Frontrunning: August 20

  • So no great rotation into EM? Capital Flows Back to U.S. as Markets Slump Across Asia (BBG)
  • Muslim Brotherhood leader arrested in Egypt (Reuters)
  • Allies Thwart America in Egypt: Israel, Saudis and U.A.E. Support Military Moves (WSJ)
  • Dear Bloomberg: when you buy the loans of a distressed retailer, you are not betting on a rebound, you are betting on being the fulcrum security in a bankruptcy: Kyle Bass Said to Bet on J.C. Penney Comeback With Loan Purchase (BBG)
  • Bubbles Bloom Anew in Desert as Buyers Wager on Las Vegas (BBG)
  • Britain rejects Spanish request for Gibraltar talks (Reuters)
  • U.K. Mortgage Lending Rises to Highest Since Lehman Collapse (BBG)
  • Pension Funds Dispute Math in Detroit Bankruptcy (WSJ)
  • Christie Says Gayness Inborn as He Signs Therapy Measure (BBG)
  • Divisive trial of Bo Xilai in China may start early, with secret session (Reuters)
  • UK gold exports surge tenfold this year (FT)

Overnight Media Digest


* The United States' closest Middle East allies are undercutting American policy in Egypt, encouraging the military to confront the Muslim Brotherhood rather than reconcile, U.S. and Arab officials said.

* The Justice Department is investigating whether JPMorgan Chase & Co manipulated U.S. energy markets, according to people familiar with the case, marking the latest legal hurdle for a bank already facing a mountain of litigation and regulatory scrutiny.

* Furniture Brands International Inc, one of the nation's largest home furniture makers, has tapped restructuring lawyers and advisers to deal with its debt load, people familiar with the matter said.

* Cummins Inc plans to disclose on Tuesday an agreement to supply Nissan Motor Co with a diesel engine for its Titan pickup trucks, people familiar with the matter said.

* The head of potash miner Belaruskali broke his silence Monday on the decision by Russian partner Uralkali to walk away from a trade arrangement, calling the decision "ill-considered" and "unprecedented." Uralkali's move to abandon its sales partnership through the Belarusian Potash Corp, or BPC, last month undermined the share prices of the world's largest potash companies.

* Twenty-First Century Fox Inc has increased by $110 million the amount it is budgeting to cover additional legal costs tied to the alleged use of illegal reporting tactics at News Corp's UK newspapers.

* Drug maker Eisai Co Ltd sought on Monday to force the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to sign off on the company's new epilepsy medicine, in a lawsuit highlighting a regulatory stumbling block that can prevent new prescription medicines from going on sale for months if there is a risk for abuse.



Fears that the U.S. Federal Reserve could begin scaling back its quantitative easing programme as early as next month triggered further losses for highly rated government bonds and put global equity markets on the back foot at the start of the week.

The U.S. Fed wants the biggest banks in the country to hold regulatory capital beyond their own internal targets in order to help them withstand periods of market stress.

State-backed Royal Bank of Scotland is expected to make a decision within two weeks on the possible sale or floatation of its branch network as bidders step up their efforts to win over the bank.

Private equity firm Blackstone's real estate arm has quietly begun raising a new European fund, targeting up to $5 billion according to prospective investors.

Buyout group KKR has set up a finance company to supply credit to maritime borrowers, including offshore oilfield services and traditional shipping companies as it seeks to build a presence in maritime finance.

Austria's OMV bought stakes in North Sea oil fields from Norway's Statoil for $2.65 billion as it shifts focus to more stable markets in the west.



* President Obama urged the nation's top financial regulators on Monday to move faster on new rules for Wall Street, telling them in a private White House meeting that they must work to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

* NPR, which has suffered a succession of leadership changes over the better part of a decade, needs a new chief executive again. Gary Knell, the public radio organization's chief for the last 20 months, announced on Monday that he would be leaving to run the National Geographic Society.

* The Justice Department is expected to name Leslie Caldwell, the former lead prosecutor in the Enron case, as the next head of its criminal division, according to people briefed on the decision.

* The Federal Reserve described some significant shortcomings in the banks' responses to the so-called stress tests that they have had to undergo since the financial crisis. The Fed said some banks were not taking into account the possibility of falling house prices when valuing certain mortgage-related assets for the tests.

* Auditors performed complete and correct audits of at least three brokerages last year, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board said on Monday. That amounted to only 5 percent of the 60 audits reviewed by the board, but it may still be a sign of progress. During the previous year - the first in which the board reviewed such audits - none of the 23 audits examined were found to be acceptable.

* The Greek government's efforts to sell state-owned assets was sidetracked again when Stelios Stavridis, chairman of the privatization agency, was forced to resign after hitching a ride on the private jet of a Greek oil tycoon.



* Stephen Harper is hitting the reset button on Parliament, delaying a reopening of the Commons until October as he continues a pre-election overhaul of his government after nearly eight years in power.

* Ontario has become the first province in the country to screen all newborns for a rare and often fatal condition that robs the body of its ability to fight infection.

* A new survey of employers suggests Canadian salaries will be going up next year, but perhaps not by as much as this year. The Hay Group survey found Canadian employees can expect a salary boost of 2.6 per cent in 2014, down from this year's projection of 2.9 per cent.

Reports in the business section:

* TransCanada Corp has launched a $4.5-billion lawsuit against rival Enbridge Inc over a proposed 27-kilometre natural gas pipeline near Toronto that the companies had planned to develop. The dispute comes amid an escalating battle between TransCanada and local gas distributors in Ontario and Quebec as they respond to a rapidly changing North American gas market, in which new extraction technology has increased U.S. production.

