Frontrunning: August 6

  • So that's what Obama meant by "costs" - Italy Recession, German Orders Signal Euro-Area Struggle (BBG)
  • Russia worries, weak German data weigh on Europe (Reuters)
  • Hedge Funds Betting Against Banco Espírito Santo in Line for Big Gains (WSJ)
  • Bankers Called Up for Ukraine War as Rolls-Royce for Sale (BBG)
  • Double Punch for 'Inversion' Deals (WSJ)
  • Statist Strongmen Putin-Xi See History’s Capitalism Clash (BBG)
  • China bans beards, veils from Xinjiang city's buses (Reuters)
  • BATS to Settle High-Speed Trading Case (WSJ)
  • Second Ebola patient wheeled into Atlanta hospital for treatment (Reuters)
  • Feces-Clogged Shore Shows Africa Infrastructure Failings (BBG)
  • China anti-trust regulator conducts new raids on Microsoft, Accenture (Reuters)
  • Wells Fargo loosens standards for jumbo mortgages (Reuters)
  • Standard Chartered Profit Slips 20% on Financial Markets (BBG)
  • Milk prices sink as "white gold" floods even China demand (Reuters)


Overnight Media Digest


* 21st Century Fox has withdrawn its proposal to acquire Time Warner, saying the owner of HBO has "refused to engage with us." (

* Sprint Corp decided to end its pursuit of T-Mobile US Inc in the face of stiff opposition from regulators and to replace Chief Executive Dan Hesse. (

* Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd are calling a partial truce in their smartphone war. The two technology giants agreed to dismiss all patent disputes between them in courts outside the United States, marking an easing of tensions. (

* Private-equity firm TPG, after a few disastrous deals, is pursuing a revival based on smaller investments and a new fund, while laying the groundwork for a possible IPO. (

* An Afghan soldier killed a two-star U.S. Army general when he opened fire on a group of Western military officers Tuesday, claiming the highest-ranking American casualty in more than a decade of war. (

* In a sweeping rebuke to Wall Street, U.S. regulators said 11 of the nation's biggest banks haven't demonstrated they can collapse without causing damaging economic repercussions and ordered them to try again. (

* Overseas takeover deals designed to lower corporate taxes took a double-punch on Tuesday when Walgreen Co ruled out the tactic for a foreign merger and the U.S. Treasury Department said it was looking for ways to deter the strategy. (

* BATS Global Markets Inc is in advanced talks with regulators to settle allegations that it gave unfair advantages to high-speed traders. (

* The TV-and-publishing conglomerate is an endangered species. Gannett Co Inc joins media companies that have decided their broadcasting businesses should split from their newspapers or magazines. (

* U.S. and African leaders on Tuesday unveiled $14 billion in commercial deals in Washington, part of a campaign to improve on a trade relationship in which the two parties still do little business together. (

* T-Mobile US Inc denied Iliad SA's request for access to the U.S. telecom's books after determining that the French company's proposed $15 billion bid wasn't strong enough, people familiar with the matter said. (

* Spain's Telefonica SA is offering $8.99 billion in cash and shares for Vivendi SA's Brazilian unit GVT, in a bid to create Brazil's largest telecom operator. (

* A German court agreed to drop a criminal case against Formula One magnate Bernie Ecclestone for alleged bribery, pending payment of a $100 million fine. (

* China's top economic planning agency said on Wednesday it will punish Audi AG and Chrysler after an investigation found the two luxury car makers had pursued monopoly pratices. (

* Australia's Orica Ltd said on Wednesday it wants to sell or list its chemicals business making everything from dyes to fertilizers, which analysts estimate could be worth up to 1 billion Australian dollars($930.40 million). (



French telecom company Iliad's bid for T-Mobile US is to be rejected, as shareholders of the No. 4 U.S. mobile operator, including Deutsche Telekom, believe the $15 billion offer falls short of their valuation of the business.

BlackRock, the world's largest money manager, has expressed concern over the quality of floatations in Europe, as hedge funds increase their bets against private equity-backed IPOs, after souring of a string of high-profile listings has caused market conditions to droop.

Gannett Co, the publisher of USA Today, has become the latest media company to separate off its publishing unit from its faster-growing TV and digital operations.

A German court decision to accept a record $100 million fee to settle charges of bribery against Bernie Ecclestone, the chief executive of Formula One, has provoked criticism from parts of the country's establishment.

