Frontrunning: November 16

  • Israel Mobilizes Troops as Hostilities Escalate (WSJ)
  • FHA Sets Stage for Taxpayer Subsidy With 2012 Deficit (Bloomberg)
  • On eve of fiscal cliff talks, positions harden (Reuters)
  • Japan PM Noda contradicts challenger Abe on BOJ (Reuters)
  • Regulators cut JPMorgan's ability to trade power (Reuters)
  • EU Should Reach Agreement on Greek Aid Next Week, Grilli Says (BBG)
  • Moscovici rejects talk of French crisis (FT)
  • Egypt Urges Push for Gaza Peace as Rockets Hit Israel (BBG)
  • Leading Japan politicians draw election battle lines (Reuters)
  • Fed Push to Tie Zero-Rate to Economic Goals Faces Doubts (BBG)
  • China’s commerce minister voted out in rare congress snub (Reuters)
  • China’s new leaders could have reform thrust upon them (Reuters)
  • Both Sides of Gaza Border Brace for Further Conflict (WSJ)
  • Fed Sees Hurdles in Housing Rebound (Hilsenrath)
  • The Complete 2012 Business Schools Ranking (Bloomberg)


Overnight Media Digest


BP Plc agreed to accept criminal responsibility for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers and to pay $4.5 billion in fines and restitution, the biggest penalty ever levied by the U.S. Justice Department.

* Google Inc has held talks with satellite-TV provider Dish Network Corp in recent weeks to partner on a new wireless service that would rival the networks of wireless carriers such as AT&T Inc and Verizon VZ Wireless, according to people familiar with the discussions.

* The United States is targeting FedEx Corp and United Parcel Service Inc as part of an expanding crackdown against illegal sales of prescription painkillers. The Drug Enforcement Administration has been probing whether the companies aided and abetted illegal drug sales from online pharmacies for several years, according to company filings, although the investigation has gone largely unnoticed.

* Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp both reported improved results for the fiscal third quarter, but the two retailing giants, gearing up for the holiday season, said consumers still have bargains and basics on the brain.




BP has agreed to a $4.5 billion settlement to resolve criminal charges relating to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.


Xi Jinping was anointed as the new head of the Communist Party of China on Thursday, taking charge of a relatively conservative leadership team.


Britain's immigration policy was criticised on Thursday, as London Mayor Boris Johnson and the boss of the CBI employers' organisation warned it was undermining the British economy.


A $66 billion plan to merge miner Xstrata and Glencore has received a boost with the public backing on Thursday of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund.


Megafon has re-launched its London-Moscow initial public offering, seeking to sell shares worth up to $2.1 billion.


Walmart shares dropped as the world's largest retailer by sales reported falling sales growth, overshadowing quarterly profits that were in line with market expectations.


France seized on better than expected economic growth figures to reject concern that France could become the next focus of the euro zone crisis.


The SFO must pay the legal costs of the Tchenguiz brothers, resulting from a successful challenge the pair mounted against the UK agency in 2011.


Lord McAlpine has agreed a 185,000 pounds settlement with the BBC after he was wrongly linked to a child abuse scandal by the broadcaster's Newsnight programme.



BP, the British oil company, said on Thursday that it had agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines and other penalties and to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges related to the rig explosion two years ago that killed 11 people and caused a giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

* Wal-Mart on Thursday reported that its investigation into violations of a federal anti bribery law had extended beyond Mexico to China, India and Brazil, some of the retailer's most important international markets.

* As its policy on highly caffeinated energy drinks is scrutinized, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publicly released records on Thursday about fatality and injury filings that mentioned the possible involvement of three top-selling products.

* McDonald's Corp made a top executive change on Thursday, hoping it can jump-start sales and fight off intensifying competition. The company said that Jan Fields, president of McDonald's USA, would be succeeded by Jeff Stratton, its global chief restaurant officer, effective Dec. 1




* A former official of the Canada Revenue Agency has become an RCMP informant, helping the Mounties go after an alleged network of corruption and fraud that has engulfed the tax-collection agency, sources say.

The RCMP has used the informant to collect information on officials at the CRA who have been accused of corruption and business people who are alleged to have offered them bribes to reduce their tax bills.

