Frontrunning: March 20

  • Possible debris off Australia a 'credible lead' for missing Malaysia jet (Reuters)
  • Maldives and Afghanistan: Theories Blossom for Airliner (BBG)
  • Ukraine Military Concedes on Crimea as Russia Takes Hold (BBG)
  • Asia Stocks Drop on Fed; H-Share Index Enters Bear Market (BBG)
  • Scientists say destructive solar blasts narrowly missed Earth in 2012 (Reuters)
  • GM’s Ignition Victims Need Help From Bankruptcy Judge (BBG)
  • U.S. Alleges Inside Traders Used Spycraft, Ate Evidence (WSJ)
  • God Meets Profit in Obama Contraceptive Rule Court Case (BBG)
  • Starbucks to Bring Alcohol Sales to Thousands of Stores (BBG)
  • Political Deal on EU Banking Union Completed (WSJ)
  • China to Accelerate Measures to Stabilize Growth (BBG)
  • Carlyle Partners Forced to Bail Out Brazil Real-Estate Developer (BBG)


Overnight Media Digest


* Markets rattle after Janet Yellen emerged from her first meeting as Federal Reserve chairwoman with some unsettling signals about the central bank's outlook for short-term interest rates. (

* The U.S. Justice Department extracted a record $1.2 billion criminal penalty from Toyota Motor Corp for misleading consumers about safety problems. (

* Fedex Corp Chief Executive Fred Smith blamed the lower-than-expected quarterly earnings at a severe winter weather and sloppy shipping practices by e-commerce firms. (

* As environmental restrictions and abundant natural gas reduce coal consumption at home, exports have become more important for U.S. mining companies. U.S. coal shipments outside the country in 2014 are expected to surpass 100 million tons for the third year (

* After pursuing a spinoff of eBay Inc's PayPal payments unit since January, activist investor Carl Icahn said on Wednesday that he would be satisfied with a 20 percent stake sale of the division to the public. (

* Johnson & Johnson is hiring a chief design officer, a new role that reflects the growing importance that design is playing in the development and marketing of products. In recent times, companies like PepsiCo Inc and Philips Electronics have created the position to win customers and drive sales using appealing designs. (

* Marketwired, a provider of news releases, signed a deal to stop providing company press releases directly to high-frequency traders. The deal was signed along with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has stepped up efforts to crack down on abusive practices by high-frequency firms. (

* U.S. government and Boeing Co experts gave good grades to the design and certification of the company's 787 Dreamliner, though they recommended improvements to supplier oversight. The report was prepared in the wake of two lithium-battery fires that grounded the Chicago plane maker's flagship model for several months last year. (

* Walgreen Co, the nation's largest pharmacy chain by number of stores, is starting to ask pharmacists to have consultations with patients, not just stay behind the counter. It has remodeled more than 600 of its 8,200 stores nationwide to encourage that new direction. However, a federal agency is probing whether pharmacists working at these remodeled stores are properly safeguarding sensitive patient information. (



JPMorgan Chase & Co, America's largest bank, said it would sell its physical commodities business to Geneva-based trading house Mercuria for $3.5 billion, becoming the latest investment bank to scale back its activities in that sector.

A French court released rogue trader Jerome Kerviel from an unpayable 4.9 billion euro ($6.82 billion) fine given to him for making the risky bets that brought his former employer Societe Generale to the brink of disaster.

BP Plc was one of the most active bidders for exploration and production rights in the Gulf of Mexico, after the U.S. government lifted a ban on it winning new federal contracts last week.

Japan's largest electronics conglomerate Hitachi plans to make London the headquarters of its global rail business, in a bid to expand in the UK and to make Europe its biggest market.

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz said the U.S. coffee chain wanted to almost double its market capitalisation to $100 billion, as the company looks to expand its digital business and dominate the $90 billion global tea market.


* A growing field of technology experts, financial players and entrepreneurs believe that mainland China's unfavorable regulation of Bitcoin has created an opening for Hong Kong. David Shin, a Hong Kong investment banker, is building a stock exchange for Bitcoin-oriented companies. (

* Toyota's $1.2 billion deal with the Justice Department over a sudden-acceleration defect that has caused injuries and deaths included an unusual admission of wrongdoing.


