Frontrunning: October 17

  • Obama takes offensive against Romney in debate rematch (Reuters)
  • Obama Says Romney Words Aren’t ‘True’ in Second Debate (Bloomberg)
  • Obama takes Romney head-on in debate (FT)
  • And another joins the club: Thailand Unexpectedly Cuts Rate as Global Outlook Worsens (Bloomberg)
  • PBOC Injects Less Cash (WSJ)
  • Japan to Hold Special Cabinet Meeting After Economy Downgraded (Bloomberg)
  • Greek Coalition Duo Reject Labour Moves Proposed by Troika (WSJ)
  • Opposition wanes to Spanish aid request (FT)
  • RBS to Exit U.K. Asset Protection Plan After $4 Billion Fees (Bloomberg)
  • Spain Retains Investment Grade Credit Rating From Moody’s (Bloomberg)
  • US diplomat asks Japan, ROK to resolve islands spat (China Daily)
  • Stagnation not due to austerity, says OBR (FT)

Overnight Media Digest


* Vikram Pandit, who was named chief executive of Citigroup Inc on the eve of the financial crisis and led the bank through a bruising five-year stretch that included a $45 billion federal rescue, abruptly stepped down on Tuesday.

* Softbank Corp's shares rallied 9.6 percent on Tuesday after Chief Executive Masayoshi Son made an impassioned pitch for the company's debt-laden investment in Sprint Nextel Corp, recovering about a third of the $8.9 billion in market value that Softbank had lost the previous two days.

* Goldman Sachs Group Inc reported a big quarterly profit and more than doubled its revenue. Net revenue soared to $8.35 billion from $3.59 billion in last year's third quarter.

* Visa Inc is preparing to name a new chief executive as soon as this month to succeed Joseph Saunders, who is expected to retire from the credit-card giant when his contract expires in March, according to people familiar with the process.

* Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd acknowledged that it hired underage workers at one of its China plants, in the latest hit to the labor practices of the major contractor for Apple Inc and other electronics giants.

* Intel Corp's profit dropped 14 percent in the third quarter, underscoring tough times for the personal computer sector amid competition from tablet-style devices and other headwinds.

* Microsoft Corp set the starting price for its new tablet computer due out next week at $499, following the lead of Apple Inc's iPad while undercutting pricing of some of the software giant's allies.

* International Business Machines Corp reported declining third-quarter revenue in each of its major segments, including a double-digit-percentage dip in hardware sales, the latest indication that businesses could be cutting back on technology spending.

* Electric-car-battery manufacturer A123 Systems Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with a plan to sell its auto-business assets to an American rival, Johnson Controls Inc.




Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Vikram Pandit resigned abruptly on Tuesday after months of simmering tensions with the board of directors.


MasterCard is analysing transaction data to help marketers direct targeted advertising at consumers.


UK bankers face the risk of being barred from their profession by an independent body if they misbehave, under new rules under consideration.


Indonesia's market regulator is investigating the use of funds raised in an initial public offering of one of London-listed Bumi Plc's key assets.


Cable & Wireless Communications is in advanced talks to sell its controlling stake in Macau's largest telecoms group to Citic Telecom International.


Britain's banks must purge those remaining staff who are tainted by scandal or who fail to grasp the need for a complete culture change, Greg Clark said on Tuesday.


EU regulators have demanded that Google substantially change its controversial privacy policies or risk fines.


Societe Generale has been ordered to suspend some of its private banking activities in Japan after the country's financial regulator found "serious violations" of laws.



* Weeks before Vikram Pandit's surprise resignation on Tuesday as chief executive of Citigroup Inc, the banking giant's powerful chairman, Michael O'Neill, was privately huddling with other board members to plan how to replace him, according to several people briefed on the talks.

* 27 European data-protection agencies asked Google Inc to modify its global privacy policy that governs dozens of Google online services - including the flagship search engine, Android mobile phone apps and YouTube videos.

* After months of delay, the Spanish government is edging closer to making a decision about whether to ask for European financial assistance.

* International Business Machines Corp delivered a mixed and somewhat unsettling quarterly performance. Profits barely exceeded Wall Street's expectations, while revenue fell well below.

* Intel Corp crossed an earnings bar it lowered for itself last month, but the problems plaguing its main market for semiconductors - personal computers - seemed no closer to ending.

* Goldman Sachs Group Inc said it had a strong comeback for the third quarter of 2012, buoyed by private equity holdings that had weighed down its earnings a year ago.

* Bank of America Merrill Lynch has hired Margaret Ren to lead its Chinese operations, according to an internal memorandum. Ren joins the company from BNP Paribas, where she was the corporate finance chairman for greater China.

* The troubled battery maker A123 Systems Inc filed for bankruptcy, dealing a blow to the Obama administration's program to jump-start a domestic battery industry and spur development of electric vehicles.




* The voice of Canada's CEOs is urging parents to enroll their kids in Asian language classes to match them with the growing appetite of employers for multilingual workers.

John Manley, the former finance minister who now heads the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, said it is time for a national debate over how to encourage new language skills as part of the country's trade efforts.

* Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty spent much of last Saturday on the phone with five of his closest advisers, informing them that he had decided to resign after nine years in office, sources said.

Those phone conversations paved the way for McGuinty's surprise announcement at an emergency caucus meeting on Monday evening that he was resigning after 16 years as Liberal Leader and just one year after winning a minority government.

Reports in the business section:

* The large number of condos being built in Toronto is now curbing the rise in both prices and rents. Resale prices for high-rise units in the country's most populous city are flattening out after years of appreciation, and the degree to which monthly rents have been rising has begun to slow.


