Frontrunning: August 8

  • Pope Francis calls for action as Iraqi Christians forced to flee (Reuters)
  • Richest Russians Deprived of Luxury Foods by Putin’s Ban (BBG)
  • Exxon Drilling Russian Arctic Shows Sanction Lack Bite (BBG)
  • Israeli Jets Strike Gaza Targets After Rockets Shatter Truce (BBG)
  • U.S. starts aid airdrops in Iraq but no strikes yet (Reuters)
  • Banks Said to Be Arranging Argentine Debt Buyer Group (BBG)
  • Siberia Flight-Ban Threat Forces Airlines to Mull Options (BBG)
  • Malaysia Airlines to Be Delisted in $429 Million Buyout (BBG)
  • Erdogan poised to win Turkey's first popular presidential vote (Reuters)
  • African Bank Fights Collapse in Espirito Santo-Like Drama (BBG)
  • China to build lighthouses on five isles in defiance of U.S. call (Reuters)
  • Foreign Investigators Say They Didn’t Know China Law (BBG)
  • BlackRock Sees Correction for India Stocks After 20% Gain (BBG)


Overnight Media Digest


* President Barack Obama authorized targeted air strikes and emergency assistance missions in northern Iraq, saying the United States must act to protect American personnel and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the face of advances by violent Islamist militants. (

* A change in how the FICO credit-score, the most widely used credit score in the United States, is tallied will likely make it easier for tens of millions of Americans to get loans. (

* Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Malaysia's state investment company, said it will buy out Malaysian Airline System Bhd as the first step in restructuring the ailing flag carrier hit by the high-profile loss of two of its flights this year. (

* The U.S. economy looks set to steadily accelerate after a weather-pummeled first-half crawl, but the most upbeat economists in The Wall Street Journal's monthly forecasting survey say the business sector holds the key to even stronger growth during the second half. (

* Investors pulled a record $7.1 billion from junk-bond funds in the week ended Wednesday. Many investors have been pulling back from the market amid concerns that the bonds are overvalued and a strengthening U.S. economy could prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than the market currently expects. (

* Blackstone Group LP, KKR & Co LP and TPG Capital Management LP agreed to pay a combined $325 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that a number of private-equity firms colluded to keep down the prices they paid for companies. (

* Deutsche Bank AG, under fire from U.S. regulators over what they see as weak systems and financial controls, has been formally ordered to clean up its act as part of a confidential pact with the authorities, according to people familiar with the agreement. (

* MetLife Inc has agreed to pay $23 million to resolve a class-action litigation that accused an agent of the firm of improperly blasting life-insurance pitches via fax machine. (

* The Obama administration is exploring a range of possible weapons in the tax code to try to deter companies from relocating overseas for tax purposes through so-called inversion mergers. (

* International Business Machines Corp said it has developed a microchip that simulates brain functions to perform calculations. IBM says the chip is a sharp break from the fundamental design used in most computers. (

* Russia's ban on food imports from the United States could trim revenues for producers of almonds, poultry and other agricultural products, though the impact on the U.S. farm sector is expected to be muted overall, industry officials said on Thursday. (

* Deutsche Telekom AG Chief Executive Timotheus Höttges said he hasn't received an offer for U.S. subsidiary T-Mobile US that meets his requirements for a deal, as the company reported a rise in second-quarter profit. (



The big U.S. banks may have to shell out billions of dollars more as aid to distressed communities hit by the financial crisis, with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development asking for new terms for settling claims of mortgage sales abuses.

Buyout firms KKR & Co LP, Blackstone Group LP and TPG Capital LP have agreed to pay $325 million to settle a U.S. lawsuit that accused them, along with four other private equity firms, of conspiring to fix prices on some of the world's largest leveraged buyout deals.

RSA Insurance Group Plc CEO Stephen Hester has warned shareholders that the insurer might face further asset writedowns, as the company's head tries to rebuild the company following setbacks, most seriously the past overstatement of profits in Ireland.

Norway's sovereign wealth fund will start issuing public declarations from next year, to state which way it intends to vote on issues being presented at certain companies' annual meeting.

Researches at the Black Hat cyber security conference in Las Vegas have drawn attention to flaws in cyber security they believe could allow hackers to swipe credit card information from over 600 retailers and control gadgets in hotel rooms remotely.



