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Frontrunning: February 13

  • Greece will do 'whatever it can' to reach deal with EU (Reuters)
  • ECB Urges Greek Political Deal as Emergency Cash Is Tight (BBG)
  • Fighting rages in run-up to Ukraine ceasefire (Reuters)
  • Eurozone GDP Picks Up, Thanks to Germany (WSJ)
  • Two J. P. Morgan Executives Connected to Asia Hiring Probe Pushed Out (WSJ)
  • Putin's High Tolerance for Pain and Europe's Reluctance to Inflict It (BBG)
  • Indigestion Hits Top U.S. Food Firms (WSJ)
  • Alibaba's Jack Ma seeks to reassure employees over U.S. lawsuits (Reuters)
  • China Credit Growth Accelerates in Boost to Economic Outlook (BBG)
  • AmEx-Costco Divorce Shakes Up Card Industry (WSJ)
  • Obama Order Will Help Firms Get U.S. Cyberthreat Data (WSJ)
  • Anglo Writes Down $3.9 Billion of Assets as Prices Fall (BBG)
  • Canberra, We Need to Talk About Debt (BBG)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* The leaders of France and Germany warned there was still much to do to ensure a Ukraine cease-fire deal doesn't fall apart. (http://on.wsj.com/1zON7M9)

* President Barack Obama on Friday will sign an executive order that aims to make it easier for the government to share classified cyberthreat information with companies, an effort designed to spur collaboration and deter hackers, the White House said. (http://on.wsj.com/1zQwUWP)

* American Express and Costco Wholesale are ending their 16-year relationship, a surprise move that pummeled AmEx's stock price and will trigger a major upheaval in the card industry. (http://on.wsj.com/1KS14uv)

* Expedia and Orbitz Worldwide, which squeezed agents out of the travel business, agreed to merge Thursday as they struggle to hang onto the middle of a market that is now squeezing them. (http://on.wsj.com/1DLTT71)

* Dish Network's race for wireless licenses in the government's most recent auction involved a handful of allied bidders and an aggressive strategy that surprised its rivals and may have helped drive prices higher. (http://on.wsj.com/1zQBbt6)

* General Motors Co is weighing the potential impact on its investment grade credit rating of a large stock repurchase proposed by activist investor Harry Wilson and four hedge funds. (http://on.wsj.com/1CnaqKe)

 

FT

BT Group Plc has raised 1 billion pounds ($1.54 billion) through a share sale to fund its acquisition of EE, UK's largest mobile operator. The company offered 222 million shares at a price of 4.55 pounds.

Online property portal Zoopla said the number of real estate agents advertising on its site fell by 11 percent due to the launch of a rival website called OntheMarket. The company said a total of 16,967 agents advertised on Zoopla compared with 18,999 last year.

Bankers accused of wrongdoing may see their bonuses and fixed pay being clawed back, even if the offence took place 10 years ago. Ed Balls, shadow chancellor, will unveil on Friday, new reforms that will see the proposed clawback period being extended from seven to 10 years.

Irene Dorner, a prominent banker who retired from HSBC last year, will join the board of Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc as a non-executive director. Dorner will replace John Neill, chairman of Unipart, who has been a non-executive member since 2008.

 

NYT

* U.S. President Obama will meet the nation's top technologists on a host of cyber security issues and the threats posed by increasingly sophisticated hackers. (http://nyti.ms/1zbTRQk)

* A private investigator in New York is expected to plead guilty to charges of paying a so-called hacker-for-hire firm to steal email passwords and credentials, said three people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no charges had been filed yet. The guilty plea would wrap up a nearly yearlong investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and federal prosecutors in New York. (http://nyti.ms/1zQD8FZ)

* The number of recalled vehicles in 2014 exceeded the total for the previous three years combined. According to the automakers, Honda Motor Co Ltd recalled about 8.9 million vehicles last year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recalled about 8.8 million, Toyota Motor Corp recalled about 6 million and Ford recalled almost 4.9 million. (http://nyti.ms/1yuq2cv)

* Trinity Industries turned to state attorneys general in an attempt to refute claims that its system has a deadly design flaw. The appeals are the latest example of how this once low-profile company has mounted an increasingly aggressive lobbying campaign in recent years as concerns over its guardrails have grown. (http://nyti.ms/1ClwuqR)

* Universal has quietly put together a 2015 slate that brings an echo of the studio's 1980s glory days, one that analysts say could make Universal the year's No. 1 studio, at least by ticket sales. (http://nyti.ms/1MibGpU)

* After retrieving a laptop in a strike on a Qaeda leader, American and Afghan commandos increased secret night raids on militants, even as the United States has declared the Afghanistan war essentially over. (http://nyti.ms/1ClJc6E)

 

