First Merchants Corporation Announces 4th Quarter 2009 Earnings and 1st Quarter 2010 Dividends

First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ: FRME – News) has reported a fourth quarter 2009 net loss of $11.7 million, or $.55 per fully diluted common share. The Corporation�(TM)s fourth quarter loss contributed to an annual fully diluted common share loss of $2.17, down from the prior year income of $1.14.

Michael C. Rechin, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated that, “2009 proved to be a challenge and a disappointment by many measures including net income, EPS and our stock price. The earnings shortfall is nearly 100 percent the result of credit costs including provision, OREO and legal expense totaling $135 million. The magnitude of the provisioning was a function of charge-offs and the building of our loan loss reserve given the protracted recessionary environment. [Read the full article]

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Fitch Ratings has today downgraded by one notch the long-term ratings assigned to MetLife, Inc. and its subsidiaries. At the same time, Fitch has affirmed all short-term ratings assigned to MetLife and certain of its affiliates. The Rating Outlook is Stable. See the full rating list at the end of this release.

Today’s rating action follows an updated, periodic review of MetLife, and reflects Fitch’s concerns regarding the cumulative impact of adverse financial markets and the economic downturn over the past year on MetLife’s capital, earnings, and liquidity. The rating action also reflects Fitch’s macro concerns regarding the fragile nature of the economic recovery and continued deterioration in the commercial real estate market, which could result in higher-than-expected investment losses for MetLife. [Read the full article]

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The Board of Trustees of each of the Van Kampen closed-end funds listed below (the “Funds”) today declared the following dividends. EX-DATE

The amount of dividends paid by each fund may vary from time to time. Past amounts of dividends are no guarantee of future dividend payment amounts.

The final determination of the source and tax characteristics of all distributions in 2010 will be made after the end of the year.

In order to comply with the requirements of Section 19 of the Investment Company Act of 1940, each Fund will provide its shareholders of record on the record date with a Section 19 Notice disclosing the sources of its dividend payment when a distribution includes anything other than net investment income. The Section 19 Notice is not provided for tax reporting purposes but for informational purposes only. [Read the full article]

Exxon Mobil’s earnings were cut by more than half to $19.3 billion in 2009, the lowest total in seven years, as company refineries struggled with a plunge in fuel consumption around the world.

But the world’s largest publicly traded oil company remains the profit champ among U.S. public companies. Wal-Mart is expected to earn $14 billion for the year ended Jan. 31, and Microsoft earned $14.6 billion in the fiscal year ended in June 2009.

Exxon’s results have swung with the price of oil and the impact of the global recession. When oil spiked above $147 a barrel in mid-2008, Exxon set ever-higher marks for earnings by a U.S. company. Then oil prices plummeted, and Exxon suffered a yearlong hangover that included its smallest quarterly earnings in several years.

The Irving, Texas company finished 2009 with a 23 percent decline in fourth-quarter income. [Read the full article]

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