Frontrunning: February 13

  • Obama Paints Wider Role for Government in Middle Class Revival (BBG)
  • Obama to Seek a New Trade Deal With EU (WSJ)... or this is strawman why 2016 GDP will be higher
  • Mobile phone sales fall for the first time since 2009 (Telegraph)
  • Sequester Looms, No Deal in Sight (WSJ)
  • Neither US party swallows a compromise (FT)
  • Embattled Economies Cling to Euro (WSJ)
  • For China, Spending Is Harder Than It Looks (WSJ)
  • Bank of England's Sir Mervyn King says recovery in sight (BBC) - just a little more inflation first
  • G7 fails to defuse currency tensions (FT)
  • Japanese Leader Urges Firms to Boost Wages (WSJ) - so does the US one
  • Fed Bank Chiefs Back Money-Fund Overhaul (WSJ), or force everyone out of MMFs and into stocks
  • Comcast’s NBC Purchase Pushes Roberts Into Entertainment (BBG)
  • Tesla CEO Clashes With New York Times Over Model S Review (BBG)

Overnight Media Digest


* U.S. President Barack Obama outlined an ambitious agenda in his State of the Union address Tuesday that included raising the minimum wage, increasing spending on infrastructure, attacking climate change and passing gun-control legislation.

* Comcast Corp is buying General Electric Co's 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion, giving the cable operator full ownership of the film and television giant much sooner than expected.

* Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook fired back against hedge-fund mogul David Einhorn, defending the company's distribution of cash to its shareholders and calling a recent lawsuit filed by Einhorn's firm "a silly sideshow."

* Dell Inc's second-largest outside investor T.Rowe Price Group Inc said it opposed the proposed $24.4 billion buyout saying the proposal undervalues Dell.

* In the latest shake-up at UBS, onetime investment-bank chief Carsten Kengeter is expected to resign in favor of Samuel Molinaro, who spearheaded the push to sell Bear Stearns in one of the financial crisis's opening acts.

* Intel Corp confirmed plans to offer a paid Internet video service and accompanying set-top box, an unusual gamble for a chip maker that has rarely marketed directly to consumers.

* WellPoint Inc named Joseph Swedish as its new chief executive, unexpectedly turning to a hospital-industry veteran to lead the second-largest U.S. health insurer through the challenging implementation of the health-care overhaul.



Comcast Corp said it would buy General Electric's remaining 49 percent equity stake in their NBCUniversal joint venture for about $16.7 billion.

Barclays' new chief executive pledged a fresh course for the British lender, axing at least 3,700 jobs and pruning its investment bank as he seeks to rebuild its reputation and boost profitability after a series of scandals. Carsten Kengeter, UBS's former investment bank chief executive, will leave in a management overhaul of the Swiss bank's newly formed non-core unit, according to an internal memo.

Goldman Sachs is set to lose one of its veteran dealmakers with the retirement of Henry Cornell as vice-chairman of its merchant banking division, according to an internal memo.

Italian police arrested the head of defence group Finmeccanica SpA on Tuesday on a warrant alleging that he paid bribes to win an Indian contract. Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple Inc, said the company was considering ways to return its $137 billion cash pile to investors. Cook dismissed the lawsuit filed by activist shareholder David Einhorn as a "silly sideshow".

Dell Inc's third-largest shareholder, T. Rowe Price Group, joined a growing number of investors putting pressure on Michael Dell and his partner Silver Lake to sweeten their $24.4 billion buyout offer for the PC maker.

U.S. regulators have approved the $15.1 billion takeover of Canadian oil and gas company Nexen Inc by China's state-owned CNOOC Ltd



* U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to fight for a higher minimum wage, more government investment in schools and clean energy, and deficit reduction through spending cuts and tax increases, in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

* Comcast Corp agreed to pay $16.7 billion to acquire General Electric Co's remaining 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal. The deal accelerated a sales process that was expected to take several more years.

* T.Rowe Price says it opposes the $24.4 billion takeover bid for Dell Inc as it currently stands, while Southeastern Asset Management has taken additional steps to fight the management buyout. Together they control nearly 13 percent of Dell's shares - the biggest holders of Dell stock outside of Michael Dell himself - and the move signals growing discontent with the transaction.

* Carsten Kengeter, the former head of the investment bank of UBS, is resigning from the Swiss banking giant.

* Nexen Inc said it received the last regulatory approval for its $15 billion sale to China's state-owned CNOOC Ltd, after the Obama administration declared the deal free from national security concerns.

* Ryanair Holdings Plc, the discount European airline, said it planned to appeal should regulators block its bid for Aer Lingus Group.

* WellPoint Inc, one of the nation's largest health insurers, said it had chosen an experienced hospital executive to lead it through sweeping changes created by the federal health care overhaul law.




* Ontario's opposition Progressive Conservatives have offered up a sweeping new road map for post-secondary education, advocating teaching-only professors, higher tuition fees for "elite programs," and a "colleges first" culture aimed at getting graduates jobs.

* The chair of Toronto's public works committee has ordered a review after more than 100 "selfish" drivers delayed streetcars by parking in their paths after last week's snowfall.

Reports in the business section:

* It will take until at least 2017 before TransCanada Corp's much-vaunted plan to take oil across the country can take Alberta oil to Eastern Canada, a lengthy timeline that casts into question the role of that project in easing current pricing pain for the oil patch.

