Frontrunning: April 2

  • The revolving door continues: Mary Schapiro joins Promontory Financial (WSJ)
  • First Peek at Health-Law Cost (WSJ)
  • Abe warns over Japan inflation target: warns 2% inflation target may not be reached within two years (FT)
  • BoJ's Kuroda tested by divided board (Reuters)
  • Nanjing poultry butcher fourth person infected with H7N9 bird flu (SCMP)
  • What time do top CEOs wake up? (Guardian)
  • Cyprus Seeks More Time to Meet Targets in Talks With Troika (BBG)
  • Investors Ignore Negativity at Their Peril (WSJ)
  • Apple bows to Chinese pressure (FT)
  • One can only laugh: North Korea to restart nuclear reactor in weapons bid (Reuters)
  • Visa Demand Jumps (WSJ)
  • Bloomberg's refutation of Stockman: yes, yes but... look over there, stocks are up! (BBG)
  • Goldman's senior metals trader Evans leaves bank (Reuters)


Overnight Media Digest


* Apple Inc issued an apology letter signed by Chief Executive Tim Cook that vowed to revamp aspects of its customer-service policies in China after more than two weeks of pointed attacks by government-run media.

* Goldman Sachs Group Inc is launching its new Liberty Harbor Capital LLC unit, a specialty finance company to invest in high-risk debt primarily of midsize U.S. companies with no credit ratings.

* A U.S. federal judge has signed off on the smaller of two insider-trading settlements by hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors LP, even as one of its most senior employees faces criminal charges in the matter, according to court documents.

* Promontory Financial Group LLC is expected to announce on Tuesday that it has hired Mary Schapiro, who was chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for nearly four years.

* Health insurers such as Humana Inc stand to get significantly more money for running Medicare Advantage plans next year than they had feared, according to new U.S. government rates announced late Monday.

* With fewer U.S. farmers planting rice, food companies like cereal maker Kellogg Co or candy company Mars Inc could be forced to look further afield to secure supplies.

* This week, Las Vegas Sands Corp will face the first of two lawsuits that seek cuts of the hefty profits the casino company has earned in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

* Tesla Motors Inc said it would report a first-quarter profit, sending the luxury electric-car maker's shares surging 16 percent on Monday.



Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook has apologised to Chinese consumers over the company's after-sales service following intense pressure from Chinese state media.

U.S. banks are considering whether to continue basing their EMEA businesses in London with an EU-wide bonus cap set to take effect next year.

Vodafone has accused the Indian government of "contradictory and inconsistent" treatment in a spat over the renewal of spectrum licences.

Investors remain far from convinced following an overhaul of rail franchising last week in the wake of the controversy around the West Coast contract.

Nasdaq OMX Group Inc said it will buy the eSpeed electronic trading platform for as much as $1.2 billion in cash and deferred stock from BGC Partners Inc.

Prosecutors have opened an inquiry into an accident at Anglo American's port in northern Brazil which could lead to possible fines.



* Apple Inc's chief executive, Tim Cook, took the unusual step on Monday of apologizing to Chinese customers over the company's warranty policy and said he would improve customer service in the country.

* Nasdaq OMX Group Inc, the parent company of the Nasdaq stock exchange, said on Tuesday that it would buy the electronic bond-trading platform eSpeed for $750 million, amid consolidation in the industry.

* Blackstone Group LP told Dell Inc that it would not even consider bidding unless Dell offered to pay the firm's expenses, up to a whopping $25 million.

* American Airlines, owned by AMR Corp, said on Monday that it had settled lawsuits with the online travel agency Orbitz over the agency's display of information about American flights and fares.

* A U.S. federal appeals court on Monday upheld a ruling in favor of Aereo, the start-up Internet service that streams stations without compensating them. Broadcasters, including CBS Corp, Comcast Corp and Walt Disney Co, filed two suits against Aereo more than a year ago.