* Chinese companies have raised $3.5 billion in new listings in the United States so far this year, more than the combined total from 2009 to 2013. Up next is Alibaba Group Holding Ltd <IPO-BABA.N>, the Chinese e-commerce giant that is expected to raise as much as $20 billion in one of the biggest IPOs in the history of United States markets, perhaps as soon as September. (

* As of earlier this week 909 writers had signed on a letter to Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Inc demanding that Amazon stop using writers as hostages in its negotiations. (

* Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the United States' largest retailer, is in the throes of its most aggressive push yet to become a one-stop shopping destination for medical care. The company has opened five primary care locations in South Carolina and Texas, and plans to open a sixth clinic in Palestine, Texas, on Friday and another six by the end of the year.(

* Inspired by the architecture of the brain, scientists have developed a new kind of computer chip that uses no more power than a hearing aid and may eventually excel at calculations that stump today's supercomputers. The chip, or processor, is named TrueNorth and was developed by researchers at IBM. (

* The creator of one of the most widely used and influential credit scores, Fair Isaac Corp, said on Thursday that the latest version of its score would no longer weigh medical debts, which account for about half of all unpaid collections on consumers' credit reports as heavily as it did in previous iterations. (

* China lost an appeal on Thursday of a World Trade Organization ruling that found it had broken international trade law by restricting exports of raw materials used in hybrid car batteries and other energy-efficiency products. (

* The Food and Drug Administration helped clear the way on Thursday for a second experimental drug to be tried by people in Africa stricken with the Ebola virus. The drug, being developed by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp, was in the initial phase of human testing, which is on healthy volunteers, when the FDA last month halted the trial because side effects were observed. (

* Federal auto regulators imposed a nearly $17.4 million penalty on Hyundai because it did not promptly report to the public a safety defect that affected braking in its cars. (

* Santander Consumer USA disclosed on Thursday that it had received a Justice Department subpoena related to its subprime auto lending business, the latest company to be touched by a federal investigation into the booming industry. (

* Three of the leading private equity firms, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co LP, the Blackstone Group LP and TPG on Wall Street have agreed to pay a combined $325 million to settle accusations that they colluded with one another to drive down the prices of corporate takeover targets, according to a court filing on Thursday. (

* Lululemon Athletica Inc has reached a pact with its founder, Dennis Wilson, potentially averting a costly battle over control of the embattled sportswear maker's board. The agreement ends a months long standoff between the high-end yoga clothing firm and its founder, one in which Wilson publicly voiced his dissatisfaction by voting against the reappointment of two of his fellow directors. (

* The owner of SourceMedia, the publisher of financial trade publications like American Banker and The Bond Buyer, said that it had sold the media company to Observer Capital, an investment firm. Terms of the transaction weren't disclosed. (




* Canadian businesses are bracing for a possible next wave of Russian sanctions after Moscow banned imports of key food products in an escalating economic war over the conflict in Ukraine. (

* The water quality near the site of the massive tailings-pond breach this week meets drinking-water standards, according to preliminary test results, but the long-term impact on fish habitats and other wildlife remains unknown. A water usage ban will remain in place until additional testing is completed. The tailings-pond dam at Imperial Metals' Mount Polley mine burst early Monday morning, spewing millions of cubic meters of mining waste into the Cariboo district's waterways and triggering a local state of emergency. (

Reports in the business section:

* After a months-long battle, Lululemon Athletica Inc founder Chip Wilson has reached an agreement with the yoga wear retailer's board that will see him team up with a private equity firm to get more sway over the board. (


* Canada is sending non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine to help the country protect its eastern border against Russian aggression. Defense Minister Rob Nicholson made the announcement at a military base in Trenton, Ontario, where a CC-130J Hercules plane loaded with "non-kinetic military equipment" was set to take off for the first in a series of military transport flights. (

* Municipal politicians in a region of Ontario that is home to one of the world's largest nuclear power plants violated provincial law by holding secret meetings over the storage of radioactive waste, an outside investigation has found. (


* Oil exploration off Canada's East Coast is reaching fever pitch as oil companies warm up to the potential beneath the frigid waters near Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritimes. TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company ASA has teamed up with Petroleum Geo-Services ASA and Newfoundland and Labrador's Nalcor Energy to map about 47,000 square kilometers of seismic data. (

* Manulife Financial Corp surprised investors by hiking its dividend for the first time since slashing it in half five years ago, in a bid to survive the toil of the financial crisis. (




- China's Chongqing has become the first provincial level government to test public-private partnership (PPP) in the country's state-owned enterprise reform, signing contracts worth 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) under the model on Thursday.

- Foreign investors have stepped up their investment in China's stock market since the start of July as the market shows signs of recovery while the yuan is slowly appreciating, adding value to the assets denominated in the Chinese currency.


