Frontrunning: August 27

  • Islamic State executes soldiers, takes hostages at Syria base (Reuters)
  • Buffett Burger King Funds Flip Obama’s Inversion Calculus (BBG)
  • Equities Reach Record $66 Trillion as S&P 500 Hits 2,000 (BBG)
  • Central Banks Playing Own Version of Plaza-opoly With FX (BBG)
  • Russia court closes McDonald's branch for 90 days (Reuters)
  • Finland Says NATO an Option After Russia ‘Violates’ Border Laws (BBG)
  • Netanyahu Hit With Domestic Criticism Over Gaza Truce (BBG)
  • Biggest Danish Fund Readies for Rate Shock as Exit Narrows (BBG)
  • Nonprofit Hospitals' Profits Fall (WSJ)
  • Snapchat Fetches $10 Billion Valuation (WSJ), a year after it was valued at $800 million
  • Apple Said to Prepare New 12.9-Inch IPad for Early 2015 (BBG)
  • Demonstrations resume in Missouri over shooting death of black teen (Reuters)
  • China Is Awash in Grain Crops (WSJ)



Overnight Media Digest


* Israel and Hamas agreed to their first open-ended cease-fire after seven weeks of military confrontation and will resume truce talks in Cairo in the coming days. (

* Burger King Worldwide Inc defended its acquisition of Tim Hortons Inc as the hamburger chain came under criticism for its effort, backed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, to move the quintessential American brand to Canada. (

* Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers agreed to invest in Snapchat at a valuation of close to $10 billion, making it one of the world's most valuable private tech start-ups.(

Big Tobacco is finally making its big push into electronic cigarettes. Altria Group Inc and Reynolds American Inc together have captured about a quarter of convenience-store sales just weeks into national rollouts of the battery-powered devices. In a surprising development, though, e-cigarette sales are falling at these traditional retail outlets, reversing three years of rapid-fire growth. (

* American Airlines Group Inc has withdrawn its flights from consumer websites powered by Orbitz Worldwide Inc, following a similar dispute between the airline and the travel website about three years ago. (

* The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to complete rules Wednesday that would require banks and other firms to provide investors with more details about loans pooled into bonds known as asset-backed securities. (

* Islamic State insurgents have planted explosives to stall a Kurdish push to retake the town of Jalawla, an unfolding strategy that foes describe as built on patience, the element of surprise and a willingness to take losses. (

* A meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents failed to produce a breakthrough for ending the conflict over eastern Ukraine, as Kiev released videos of captured Russian soldiers and rebels pushed toward a government-held city. (

* Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and its insurance unit have entered exclusive talks to sell their stakes in property and engineering company United Engineers Ltd to Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. (



The United States is preparing military options, including surveillance flights, to pressure Islamic State in Syria, U.S. officials said on Monday.

Europe's leaders are set to select Federica Mogherini, Italy's foreign minister, as EU foreign policy chief at a summit on Saturday, despite worries among some EU countries that she is too inexperienced and will not be tough enough on Russia.

Warren Buffett defended his role in Burger King's $11.4 billion acquisition of coffee and doughnuts chain Tim Hortons, that will see the U.S. fast food chain's headquarters move to Canada as part of the tax inversion deal.

The United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority could fine Royal Bank of Scotland about 15 million pounds ($24.82 million) over its mortgage record-keeping and advice to borrowers, according to two people familiar with the matter.

WPP, the world's largest advertising company, said the strong British pound "ravaged" its revenues, wiping more than 400 million pounds $661.72 million) off its net sales in the first half of the year.



* As Detroit prepares to defend its plan next week to exit bankruptcy, city leaders have received an unusual offer: Why not mortgage all the Van Goghs, Picassos and other works in the Detroit Institute of Arts? A company called Art Capital, which makes loans backed by artwork, has told the city it is willing to lend it up to $3 billion, roughly 10 times the exit financing Detroit is now contemplating, using the museum's art as collateral. But the city's response is silence. (

* Allergan Inc, the Botox maker fending off a hostile takeover attempt by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc and Pershing Square Capital Management, has set a date for a special meeting at which shareholders will have the opportunity to vote out a majority of the board. In a filing with the Delaware Chancery Court, Allergan said the meeting would take place on Dec. 18. (

* Google Inc announced Tuesday that it bought Boston-based Zync Inc, the maker of Zync Render, a "cloud-based rendering software." Google wouldn't say how much it paid for Zync. The company will integrate Zync's data and technology into the Google Cloud Platform, and move off Inc Web Services. (

* A cross-border fast-food deal has united Warren Buffett with one of his favorite investors. Buffett's conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, is helping finance Burger King Worldwide Inc's $11.4 billion takeover of the Canadian restaurant chain Tim Hortons Inc by buying $3 billion of preferred shares in the new company. (

* Time Warner Inc's Turner Broadcasting System division said on Tuesday that it was offering buyouts to about 600 employees, the first step in an ambitious effort to overhaul a portfolio of cable networks that have struggled with declining ratings at a time of intense competition for viewers. Layoffs and additional cost-cutting measures will follow, according to an internal memo announcing the buyouts. (