Chinese anti-monopoly investigators have raided the Shanghai offices of Daimler AG's luxury brand Mercedes-Benz, as the government investigates global automakers with business the country, in relation to price fixing.

Spain's Telefonica has made 6.7 billion euros ($8.96 billion) offer to buy Vivendi's Brazilian broadband unit, as it looks to further expand in Latin America's largest economy.


* Twenty-First Century Fox Inc withdrew its takeover offer of $75 billion from Time Warner Inc. Fox was put off both by Time Warner's apparent hostility to the prospect of the deal and by the response of its own shareholders, who have been driving the price of Fox's stock down since news of the offer broke. (

* Sprint Corp and its corporate parent, the Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank Corp, have decided to drop their pursuit of T-Mobile US Inc after conceding that antitrust regulators would block a deal in an industry that is dominated by just a few large players. (

* U.S. president Barack Obama is weighing plans to circumvent Congress and act on its own to curtail tax benefits for United States companies that relocate overseas to lower their tax bills, seeking to stanch a recent wave of so-called corporate inversions. (

* A Russian crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen internet credentials, including 1.2 billion user name and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses, security researchers say. Computer crime experts who had reviewed the data said some big companies were aware that their records were among the stolen information. (

* Standard Chartered PLC has once again landed in the government's cross hairs for failing to weed out other risky transactions flowing through its American operations. This time, New York State's financial regulator is preparing an action against the bank over breakdowns in a computer system that was supposed to detect transactions vulnerable to money laundering. (

* The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation criticized plans that big banks had prepared for winding themselves down in a controlled fashion. (

* Gannett Co Inc announced that it would spin off its newspaper division, which includes USA Today, into a separate company next year. (

* Japan imposed new sanctions on Russia on Tuesday but kept them more limited than those recently ordered by the United States. The Japanese sanctions will freeze any assets in Japan belonging to two organizations and 40 individuals connected with Russia's involvement in Ukraine. (

* The German automobile giant Daimler AG has become the latest multinational company to bear the brunt of a Chinese regulatory investigation. Officials from an agency that enforces antimonopoly and pricing rules has searched its Shanghai offices.(

* Mexico's Congress approved a sweeping overhaul of the energy industry that cleared the way for international giants to tap Mexico's rich reserves of oil and gas. The government hopes that the entry of international energy giants will lift sagging oil output, exploit untapped reserves of natural gas, lead to new refineries being built and result in cheaper power for Mexico's factories. (

* The Walgreen Co is said to be near a deal to take over the British pharmacy retailer Alliance Boots Holdings Ltd, but through a plan to do so without moving its corporate headquarters abroad. (

* Telefonica SA of Spain said on Tuesday that it had offered about $8.9 billion in cash and shares for Global Village Telecom, a Brazilian company controlled by Vivendi SA of France. (

* The proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis & Company LLC is recommending that Allergan Inc shareholders support Pershing Square Capital Management's push for a special meeting of shareholders. Pershing Square, the hedge fund led by William Ackman, is trying to remove six incumbent members of the Allergan board and make other governance changes. (

* Citigroup Inc's 2011 deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission has finally cleared its last hurdle. Judge Jed Rakoff of federal district court in Manhattan, who initially rejected the $285 million settlement, announced on Tuesday that he would approve the deal. (




* Two Canadians are being investigated by China for spying, but Ottawa has stayed quiet. It is a sign of a government trying, for now, to avoid making things worse. But the detention of Christian cafe owners Kevin and Julia Garratt still has the potential to blow a hole in Canada-China relations. (

* Brampton mayor Susan Fennell charged the city nearly C$128,000 in expenses for airfare passes, several of which expired before she and her staff could use them, a forensic audit released Tuesday evening found. (

Reports in the business section:

* Canadian and European negotiators have finalized the text of their awaited free-trade deal after months of hard bargaining over everything from agriculture and banking to investment rules. (


* One week after the Green Party of Canada president wrote a blog expressing support for Israel, which he signed and then posted on the party's website, Paul Estrin is stepping down. (

* The City of Toronto is bracing for construction claims related to renovations at Union Station, according to a new report on the fraught railway terminus overhaul. (


* The number of homes sold in Canada's most expensive market topped 3,000 in July, marking a fourth straight month sales have hit that level. The Vancouver sales market has not been this strong in three years, according to the real estate board of greater Vancouver. (

* The 2014 Ontario budget prohibits employers from self-insuring long-term disability benefits. The budget, passed on July 24, amends the Insurance Act so that employers who provide Long Term Disability (LTD) must do so through arrangements with licensed insurers. The change will come into effect on a date to be proclaimed. (




- The National Development and Reform Commission said it will accelerate preparatory work in a bid to promote construction and funding for major transportation projects.


