Frontrunning: March 21
- Euro zone call notes reveal extent of alarm over Cyprus (Reuters)
- Stagnant Japan Rolls Dice on New Era of Easy Money (WSJ)
- Cyprus, European data batters shares and euro (Reuters)
- UK cuts taxes to revive stagnant economy (FT)
- "Quality Control" Rat Body Linked to Blackout at Fukushima (NYT)
- North Korea issues fresh threat to U.S., South probes hacking (Reuters)
- South Korea Says Chinese Code Used in Computer Attack (BBG)
- Osborne paves way for Carney to retool Bank of England (Reuters)
- Carney Gets ‘Escape Velocity’ Mandate With Limiter (BBG)
- Osborne Pledges Five More Years of U.K. Austerity (BBG)
- Bernanke Saying He’s Dispensable Suggests Tenure Ending (BBG)
- Senate Passes Bill to Fund Operations (WSJ)
- Fed Not Ready to Tighten Policy (Hilsenrath)
Overnight Media Digest
* The U.S. Federal Reserve maintained its easy-money policies, but is developing a strategy for winding down its bond-buying program when conditions warrant.
* Cyprus was left with narrowing options to rescue its financial-services sector from collapse after lenders rejected an alternative plan to secure a bailout and Russian officials remained cool to a gas-for-cash deal.
* Dell Inc CEO Michael Dell needs to persuade it's investors that the prospects for the company he founded in 1984 are anything but rosy if he is to succeed with his plan to take the computer maker private as a Friday deadline for rival bids to buy his firm approaches.
* FedEx Corp reported that its quarterly profit plunged 31 percent as its international customers and shippers flocked to slower, cheaper delivery options instead of its premium-priced express service.
* Oracle Corp's growth stalled in its latest quarter, as the big technology company sold fewer software licenses and its business in server systems continued to shrink.
* Hewlett-Packard Co's board chairman and two outside directors narrowly survived a re-election challenge, a rebuke reflecting shareholder dissatisfaction with a controversial acquisition.
* Solar-panel maker Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd has been forced into Chinese bankruptcy proceedings, sparking questions about how U.S. investors will fare in the decline of one of China's most prominent companies.
* As Boeing Co tests fixes to the batteries of its 787 Dreamliners, it now faces the challenge of persuading passengers that the jetliner will be safe to fly when it resumes commercial service. The efforts include sending surveys to frequent fliers, aviation enthusiasts and others to gauge attitudes toward the Dreamliner.
* Silicon Valley company Intertrust Technologies Corp, a pioneer in digital copyright protection, on Wednesday sued Apple Inc alleging that Apple infringed 15 of Intertrust's patents.
* Container Store CEO Kip Tindell, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, discussed his vision for the retailer's continued growth, and said it is considering an initial public offering, a move that might put equity into employees' hands.
Dismal news about the state of the economic recovery took the shine out of George Osborne's growth message with eye-catching tax cuts for business, help for home buyers and a new mandate to the Bank of England to boost the growth.
European Union lawmakers agreed to bar bankers in Europe from getting bonuses bigger than their salaries, approving the proposal with only minor tweaks to appease the UK.
JPMorgan Chase & Co's board is expected reject calls from some shareholders to strip Jamie Dimon of his chairman title and back the current structure in the wake of the company's "London Whale" trades.
PC maker Hewlett-Packard suffered a shareholder protest vote at its annual meeting on Wednesday, but its chairman and members of the board survived calls for their removal.
FedEx Corp said it would step up restructuring efforts, cut capacity in Asia and realign its global aircraft network to cut costs and boost earnings as it cut its full-year forecast.
Barclays Plc's investment bank head Rich Ricci sold 5.7 million shares for about 18 million pounds after receiving them as part of previously awarded bonuses.
Private equity firm BC Partners has held talks with bankers about a possible initial public offering of its UK estate agency business Foxtons.
Real estate investment trust American Realty Capital made an unsolicited $5.7 billion offer for Cole Credit Property Trust III, a move that puts in doubt Cole Credit's bid to go public.
A group of Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd lenders want the Chinese solar panel maker's main unit declared insolvent, a sign Beijing's support for the struggling industry is waning.
* Despite a healthy increase in U.S. employment in the last few months, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday said it would continue its stimulus efforts by holding down short-term interest rates and buying $85 billion a month in treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.
* Banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley, all have provisions that allow acceleration of payments owed to senior executives if they take government jobs, a new study found, creating a debate on Wall Street over whether that is a conflict of interest.
