Frontrunning: May 6

  • Both sides bury dead as Ukraine slides towards war (Reuters)
  • Dollar wilts to 6 1/2-month low; shares drift (Reuters)
  • Draghi Grapples With Money Markets Signaling Recovery Too Early (BBG)
  • Foreign wristslaps: Credit Suisse Nears Record Tax Plea: Credit Suisse Settlement Expected to Exceed $1 Billion (WSJ)
  • OECD joins IMF in cutting global growth forecast, demanding moar QE from ECB  (WSJ)
  • Three Bankers Bolster Blankfein as Goldman Trading Sinks (BBG)
  • Strong performance from eurozone services sector (FT)
  • OECD Cuts Forecast for 2014 Global Growth; Urges ECB Action (WSJ)
  • Elite Colleges Don't Buy Happiness for Graduates (WSJ)
  • How Russia Inc. Moves Billions Offshore -- and a Handful of Tax Havens May Hold Key to Sanctions (BBG)
  • Tax-Free Bonuses Disappoint as Mideast Bankers Plan Job Hunt (BBG)
  • More pharma phrenzy: Merck & Co sells consumer unit to Bayer for $14 billion (Reuters)
  • Taller Is Better as Bold London Skyscraper Bets Pay Off (BBG)
  • Activision places $500 million bet on its next blockbuster franchise (Reuters)
  • Adani’s $4.1 Billion Wealth Surge in 8 Months Fuels Attacks (BBG)


Overnight Media Digest


* U.S. prosecutors are close to securing a guilty plea and a settlement of more than $1 billion from Credit Suisse Group over allegations the bank helped wealthy Americans evade taxes. A deal isn't guaranteed and federal prosecutors still have to agree on precisely what a guilty plea would mean for the bank's ability to operate. (

* The Christmas-season cyber attack on Target Corp did more than expose customer credit-card data to potential fraud. It also turned up the heat on troubles that simmered under the six-year tenure of CEO Gregg Steinhafel, who stepped down on Monday. (

* In the hard-fought world of online retail, Wal-Mart Stores Inc has finally notched a win against rival Amazon . For the first time in a decade Wal-Mart's web sales grew faster than the online retailing giant's. Wal-Mart is intent on catching up with Amazon. On Tuesday it is expected to announce the purchase of Adchemy, a search-engine marketing company that helps retailers optimize their use of search terms. (

* Several big telecom deals under consideration could usher in an era of consumers getting new, flexible options to be entertained and communicate wherever and however they choose. But the path is perilous, requiring that regulators approve mergers that would create still-bigger companies in industries where Americans already have few choices. (

* Florida insurance regulators are taking a hard look at a proposal to thousands of Florida teachers for free life insurance, paid for by a group of investors. (

* The French government urged General Electric Co to alter the terms of its proposed $17 billion takeover of Alstom SA's energy assets, saying it would reject a deal that allowed GE to completely absorb the businesses. (

* Activist investor Daniel Loeb and auction house Sotheby's reached a settlement on Monday that concluded his seven-month campaign to shake up the company a day before shareholders were to vote on his board candidates. The pact gives Loeb three board seats and also caps his stock ownership at 15 percent. (

* Speaking at the Sohn Investment Conference, David Einhorn, founder of Greenlight Capital, sent shares of electronic health-care-records provider athenahealth Inc down 10 percent after hours after saying the stock may fall 80 percent. (

* Even as it faces increased regulatory scrutiny at home, America's dirty and unwanted coal is being embraced in one of the world's cleanest energy markets: the European Union. (

* Eagle Ottawa LLC, the world's largest supplier of premium automotive leather, is on the auction block. The company, whose products are used in BMW, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz vehicles, among others, is expected to fetch more than $650 million. (



AstraZeneca Chairman Leif Johansson has urged the British Prime Minister to be neutral as the drug company prepares to step up its defence against a 63 billion pound takeover bid from Pfizer.

Even as prosecutors moved closer to bringing criminal charges against two European banks, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday that no company was "too big to jail."

Barclays' technology banking business head, Stuart Francis, is about to leave the bank ahead of a strategic overhaul due to be announced this week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Markit is aiming to raise up to $2 billion from a U.S. listing, according to people involved in the process, as it seeks a bigger slice of the fast-changing market for complex financial markets data.

