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Closing Bell: TiVo


The other shoe finally dropped at Coca-Cola (KO): On June 9, Coke said that President Steven Heyer -- who was passed over for the CEO's job a month ago -- would depart "by mutual agreement" to pursue "opportunities outside of the company." The move was no surprise. When Heyer, 52, lost the race to succeed Chief Executive Douglas Daft, few expected him to stick around. And when new CEO Neville Isdell quickly named a new human resources chief to report directly to him, it was clear Heyer wouldn't enjoy the clout he had under Daft.

Analysts fear that the departure of marketing whiz Heyer could slow progress Coke has made in reviving its lackluster advertising. Heyer's departure could spark an exodus of key marketing execs he brought to Coke.

Isdell is unlikely to name a new president; instead, he'll probably divide the job by creating heads of North America and Coke's international operations. If so, look for former Coke bottling executive Irial Finan to take the international job.

Apple Computer (AAPL) is up to its trendsetting ways again. On June 7, it announced AirPort Express, a 7-ounce, night-light-size wireless bay station. By plugging the $129 device into an electric socket, Mac and PC owners can extend their wireless network to any room. The move is aimed primarily at making it easier for digital music fans to play songs wirelessly. Using related AirTunes technology, anyone using Apple's iTunes software to store music on a computer will be able to play tunes wirelessly on their living room stereo. While Microsoft (MSFT) struggles to create "media center PCs" for the living room, Apple is taking a different tack. Says IDC analyst Roger Kay: "Apple isn't trying to bring the PC into the living room, just bring the music into the living room." Where Apple leads, the industry usually follows.

PepsiCo's (PEP) hopes for a sweet deal with Ocean Spray Cranberries turned into something closer to sour grapes when the cranberry- and grapefruit-growing cooperative's 900 members voted against selling half the company to the beverage and snack giant on June 8. Ocean Spray, which had $1 billion in sales and earned $209 million in net proceeds for its members in 2003, has ridden a roller coaster of cranberry pricing. That instability fueled the search for partners despite recent successes, including the introduction of a white cranberry line rolled out in 2002. Ocean Spray says it will pursue marketing, distribution, and manufacturing joint ventures but no longer plans to sell a stake in the company.

Walt Disney (DIS) received a bit of good news when its 39%-owned Euro Disney (DIS) reached agreement with its banks to restructure debt and possibly get new equity. Weighed down from $2.7 billion in debt and suffering from weak tourism, the French park needs the restructuring to meet its financial obligations. Disney, which last year provided the park with a $52 million line of credit and waived management fees and royalties, said in a regulatory filing that some or all of its $494 million in investments and receivables "would likely become impaired" if Euro Disney was unable to restructure its debt. Details of the deal weren't provided.

The California Air Resources Board may require carmakers in the state to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 30%, according to The New York Times. Right now, California is the only state with a law regulating so-called greenhouse gas emissions from autos. The 2002 legislation -- which takes effect with the 2009 model year -- charged state regulators with determining the exact reduction of the emissions. California's policy could force carmakers to develop more efficient vehicles. The California Air Resources Board declined comment.

-- Accenture (UNP) may lose a $10 billion contract under a measure passed by a House of Representatives committee.

-- Schering-Plough (SGP) will pay $500,000 to settle charges that it made improper payments to a foreign official.

-- MGM Mirage (MGG) extended until June 11 its $7.6 billion bid for rival Mandalay/Resort Group (MBG).

Will DirecTV (DTV) dump TiVo (TIVO)? It says no, but investors worry it will eventually go in- house for digital video recorders. On June 8, TiVo's stock fell 12% on news that DirecTV sold its stake in the DVR pioneer. Still, TiVo recovered 2% the next day, to $6.54, thanks to price cuts and new services.


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