* Immigration Minister Jason Kenney defended a proposed law Tuesday that would give him the power to bar visitors from Canada for "public policy" reasons, saying it would be used rarely and only against hate mongers who incite violence.


* EnStream LP, a joint venture between the country's three biggest wireless operators, is selling its experimental Zoompass mobile payment service in a bid to partner more closely with the country's big banks, which saw the platform as a competitor. EnStream was formed by Rogers Communications Inc, BCE Inc and Telus Corp in 2005


Fly On The Wall 7:00 am Market Digest


Adtran (ADTN) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
Brown & Brown (BRO) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Equity Residential (EQR) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Essex Property Trust (ESS) upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James
Fortinet (FTNT) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Wunderlich
Mid-America Apartment (MAA) upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James
Murphy Oil (MUR) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Brean Capital
Pinnacle Financial (PNFP) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James

American Tower (AMT) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Apollo Group (APOL) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Cisco (CSCO) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Cantor
Diebold (DBD) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
ExlService (EXLS) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
IBM (IBM) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
IMAX (IMAX) downgraded to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna
M.D.C. Holdings (MDC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Murphy Oil (MUR) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Resources Connection (RECN) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie
Ryland Group (RYL) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Texas Instruments (TXN) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Longbow
Toll Brothers (TOL) downgraded to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James

Mellanox (MLNX) initiated with a Market Perform at JMP Securities
StemCells (STEM) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant Capital
Universal Display (PANL) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
Xylem (XYL) initiated with a Neutral at DA Davidson


Citigroup (C) Chairman O'Neil said no "shoe to drop" on Pandit resignation
New CEO Corbat said "needs some time in chair" before setting targets
Citigroup outlook lowered to Negative by Moody's
U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate VirnetX (VHC), SAIC (SAI) complaint against Apple (AAPL)
Credit Agricole (CRARY) announced sale of Emporiki to Alpha Bank
RBS (RBS) confirmed exiting U.K. government's asset protection scheme
ASML Holding NV (ASML) and Cymer (CYMI) announced ASML will acquire all outstanding shares of Cymer in a cash-and-stock transaction valued at EUR1.95B
Penn West Exploration (PWE) to dispose of non-core properties for $1.3B
Cisco (CSCO) and Citrix (CTXS) extend partnership into networking, cloud and mobility
Statoil (STO) and Statkraft acquired Dudgeon Offshore wind power project
Intel (INTC) sees overall PC business growing at half the expected seasonal rate in Q4
CFO Smith sees excess capacity charges into FY13. Said capacity will improve in 1H13
Emeritus (ESC) and HCP (HCP) to acquire 142 senior housing communities for $1.8B
C.H. Robinson (CHRW) sold T-Chek Systems to Electronic Funds Source for $302.5M in cash
Helix Energy (HLX) to sell three pipelay vessels for $252.75M
CSX (CSX) still sees 2012 earnings growth, margin expansion. Targeting 65% operating ratio by 2015
Boise (BZ) ceased production at St. Helens mill, cut 100 jobs
Marten Transport (MRTN) CEO: confident in long-term strategy
Stanley Furniture (STLY) CEO sees overall sales "flat to slightly down"


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
BNY Mellon (BK), BlackRock (BLK), Knight Capital (KCG), Check Point (CHKP), Pinnacle Financial (PNFP), Renasant (RNST), Wintrust Financial (WTFC), Cathay General (CATY), Fulton Financial (FULT), United Rentals (URI), Badger Meter (BMI), BancFirst (BANF), CSX (CSX), Manhattan Associates (MANH), Sonic (SONC), Cree (CREE), Apollo Group (APOL), Intel (INTC)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Textron (TXT), WNS Holdings (WNS), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK), First Cash Financial (FCFS), Linear Technology (LLTC), Stanley Furniture (STLY), Marten Transport (MRTN), Interactive Brokers (IBKR)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Fortinet (FTNT), IBM (IBM)


A potential Spanish request for financial aid is becoming tangled in diplomacy between euro-zone capitals, despite Madrid's new willingness to move forward. In a reprieve for Madrid, Moody's Investors Service said Spain's sovereign-debt rating remains investment grade, the Wall Street Journal reports
IBM (IBM) reported lower Q3 revenue in each of its major segments, including a double-digit-percentage dip in hardware sales, the latest indication that businesses could be cutting back on technology spending, the Wall Street Journal reports
U.K. banks may no longer be allowed to cut their capital reserves if doing so fails to increase lending in the struggling economy or undermines financial stability, says Britain's Financial Services Authority, Reuters reports
Starbucks (SBUX) may face an investigation into its British tax affairs after a senior member of parliament called for a probe into how the company could avoid paying tax on $1.93B of sales since 2009, Reuters reports
Citigroup (C) is hiring seven bankers in Japan in anticipation that more companies will make cross-border acquisitions and restructure, sources say, Bloomberg reports
Sprint Nextel (S) expects the U.S. Justice Department will complete a review of the company’s agreement to sell a majority stake to Softbank (SFTBF) within an initial 30-day period and won’t warrant an extended investigation, Bloomberg reports


Acadia Healthcare (ACHC) files $200M of common stock, 18.5M shares for holders
HCP Inc. (HCP) files to sell 22M shares of common stock
Kite Realty Trust (KRG) files to 9.5M shares of common stock


Attiva reports 9.8% stake in Spanish Broadcasting (SBSA), suggests spin-off
Deerfield reports 5.34% passive stake in Molina Healthcare (MOH)
Deerfield reports 6.19% passive stake in InterMune (ITMN)