Frontrunning: March 14

  • Dimon’s ‘Harpooned’ Whale Resurfaces With Senate Findings (BBG)
  • Greece and lenders fall out over firings (FT) - as predicted 48 hours ago
  • Dallas Fed Cap Seen Shrinking U.S. Banking Units by Half (BBG) - which is why it will never happen
  • Xi elected Chinese president (Xinhua)
  • Russia Bond Auction Bombs as ING Awaits Central Bank Clarity (BBG)
  • U.S. and U.K. in Tussle Over Libor-manipulating Trader (WSJ)
  • Chinese firm puts millions into U.S. natural gas stations (Reuters)
  • In Rare Move, Apple Goes on the Defensive Against Samsung (WSJ)
  • Berlin Airport Fiasco Shows Chinks in German Engineering Armor (BBG)
  • Ex-PIMCO executive sues firm, says was fired for reporting misdeeds (Reuters)
  • Bank of Italy Tells Banks in the Red Not to Pay Bonuses, Dividends (Reuters)
  • UBS’s $26 Million Award for Orcel Dwarfs Pay of CEO Ermotti (BBG)
  • Kuroda urged to plan for BoJ board games (FT)


Overnight Media Digest


* The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is scrutinizing whether the daily setting of gold and silver prices in London is open to manipulation.

* A trans-Atlantic fight over the pursuit of Tom Hayes, in U.S. and British probes of suspected interest-rate manipulation, has created a rare rift in the relationship between prosecutors in the two countries, according to people familiar with the investigations.

* After months in decline, the U.S. dollar is powering higher against the world's major currencies, a reversal driven by the relative health of the U.S. economy that has strengthened the greenback's role at the center of the global financial system.

* Nabors Industries Ltd, the oil-drilling firm whose pay practices have long rankled some investors, is paying Chief Executive Anthony Petrello $60 million to give up potentially unlimited annual bonuses and tie his future compensation more closely to company performance.

* The San Diego family behind niche cable channel WealthTV is partnering with the Washington Times to launch a 24-hour conservative-leaning cable news network.

* Bankruptcy trusts paying claims to sickened victims of companies that once made dangerous asbestos products aren't "limitless, bottomless pits of money," according to Representative Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, who backs more scrutiny for their payment activities.

* SandRidge Energy Inc agreed to fire its chief executive or give control of its board to an activist shareholder, settling a closely watched proxy battle amid an outbreak of investor unrest in the oil patch.

* Andy Rubin stepped aside as head of Google Inc's android business, just as the internet giant faces the task of handling an increasingly complicated set of partnerships that made the mobile-phone software a success.

* A phone conversation last week between Ally Financial Inc and the Federal Reserve got testy when the auto lender said there was no excuse for the central bank's lack of transparency on the math behind its 'stress test'.



Qatar has begun talks with the UK government to invest up to 10 billion pounds ($14.92 billion) into key infrastructure projects.

Eurozone finance ministers will meet in Brussels later this week to arrive at a deal over a long-delayed bailout for Cyrpus even as differences on how to shrink the 17 billion euros bailout target persist.

UBS AG's Sergio Ermotti was the highest earner at UBS last year with a pay package that is expected to exceed 8 million swiss francs ($8.41 million), making him one of the highest paid chief executives in Europe.

British mobile operator Vodafone is set to end its long-running sponsorship of the Formula One team McLaren following a review of its marketing strategy UK's top banking supervisor said the European Union's planned bonus cap may drive up fixed salary costs at large UK banks by 500 million pounds annually and that the cap could undermine efforts to improve risk management.

Google Inc's Andy Rubin is stepping down as head of the company's Android division to take up an unspecified role in the company, the latest in a series of sudden management changes.

Blackstone Group borrowed $2 billion from banks to buy distressed homes in the United States it intends to rent out.

Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook must sit for a deposition in the U.S. government's lawsuit against the company over alleged price-fixing in the e-book market.



* A federal judge has dealt a blow to the private equity industry, refusing to dismiss a lawsuit that accused firms of colluding to drive down the prices of corporate takeovers during the buyout boom, setting the stage for a possible trial in the five-year-old case.

* SandRidge Energy Inc said that it would expand its board by four seats, giving the new positions to TPG-Axon Capital. The company also said that it also would decide by June 30 whether to remove its chief executive, Tom Ward.

