- Euro weakens versus Dollar, Yen on speculation tests to reveal loan losses.
- 3M net income climbs 43%; raises 2010 EPS view to $5.65-5.80 (prev $5.40-5.60).
- Adidas posts 2Q results 'significantly above' market expectations.
- Akzo Nobel says net profit rose 76% in 2Q thanks to sales growth.
- Amazon's Q2 earnings rose 45% to $207M on a 41% increase in sales of $6.57B.
- AmEx's Q2 profit rose to more than $1B from $337M, and Capital One's increased to $608M from $223M.
- AT&T's Q2 net income jumps 25% to $4.0B; adds 1.6 million wireless accounts.
As the world focuses its attention on Europe where tomorrow at 4pm GMT (the idea of an earlier release was scrapped) the results of Stress Test version Europe will be released, there are two types of pundits: those who know the tests are weak and have been designed by the very banking system they are presumably supposed to test, yet due to billions of dollars in vested interest are preparing to put on a cheerleading show that would leave the Laker girls green with envy; then, there are those who know the tests are weak and have been designed by the very banking system they are presumably supposed to test, and as a result refuse to even look at them due to advance knowledge they are nothing but a systematic farce which should achieve nothing, yet will likely provide a sufficient excuse for those who lift every offer regardless of cost to send the market to A. Joseph Cohen giddyness levels (at least if our own experience with stress testikng is any indication). Needless to say, we fall in the latter category, and would be more than happy to deconstruct these tests, if only the criteria were publicly known in advance! So for those who actually do pretend to care, here is a Q&A with Goldman Nick Kojucharov in which the Goldman analyst discusses the ins and outs of the Stess Test. And since it has been leaked that the only bank which will fail is Germany's permabankrupt Hypo (even as the Cajas, Landesbanks and Greek aluminum shacks with a backyard vault and a repo line to the ECB, all pass), the only part of the Goldman report that caught our eye was the following: "There is obviously the risk that if too many banks pass and do so with a comfortable margin, the test may be judged as too easy to have actually been informative about the strength of the banking system, and markets may not draw any new comfort or optimism from the exercise."
I don’t even think these guys bothered to read the results at all. They are comparing revenues pre-multi billion dollar acquisition with the post acquisition entity. Hey, I can double my revenues if I purchased a company that had 3x my revenues too! This is just sloppy! Yet, these euphoric headlines were all over the place as MS stock climbs nearly 10%. Yes, MS did relatively better than GS, but GS is a federally insured hedge fund (that’s right, I said it)...
Actually, I did tell you last quarter (and 2 years ago) that not only is Goldman basically the world's largest, federally insured hedge fund (with trading influenced earnings volatility to prove it), but that most pundits have forgotten their balance sheet threatens solvency in times of high volatility and rapidly declining prices. 2008, anyone? Anyone???
If you closely read the commercial bank Q2 reports, their loan activity continues to decline which shows that out in the trenches, credit continues to contract.
As widely speculated previously on the pages of this blog, the SNB confirmed earlier it has lost billions of euros due to currency speculation in attempting to keep the CHF low. As the FT reports: "The Swiss National Bank on Wednesday revealed the cost of its massive foreign exchange interventions to restrain the value of the franc, with losses of more than SFr14bn ($13.3bn, €10.4bn) in the first half of this year." Following such a massive losses for the small country (nearly 2% of GDP) it was only a matter of time before the other 26 Swiss cantons, which share in the profits and losses of the SNB, said enough. "The SNB said last month it had stopped intervention. Its official reason was because deflationary risks from the surging currency had declined, but most economists ascribed the move to growing concerns about the risks from the massive foreign currency holdings." Yet it appears Switzerland has its gold holdings to thank for keeping the loss manageable, and why, at least the SNB, will not allow a quick depreciation in the price of gold, for as long as the EURCHF continues to be at these low levels: " the central bank was, as in the past, a significant beneficiary of the
surging gold price, allowing it to take big paper profits from revaluing
its large bullion holdings. The rising gold price allowed the SNB to
“hold the loss within certain limits”, it said in a short statement." Elsewhere, we read that the Swiss economy is being aggressively liquefied with both M3 (up 7.7%) and loan issuance (up 4.4%) surging in June.