Amazon and Twitter have joined hands to let consumers tweet products they like into their shopping baskets, as technology companies search for ways to fuse social media and ecommerce.


* Sotheby's and hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb ended their long-running battle and agreed to let Loeb and two of his associates join the auction house's board. The decision is seen as a big victory for the billionaire investor's hedge fund, Third Point, the company's biggest shareholder. (

* Gregg Steinhafel, chief executive of Target Corp resigned on Monday, signaling the depths of the damage done to the company by last year's breach of customer information. After extensive discussions between the board and Steinhafel, Target's board said on Monday that it had determined the company needed new leadership. (

* Hedge funds, private citizens and public investors have filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Manhattan against five banks that make up what is known as the London gold fix. The plaintiffs accuse the banks of having used their privileged positions as market makers to rig the price of gold to their benefit. (

* The Chinese government has imposed new limits on foreign brands of milk powder and infant formula sold in China, according to reports on Monday by the state-run news media. The restrictions appear to be the latest attempt by the government to reduce the enormous demand for foreign-made dairy products and bolster the sale of domestic brands. (

* Sarah Kavanagh, a teenager in Hattiesburg, Mississippi started a petition on to get The Coca Cola Co to drop brominated vegetable oil from Powerade. The petition attracted almost 60,000 signatures and has got the company to eliminate the ingredient from all of its drinks by the end of the year. (

* Pfizer Inc announced a 15 percent drop in first-quarter earnings on Monday and renewed its call to buy British rival AstraZeneca PLC. Pfizer has aggressively pursued AstraZeneca since January - raising its offer to more than $106 billion as recently as Friday - but so far AstraZeneca has rejected its advances, saying the bids are too low. (

* The French government said on Monday that it would oppose General Electric's $13.5 billion offer for a large portion of Alstom, the country's largest industrial conglomerate, saying the deal should be reconfigured on a more equitable footing. (

* In the latest patent trial involving Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Apple's lawyers had noted a potential discrepancy in the jurors' damages total. The lawyers said Samsung also owed damages for a patent infringed by the Galaxy S2 smartphone. The federal jury returned to court on Monday to recalculate some of the damages Samsung owed to Apple. After making the changes, the jury came to the same overall figure of $119.6 million. (

* General Motors Co said on Monday that Jim Federico, a senior engineer responsible for global vehicle integration, would retire after 36 years to pursue other interests. Federico's departure brings the number of executives who have retired or resigned to four since the automaker admitted in February that it failed for years to recall cars with faulty ignition switches linked to 13 deaths. (




* The abrupt resignation of Target Corp Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel raises questions about the fate of the U.S. discounter's troubled Canadian operations. Industry observers suggest that the Minneapolis-based company, which suffered a massive data breach five months ago, needs to look at major changes to its Canadian stores and possibly close some of them. (

* Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Justice Minister Peter MacKay breached confidentiality rules and tried to intimidate judges when they publicly criticized Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, opposition parties say. MacKay defied calls from the legal community to withdraw the allegation against the Chief Justice made by the Prime Minister's Office last Thursday.(

Reports in the business section:

* Construction of the world's first kilometer-high tower is now under way in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. However, engineers constructing the Kingdom Tower are facing some unique challenges. Wind can sway the structures, sun can cause them to curl and columns in high concrete buildings can shorten or shrink. While there have been technological improvements that enable stronger, taller towers, Richard Witt, chair of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's Canadian chapter suggests that the only real magic ingredient is money. (


* Scientist Wang Hongwei, who obtained a degree in pharmaceutical technology from the Montreal University and held dual Chinese-Canadian citizenship, has been declared wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for conspiring to steal trade secrets, part of an alleged plot to export to China genetically modified corn seed stolen from farmers' fields in the U.S. Midwest. (

* Conservative senator Don Meredith of Toronto has repaid the cost of a contentious trip to Washington, D.C., even as fresh, unrelated questions emerge about his resume. It is unclear how much he repaid from the trip to the National Prayer Breakfast, a gathering of 3,000 international politicians and diplomats, which included a hotel bill of almost $1,300. (


* In the latest twist on the mortgage wars being waged by Canadian banks to win customers, Royal Bank of Canada is taking a page from auto dealers by offering "employee pricing" to home buyers. The same interest rate offered to RBC employees is being given to customers seeking new mortgages across Canada. (

* A recently released report on the Canadian government's protectionist policies highlights the rising differences in wholesale prices between the United States and Canada. Canadians pay more than Americans for goods, especially food, because of Ottawa's policies, the C.D. Howe report suggests. (




- Regulators are investigating state-owned property developers, with the real estate business arms of some enterprises to be eliminated, sources said.


