Stocks in the News: Kraft Foods, Cadbury, Google, Ford

The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:

It appears Cadbury (CBY) shareholders were just as displeased as company management by Kraft Foods' (KFT) latest bid for the British chocolate maker. Kraft said Wednesday that its approximately $16 billion offer received support from just 1.5% of Cadbury shareholders. The vote was held Tuesday, the original deadline set by Kraft for Cadbury to accept its November offer. As expected, Kraft extended the offer window until Feb. 2. Kraft boosted the amount of cash in its offer Tuesday, after agreeing to sell its U.S. pizza business to Nestlé for $3.7 billion.
%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% Google's (GOOG) release of its Nexus One smart phone Tuesday represents more than an entrée into the mobile phone market, it gives the company a platform on which to engage consumers in online retailing, BusinessWeek reports. Nexus One, designed to go toe-to-toe with Apple's (AAPL) iPhone, is sold differently than typical cell phones -- directly to consumers rather than through a carrier. That could give Google a leg up in the cell phone wars if it can convince users that Nexus One and its Android operating system are the way to go.

Ford Motor
(F), Honda Motor (HMC) and Toyota Motor (TM) were among auto makers Tuesday that reported better December sales, as the industry wound down one of the worst years in its history. General Motors, which emerged from bankruptcy in July, managed to hold on to bragging rights as top overall sales winner, even as sales slipped last month 5.6%. Chrysler Group, meanwhile, reported sales fell just 3.7% in December, a much better outcome than the double-digit monthly sales decreases it had seen in recent months. Still, the smallest of Detroit's Big Three sold the fewest vehicles since 1962, the last year in which it sold fewer than 1 million vehicles.

Retailers saw a strong finish to holiday sales in December even as apparel chains and department stores recorded lower sales, according to a report Wednesday from MasterCard (MA) Advisors' SpendingPulse. "In general what we had was a pretty decent holiday season, I think you saw sort of a cautious return to spending. It wasn't an amazing holiday season," Kamalesh Rao, director of economic research at SpendingPulse, told Reuters. Given consumers' tendency toward thrift these days, the report suggests that big box discount retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), Target (TGT) and Costco Wholesale (COST) likely benefited as cash-strapped holiday shoppers searched for bargains.
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