Frontrunning: September 27

  • Madrid Protesters March Again as Spain Braces for Cuts (Bloomberg)
  • Euro Can Bear Fewer Members as Czech Leader Calls Greeks Victims (Bloomberg)
  • Chinese Industrial Profits Fall 6.2% in Fifth Straight Drop (Bloomberg)
  • China pours $58bn into money markets (FT)
  • Beijing vows more measures on Diaoyu Islands (China Daily)
  • Noda vows no compromise as Japan, China dig in on islands row (Reuters)
  • Politico’s Paul Ryan Satire: The Joke’s on Them (Bloomberg)
  • Electoral Drama Shifts to Ohio (WSJ)
  • German opposition party targets banks (FT)
  • Fed action triggers fear of new currency wars (FT)
  • Ex-Credit Suisse CDO Boss Serageldin Is Arrested in U.K. (Bloomberg)
  • Romney ‘I Dig It’ Trust Gives Heirs Triple Benefit (Bloomberg)
  • Obama Seeks Arab Spring 'Reform' (WSJ)
  • U.S. Says it Will Ease Myanmar Import Ban (WSJ)

Overnight Media Digest:


* Both presidential campaigns rolled into the crucial swing state of Ohio on Wednesday with new urgency, as Mitt Romney fought for a jolt of momentum and President Barack Obama looked to solidify his standing after inching further ahead in polls in the state.

* Procter & Gamble Co Chief Executive Robert McDonald, under pressure from a hedge-fund manager, has to deliver on cost-cutting and product-refocus plans.

* Sears Holdings Corp and Darden Restaurants Inc are planning a radical shift in the way they provide health benefits to their workers.

* Spain's prospects of avoiding a government bailout appeared to recede as pessimism pervaded the country's financial markets and pushed its borrowing costs higher.

* U.K. authorities arrested a former Credit Suisse Group AG banker on U.S. allegations that he conspired to inflate the values of mortgage bonds during the financial crisis.

* A combination of EADS and BAE Systems Plc would bring together two different aviation businesses led by two equally different chief executives: Enders and King.

* Workers at China's huge Foxconn Technology Ltd factory said tensions over strict rules helped spur this week's rioting, in events that raise questions about the sustainability of China's manufacturing machine.

* The U.S. said it would begin to ease a long-standing import ban on Myanmar, providing a boost to President Thein Sein as he carries out political and economic overhauls that have transformed the former military state into a hot Asian frontier market.

* U.S. securities regulators have launched a sweeping review of the systems brokerages and trading firms use to place orders, intensifying their response to a spate of technological mishaps that have tested investors' confidence in the stock market.

* The Canadian Auto Workers union said late on Wednesday that it has reached a new tentative labor contract with Chrysler Group LLC, the last of the three Detroit auto makers to sign a deal that secures labor peace for four more years but doesn't narrow the cost gap between Canadian and American workers as much as the auto makers had wanted.

* When Research In Motion Ltd reports its second-quarter earnings Thursday, most analysts expect another round of grim results for the BlackBerry maker as its share of the smartphone market continues to shrink.

Despite the gloom and doom, the company did manage to offer a few faint rays of hope during its annual conference for developers this week.

* After decades of virtually ignoring the highest coffee-consumption market in the world, Starbucks Corp's Europe chief is looking to give a swift and substantial jolt to the coffee giant's tiny presence in the pricey Nordic region




Political turmoil in Spain ahead of a possible European rescue triggered a financial market backlash on Wednesday.


France will find it "almost impossible" to hire top talent if the government goes ahead with plans to impose a 75 percent marginal income tax rate.


Polls in critical swing states showing it would take a significant change in course for the Republican nominee to unseat Barack Obama.


Royal Bank of Scotland is to sell shares in Direct Line at a lower-than-expected level.


AngloGold Ashanti said it had to halt its operations in the country as tens of thousands of its workers went on strike.


European companies were much more bearish about the value of their past acquisitions last year.


Credit Suisse is considering folding its asset management business into its private banking division.


The dual U.S. and Mexico share offering of Banco Santander's Mexican arm raised $4.13 billion this year, behind Facebook and Japan Airlines.



