Top 10 News for 06/21: Early End to QE3?; Gold Hammered; Icahn Pressures Dell; Recalling Tesla
1. Markets and precious metals saw pressure this week following comments from the latest FOMC meeting and chairman Ben Bernanke. Largely, markets were pricing in the tapering off of QE3 starting by the end of this year and complete cessation by the middle of 2014. For remarks from Bernanke during his post-FOMC announcement press conference, click here. For more on the fallout following comments, click here.
2. Sprint (NYSE: S) revised its offer to acquire all the outstanding shares of Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR) it didn't own to $5 per share, valuing the network equipment company at $14 billion. The move came following comments earlier in the week that SoftBank and Sprint plan to close their merger agreement this summer, causing DISH Networks (Nasdaq: DISH) to drop out of the running. Amid Clearwire's board backing the latest Sprint bid, DISH hasn't indicated that it would be dropping out of that race.
3. Homebuilders saw some activity this week following the latest housing starts and existing home sales data. For the month of May, housing starts came in at 914,000 units, which missed consensus views calling for 950,000 units. Existing sales rose 4.2 percent from the prior month to an annualized rate of 5.18 million units.
4. Gold got hammered again this week following comments out of Bernanke. After starting the week at $1,367 per ounce, the metal tumbled $65 on Thursday to a $1,286 per ounce settle. Traders are nervous about an earlier exit to QE3 following the recent weakness in U.S. markets and still-high unemployment rate. The stronger dollar will also make gold more expensive to outside investors.
5. Carl Icahn still likes Dell, Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), adding a little pressure to the company earlier this week when he disclosed committed financing for his takeover bid. The activist investor said if Dell would tender 1.1 billion shares at $14 per share, he and Southeastern Asset Management wouldn't tender. For more on the letter, click here.
6. Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) is an emotional roller coaster we just don't want to quit. Earlier in the week, the manufacturer of Model S sedan electric vehicles instituted a small recall on said vehicles, citing a problem with the "mounting bracket for the left hand latch of the second row seat." It was weaker than expected, something CEO Elon Musk doesn't want in his flagship offering. Thursday saw the demonstration of a battery swap for the Model S, which was accomplished in less than 90 seconds. Pricing on the swap will be equivalent to a 15-gallon fill-up at the pump.
7. Third Point's Dan Loeb really thinks he has a great idea for Sony (NYSE: SNE), but it's currently falling on deaf ears. The activist investor added 6 million more shares to his stake this week, bringing his total position in the consumer electronics giant to 7 percent. He's hoping for a partial spin of Sony's profitable entertainment unit to offset some of the losses in its hardware division. For more color on the move, click here.
8. Oracle Corp (Nasdaq: ORCL) saw an unusually large drop on Friday as it reported Q4 EPS of $0.87 and revs of $10.9 billion with the Street looking for EPS of $0.87 and revs of $11.1 billion. Investors were nervous about performance in Oracle's cloud-computing segment, though CEO Larry Ellison said a few announcements would be coming next week in that respect. The company also doubled its quarterly dividend to 12 cents and approved a $12 billion common buyback plan.
9. Monday saw Weyerhaeuser (NYSE: WY) announce it signed definitive stock purchase agreement to acquire Longview Timber LLC from affiliates of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. for $2.65 billion, which includes the assumption of debt. In conjunction with the offering, the company is issuing 29 million shares of its common stock.
10. On Wednesday, the Board of Directors of Men's Wearhouse (NYSE: MW) announced that it terminated George Zimmer from his position as Executive Chairman. The Board said it expects to discuss with Mr. Zimmer the extent, if any, and terms of his ongoing relationship with the Company.
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