Frontrunning: July 29

  • More Doctors Steer Clear of Medicare (WSJ)

  • Syrian Looters in Bulldozers Seek Treasure Amid Chaos (BBG)

  • Siemens CEO Peter Löscher Is Set to Leave His Post After Series of Earnings Misses (WSJ)

  • Silver Vault for 200 Tons Starts in Singapore as Wealthy Buy (BBG)

  • Omincom and Publicis merger shows that advertising is now firmly in the business of Big Data: collecting and selling the personal information of millions of consumers (NYT)

  • Apple supplier accused of labour violations (FT)

  • 'BarCap was the Wild Wild West – that’s what we called it’ (Telegraph)

  • P&G chief seizes opportunity in era of three-day stubble (FT)

  • Federal Reserve 'Doves' Beat 'Hawks' in Economic Prognosticating (WSJ) - LOL: Fed "hawks"

  • Barclays Slips as Bank Considers Sale of CoCos, Shares (BBG)

  • Hudson's Bay buying Saks for about $2.4 billion (WSJ)

  • Perrigo to Buy Elan for $8.6 Billion, Get Irish Domicile (BBG)

  • New Wireless Upgrade Plans Could Boost IPhone Sales (BBG)

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* The Obama administration increasingly fears that Egypt's military, ignoring American appeals, is deepening a crackdown that could spark a sustained period of instability and lead members of the country's Muslim Brotherhood to take up arms.

* Advertising giants Omnicom Group Inc and Publicis Group SA said on Sunday that they had agreed to merge in a $35.1 billion cross-border linkup that shows how Big Data is making Madison Avenue look more like Wall Street.

* Retailer Saks Inc is near a deal to be bought by Hudson's Bay Co in an acquisition that is likely about high-end real estate as much as luxury clothes. A deal would give Hudson's Bay Chief Executive Richard Baker, a longtime real-estate investor, a lot of real-estate options, including a trophy property on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.

* German engineering giant Siemens AG signaled it would oust Chief Executive Peter Löscher in a dramatic move that reflects growing unease among investors and the group's powerful union over the company's direction.

* Heavy demand for new shares of dividend-paying companies shows that money managers are back on the hunt for yield. Key to this renewed appetite are recent signals from Fed officials that interest rates will stay low for years to come.

* With global economies sluggish and sales growth at a crawl, big U.S. companies have had one route to push profits higher: cut costs and squeeze suppliers. That strategy may be running out of steam.

* Bob Mansfield, Apple Inc's senior vice president of technologies, no longer has a biography listed on the company website. It is unclear what circumstances surround the change.

* Condé Nast has deals for two magazine-related forays into television, one involving a crime documentary series based on Vanity Fair articles and the other a fashion-related reality show on Ovation.

* Michael Dell said that even if his attempt to take Dell Inc private were to fail he would stay at the company he founded, though he wouldn't sell assets or commit to any leveraged recapitalization as some shareholders have advocated.


* Amazon.com has been spending heavily to add more distribution centers near U.S. urban centers. The online retailer plans to announce on Monday that it has openings for 5,000 jobs at 17 facilities.

FT

Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is expected to receive about 2 million pounds ($3.07 million) from the UK Treasury to support its criminal probe into the dealings between Barclays Plc and Qatar Holding, people familiar with the matter said.

China will drop investigations into European wine and polysilicon exports as part of a landmark deal with the European Union to settle a dispute over solar panels, according to a senior EU official.

Publicis Groupe SA and Omnicom Group Inc revealed on Sunday plans to merge to create the world's biggest advertising group, worth $35.1 billion, surprising analysts who had warned of client conflicts, regulatory risks and culture clashes.

The European Union commissioner Joaquín Almunia told Italy's finance minister Fabrizio Saccomanni that the proposed restructuring plan for Monte dei Paschi di Siena is too soft on executive pay, cost-cutting and treatment of creditors and that without "urgent" changes he would launch a full-blown EU probe.

Siemens AG said in a statement late on Saturday that its supervisory board will this week "decide on the early departure of the president and CEO", indicating that Chief Executive Peter Loescher's days are numbered, after the German engineering group this week issued its second profit warning this year.

Burford Capital Ltd, a London-listed fund that finances lawsuits in return for a cut of any payouts, has become a shareholder in insolvency specialist Manolete Partners.

NYT

* The bidding for the new presidential helicopters, as well as other recent contract troubles, suggests that the goal of creating sharper competition with government contracts is hard to achieve. A new competition to build the helicopters much more cheaply is running into trouble, with only one company Sikorsky Aircraft likely to bid on the multibillion-dollar contract this week.