- After six large state-owned enterprises announced restructuring plans to introduce mixed ownership through private capital, a raft of other state-owned companies have also announced similar plans, including China Hi-Tech Group Corp, China Guodian Corp and China Metallurgical Group Corp.


- Only nine of 161 Chinese cities reached the more stringent air quality monitoring standards in the first half of this year, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Zhoushan, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Zhanjiang, Yunfu, Beihai, Sanya and Lhasa are the cities which reached the standard, the ministry said.


- China's machinery industry continued to recover with rising profitability in the first half of the year, following moderate growth in 2013, according a report issued by the China Machinery Industry Federation (CMIF). Aggregate profits across the sector rose 19.6 percent to 715.3 billion yuan ($115.94 billion), versus an average 15.6 percent growth for the whole of 2013.


- Chinese handset maker Xiaomi Corp nearly tripled its smartphone shipments in the second quarter, beating long time market leader Samsung Electronics Ltd in China, the world's largest smart phone market, according to a report by Canalys.


- China's e-commerce sector is continuing its robust growth pace, with total transaction volume exceeding 10 trillion yuan last year, accounting for about 11 percent of total social spending, the paper said.




Twenty-First Century Fox, the entertainment conglomerate run by Rupert Murdoch, has abandoned its $80 billion bid for Time Warner, saying that to pursue a higher offer would not deliver value for its shareholders.

The Guardian


Savers should be allowed to access their pensions before retirement in an emergency as an alternative to payday loans, pensions expert Hargreaves Lansdown has suggested.


As the plane touches down after a week or two away in the sun, it will be a relief to some tired travellers that the homecoming grocery order they placed online will already be waiting for them - shortly beyond passport control and the baggage carousel.

The Telegraph


Veteran fund manager Neil Woodford has revealed that a "long conversation" with GlaxoSmithKline boss Andrew Witty, following a recent profit warning, inspired confidence in the company.

Sky News


Walgreens, one of America's biggest corporate names, is poised to bow to intense U.S. political pressure by retaining its headquarters in the U.S., even as it secures a full takeover of Alliance Boots, Britain's biggest pharmacy chain.


Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz


Significant domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
U.S. trade balance for June at 8:30--consensus deficit ($45.0B)



Armada Hoffler (AHH) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel
BB&T (BBT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Cablevision (CVC) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Citigroup
Cerner (CERN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Chuy's (CHUY) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
First Solar (FSLR) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Needham
General Electric (GE) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Bernstein
Horizon Technology (HRZN) upgraded to Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Itron (ITRI) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Brean Capital
Provident Financial (PROV) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James
Salix (SLXP) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Cantor
Union First Market (UBSH) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Compass Point


Approach Resources (AREX) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Bally Technologies (BYI) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Bloomin' Brands (BLMN) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Enzymotec (ENZY) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Groupon (GRPN) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Wunderlich
Monster Worldwide (MWW) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
National CineMedia (NCMI) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Southern Copper (SCCO) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
Tanger Factory (SKT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Time Warner (TWX) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Topeka
Vanguard Natural (VNR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Wunderlich


Burlington Stores (BURL) initiated with a Neutral at Sterne Agee
EZchip (EZCH) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital
Michaels Stores (MIK) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
Michaels Stores (MIK) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
Michaels Stores (MIK) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Michaels Stores (MIK) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Michaels Stores (MIK) initiated with an Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Michaels Stores (MIK) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan
Michaels Stores (MIK) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Nordson (NDSN) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
ServiceMaster (SERV) initiated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
ServiceMaster (SERV) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
ServiceMaster (SERV) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital
ServiceMaster (SERV) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan
ServiceMaster (SERV) initiated with an Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Tesla (TSLA) initiated with an Outperform at Pacific Crest
Under Armour (UA) initiated with a Fair Value at CRT Capital


