Frontrunning: February 26

  • Italy Political Vacuum to Extend for Weeks as Bargaining Begins (BBG)
  • Italian impasse rekindles eurozone jitters (FT)
  • On Spending Cuts, the Focus Shifts to How, Not If (WSJ)
  • Obama spending cuts strategy focused on waiting game (Reuters)
  • BOE’s Tucker Says He’s Open to Expanding Asset-Purchase Program (BBG)
  • Fed Faces Explaining Billion-Dollar Losses in Stress of QE3 Exit (BBG)
  • Carney warns over lack of trust in banks (FT) - here's a solution: moar bank bailouts!
  • Bundesbank tells France to stick to budget (FT)
  • China to tighten shadow banking rules (FT)
  • Saudis Step Up Help for Rebels in Syria With Croatian Arms (NYT)
  • After election win, Anastasiades faces Cyprus bailout quagmire (Reuters)
  • Just for the headline: Singapore’s Darwinian Budget Sparks Employer Ire (BBG)
  • Japan Considers MOF Currency Head Nakao for ADB Presidency (BBG)

Overnight Media Digest


* Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc director Rajat Gupta will have to reimburse the investment bank for more than $6.2 million in legal fees and expenses it paid in connection with his insider-trading case, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

* Next week, lawyers for Barclays Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, UBS AG and more than a dozen other banks still under investigation are expected to ask a federal-court judge to throw more than 30 lawsuits filed by borrowers, lenders and other plaintiffs, which seek class-action status.

* The Deepwater Horizon trial began on Monday with a flurry of finger pointing, as lawyers for BP Plc, Transocean Ltd , Halliburton Co, the U.S. federal government, Gulf Coast states and local businesses traded barbs over who is to blame for the deadly 2010 explosion and oil spill.

* Hewlett-Packard Co's board is investigating the company's flawed $11 billion acquisition of software firm Autonomy Corp Ltd, and has set up an informal committee to provide strategic advice to Chief Executive Meg Whitman.

* India's tax authorities are seeking billions of dollars from some of the world's biggest multinational companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Vodafone Group Plc saying that they haven't properly valued transactions with their Indian subsidiaries.

* Faced with public anger over immigration and high living costs, the Singapore government announced tighter curbs on the growth of its foreign workforce, pressuring businesses to cut their reliance on overseas labor and boost citizens' wages.

* Swedish furniture giant IKEA was drawn into Europe's growing horse-meat scandal after food inspectors in the Czech Republic found traces of horse meat in a batch of IKEA's signature meatballs.

* Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Google Inc together have stemmed Apple Inc's dominance in smartphones, but there is new tension in their partnership. Google executives worry that Samsung has become so big that it could flex its muscle to renegotiate their arrangement and eat into Google's lucrative mobile-ad business, people familiar with the matter said.



Spotify has teamed up with Ford Motor Co to give European drivers of Ford vehicles access to the music streaming service via voice and in-car controls, while AT&T said it would bring superfast mobile broadband to General Motors Co's vehicles from mid-2014.

James Murdoch said minority investments such as BSkyB , which News Corp tried to buy before a phone hacking scandal derailed the deal, are "unfinished business."

JPMorgan Chase & Co executives will announce a jump in international revenue and increased cross-selling between the commercial and investment banks on Tuesday.

The chairman of Barnes & Noble is proposing to buy the bricks-and-mortar stores of the bookseller in a move that would separate its digital and college book operations as a standalone company.

CME Group, the US derivatives exchange operator, and Deutsche Boerse have held talks in recent months at CME's behest.

Pearson has unveiled a 200 million pound global restructuring in a bid to free cash to invest in faster growing emerging markets and digital and services businesses.

Royalty Pharma, a private equity group that buys the rights to patented drugs, has made a bid to acquire Elan, the Dublin-based pharmaceutical business, in a deal worth $6.6 billion.

Reckitt Benckiser's stranglehold on the highly profitable anti-opiate addiction treatment market has been opened to competition, with the U.S. regulator giving the green light to two manufacturers to produce generic versions of its drug Suboxone.

President Obama warned that automatic spending cuts set to take effect in four days were already hurting the U.S. economy as he urged governors to make a last-ditch attempt to nudge Congress into a deal to stop them.