- Investment in trust products by Chinese insurance companies surged by 38.5 percent from the end of last year to 200 billion yuan by the end of the first quarter this year, alarming the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, which is launching an investigation into the unusual rise.

- The Shanghai government has issued new rules to support Internet finance in the fledging stage in China, including offering fund-raising support to related companies.


- Food companies should withdraw substandard products that are a threat to health as soon as they are discovered, a draft document by China's top food safety watchdog said after a slew of food scandals involving Chinese chain shops of big names such as McDonald's Corp and Yum Brands Inc.


- The upholding by the High People's Court in central Hubei province of the death sentence for Liu Han, a former mining tycoon, means China will not tolerate Mafia-like gangs, the newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party of China, said in a commentary.


The Times


Diplomats have this year spent more than 16,000 pounds with cigar suppliers as part of an overall 400,000 pounds entertainment bill for items including pianos and exclusive restaurants.


Standard Chartered Plc has moved to distance itself from criticism by one of its most senior executives after he attacked regulators for treating the bank like a "criminal" over lapses in its anti-money laundering systems.


Birmingham city council will sell its conference arena operator by the end of this year after NEC Group reported a sharp rise in profits.

The Guardian


The Co-operative Group is on Friday expected to publish detailed proposals to change the way it is run and is thought to be offering crucial concessions on its board structure.


The government stands to reap a 4 billion pound ($6.7 billion) tax windfall as more than 650,000 people are expected to exploit George Osborne's changes and cash in part of their pensions over the next five years.


Adidas AG is planning its biggest-ever advertising campaign next year as it fights back against rival Nike Inc. The world's second-largest sportswear maker has admitted that it needs to invest more in its brands to catch up with market leader Nike, after losing ground in developed markets.

The Telegraph


The soaring pound is savaging corporate Britain, with more than 1.5 billion pounds wiped off the year-to-date profits of a string of top multinationals in recent days.


British industry is heavily involved in the success of the European Space Agency's (ESA) mission to catch and land on the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.

Sky News


Ranbir Singh Suri, the founder of Oceanic Jewellers who ranks among Britain's richest Asians, is to be ennobled by David Cameron when nearly two dozen new members of the House of Lords are confirmed on Friday.


Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz

Significant domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Nonfarm productivity for Q2 at 8:30--consensus up 1.4%
Unit labor costs for Q2 at 8:30--consensus up 1.2%
Wholesale trade inventories for June at 10:00--consensus up 0.7%



Allergan (AGN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Leerink
Brinker (EAT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
CST Brands (CST) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
Coca-Cola HBC (OCCH) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Delek US (DK) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Cowen
Fifth Street Finance (FSC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Guggenheim
Glimcher Realty Trust (GRT) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
NVIDIA (NVDA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Needham
POZEN (POZN) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Ascendiant
Sierra Bancorp (BSRR) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Tornier (TRNX) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
WGL Holdings (WGL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Brean Capital


Alexza Pharmaceuticals (ALXA) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Roth Capital
Ann Inc. (ANN) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Ball Corp. (BLL) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Braskem (BAK) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC
Cambrex (CBM) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at First Analysis
Delta Apparel (DLA) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Ascendiant
Endurance (EIGI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Hibbett Sports (HIBB) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Ignite downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Kraton Performance (KRA) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Laredo Petroleum (LPI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust
Marrone Bio (MBII) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Marrone Bio (MBII) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Masimo (MASI) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Mylan (MYL) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
PhotoMedex (PHMD) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord
Post Holdings (POST) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust
Rubicon (RBCN) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Tronox (TROX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at B. Riley
Volcano (VOLC) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer


Ashland (ASH) initiated with a Buy at UBS
BioCryst (BCRX) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan
Caesarstone (CSTE) initiated with a Buy at UBS
Nimble Storage (NMBL) initiated with an Outperform at Wells Fargo
Proofpoint (PFPT) initiated with an Outperform at Wells Fargo


lululemon (LULU) founder Chip Wilson to sell half his stake to Advent for $845M. Advent will receive two board seats and review the company's governance
Santander Consumer (SC) disclosed a DOJ subpoena in 10-Q filing
Caesar's (CZR) filed a complaint against investors for thwarting restructuring efforts
T-Mobile (TMUS) plans to overtake Sprint (S) in total customers by end of year, CEO says
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (TKMR) announced that the FDA verbally confirmed they have modified the full clinical hold placed on the TKM-Ebola to a partial clinical hold
Post Holdings (POST) said it acquired American Blanching for $128M in cash
CBS (CBS) boosted its share buyback to $6B, increased dividend 25%. CEO Moonves said 'happy' with assets, not interested in buying CNN


