Alphabet world's most valuable company
Alphabet now comes before Apple atop the list of the world's most valuable companies. The shift occurred in Monday's extended trading after Alphabet, Google's new parent company, released a fourth-quarter earnings report that highlighted the robust growth of the digital ad market. Apple Inc.'s iPhone, meanwhile, is suffering its first downturn since it debuted eight years ago. Alphabet Inc. earned $4.9 billion on revenue of $21.3 billion in the fourth quarter. If not for employee stock expenses and certain other items, Alphabet said it would have earned $8.67 per share. That figure easily topped the average estimate of $8.10 per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet. Based on that after-hours bump, Alphabet's market value stood at $555 billion while Apple's was at $534 billion, based on the most recent regulatory filings showing the company's outstanding shares.
Chipotle-linked outbreak appears over
The federal agency that monitors public health says the outbreak of E. coli illness linked to Chipotle restaurants that sickened 60 people appears to be over. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday the most recent illness reported to the agency started on Dec. 1. Although the CDC closed its investigation, the source of the illness that spread to 14 states is still unknown. Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. undertook an aggressive revamping of food preparation methods at its more than 1,900 locations. But the outbreak drove the company's stock down by 26 percent over the past three months and it warned in December of a potentially sizable hit to profits. Its stock rallied following the CDC announcement, closing Monday up $19.67, or 4.3 percent, at $472.64.
Abbott buying Alere in a $5.8B deal
Abbott said Monday that it had agreed to acquire Alere for an expected value of $5.8 billion to enhance its diagnostics business. Alere, which had a market value of $3.2 billion as of Friday, makes "point of care" medical tests that can provide results in a matter of minutes. The Waltham, Mass.-based company will become a subsidiary of Abbott, which is expecting to have total diagnostic sales of $7 billion after the transaction closes. The company provides tests for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, dengue, as well as the flu and strep.
Lumber Liquidators hit with $13M fine
Lumber Liquidators will pay more than $13 million for illegally importing hardwood flooring, after the company pleaded guilty to environmental crimes last year. The Department of Justice said that Lumber Liquidators made hardwood floors in China from illegally cut Mongolian oak trees in Russia. Those trees are needed to protect endangered Siberian tigers and Amur leopards because their prey eats the acorns from them, the Justice Department said. Lumber Liquidators, which was sentenced Monday in federal court, will pay $7.8 million in criminal fines, more than $1.2 million in community service payments and nearly $970,000 in criminal forfeiture. It will also pay about $3.2 million through a related civil forfeiture.
Construction spending hits an 8-year high
U.S. construction spending rebounded slightly in December, helping push total spending for 2015 to the highest level in eight years. Construction spending increased 0.1 percent in December after falling in October and November, the Commerce Department said Monday. The December increase was driven by gains in home construction and spending on government projects. That offset declines in spending on private construction of shopping centers, office buildings and hotels. For all of 2015, construction jumped 10.5 percent to $1.1 trillion, the highest total since 2007.