BP acted with "wilful misconduct" in the lead-up to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the U.S. government has alleged at the start of the trial over the accident.

Nick Clegg's leadership is being questioned at the top of his party as the scandal surrounding alleged sexual harassment by a senior Liberal Democrat peer engulfs the deputy prime minister.

George Osborne vowed RBS would become a UK-focused bank, as ministers step up pressure on the part-nationalised bank.

Two of Britain's biggest housebuilding companies -- Persimmon and Bovis Homes -- signalled a strong start to the spring selling season, with prices and sales nudging upwards, helped by government schemes to boost mortgage lending.



* BP Plc finally faced off in court on Monday against an army of U.S. federal and state prosecutors, lawyers and even its contract partners over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill three years ago, contending that it alone should not shoulder blame for the rig explosion - but negotiators were said to be working on multibillion-dollar settlement.

* The head of the German central bank said France should not give up trying to bring its government deficit below 3 percent of gross domestic product, adding to the criticism being heaped on President Francois Hollande of France from abroad.

* Mary Jo White, who has been nominated to lead the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, is tentatively scheduled to appear the week of March 11 before the Senate Banking Committee, which oversees the agency and other financial regulators.

* A U.S. federal judge on Monday ordered Rajat Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc director, to reimburse the bank for some legal expenses connected to his insider trading case.

* A jury said Johnson & Johnson should pay an American woman $3.4 million for failing to warn her doctor adequately of the potential dangers of a vaginal mesh implant made by the company's Ethicon subsidiary, and for misrepresenting the product in brochures.

* A fierce battle between the Government of Argentina and a group of hedge funds has led to the seizure of a naval ship and dragged in the United States Treasury. Now a U.S. federal appeals court is hearing the dispute, and how it rules could have a major impact on world debt markets.

* Hundreds of leading weight-loss company Weight Watchers International Inc's rank-and-file workers are waging an open rebellion that has management scrambling to improve working conditions.

* Private equity group Royalty Pharma's $6.6 billion buyout offer is too small of a premium to tempt Dublin-based pharmaceutical company Elan Corp Plc's management away from its own acquisition ambitions.




* Members of the committee that polices Senate expenses have called in two senators for private interviews, raising to six the number of senators whose spending of public funds has come into question this year.

* Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers launched a court challenge, accusing the federal government of violating the charter and international obligations with its decision last year to change health-care coverage for refugee claimants.

Reports in the business section:

* The Alberta government canceled its C$285 million ($277.8 million) funding of the carbon capture and storage project associated with the proposed Swan Hills Synfuels LP synthetic gas plant north of Edmonton.


* Ottawa announces plan to cut discretionary spending by C$4.9 billion ($4.8 billion). The government will spend an estimated C$252.5 billion ($246.1 billion) in 2013-14 - up from C$251.9 billion ($245.5 billion) last year


* Canada's big banks face more headwinds as earnings loom. After an epic spending spree, Canadians are finally putting away their wallets, depriving the banks of a profit wellspring of historic proportions.




-- Huayi Brothers Media Corp said the box office revenue of the movie Odyssey reached 990 million yuan ($158.81 million) in 15 days and it could get 196 million yuan in pre-tax profit.


-- The property tax will increase fiscal revenue for some cities, which could boost urbanisation, said Jia Kang, head of Research Institute of Fiscal Science, the Finance Ministry's think tank.

-- Although the People's Bank of China could continue to suspend the reverse repo this week, it does not mean China will tighten monetary policy as economy recovery is not solid.


-- Geely exported 10,000 cars in 2012, accounting for 21 to 22 percent of total sales in 2012, and forecast it could rise to 25 percent in 2013, its chairman Li Shufu said.


-- China's domestic credit rating agency Dagong Global Credit Rating warned debt levels in developed economies are approaching unsustainable levels, and a surge in money supply and currency depreciation could cause a currency crisis.


-- New regulations on service fees that banks charge for swiping credit and debit cards will be reduced by over 20 percent, resulting in net savings of 7.5 billion yuan ($1.20 billion).