* Whether or not U.S. telecom Verizon Communications Inc comes to Canada, consumers are already seeing some benefits from the threat of increased competition. Since news broke that Verizon is considering expansion to this country, Canada's largest carriers have rolled out new plans to attract business, family, and high-volume data usage customers.

* Millions of Canadians are likely to find their wireless speeds lagging behind if Verizon makes its way to Canada, says the head of Rogers Communications Inc, Canada's largest wireless company. Rogers has called on Ottawa to postpone an auction that will decide which companies get the spectrum needed to build the next generation of networks.


* While the first flight of Bombardier Inc's new CSeries aircraft appears to be nearing, one analyst says he believes the aircraft's first delivery won't occur until early 2015.

* Alberta's oil sands, long regarded as an expensive sandbox for energy giants, are more competitive with global sources of crude than recent cost blowouts may lead investors to believe, a survey of 135 global oil and gas companies shows.

* Hudson's Bay Co appears to be winning more praise from shoppers, while Target has lost ground in recent months but both retailers trail Costco in customer satisfaction, according to surveys from Forum Research.




- The securities law should be strictly enforced, Xiao Gang, chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission, said at a conference on Monday. He added that the law should not be used to manipulate the stock market.


- China has suspended imports of lactoferrin, a protein found in milk, from New Zealand, after excessive levels of nitrate were discovered in Westland Milk Products' lactoferrin, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, on Monday.

- China Telecom Corp Ltd and NetEase Inc launched a mobile instant messenger application on Monday, which will compete with Tencent Holdings Ltd's popular WeChat application.


- Smoking control laws have been in effect for three years, but enforcement has been poor, according to an editorial. Only 19 fines have been handed out so enforcement needs to be improved.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



Ann Inc. (ANN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
Cash America (CSH) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
Chipotle (CMG) upgraded to Hold from Underperform at Jefferies
Diana Shipping (DSX) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
Nielsen (NLSN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Bernstein
Red Robin (RRGB) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Spirit Airlines (SAVE) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Weyerhaeuser (WY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Longbow


ArcelorMittal (MT) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Bravo Brio Restaurant (BBRG) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Cliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T
Diamond Offshore (DO) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Ensco (ESV) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
GTx (GTXI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Lazard Capital
Noble Corp. (NE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Panera Bread (PNRA) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Riverbed (RVBD) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Royal Gold (RGLD) downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T
Transocean (RIG) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Xcel Energy (XEL) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan


Anadarko (APC) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Apache (APA) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Bloomin' Brands (BLMN) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Cabot Oil & Gas (COG) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Cloud Peak Energy (CLD) initiated with a Hold at Stifel
Devon Energy (DVN) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Facebook (FB) initiated with a Buy at Janney Capital
Laclede (LG) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan
Pandora (P) initiated with a Buy at B. Riley
Pioneer Natural (PXD) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
QEP Resources (QEP) initiated with a Hold at Canaccord
Qihoo 360 (QIHU) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Range Resources (RRC) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord (CRM) initiated with an Overweight at First Analysis
Southwestern Energy (SWN) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Ultra Petroleum (UPL) initiated with a Hold at Canaccord
Unit Corp. (UNT) initiated with a Hold at Canaccord
Zynga (ZNGA) initiated with a Sell at Janney Capital


Smithfield Foods (SFD) scheduled September 24 meeting to vote on Shuanghui offer
Teledyne Technologies (TDY) to acquire CETAC Technologies
Novartis (NVS) said FDA granted breakthrough therapy designation to BYM338 for sporadic inclusion body myositis


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Trina Solar (TSL); Home Depot (HD), Perfect World (PWRD), Urban Outfitters (URBN), LightInTheBox (LITB), International Rectifier (IRF)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
GasLog (GLOG), America's Car-Mart (CRMT), Greenway Medical (GWAY), Aegean Marine (ANW)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Vanguard Health (VHS)


  • Activist investors clout is growing amid what have become increasingly competitive board elections (ODP, OMX, HES, HMA, CYH). Activists have scored a 44% success rate in U.S. contests for board seats this year, whether through settlements or elections, according to FactSet SharkRepellent's database, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Despite the promise of further gains in home prices and renovation work, Home Depot’s (HD) valuation looks full today. More of their earnings growth will have to come from underlying profit, rather than a shrinking share count, to justify its stock price, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • BHP Billiton's (BHP) new CEO Andrew Mackenzie put his stamp on the top global miner, mapping out a cautious, low risk approach to expanding into the potash market, which it sees as its next big growth business beyond 2020, Reuters reports
  • KKR & Co (KKR) and Warburg Pincus are among the private equity firms competing for Mitchell International, a car and property claims software company, owned by Aurora Capital Group, that could fetch up to $1.5B, sources say. Advent International and Blackstone Group (BX) are also participating in the auction, Reuters reports
  • Asia’s role as the world’s growth engine is waning as economies across the region weaken and investors pull out billions of dollars. The sell off of emerging-market stocks is reversing a flow of money into the region in favor of nascent recoveries in the U.S. and Europe, Bloomberg reports
  • Carl Icahn asked a Manhattan federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by short-seller Daniel Ravicher who accused the billionaire investor of improperly propping up Herbalife’s (HLF) share price to settle a score with Bill Ackman, Bloomberg reports


Dara BioSciences (DARA) announces at-the-market common stock sales program
Zillow (Z) 5.023M share Spot Secondary priced at $82.00


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