21st Century Fox (FOXA) withdrew its proposal to acquire Time Warner (TWX) and announced a $6B share repurchase program. Fox said Time Warner's management "refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling"
Time Warner (TWX) said it is committed to enhancing long-term value and it is well-positioned for success
Walgreen (WAG) exercised option to acquire remaining 55% of Alliance Boots. The company is set to be headquartered in the Chicago area. Walgreen also announced a $3B share repurchase program and increased the quarterly dividend 7.1% to 33.75c per share
Morgan Stanley (MS) said it added $53M to legal costs in Q2, cutting EPS by 2c
Cytori Therapeutics (CYTX) said it placed enrollment in the ATHENA and ATHENA II trials on clinical hold
Disney (DIS) CEO said company focused on current assets, not targeting large acquisitions
Cerner (CERN) to acquire Siemens Health Services (SIEGY) for $1.3B in cash


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

Disney (DIS), Activision Blizzard (ATVI), Abraxas Petroleum (AXAS), Cognizant (CTSH), Voya Financial (VOYA), Aqua America (WTR), EnLink Midstream (ENLK), EOG Resources (EOG), Southwest Gas (SWX), J2 Global (JCOM), Versartis (VSAR), Bio-Rad (BIO), Marchex (MCHX), Enphase Energy (ENPH), Quality Distribution (QLTY), HCI Group (HCI), Famous Dave's (DAVE), Hackett Group (HCKT), Super Micro Computer (SMCI), Midstates Petroleum (MPO), KAR Auction (KAR), WPX Energy (WPX), Colony Financial (CLNY), Ladder Capital (LADR), Paycom Software (PAYC), Corcept Therapeutics (CORT), Interval Leisure (IILG), Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ), Tutor Perini (TPC), Ocean Rig UDW (ORIG), Trimble (TRMB), Mercury Systems (mrcy), Itron (ITRI), Take-Two (TTWO), Potbelly (PBPB), XO Group (XOXO), Rex Energy (REXX), American Public Education (APEI), DryShips (DRYS), ZAGG (ZAGG), Strattec Security (STRT), FireEye (FEYE), WebMD (WBMD), Evolving Systems (EVOL), Fiesta Restaurant (FRGI), Taylor Morrison (TMHC), Viasystems (VIAS)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

Spectra Energy (SE), Memorial Production (MEMP), DISH (DISH), Dawson Geophysical (DWSN), CytRx (CYTR), Continental Resources (CLR), Era Group (ERA), Ormat Technologies (ORA), Oasis Petroleum (OAS), Axiall (AXLL), Blueknight Energy Partners (BKEP), Tidewater (TDW), Liberty Global (LBTYA), Black Hills (BKH), DCP Midstream (DPM), Papa John's (PZZA), Thompson Creek (TC), Atlas Financial (AFH), Scientific Games (SGMS), Powell (POWL), MacroGenics (MGNX), Zogenix (ZGNX), Five Prime (FPRX), Cimarex Energy (XEC), ChemoCentryx (CCXI), RadiSys (RSYS), Ixia (XXIA), ONEOK (OKE), Zillow (Z), RealD (RLD), ONEOK Partners (OKS), Stone Energy (SGY), Model N (MODN), NanoString (NSTG), Alder Biopharmaceuticals (ALDR), Pegasystems (PEGA), Portfolio Recovery (PRAA), First Solar (FSLR), TechTarget (TTGT), Rosetta Stone (RST), ACADIA (ACAD), Wright Medical (WMGI), Chuy's (CHUY), Vitesse (VTSS)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:

Groupon (GRPN), Spectra Energy Partners (SEP), Western Gas Partners (WES), Globus Medical (GMED), Universal Technical Institute (UTI), Virtusa (VRTU), Meadowbrook Insurance (MIG), Avanir (AVNR), ProAssurance (PRA), Frontier Communications (FTR)


Sprint (S) ends talks to buy T-Mobile (TMUS), WSJ reports
Sprint (S) could name Marcelo Claure as new CEO, Reuters reports
Goldman Sachs (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS) added to NY AG dark pool probe, Fox Business News reports
Standard Chartered (SCBFF) in discussions to settle transaction claims, Bloomberg reports
SAIC enacts fresh raids on Microsoft (MSFT), Accenture (ACN), Reuters reports
Apple (AAPL), Samsung (SSNLF) to drop all litigation outside U.S., Re/code reports
CVS Caremark (CVS) still looks like a buy, Barron's says


Auris Medical (EARS) 9.4M share IPO priced at $6.00
CTPartners (CTP) files to sell $50M of common stock
Manchester United (MANU) 12M share Secondary priced at $17.00
TPG Specialty Lending (TSLX) files to sell 5M shares for holders


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