* The U.S. Federal Reserve continued to curtail its economic stimulus, but it adjusted its guidance on interest rates, saying they would remain near zero "for a considerable time" after bond purchases ended. (

* Just days after the United States lifted a ban on new oil and gas leases for BP, the company took full advantage of the opportunity. In an auction held in New Orleans on Wednesday, BP was the high bidder on 24 exploration blocks in the Gulf of Mexico for about $42 million, according to the Interior Department. (

* JPMorgan Chase announced that it had agreed to sell its physical commodities trading unit to the Mercuria Energy Group, a rapidly growing Swiss trading firm, for $3.5 billion in cash. (

* According to a study prepared by experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, federal regulators need to provide more oversight of the far-flung supply networks that build 787 Dreamliner jets and other new planes. (

* Walmart plans to make a pointed, aggressive play for outdoor and garden business this spring for the first time, offering "Black Friday-like prices" on more than 60 items. The sale will begin Friday - spring officially begins Thursday afternoon - and last for about a week. (




* Canadian firms with business interests in Russia are urging the administration in Ottawa to re-consider imposing tough sanctions in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea. Canada and its counterparts in the European Union have warned of tougher measures that restrict import/export and dealing with Russian banks. (

* Janet Yellen rattled investors in her debut as the U.S.'s top central banker, as Wall Street focused on an apparent tilt toward raising interest rates sooner than expected. (


* Former Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty, who resigned from his post on Tuesday, could draw as much as $2 million in annual compensation if he were to be appointed on a senior position with one of the banks or large-cap companies, compensation experts say. (

* The British Columbia government says it is prepared to introduce back-to-work legislation as early as Monday to put an end to the ongoing strike by unionized truckers at the Port Metro Vancouver (


* Newly-appointed federal natural resources minister Greg Rickford has a tough task ahead. He inherits a grand plan to transform Canada into an 'energy superpower' with $650 billion in resource development. (




- China Securities Regulatory Commision (CSRC) said it would continue to advance the pilot program of property tax in Shanghai and Chongqing, but it had no plans to scale-up the pilot for now, said Liu Kun, vice president of CSRC.

- Net profit in Shanghai Pudong Development Bank reached 40.92 billion yuan ($6.60 billion) in 2013, jumping 19.7 percent from a year earlier.


- Closed-door training centres for young athletes have come under scrutiny following allegations that trainers at a prestigious gymnastics school in central China sexually abused students. Critics of the centres say the closed regimes leave students vulnerable to sexual assault.


- The central government vowed on Wednesday to further push forward with a ban on the construction of new government buildings as part of an ongoing frugality campaign. About 150 officials have been investigated and 55 punished for violations on the ban first issued in July, the government said.

- Officials will be held personally liable for public expenses that are not properly justified and documented, according to a new regulation issued by Beijing's municipal government.


- China should keep economic growth within a "reasonable range" and effectively preventing and eliminating possible risks, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in the State Council meeting.



The Telegraph


Regulators are examining evidence relating to a 2012 meeting of currency dealers and Bank of England officials that potentially challenges the central bank's assertion it had not condoned sharing details of client orders. (


BP is on course to win its first drilling licences in the Gulf of Mexico for almost two years. Of the 31 bids the oil giant has submitted for crude oil and natural gas licences, 24 were the highest, according to Tommy Beaudreau, director of the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. (

The Guardian


Pensioners will soon be free to do what they like with their retirement savings after Britain's finance minister promised to scrap compulsory annuities in a bombshell for the pensions industry. The move almost immediately wiped 5 billion pounds ($8.31 billion) off the value of shares in the firms that provide annuities - and provoked fears of a fresh buy-to-let boom as pension pots are used to buy property as a retirement income. (

The Times


Britain's leading industrialists hailed Finance Minister George Osborne's "Budget for the makers and the doers" as a huge stride towards making manufacturing competitive with Germany and other leading nations. (


Production lines in the British automotive industry were buzzing as Bentley Motors, BMW and Alexander Dennis, the coachbuilder, all revealed that they intended to step up output in the country's manufacturing heartland. (


Hitachi, the Japanese electronics conglomerate, will announce on Thursday that it is moving the headquarters of its train manufacturing business to Britain in a sign of confidence in the country. (

The Independent


The Co-operative Group has announced a major management shake-up which will see Acting Chief Executive Richard Pennycook take up the role of chief operating officer once a new chief executive is found. (



Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot


Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Jobless claims for week of March 15 at 8:30--consensus 325K
Existing home sales for February at 10:00--consensus down 0.4% to 4.6M rate
Leading indicators for February at 10:00--consensus up 0.3%
Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey for March at 10:00--consensus 3.0



