Frontrunning: April 24

  • The Inland Empire bubble is back: BMW to Amazon Space Demand Spurs Rush to Inland Empire (BBG)
  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev was on classified government watch lists (Reuters)
  • Brothers in Boston Bombing Case Said Drawn to Radicalism (BBG)
  • Germany Spurns Calls to Loosen Austerity Stance (WSJ)
  • Spain poised to ease austerity push (FT)
  • What ever happened to France's voice in Europe? (Reuters)
  • U.S., South Korea Reach Nuclear Deal (WSJ)
  • U.S. Sees No Hard Evidence of Syrian Chemical Weapons Use (BBG)
  • RBA Set to Invest Foreign Currency Reserves in China, Lowe Says (BBG)
  • FedEx Wins $10.5 Billion Postal Contract as UPS Shut Out (BBG)
  • Portugal unveils measures to boost growth (FT)
  • Netherlands’ Parliament Majority Backs Aid Package for Cyprus (BBG)
  • U.S. rejects North Korean demand for nuclear status (Reuters)


Overnight Media Digest


* A short-lived hoax on Twitter briefly erased $200 billion of value from U.S. stock markets on Tuesday, underscoring the vulnerability of financial markets to computerized trading programs that buy and sell shares without human intervention.

* Barring a last-minute rescue, Fisker Automotive Inc is poised to become another DeLorean Motor Co or Tucker Corp, a symbol of the difficulties of creating entirely new car companies.

* Wal-Mart and Warner Bros struck a deal making the retail chain the only place in the U.S. to buy tickets to the first screenings of June's Superman film "Man of Steel."

* A government watchdog warned that regulators need to be more aggressive in reducing exposure among major Wall Street firms if they want to eliminate concerns about "too-big-to-fail" banks.

* BlackRock Inc is retreating from plans to allow customers to trade corporate bonds directly with one another on its own platform, in a setback for the giant asset manager's efforts to pick up a chunk of business long dominated by Wall Street.

* A fight is brewing between Washington and New Delhi over provisions in the United States's draft immigration bill that could hobble Indian outsourcing firms' businesses in the U.S.



* On Tuesday, Apple Inc announced that it planned to more than double its program to return cash to shareholders through stock buybacks and a higher dividend, spending $100 billion on the effort through the end of 2015.

Its share repurchases alone will increase to $60 billion from the $10 billion it committed previously, the largest such plan in history, the company said.

* Federal regulators are poised to crack down on payday loans - the short-term, high-cost credit that can mire borrowers in debt. But instead of taking aim at storefront payday lenders, the banking authorities are focusing on the small operations' big bank rivals, like Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, according to several people briefed on the matter.

* Federal prosecutors in New York filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing Novartis AG of providing illegal kickbacks to pharmacies, in the form of discounts and rebates, to promote use of one of the company's drugs.

* AT&T said it sold six million smartphones, the most it has ever sold during a first quarter, typically a slow season for the phone business.

It also made more money from mobile data, in the fees people pay to use the Internet with its network, to $5.1 billion, up 21 percent from the same quarter last year.

* The furlough of air traffic controllers delayed more than 1,200 flights on Monday, the first weekday of the unpaid leaves, the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday as lawmakers criticized the agency for how it was handling the automatic budget cuts.

* Organic Avenue, the tiny purveyor of high-end juices, fresh salads and specialty foods like cashew scallion cream cheese and Thai collard wraps, has hired a new chief executive with the goal of turning its new owner's dreams of a national chain into reality.


Europe Corp Fin

* Italian carmaker Fiat is in advanced talks with banks, which are expected to conclude next month, for financing for a possible buyout of the rest of Chrysler, two people familiar with the matter said.

* Subsidiaries of Israel's Delek Group will seek to raise up to $2 billion from a bond issue in the United States this year to invest in gas fields off Israel's Mediterranean coast, a market source said.

* Spain's state-owned Loterias, or Lottery, may raise up to 4.5 billion euros ($5.9 billion) through a bond or by seeking bridge loans before eventually going to capital markets, a source at the economy ministry told Reuters.