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

** Bombardier announced sweeping changes on Thursday that are designed to calm mounting concerns over its future. The company said Pierre Beaudoin would step down as chief executive to become executive chairman. Bombardier also said it would scrap its dividend, raise $600 million in shares and up to C$1.5 billion ($1.20 billion) in debt. (http://bit.ly/1KRuYAQ)

** Sun News Network, which was launched in 2011, will go off the air on Friday morning. The channel suffered from heavy financial losses due to low ratings and lost C$46.7 million over one three-year span. The closing will mean the loss of 150 full-time jobs and affect about 200 employees and contributors. (http://bit.ly/1DLtIgB)

** A Canadian journalist imprisoned for more than a year has been released on bail, but there is no guarantee Mohamed Fahmy's freedom will be long-lived. A Cairo courtroom erupted in applause on Thursday when a judge said Fahmy, the local bureau chief for Al Jazeera's English network, could be let go until the next court hearing after the payment of about C$41,000. (http://bit.ly/1EeYBYJ)

NATIONAL POST

** Home prices in Canada's oil capitals will suffer a correction this year as plunging oil prices turn the nation's housing market upside-down, say TD economists. Prices are on track to fall as much as 10 percent in Calgary, Edmonton and St. John's Newfoundland over 2015 and into 2016 as the collapsing oil industry hits growth, incomes and employment. (http://bit.ly/1KP1Nys)

** A young British Columbia man who claims his life was ruined by gossip about a false rape claim has won the right to sue his accuser for defamation, in a rare case of a sexual-assault complainant being held legally liable for her statement to police. (http://bit.ly/1vHSTPY)

** The federal government will appeal a court ruling allowing a Muslim woman to wear a niqab while taking the oath of citizenship because it is "offensive" to shield your face at the moment you are being sworn in, the Canadian prime minister said on Thursday. (http://bit.ly/1J7AAJO)

 

China

CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL

- Promoting stability and development are the keys to achieving economic and social development, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee said on Thursday.

- China's investor confidence index hit 67.7 percent in January, jumping 44.7 percent from a year earlier, China Securities Investors Protection Fund Ltd said in a report.

SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS

- China's insurance sector had 140 trillion yuan ($22.42 trillion) in assets at the end of 2014, up 28.5 percent from the previous year, the country's insurance regulator said. Sixty-eight firms had a solvency ratio above 150 percent.

SHANGHAI DAILY

- Shanghai authorities have urged firms that manufacture or process meat and dairy products to install surveillance cameras in the factory following a food safety scandal at a supplier to fast food firms such as McDonald's and Yum Brands .

CHINA DAILY

- Jiamei Medical Group, China's largest privately-owned chain of dental clinics, plans to use a backdoor listing to go public in 2015, said Liu Jia, the company's chief executive.

 

Britain

The Times

Families will feel richer this year than they have for more than a decade as spending power soars, the Bank of England declared. Signalling an abrupt end to the six-year decline in living standards, Governor Mark Carney predicted that households' disposable income would rise at its fastest rate since 2001. (http://thetim.es/1CmsRys)

Everyone avoids tax, a major Tory donor declared as he backed down in his high-stakes row with Ed Miliband. Lord Fink, a former Conservative party treasurer, retracted a threat to sue the Labour leader over accusations that he avoided tax after admitting to "vanilla" measures to reduce his liability while living in Switzerland. (http://thetim.es/1AtrOAd)

The Guardian

The extension of emergency funding to the Greek finance sector by the euro zone's central bankers lifted the euro and gave Greece's prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, a stronger hand before meetings with senior officials at the leaders summit in Brussels. (http://bit.ly/170Bm9y)

British household spending power fell in the first three years of the coalition government despite millions of people being taken out of the lowest income tax band, according to a report by the Office for National Statistics. (http://bit.ly/1voRxDU)

The Telegraph

David Cameron has told Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, that he must make peace with Germany and the euro zone or risk damaging Britain's economic recovery. (http://bit.ly/1J5x7vf)

Ryanair's battle to keep its stake in Aer Lingus Group Plc suffered its ninth consecutive court defeat after the Court of Appeal supported an earlier ruling that the airline must slash its stake in its Irish rival. (http://bit.ly/1CkDJPV)

Sky News

Herve Falciani, the man who exposed a tax scandal at HSBC Holdings Plc by leaking thousands of account details from a Geneva branch, says he first raised concerns about suspect practices at the bank seven years ago. (http://bit.ly/1zQ5f8q)

Ministers are poised to ignite a new row over energy prices by launching a multi-million pound taxpayer-funded advertising splurge less than three months before the General Election. (http://bit.ly/1F3G0CC)

The Independent

The International Monetary Fund has granted Ukraine a new $17.5 billion bailout deal to help support economic reforms. (http://ind.pn/1AgXOZR)

Telecom giant BT Group Plc has raised 1 billion pounds ($1.54 billion) from investors to help fund its 12.5 billion pounds takeover of EE. (http://ind.pn/1uJKbQq)