* Mold-Masters Ltd, the innovative maker of injection moulding equipment for the plastics industry, has been sold to Ohio-based Milacron LLC for C$975 million. Mold-Masters was controlled by 3i Group PLC, a British private equity firm for the past five years.


* Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she's prepared to testify before a legislative committee about the controversial cancellation of two gas plants. She says it's important that the information about the cancellations - which will cost taxpayers at least C$230 million - be released. She also noted that she asked the auditor general to add the canceled gas plant in Oakville to his current probe of the Mississauga project, which was canceled during the 2011 election campaign.


* Financial leaders of the world's richest countries, including Canada, are talking tough to emerging nations, warning their efforts to shore up domestic economies could lead to a currency war and possibly derail a global recovery.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



AMN Healthcare (AHS) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust
Avon Products (AVP) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at UBS
Comcast (CMCSA) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Groupon (GRPN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee
Molina Healthcare (MOH) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Navios Acquisition (NNA) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Philip Morris (PM) upgraded to Neutral from Reduce at Nomura
Protective Life (PL) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
UTi Worldwide (UTIW) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Western Union (WU) upgraded to Underperform from Sell at CLSA


Bankrate (RATE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Clearwire (CLWR) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Cliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Cliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Fossil (FOSL) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital
Gartner (IT) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Heinz (HNZ) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Insperity (NSP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust
Meredith (MDP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Roth Capital
Pike Electric (PIKE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
Rexnord (RXN) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Ruckus Wireless (RKUS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
Sapient (SAPE) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at First Analysis
Sapient (SAPE) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair
Sapient (SAPE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup


Darden (DRI) initiated with an Underperform at CLSA
Fortune Brands (FBHS) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
GreenHunter Energy (GRH) initiated with a Buy at Wunderlich
Piedmont Natural Gas (PNY) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Pioneer Natural (PXD) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
SandRidge Energy (SD) initiated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
TranS1 (TSON) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
USG (USG) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays


Comcast (CMCSA) to acquire GE's (GE) 49% stake in NBCUniversal for $16.7B
Comcast said it plans to repurchase $2B in stock in 2013
GE raised share buyback plan to $35B, has $23B remaining
eBay (EBAY) CEO Donahoe: U.S. consumer spending feels "stable," CNBC reports
J. C. Penney (JCP) increased credit facility availability to $1.85B
Moody's revised outlook on Citibank (C) to stable from negative
FMC Technologies (FTI) sees FY13 EPS $2.05-$2.25, consensus $2.36
Cliffs Natural (CLF) sees healthy end markets for products in 2013
Western Union (WU) sees FY13 constant currency revenue down low single digits
Ball Corp. (BLL) to close Illinois plant, lay off 245 employees, take $21M charge
Ibrutinib (JNJ, PCYC) received two oncology breakthrough therapy designations from FDA
ING Group (ING) to cut 2,400 employees by 2015


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Pioneer Energy (PES), Calpine (CPN), Valmont (VMI), Willis Group (WSH), Comcast (CMCSA), Higher One (ONE), Seattle Genetics (SGEN), Service Corp. (SCI), Western Union (WU), Netgear (NTGR)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Euronet (EEFT), Trulia (TRLA), Genesee & Wyoming (GWR), Blue Nile (NILE), Clearwire (CLWR), Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
LivePerson (LPSN), TranSwitch (TXCC), Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD)


  • The most explosive rally in Japanese stocks in years is setting the stage for Japanese companies to cash in through more IPOs. Suntory Holdings Ltd. could lead this year’s list, raising up to $5B via a listing of its core food and beverage unit this summer, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • The leaders of all 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are backing a move to overhaul the $2.7T money-market industry, an unusual joint action likely to fuel debate about a group of funds whose troubles threatened the stability of the financial system during the 2008 credit crisis, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • The U.S. stock market is unlikely to take much direction from Obama’s State of the Union, although the president was less combative in his tone than some on Wall Street expected.
  • The speech provided little in the way of guidance as to whether the White House and Congress will come to a deal to head off large spending cuts that are set to come into effect as of March, Reuters reports
  • Sales of mobile phones worldwide declined in 2012 for the first time since 2009 as consumers shunned cheaper feature phones, says research firm Gartner (IT). Total worldwide mobile sales to end users was down 1.7% to 1.75B units. Samsung (SSNLF) and Apple (AAPL) continued to dominate the market, with Samsung selling 385M phones in 2012, of which 53.5% were smartphones, with Apple selling 130M smartphones, Reuters reports
  • Deutsche Bank (DB) expects that Saudi Arabia will soon allow foreigners to invest directly in local company shares, joining hedge fund Passport Capital in predicting the market is set to open, Bloomberg reports
  • The cheapest Apple (AAPL) shares in a dozen years are encouraging some of the world’s largest investors to bet that the stock will rebound after losing 33% of its value on concerns of slowing profit growth, Bloomberg reports


BioMed Realty (BMR) files to sell 11.5M shares of common stock
Cliffs Natural (CLF) files to sell 9M common shares
Net Element (NETE) files to sell 4.34M shares of common stock for holders
Sensata (ST) announces offering of 15M ordinary shares by holders
eGain (EGAN) files to sell common stock


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