* The merger of two industry giants, Omnicom Group Inc and Publicis Group SA, to create the largest ad company in the world, signals that advertising is now firmly in the business of big data: collecting and selling the personal information of millions of consumers.

* The death of the personal computer may be an exaggeration. But the industry around personal computers seems to be in limbo. While sales of personal computers to businesses remain steady, demand among consumers has plunged, largely because people are instead buying iPads, Kindle Fires and other tablets.

* The wrongful-death suit against A.E.G. Live hinges on whether Michael Jackson or the company was responsible for hiring the doctor who administered the anesthetic that killed him.

* Boeing Co asked airlines on Sunday to inspect several additional models of aircraft worldwide to gather data on Honeywell International Inc emergency beacons that have come under scrutiny following a fire on a parked 787 Dreamliner more than two weeks ago.

* On Monday, Bloomberg will announce that Justin Smith, the president of Atlantic Media, will be named chief executive of the Bloomberg Media Group. After joining The Atlantic in 2007, Smith developed a reputation as an aggressive promoter of digital media who was able to reconfigure a 156-year-old magazine into a genuine multiplatform property.

* Microsoft Corp has been trying to shed its reputation for highlighting features over simplicity, but old habits are proving hard to break. Far too often, the company has tried to create products for the modern consumer with a mind-set from the information technology back room.

* The European Commission announced on Saturday that it had settled the Chinese solar-panels import case in exchange for a pledge from China not to export solar panels for less than 0.56 euros (74 cents) a watt, a price about 25 percent lower even than when the case began. The commission also decided to forgo imposing the steep tariffs on Chinese solar panels it had originally threatened.

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

As many as 115 businesses are finalizing plans to move to a future commercial district near the heart of Lac-Mégantic as the removal of the toxic soup under the shattered downtown is expected to last years. Nearly a month after the devastating crash of an oil train on July 6, officials have warned that reconstruction could take five years.

* One of the four federal policemen accused of lying during testimony at a public inquiry into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski will learn his fate on Monday. Constable Bill Bentley's trial last month was the first of four perjury cases against the officers who confronted Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport in October 2007, fatally stunning him several times with a taser.

Reports in the business section:

* Hudson's Bay Co (HBC) is close to sealing a deal to buy Saks Inc, a move that would see the U.S. luxury department-store retailer being launched in Canada along with its Saks Off Fifth discount sister chain. HBC is expected to pay about $16 a share for Saks, the source said, making the purchase price $2.4 billion.

* A group of 150 leading Canadian CEOs is appealing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to alter course on a wireless competition policy they say would hobble domestic companies, while giving privileged treatment to a deep-pocketed foreign wireless player such as Verizon Communications Inc.

* Foreign investors are increasingly snapping up stakes in Canadian hotels, attracted in part by a relatively stable economy and an increase in buying opportunities. About 24 per cent of the C$794 million ($771.29 million)that was invested in Canadian hotels during the first half of this year was foreign money, compared to about 7 per cent of the C$650 million worth of hotel deals done, a year earlier, according to real estate service firm CBRE.

NATIONAL POST

* Toronto police are facing criticism after a video of officers fatally shooting a young man armed with a knife on an empty streetcar was posted online.

* Nearly half of Ontario's jails are overcrowded, a six-year high that sees cells meant for two people at times hold three or more as the province struggles with a rising tide of inmates who have yet to have their day in court.

FINANCIAL POST

* The threat of a deep-pocketed U.S. giant such as Verizon Communications Inc entering the Canadian market and running off with half of the most valuable spectrum to become available since the 1980s, has intensified debate over how to properly manage wireless spectrum in the country.

* Ottawa's finances got off to a rocky start in the current fiscal year, posting a C$2.7 billion deficit that was nearly C$1 billion more compared to the same period last year.

China

CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL

- Development of roads in China is gaining momentum as funds are invested in highways in city clusters and agricultural areas in the nation's central and western regions, according to information collected from various municipal authorities.

SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS

- China's first all-markets test of computer systems for government bond futures was successful, paving the way for the sale of such securities in August, said a source from the risk control department of a Shanghai futures company.


- China's traders of gold exchange traded funds (ETF) can sell ETFs on the same day of purchase, according to a notice released by the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

PEOPLE'S DAILY

- China saw fast growth in express delivery volumes and online retail in the first half of this year, even as steel, coal, wind turbines and solar materials fell, an indication that the economy is restructuring, according to an editorial.

