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Activision Blizzard, management in $8.2B buyout. Vivendi (VIVHY.PK) has announced its second major deal this week, saying it has agreed to sell 85% of its stake in Activision Blizzard (ATVI) to the computer-games company and its management for $8.2B. Activision will buy back 429M shares from Vivendi for $5.83B, using $1.2B of cash and debt of $4.6B, while a consortium led by Activision CEO Bobby Kotick and co-Chairman Brian Kelly will acquire 172M shares for $2.34B. Activision's shares soared 10.3% pre-market.

Amazon tells the same old story. Amazon's (AMZN) Q2 earnings missed expectations as the company's massive spending on distribution and IT centers, video and much else once again hit the bottom line. Amazon swung to a net loss of $7M from a profit of $7M a year earlier, losses per share were $0.02 and revenue jumped 22% to $15.7B. While some analysts worry about spiraling costs, the bull camp still expects the spending to pay off brilliantly in the future. Shares were -2.5% pre-market.

Samsung net profit surges 50% to $6.8B. Samsung's (SSNLF.PK) net profit jumped 50% to another record of 7.6T won (US$6.8B) in Q2 as revenue climbed 20.7% to 57.46T won. As you'd expect, Samsung's earnings were driven by its mobile unit, where operating profit rose 52% to 6.28T won, although margins dropped to 17.7% from 19.8% in Q1. Income at Samsung's chip business soared 17% and profit at the display division jumped 58%, but at the consumer-electronics operations, earnings fell 41%. Shares dropped 0.9% in Seoul.

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Starbucks earnings keep investors satiated. Starbucks' (SBUX) shares climbed 6.3% pre-market after FQ3 profit at Wall Street's favorite coffee shop topped expectations and the company boosted its guidance. Net profit rose 25% to $417.8M, EPS came in at $0.55 and revenues increased 13% to $3.7B, boosted by broad gains across Starbucks' different geographies. Customers remained loyal, pre-loading cards faster than ever and absorbing price hikes. The news is just as rosy for FY14, with Starbucks forecasting double-digit revenue growth and operating-margin improvement of approximately 150-200 bps over FY13.

Samsung's lead over Apple in smartphone market widens. Global smartphone shipments grew 47% on year to a record 230M units in Q2, research firm Strategy Analytics estimates, with the devices accounting for 59% of all phones sold. Samsung (SSNLF.PK) held its position as sector leader as its shipments grew 56% to 76M devices, giving it a market share of 33.1%. Apple's (AAPL) sales rose 20% to 31.2M, leaving it with a lower share of 13.6%.

UBS to pay $885M over mortgage bonds. UBS (UBS) has agreed to pay the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency $885M to settle claims that the Swiss bank misrepresented mortgage-backed securities sold to Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) from 2004-2007. Not unusually, UBS was able to get away without admitting any liability or wrongdoing. The bank is one of 18 companies that the FHFA has been pursuing.

Nasdaq among victims of cyber credit-card scam. Nasdaq (NDAQ) is one of a number of companies that fell victim to an East European hacking group that stole at least 160M payment-card numbers and caused combined losses of over $300M. Federal prosecutors yesterday charged five men in the largest cyber-crime case in U.S. history. Other victims include J.C. Penney (JCP) and Dow Jones (NWS). Many of the breaches were known about, although prosecutors disclosed an attack on Nasdaq that hadn't been previously publicized.

Halliburton admits to destroying evidence. Halliburton (HAL) has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The oil-services company will pay the maximum possible statutory fine, which is just $200,000, although the firm is making a $55M donation to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. As part of the plea deal, Halliburton will be subject to three years of probation and will continue to cooperate in the government's criminal investigation.