* The planned sale of more than 600 UK bank branches by Lloyds Banking Group to the Co-Operative Group has fallen through, people familiar with the matter said.

* Czech electricity company CEZ is likely to sell its Detmarovice power plant to Gascontrol, which has bid 1.6 billion crowns ($80.4 million) for the 800 MW hard coal-fired plant. weekly magazine Ekonom reported on its website




* Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer, in his first major decision since being elected to the post nearly two years ago, told Members of Parliament on Tuesday they need not feel constrained by caucus lists that dictate who can deliver 60-second statements or, for that matter, who can ask questions in Question Period.

* Canadian diplomats will trade their cables and briefing notes for signs and pickets as they step up pressure tactics in their contract dispute with the Harper government - a tactic that might soon be expanded to embassies around the world.

* Three new victims have come forward with sex abuse allegations against one of Canada's most notorious child abusers, the latest in a series of new charges against the man at the center of the Maple Leaf Gardens sex abuse scandal.

Reports in the business section:

* Tiff Macklem has confirmed for the first time in public that he wants to be the next governor of the Bank of Canada, solidifying his status as the front-runner in a competition that is entering its final days.

* Calgary-based TransCanada Corp issued a sharp rebuttal to the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, a day after the agency said the U.S. State Department's environmental review of the long delayed pipeline was seriously deficient and urged considerable new analysis before any permit decision is taken.


* A sixteen-year-old boy who lost most of his hand as an infant has become the first person in the United Kingdom to get an advanced new model of robotic hand. Patrick Kane's new "i-limb" is so advanced that the teen can program and control it with his iPhone.


* Frontier Networks, a Toronto-based private company which hinted last week that it would make an offer for Radiant Communications, lobbed an offer to acquire all the outstanding shares at C$1 ($0.97) a share, or C$0.15 a share above the already agreed-upon offer from the insiders, funds managed by Maxam and Pender.

* Scotiabank is expanding its wealth management business in Peru with the acquisition Tuesday of a half interest in AFP Horizonte, the South American country's third-largest pension fund manager, in a deal valued at $260 million.




- China might broaden the property tax pilot programme to additional cities in the near future, authorities told the official newspaper. Recent rumours suggested that Hangzhou, the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China, could be named as the third pilot city after Shanghai and Chongqing.

- Jiang Jiemin, director of State Asset Regulatory Commission, set performance targets for Chinese major state-owned enterprises in 2013 of more than 8 percent value added and profitability above 10 percent.

- China is likely to lower fuel prices by 450 to 500 yuan per ton on Wednesday, analysts said.


- Several Chinese regulatory authorities, including China's Securities Regulatory Commission and China's Banking Regulatory Commission are carrying out an investigation into brokerages' "substitute holding" in the bond markets after seeing three individuals arrested for skimming profits through complex substitute holding schemes.

- Overseas investors are increasingly shorting A-shares ETFs sold through the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor RQFII programme in Hong Kong.


- China will accelerate the consolidation of the rare earths industry, which has been plagued by falling profits and competition from smugglers and illegal miners.


- Apple Inc was ordered to compensate three Chinese writers a total of 730,000 yuan for copyright infringement. Apple sold the writers works through its online app store without permission, the suit claimed.

- Alibaba Group Holding's chief risk officer said the e-commerce company would step up efforts to prevent merchants from using its online platforms to sell counterfeit goods


- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expressed his gratitude on Tuesday for the international sympathy and aid China has received after the country suffered a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Lushan, Sichuan Province on Saturday.

