Frontrunning: May 2

  • Ukraine attacks rebel city, helicopter shot down (Reuters)
  • Euro Unemployment Holds Near Record Amid Factory Gains (BBG)
  • Yellen’s Fed Resigned to Diminished Growth Expectations (BBG)
  • Junket Figure's Disappearance Shakes Macau's Gambling Industry (WSJ)
  • China tried to undermine economic report showing its ascendancy (WSJ)
  • Liquidity Trap Hitting AAA Bonds Has ATP CEO Sounding Alarm (BBG)
  • AstraZeneca Snubs Pfizer Approach That U.K. Won’t Block (BBG)
  • Missing Jet Recordings May Have Been 'Edited' (NBC)
  • RBS turns corner as first-quarter profit trebles (Reuters)
  • Japan household spending hits four-decade high, wages key to outlook (RTRS) while Real Incomes Drop 3.3% in March, 6th straight decline
  • First Million-Dollar Drug Near After Prices Double on Dozens of Treatments (BBG)
  • How Canada’s Flirtation with a China Oil Market Soured (BBG)
  • Retirement Investors Flock Back to Stocks (WSJ)
  • SEC probing hedge funds' bets on Herbalife (Reuters)
  • White House study backs data-gathering (FT)

Overnight Media Digest


* German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be carrying a clear message from Germany's business lobby when she meets President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss the Ukraine crisis: No more sanctions on Russia. (

* Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca have resumed talks about a trans-Atlantic merger of the two drug giants, after Pfizer sweetened the terms of an earlier takeover offer for its British rival. (

* Retirement investors are putting more money into stocks than they have since markets were slammed by the financial crisis six years ago. Meanwhile, large investors such as pension funds, banks and insurance companies are showing less appetite for risk. Demand for shares of newly public companies has weakened, and utilities, considered safe when economic growth isn't robust, are the best-performing group this year. (

* As Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co squabble in court over who copied whose phone features, the companies' grip over the smartphone industry is slipping. The two companies account for nearly all smartphone hardware profits. But they are losing market share to Chinese rivals with lower-priced phones, particularly in developing nations. (

* Mark Fields is set to take over as chief executive of Ford Motor Co on July 1, and he'll face very different set of challenges than those the current boss, Alan Mulally, has tackled over the last eight years. (

* The New York Stock Exchange agreed to settle allegations it broke rules designed to protect investors, the second such pact in less than two years as the top U.S. securities regulator tries to ratchet up the policing of stock markets. The Big Board, along with affiliated exchanges and a broker, agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that they "repeatedly" broke their own rules or failed to submit rules governing certain activities to the regulator. (

* J. Crew is developing a new store format aimed at budget-conscious shoppers underscoring the difficulty apparel retailers have had in boosting sales without help from discounts. The new format is called J. Crew Mercantile and will feature merchandise and prices closer to what shoppers would find at J. Crew Factory, the retailer's outlet stores, than what is available in its full-line stores. (

* Exxon Mobil Corp is pushing ahead with its plans to drill in Russia's Arctic seas - its biggest opportunity to discover untapped deposits of oil and gas - even though deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington have increased the risks. (



U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc is planning to sweeten its 60 billion pound ($101.37 billion) takeover bid for AstraZeneca Plc hoping to increase pressure on its UK rival to enter talks to create the world's biggest pharmaceuticals company.

The U.S. government has said business leaders who attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in May are sending "an inappropriate message, given Russia's behaviour" in Ukraine.

The two big U.S. credit card companies, Visa and MasterCard, have both warned about the impact of proposed legislation in Russia - a response to U.S. sanctions - that will increase the control of the Russian authorities over its payment systems.

Rolls-Royce Chief Executive John Rishton said he was "reasonably optimistic" about the sale of the company's energy business to Siemens going through, in a deal expected to raise at least 900 million pounds.

Britain's financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, has banned a former co-worker of UBS rogue trader Kweku Adoboli from working in the financial services industry.



* Seattle Mayor Ed Murray presented on Thursday what he described as an imperfect but workable plan to increase the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than twice the federal minimum wage and one of the highest anywhere in the nation, through a series of complex and phased-in stages. (

* The White House, hoping to move the national debate over privacy beyond the National Security Agency's surveillance activities to the practices of companies like Google and Facebook, released a long-anticipated report on Thursday that recommends developing government limits on how private companies make use of the torrent of information they gather from their customers online. (

* Ares Management LP, a private equity and debt investing firm, is expected to have its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, becoming the seventh major private equity firm to tap the public markets. The initial public offering was priced conservatively Thursday evening, raising $345.7 million for Ares and a large shareholder, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The shares priced at $19 each, below an expected range of $21 to $23, according to a person briefed on the matter. (

* Merck & Co Inc, the big health care company, is close to a deal to sell its consumer unit to Bayer AG for about $14 billion, a person briefed on the matter said on Thursday. (

* Three federal agencies and one billionaire hedge fund manager have placed Herbalife Ltd under the microscope, scrutinizing whether the diet-supplements company is a pyramid scheme. But Herbalife is not the only one under investigation. Some federal authorities are pursuing other inquiries that might expand the regulatory gaze from Herbalife to the traders who traffic in the company's stock. (

