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RIM's subscriber base for BlackBerry tops 55 million Add to ...

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RIM profit, revenue climb Research In Motion Ltd. topped analysts' estimates late today as third-quarter profit climbed to $911.1-million (U.S.) or $1.74 a share, compared to $628.4-million or $1.10 a year earlier.

Bolstered by its BlackBerry Curve and touch-screen Torch models, revenue climbed 40 per cent from a year earlier, to $5.49-billion from $3.92-billion.

The BlackBerry maker said it shipped 14.2 million smart phones in the quarter, and added some 5.1 million subscribers, bringing the subscriber account base to more than 55 million.

It also projected earnings per share for the fourth quarter of $1.74 to $1.80 and revenue of $5.5-billion to $5.7-billion.

NEB approves Mackenzie Valley pipeline The National Energy Board today gave a conditional stamp of approval to the $16.2-billion Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline, The Globe and Mail's Nathan VanderKlippe reports from Calgary, ruling that the project "is in the public interest."

The approval, which contains 264 conditions, still must get the stamp of approval from the federal Cabinet. The NEB's decision is a major step forward for a project many years in the making.

If built, it will be the single biggest private investment ever in Canada, and open the door for new industrialization of the North.

Foreign investors snap up Canadian bonds Foreign money is flooding into Canada. Foreign investors snapped up $9.5-billion more in Canadian in securities in October, primarily in corporate bonds and stocks, Statistics Canada said today.

Foreigners bought $3-billion in provincial government bonds, the seventh month in a row of increases. So far this year, that figure amounts to $20.1-billion, topping the previous high of $17.5-billion in 1993.

However, foreign investors cut their holdings of federal government bonds, only the second divestment in 18 months. But overall purchases this year stand at $36.5-billion, the highest ever.

"During the first 10 months of 2010, net bond purchases stand at a whopping $85-billion, already surpassing last year's record tally with two months of data still to come," Warren Lovely of CIBC said of overall purchases.

Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns, noted that more than 22 per cent of the amount of Ottawa's debt held by the public - the Bank of Canada also holds some - reached more than 22 per cent by the end of June. That compares to less than 15 per cent three years, and its the most in more than 10 years.

That's helping to push up the Canadian dollar, he added.

"I think, simply put, we've got huge amounts of capital globally sloshing around looking for alternatives to U.S. Treasuries," Mr. Porter said. "And Canada is seen as a relatively safe harbour."

Foreign investors like not only Canada's economic outlook but also the fact that, compared to other countries, Ottawa's fiscal standing is in relatively decent shape. That has helped drive up the value of the dollar for some time now.

Given that foreign investment alone is sufficient to fund budget deficits in Canada, Mr. Porter added, it's obvious why the currency is strong. But there's more to the story.

"The other side of the story behind the loonie's 2010 ascent is what isn't happening," he said. "Canadians are not investing abroad significantly. Canadians bought a meagre $0.8-billion of foreign securities in October, and a modest $15.6-billion over the past 12 months."

Wall Street bankers still rake it in Bankers still working on Wall Street may be in for higher bonuses this year because the exodus of their colleagues means fewer people sharing the money.

Indeed, this could be the second-best year for profits among the firms in New York City even though the U.S. economy is limping, according to data released by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

"Wall Street profitability rebounded sharply in 2009 to a record $61.4-billion - three times greater than the prior record - as a result of federal government assistance," according to the report yesterday from Mr. DiNapoli.

"Industry profits totalled $21.4-billion through the third quarter of 2010, exceeding the city's estimate for the entire year ($20.6-billion). While industry profits in 2010 will be much lower than 2009's super-sized level, profitability would still be the second-highest on record."

Mr. DiNapoli noted that bonuses paid on Wall Street last year climbed 17 per cent to $20.3-billion. But thousands of jobs have disappeared, and regulatory reforms have changed the nature of compensation.

"Given compensation and revenue trends so far this year, it appears the cash bonus pool will be smaller than last year, although the average bonus may be somewhat higher since it will be shared among fewer workers," the report said.

European leaders meet Europe's leaders are meeting today and tomorrow as a deeply divided group and under intense pressure to reassure markets. So far, they have agreed on a permanent rescue plan for countries that need it, though details are vague.

