Frontrunning: July 18


  • Ukraine Says Malaysian Airliner Shot Down Near Russian Border (BBG)
  • Downing of airliner seen as pivotal moment in Ukraine crisis (Reuters)
  • Malaysian Air Flight Took Route Avoided by Qantas, Asiana (BBG)
  • Russian-Made Missile Hit Malaysia Jet, U.S. Officials Say (BBG)
  • Netanyahu Orders Military to Ready Wider Gaza Incursion (BBG)
  • Silvio Berlusconi Underage Sex Conviction Overturned (WSJ)
  • But... but... "economic patriotism" - AbbVie to Buy Shire for $54.8 Billion as Drug Deals Surge (BBG)
  • SEC targets 10 firms in high frequency trading probe - SEC document (Reuters)
  • Art bubble pop: Sotheby's to Lay Off 'Modest' Number of Employees (WSJ)
  • Moar Abenomics: Hermes Sales Trail Estimates as Japanese Revenue Declines (BBG)
  • Clinton Says EU Must Lead Response to Plane Downing (BBG)
  • Under Pressure, Twitter Tries to Resize Itself (WSJ)
  • RBS Said to Be Unwinding Distressed Unit as Head Departs (BBG)
  • China Finds Debt Addiction Hard to Break in Growth Quest (BBG)
  • Bitcoins Can’t Shake Bubble Image in Poll After 45% Drop (BBG)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* A Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew crashed Thursday in the battle-torn east Ukraine region of Donetsk, where U.S. intelligence agencies say it was struck by a ground-to-air missile. The U.S. agencies are divided over whether the missile was launched by the Russian military or by pro-Russia separatist rebels, who officials say lack the expertise on their own to bring down a commercial airline in midflight. (http://on.wsj.com/1mZNwEO)

* The White House late Thursday said the United States is "shocked" by the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight near the Ukraine-Russian border and blamed Russia for fueling tensions that may have led to the disaster. (http://on.wsj.com/1tccimf)

* SoftBank Corp said Friday that Google Inc Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora will join the company in October as vice chairman and chief executive of SoftBank Internet and Media. (http://on.wsj.com/1tYxssg)

* Microsoft said it plans to eliminate up to 18,000 jobs and take charges to earnings of up to $1.6 billion over the next year to streamline its operations following the recent acquisition of Nokia's devices and services business. (http://on.wsj.com/1wCkRXL)

* Twitter Inc is expected to unveil as many as four new metrics later this month that it hopes will illustrate its reach beyond the 255 million users that log in at least once a month, according to people familiar with the matter. (http://on.wsj.com/Wgx0Xb)

* The Justice Department charged FedEx with transporting prescription painkillers that the United States said had been sold illegally. (http://on.wsj.com/1qMBRJ7)

* Federal energy regulators said parts of a proposal to beef up the electric grid's security were inadequate and asked for revisions from the industry group that wrote it. In an unusual move for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency on Thursday told the group that it should correct weaknesses in its proposed plan. The commission said to consider broadening the definition of equipment and facilities deserving protection and asked the group to allow the federal government to designate additional facilities eligible for increased security. (http://on.wsj.com/1rlC3mm)

* The U.S. Department of Justice is suing energy company Entergy Corp for failing to submit required proof of its affirmative-action programs. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans Thursday, alleges Entergy has refused repeated requests from the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. (http://on.wsj.com/1zOYJOf)

* Sotheby's plans to lay off a "modest" number of its global workforce by the end of the year as it takes a harder look at its operations, according to a statement issued by the auctioneer on Thursday. (http://on.wsj.com/1zOZ5nX)

* Airbus and Boeing padded their deep order backlogs with $115.5 billion in jet deals at the Farnborough air show. Airbus beat Boeing in the annual air-show bragging-rights contest, recording deals for 496 jets compared with the 201 plane sales that Boeing made. Airlines typically get big discounts, and several of the deals still need to be finalized. (http://on.wsj.com/1p1DvH5)

* A New Zealand court stalled Danone SA's legal action against Fonterra Co-Operative Group, saying it was best to wait for the outcome of a separate international-arbitration hearing. The French food maker is seeking compensation for costs incurred last year when it was forced to recall baby-milk products following a food-safety scare associated with dairy products supplied by Fonterra. (http://on.wsj.com/1p1DAL2)

* Investigators are examining nearly four dozen hedge funds, asset managers and other investment firms to determine whether they violated insider-trading rules after receiving a tip from a Washington research firm. (http://on.wsj.com/1latqU4)

 

FT

Google's net revenues rose 25 percent during the second quarter, driven by new forms of product-related search advertising. However higher operating costs left its earnings below Wall Street expectations.