* The auction site eBay Inc has settled a federal antitrust case that accused it of having a secret deal with Intuit Inc not to try to hire each other's employees. (




* Ontario's Liberal government is ramping up the province's deficit with a big-spending budget designed to either forestall an election or pay off at the polls in the event of a snap vote. (

* Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, on a leave to seek professional treatment for his addiction issues, is facing a growing chorus of calls to resign from business leaders, political rivals and his council colleagues. (

Reports in the business section:

* SNC-Lavalin Group Inc is selling its Alberta electricity transmission company AltaLink for C$3.2 billion to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, as it moves away from infrastructure investments and puts its resources into engineering and construction. (


* The Liberal minority government of Ontario has delivered a budget packed with new spending and tax hikes for high-income earners while allowing this year's deficit to balloon to C$12 billion, C$2 billion higher than predicted. (

* Liberal Party of Canada Leader Justin Trudeau's credibility has again come under fire from a member of his own party, with new allegations that he is stacking the deck to help star candidates win local nomination battles. (


* Canadian auto sales rose to record levels in April with Ford Motor Co narrowly outselling its rival Chrysler Canada Inc last month. Overall auto sales increased 4 percent year over year in Canada last month to 178,703 units, up 2 percent from the previous record set for April in 2008, according to figures collected by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. (

* Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc is selling its entire stake in Alberta electricity transmission company Altalink for about C$3.2 billion to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc in a deal priced far beyond what the market had been expecting. (



The Telegraph


Pfizer Inc is mulling a bid in excess of 63 billion pounds ($106.44 billion) for its smaller British rival AstraZeneca Plc, according to reports. (


Britain could end up with a better credit rating if Scotland votes for independence, with a "yes" providing the catalyst for an upgrade of the remaining UK's debt, according to Moody's. (


Surging house prices pose the single biggest threat to UK financial stability, the deputy governor of the Bank of England has warned. (

The Guardian


The Electoral Commission has nullified the Confederation of British Industry's controversial registration as a no campaigner in the Scottish independence referendum, after ruling that the application was made by the wrong CBI official. (


Fat Face and PizzaExpress are the latest consumer brands to go under the hammer as private equity firms look to cash in on rising consumer confidence and buoyant financial markets. (

The Times


Rolls-Royce insisted yesterday that it would not be knocked off course despite a surging pound and a 30 million pound charge to fix a product defect. (


This year's bout of shareholder revolts over pay appeared to escalate yesterday after Henderson Group was given a bruising in the wake of a 4.5 million pound annual payout for Andrew Formica, its chief executive. (

The Independent


The latest stunning evidence of a UK manufacturing revival sent the pound surging to a five-year high yesterday as the City upped its bets on early interest rate rises. (


The former prime minister of Qatar is buying Heritage Oil in a deal that values the explorer founded by the former mercenary Tony Buckingham at nearly 1 billion pounds. (


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot


Domestic economic reports scheduled today include:
Change in nonfarm payrolls for April at 8:30--consensus 215K
Unemployment rate for April at 8:30--consensus 6.6%
New York ISM for April at 9:45--consensus 54.0
Factory orders for March at 10:00--consensus up 1.4%



AmTrust Financial (AFSI) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Compass Point
Aruba Networks (ARUN) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Avanir (AVNR) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Mizuho
Beazer Homes (BZH) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Compass Point
Constant Contact (CTCT) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
Dynegy (DYN) upgraded to Strong Buy from Buy at ISI Group
EP Energy (EPE) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Mizuho
Endo (ENDP) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Evercore Partners (EVR) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
General Dynamics (GD) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
InvenSense (INVN) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Needham
Kennametal (KMT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
LinkedIn (LNKD) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
Masco (MAS) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
Masco (MAS) upgraded to Strong Buy from Market Perform at Raymond James
Maxwell (MXWL) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Roth Capital
Mercer (MERC) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Mohawk (MHK) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Novartis (NVS) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
OpenTable (OPEN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Oracle (ORCL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Societe Generale
Piedmont Office Realty (PDM) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Stifel
Texas Instruments (TXN) upgraded to Neutral from Reduce at Nomura
United Microelectronics (UMC) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Wynn Resorts (WYNN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee


AXIS Capital (AXS) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Avon Products (AVP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BTIG
BNP Paribas (BNPQY) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Broadcom (BRCM) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Nomura
Cabot Oil & Gas (COG) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Bernstein
DCT Industrial (DCT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at ISI Group
DirecTV (DTV) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Oclaro (OCLR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at B. Riley
PSEG (PEG) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Procera Networks (PKT) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at Pacific Crest
United Microelectronics (UMC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Vocera (VCRA) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Wisconsin Energy (WEC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at ISI Group


GAIN Capital (GCAP) initiated with an Outperform at Keefe Bruyette
Gastar Exploration (GST) initiated with a Buy at Wunderlich
Gran Tierra (GTE) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Navient (NAVI) initiated with an Equalweight at Barclays
Navient (NAVI) initiated with an Outperform at Keefe Bruyette