* Volvo AB on Tuesday introduced its first vehicle designed and built under Chinese ownership. The vehicle, a seven-seat sport utility vehicle known as the XC90 that will go on sale in April, is probably a make-or-break model for Volvo. (

* Michael Lucarelli, the director of market intelligence at Lippert/Heilshorn and Associates, was arrested and charged with 13 counts of insider trading for buying and selling stocks based on information in news releases his company had prepared for its clients, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement. (

* The Swiss private bank Pictet Group reported its financial results publicly for the first time in its 209-year history on Tuesday, showing a profit and highlighting continuing changes in Switzerland's traditionally secretive banking culture. (

* Governments should ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places and outlaw tactics to lure young users, the World Health Organization said in a report released on Tuesday that calls for some of the toughest measures yet proposed for the increasingly popular devices. It also expressed "grave concern" about the growing role of the powerful tobacco industry in the e-cigarette market. (




** Barrick Gold Corp is eliminating its entire corporate development team and more cuts are in the works as the world's top gold miner looks to trim costs, three sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday. (

** Canada's public health agency is preparing to bring home a trio of scientists who were helping to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone after three people in their hotel complex tested positive for the viral hemorrhagic fever. A Health Canada spokesman confirmed late Tuesday night that the Public Health Agency of Canada is finalizing plans to pull its mobile laboratory team out of the West African country. (


** Cominar Real Estate Investment Trust has signed a deal to buy a portfolio of 15 properties including shopping centres, office buildings and an industrial park in Quebec and Ontario from Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc for C$1.53 billion ($1.40 billion). (

** Hewlett-Packard Co is recalling more than 6 million personal-computer power cords in the United States and Canada, citing reports of overheating and melting units. The cords, distributed with Hewlett-Packard and Compaq notebooks and related products, were sold from September 2010 to June 2012, the company and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a statement on Tuesday. (

** The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ordered Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to reimburse former employee Leslie Hicks nearly C$17,000 ($15,606) in expenses after ruling last year the department had engaged in "reckless discrimination" against him. (

** Drivers in Ontario could soon face much stiffer penalties for texting behind the wheel, as the governing Liberals are set to reintroduce a bill that would boost the maximum fine to C$1,000 ($918). (


Hong Kong

- The president of China Resources Power (CRP) and a Shanxi tycoon, believed to be the biggest beneficiary of a controversial coal investment, have been detained by authorities. CRP said its executive director Wang Yujun was under investigation in Jiangsu province, while sources revealed that Zhang Xinming, once the richest man in Shanxi, had been detained earlier this month. (

- Fashion retailer Fujian Nuoqi should have disclosed more information on its two failures to list on the mainland before floating its shares in Hong Kong, and CCB International, the sole sponsor of the share sale, may possibly be disciplined, analysts said. Nuoqi, which listed in Hong Kong in January, reported to police in July that its chairman was missing. (

- Homebuyers are increasingly seeking to finance their purchases with loans based on the lower interest rates in the Hong Kong interbank offered rate market. The percentage of mortgage applicants opting for loans priced with reference to Hibor rose from 42 percent in January to 77 percent in June, Hong Kong Monetary Authority data shows. (


- Hopewell Holdings declared a special dividend distribution of one share of Hopewell Highway Infrastructure for every 20 shares of the developer, hoping to boost HHI's market liquidity and shareholder base. (

- The Urban Renewal Authority's Kwun Tong redevelopment project received six tenders, including Henderson Land , Sun Hung Kai Properties, Wheelock and Great Eagle. It is believed to involve a total investment of HK$18 billion ($2.3 billion). (


- Internet game developer Forgame Holdings Ltd said its net loss narrowed to 2.14 million yuan for the first half of 2014, from a 233 million yuan loss in the year-ago period.


- China Securities Regulatory Commission has approved Shenzhen Stock Exchange's plan to conduct a feasibility study in relation to a trading connection with the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to a Shenzhen municipality official.


- Department store operator Golden Eagle Retail Group Ltd , which is under pressure due to keen competition from e-commerce sites, is not in a hurry to develop its own e-commerce business as the company has still not seen a proven profit-making business model so far, according to chairman Roger Wang.



The Times


The Serious Fraud Office has criticised the recruitment of independent experts to investigate criminal behaviour in companies, warning that the practice risks destroying the evidence needed to put rogue business people and bankers behind bars.


House prices in Britain will be more than 25 percent higher in five years, with London finally being overtaken by other parts of the country.

The Guardian


UKIP leader Nigel Farage and London Mayor Boris Johnson take steps toward Westminster, causing political headaches for Tory leaders.


WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell has warned that the prospect of Scotland voting for independence and Britain leaving the European Union could weaken the UK economy, adding to worries over heightened geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East.

