Frontrunning: February 14

  • John Kerry just got happier: Berkshire Hathaway, 3G Buying Heinz for $72.50 a Share, or $28 Billion - ~20% premium to last price (CNBC)
  • US Airways, AMR to Merge (WSJ) - can thousands of workers spell "synergies"?
  • Draghi, Carney show ascent of "whatever it takes" central bankers (BBG) ... to preserve the Goldman way of life
  • Euro zone economy falls deeper than expected into recession (Reuters)
  • Soros has made $1 billion betting against the Japanese Yen (WSJ)
  • Ex-Analyst at SAC Felt Pressured for Tips  (WSJ)
  • Desalination Seen Booming at 15% a Year as World Water Dries Up (BBG)
  • China's 'Wall' Hits Business (WSJ)
  • Israel publishes some details as Australian spy mystery deepens (Reuters)
  • Tata Motors Profit Falls 52% (WSJ)
  • AB InBev Will Sell Corona Unit to Salvage Modelo Takeover (BBG)
  • "Blade Runner" Pistorius charged with murdering girlfriend (Reuters)
  • In Ohio and beyond, Obama sees model for manufacturing revival (Reuters)

Overnight Media Digest


* A former analyst at hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors told federal criminal investigators that he was pressured by his manager to gather inside information on technology stocks, according to people familiar with the briefing.

* The boards of American Airlines' parent AMR Corp and US Airways Group Inc late Wednesday separately voted to approve a merger that would create the world's largest airline, said people familiar with the matter.

* Several banks planned to withdraw from the panel that sets a key benchmark interest rate but scrapped the idea after the UK's financial regulator strongly warned them against doing so, according to people familiar with the matter.

* Time Warner Inc is in talks to divest most of its Time Inc magazine group in a deal with Meredith Corp, said people familiar with the situation, potentially ending its long reign as the biggest U.S. magazine publisher.

* The U.S. Treasury said it opposes plans by 11 European Union countries to impose a small tax on trades in shares, bonds and derivatives.

* Best Buy Co founder Richard Schulze is weighing whether to scrap a plan to take over the struggling electronics chain and instead line up investors to take a minority stake in the company, people familiar with the matter said.

* Two test flights of the Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner have so far failed to replicate or identify the cause of the battery malfunctions that grounded the jet, leaving the company increasingly focused on some low-tech interim fixes, according to government and industry officials.



Time Warner is in talks to sell majority of its Time Inc and IPC media magazine businesses to Meredith Corp for as much as $2.4 billion to $3 billion.

Google Inc struck back on Wednesday against BT Group Plc, filing patent lawsuits against the British telecommunications group more than a year after BT launched its own lawsuit against Google.

Italy's Finmeccanica promoted company insider Alessandro Pansa to run the defence group as CEO after the arrest of its head for alleged bribery led India to suspend a $750-million deal to buy helicopters.

Vodafone is considering a bid for Germany's Kabel Deutschland to expand the UK-based mobile company's services in Europe's biggest economy.

British soft drinks company Britvic has slammed UK's Office of Fair Trading after the monopoly watchdog referred Britvic's merger with Scottish peer AG Barr to the competition commission.

Top oil trading house Vitol plans to offer C$192 million ($192 million) for Canada-listed oil and gas group Sterling Resources , to gain a foothold in the North Sea oil and gas sector.

The European Union and the United States have vowed to complete a vast transatlantic free trade pact within two years.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is planning to use a computerised tool that will automatically trigger alerts regarding suspicious accounting at publicly traded companies.



* The boards of US Airways Group Inc and American Airlines agreed on Wednesday to merge, paving the way for the creation of the nation's largest airline.

* Time Warner Inc is in early discussions with the Meredith Corp to put most of Time Inc's magazines - including People, InStyle and Real Simple - into a separate, publicly traded company that would also include Meredith titles like Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal.

* Despite opposition from nearly all Senate Republicans, President Obama asked the Senate on Wednesday to confirm two Democrats whose recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court last month.

* U.S. federal prosecutors are nearing a decision whether to bring criminal charges against Michael Steinberg, a longtime portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, the giant hedge fund owned by billionaire investor Steven Cohen.

* A group of health advocates and public health officials from major cities around the United States are asking the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of caloric sweeteners in sodas and other beverages, arguing that the scientific consensus is that the level of added sugars in those products are unsafe.

* The U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday called on lawmakers to give it the flexibility to change its business model to keep itself solvent, saying that its debt could reach $45 billion by 2017 if Congress does not act.




* Some expenses claimed by Senator Pamela Wallin are "very unusual", according to the senior Conservative responsible for Senate spending. Wallin is facing an audit of expenses including more than C$350,000 ($349,100) in travel over a period of 27 months - an average of nearly C$13,000 per month.

* Ontario's horse-racing track operator says it's being forced to slash hundreds of positions to keep pace with a reduction in revenue. Woodbine Entertainment Group says it's cutting 109 salaried jobs at its Woodbine and Mohawk racetracks.

Reports in the business section:

* A new player from Canada's East Coast is rolling the dice on the high-stakes game of wireless communications. Eastlink, a unit of Bragg Communications Inc, will become the latest upstart to wade into the cut-throat wireless market on Friday, when it begins selling services at its flagship Halifax store.