* A U.S. federal bankruptcy judge ruled on Monday that the city of Stockton, California, was eligible for court protection from its creditors, clearing the way for a battle over whether public workers' pensions can be cut when the city they work for goes bankrupt.

* Manufacturing expanded at the slowest rate in three months in March, suggesting the U.S. economy lost some momentum at the end of the first quarter as the effects of tighter fiscal policy started kicking in.

* Eleven partners at the law firm Bingham McCutchen who worked in the firm's highly regarded securities-enforcement practice resigned on Monday to join Sidley & Austin.

* A U.S. federal judge ruled that online music reseller ReDigi's secondary market for digital music infringes the copyrights controlled by record companies.




* As clean-up crews scraped up the gooey Alberta heavy crude that fouled a small Arkansas town after a pipeline rupture, anti-Keystone XL groups said the spill underscores the dangers posed by the controversial project to get Canadian oil to refineries on the Texas coast.

* Ottawa's plan to clamp down on mortgage securitization will make it harder for smaller lenders to compete with big banks, increasing their costs - and potentially raising mortgage rates, players in the sector say.

Reports in the business section:

* Price discounts on western Canada's heavy oil have narrowed dramatically, as producers move record amounts of crude by rail in order to sidestep pipeline bottlenecks and reach thirsty U.S. refineries.

* The Canada Revenue Agency has been given controversial new powers to go after Canadians who participate in tax shelters that involve donations to charity.

The CRA has been cracking down on these types of shelters in recent years, disallowing more than C$5 billion ($4.92 billion)in donations, penalizing more than 160,000 taxpayers and revoking the charitable status of dozens of organizations.


* Canada's largest provincial labor federation is facing a pension fund deficit, and accounting and solvency experts suggest the Ontario Federation of Labour may need to lay off workers or even trim employees' benefits if the situation doesn't improve.

* A public "dirty war" of competing corruption allegations involving the Palestinian Authority has reached Canada with a request from Ramallah for Ottawa's help in seizing assets here of a whistleblower convicted of embezzlement there but currently a fugitive.

Muhammad Rashid was a key financial and economic adviser to Yasser Arafat and former head of the Palestinian Investment Fund, but since the long-time Palestinian leader's death, he has been on the wrong side of the authority's leadership.


* The shutdown of an ExxonMobil Corp pipeline carrying Alberta crude from Illinois to the U.S. Gulf Coast has widened West Texas intermediate oil's discount to London's Brent, while raising the prospect of more delays in getting growing oil sands production to refineries in Texas and Louisiana.




-- China faces a strong pressure in terms of foreign funds' inflow as economy growth in developed countries of the west could hover around a low level for a long time, said Yu Yongding, economist with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


-- Nine Chinese futures brokerages including China International Futures Co Ltd, Yongan Futures and Nanhua Futures are preparing for initial public offerings.


-- The People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, will not make uniform requirements on local lenders to raise mortgage rates to curb housing prices, according to unidentified sources.


-- Scientists at Tianjin University of Science and Technology said they developed a handheld tester that can detect pathogenic bacteria and excessive drug or pesticide residue.


-- Pigs died from disease or other reasons were sent to Shanghai markets and restaurants over the past five years because farmers in a neighboring province were reluctant to pay for their proper disposal.



Fly On The Wall 7:00 am Market Snapshot



AstraZeneca (AZN) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan
DaVita (DVA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
GNC Holdings (GNC) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Hanesbrands (HBI) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Qualcomm (QCOM) upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James
Ultra Petroleum (UPL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Brean Capital


Apple (AAPL) downgraded to Buy from Conviction Buy at Goldman
CME Group (CME) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Celadon Group (CGI) downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T
Charles Schwab (SCHW) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
EZCORP (EZPW) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital
Exxon Mobil (XOM) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer
Goldman Sachs (GS) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
Morgan Stanley (MS) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
PVR Partners (PVR) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Rackspace (RAX) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
SunTrust (STI) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse


AOL (AOL) initiated with a Buy at UBS
Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) initiated with an Underweight at Barclays
Activision Blizzard (ATVI) initiated with a Buy at UBS
Aeropostale (ARO) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays (AMZN) initiated with a Neutral at UBS
American Eagle (AEO) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) initiated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
Electronic Arts (EA) initiated with a Neutral at UBS
Expedia (EXPE) initiated with a Buy at UBS
Facebook (FB) initiated with a Neutral at UBS
Finish Line (FINL) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Fossil (FOSL) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Gap (GPS) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Google (GOOG) initiated with a Buy at UBS
Groupon (GRPN) initiated with a Sell at UBS
IAC (IACI) initiated with a Buy at UBS
Limited (LTD) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
LinkedIn (LNKD) initiated with a Neutral at UBS
Maidenform (MFB) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
TripAdvisor (TRIP) initiated with a Neutral at UBS
Under Armour (UA) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Urban Outfitters (URBN) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Yahoo (YHOO) initiated with a Buy at UBS
Yelp (YELP) initiated with a Buy at UBS
Zynga (ZNGA) initiated with a Neutral at UBS
eBay (EBAY) initiated with a Buy at UBS (PCLN) initiated with a Buy at UBS


NASDAQ OMX (NDAQ) to acquire eSpeed treasuries platform from BGC Partners (BGCP) for $750M. Moody's placed NASDAQ senior at Baa3, on review for downgrade
Medicare Advantage fee-for-service growth estimated at 3.3% (UNH, HNT, WLP, MOH, CI, WCG, CVH, AGP, CNC, HS, HUM, AET)
AT&T (T), CWA reached tentative agreement in CA, NV wireline negotiations
Funai Electric Co. to acquire Lexmark's (LXK) inkjet-related technology and assets for $100M
AstraZeneca (AZN) said Pulmicort Respules patent ruled invalid (TEVA)
Nestle (NSRGY) to build Nescafe Coffee Center in China
McCormick (MKC) reaffirmed FY13 EPS view of $3.15-$3.23, consensus $3.21


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Eagle Bulk Shipping (EGLE), Puma Biotechnology (PBYI), Multiband (MBND)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Trovagene (TROV), Bona Film (BONA)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Shoe Carnival (SCVL)


  • Apple (AAPL) issued an apology letter signed by CEO Tim Cook that vowed to revamp aspects of its customer-service policies in China after more than two weeks of pointed attacks by government-run media, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Goldman Sachs Group (GS) is launching a specialty finance company to invest in high-risk debt primarily of mid-sized U.S. companies with no credit ratings, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • The jobless rate in the euro zone was stable at 12% in February, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said today, which could add pressure for an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank, Reuters reports
  • All Nippon Airways (ALNPY), Boeing’s (BA) largest customer for the grounded 787 Dreamliner, will put its pilots through training to resume flights in June, sources say, after Boeing completed more than half of its tests to get its new battery system certified, Reuters reports
  • Credit-market borrowing in all domestic non-financial sectors grew at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $2.5T in the three months ended Dec. 31, 2012, the largest increase in five years, according to the Fed’s Flow of Funds Report, Bloomberg reports
  • Vodafone Group (VOD) jumped as much as 4.3% in London trading after a Financial Times blog reported that AT&T (T) and Verizon Communications (VZ) may bid for the company,  Bloomberg reports


Centene (CNC) files to sell $15.4M in common stock
Investors Real Estate (IRET) files to sell 8M common shares of beneficial interest
Nordic American Tanker (NAT) files to sell $87M of common stock
Solta Medical (SLTM) files to sell 13.3M shares of common stock for holders
Williams Partners (WPZ) files to sell $600M in common units for limited partners


Carl Icahn reports 9.27% passive stake in Nuance (NUAN)
SAC Capital reports 5.1% passive stake in SuperValu (SVU)


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