 

 

Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS

Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Import price index for January at 8:30--consensus down 3.2%
U. of Michigan consumer sentiment index for February at 10:00--consensus 98.1
Baker Hughes rig count for week of February 13 at 13:00--prior 1456

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

Ascena Retail (ASNA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc
Cytokinetics (CYTK) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Wells Fargo
Elizabeth Arden (RDEN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) upgraded to Buy from Sell at UBS
Mallinckrodt (MNK) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Medical Properties upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Orbitz (OWW) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
Stage Stores (SSI) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee
Valero (VLO) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Neutral at Goldman

Downgrades

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
BorgWarner (BWA) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Cenovus Energy (CVE) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Gabelli
Gap (GPS) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Gold Fields (GFI) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at HSBC
InterXion (INXN) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Knowles (KN) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital
Natural Resource Partners (NRP) downgraded to Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Northeast Utilities (NU) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Pentair (PNR) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Rio Tinto (RIO) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Salix (SLXP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee
Scripps Networks (SNI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at MKM Partners
Sun Life Financial (SLF) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
TNT Express (TNTEY) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Tesoro (TSO) downgraded to Neutral from Conviction Buy at Goldman
Tesoro (TSO) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Total (TOT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Waste Management (WM) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Zoetis (ZTS) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan

Initiations

Identiv (INVE) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital
Spirit Airlines (SAVE) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
WPX Energy (WPX) initiated with an Outperform at Raymond James

COMPANY NEWS

AIG (AIG) authorized repurchase of up $2.5B of common stock
Kraft Foods (KRFT) said George Zoghbi, currently Vice Chairman, Operations, R&D, Sales and Strategy, has been named COO. The company also announced that Chris Kempczinski, who currently leads Kraft's Canada business unit, will assume an expanded role as Executive VP of Growth Initiatives and President of International
Nike (NKE) said Donald Blair to retire as CFO, Andrew Campion to succeed
ConAgra (CAG) announced Sean Connolly as new CEO
King Digital (KING) announced special dividend of 94c per share, forecast Q1 gross bookings $575M-$600M

EARNINGS
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
WABCO (WBC), Calpine (CPN), Rocky Brands (rcky), Portland General Electric (POR), MobileIron (MOBL), j2 Global (JCOM), Tangoe (TNGO), Vocera (VCRA), Newpark Resources (NR), World Fuel Services (INT), Mattson (MTSN), Ellie Mae (ELLI), Cognex (CGNX), Blucora (BCOR), LogMeln (LOGM), Republic Services (RSG), New Relic (NEWR), Bright Horizons (BFAM), Cinedigm (CIDM), Shutterstock (SSTK), Web.com (WWWW), Boyd Gaming (BYD), King Digital (KING), PROS (PRO), CyberArk (CYBR), Radiant Logistics (RLGT), Qlik Technologies (QLIK), Regal Entertainment (RGC), Shutterfly (SFLY), Rubicon (RBCN), Alnylam (ALNY), DaVita (DVA), Groupon (GRPN), Guidance Software (GUID), CBS (CBS), Columbia Sportswear (COLM), American Equity (AEL)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Energen (EGN), Liberty Global (LBTYA), Mercer (MERC), Assurant (AIZ), MoneyGram (MGI), Ironwood (IRWD), S&W Seed (SANW), PCM, Inc. (PCMI), EMCORE (EMKR), AIG (AIG), Biodel (BIOD)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Profire Energy (PFIE), Intermolecular (IMI), Hawaiian Electric (HE), InnerWorkings (INWK), SS&C (SSNC), WageWorks (WAGE), Zynga (ZNGA)

Campbell Soup (CPB) sees Q2 EPS 65c-66c, consensus 68c. The company also lowered FY15 EPS outlook to $2.32-$2.38, consensus $2.45
ConAgra (CAG) sees Q3 EPS 10c below 62c earned last year, consensus 61c, sees 2015 EPS $2.13-$2.18, consensus $2.26

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES
Yahoo (YHOO) expected to cut up to 200 employees, primarily in Canada, WSJ reports
Shire (SHPG) takes initial steps towards Salix (SLXP) bid, Reuters says
JPMorgan (JPM) Asia investment bank Vice Chairman steps down, Financial Times says
GM (GM) worried about impact to credit rating by proposed buyback, WSJ reports
Sumitomo Mitsui (SMFG) may look to buy Citi's (C) credit card unit in Japan, Nikkei says

SYNDICATE
EyeGate (EYEG) 683K share IPO priced at $6.00
Groupon (GRPN) files to sell common stock for shareholders, no amount given
Northern Dynasty (NAK) files to sell 18.8M shares for selling stockholders
Rice Energy (RICE) files to sell 60.4M shares of common stock for holders