* The spectre of the United States and Europe joining forces in a sweeping free-trade union ratchets up pressure on Canada to conclude its own transatlantic deal in the next couple of months. After nearly three years of negotiations, Canada and the European Union are close to reaching a final agreement.


* Ottawa Premier Kathleen Wynne says she wasn't involved in the costly decision to relocate a Mississauga gas plant during the 2011 election, even though she was co-chair of the Liberal campaign. That's what she'll tell a legislative committee looking into the gas plants controversy if she's asked to testify, she said on Wednesday.


* Toronto-based miner Kinross Gold Corp reported a multi-billion dollar net loss in its fourth quarter after taking a C$3.2 billion impairment charge, mostly on its Tasiast mine in Mauritania.


Fly on the Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



Aruba Networks (ARUN) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Capella Education (CPLA) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Comcast (CMCSA) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
EZchip (EZCH) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Ingram Micro (IM) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Needham
Leap Wireless (LEAP) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Nabors Industries (NBR) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Pioneer Energy (PES) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James
Premiere Global (PGI) upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James
Rackspace (RAX) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
ServiceNow (NOW) upgraded to Buy from Sell at UBS
SourceFire (FIRE) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
Vanda Pharmaceuticals (VNDA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Verizon (VZ) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James


CenturyLink (CTL) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Dell (DELL) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Brean Capital
Dell (DELL) downgraded to Market Perform from Strong Buy at Raymond James
Delta Air Lines (DAL) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Evercore
Edison International (EIX) downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies
Entergy (ETR) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at UBS
Hyatt Hotels (H) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
Itron (ITRI) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Brean Capital
Itron (ITRI) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Medtronic (MDT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Lazard Capital
PartnerRe (PRE) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Progressive (PGR) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Time Warner Cable (TWC) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
TripAdvisor (TRIP) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley


Summit Hotel Properties (INN) initiated with a Buy at Cantor
Tractor Supply (TSCO) initiated with a Buy at UBS


AMR Corp. (AAMRQ), US Airways (LCC) boards approved merger with combined equity value of $11B
Pershing Square's Ackman said product and pricing is improving at J.C. Penney (JCP)
Artio Global (ART) to be acquired by Aberdeen Asset Management for $2.75 per share
Cisco (CSCO) CEO Chambers: Tone among business, political leaders is “cautious optimism”
Newfield Exploration (NFX) to pursue strategic alternatives for international assets
Zillow (Z) powering real estate information for Google Now (GOOG) search
CenturyLink (CTL) board authorized $2B in share repurchases
Cut dividend to 54c from 72.5c per share
Endeavour (END) to review strategic alternatives including possible sale or merger
Ingram Micro (IM) sees 2013 revenue growth in low teens
QIAGEN (QGEN) entered into collaboration agreement with Eli Lilly (LLY), terms not disclosed
Vornado (VNO) to sell San Jose, CA power center for $203M


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Encana (ECA), MetLife (MET), EOG Resources (EOG), Kinross Gold (KGC), Intrepid Potash (IPI), NVIDIA (NVDA), Whole Foods (WFM), NetApp (NTAP), Cisco (CSCO)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Liberty Global (LBTYA), Avis Budget (CAR), Ensign Group (ENSG), Enbridge Energy (EEP)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Avis Budget (CAR), Premiere Global (PGI), CAI International (CAP)


  • Some major U.S. hedge-fund investors have made billions betting against the yen, exploiting Japan's determination to weaken its currency and boost its economy. George Soros has scored gains of about $1B on the trade since November, sources say. Others include David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital, Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC and Kyle Bass's Hayman Capital Management LP, investors say, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • A number of  banks planned to withdraw from the panel that sets the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, but dropped the idea after the U.K.'s  Financial Services Authority warned them against doing so, sources say. The FSA sent letters to some banks, including France's BNP Paribas (BNPQY) and the Netherlands' Rabobank Group, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) revised terms of its $20.1B takeover of Grupo Modelo (GPMCF) to overcome U.S. objections that it would have restricted competition. The company said it agreed to sell Modelo's Piedras Negras brewery next to the U.S. border to Constellation (STZ) and grant it perpetual rights for Corona and other Modelo brands in the U.S., at a cost of $2.9B, Reuters reports
  • Nestle (NSRGY) expects 2013 to be as challenging as last year as the food group reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales growth in Asia and the Americas, Reuters reports
  • Dell (DELL) is scheduling meetings with shareholders to assess their demands for getting its $24.4B buyout done and also preparing a public response to critics of the deal, sources say, Bloomberg reports
  • U.S. realtors and mortgage bankers hope President Obama’s call for streamlining mortgage rules will lend new momentum to efforts to prevent imposing a strict minimum down payment for home loans, Bloomberg reports


ARMOUR Residential (ARR) announces 65M share common stock offering
Limoneira (LMNR) 1.8M share Secondary priced at $18.50
LyondellBasell (LYB) announces 25M ordinary shares offering by holders
Nielsen (NLSN) announces 35M share common stock offering by holders
Pioneer Natural (PXD) announces 8M share common stock offering
Procera Networks (PKT) files to sell 825K shares of common stock for holders
Walter Investment (WAC) files to sell 891K shares of common stock for holders