Today in the Fortune 500: Procter & Gamble and Unilever busted for price fixing, BP’s oil spill is still an environmental problem and JPMorgan’s profits are up

April 13, 2011, 7:57 PM UTC
Tide (brand)
Image via Wikipedia

The Fortune 500 comes out just once a year, but the companies on it make headlines every day. Here then are today’s highlights of news and happenings coming from the biggest names in business.

By Shelley DuBois, reporter

TALK ABOUT DIRTY LAUNDRY The European Commission just busted Unilever and Procter & Gamble (PG) for fixing prices on their washing powder products. The investigation took two years and resulted in $456 million worth of fines for the two companies combined. [BBC]

THE BLAME GAME is getting more difficult in the Gulf of Mexico as researchers and government investigators try to quantify the lasting damage from the BP (BP) oil spill and figure out who will cover the cost. There’s evidence that in addition to the oil, the dispersants used in the cleanup effort harmed the Gulf ecosystem. But comprehensive studies will require many more resources and much more time, making the toll hard to tally. [Wall Street Journal]

JPMORGAN’S PROFIT SURGED 67% for the first quarter of 2011, up to $5.6 billion. On the downside, revenue fell for the first quarter and the bank could still have to deal with billions of dollars in potential legal claims related to shady practices during the mortgage crisis. JPMorgan (JPM) execs insist they’re ready for such claims, which analysts estimate could ultimately cost the company $10 billion. [New York Times]

MORGAN STANLEY IS ANNOYING investors who still haven’t seen the kind of turnaround they want, even a year after CEO James Gorman took charge. Analysts are predicting poor first quarter results from Morgan Stanley (MS), which is making the stock difficult to defend, according to one investment manager at Estabrook Capital Investment. “You can only take so much pain,” he says. [New York Times]

CISCO’S FLIP FLOP Cisco is shutting down its Flip handheld camera business, which it bought in 2009  for $590 million, as part of a larger strategy to shift away from consumer products and focus on enterprise. Cisco (CSCO) will have to shed about 550 jobs as it restructures. [BBC]

TODAY IN SEARCH A report from ComScore Inc. shows that Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) gained search market share in March while Yahoo (YHOO) slipped. Google clearly dominated, owning 65.7 % of the search market, up from 65.4 % in February. Microsoft Bing moved up from 13.6 % to 13.9%. Yahoo’s piece of the search market shrank from 16.1% to 15.7 %. [Bloomberg Businessweek]