Pfizer (PFE) confirmed delivery of increased offer of $84.47 per share to AstraZeneca (AZN)
AstraZeneca (AZN) rejected proposal from Pfizer (PFE) as 'substantially' undervalued
LinkedIn (LNKD) guided to FY14 revenues that were lower than analysts' current forecasts. The company said it has no plans for a significant increase in China investment
Berry Plastics (BERY) CEO said business will improve in coming quarters
Verizon (VZ) said in a regulatory filing that it believes it would be "perverse and unjust" for the FCC to adopt rules that would "subsidize" companies like T-Mobile (TMUS) and Sprint (S) by allowing them to bid on airwaves set aside for smaller firms
InterContinental Hotels (IHG) announced a $750M special dividend
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said on track to achieve capital targets


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

Newell Rubbermaid (NWL), Hill-Rom (HRC), Alliant Energy (LNT), Dresser-Rand (DRC), Alon USA Energy (ALJ), Alon USA Partners (ALDW), XL Group (XL), MasTec (MTZ), Territorial Bancorp (TBNK), Black Hills (BKH), OpenTable (OPEN), Scansource (SCSC), Sequenom (SQNM), Northeast Utilities (NU), QLogic (QLGC), eHealth (EHTH), Chegg (CHGG), HCI Group (HCI), Bottomline Technologies (EPAY), Autobytel (ABTL), TeleCommunication Systems (TSYS), Mitek Systems (MITK), BioMarin (BMRN), Seattle Genetics (SGEN), Westport (WPRT), Ellie Mae (ELLI), Impax (IPXL), American Vanguard (AVD), Universal Electronics (UEIC), Audience (ADNC), Nutrisystem (NTRI), Tempur Sealy (TPX), Constant Contact (CTCT), Southwestern Energy (SWN), Akamai (AKAM), ON Semiconductor (ONNN), GigOptix (GIG), BJ's Restaurants (BJRI), PMC-Sierra (PMCS), MICROS (MCRS), InterMune (ITMN), Federated National (FNHC), (WWWW), Maxwell (MXWL), DigitalGlobe (DGI), Addus HomeCare (ADUS), SBA Communications (SBAC), Outerwall (OUTR), Outerwall (OUTR), Vertex (VRTX), Skullcandy (SKUL), Omnicell (OMCL), Western Union (WU), A10 Networks (ATEN), Wynn Resorts (WYNN), LinkedIn (LNKD), FleetCor (FLT), Affymetrix (AFFX), Expedia (EXPE)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

Northwest Natural Gas (NWN), Exelis (XLS), Berry Plastics (BERY), Cheniere Energy (LNG), Integrys Energy (TEG), Eldorado Gold (EGO), Oil States (OIS), Frank's International (FI), Sierra Wireless (SWIR), Golden Minerals (AUMN), Southside Bancshares (SBSI), Multi-Fineline (MFLX), Bill Barrett (BBG), Manitowoc (MTW), Idenix (IDIX), Computer Programs (CPSI), LRR Energy (LRE), Medley Capital (MCC), Exelixis (EXEL), XPO Logistics (XPO), InvenSense (INVN), Insight Enterprises (NSIT), KEYW (KEYW), Entropic (ENTR), Kodiak Oil & Gas (KOG), Fluor (FLR), Actuate (BIRT), Oncothyreon (ONTY), Standard Pacific (SPF), ServiceSource (SREV), Rubicon (RBCN), RadiSys (RSYS), Procera Networks (PKT), DaVita (DVA), Bally Technologies (BYI), Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD), DexCom (DXCM), FBL Financial (FFG), FBL Financial (FFG), Einstein Noah (BAGL)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Cheniere Energy Partners (CQH), Immersion (IMMR), Select Medical (SEM), Geron (GERN), SciQuest (SQI), Natural Grocers (NGVC), The Inventure Group (SNAK), First NBC Bank (NBCB), Callidus Software (CALD), Cerus (CERS)


U.S. probing Herbalife (HLF) traders, NY Times says
DirecTV (DTV) likely open to a sale, WSJ reports (T)
Regulators against Sprint (S)-T-Mobile (TMUS) deal, sources say, NY Post reports
General Motors (GM) recalls over 50,000 Cadillac SRX SUVs, Detroit Free Press reports
Under Armour (UA) suits part of U.S. speedskating issues in Sochi, WSJ says
New York AG eyeing exchanges in high frequency probe (ICE, NDAQ), Reuters reports


Aldexa (ALDX) 1.5M share IPO priced at $8.00
Ares Capital (ARES) 11.4M share IPO priced at $19.00
Chimerix (CMRX) files $200M mixed securities shelf
EQT Midstream Partners (EQM) 10.75M share Secondary priced at $75.75
HD Supply (HDS) 30M share Secondary priced at $26.00
Immunomedics (IMMU) $30M share Spot Secondary; price range $3.35-$3.45
Investors Bancorp (ISBC) 219.581M stock offering priced at $10.00
Media General (MEG) 4.21M share Secondary priced at $15.50
Papa Murphy's (FRSH) 5.833M share IPO priced at $11.00
Tetraphase (TTPH) files $125M mixed securities shelf


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