Frontrunning: April 25

  • Russia raises interest rates to 7.5% (FT)
  • Shanghai to Allow Raw Material Exchanges in Trade Zone (BBG)
  • US, Japan Fail to Clinch Trade Deal (WSJ)
  • 'We don't have a magic wand', says ECB's Constancio (Reuters)
  • Tokyo Inflation Quickens to Fastest Since 1992 (BBG)
  • Demand for Home Loans Plunges (WSJ)
  • EU banks urged to grasp chance to raise capital (FT)
  • France Plans Alternatives to Alstom, General Electric Deal (WSJ)
  • China Money Rate Set for Biggest Weekly Gain in a Month on Taxes (BBG)

Overnight Media Digest


* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is working on a plan that could make its initial public offering the largest in history. The Chinese e-commerce giant and its bankers are discussing adding new shares to the deal, a move that would enable the company to raise funds for itself alongside some of its current investors, according to people familiar with the deal. No final decision has been made, but the addition of new Alibaba shares could help push the IPO beyond $20 billion. (

* Amazon is testing its own delivery network for the final leg of a package's journey to consumers, putting it closer to same-day shipping. Delivering its own packages will give Amazon, stung by Christmas shipping delays, more control over the shopping experience. (

* Four big Silicon Valley technology companies - Apple , Google, Intel and Adobe Systems , agreed to settle a lawsuit in which 64,000 employees accused them of conspiring not to recruit each other's workers, depressing wages. A person close to the defendants said the settlement price was around $325 million. (

* GE is in talks to buy the energy operations of France's Alstom, a move that would help the U.S. company reduce its reliance on its finance business. GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt is under pressure to boost earnings from areas such as jet engines, medical devices and power plants to reduce the company's reliance on its finance arm. A deal for the French engineering company's power-generation and transmission-grid assets would do that at a stroke. (

* In one of the last major pending cases stemming from the financial crisis against an individual, former Bank of America Corp's finance chief Joe Price has agreed to pay $7.5 million under an agreement with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The move ends a long-running legal battle over the lender's crisis-era acquisition of Merrill Lynch. (

* Jack Ma, the co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is pouring much of his personal wealth into the creation of one of Asia's largest philanthropic trusts, highlighting what many see as the dawn of a new era of giving among China's freshly minted billionaires. (

* Scott Price, the chief executive of Wal-Mart Stores Inc's Asia division, who presided over the region as it dropped plans to open retail stores in India and contended with authorities in China over food-safety fines, is stepping down from his role to take an international strategy position at the company's Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters. (

* KKR & Co plans to allow its investors to sell portions of their stakes in buyout funds through a private market run by Nasdaq OMX Group Inc, thought to be the first time pieces of these exclusive vehicles have been traded this way in the United States. (

* A Los Angeles federal judge Thursday sentenced former KPMG LLP partner Scott London to 14 months in prison for insider trading. London pleaded guilty last year to an insider-trading scheme, admitting that he passed sensitive information to a friend about KPMG clients, including Herbalife Ltd and Skechers USA Inc. (



Barclays Plc defended its decision to pay higher bonuses as it faces a shareholder revolt led by Standard Life , despite warning of another poor quarter at its investment bank.

Pascal Soriot, chief of Britain's second largest pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca Plc, announced the possible sale or spin-off of non-core units after denying media reports of a $100 billion takeover by Pfizer Inc.

France's new Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned General Electric that the Socialist government is ready to fight to protect its national interests if the U.S. conglomerate tries to buy train and power plant builder Alstom SA.

Former KPMG auditor Scott London was sentenced to 14 months in prison after he plead guilty to giving confidential client information to his golf partner in exchange for watches and concert tickets.

London's largest and most expensive office building, HSBC's global headquarters, is up for sale for over 1.1 billion pounds ($1.85 billion), a record price for the British market.



* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first alternative to the long-used Pap test as a primary screening method for cervical cancer, in the face of opposition from some women's groups and health organizations. The new test, developed by Roche Holding AG, detects the DNA of the human papilloma virus, which causes almost all cases of cervical cancer, in a sample taken from the cervix. (

* Lobbying efforts are likely to increase after the disclosure Wednesday evening that the Federal Communications Commission would soon release preliminary rules allowing for the creation of special, faster lanes for online content to flow to consumers - for content providers willing to pay for it. (

* In a move that raised the stakes for the government's crackdown on banks that sold the troubled mortgage investments during the financial crisis, the Justice Department made Bank of America Corp an opening settlement offer of roughly $20 billion several weeks ago, according to people briefed on the matter. (

* Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle said that his effort to build consensus behind raising the city's minimum wage to $15 per hour, more than twice the federal rate, had faltered amid continuing differences between business leaders and labor unions that had been advising him on the issue. (

* A day after Canada issued stringent new rules for the transportation of oil by rail, federal regulators in the United States said on Thursday that they would push forward their own tank standards next week, potentially resolving a critical safety issue that has been mired in regulatory limbo for years. (

* The panel charged with choosing the locations of four new casinos in New York State said on Thursday that 22 companies had submitted proposals, each paying an initial $1 million application fee, in the first step of what is expected to be an intense bidding process. (