* Congressional investigators have summoned current and former top executives of JPMorgan Chase & Co, along with three regulators, to testify at a hearing on Friday on the bank's multibillion-dollar trading loss.

* Across the United States, cities are showing a renewed interest in taking over the electricity business from private utilities, reflecting intensifying concerns about climate change, responses to power disruptions and a desire to pump more renewable energy into the grid.

* The New Mexico company, Valley Meat, seeking to become the first slaughter house for horses in the United States since 2007 drew complaints over a two-year period from federal inspectors and state regulators over its disposal of remains when it processed cattle for beef.

* Evaluations that Boeing Co conducted while the 787 jet was in development proved to be far off the mark in predicting what would happen when the plane was in use.

* An obscure tax strategy is the latest technique that private equity firms are using to extract money from their companies well after completing an initial public offering.

* Partly driven by an oversupply of cheaper panels from China, the U.S. domestic solar market had its best year in 2012, with the growth in installations outpacing that of the global market, according to an annual report by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research to be released on Thursday.




* Justin Trudeau has already been anointed the next leader of the Liberal Party by one of his main rivals in the race, all the while winning a crucial extension in his efforts to allow supporters to register for next month's vote.

* Police have searched the Montreal home of a former executive who ran SNC Lavalin Group Inc's international construction division, extending a probe of foreign bribery allegations to include an earlier era of the firm's leadership.

* The Parti Québécois government is poised to launch an offensive against Ottawa as part of a "sovereignist governance" strategy adopted by cabinet. Alexandre Cloutier, Minister for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs, said the attack will be on the federal government's reforms of employment insurance, which the PQ contends are especially harmful to seasonal workers in Quebec.

Reports in the business section:

* BlackBerry announced an order of 1 million new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, its largest single order ever, as the company looks to the devices to drive a much-needed turnaround.

* Bell Media Inc wants to redirect millions of dollars in new program funding toward the creation of new dramas and comedies, citing a lack of interest and limited audiences for "high-end performing and visual arts programming."

* Two years after a massive earthquake and the resulting tsunami took 16,000 lives and washed 1.5 million tonnes of debris into the ocean, Japan has given Canada C$1 million ($973,500) to help clean up the British Columbia coast.


* The British Columbia Medical Association and the provincial government are teaming up to offer a big carrot to doctors to get them to practice in several rural areas. Family doctors and specialists who commit to three years in one of 17 designated communities will get a special payment of C$100,000.

* The cost of cancelling two gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga in Ontario is closer to C$828 million, more than three times what the governing Liberals insist taxpayers will bear, an energy expert said on Wednesday.

* Toronto's lobbyist registrar says the city government should tighten the rules around when and where lobbying can occur. Linda Gehrke wants council to restrict lobbying to regular business hours - 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. - or during council or committee meetings.


* Railroads such as Warren Buffett's Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC are keeping oil flowing from the Bakken in North Dakota to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, as the White House deliberates on the fate of TransCanada Corp's petroleum artery.

* The founder and executive chairman of Fisker Automotive Inc resigned from the cash-strapped "green car" startup on Wednesday, saying he was at odds with the automaker's top executives over business strategy.

* Canada's Northwest Territories is appealing to Asian investors to boost oil and natural gas drilling after reaching an agreement with the federal government over control of resources, the region's leader said.




-- The Shanghai Pudong Development Bank reported a net profit of 34.2 billion yuan ($6 billion) in 2012, an increase of 25 percent from a year ago.


-- China's Ministry of Railways said railway fixed asset investment for the first two months of the year came to 37.6 billion yuan ($6 billion), up 26 percent and railway infrastructure investment came to 25.1 billion yuan, up 21 percent.

-- The China unit of Hang Seng Bank, which is 60 percent owned by HSBC Group, will get 2 billion yuan ($322 million) of capital from its parent to play an active role in investing in Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor, Qianhai business zone, and cross-border RMB business, said Guan Yanping, the vice president and head of the bank's China unit.


-- Shanghai may consider expanding credit to small-medium enterprises by way of a certified financial broker scheme, the paper reported, quoting experts from the municipal government. The scheme suggested by a government research team will allow financial brokers to gain certification to provide their services and allow the government to regulate the industry.


