreign investors.

Tehran says its windfall oil earnings will enable it to carry out projects on its own and also that it will find other firms particularly from energy-hungry Asia to invest.

"Upon hearing the news, we began work in this phase with renewed strength and we will continue that with strength," Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari told IRIB.

(Additional reporting by Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Sami Aboudi)

Original Source :

iPhone Launch Effected By Computer Chaos

iPhone Launch Effected By Computer ChaosA COMPUTER breakdown caused chaos at the UK launch of the new version of Apple's iPhone yesterday.

Some customers queued for 17 hours to be sure of getting hold of the latest must-have gadget, as supply problems left shops short on stock and many customers empty-handed.

But those who did manage to get one of the gizmos were left frustrated as computer problems meant they struggled to register their details or activate the device.

Apple staff blamed the glitch on telecoms partner O2's computer system running slowly as thousands of customers across the country attempted to register their new phones with the network.

O2 confirmed that Apple stores were having "technical issues" connecting to their online systems.

A spokesman said O2 and Carphone Warehouse shops - aside from Apple's own stores, the only places in the UK where the iPhone can be bought - were trading normally.

However, he admitted registration systems in O2 stores were running slowly.

He said: "Customer interest in iPhone has been phenomenal this morning.

"Sales are currently business as usual. Average transaction time is about 20 minutes, as per normal. We can confirm Apple stores are having technical issues connecting to O2 systems.

"The systems are currently working but quite slowly.

"We are working to get the systems back up to full speed as quickly as possible."

Both O2 and the Carphone Warehouse had to suspend online orders for the iPhone earlier this week citing "incredible demand".

The updated version of the touch-screen device, which combines the features of an iPod, mobile phone and internet browser, also includes a high-speed internet connection and GPS satellite navigation.

Users can also use it to check their email and download games, video and other free and paid-for applications.

But it has been criticised for the rapid rate at which the battery is drained.

It costs substantially less than the £269 previous version but can still only be used on the O2 network in the UK.

The 8GB version is free to customers who sign up to a £45-a-month phone tariff and the 16GB version is free to those paying £75 a month. On lower tariffs, the handsets cost between £59 and £159.

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Suicide Bomber Kills Three In Afghanistan

Suicide bomber kills three in Afghanistan

A suicide bomber has detonated explosives strapped to his body near an Afghan military convoy in southern Afghanistan, killing two soldiers and a child, police said.

The attack in the Taliban-troubled southern province of Helmand comes days after a suicide car bomb targeting the Indian embassy in Kabul killed more than 40 people including two Indian envoys.

"A suicide bomber on foot blew himself up near a joint convoy of police and army. Two soldiers and a six-year-old boy were killed," provincial police chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal said.

Four other people including a police officer were wounded in the blast in the province's restive Marja district, the police commander said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but similar acts have been blamed on the Taliban militant group which has led an insurgency since being ousted from power in 2001.

The Islamic militants have stepped up their attacks in the past two years particularly using suicide blasts.

The bombing at the Indian embassy in the capital was the deadliest of its kind since the fall of the hardline Taliban regime.

The Taliban have denied a role in the attack and authorities have blamed "foreign intelligence", a reference to Pakistan's spy agency.

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Copper Thieves Take Down Sainsbury’s

Copper thieves take down Sainsbury’s

With the high value of scrap metal, opportunist thieves have been causing havoc around the country as they have been stealing power and telecom cables.

But now a group of thieves have found an easier target, computer network centres.

Yesterday thieves broke into the Cable and Wireless network centre in Watford, where some key equipment was stolen.

It is believed that the thieves were in actual fact looking for the valuable copper wire as this has now got a very high scrap value.

One of the sites taken down because of the break in was Sainsbury’s online store, but also the Financial Times and sites to do with the Ordnance Survey were affected.

For Sainsbury’s it would have been a serious blow to business, as this would mean an opportunity for the store competitors to capture some of their customers who were not willing to wait for the service to return.

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Britain To Continue To Fight For UN Envoy Despite Veto

Britain To Continue To Fight For UN Envoy Despite Veto
Foreign Secretary David Milliband said today Russia and China's decision to block international sanctions against Zimbabwe was "incomprehensible" and confirmed Britain would continue to fight to end suffering at the hands of Robert Mugabe.

A draft resolution, drawn up with the United States, that went before the United Nations Security Council, called for travel bans on the dictator and 13 other leading members of his regime and a freeze on their overseas assets.

It also proposed an arms embargo and the appointment of a special envoy to help with the creation of a new government.

But the move was scuppered by Russia and China's veto. Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador, said the sanctions went beyond its mandate to deal with threats to international peace and security.

Mr Milliband said: “I am very disappointed that the UN Security Council should have failed to pass a strong and clear resolution on Zimbabwe.

"In particular, it will appear incomprehensible to the people of Zimbabwe that Russia, which committed itself at the G8 only a few days ago to take further steps including introducing financial and other sanctions, should stand in the way of timely and decisive security council action.

“Nor will they understand the Chinese vote.”

He continued: “The UN still has a key role to play in supporting African efforts to bring an end to this crisis, and we will continue to press for the appointment of a UN envoy.

“All of our efforts will continue to be directed at alleviating the suffering of Zimbabweans. The violence against them must stop. Humanitarian agencies must be granted full access immediately. And a solution must be found that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people, who voted for change on March 29, but whose will continues to be so brutally denied.”

This morning he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “It is right that in the end people have to show their cards and the vote yesterday showed that, in the end, the Russians and the Chinese - I wouldn’t quite say put two fingers up - but effectively they blocked action.

“The Russians and the Chinese were briefing in all sorts of directions. You have to get people to front up because in the end there was hiding going on behind the nods and the winks.

“The Russians signed a G8 statement. Their President at the meeting agreed to the statement which called for, among other things, financial sanctions on the Mugabe regime.

“We thought it was right to bring international pressure to bear. We don’t apologise for that at all."

“Mugabe is more isolated within his own country than ever before,” he said. “We have got to make sure though that the final hold that he has on power, which is at a barrel of a gun, is as short as possible because the misery for those people is absolutely overwhelming.”

Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Sir John Sawers, joined in the condemnation of the veto which he said had denied Zimbabweans hope for the future.

“We view their decisions as deeply damaging to the long-term interests of Zimbabwe’s people. It has, in our view, harmed the prospects for bringing to an early end the violence and the oppression in Zimbabwe,” he said.

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