- Shanghai's state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission is expected to roll out details of ownership reform in state-owned enterprises within a month, sources said.


- On Friday, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) will start reviewing IPO applications from three companies that want to list on ChiNext, China's small-cap growth market board at the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.


- Genetically modified food research groups in China will strengthen supervision of GM samples following an alleged case of theft at a research base in Hainan province on April 11. A notice from the Ministry of Agriculture last month said stealing the country's GM technology and seed samples could cause irreparable damage to the nation.


- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang unveiled extra aid for Africa totalling at least $12 billion on May 5, and offered to share advance technology with the continent to help with the development of high-speed rail to boost pan-African communication and development.


- Rural residents' 2013 per capita income in China's poor regions increased by 16.6 percent and 13.4 percent on nominal and real basis respectively, exceeding the growth rates of the national average level in rural areas, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. More non-agricultural job opportunities and a faster pace of wages rising were credited as the main drivers of the change.


The Telegraph


Pfizer boss Ian Read has claimed that an AstraZeneca takeover would reduce the cost of medical treatment, as the U.S. pharmaceuticals giant battled to win political support for the 63 billion pound deal. (


Britain's rapid growth rate will become "ingrained" and more balanced, the European Commission said on Monday, as two separate reports suggested the strong rate of expansion was likely to continue. (

The Guardian


The controversial takeover of AstraZeneca by U.S. drugs group Pfizer is to be investigated by MPs, who are being urged to take evidence from their chiefs amid fears the 63 billion pound transaction could threaten the future health of the UK's science base. (


The government must urgently establish a strategic authority to oversee the future growth of Britain's ageing energy infrastructure, a study by academics at Newcastle University argues on Tuesday. (

The Times


Royal Mail is on a collision course with its largest shareholder over demands for a big pay rise for its chief executive. (


Tesco is to open hundreds of "Pound Shop" zones within its biggest supermarkets to take on the discount stores. (

Sky News


Ed Miliband has written to the Prime Minister to demand a full assessment of whether drugs company Pfizer's bid for UK-based AstraZeneca would be good for Britain. (


Royal Mail is weighing a move into the bond markets to raise hundreds of millions of pounds even as the row over the postal operator's privatisation looks set to continue. (



Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot

Domestic economic reports scheduled today include:
Trade balance for March at 8:30--consensus deficit -$40.5B



Anadarko (APC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Bill Barrett (BBG) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Mizuho
Bill Barrett (BBG) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
BroadSoft (BSFT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Cowen
BroadSoft (BSFT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
CareFusion (CFN) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
Charles Schwab (SCHW) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Danske Bank (DNSKY) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
DreamWorks upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley
Essent Group (ESNT) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie
Seattle Genetics (SGEN) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Trex Company (TREX) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust
Valero (VLO) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer


Cimarex Energy (XEC) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Societe Generale
Concho Resources (CXO) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Societe Generale
Continental Resources (CLR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Societe Generale
DCT Industrial (DCT) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
EastGroup Properties (EGP) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Fabrinet (FN) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
First Industrial Realty (FR) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Stifel
InterContinental Hotels (IHG) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
KBR (KBR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Liberty Property (LPT) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Prologis (PLD) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Stifel
Swift Energy (SFY) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Target (TGT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at MKM Partners


Boulder Brands (BDBD) initiated with a Neutral at Longbow
Cabot Oil & Gas (COG) assumed with a Hold at Brean Capital
Cerulean (CERU) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
Chambers Street Properties (CSG) initiated with a Perform at Oppenheimer
Duke Realty (DRE) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
National Retail Properties (NNN) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
Phibro Animal Health (PAHC) initiated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
Phibro Animal Health (PAHC) initiated with a Buy at Cantor
Phibro Animal Health (PAHC) initiated with a Buy at Guggenheim
Phibro Animal Health (PAHC) initiated with an Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Phibro Animal Health (PAHC) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Prologis (PLD) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
Range Resources (RRC) assumed with a Buy at Brean Capital
Synaptics (SYNA) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital
TriNet (TNET) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
TriNet (TNET) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan
TriNet (TNET) initiated with an Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Verastem (VSTM) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
Zoe's Kitchen (ZOES) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
Zoe's Kitchen (ZOES) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Zoe's Kitchen (ZOES) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray


Merck (MRK) announced the sale of its consumer care business to Bayer (BAYRY) for $14.2B
AstraZeneca (AZN) forecast annual revenue over $45B by 2023
Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox head said doesn't see doing dedicated handheld gaming device
Avago Technologies (AVGO) will join the S&P 500 after the close on May 7 following the expected closing of its deal to acquire LSI Corp. (LSI)
David Einhorn, in a presentation at the Sohn Investment Conference, said he is short athenahealth (ATHN) and believes shares could fall 80%
Baxter (BAX) raised its quarterly dividend 6% to 52c per share
Trinity Industries (TRN) declared a 2-for-1 stock split, raised its quarterly dividend 33%


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Montage Technology (MONT), Cinemark (CNK), Chesapeake Utilities (CPK), Northern Tier (NTI), WellCare (WCG), Western Refining (WNR), BofI Holding (BOFI), Towers Watson (TW), Acorda Therapeutics (ACOR), PetroQuest (PQ), VIVUS (VVUS), Tenet (THC), Regal-Beloit (RBC), Allied Nevada Gold (ANV), EarthLink (ELNK), Hecla Mining (HL), Mindray Medical (MR), JBT Corporation (JBT), TeleTech (TTEC), Stone Energy (SGY), Alleghany (Y), Emerald Oil (EOX), KAR Auction (KAR), Comstock Resources (CRK), Hillenbrand (HI), Transcept Pharmaceuticals (TSPT), ZipRealty (ZIPR), Veeco (VECO), Advanced Energy (AEIS), Alexza Pharmaceuticals (ALXA), Medifast (MED), Nautilus (NLS), ChannelAdvisor (ECOM), Black Diamond (BDE), LeapFrog (LF), Anadarko (APC), Cardtronics (CATM), Integrated Device (IDTI), Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG), AIG (AIG), Genpact (G), Argo Group (AGII), Qualys (QLYS)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Vantage Drilling (VTG), Goodrich Petroleum (GDP), Zebra Technologies (ZBRA), Atlas Pipeline Partners (APL), Tenet (THC), Universal American (UAM), Mid-Con Energy (MCEP), Axiall (AXLL), Hi-Crush Partners (HCLP), Rosetta Resources (ROSE), Willbros Group (WG), Albany International (AIN), Park-Ohio (PKOH), Murphy USA (MUSA), Celluar Dynamics (icel), Fluidigm (FLDM), Solazyme (SZYM), Greenlight Capital Re (GLRE), FairPoint (FRP), Carmike Cinemas (CKEC), Hanger  (HGR), Skilled Healthcare (SKH), Interactive Intelligence (inin), Pike Electric (PIKE), Primerica (PRI), Redwood Trust (RWT), Texas Roadhouse (TXRH), Sykes Enterprises (SYKE), Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD), CareFusion (CFN), Peregrine (PSMI)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Western Refining Logistics (WNRL), Pacific Drilling (PACD), American Capital Senior Floating (ACSF), National CineMedia (NCMI), TherapeuticsMD (TXMD), Danaos (DAC), NIC Inc. (EGOV)


French President says GE's (GE) Alstom bid 'not acceptable,' Reuters says
Credit Suisse (CS) close to $1B settlement with U.S., WSJ reports
Banks (BCS, DB, SCGLY, HSBC) sued over alleged gold price manipulation, NY Times reports
Yahoo (YHOO) could become takeover target, Re/code says
Google (GOOG) is planning to debut Google Wallet on Google Glass, TechCrunch reports
Microsoft (MSFT) may announce Surface Mini at May 20 event, The Next Web reports
Barclays' (BCS) Stuart Francis to leave for Evercore (EVR), FT reports
Tencent (TCEHY) to obtain 11% stake in digital map provider Navinfo, Xinhua reports


DST Systems (DST) files to sell $450M of common stock for holder
Enphase Energy (ENPH) files to sell 5M common shares for holders
Martin Midstream Partners (MMLP) files to sell 3.6M common units
Pattern Energy (PEGI) files to sell $400M of common stock


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