* The federal Conservative government is attempting to negotiate the transfer of a renowned freshwater research facility in Northern Ontario to a Winnipeg-based international institute, sources familiar with the discussions say.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been heavily criticized for its decision to sell the Experimental Lakes Area, a one of a kind natural laboratory consisting of 58 small lakes and their drainage areas which, for 44 years, has been helping solve critical water problems like acid rain.

Reports in the business section:

* TransCanada Corp is facing new risks in its bid for a quick approval of its long stalled Keystone XL pipeline, including a potential delay to await completion of a government-ordered study into whether oil sands bitumen is more dangerous to transport than conventional crude.

* Canada's competition watchdog is being criticized by British bankers over its handling of an international investigation into interest rate fixing.

Royal Bank of Scotland says the Canadian Competition Bureau has not respected British law in trying to force the bank to produce documents relating to fixing of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.


* A controversial Canadian imam who has been banned from several countries says Ottawa delayed renewing his passport for almost six months while federal officials conducted an investigation.

Bilal Philips, 65, a Jamaican-born Canadian who lives in affluent Qatar, said he arrived in Toronto in May intending to stay for 10 days, but was grounded after Passport Canada put him under scrutiny.

* The honeymoon appears to be over for NDP leader Tom Mulcair, with Canadians shifting some support to the man creating a lot of buzz on Parliament Hill: Justin Trudeau.

If a federal election were held now, the federal NDP would garner 30 percent of the popular vote, an eight percentage point drop from June and the biggest decline since the summer for any party, according to an exclusive poll conducted by Ipsos Reid for Postmedia News and Global Television.


* The energy industry and Canadians opposed to its plans seem to be speaking in different tongues. One side is focused on economic climate, the other on climate change. One brandishes impressive employment numbers, the other embarrassingly high CO2 emissions. One talks about provincial and federal permits, the other highlights the absence of a "social licence".

A common gripe among industry executives is that the average Canadian doesn't comprehend the economic benefits and job creation the industry brings to the table, nor does he or she trust the safety of the technologies deployed.

* Bay Street investment firm Invesco Canada Ltd has hit a roadblock in its attempt to dislodge the board of chronically-underperforming hardware retailer Rona Inc.

After meeting late Wednesday to discuss Invesco's planned putsch, Rona's board called its annual shareholders meeting for May 14, at which time its current board will come up for re-election. A Rona official said in an interview Thursday that by law, another meeting cannot now be called "on the same topic."




-- Individual investors are expected to be allowed to invest in China's new pilot over-the-counter board for trading shares in unlisted companies, bu t the board will have high participation thresholds, including more than two years of investing experience account and at least 1 million yuan ($160,400) in capital.


-- The Ministry of Education has created a department to focus on education reform, focused on special and vocational education.


-- Twenty five accused smugglers were tried this week for illegally importing more than 162,000 Apple products and selling them through online stores, evading an estimated 55 million yuan in taxes. More than half of the suspects were housewives. In China, smugglers may face up to life in prison.


-- Total profit of state-owned enterprises fell 8.3 percent to 1.74 billion yuan from January to October, but the rate of decline slowed, with profits rising 1.7 percent in October from a month earlier



Fly on the Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



Annaly Capital (NLY) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
AtriCure (ATRC) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
CIT Group (CIT) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Nomura
Capstead Mortgage (CMO) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Cepheid (CPHD) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Mizuho
Cheniere Energy Partners (CQP) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Gap (GPS) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Canaccord
Grainger (GWW) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Hatteras Financial (HTS) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Heartland Payment (HPY) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Home Loan Servicing (HLSS) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Invesco Mortgage (IVR) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
MFA Financial (MFA) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
OSI Systems (OSIS) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Quicksilver Resources (KWK) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Macquarie
RPC, Inc. (RES) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Dahlman Rose
Regions Financial (RF) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
Roper Industries (ROP) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Seadrill (SDRL) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Timberland Bancorp (TSBK) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James


American Eagle (AEO) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
Frontier Communications (FTR) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
JetBlue (JBLU) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
Windstream (WIN) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman


AG Mortgage (MITT) initiated with an Outperform at Wells Fargo
Alkermes (ALKS) initiated with a Buy at Mizuho
Allergan (AGN) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
CommVault (CVLT) initiated with a Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Francesca's (FRAN) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
HollyFrontier (HFC) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital
Hologic (HOLX) initiated with a Neutral at SunTrust
Integra LifeSciences (IART) initiated with a Neutral at SunTrust
Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
Javelin Mortgage (JMI) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
Palo Alto (PANW) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Varian Medical (VAR) initiated with a Buy at Benchmark Co.
Varian Medical (VAR) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
Zimmer (ZMH) initiated with a Neutral at SunTrust


Nike (NKE) sets 2-for-1 stock split, boosts dividend 17%
Hertz (HTZ) obtained FTC clearance for Dollar Thrifty (DTG) acquisition
Dell (DELL) said global demand environment "challenging," especially core PC business
Gap (GPS) expects Q4 merchandise margins to expand
Said outlet traffic remains higher than regular stores
"Cautious" about investing in Europe
Edison International (EIX) unit missed $97M interest payment
Reckitt Benckiser to commence tender offer to acquire Schiff (SHF) for $42 per share
Applied Materials (AMAT) said DRAM spending to continue at low levels in 2013
Expects negative PC growth for the calendar year
Sees wafer fab equipment spending $30B-$32B in 2013
AB InBev's (BUD) purchase of Modelo received Mexican antitrust approval, Bloomberg reports
Penn National (PENN) intends to separate real estate, operating assets
Submitted $480M Philadelphia casino proposal to Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
Community Bankers Trust (BTC) conditionally approved but defers dividend on TARP preferred
White River Capital (RVR) signed merger agreement to be acquired by Parthenon Capital
American Financial (AFG) expects losses from Sandy to be $25M-$35M
Natural Grocers (NGVC) sees opening 12 new stores in FY13, a 20% increase
Sees FY13 comparable store sales up 7%-8.5%
KBR (KBR) announced that U.S. dismissed false claims case
Graphic Packaging (GPK) agreed to acquire Contego's European food carton business


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Sirona Dental (SIRO), Bona Film (BONA), Atwood Oceanics (ATW), SINA (SINA), Sears Holdings (SHLD), Applied Materials (AMAT), Intuit (INTU), Autodesk (ADSK)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
MTS Systems (MTSC), Dole Food (DOLE), Haynes (HAYN), 21Vianet (VNET), Dell (DELL), Wet Seal (WTSLA), Cogo Group (COGO)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
WGL Holdings (WGL), Matthews (MATW), Natural Grocers (NGVC), Marvell (MRVL), Gap (GPS)


Google (GOOG) held talks with Dish Network (DISH) in recent weeks to partner on a new wireless service that would rival the networks of wireless carriers such as AT&T (T) and Verizon Wireless (VZ), sources say, the Wall Street Journal reports
A growing number of U.S. fund managers have placed wagers that Japan's long economic descent is set to worsen, targeting companies instead. The funds are buying credit-default swaps tied to debt of Japan's electronics makers, including Sony (SNE) and Panasonic (PC), and of commodity exporters, such as Nippon Paper Group and Kobe Steel (KBSTY), the Wall Street Journal reports
General Electric (GE) has emerged as the front runner to acquire Avio, a privately held airplane parts supplier, and will present its plans to Italian government officials today, sources say, Reuters reports
A U.S. judge allowed Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) to pursue claims the iPhone5 infringes its patents, while also allowing Apple (AAPL) to add claims that the Samsung Galaxy Note, Galaxy S III and the Jelly Bean operating system violate its patents, Reuters reports
Italian Finance Minister Vittorio Grilli expressed confidence that euro region finance heads will reach an agreement on aiding Greece when they meet next week, Bloomberg reports
United Continental Holdings (UAL) risks losing more customers, especially business travelers, after flight delays disrupted thousands of passengers in the airline’s third computer failure this year, Bloomberg reports


International Shipholding (ISH) terminates common stock offering
Proto Labs (PRLB) 3.6M share Secondary priced at $31.00
Ruckus Wireless (RKUS) 8.4M share IPO priced at $15.00
Targa Resources (NGLS) 9.5M share Secondary priced at $36.00


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