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



Atlas Energy (ATLS) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
SanDisk (SNDK) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Telefonica (TEF) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Bernstein


Altria Group (MO) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Archer Daniels (ADM) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
Atmel (ATML) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
Colgate-Palmolive (CL) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
LSI Corp. (LSI) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
Texas Instruments (TXN) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Evercore


American Apparel (APP) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
CVR Refining (CVRR) initiated with a Buy at UBS
CVR Refining (CVRR) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Costco (COST) initiated with a Neutral at Cowen
Empire District Electric (EDE) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Horsehead Holding (ZINC) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant Capital
International Paper (IP) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Liberty Global (LBTYA) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Michael Kors (KORS) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
Nike (NKE) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
Palo Alto (PANW) initiated with a Market Perform at BMO Capital
Ralph Lauren (RL) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
TRI Pointe Homes (TPH) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
Target (TGT) initiated with a Neutral at Cowen
Tumi (TUMI) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
Under Armour (UA) initiated with a Neutral at Cowen
Wal-Mart (WMT) initiated with a Neutral at Cowen
lululemon (LULU) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen


CNH Global (CNH) board approved merger plan; no dividend recommended for 2013
ONEOK (OKE) lowered FY13 net income view to $350M-$400M from $405M-$455M
Home Depot (HD) announced $17B share repurchase authorization
S&P revised Rio Tinto (RIO) outlook to Negative; A-/A-2 ratings affirmed
Fitch rated Spectra Energy Capital's (SE) proposed offering 'BBB', outlook stable
Kaman (KAMN) sees FY13 Aerospace segment sales of $620M-$635M, up 6.7%-9.3%
Sinclair Broadcast (SBGI) to purchase the stock and broadcast assets of four TV stations owned by COX Media Group for $99M
Bayer's (BAYRY, ONXX) Stivarga approved by FDA for treatment of metastatic GIST
MasterCard (MA), VimpelCom (VIP) partnered to offer mobile payment solutions
UNS Energy (UNS) will not provide FY13 EPS due to uncertainty of the outcome
Vitamin Shoppe (VSI) sees FY13 comparable store sales growth in mid-single digits


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Home Depot (HD), Carriage Services (CSV), Kindred Healthcare (KND), Arbitron (ARB), Kaman (KAMN), Autodesk (ADSK), Stifel Financial (SF)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Vitamin Shoppe (VSI), Tower Group (TWGP), Titan International (TWI), VIVUS (VVUS), Caesar's Entertainment (CZR), Rosetta Resources (ROSE)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Shanda Games (GAME), Idenix (IDIX), AXT, Inc. (AXTI), URS Corporation (URS)


  • Google (GOOG) executives are concerned that Samsung (SSNLF) has become so big that it could flex its muscle to renegotiate their arrangement and eat into Google's lucrative mobile-ad business, sources say, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • As many investors remain skeptical about the long-term prospects for gold, some large hedge funds are starting to pay a more attention as the price has fallen. Paulson & Co. is among the biggest fans and is holding on to much of its gold stash. including the largest position in SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) exchange-traded fund, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Deutsche Boerse may not be in deal talks with CME Group Holdings (CME), but some analysts see a sale to CME as an attractive option at a time when profits are under pressure and scale is increasingly important, Reuters reports
  • Mizuho Financial Group (MFG) is looking to further expand overseas by acquiring either an Asian investment bank or a U.S. commercial bank over the next three years, Reuters reports
  • AT&T (T) plans to expand into the European market through mobile licenses for its home-watchdog products as the company looks for new growth beyond its wireless service, Bloomberg reports
  • With the government clamping down on alleged privacy violations by mobile applications, Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL) and scores of software developers are bracing for fines and rules that analysts say threaten to stifle growth, Bloomberg reports


Enbridge Energy Management (EEQ) announces offering of 9M listed shares
Mid-America Apartment (MAA) files to sell 4.5M shares of common stock
Radian Group (RDN) announces offering of 30M shares of common stock


Glenview Capital reports 6.79% passive stake in LifePoint Hospitals (LPNT)
Steelhead Partners reports 5.1% passive stake in Alpha Natural (ANR)
Caxton reports 5.4% passive stake in US Airways (LCC)


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