Sue Wagner, a co-founder of the world's biggest money manager BlackRock, has been appointed to Apple's board, becoming the company's second female director as part of a push for greater diversity by Chief Executive Tim Cook.

Time Warner shares rose further above Twenty-First Century Fox's $80 billion offer on Thursday as analysts calculated that Rupert Murdoch's television and film empire could raise the bid that the media group behind HBO and Warner Bros rebuffed.

British Competition and Markets Authority is set to recommend a full-blown inquiry on Friday into small business lending and current accounts.

As it conducts a strategic review of its wealth management business, Royal Bank of Scotland is mulling the sale of the overseas operations of it private banking arm Coutts, which counts the Queen among its clients.

 

NYT

* Microsoft Corp said on Thursday that it was laying off up to 18,000 employees, in an attempt at reinvigoration. The cuts are the first major change made by Satya Nadella, the company's new chief executive, who said Microsoft needed to be more nimble and focused. (http://nyti.ms/WevUv7)

* The biggest deal of the year is set to be announced on Friday morning, as the pharmaceutical giant AbbVie Inc plans to announce a $53 billion acquisition of Shire Plc , according to people briefed on the matter. (http://nyti.ms/1qjvYHl)

* China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd <IPO-BABA.N> has decided that it is not worth sprinting toward its long-awaited initial public offering ahead of the unofficial late-summer market slowdown. The company will instead price its offering sometime after Labor Day, people with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday. (http://nyti.ms/1rvu4ke)

* General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra, who appeared before senators during the Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on Thursday, said the company will not expand its compensation program for victims and will not waive its protection from lawsuits gained in bankruptcy reorganization. She also said that the company will not dismiss the company's general counsel, Michael Millikin, despite several senators' calls to do so. (http://nyti.ms/1rlHiSQ)

* FedEx Corp, the world's second-largest package-delivery company, was indicted Thursday in connection with a Justice Department investigation into illegal pharmaceutical shipments, according to a person with knowledge of the government's long-running investigation. (http://nyti.ms/1r7QCbj)

* Fiat SpA denied a report on Thursday that it was in merger talks with its German rival Volkswagen AG, deflating speculation that caused a brief furor on stock markets even though analysts dismissed a deal as implausible. (http://nyti.ms/1mXVfTD)

 

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

* Police Chief Bill Blair has withdrawn a request to the Toronto Police Services Board to deny reimbursing a former drug squad officer for legal fees after charges against him in a police corruption case were thrown out. (http://bit.ly/1nSkTtQ)

* Flames from a fast-moving wildfire have forced the evacuation of more than 2,500 residents from several neighbourhoods in British Columbia's Okanagan region. (http://bit.ly/1swFoz8)

Reports in the business section:

* A sweeping management shuffle at Loblaw Companies Ltd signals that the Weston family, the grocer's largest shareholder, is moving to further assert control at a time of massive change at the retailer. (http://bit.ly/1r6A0AI)

NATIONAL POST

* Suspended senator Mike Duffy will vigorously defend himself, his lawyer said on Thursday after a staggering 31 criminal charges were laid against him for fraud, breach of trust and even bribery. (http://bit.ly/1rw0Pxu)

* There may be only one winnable Alberta seat for the Liberals in next year's federal election - and two prominent Liberals both appear to want it. Kent Hehr, a quadriplegic lawyer who has represented much of the area as a provincial MLA for six years, has announced he will seek the federal nomination for Calgary Centre. Also in the race is Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi's chief of staff Chima Nkemdirim, who had long been tapped to run for the nomination. (http://bit.ly/1pin6wx)

FINANCIAL POST

* The Canadian Bond Investors' Association is lashing out at Royal Bank of Canada, accusing the country's largest bank by revenue of shirking its duty to investors in issuing the country's first-ever non-viable contingent capital (NVCC) subordinated debenture earlier this month. (http://bit.ly/1zPZ9nx)