CNBC (the world’s biggest Goldman cheerleader) reports “Goldman Sachs’ Revenue Falls, but Profit Beats Views” even as Bloomberg reports “Goldman Sachs Profit Falls 82%, Misses Estimates on Trading-Revenue Drop”. Whoah… It’s hard to get a straight answer out of these news guys, ain’t it?
Commodity trading and hedging recommendations dated July 15 by Goldman Sachs.
And as the regulatory theater ends, both on Wall Street and on the bottom of the GoM, everyone gets paid handsomely for their participation, with the taxpayer getting the bill as usual. From the Apache press release:
Apache to Acquire BP Assets in Permian Basin, Canada and Egypt For $7 Billion
- Legacy assets complement existing operations in all three areas - Adds proved reserves of 385 million barrels of oil equivalent and approximately 83,000 boe per day of production - Substantial development opportunities and additional resource potential
Apache's financial advisors for these transactions were Goldman, Sachs & Co., BofA Merrill Lynch, Citi and J.P. Morgan.
Fox Biz reports that Ken Feinberg, as one of his last ineffectual actions during his tenure, will announce on Friday the clawback of various bonuses paid during the 2008 year of ubiquitous bail outs. Since every single bank received some form of assistance in 2008, and many still benefit from the ridiculously low rates on the FDIC-backed TLGP debt (which only has 1.5 years before it matures), it is unclear which banks will be the target of this last attempt to recover some taxpayer money out of the TBTF. Also, since these same banks run the country via their Federal Reserve lobby, it is unclear if and to what extent the Goldmans of the world will agree to this action. As Gasparino reports: "In an interview, Feinberg refused to say how much money he’s going to ask for or which banks will be targeted. “I’m aiming for Friday to make an announcement,” he said in an interview. “The banks will be notified shortly.” Feinberg declined to say whether the five remaining banks -- Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America -- would be repaying any of the claw-back money; his mandate covers 418 banks, but people on Wall Street suspect the main focus of his mandate will be the large financial institutions."
The day every sane investor has been waiting for is here - today marks the end of the Radioschack LBO rumors. After 3 years, 4 months, 50 days. 8 hours and 44 seconds (give or take) of hourly rumormongering that the increasingly irrelevant electronics retailer was supposed to be bought "any given day now" at a 10x+ EBITDA multiple by each and every PE firm in the universe, and with allegedly intelligent investors falling for it each and every time, it appears the end is here. Incidentally, according to preliminary calculations, a dedicated investor that would have done nothing but short RSH on every rumor spike would have returned about an 80% CAGR over the past 3 years. Couple this with selling RSH CDS and the ROI would have been the highest recorded in human history. From Reuters: "Blackstone Group and TPG Capital are unlikely to continue to pursue a possible bid for RadioShack Corp (RSH.N), two sources familiar with the situation said on Monday. Bain Capital had been interested earlier but is no longer in the auction, sources previously told Reuters." And with this, an entire section of rumor disseminators at the NY Post will suddenly find themselves praying Congress passes the unemployment extension bill later today.
In his traditionally curt and to the point way, Hugh Hendry proclaims his "love" for the president, in this rare profile piece on the Scottish fund manager by the NYT. While none of his opinions will come as a surprise to Zero Hedge regulars ("The euro? It’s finished, Mr. Hendry proclaims. China? Headed for a fall."), we do recommend the article to those still unfamiliar with one of the truly iconoclastic fund manager still left in the open. While Hendry does not run a fund nearly as large as some behemoths out there (his Ecletica is less than $1 billion, John Paulson is $30), it does afford him a nimbleness that JP (whose recent rumored liquidations in the gold market are destined to create feedback loops that further accelerate liquidations) or, much more blatantly, Pimco (with its $1 trillion + in Treasuries, Corporates, Sovereigns and Mortgages) which is the market in all its verticals, can only dream about. It also affords him the opportunity to say what is on his mind, and on those of many others, who however dread the political consequences for being a little too honest. It is this forthrightness and honesty that has reserved Hendry a sterling place within the Zero Hedge community, his candor regularly scoring posts receiving well over 20k reads (and at 60k hits, his "I recommend you panic" is among the Top 20 most popular Zero Hedge posts of all time.