The Telegraph

GORDON BROWN AND ALISTAIR DARLING PUT ASIDE DIFFERENCES IN FIGHT FOR UK The former Prime Minister and his former chancellor are to share a platform for the first time in the independence referendum debate following Alex Salmond's damaging TV debate victory.

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE VOTE COULD PROMPT PENSIONS CRISIS If Scotland votes "yes" this September, EU pension rules could threaten the cash flow of the UK's largest companies, warns JPMorgan.

Sky News


Royal Bank of Scotland will on Wednesday add to the list of misconduct for which it has been fined since it was bailed out by British taxpayers when it pays millions of pounds for giving poor advice to mortgage customers.

CALL FOR E-CIGARETTES TO BE BANNED INDOORS The World Health Organisation wants tougher regulation, including a ban on selling to minors and on vending machines in public.


Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz


Domestic economic reports today include:
MBA purchase applications for week of Aug. 22--up 2.8%



Aruba Networks (ARUN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
Hilltop Holdings (HTH) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Rent-A-Center (RCII) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord
Tim Hortons (THI) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
Waste Management (WM) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel


Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
E-House (EJ) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Facebook (FB) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
Laredo Petroleum (LPI) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord
Leju (LEJU) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Pioneer Natural (PXD) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord
Sturm, Ruger (RGR) downgraded to Fair Value from Buy at CRT Capital
Susser Petroleum downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Tim Hortons (THI) downgraded to Sector Performer from Outperformer at CIBC


ASML (ASML) initiated with a Hold at Stifel
Akamai (AKAM)initiated with an Outperform at RW Baird
Alcobra (ADHD) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
Axcelis (ACLS) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK) initiated with a Buy at Drexel Hamilton
Bristol-Myers (BMY) initiated with a Hold at Deutsche Bank
Concur (CNQR) initiated with a Neutral at DA Davidson
Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD) initiated with a Neutral at DA Davidson
CyrusOne (CONE) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Eli Lilly (LLY) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
FCB Financial (FCB) initiated with a Neutral at Guggenheim
First Financial (FFIN) initiated with a Hold at Drexel Hamilton
Garmin (GRMN) initiated with a Neutral at RW Baird
Marketo (MKTO) initiated with a Buy at DA Davidson
Merck (MRK) initiated with a Hold at Deutsche Bank
NetSuite (N) initiated with a Buy at DA Davidson
Oracle (ORCL) initiated with a Neutral at DA Davidson
Oxford Industries (OXM) initiated with a Buy at Wunderlich
Pfizer (PFE) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
ServiceNow (NOW) initiated with a Buy at DA Davidson
Southside Bancshares (SBSI) initiated with a Hold at Drexel Hamilton
Workday (WDAY) initiated with a Neutral at DA Davidson


Allergan (AGN) requests block to Ackman, Valeant (VRX) votes, announces Special Meeting date of December 18
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), NatWest fined GBP14.47M by FCA
Mario Gabelli told CNBC that Chemtura (CHMT) has limited downside, can double in next five years; Gabelli also said he thinks Diebold (DBD) is "in the beginning of a major turnaround"
Aruba Networks (ARUN) announced a 3.7% workforce reduction
Cooper Tire (CTB) said Chengshan JV valued at around $440M
CFTC ordered Merrill Lynch (BAC) to pay $1.2M fine for supervision failures
Lakes Entertainment (LACO) engaged financial advisor to explore strategic alternatives
Chiquita Brands (CQB), Fyffes now see $60M of annualized pre-tax cost savings
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Donaldson (DCI), Seadrill (SDRL), Globe Specialty Metals (GSM), HEICO (HEI), Dycom (DY), TiVo (TIVO), TubeMogul (tube), Smith & Wesson (SWHC), Nimble Storage (NMBL), Aruba Networks (ARUN)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

SQM (SQM), Solera (SLH)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:

Bob Evans (BOBE), Analog Devices (ADI)


Apple (AAPL) readying larger iPad for 2015 launch, Bloomberg reports
Shell-led (RDS.A) group close to selling Nigeria oilfields for $5B, FT reports (TOT, E)
AT&T's (T) Ralph de la Vega to oversee enterprise and mobile, Re/code reports
Apple (AAPL) may introduce a thinner MacBook as early as this year, Digitimes says
Intel (INTC) working on luxury smart bracelet with curved glass display, Business Insider reports
Amazon (AMZN) steps point to digital health entry, VentureBeat says
Repsol (REPYY), Talisman (TLM) talks on oil and natural gas assets stall, WSJ reports
Time Warner Cable (TWC) customers reporting outages nationwide, Business Insider reports


Air Industries (AIRI) files $12.14M mixed securities shelf
Ardmore Shipping (ASC) files $300M mixed securities shelf
BNC Bancorp (BNCN) files $150M mixed securities shelf
Carver Bancorp (CARV) requests withdrawal of registration statement
Compugen (CGEN) files $200M mixed securities shelf
Gabelli Equity Trust announces rights offering
Quest Resource Holding (QRHC) files $50M mixed securities shelf


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