-- Communist party officials should avoid fraternizing closely with business contacts and form an alliance of interest lest the officials lose their independence and self-discipline.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 Am Market Snapshot



Air Lease (AL) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Boston Private Financial (BPFH) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Johnson Controls (JCI) upgraded to Buy from Outperform at CLSA
VMware (VMW) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital


AerCap Holdings (AER) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Airgas (ARG) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley (AMZN) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Amdocs (DOX) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer
Con-way (CNW) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
E-Trade (ETFC) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Eaton (ETN) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Geron (GERN) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Hot Topic (HOTT) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Lufkin (LUFK) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust
NextEra Energy (NEE) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Atlantic Equities
Progressive (PGR) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Sasol (SSL) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Vera Bradley (VRA) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair
Walter Investment (WAC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette
Western Asset Mortgage (WMC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Compass Point


Abiomed (ABMD) initiated with an Outperform at William Blair
Beazer Homes (BZH) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
D.R. Horton (DHI) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
HeartWare (HTWR) initiated with a Market Perform at William Blair
KB Home (KBH) initiated with a Neutral at Sterne Agee
Lennar (LEN) initiated with a Neutral at Sterne Agee
M.D.C. Holdings (MDC) initiated with a Neutral at Sterne Agee
Meritage Homes (MTH) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
PulteGroup (PHM) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
QuickLogic (QUIK) initiated with a Buy at Roth Capital
Ryland Group (RYL) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
Thoratec (THOR) initiated with a Market Perform at William Blair
Toll Brothers (TOL) initiated with an Underperform at Sterne Agee
Wells Fargo (WFC) initiated with a Market Perform at BMO Capital


Google (GOOG) to retire Google Reader July 1, end support for BlackBerry (BBRY) voice app
Google signed agreement with Envista to enable IRIS for Google Maps
Relational, the California State Teachers' Retirement System said Timken's (TKR) structure impairs share price
Men's Wearhouse (MW) hired Jefferies & Co. to evaluate strategic alternatives for K&G
American Safety Insurance (ASI) exploring strategic alternatives, possible sale
Target (TGT) sees sale of credit card portfolio to TD Bank (TD) lowering adjusted EPS for 12 months
eBay's (EBAY) PayPal acquired Duff Research, terms not disclosed


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
NovaBay (NBY), Coldwater Creek (CWTR), Flotek (FTK), Vera Bradley (VRA)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Men's Wearhouse (MW), Northern Tier (NTI), Artesian Resources (ARTNA)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
ChemoCentryx (CCXI)


  • The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is scrutinizing whether prices are being manipulated in the world's largest gold market, sources say, and is looking at the setting of prices in London, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Following months of decline, the U.S. dollar is powering higher against the world's major currencies, a reversal driven by the relative health of the U.S. economy that has strengthened the dollar’s role at the center of the global financial system, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Retail sales expanded 1.1% in February, the fastest clip in five months, the latest sign of momentum for an economy facing headwinds from higher taxes and pricier gasoline, Reuters reports
  • The SEC agreed with four of the country's largest banks--JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), Morgan Stanley (MS)--that they will not have to hold shareholder votes at upcoming annual meetings over whether the institutions are too big, Reuters reports
  • The U.S. International Trade Commission is considering how much consumers and the U.S. economy would be hurt should it ban imports of Apple (AAPL) iPhones and iPads over a patent held by Samsung Electronics (SSNLF), Bloomberg reports
  • A proposal by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas to limit government support for banks could force JPMorgan (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) to reduce their U.S. consumer and commercial-lending units by more than half, Bloomberg reports


ANADIGICS (ANAD) files to sell common stock
Cerus (CERS) files to sell common stock
Corporate Office Properties (OFC) files to sell 3.9M shares of common stock
Delcath Systems (DCTH) files $50M at the market equity offering
DiamondRock (DRH) files to sell 7.21M shares of common stock for holders
E-Trade (ETFC) announces plans to sell 27.39M shares of common stock for holder
Hersha (HT) files to sell 2.95M Class A common shares for holder
SS&C Technologies (SSNC) files to sell 7.75M shares of common stock for holders
U.S. Silica Holdings (SLCA) 8.5M share Secondary priced at $22.00
Vipshop Holding  (VIPS) 7.2M share Secondary priced at $24.00


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