Fannie, Freddie revoking thousands of foreclosures

Mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are revoking thousands of foreclosure cases from a Florida law firm under investigation for falsifying documents used to complete foreclosures.

Both companies say they have started transferring those documents from the Law Offices of David Stern to other firms.

The Stern firm has been under investigation by the Florida attorney general’s office. A former employee has said in testimony that an office manager would sign as many as 1,000 documents a day without reading them and without witnesses present.

Jeffrey Tew, an attorney for Stern’s firm, declined to comment.

Fannie and Freddie’s actions were reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Home ownership rate remains at 10-year low

The home ownership rate was unchanged at a 10-year low in the third quarter as banks stepped up property seizures from borrowers who defaulted on mortgages.

The home ownership rate was 66.9 percent, matching the second-quarter level that was the lowest since 1999, the Census Bureau said in a report Tuesday. The homeowner vacancy rate, or the share of properties vacant and for sale, was unchanged at 2.5 percent, according to the report.

Lenders are repossessing properties as borrowers fall behind in mortgage payments after the worst housing crash since the Great Depression. Banks seized a record 288,345 homes in the third quarter, up 22 percent from a year earlier, according to an Oct. 14 report from RealtyTrac Inc. in Irvine, Calif.

Oracle will pay $1 billion to buy software company

Oracle Corp. said Tuesday that it will pay about $1 billion to acquire software company Art Technology Group.

Oracle will pay $6 a share for the company, which makes software that helps businesses manage their customer relationships.

The transaction is expected to close by early 2011.

French doctor will face insider-trading charges

A French doctor has been accused of engaging in insider trading in New York by passing along tips based on his work as an adviser on a clinical trial for a liver disease drug.

Yves Benhamou was arrested in Boston on Monday on charges that he fed information about the trial’s progress to a hedge fund portfolio manager.

Federal prosecutors say the hedge fund was able to avoid about $30 million in losses with the inside information.

Authorities say the information pertained to tests of Albuferon. The drug was being tested for use in treating hepatitis C.

At the time, the 50-year-old Benhamou worked for Human Genome Science Inc., a biopharmaceutical company.

MasterCard sees profit rise 15 percent in third quarter

MasterCard Inc. on Tuesday said increased use of credit and debit cards, especially overseas, helped lift its third-quarter profit by 15 percent.

The payments processor recorded a net income of $518 million, or $3.94 per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That compares with $452 million, or $3.45 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $1.43 billion, from $1.36 billion last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, were expecting profit of $3.54 per share, on revenue of $1.41 billion.

The results lifted MasterCard shares Tuesday. The stock added $6.64, or 2.3 percent, to $245.63.

Top grain processor hurt by drought, foreign exports

Archer Daniels Midland Co., the world’s largest grain processor, said Tuesday that profit fell for the fiscal first quarter, missing analysts’ estimates, after a drought reduced grain harvests and exports from the Black Sea region.

Net income fell 30 percent to $345 million, or 54 cents a share, in the three months through September, from $496 million, or 77 cents, a year earlier, the Decatur, Ill.-based company said in a statement. The average of 10 analysts’ estimates was for per-share profit of 75 cents. ADM slid as much as 8.7 percent, the biggest intraday drop since May 5, 2009.

 

Kellogg’s income falls as sales of cereal drop

Kellogg Co. said Tuesday that a drop in cereal sales, intense competition and the lingering impact of some of the largest food recalls in the company’s history have made 2010 a difficult and disappointing year.

The world’s largest cereal maker hopes to regain its momentum in 2011, but executives said they are being pragmatic.

“We are addressing the major issues that took us off course in 2010,” said CEO David Mackay. “We are also fully aware of the tough consumer and economic environment in which we are competing and operating, and the degree of volatility that this environment can create.”

Kellogg’s third-quarter net income fell 6 percent and the company issued a cautious 2011 forecast that sent shares down Tuesday.

Kellogg, which makes Eggo waffles, Keebler cookies and other foods, as well as its top-selling cereals, reported that it earned $338 million, or 90 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Oct. 2. That’s down from $361 million, or 94 cents per share, a year ago.