Frontrunning: October 25
- Contractors describe scant pre-launch testing of U.S. healthcare site (Reuters)
- Carney Says BOE Revamp Offers Wider Access to Cheaper Funds (BBG)
- Help wanted in Fukushima: Low pay, high risks and gangsters (Reuters)
- Merkel and Hollande to change intelligence ties with US (FT)
- Twitter IPO pegs valuation at modest $11 billion (Reuters)
- NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts (Guardian)
- Officials alert foreign services that Snowden has documents on their cooperation with U.S. (WaPo)
- Scottish Nationalists Lose Vote After Plant Threatened With Axe (BBG)
- Fernández contemplates a train wreck in Argentine elections (FT)
- Irish Government will consider ‘best options’ for bailout exit (Irish Times)
- China court throws out Bo Xilai appeal (FT)
- Electrolux closes refrigerator factory in Australia, concentrating production to the major appliances plant in Rayong, Thailand (PR)
- FDA recommends tightening access to hydrocodone pain-killers (Reuters)
Overnight Media Digest
* A flurry of recent attacks by al Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq - strengthened by their alliance with jihadist fighters in Syria - is threatening to undo years of U.S. efforts to crush the group.
* Activist investor Carl Icahn boosted his investment in Apple Inc by 22 percent to 4.73 million shares, and continued to push for a massive $150 billion buyback at the company, according to a letter he sent to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook.
* Former employees at USIS, the company that did the background check of Edward Snowden, the leaker of national-security information, say they were pushed to speed through background checks amid a corporate culture that made revenue the top priority.
* Outrage over alleged U.S. monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal cellphone spread across Europe on Thursday, threatening to complicate an array of America's trans-Atlantic interests.
* Twitter set its price range for its initial public offering at $17 to $20 a share, in a deal that values the company at up to $11.1 billion.
* Highly rated issuers sold more than $12 billion of bonds Thursday, taking advantage of robust investor demand and the latest tumble in market interest rates to stock up on cash.
* The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is considering softening the decades-old 25 percent foreign-ownership limit on TV and radio stations, paving way for new investment.
* The slowdown in mortgage-refinancing activity is hitting towns across the U.S. as banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup eliminate thousands of jobs to cope with declines in home lending.
* Amazon.com Inc shares soared Thursday in after-hours trading after the online retailer reported its third loss in the past year. Investors were focused on a big jump in quarterly sales, which exceeded analysts' forecasts.
* The Chief Executive of Southwest Airlines Co hinted Thursday that the carrier could soon start charging for checked baggage if the flying public comes to accept the fees that other airlines charge.
Micro-blogging company Twitter set a modest $17 to $20 price range per share for its initial public offering next month, anxious to avoid the runaway valuations which dogged rival Facebook's offering.
Bank of America is planning to axe 3,000 jobs - most of which are not full-time employees - in its legacy asset servicing unit as improving credit quality reduces work on delinquent loans and foreclosures.
WPP, the world's largest advertising company, posted better-than-expected third-quarter sales growth driven by strength from business in western Europe for the first time this year.
Royal Bank of Scotland's "bad bank" is taking bids for its West Register internal property portfolio, which consists of a number of industrial distribution units with a guide price of 63 million pounds ($101.85 million).
G4S, the world's biggest security services firm, said its UK chief executive had stepped down immediately after holding the position for little more than a year
* Twitter disclosed that it planned to price its eagerly awaited initial public offering in the $17 a share to $20 a share range, as it readies a road show for investors.
* The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday recommended tighter controls on how doctors prescribe the most commonly used narcotic painkillers. The move, which represents a major policy shift, follows a decade-long debate over whether the widely abused drugs, which contain the narcotic hydrocodone, should be controlled as tightly as more powerful painkillers like OxyContin.
* Fury over reports that American intelligence had monitored the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel spread from Germany to much of Europe on Thursday, plunging trans-Atlantic relations to a low and threatening to recast the United States and President Obama from friend and ally to cyberbully.
* When the stock market opened on Thursday, NQ Mobile Inc , a Chinese mobile security company, had a valuation of $1.1 billion. Just hours later, half of its value was erased. Muddy Waters, a short-selling firm known for its scathing reports on Chinese companies, released a harsh assessment of NQ Mobile on Thursday, calling it a "massive fraud."
* Federal officials did not fully test the online health insurance marketplace until two weeks before it opened to the public on Oct. 1, contractors told Congress on Thursday.