* Even though tests sometimes go awry, patients in Russia are eager to join drug trials because often they are the only way to receive modern medical care.

* Several nations have adopted or proposed a range of limits on high-speed trading, saying they have learned from problems in United States markets.

* After falling behind from a product shortage, Toyota Motor Corp is planning to rejuvenate its Lexus brand by making the line more appealing to younger and more adventurous buyers.

* Chrysler's Canadian unit is the last of the Detroit automakers to agree on a tentative contract with the Canadian Auto Workers Union.

* China's Communist Party appears so distracted by its leadership transition that it is not pursuing the bold agenda that may be necessary to prevent severe economic pain.

* Demonstrators took to the streets Wednesday in Greece to protest new cuts being discussed, and protesters in Spain surrounded Parliament for a second day over the prime minister's austerity program.

* As Spanish domestic politics threaten to spin beyond the control of the central government, they are also making it harder for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to meet Spain's financial obligations to the rest of the euro zone.

* The fate of a proposed $90 billion merger of the commodities trader Glencore International Plc and the mining company Xstrata Plc may come down to who gets the corner office.

* L'Huffington Post made its debut on Tuesday in Italy, becoming the fifth version of the Internet news outlet outside the United States.

* Sales of new homes dipped slightly in August from July, but the median price of homes sold during the month rose by a record amount.

* RadioShack Corp said on Wednesday that Chief Executive James Gooch was stepping down immediately under an agreement with the company's board, in the latest turmoil at the struggling electronics retailer.

* Two of the most senior former executives at newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch, both once close to Prime Minister David Cameron, appeared at the Old Bailey courthouse in central London on Wednesday facing charges relating to the phone hacking scandal convulsing parts of the British press.




* A Beijing court has found Li Ang guilty of murdering his girlfriend Amanda Zhao in their shared Burnaby, British Columbia, apartment 10 years ago. His sentence is life in prison, according to Zhao's family.

* The Vancouver Police Department has recommended charges against 50 more people accused of participating in last year's Stanley Cup riot, and arrested a man the investigation team called its No. 1 target.

* British Columbia's municipal politicians, sensing shifting emotional attitudes towards marijuana and a possible major new revenue source, voted Wednesday to lobby Ottawa to decriminalize pot and study the benefits of taxing and regulating cannabis.

Reports in the business section:

* The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union has reached agreements on new contracts with all three Detroit auto makers, avoiding a crippling strike and keeping labour costs low enough to win new jobs and new investments from the companies at their Canadian operations.

* Spain is poised to unveil a new austerity program that threatens to trigger more street violence and deepen an already crippling recession, pushing the euro region's fourth-largest country closer to a bailout.


* Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto has paid only C$9,000 ($9,100) of a C$250,000 fine that was angrily imposed by a Brooklyn judge when he sentenced the Montrealer to a U.S. prison for three gangland murders.

As Rizzuto's sentence is about to expire, his reluctance to relinquish the cash could interfere with his release, or he might be allowed to skip out on the substantial bill.

* Diplomats from Canada are among those who walked out on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the Iranian president took the podium today at the UN General Assembly.

The Canadian delegation also walked out on the controversial leader's speech last year.


* Google Inc's popular map app got booted from the software bundled with Apple Inc's new iPhone 5 -- the casualty of an escalating feud between the Silicon Valley heavyweights -- but the search company is still throwing plenty of research and development muscle into the technology.

* Research In Motion Limited will announce quarterly results on Thursday and analysts had expected the company, for the first time in its history, to report that it had started to lose subscribers. But at a developer event on Tuesday, RIM said its subscriber base grew by 2 million in the quarter ended Sept 1.

* When the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded in March last year, even the most optimistic investors knew the uranium market was in for a rough ride -- they just didn't think it would last so long.

Eighteen months after the incident, uranium prices continue to hit new lows. The spot price sunk 50 cents to $46.50 a pound this week, which is the lowest level since 2010, according to Ux Consulting. Investors briefly drove the spot price above $135 in 2007.