The meeting comes amid a backdrop of violent protests in Greece and Spain's test of the bond market, which wasn't stellar.

One day after Moody's Investors Service warned it could cut Spain's credit rating, the country's final bond sale this year raised less than expected - €2.4-billion - at higher costs.

"That's hardly a failed auction, but not a great success either, particularly after considering the cost," said Scotia Capital economists Derek Holt and Gorica Djeric.

"The 10-year cleared at 5.45 per cent for a rise of over 80 basis points since the November auction, and the 15-year issue cleared at 5.95 per cent for a rise of about 140 basis points over the October auction. In the secondary market, the yield on Spanish 10s is once again closing in on the high of 5.67 per cent set on Nov. 30 and currently sits at 5.53 per cent."

The hefty premium reinforces fears that the raging debt crisis isn't taking a break any time soon, Globe and Mail European correspondent Eric Reguly writes.

U.S. deficit swells The U.S. current account deficit got even heftier in the third quarter, swelling to $127.2-billion (U.S.), the fattest in almost two years.

Current account balances are the broadest measures of trade, and are a hot issue in global growth.

The deficit was fuelled by surging imports, which, at least, shows Americans spending.

Weston unveils special dividend Shareholders of George Weston Ltd. are celebrating today after the company's announcement late yesterday of a $1-billion special dividend.

That's worth about $7.75 a share for a yield of 9.7 per cent, hefty compared to the annual dividend of $1.44, Streetwise columnist Tim Kiladze writes.

Transat profit jumps Well, at least someone's having fun. Transat A.T. Inc. says it had its best summer ever as more people took holidays, boosting the travel company's fortunes.

Revenue in the fourth quarter climbed to $778.6-million from $719.7-million, Transat reported today, while profit surged to almost $52.4-million, or $1.37 a share, from $18.1-million, or 52 cents, a year earlier.

"The summer of 2010 was our best ever, as our teams were able to generate excellent load factors on the transatlantic market, allowing us to offset the results recorded last winter, which had been difficult," said chief executive officer Jean-Marc Eustache.

The transatlantic market remains "quite lucrative" for Transat, said Desjardins analyst Martin Landry.

"Management did not make any specific forecasts for the winter season, but indicated that its capacity is up roughly 13 per cent year-over-year, and bookings and load factors are currently higher year-over-year," Mr. Landry said.

"Management also commented that prices are similar to last year, which is quite reassuring as this was a major area of concern for us, given the significant over-capacity to sun destinations from Canada. However, we note that these indications could change dramatically between now and when Transat reports its [first quarter of fiscal 2011]results, given the highly competitive nature of the market, combined with excess capacity."

Boyd Erman's Morning Meeting Boyd Group Income Fund , which runs auto body shops across North America, is managing something that will make most trust investors green with envy, Streetwise columnist Boyd Erman reports today.

Instead of converting to a corporation and cutting distributions ahead of the end-of-year imposition of a new tax on trusts, as so many trusts are doing, Boyd has found a way to restructure, stay a trust and increase distributions.

Today in Your Business

There is an exodus in Canada's public service, with more than a quarter of civil servants retiring or preparing to leave jobs within the next few years. But what's causing grief for government managers is creating big opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Claire Hutchings and Tyler Quantz, owners of Vancouver's Dilly Dally toy store, wanted to build a space where kids could "create, build, imagine and dream" (their slogan is "Inspiring play" ). It's quite a different venture from their first one, a whimsical bar in the Downtown Eastside.

It's hard to see - if you look strictly at the numbers - how Groupon could be worth the $6-billion Google was rumoured to have offered the company. Why would Google offer more than 10 times revenue for a two year-old company in a category with virtually no barrier to entry?

From today's Report on Business

From Today's Globetechnology.com

A move is afoot to combat illicit mining of coltan by politicians in Canada, other Western governments and in Africa. Leaders from 11 African nations recently signed a pledge - partly drafted by a Canadian organization - to stamp out the illegal trade of conflict minerals.

Columnist Duncan Stewart crunches the numbers and argues that Canadians are not getting shafted when it comes to mobile data pricing.

Follow on Twitter: @michaelbabad

 
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