* Canadian Employment Minister Jason Kenney has put an immediate moratorium on allowing restaurants to hire temporary foreign workers after a series of abuse allegations. (

* The Conservatives and Liberals are tied in the national vote for the first time in months, as Canadians appear unmoved by the controversy whirling around the government's elections bill, a new poll has found. (

Reports in the business section:

* Oil producers in Canada and the United States could see their plans for aggressive expansion of crude-by-rail short-circuited if American regulators follow Ottawa's lead and force the industry to retire or retrofit tank cars built before 2011. (


* The race for Alberta's next premier and leader of its Progressive Conservative party is on hold while potential runners wait for former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice to decide. Prentice is rumoured to be considering the possibility, a move that is winning support among Tory MLAs. (

* Graduates of a planned law school at a Christian university in British Columbia that forbids sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage will not be able to practise in Ontario, that province's law society decided Thursday. (


* Canadians can expect to enjoy relatively cheap borrowing costs for some time to come - perhaps years - even after the economy returns to full capacity and the Bank of Canada starts hiking interest rates, bank governor Stephen Poloz said Thursday. (

* Barrick Gold Corp chairman Peter Munk levelled a pointed criticism of Newmont Mining Corp on Thursday, saying he has struggled to strike a merger with his U.S. rival because the company is extremely bureaucratic and not shareholder-friendly. (



- The current volatility of China's yuan currency is normal as international capital flows exert a stronger influence on the exchange rate, an official in charge of international balance of payments at the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said in a news conference.

- About 57 percent of the 883 listed companies that have posted first-quarter earnings have seen an increase in net profit and around 200 listed companies are expecting a gain in the first half earnings, according to calculations by the newspaper based on available data.


- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp has chosen four financial institutions, including China International Capital Corp Ltd, Deutsche Bank, CITIC Securities and Bank of America Corp, as financial advisers for its ongoing ownership reform aimed at introducing social and private investment, according to a statement posted on Friday.


- Baidu Inc launched a big data engine service on Thursday that allows firms in partnership with Baidu to use its core store of big data gathered from its search engine and cloud service.


- U.S. President Barack Obama has betrayed the post-World War II international order by endorsing Japan's de facto control over the Diaoyu Islands, and by extending the U.S.-Japan security treaty to those islands is both morally and legally wrong, an editorial said.



The Telegraph


Barclays Plc has become embroiled in a row with one of its biggest investors after being criticised over the bank's decision to increase bonuses last year despite a fall in profits. (


AstraZeneca Plc boss Pascal Soriot has poured cold water on the prospect of a deal between the British company and U.S. giant Pfizer Inc by making clear he is not interested in mega-mergers. (


London's Gherkin tower has entered receivership and will likely be sold after the loan appreciated by 60 percent and the co-owners defaulted several times over the past five years. (


A former partner at KPMG has been jailed for 14 months after pleading guilty to leaking confidential information about the audit firm's clients. (


Optimism among British retailers has climbed to its highest level in more than three years, providing further evidence that the recovery is gathering pace.

Sales at retailers rose for a fifth consecutive month in April, a survey by the Confederation of Business Industry showed on Thursday. (

The Guardian


The BBC has joined the exodus from Britain's leading business lobby group, the CBI, after it registered to officially campaign against the Scottish independence referendum. (


Starbucks Corp suffered its first ever drop in UK sales last year, a period in which the company became the subject of boycotts and public criticism over its tax affairs. (

The Times


An EU tax on financial transactions is set to move closer next week with Britain expected to suffer an embarrassing defeat in its legal attempt to block the move. (


Unease over lofty stock market valuations for start-up technology companies has forced Rosslyn Data Technologies to halve the value of its flotation. (


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Update


Domestic economic reports scheduled today include:
Markit services PMI for April at 9:55--consensus 55.5
U. of Michigan consumer sentiment index for April at 9:55--consensus 83.0



Celgene (CELG) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
DeVry (DV) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Gigamon (GIMO) upgraded to Strong Buy from Buy at Needham
IPC The Hospitalist Co. (IPCM) upgraded to Outperform at Wells Fargo
Landstar System (LSTR) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Maxim Integrated (MXIM) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
NetScout (NTCT) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Wunderlich
RTI Surgical (RTIX) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord
Selective Insurance (SIGI) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Tortoise Energy (TYG) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Under Armour (UA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel
VASCO Data Security (VDSI) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Topeka


Aetna (AET) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup (AMZN) downgraded to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James
Analog Devices (ADI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
HSBC (HSBC) downgraded to Underweight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Life Time Fitness (LTM) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer
Linear Technology (LLTC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Suez Environnement (SZEVY) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
USG (USG) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Longbow
Unilever (UN) downgraded to Equalweight from Overweight at Barclays


AEGON (AEG) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
BP (BP) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Dot Hill Systems (HILL) initiated with a Buy at Wunderlich
Navios Acquisition (NNA) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
Nord Anglia (NORD) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Nord Anglia (NORD) initiated with an Outperform at BMO Capital
Nord Anglia (NORD) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Regado Biosciences (RGDO) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
TransEnterix (TRXC) initiated with a Buy at Stifel


