Market Update: Agilent Technologies (NYSE:A), J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP), SIRIUS XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI), Intel (NASDAQ: INTC)

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Agilent Technologies (NYSE:A) said Friday its fiscal fourth-quarter profit rose to $232 million, or 66 cents a share, from $25 million, or 7 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $1.69 billion from $1.27 billion. On an adjusted basis, the Santa Clara, Calif., diagnostics company said it earned 65 cents a share. Analysts polled by FactSet Research expected earnings of 60 cents a share, on average. For fiscal 2011, Agilent forecast earnings in the range of $2.30 to $2.50 a share. The Wall Street consensus is for a profit of $2.39 a share. –MarketWatch

Department store operator J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) reported third-quarter earnings of 19 cents per share, compared with 11 cents per share a year earlier. Net sales rose 0.2% to $4.2 billion, while sales at stores open at least on year gained 1.9%, J.C. Penney said in a statement. The discontinuation of the company’s Big Book catalogs impacted net sales, the company said.  "We have seen clear signs of strength in key businesses," CEO Myron E. Ullman said. "Our improving sales combined with our focus on managing expenses allowed us to maintain strong profitability." J.C. Penney forecast earnings of 90 cents per share to $1 per share for the fourth quarter, with sales at stores open at least one year expected to rise by 3% to 4%. –Daily Finance

SIRIUS XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) is a monopoly in satellite radio, yet it represents a tiny part of the radio business.  Radio was roughly $20 billion business a decade ago. A BIA/Kelsey report earlier this year forecasted that 2009 revenue was $13.7 billion and 2010 revenue would be about $13.9 billion.  SIRIUS XM is expected to have 2010 revenues of $2.83 billion and nearly $3.1 billion in 2011 revenues. For all practical purposes, there is no competition for SIRIUS XM.  Howard Stern is still a wild card in the scenario, but the company is less dependent on the shock jock than it has been before.  Its new plug-in device is also a plus because it enables users to take SIRIUS XM with them in any car.  SIRIUS XM is expected to have more than 20 million subscribers at the end of 2010. The threat by Pandora is an obvious one, but even if that service takes off SIRIUS XM is the king of its niche.  Advertising is close to nil, far from the case for terrestrial radio and Pandora.  There have been several attempts to compete in satellite radio, which have all been scrapped.  Launching satellites is not cheap and that creates further barriers to entry.  As part of the merger between SIRIUS and XM, the company agreed to lock in prices.  The end of that pact is nearing but SIRIUS has to avoid raising prices too quickly to avoid angering subscribers. -24/7 Wall Street

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) raises its quarterly dividend by 15% from 15.75c to 18c per common share. With shares of Intel closing yesterday’s session at $21.21, the dividend yield moves from 2.97% to 3.39%. “Intel remains on track to have our best year ever and we continue to generate strong cash flows,” said Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO. “Our ongoing operational performance and confidence in our business going forward provide the ability to return more cash to shareholders.” –Street Insider

Norway’s government will require the country’s $520 billion oil fund to limit investments in junk- rated debt amid growing concern peripheral Europe’s fiscal crisis may be escalating. The Government Pension Fund Global, the world’s second- biggest sovereign wealth fund, will next year be expected to try to cap its holdings of non-investment grade debt at 3 percent of its total fixed-income portfolio, said Bunny Nooryani, a spokeswoman at Norges Bank Investment Management, which runs the fund, in an e-mailed reply to questions. It will be the first time the Finance Ministry imposes such a cap, she said. “It’s an uncertain outlook and sovereign wealth funds need to be cautious,” said Nigel Rendell, London-based senior emerging markets strategist at Royal Bank of Canada Europe Ltd., in an e-mailed reply to questions. “Euro concerns are returning and markets have risen strongly over recent months.” -Bloomberg

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