* The Federal Reserve's rule asks banks to estimate how much cash might flee in a 30-day period, and requires them to enough assets that they could sell to cover that outflow.
* Microsoft Corp's earnings of $5.24 billion beat expectations, and were helped in large part by a surge in the company's corporate software business.
* On Thursday, DuPont said it would spin off its performance chemicals segment into a new publicly traded company. The unit - which makes a pigment that turns paints, paper and plastics white, as well as refrigerants and polymers for cables - generated about $7 billion in revenue in 2012.
* More than a year after the activist investor William Ackman won a bitter battle for control of the Canadian Pacific Railway, he is cashing in part of his investment at a substantial profit.
* Many high-end brands have left behind Bal Harbour Shops, for years a magnet to the wealthy, for more breathing room in Miami's Design District - once an enclave of furniture showrooms, low storefronts and empty streets in the shadow of two interstate highways.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper insisted that "very few" people in Conservative circles knew that chief aide Nigel Wright was personally bailing out Senator Mike Duffy when the politician faced public pressure to reimburse taxpayers for questionable expense claims.
* Senators pressed the Canadian government about why a federal spy agency has been probing telecommunications in Brazil, seeking clear answers about the activities of Communications Security Establishment Canada.
Reports in the business section:
* CGI Group Inc faced the full fury of the U.S. political process on Thursday, as executives from the Canadian technology giant appeared before an angry congressional committee investigating the botched rollout of the healthcare.gov website.
* Companies operating in Canada's oil sands are facing new pressure to assess and disclose the long-term risks to the value of their crude reserves amid a global effort to address climate change.
* Training for front-line officers and better information sharing between police and government agencies can help protect law enforcement officials from potentially aggressive "sovereign citizens," says a newly declassified briefing to Canadian police chiefs.
* An American who shot a Chicago police officer, and then fled to Toronto until he was caught 30 years later, was treated unfairly by Canadian immigration officials, a judge has ruled. The Federal Court of Canada said there were several problems with the way officials handled Douglas Gary Freeman's immigration case and, as a result, he was "denied procedural fairness."
* On a conference call to discuss third-quarter results, the Chief Executive of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc ripped into OAO Uralkali, the Russian producer, saying its decision to collapse a cartel-like marketing company and max out production was "probably the single dumbest thing" he has ever seen in the fertilizer business.
* Pershing Square Capital Management has announced a public offering of more than 5.9 million shares of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd that would have a value of more than $880-million at market prices.
CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL
- Net profit of Chinese insurers jumped 134.9 percent in the first nine months of this year to 91.75 billion yuan ($15.09 billion), due to a low base last year and improved investment returns, according to the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.
SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS
- Shanghai will merge the city's two major newspaper groups, the Jiefang Daily Group and Wenhui Xinmin United Press Group.
- Wal-Mart Stores is looking to close 15-30 underperforming stores in China.
- Competition and protectionism have caused Japanese dairy manufacturer Meiji to quit the China infant formula market. Meiji was forced to slash prices by regulators during an anti-monopoly campaign.
- China's industrial recovery remains weak, said an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
- Agricultural Bank of China plans to offload non-performing assets valued 10 billion yuan ($1.64 billion) on the Beijing Financial Assets Exchange.
- China's urban employment increased by 10.66 million people during the first nine months, hitting the 9 million target for the year ahead of schedule.
Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot
Advance Auto Parts (AAP) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Amazon.com (AMZN) upgraded to Strong Buy from Market Perform at Raymond James
CYS Investments (CYS) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Career Education (CECO) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Columbia Sportswear (COLM) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Citigroup
DuPont (DD) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Forest Labs (FRX) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at BMO Capital
ITT Educational (ESI) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Compass Point
ITT Educational (ESI) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan
Knightsbridge Tankers (VLCCF) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Evercore
Monolithic Power (MPWR) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Sierra Bancorp (BSRR) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James
Caterpillar (CAT) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Atlantic Equities
Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Societe Generale
Credit Suisse (CS) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Eastman Chemical (EMN) downgraded to Neutral from Conviction Buy at Goldman
Hill-Rom (HRC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
ICON plc (ICLR) downgraded to Market Perform from Strong Buy at Raymond James
Landstar System (LSTR) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
NCR Corp. (NCR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Compass Point
PAREXEL (PRXL) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Patterson-UTI Energy (PTEN) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Wunderlich
Plexus (PLXS) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Rayonier (RYN) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Rayonier (RYN) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Rayonier (RYN) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Reliance Steel (RS) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
STMicroelectronics (STM) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Sandridge Mississippian Trust (SDT) downgraded to Underperform at Raymond James
Sirius XM (SIRI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Susquehanna (SUSQ) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
Susquehanna (SUSQ) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Susquehanna (SUSQ) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Taubman Centers (TCO) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Texas Capital (TCBI) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette
Timken (TKR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Union First (UBSH) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette
United Continental (UAL) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Zimmer (ZMH) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
21st Century Fox (FOXA) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Actavis (ACT) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
DISH (DISH) initiated with an Underperform at FBR Capital
DirecTV (DTV) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
Discovery (DISCA) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Disney (DIS) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Hannon Armstrong (HASI) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Kythera (KYTH) initiated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
Mylan (MYL) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
NGL Energy Partners (NGL) initiated with an Outperform at Raymond James
Netflix (NFLX) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
Starz (STRZA) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
Teva (TEVA) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
TiVo (TIVO) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
Time Warner (TWX) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Vermilion Energy (VET) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Viacom (VIAB) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Disney (DIS) to build its largest Disney Store in Shanghai, China
Microsoft (MSFT) CFO said corporate PC demand better than expected, Bloomberg reports
DuPont (DD) to spin-off Performance Chemicals segment
Omnicare (OCR) to pay U.S. $120M to settle False Claims Act suit
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Callaway Golf (ELY), Superior Energy (SPN), Validus (VR), Flowserve (FLS), QLogic (QLGC), KLA-Tencor (KLAC), CA Technologies (CA), NetSuite (N), Western Digital (WDC), NCR Corp. (NCR), Maxwell (MXWL), VeriSign (VRSN), Chubb (CB), Regal Entertainment (RGC), Wynn Resorts (WYNN), Zynga (ZNGA), Microsoft (MSFT), Deckers Outdoor (DECK)
Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Santander Chile (BSAC), Cliffs Natural (CLF), ResMed (RMD), KBR (KBR), Delta Apparel (DLA), DeVry (DV), BJ's Restaurants (BJRI), Sterling Financial (STSA),
Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Cabot Oil & Gas (COG), Express Scripts (ESRX), Cerner (CERN), Amazon.com (AMZN), Netgear (NTGR)
- The FCC is considering softening the decades-old 25% foreign-ownership limit on TV and radio stations, a move that could open up new sources of investment capital at a time of consolidation in the TV station sector, the Wall Street Journal reports
- Three years after BP’s (BP) Deepwater Horizon disaster, it’s still fighting to keep damage claims and regulatory fines in check. But BP is spending to leave behind one of the biggest retrenchments in its 100-plus-year history, increasing its investment in exploration, the Wall Street Journal reports
- In a rare move, Sinopec Group (SHI) wants to sell half of its two biggest shale gas acreages in Canada to spread costs and accelerate their development, as the Chinese energy company focuses increasingly on return of investment, Reuters reports
- Boeing (BA) secured commitments for about 200 of its 737 Max aircraft, worth $20.7B, for the upgraded variant of its best-selling short-haul planes, from multiple Chinese customers, sources say, Reuters reports
- Ford’s (F) market value is reaching levels last seen in 1999, putting the company closer to its historical peak than Toyota (TM), the world’s biggest car maker, Bloomberg reports
- Wynn Resorts (WYNN) founder Steve Wynn said he was “flabbergasted” when he heard Caesars Entertainment (CZR) pulled out of a casino project in Boston after a critical review by regulators. Wynn who is pursuing a casino in nearby Everett, MA, Bloomberg reports
Aerie Pharmaceuticals (AERI) 6.72M share IPO priced at $10.00
Alcobra (ADHD) 2M share Secondary priced at $16.50
Canadian Pacific (CP) announces sale of 5.97M shares by Pershing
CommScope (COMM) 38.462M share IPO priced at $15.00
Dynavax (DVAX) to offer common stock
Endurance (EIGI) 21.051M share IPO priced at $12.00
Fidelity National (FNF) 17.25M share Secondary priced at $26.75
Horsehead Holding (ZINC) 5.5M share Secondary priced at $12.00
Institutional Financial (IFMI) files to sell 6.84M shares of common stock
Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE) 4.15M share Secondary priced at $7.75
Sprague Resources (SRLP) 8.5M share IPO priced at $18.00
Twitter (TWTR) sees IPO price range $17-$20 on 70M shares