* Many Western Canadians are critical of the energy sector's environmental performance and actively raise funds for or donate money to environmental causes, but still believe oil and gas development should be expanded, according to a new survey commissioned by Canada West Foundation. (http://bit.ly/1oQlust)

 

Hong Kong

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

-- Ozone pollution in Hong Kong is at its worst in nearly a decade, indicating the deteriorating air quality, environmental group Clean Air Network found. (bit.ly/1svsb9T)

-- Nearly 30 percent of Hong Kong-based manufacturers with factories in the Pearl River Delta plan to scale back their investment in the area. The Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong said 29.6 percent of the manufacturers it interviewed would reduce investment in the Pearl River Delta in the next three years, up from 26.9 per cent last year. (bit.ly/1nRcXJg)

THE STANDARD

-- Hongkongers will soon be able to book taxis using the WeChat app on their smartphones. Mainland IT giant Tencent and Easy Taxi teamed up to launch the service in Singapore and are believed to be now eyeing Hong Kong. (bit.ly/1kB96ez)

-- Cheung Kong Holdings priced units at its Mont Vert project in Tai Po as low as HK$1.65 million ($212,900) after discounts. A 194-sellable-sq-ft unit is among the first batch of 260 flats being put on the market. (bit.ly/1lagHRq)

HONG KONG ECONOMIC JOURNAL

-- A total of 8,135 new homes have been registered so far in 2014, and the number of new homes accounted for 25 percent of the total home sales, the highest in percentage term in 10 years, according to data from a property agent.

Britain

The Telegraph

ABBVIE TO ANNOUNCE FIRM BID FOR SHIRE

AbbVie is expected to unveil a 31 billion pound ($52.97 billion) bid for FTSE 100 pharmaceutical group Shire on Friday morning, making it the latest U.S. company to use an overseas acquisition to lower its tax bill. (http://bit.ly/1mT0G74)

UK BANKS FACE BREAK-UP AS COMPETITION INQUIRY LOOMS

Britain's biggest high street banks face being broken up as the result of a landmark competition inquiry which is expected to be announced on Friday. (http://bit.ly/1suYl5c)

GRANGEMOUTH TO CLINCH U.S. SHALE DEAL WITH 230 MLN STG GOVERNMENT BACKING

The British government has given a 230 million pound loan guarantee to secure the future of Grangemouth in a move that is being seen as highly political, as well as economic, just two months before the Scottish independence referendum. (http://bit.ly/1qLTUza)

HAS SPIRE'S IPO BEEN KNOCKED BY THE NHS?

Spire Healthcare, one of the country's biggest private hospital operators, is expected to debut on the London Stock Exchange today at the bottom of its price range amid investor concerns about its exposure to the NHS and the PIP faulty breast implant scandal. (http://bit.ly/UevZhc)

The Times

BT SENDS WARNING MESSAGE TO RIVALS WITH BUSINESS SMARTPHONE LAUNCH

Telecoms company BT Group has launched the "One Phone", a cloud-based smartphone system that acts like a desk phone when it is used in the office and a normal mobile phone when a worker is on the road. (http://thetim.es/1wBqW6G)

The Guardian

BSKYB SELLS ITV SHARES TO VIRGIN MEDIA OWNER LIBERTY GLOBAL

Virgin Media owner Liberty Global has acquired BSkyB's 6.4 percent stake in ITV for 481 million pounds. (http://bit.ly/Wepb4p)

Sky News

GERMANS SEEK TO LAND GATWICK AIR TRAFFIC ROLE

Germany's state-owned airspace controller Deutsche Flugsicherung is vying with its principal British rival National Air Traffic Services to land a 10-year deal to run air traffic services at the UK's second-busiest airport. (http://bit.ly/1ngksuf)

 

Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS

Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
U. of Michigan consumer confidence for July at 9:55--consensus 83.0
Leading indicators for June at 10:00--consensus up 0.5%

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

America Movil (AMX) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays
American Homes 4 Rent (AMH) upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James
Andersons (ANDE) upgraded to Buy from Hold at BB&T
Plexus (PLXS) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Longbow
Sandy Spring Bancorp (SASR) upgraded to Outperform at Raymond James
Sandy Spring Bancorp (SASR) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird

Downgrades

AMD (AMD) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
AMD (AMD) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
AU Optronics (AUO) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Bernstein
Alliance Data (ADS) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Anadarko (APC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Bernstein
AutoZone (AZO) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Dunkin' Brands (DNKN) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
EOG Resources (EOG) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Bernstein
Equity Residential (EQR) downgraded to Market Perform at Raymond James
Fibria Celulose (FBR) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
Iron Mountain (IRM) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
LG Display (LPL) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Bernstein
Mattel (MAT) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
Nu Skin (NUS) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
O'Reilly Automotive (ORLY) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Platinum Underwriters (PTP) downgraded to Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
RealPage (RP) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities
RealPage (RP) downgraded to Underperform from Outperform at William Blair
iGATE (IGTE) downgraded to Reduce from Neutral at Nomura

Initiations

Blackhawk (HAWK) resumed with a Buy at Citigroup
Encore Capital (ECPG) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
FLIR Systems (FLIR) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
Jack in the Box (JACK) initiated with a Neutral at Buckingham
Kona Grill (KONA) initiated with an Outperform at Wedbush
Masonite (DOOR) initiated with an Outperform at Wedbush
Qlik Technologies (QLIK) initiated with a Market Perform at BMO Capital
Splunk (SPLK) initiated with a Market Perform at BMO Capital
Tableau (DATA) initiated with an Outperform at BMO Capital

COMPANY NEWS

AbbVie (ABBV) to acquire Shire (SHPG) for 52.48 pounds per share in cash, stock; merger worth GBP32B
FedEx (FDX) indicted for its role in distributing controlled substances. The company said it is "innocent" of the charges and said a loss from the DOJ suit "could be material" if convicted
Sony (SNE) said in a tweet that PlayStation4 is top selling next-gen console in June for U.S. (MSFT, NTDOY)
GE (GE) CEO Jeff Immelt: The environment continues to be generally positive
IBM (IBM) expects revenue growth to accelerate in 2H14
Twitter (TWTR) acquired CardSpring
Google (GOOG) said Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora leaving to join Softbank (SFTBF)
HP (HPQ) appointed CEO Meg Whitman Chairman, Alcoa's (AA) CEO Klaus Kleinfeld joins board 
Gentiva (GTIV) received $17.25 all-cash takeover bid, rejected Kindred's (KND) $16 per share offer

EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:

IBM (IBM), Shire (SHPG), Huntington Bancshares (HBAN), Cytec Industries (CYT), Baylake Corp. (BYLK), Celanese (CE), Skyworks (SWKS), Western Alliance (WAL), BancFirst (BANF), Matthews (MATW), Premiere Global (PGI), Capital One (COF), Electronics for Imaging (EFII), athenahealth (ATHN), Hub Group (HUBG)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

Google (GOOG), Bank of Kentucky (BKYF), Taylor Capital (TAYC), Independent Bank (INDB), AMD (AMD), American National Bankshares (AMNB), B&G Foods (BGS), First Financial (FFIN)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:

General Electric (GE), Valmont (VMI), Associated Banc-Corp (ASBC), Cepheid (CPHD), Stryker (SYK), Seagate (STX), Resources Connection (RECN)

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

RBS (RBS) unwinding distressted-debt unit, Bloomberg reports
Sotheby's (BID) planning to lay off 'modest' number of global workforce, WSJ reports
Document reveals SEC examining firms in high-frequency trading probe, Reuters reports
Starbucks (SBUX) to test mobile phone ordering, Re/code reports
RBS (RBS) considers selling Coutts' overseas operations, FT reports
American Apparel (APP) investor close to buying Lion's $10M loan, Bloomberg says
Microsoft (MSFT) still looks attractive, Barron's says

SYNDICATE

NanoViricides (NNVC) files to sell 3.07M shares of common stock for holders
Sage Therapeutics (SAGE) 5M share IPO priced at $18.00
Teekay LNG (TGP) files to sell 2.8M common units for limited partners
TerraForm Power (TERP) 20.065M share IPO priced at $25.00
Trupanion (TRUP) 7.125M share IPO priced at $10.00
TubeMogul (tube) 6.25M share IPO priced at $7.00
Uranerz Energy (URZ) raises common stock offering to 9.6M shares









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