* The Cyprus crisis shows that, for all the faults with the financial crisis rescues in the United States, the European Union still finds ways to show us how poorly a bailout could be handled.
* With the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp suit, banks face billions more in Libor claims. Unlike other plaintiffs, Freddie Mac looks to have a strong case because it dealt directly with many of the banks accused of manipulating the London interbank offered rate.
* Some of the United States' largest banks continue to offer payday loans, pitched as advances on direct-deposit paychecks, despite growing regulatory scrutiny and mounting criticism about the short-term, high-cost loans, found a report by the Center for Responsible Lending to be released on Thursday.
* Despite Barclays Plc's weak profit and legal woes, top executives at the bank have been richly rewarded in the years since the financial crisis. The bank disclosed on Wednesday that its investment banking head, Rich Ricci, had cashed in $26 million of deferred shares he was awarded as part of his bonus from 2009 to 2011.
* Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, which became the world's largest producer of solar panels, has been pushed into bankruptcy in a remarkable reversal for what had been part of a huge Chinese government effort to dominate renewable energy industries.
* FedEx Corp on Wednesday cut its outlook for the year after its profits slumped by 31 percent in the latest quarter as its customers were increasingly using its cheaper shipping options, even if that meant slower deliveries. In an effort to reduce costs, FedEx said it would retire some older and less efficient airplanes.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* Even before Finance Minister Jim Flaherty gets to work Thursday on his top priority - slaying the C$26 billion ($25.32 billion) deficit by 2015 - it's worth pointing out that he's chasing a moving target.
The federal government's current forecast is for a deficit of C$26 billion in the fiscal year that ends this month. But Thursday's budget will contain a new estimate, and based on what we already know about the first nine months, the deficit could come in much lower - perhaps C$20 billion, according to an estimate by the Royal Bank of Canada.
* Ontario's new Premier Kathleen Wynne has sent lottery executives back to the drawing board, forcing them to drop a promise of up to C$100 million a year in hosting fees for a Toronto casino.
After a meeting with Wynne in her Queen's Park office, top executives of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp withdrew their plan to give a special funding deal to Toronto if city councillors approve a casino.
* Canada has cut direct foreign aid to China as part of an overhaul of international assistance spending.
It's one of 14 countries that will see their aid either reduced or eliminated by the end of next year as the Canadian International Development Agency slashes C$377 million in aid spending by 2014-2015.
Reports in the business section:
* Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke has opened the door to speculation about his future at the central bank, revealing that he has discussed the matter with U.S. President Barack Obama and indicating that he feels no personal obligation to lead the ultimate unwinding of the Fed's extraordinary bond-buying program.
* Increasing dredging requirements resulting from Enbridge's massive oil spill into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010 could push the cleanup bill to almost $1 billion, above and beyond what is covered by the insurance of the company's U.S. affiliate, that unit reported on Wednesday.
* A bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians was approved by the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The Opposition private member's legislation passed by a vote of 149-137, with the crucial support of 16 Conservatives, including four cabinet ministers.
* A privately funded shelter for male victims of domestic abuse - believed to be the only refuge of its kind in the country - has closed.
Men's rights advocate Earl Silverman said he can't afford to keep the Men's Alternative Safe House (MASH) running.
* BlackBerry Ltd has denied reports that its new mobile operating system is not secure enough for British government work.
According to a report by the Guardian, UK's Communications Electronics Security Group (CESG) rejected BlackBerry's new Z10 smartphone after the device's operating system failed security requirements that previous versions of the BlackBerry operating system had passed.
* Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said investors should bet on the "natural juices" of capitalism in the U.S. even as lawmakers struggle to narrow the budget deficit.
People tend to "focus too much on what the government's done, and to give them either credit or blame," Buffett said in an interview conducted by the chief executive officer of Business Wire, the Berkshire subsidiary that distributes press releases. "The real credit belongs to our system."
CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL
-- China Telecom Corp Chairman Wang Xiaochu said the company is in no rush to increase investments to upgrade to the fourth-generation network (4G), but will do so once 4G licenses are awarded. Wang said if 4G networks are required to run China's homegrown technology standard, the company will not rule out renting network space from China Mobile.
SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS
-- China Vanke will not follow the trend of raising house prices considering the harm soaring prices would do to the real estate industry as well as the domestic economy, Vanke president Wang Shi said.
-- Government departments in China are buying more locally made cars in response to Beijing's call for frugality, carmarkers said. China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology published last year a catalogue of 400 cars available for official use, most of them made by local companies or by joint ventures with foreign firms.
