Frontrunning: June 28


  • Fashionable 'Risk Parity' Funds Hit Hard (WSJ)

  • No 1997 Asian Crisis Return as China Trembles (BBG)

  • Greece Faces Collapse of Second Key Privatization (FT)

  • China Bad-Loan Alarm Sounded by Record Bank Spread Jump (BBG)

  • Iranian official signals no scaling back in nuclear activity (Reuters)

  • Asmussen Says Any QE Discussions at ECB Not Policy Relevant (BBG)

  • Flat Japanese consumer prices aid Kuroda (FT)

  • Vietnam Devalues Dong for First Time Since ’11 to Boost Reserves (BBG)

  • World Bank Sees ‘Vulnerable’ Food System on Climate Change (BBG)

  • Fed big-hitters seek to quash QE fears (FT)

  • EU Leaders Set to Slow Support for Ailing Banks (BBG)

  • U.K. Increases Estimate of Shale-Gas Reserves (WSJ)

  • EU leaders clinch deals on banks, budget, youth unemployment (Reuters)


 


Overnight Media Digest


WSJ


* The Senate voted 68-32 to approve a sweeping plan to rewrite the nation's immigration laws and sent it to the House, where it faces a more difficult path.


* The Federal Reserve will vote next week to finalize capital rules for U.S. banks after regulators agreed to resolve a separate issue that had delayed action.


* The Supreme Court's most important ideological struggle isn't between left and right, but the narrower divide of Chief Justice John Roberts's conservatism and the libertarian streak of Justice Anthony Kennedy.


* Regulators charged former MF Global chief Jon Corzine and former executive Edith O'Brien with the unlawful misuse of nearly $1 billion.


* The Obama administration has begun assembling a shortlist of candidates for the Fed chairmanship, in the expectation that Ben Bernanke won't seek reappointment.


* China's top leaders are expected to name a senior government official with a deep finance background as head of its sovereign-wealth fund, China Investment Corp.


* The SEC is scrutinizing how certain investors might have received potentially market-moving information from the Institute for Supply Management ahead of the public, as the trade group changes its procedures to eliminate a delay in the distribution of the data.


* Pfizer Inc's board has authorized the buy back of an additional $10 billion in shares to boost shareholder value.


* Bank of America Corp spurned a request from American International Group Inc to renegotiate an $8.5 billion deal over soured mortgage-backed securities after a judge suggested mediation, according to a court filing by AIG.


* Textbook publisher Cengage Learning is preparing to file for bankruptcy court protection in the coming days. The company is owned by private equity firm Apax Partners.


 


FT


President Bashar al-Assad's regime is enlisting the help of Iran, Russia and China to bypass western sanctions by doing business in rials, roubles and renminbi, Syria's senior economics minister has said.


Conflicting interests between opposing business groups threaten to unravel the sale of Greek gambling company OPAP , the head of the country's privatization agency said on Thursday.


The Church Commissioners, an endowment fund of the Church of England, has agreed to join a consortium formed by Lord Davies, the former Standard Chartered chairman, to take control of hundreds of Royal Bank of Scotland branches.


Shareholders in Schmolz+Bickenbach AG will decide at their annual meeting on Friday whether or not to let billionaire Russian Tycoon Viktor Vekselberg build his stake in the struggling Swiss-German steel company.


Private equity fund CVC Capital Partners, owner of the Formula One car racing franchise, has outpaced competitors by securing pledges of more than 14 billion euros ($18.20 billion) from investors in just six months at a time when most of its peers are struggling to raise funds.


UK'S medium-sized companies are closing the gap in revenue growth with their German counterparts, according to research by GE Capital.


 


NYT


* The Senate on Thursday approved the most significant overhaul of the nation's immigration laws in a generation with broad support generated by a sense among leading Republicans that the party needed to join with Democrats to remove a wedge between Republicans and Hispanic voters.


* As the Senate voted on an immigration bill that would let Silicon Valley companies import engineers from abroad, the labor lobby says eligible workers in the United States are being passed over.


* The Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act against same-sex marriage brought a stunning improvement in the lives gay foreigners, many of whom lived in fear of being separated from their American spouses.


* The economy is the victim of a little misunderstanding, Federal Reserve officials said on Thursday, telling investors who have sent borrowing costs soaring that they are misguided in believing the Fed's stimulus campaign is about to wane.


* The Obama administration on Thursday announced plans to suspend trade privileges for Bangladesh over concerns about safety problems and labor rights violations in the country's garment industry.


* On Thursday, federal regulators sued Jon Corzine in connection with the collapse of the brokerage firm MF Global and apparent misuse of customer money during its final days. Corzine, a former United States senator and New Jersey governor, ran the firm until its bankruptcy in October 2011.


* Moody's Investors Service, dissatisfied with the way states measure what they owe their retirees, released its own numbers on Thursday, showing that the 50 states have, in aggregate, just 48 cents for every dollar in pensions they have promised.