CHINA DAILY

- China's local government investments endanger the nation's hopes for prosperity, as they drain resources and provide little return, undermining its intended shift from an investment-led economy to a consumption-driven one, according to an editorial.

Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

Cabot Oil & Gas (COG) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Computer Programs (CPSI) upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James
D.R. Horton (DHI) upgraded to Buy from Fair Value at CRT Capital
Hormel Foods (HRL) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Ingredion (INGR) upgraded to Buy from Hold at BB&T
Publicis (PUBGY) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Societe Generale
Publicis (PUBGY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Publicis (PUBGY) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank
Range Resources (RRC) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Shire (SHPG) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust
WESCO (WCC) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Wunderlich
WPP PLC (WPPGY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS

Downgrades

Air Products (APD) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Celadon Group (CGI) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Central Valley Community Bancorp (CVCY) downgraded to Market Perform at Raymond James
First Community (FCBC) downgraded to Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Lear (LEA) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Microsoft (MSFT) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Atlantic Equities
RF Micro Devices (RFMD) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
SandRidge Permian Trust (PER) downgraded to Market Perform at Raymond James
T. Rowe Price (TROW) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
WNS Holdings (WNS) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Washington Banking (WBCO) downgraded to Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Washington Banking (WBCO) downgraded to Market Perform at Raymond James
Wet Seal (WTSL) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at B. Riley
Whole Foods (WFM) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Cantor

Initiations

3D Systems (DDD) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Pepco Holdings (POM) initiated with an Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Repros Therapeutics (RPRX) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Stratasys (SSYS) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Verastem (VSTM) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies

HOT STOCKS

Perrigo (PRGO) to acquire Elan (ELN) for $16.50 per share or $8.6B
Saks (SKS) to be acquired by Hudson’s Bay for $16 per share, CNBC reports
Omnicom (OMC) and Publicis (PUBGY) agreed to a merger of equals
Spectra (SE), NextEra (NEE) JV to construct $3B 465-mile interstate natural gas pipeline in Florida
PPG Industries (PPG) divested interest in JV (ESLOY), PPG to receive $1.73B at closing
Amazon (AMZN) to add 5,000 full-time jobs at fulfillment centers
Fitch affirmed Halliburton (HAL) IDR at 'A-', outlook Stable
Shanda Games (GAME) to acquire platform-related affiliates to bolster mobile strategy
Penske Automotive (PAG) to acquire commercial vehicle and parts distributor
CBIZ, Inc. (CBZ) to sell MMP business for $200M to Zotec Partners

EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
CNA Financial (CNA), Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH), Sohu.com (SOHU)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
CBIZ, Inc. (CBZ), TGC Industries (TGE), Haemonetics (HAE), Boardwalk Pipeline (BWP), Loews (L), Changyou.com (CYOU)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Seacoast Banking (SBCF), Hertz Global (HTZ)


NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES


  • Boeing (BA) is expanding its recommendation to inspect emergency beacons (HON) beyond those on its 787 Dreamliners, asking selected airlines to examine the devices on five additional types of its jets after several of the devices were found to have damaged wiring, the Wall Street Journal reports

  • Heavy demand for new shares of dividend-paying companies shows that money managers are back on the hunt for yield. Key to this renewed appetite are recent signals from Fed officials that interest rates will stay low for years to come, the Wall Street Journal reports

  • Martin Sorrell, head of world number one ad group WPP (WPPGY), congratulated long-time rival Maurice Levy on persuading Omnicom (OMC) to merge with France's Publicis (PUBGY), adding that further consolidation was inevitable in the industry, Reuters reports

  • As JPMorgan Chase (JPM) prepares to exit physical commodities, the spotlight is turning to the future of the two banks, Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS), that have dominated Wall Street's involvement in the natural resources supply chain for 30 years, Reuters reports

  • U.S. financial companies (BAC, MS) fueled by the fastest earnings growth in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, are poised to reclaim their position as the market’s biggest industry for the first time since the credit crisis, Bloomberg reports

  • President Obama won’t nominate a successor to Fed Chairman Bernanke until at least September, Bloomberg reports

BARRON’S

Fannie (FNMA), Freddie (FMCC) to be replaced eventually
Apple (AAPL) software, services sales could have been higher
Ford (F), Autodesk (ADSK), Owens-Illinois (OI), DuPont (DD) are ways to play Europe's recovery with U.S. stocks
Restoration Hardware's (RH) high P/E doesn't leave much room
Dover (DOV) could jump over 15% next year
HollyFrontier (HFC) could rebound to $55-$60 per share
Angie's List (ANGI), Nathan's Famous (NATH) look expensive

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