American Homes 4 Rent (AMH) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
CEMEX (CX) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Longbow
CHC Group (HELI) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
El Paso Electric (EE) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
ING U.S.  (VOYA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Infinera (INFN) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel
Inphi (IPHI) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel
NRG Energy (NRG) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Neutral at Goldman
On Assignment (ASGN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Tornier (TRNX) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Ulta Salon (ULTA) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
WEX Inc. (WEX) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup


Ameren (AEE) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
American Residential (ARPI) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Bally Technologies (BYI) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
EMC Insurance (EMCI) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette
Enbridge Energy Management (EEQ) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
Enbridge Energy (EEP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
J.B. Hunt (JBHT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
MSC Industrial (MSM) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
NII Holdings (NIHD) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
NextEra Energy (NEE) downgraded to Buy from Conviction Buy at Goldman
Resolute Energy (REN) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Signature Bank (SBNY) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer
Synchronoss (SNCR) downgraded to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James
Under Armour (UA) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee
Westar Energy (WR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Williams Partners (WPZ) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Williams (WMB) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Xcel Energy (XEL) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman


Aruba Networks (ARUN) initiated with a Neutral at Macquarie
CalAmp (CAMP) initiated with a Neutral at Macquarie
Charles River Labs (CRL) initiated with a Hold at KeyBanc
comScore (SCOR) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Covance (CVD) initiated with a Buy at KeyBanc
Datawatch (DWCH) initiated with a Buy at B. Riley
Flexion (FLXN) initiated with a Buy at Janney Capital
Gigamon (GIMO) initiated with a Buy at Needham
MicroStrategy (MSTR) initiated with a Neutral at B. Riley
Qlik Technologies (QLIK) initiated with a Neutral at B. Riley
Quintiles (Q) initiated with a Hold at KeyBanc
Recro Pharma (REPH) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Ruckus Wireless (RKUS) initiated with an Outperform at Macquarie
Tableau (DATA) initiated with a Buy at B. Riley
Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT) initiated with an Outperform at Macquarie
ZELTIQ (ZLTQ) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
Ziopharm (ZIOP) initiated with a Buy at Mizuho


Starbucks (SBUX) said it is partnering with Oprah Winfrey to offer a Teavana-Oprah branded Chai tea
Agenus (AGEN) said GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) MAGRIT study did not meet first or second co-primary endpoint
Yahoo (YHOO) introduced Yahoo Games Network, launches new Yahoo Classic Games
eBay (EBAY) said company, PayPal "better together"
Navidea Biopharmaceuticals (NAVB) announced that following meetings with European regulatory authorities reviewing its Lymphoseek Injection, the company believes the course of the review continues to be supportive of its market development plans and outlook for material revenue generation in Europe beginning in 2015
Tilly's (TLYS) warned that Q1 results will likely be below current analyst estimates
Guess (GES) gave Q1, FY15 profit and sales outlooks that widely missed estimates
Lennar (LEN) CEO said company "well positioned to capitalize on recovering market"


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Lennar (LEN), IHS Inc. (IHS), Clarcor (CLC), Tilly's (TLYS), Guess (GES)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Franco-Nevada (FNV), ExOne (XONE), Jabil Circuit (JBL), Bacterin (BONE)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Cintas (CTAS), Herman Miller (MLHR)


Sony (SNE) venturing into original TV programming for PlayStation, WSJ reports
Alibaba invests $215M in TangoMe, WSJ reports
AG Holder: Toyota (TM) deal 'not the only time we will use this approach' (GM), AP reports
Investors should stay away from General Mills (GIS), Barron's says
Wal-Mart (WMT) making play for outdoor and garden business, NY Times reports
JPMorgan (JPM), HSBC (HBC) planning to bid for $4B Saudi IPO, Bloomberg reports
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Whitman says to flesh out 3D printing entry in June, Reuters reports


Artisan Partners (APAM) files to sell 41.94M shares of Class A common stock
BreitBurn Energy (BBEP) files to sel $200M common units for limited partners
Cinedigm Digital (CIDM) files to sell comon stock
Hudson Pacific (HPP) files to sell 3.51M common shares for holders
ING U.S. (VOYA) 26.5M share Secondary priced at $35.23
KB Home (KBH) files to sell $125M in common stock
Q2 Holdings (QTWO) 7.76M share IPO priced at $13.00
RadiSys (RSYS) files to sell common stock
Sangamo (SGMO) files to sell $100M in common stock
TOP Ships (TOPS) files to sell $30M common shares


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