* In separate but similar speeches on Thursday, three officials from the Federal Reserve sought to reassure investors that economic data would continue to guide its actions on its stimulus campaign.


* The Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday began a legislative push to simplify the tax code by asking all senators to identify what tax breaks, deductions and credits should be kept.


* As more nuclear reactors across the country are closed, the problem of what to do with their waste is becoming more urgent, government officials and private experts said at a conference in Washington this week.


* Celebrity chef Paula Deen has run into trouble with another major corporate partner: the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk said on Thursday that it would suspend its relationship in the wake of her admission that she used racist language in the past.


* The Agriculture Department on Thursday effectively banned the sale of snack foods like candy, cookies and sugary drinks, including sports drinks, in schools, making it harder for students to avoid the now-healthier school meals by eating snacks sold in vending machines.


* The Securities and Exchange Commission is questioning how some traders got the Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing data ahead of its official release earlier this month.


* Shellpoint Partners, of which Lewis Ranieri is chairman, sold $251 million in residential mortgage-backed securities tied to loans that are not backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The largest portion of the deal was sold at a rate of 2.85 percentage points above ultrasafe government debt, according to the person briefed on the deal.


* The Senate Agriculture Committee said on Thursday that it would convene a hearing on July 10 to examine Smithfield Foods' $4.7 billion sale to Shuanghui International, a Chinese meat processor, stepping up government scrutiny of the deal.


* China's biggest wind turbine company, Sinovel, and two of its executives conspired with an employee of a Massachusetts wind company to steal the American firm's software for controlling the flow of electricity, causing $800 million in damages, according to an indictment on Thursday.


* Nearly six months after a small plane carrying its top executive disappeared off the coast of Venezuela, the Missoni fashion company said on Thursday that the wreckage of the aircraft had been found in the waters north of the resort of Los Roques, near where the aircraft took off.


* Adobe Systems agreed on Thursday to buy Neolane, a digital marketing services provider, for about $600 million, as more companies look for ways to add social media advertising to their offerings.


 


Canada


THE GLOBE AND MAIL


* Ottawa is moving swiftly to eliminate a brand that has been the face of Canada's international development efforts since 1968, marking a fundamental shift in the country's approach to development and foreign aid.


* In yet another city-hall scandal, the interim mayor of Laval, Quebec, has responded to news reports about an alleged incident involving a prostitute. A spokesman for replacement mayor Alexandre Duplessis said Thursday the mayor felt he was the victim of an extortion attempt and reported the June 14 incident to police. He did not, however, confirm two media reports that the complaint to police was triggered by a dispute with an escort over payment.


* The B.C. government has vowed to hit its target of slaying the deficit this year even as the economy softens. With a surprise and decisive election victory behind her, Premier Christy Clark presented her vision Thursday for leaner government, low personal taxes and job growth fueled by natural resource development.


* Former Ontario cabinet minister Margarett Best will resign her seat in the legislature, triggering a fifth by-election in another test of support for Premier Kathleen Wynne's Liberals. Best has been on medical leave since February, when Wynne demoted her from cabinet. She has since been absent from the legislature.


Reports in the business section:


* In a decision that could spark a new round of consolidation, the federal broadcast regulator has given Bell Media the green light to acquire Astral Media , clearing the way for the communications giant to build a larger footprint in Quebec.


* Amazon.ca launched a toys and games e-commerce site on Thursday, just as key rivals expand their toy businesses amid signs of softening sales in the North American segment.


* Canada's middle class has good reason to wonder why it's not getting ahead. Median after-tax income for families was C$68,000 ($64,800) in 2011, virtually unchanged from a year earlier, Statistics Canada's annual report on income trends shows. It was the fourth straight year "without significant change in after-tax income," the agency said.


 


NATIONAL POST


* Sixteen Conservative senators voted with the Liberals to approve a series of amendments to a bill on union finances and send it back to the House of Commons for another look. Liberal Senate leader James Cowan said it was "brave" of the senators to defy the wishes of the Conservative leadership, which wanted the bill passed before the summer break, so they could brag about having hobbled the unions while doing the summer barbecue circuit.


* On Thursday, the Senate gave third and final reading to Conservative MP Brian Storseth's private member's bill to repeal Section 13 of the Human Rights Act. Twelve years ago, such a legislative reference would have been meaningless to 999 readers out of a thousand. But thanks to the post-9/11 activism of several high-profile pundits, Section 13 became perhaps the most widely vilified piece of legislation on this country's books.


* Battling bad publicity generated Thursday by news that employees at one of its supermarkets in Quebec are prohibited from speaking English, Sobeys chief executive officer Marc Poulin called the store's actions "unacceptable" and "totally unexplainable."


FINANCIAL POST


* Catalyst Capital Group Inc isn't interested in buying Mobilicity, but the successful private equity firm is trying to parlay its senior debt position in the struggling wireless newcomer into a role with U.S. giant Verizon Communications Inc's plan to enter the Canadian market with an acquisition of rival Wind Mobile.