John Taylor Says The Euro Is Like A "Headless Chicken", States Prop Trading Makes Up 80% Of Goldman's RevenueSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/18/2010 16:54 -0400
John Taylor is his usual painfully forthright, objective and candid self in this must read Capital.de interview in which he analyzes the prospects before Europe (not good), and compares the Euro to a "chicken, with a severed head running across the yard before it dies." Taylor believes that so long as Europe continues to exist in its make believe monetary never-never land, any efforts to bring some form of fiscal rationality in the form of austerity, will be underminded by the continuing lies on the monetary and financial stability fronts. This fits in with Roubini's recent admonition that Obama should finally start treating Americans as adults. Yet in light of recent evidence that Obama has taken more vacation time and golf breaks than even his predecessor, any chance for him to be taken seriously may be long gone. Furthermore, Taylor notes that instead of the ECB demonizing FX traders like himself, the bureaucrats should be thanking him, as he is one of the few voices of reason, and just like in the Asian crisis of 1997, those who listen to him ultimately prevent major capital losses (kinda like what ZH suggested to those invested in Greek bonds some time ago, to the utimate chagrin of an overly defensive RBS). Yet the most notable observation to us at least, is that Taylor confirms our previous statement that Goldman is lying about the contribution of prop trading to its top line. Of Godman's revenue, Taylor says: "80 percent of the revenues which now come from proprietary trading of the bank. No matter what happens, Goldman Sachs always profits." Compare this to our statement from December 2009: "Goldman's head of PR claims the Goldman's prop trading accounts for
only 12% of net revenue. Zero Hedge disagrees, and we would like to
pose a question to Mr. van Praag which we hope Goldman will answer for
us in order to refute our observation that Goldman may be disingenuous
in its public statements." Goldman's subsequent response to us did nothing to refute our allegation: "We’ve said publicly that prop trading represents approximately 10% of this year’s reported net revenue. We generate the vast majority of our revenue in FICC by facilitating trading activity for our clients and nearly all our revenues in FICC are “due to capital at risk” (your phrase)." Shortly after this exchange, finally bringing due attention to Goldman's prop trading operations, the Volcker Rule appeared, and all else equal, will likely impose major restrictions on Goldman's top line, which could be as big as an 80% cut.
It's a testament to the odd world in which we live that when a Wall Street firm pays a $550 million fine by conceding negligence in how it dealt with clients, its stock surges, adding billions of dollars in market value for the firm's shareholders. But that's what's happening to Goldman Sachs, as it reached its long awaited settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over how it sold a basket of mortgage related debt to investors in 2007. Back when the SEC brought the case, the conventional wisdom on Wall Street and the financial media was that Goldman didn't have to settle -- the case was weak and Goldman is, after all, Goldman. Now that Goldman has indeed settled, the news is being spun, again mostly by the financial media, that the deal with the SEC was a victory for Goldman's CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who survived the investigation largely unscathed, paying a measly $550 million to the government (equivalent to a few days trading gains at Goldman) and without having to give up any power, such as relinquishing his role as chairman of the board, as senior executives both inside Goldman and at competing firms believed would be part of any settlement. Well, if history is any guide, Blankfein may not go tomorrow, or even next month, but sometime in 2011, Blankfein will at the very least no longer be chairman of Goldman, and may also be forced out of the firm altogether. - Charlie Gasparino
While the punditry debates whether the SEC settlement was or was not a win for Goldman (As Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil summarizes it best: "Here’s the real beauty of the SEC’s settlement agreement yesterday with Goldman Sachs. The next time Goldman Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein goes on television and is asked by some reporter if Goldman committed securities fraud, as the SEC alleged, he won’t be allowed to say no.") those wronged by Goldman are only just starting to flex their legal muscles. Reuters reports that one of the "big" winners from the settlement, UK's biggest nationalized bank RBS, is about to beg for more handouts (allegedly to cover its ongoing losses on sovereign debt holdings): "Royal Bank of Scotland may pursue Goldman Sachs for hundreds of millions of dollars to add to $100 million it got as part of a settlement over the marketing of a subprime mortgage product. RBS said on Friday it would "carefully consider all of its options" after Goldman agreed on Thursday to pay it $100 million as part of a $550 million settlement of civil fraud charges over how it marketed the subprime mortgage product. RBS's options include taking Goldman to court as
Securities and Exchange Commission said the penalty left the
door open for future civil suits." At this point the response by RBS, which is 83% state owned will likely depend on US treatment of BP, considering that "Former UK Prime Minister
Gordon Brown said in April that Goldman would have to pay back
"hundreds of millions of dollars" if the charges against it were
proven." The only question left is to define "does not admit or deny guilt."