- Beijing is going to hold a hearing to discuss the price adjustments for domestic taxi fares and fuel surcharges.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



A.O. Smith (AOS) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
Ares Capital (ARCC) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Baker Hughes (BHI) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
CIT Group (CIT) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
eBay (EBAY) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Halliburton (HAL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Societe Generale
ITT Educational (ESI) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank
Packaging Corp. (PKG) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Red Robin (RRGB) upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc
Ryder (R) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo


AT&T (T) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
AT&T (T) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Amgen (AMGN) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Apple (AAPL) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
DeVry (DV) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Dice Holdings (DHX) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair
Discover (DFS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Edwards Lifesciences (EW) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Lazard Capital
Edwards Lifesciences (EW) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Ironwood (IRWD) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Sabra Health Care (SBRA) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Theravance (THRX) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Bernstein
Total System (TSS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Ventas (VTR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Vocus (VOCS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Barrington
Vocus (VOCS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
Vocus (VOCS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James


Boingo Wireless (WIFI) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Brookfield Properties (BPO) initiated with an Outperform at Wells Fargo
Carrizo Oil & Gas (CRZO) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
Cbeyond (CBEY) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Conn's (CONN) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
ConocoPhillips (COP) initiated with a Hold at Cowen
Consolidated Comm. (CNSL) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
EarthLink (ELNK) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
FairPoint (FRP) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
GNC Holdings (GNC) initiated with an Outperform at RW Baird
Level 3 (LVLT) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Lumos Networks (LMOS) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Matador (MTDR) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
Murphy Oil (MUR) initiated with a Hold at Cowen
NTELOS (NTLS) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies


Apple (AAPL) CEO Cook said new products coming in the fall and across 2014
Announced plan to use $100B in cash, boost dividend, buyback
Standard & Poor's assigned Apple 'AA+' corporate credit rating
U,S Attorney, FBI accused Novartis (NVS) of orchestrating drug kickback scheme
Baker Hughes (BHI) recommended stockholders reject 'mini-tender' offer by TRC Capital
FedEx (FDX) signed new $10.5B express air transportation contract with U.S. Postal Service
Dell (DELL) approved special retention bonus program for key executives
Yum! Brands (YUM) expects April same-store sales in China to be down 30%
Schwab (SCHW) experienced technical problem preventing some log-ins, CNBC reports
W.R. Grace (GRA) sees FY13 adjusted EBITDA $665M-$685M


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Ashland (ASH), Whirlpool (WHR), W.R. Grace (GRA), Carlisle (CSL), Thermo Fisher (TMO), Wellpoint (WLP), Owens & Minor (OMI), Apple (AAPL), C.R. Bard (BCR), Broadcom (BRCM), Juniper (JNPR), VMware (VMW), Amgen (AMGN)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Evercore Partners (EVR), ITC Holdings (ITC), Ethan Allen (ETH), Unisys (UIS), Robert Half (RHI), FMC Technologies (FTI), Panera Bread (PNRA)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Praxair (PX), Newfield Exploration (NFX), AT&T (T)


  • PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUGY) and Daimler (DDAIF) warned of lower earnings this year, a stark reminder that the continuing decline in European demand for new cars is increasingly testing the companies' growth strategies, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Millions of workers saving for retirement risk losing part of their nest eggs if interest rates rise because of target-date mutual funds, designed for investors who lack the time or expertise to balance their investment portfolios, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • (AMZN), known in the advertising industry as the "sleeping giant,” is awakening to the potential as the company has taken the first steps toward becoming a true Internet advertising network, Reuters reports
  • The European Central Bank is closer to lowering interest rates than at any time since July 2012 when it last cut them, and is likely to shave a quarter-point off at its policy meeting next week, Reuters reports
  • Chinese stocks are becoming attractive with the decline in equity valuations and corporate profit growth poised to level out, according to Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GS), Bloomberg reports
  • Credit Suisse group (CS) will likely post higher profit than UBS (UBS) for a fourth straight quarter, but that hasn’t prevented UBS from trading at a higher price relative to estimated earnings and book value, as some investors embrace its focus on wealth management and question Credit Suisse’s decision to remain a full-service investment bank, Bloomberg reports


Gladstone (GOOD) files to sell common stock
Spectranetics (SPNC) files to sell 4.75M shares of common stock


And last but not least, the European market recap, coursety of Scott Solano of dpa-AFX