* Whether BlackBerry's turnaround efforts are working and how sales of its new line of BlackBerry smartphones are doing will finally become a little clearer for investors on Friday when the company formerly known as Research In Motion reports first-quarter earnings.


* Westport Innovations Inc had been trying to convince manufacturers for years to give its natural gas engines a chance. Its luck finally changed last summer when it signed a deal with Caterpillar Inc.


 


China


CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL


- The Shenzhen government has approved a plan for a Qianhai-Hong Kong experimental cross-border financing zone that will allow for cross-border yuan-denominated lending and investment between the two regions.


- The financial situation of Chinese real estate enterprises is good enough for the market to remain stable in the coming months, analysts said.


SECURITIES TIMES


- A National Audit Office report on state-owned financial institutions said that 18.4 billion yuan ($2.99 billion) was diverted by their clients and 2.2 billion was diverted for informal financial market use.


PEOPLE'S DAILY


- The China Banking Regulatory Commission will speed up the reform of rural financial institutions and promote legislation on rural financing, CBRC's chairman, Shang Fulin, said on Thursday.


 


Fly On The Wall 7:00 Am Market Snapshot


ANALYST RESEARCH


Upgrades


BancorpSouth (BXS) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Keefe Bruyette
Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
F5 Networks (FFIV) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Vodafone (VOD) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank


Downgrades


Accenture (ACN) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Almost Family (AFAM) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at RW Baird
Amedisys (AMED) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at RW Baird
BAE Systems (BAESY) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Gentiva Health (GTIV) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at RW Baird
LHC Group (LHCG) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at RW Baird
Owens Corning (OC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Williams Partners (WPZ) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse


Initiations


AMSC (AMSC) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant
Ann Inc. (ANN) initiated with a Hold at Stifel
Cognizant (CTSH) initiated with a Buy at Societe Generale
Cytec Industries (CYT) initiated with an Overweight at First Analysis
Ducommun (DCO) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Hexcel (HXL) initiated with a Perform at Oppenheimer
Horsehead Holding (ZINC) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
Infosys (INFY) initiated with a Hold at Societe Generale
Move, Inc. (MOVE) initiated with a Buy at B. Riley
Nationstar (NSM) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Ocwen Financial (OCN) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
PHH Corp. (PHH) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Palo Alto (PANW) initiated with a Perform at Oppenheimer
PennyMac (PMT) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Tesla (TSLA) initiated with a Neutral at Wedbush
Veeco (VECO) initiated with a Neutral at Wedbush
Verisk Analytics (VRSK) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
Walter Investment (WAC) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies


HOT STOCKS


Pfizer (PFE) authorized additional $10B share buyback program
Adobe (ADBE) to acquire Neolane for $600M in cash
Raytheon (RTN) acquired Visual Analytics, terms not disclosed
Nike (NKE) reported worldwide futures orders up 8% to $12.1B
SEC completed Molycorp (MCP) investigation with no enforcement action recommended
S&P revised Micron Technology (MU) outlook to stable from negative
Novartis' (NVS) Exelon patch received FDA approval for all-stage Alzheimer's treatment


EARNINGS


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Nike (NKE), CalAmp (CAMP)


Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
AZZ Inc. (AZZ)


NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES



  • Investors who piled into "risk parity" funds, which follow a popular strategy that promises to make money in most environments, are being hit hard by the current market turmoil. The losses affect a wide range of investors, ranging from hedge-fund firms Bridgewater Associates LP and AQR Capital Management LLC, to mutual funds and local pension funds, the Wall Street Journal reports

  • Members of a congressional commission said federal and state authorities aren't doing enough to address money-laundering risks at Las Vegas casino companies' units in Macau. The commission's focus on money laundering in Macau comes as U.S. and state authorities are examining the practices of American casino companies in Macau (LVS, MGM, WYNN), the Wall Street Journal reports

  • The Justice Department is taking depositions as part of a probe into a planned merger of American Airlines (AAMRQ) and US Airways Group (LCC) that would create the world's largest airline, sources say, Reuters reports

  • The New York Times Co. (NYT) received multiple bids for The Boston Globe, sources say, and it’s likely the company will receive less than 10% of the $1.1B that it paid for the Globe 20 years ago, Reuters reports

  • Fed officials intensified efforts to curb a growth-threatening rise in long-term interest rates, seeking to clarify comments by Chairman Bernanke that triggered turmoil in global financial markets, Bloomberg reports

  • Bank of America Corp. (BAC) opened a unit in India to review home-valuation reports as it seeks to rebuild share in U.S. mortgages at a lower cost, several sources say, Bloomberg reports


SYNDICATE


CBS (CBS) Outdoor files plans for $100M IPO
Eastern Virginia Bankshares (EVBS) files to sell 9.89M common shares
Noodles & Company (NDLS) 5.357M share IPO priced at $18.00
Prosensa Holding (RNA) 6M share IPO priced at $13.00
Quanta Services (PWR) files to sell 3.9M shares of common stock for holders
ReneSola (SOL) files $120M in common stock and preferred shares

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