Fly on the Wall's 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



Shire (SHPG) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
CBOE Holdings (CBOE) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Goodyear Tire (GT) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Maxim Integrated (MXIM) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Monsanto (MON) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo


Acuity Brands (AYI) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Alcoa (AA) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Dahlman Rose
Altera (ALTR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
ArcelorMittal (MT) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies
NorthWestern (NWE) downgraded to Hold from Buy at KeyBanc
TripAdvisor (TRIP) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital


Akorn (AKRX) initiated with an Outperform at Leerink
Allstate (ALL) initiated with a Neutral at SunTrust
Amgen (AMGN) initiated with a Buy at Brean Murray
Avista (AVA) initiated with a Buy at UBS
Cooper Tire (CTB) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
General Motors (GM) initiated with a Hold at Stifel Nicolaus
ImmunoGen (IMGN) initiated with a Sell at UBS
Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) initiated with a Buy at Brean Murray
Merrimack (MACK) initiated with a Buy at Brean Murray
Pacific Drilling (PACD) initiated with a Buy at Dahlman Rose
Safeguard Scientifics (SFE) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant Capital
Validus (VR) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse


Intel (INTC) fully expects to continue with Windows 8 (MSFT)
DISH Network (DISH) to add satellite broadband Internet service, WSJ reported
Invesco (IVZ) to acquire 49% of Religare Asset Management
Ralcorp Holdings (RAH) is exploring sale of about 6.8M shares of the common stock of Post Holdings (POST)
Physicians Formula (FACE) to be acquired by Markwins International for $4.90 per share
AVG Technologies (AVG) said agreement with Google (GOOG) temporarily extended
Tenneco (TEN) established first manufacturing operation in Japan
MdSouth Bancorp (MSL) announced merger agreement with PSB Financial
Range Resources (RRC) subsidiary in 15-year agreement with Sunoco Logistics Partners
(SXL) to become anchor shipper on the Mariner East
Summit Hotel Properties (INN) to acquire 10 hotels, including eight from Hyatt (H)
Owens-Illinois (OI) to build new R&D center to advance innovation in glass making
Armstrong World (AWI) to sell cabinet business for $27M


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Comtech (CMTL), Progress Software (PRGS), Worthington (WOR), Thor Industries (THO), Landec (LNDC), Radiant Logistics (RLGT)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Texas Industries (TXI)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
H.B. Fuller (FUL)


The declining share prices of Facebook (FB), Zynga (ZNGA) and Groupon (GRPN) are causing some investors to pull back from Web start-ups. Venture capitalists are now asking tougher questions about their revenue and profits. As a result, some entrepreneurs are finding that it's taking longer to raise cash, and some are resetting their expectations over valuations, the Wall Street Journal reports
Toshiba (TOSBF) expects its share of the computer hard-drive market to about double over the next few years as more PC makers start using so-called "hybrid" hard drives that can improve laptop performance without adding much to price tags, the Wall Street Journal reports
Euro zone economic sentiment again fell sharply in September, underlining the economic gloom brought on by the sovereign debt crisis as the euro zone falls into a recession. The EC’s monthly economic sentiment survey showed the index for the 17 countries sharing the euro dropped to 85 points from 86.1 in August, Reuters reports
Talks to sell Credit Agricole's (CRARY) Greek bank Emporiki are likely to be completed in the next few weeks, says the bank's CEO Jean-Paul Chifflet, adding that the purchase price could be a symbolic one euro depending on the amount of capital Credit Agricole has to put into the bank, Reuters reports
Global mergers and acquisitions slumped this quarter to a level not seen since the aftermath of the financial crisis amid increasing concern the economic recovery is deteriorating.
Companies have announced $446B of takeovers since June 30, the smallest amount since the third quarter of 2009, according to Bloomberg data. Acquisitions are on pace to drop 15% in 2012 to $2T, the lowest in three years, Bloomberg reports
As Nokia (NOK) depletes its cash during its prolonged turnaround effort--it’s consuming about $300M a month--investors are bracing for something that hasn’t happened in decades: no dividends, Bloomberg reports


Eagle Materials (EXP) announces offering of 3M shares of common stock
Summit Hotel Properties (INN) files to sell 10M shares of common stock