Stocks quoted in this article:
Early this morning, International Paper (IP – 40-9/16) announced the acquisition of Champion International (CHA – 73-7/16). IP’s $7.3-billion cash and stock proposal was too much to match for UPM-Kymmene (UPM – 29-1/2), who was also vying for the forests-products company. Already the world’s largest paper company, IP is looking to increase annual revenue from $24.6 billion in 1999 to nearly $30 billion, giving it the capacity to hold 6.4 percent of the world’s papermaking power. The merger prompted brokerage house Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MWD - 71-5/16) to upgrade IP to a “strong buy” from an “outperform.” In light of this news, IP shares have broken above their 10-day and 20-day moving averages. The stock is currently trading over three points in the black. In options trading today, the July 45 call has seen 1,991 contracts cross the tape, while the May 40 put has logged 1,316 contracts in volume. In addition, the July 35 put has seen volume of 3,258.