Fly On The Wall 7:00 Am Market Snapshot
Bruker (BRKR) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Electronic Arts (EA) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Longbow
HomeAway (AWAY) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Legg Mason (LM) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Nestle (NSRGY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Yahoo (YHOO) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Actuant (ATU) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Burger King (BKW) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
CTPartners (CTP) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair
Life Technologies (LIFE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Cowen
Oracle (ORCL) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Evercore
Oracle (ORCL) downgraded to Underperform from Outperform at CLSA
Williams-Sonoma (WSM) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Wisdom Tree (WETF) downgraded to Buy from Conviction Buy at Goldman
3M Company (MMM) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Cempra (CEMP) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
Cleveland BioLabs (CBLI) initiated with a Buy at Cantor
Dover (DOV) initiated with a Conviction Buy at Goldman
Eaton (ETN) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
GenCorp (GY) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
Graco (GGG) initiated with a Sell at Goldman
Grainger (GWW) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Healthcare Realty Trust (HR) initiated with a Sell at Goldman
Honeywell (HON) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
Illinois Tool Works (ITW) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Medical Properties Trust (MPW) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
Omega Healthcare (OHI) initiated with a Conviction Buy at Goldman
Parker-Hannifin (PH) initiated with a Sell at Goldman
Rockwell Automation (ROK) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Roper Industries (ROP) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
TripAdvisor (TRIP) initiated with an Underweight at Evercore
Western Gas Equity (WGP) initiated with an Outperform at Wells Fargo
Zoetis (ZTS) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
Blackstone (BX) weighing Dell (DELL) bid, looking at CEO candidates, Fortune reports
J.C. Penney (JCP): May take longer to recover from negative sales trends
Google (GOOG) announced Google Keep
Ericsson (ERIC) issued injunction by NY State Supreme Court in Airvana case
General Moly (GM) said legal work on $665M China-sourced loan suspended
Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Schultz told CNBC shareholders reject ban on political contributions
Supports higher minimum wage, but increase needs to be careful
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Whitman said firm must invest more in R&D
Said restructuring efforts will be evident in FY14
Said 2015 will be a year of acceleration
Cathay General (CATY) repaid $129M of TARP
Nicholas Financial (NICK) received unsolicited interest from potential acquirer
Avnet (AVT) to acquire RTI Holdings
FDA advisory committee voted 5-3 in favor of Abbott's (ABT) MitraClip benefits
AstraZeneca (AZN) said to cut 2,300 SG&A jobs in restructuring
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
IHS (IHS), Clarcor (CLC), Guess (GES), Tilly's (TLYS), Herman Miller (MLHR)
Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
CTI Industries (CTIB), Acquity Group (AQ), Jabil Circuit (JBL), Tumi (TUMI), Ignite Restaurant (IRG), Pacific Sunwear (PSUN), Oracle (ORCL)
- Japan's new central bank governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, begins work today on a feat no one before has managed: reversing nearly two decades of falling prices to lift wages and profits in the world's third largest economy, the Wall Street Journal reports
- CEOs usually like to boast about their companies, but as a Friday deadline for rival bids to buy Dell (DELL) approaches, Michael Dell finds himself in the opposite position. He needs to persuade Dell investors that the prospects for the company are anything but rosy if he is to succeed with his plan to take the computer maker private, the Wall Street Journal reports
- The ECB gave Cyprus until Monday to raise billions of euros to clinch an international bailout or face losing emergency funds for its crippled banks and inevitable collapse, Reuters reports
- Fed Chairman Bernanke said he’s “spoken to the president a bit” about his future and that he feels no personal responsibility to stay on until the Fed concludes its unprecedented policies to stimulate the economy, Bloomberg reports
- China’s manufacturing is expanding at a faster than expected pace this month as production and orders pick up, helping new Premier Li Keqiang to sustain the recovery. The preliminary reading of a Purchasing Managers’ Index was 51.7 in March, according to HSBC Holdings (HBC) and Markit Economics, Bloomberg reports
Anworth Mortgage (ANH) files to sell $545M in common, preferred stock
Aviv REIT (AVIV) 13.2M share IPO priced at $20.00
California Water (CWT) 5M share Secondary priced at $19.25
Cimatron (CIMT) files to sell ordinary shares for holders
Enanta Pharmaceuticals (ENTA) 4M share IPO priced at $14.00
ParkerVision (PRKR) files to sell common stock
PennantPark Floating Rate (PFLT) to offer 3M shares of common stock
StoneMor Partners (STON) files to sell 1.2M common units for limited partners
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