Wal-Mart (WMT) named Greg Foran as president and CEO of Walmart Asia
Starbucks (SBUX) said K-Cup sales grew 33% in Q2. The company reaffirmed its FY14 revenue outlook and said it expects same-store sales growth for 2014 to be in the mid-single digits
Microsoft (MSFT) said it sold 1.2M Xbox One units during Q3 and said Windows volume licensing revenue grew 11%
Clean Harbors (CLH) said it has been in dialogue with the company's management regarding certain actions the fund believes Clean Harbors can take to enhance shareholder value
Bank of America (BAC) named Geoffrey Greener Chief Risk Officer
Amazon (AMZN) provided a Q2 revenue outlook that was in-line with expectations. The company said third party growth continues to be strong
Covidien (COV) said it expects to return to double digit EPS growth, possibly as soon as Q3


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:

Visa (V), WABCO (WBC), Aon plc (AON), Tyco (TYC), Covidien (COV), Gulf Island Fabrication (GIFI), Forum Energy (FET), Basic Energy (BAS), Newmont Mining (NEM), Weatherford (WFT), Minerals Technologies (MTX), Olin Corp. (OLN), PDF Solutions (PDFS), AptarGroup (ATR), Universal Health (UHS), Masco (MAS), Deckers Outdoor (DECK), Marketo (MKTO), Monolithic Power (MPWR), Superior Energy (SPN), E2open (EOPN), SVB Financial (SIVB), KLA-Tencor (KLAC), Altera (ALTR), Healthways (HWAY), Applied Micro Circuits (AMCC), Synaptics (SYNA), Hanesbrands (HBI), Universal Truckload (UACL), SunPower (SPWR), QCR Holdings (QCRH), Principal Financial (PFG), Freescale (FSL), VeriSign (VRSN), DeVry (DV), PerkinElmer (PKI), Lattice Semiconductor (LSCC), Open Text (OTEX), Qlik Technologies (QLIK), Stericycle (SRCL), Washington Banking (WBCO), Calamos (CLMS), Edwards Lifesciences (EW), Micrel (MCRL), Regal Entertainment (RGC), Broadcom (BRCM), Cirrus Logic (CRUS), Itron (ITRI), Pandora (P), Netgear (NTGR), Microsoft (MSFT), Echo Global (ECHO), Las Vegas Sands (LVS)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

Barnes Group (B), ImmunoGen (IMGN), Corporate Office Properties (OFC), Whirlpool (WHR), Briggs & Stratton (BGG), Seacor Holdings (CKH), Builders FirstSource (BLDR), Reinsurance Group (RGA), First Business Financial (FBIZ), OceanFirst Financial (OCFC), First BanCorp (FBP), Key Technology (KTEC), Internap (INAP), Leggett & Platt (LEG), Validus (VR), Republic Services (RSG), WSFS Financial (WSFS), Digi International (DGII), Cliffs Natural (CLF), Delta Apparel (DLA), AtriCure (ATRC), Federated Investors (FII), City National (CYN), MDC Partners (MDCA), Mellanox (MLNX), Chubb (CB), Merit Medical (MMSI), Abaxis (ABAX), CalAmp (CAMP), Century Aluminum (CENX)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:

Progressive Waste (BIN), NewBridge Bancorp (NBBC), Seacoast Banking (SBCF), National Bank (NBHC), TFS Financial  (TFSL), Mattson (MTSN), Dime Community (DCOM), Gigamon (GIMO), Weingarten Realty (WRI), Cincinnati Financial (CINF), Microsemi (MSCC), Swift Transport (SWFT), HomeAway (AWAY), Cerner (CERN), (AMZN), Hittite Microwave (HITT), Starbucks (SBUX), VCA Antech (WOOF)


Nokia (NOK) to appoint Suri upcoming CEO next week, Reuters says
Tech companies (AAPL, GOOG, ADBE, INTC) agree to settle wage lawsuit, WSJ says
KKR (KKR), Nasdaq (NDAQ) prep market for fund stakes, WSJ reports
Netflix (NFLX) in deal with Atlantic Broadband for streaming services (TIVO), WSJ says
Alstom (ALSMY) board plans meeting to discuss possible GE (GE) deal, Bloomberg reports
Bank of America (BAC) in settlement talks with Dept. of Justice for $10B+, CNBC says
Nike (NKE) struggling in health wearables market, Re/code reports


Carrols Restaurant (TAST) 10M share Secondary priced at $6.20
Codorus Valley Bancorp (CVLY) files to sell 650k shares for holders
Lombard Medical (EVAR) 5M share Secondary priced at $11.00
NeuroMetrix (NURO) files to sell $10M in common stock and warrants
New Residential (NRZ) files to sell 25M shares of common stock
Plug Power (PLUG) 22.6M share Secondary priced at $5.50
Quotient (QTNT) 5M share IPO priced at $8.00
SunCoke Energy Partners (SXCP) 2.8M share Secondary priced at $29.03
Yingli Green Energy (YGE) 25M share Secondary priced at $3.50


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