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
CBS (CBS), RadNet (RDNT), Magna (MGA), eLong (LONG), Consolidated Edison (ED), Assured Guaranty (AGO), Therapeutics (GALT), Alimera Sciences (ALIM), ImmunoCellular (IMUC), Oplink Communications (OPLK), Aeterna Zentaris (AEZS), Universal Display (OLED), Ziopharm (ZIOP), Shutterstock (SSTK), Achillion (ACHN), Demand Media (DMD), Alexza Pharmaceuticals (ALXA), Universal Electronics (UEIC), Medifast (MED), Rentrak (RENT), Main Street (MAIN), Engility Holdings (EGL), Sprouts Farmers Markets (SFM), Rubicon (RBCN), EMCORE (EMKR), Alexander & Baldwin (ALEX), MercadoLibre (MELI), SolarCity (SCTY), Power Solutions (PSIX), Volcano (VOLC), NMI Holdings (NMIH), Cara Therapeutics (CARA), Lionsgate (LGF), Arista Networks (ANET), Navigators (NAVG), Encore Capital (ECPG), Air Lease (AL), NVIDIA (NVDA), CareFusion (CFN), VIVUS (VVUS), CSC (CSC), Genomic Health (GHDX), Northern Oil and Gas (NOG), Century Communities (CCS), Air Methods (AIRM), Anacor (ANAC), Amarin (AMRN), Guidance Software (GUID), Diodes (DIOD), OncoGenex (OGXI), Rentech Nitrogen (RNF), Amyris (AMRS), Monster Beverage (MNST), Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD), Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT), Haynes (HAYN), Spectrum (SPPI), NIC Inc. (EGOV)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

News Corp. (NWSA), LSB Industries (LXU), Susser Petroleum Partners (SUSP), The New Home Company (NWHM), Atlas Resource Partners (ARP), Denison Mines (DNN), TransAtlantic Petroleum (TAT), Atlantic Power (AT), Cardica (CRDC), Sophiris Bio (SPHS), BioDelivery Sciences (BDSI), Hanger  (HGR), Multi-Fineline (MFLX), Great Plains Energy (GXP), Future Fuel (FF), BioAmber (BIOA), Speed Commerce (SPDC), Fidus Investment (FDUS), Darling (DAR), BIOLASE (BIOL), AuRico Gold (AUQ), Erickson (EAC), Raptor Pharmaceuticals (RPTP), Ensign Group (ENSG), Capstone Turbine (CPST), Summit Midstream (SMLP), Redwood Trust (RWT), Amtech Systems (ASYS), Kemper (KMPR), Kythera (KYTH), Bonanza Creek (BCEI), Global Eagle (ENT), SMART Technologies (SMT), Tornier (TRNX), Annie's (BNNY), FXCM (FXCM), Auspex Pharmaceuticals (ASPX), Fairway Group (FWM), Central Garden & Pet Co. (CENTA), Frank's International (FI), Performant Financial (PFMT), TrueCar (TRUE), , Masimo (MASI), Marrone Bio (MBII), NeoPhotonics (NPTN), Salix (SLXP), Nuverra Environmental (NES), I.D. Systems (IDSY), Tumi (TUMI), Artesian Resources (ARTNA), Ignite Restaurant (IRG), Alnylam (ALNY)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:

Zynga (ZNGA), Select Medical (SEM), BPZ Resources (BPZ), Verastem (VSTM), Bankrate (RATE), Bright Horizons (BFAM), Quantum (QTWW), Clean Energy (CLNE), TearLab (TEAR), Hercules Technology (HTGC), Allscripts (MDRX)


Dresser-Rand (DRC) receives takeover interest, hires adviser, Bloomberg reports
Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS) Hampton leads race to become new GSK (GSK) chair, FT reports
Pfizer (PFE) facing wave of lawsuits by women over Lipitor, Reuters reports
Yahoo (YHOO) to strengthen email encryption for users, Mashable reports
Goldman Sachs (GS), JPMorgan (JPM) in Senate's crosshairs for commodities holdings, Reuters reports
The Medicines Co. (MDCO) could have 25% upside, Barron's says


Amarin (AMRN) files $300M mixed securities shelf
Camden Property (CPT) files automatic mixed securities shelf
Gold Standard Ventures (GSV) announces 10M common share offering
Green Bancorp (GNBC) 4.688M share IPO priced at $15.00
Spirit AeroSystems (SPR) 8.56M share Spot Secondary priced at $35.90


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