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Frontrunning: March 31

  • Iran, powers push for nuclear deal as clock ticks toward deadline (Reuters)
  • How DIY Bond Traders Displaced Wall Street’s Hot Shots (BBG)
  • MillerCoors Caught in a Downdraft (WSJ)
  • Saudi-led strikes again hit Yemen overnight (Reuters)
  • Even With Free Money, Merkel Still Reluctant to Spend (BBG)
  • A Shrewd Oil Call Reverses Fortunes for Lucky Few (WSJ)
  • Britain Uses Tax Breaks to Lure Digital-Game Developers (WSJ)
  • China to Insure Deposits in Move Toward Scrapping Rate Curbs (BBG)
  • As China Expands Its Navy, the U.S. Grows Wary (WSJ)
  • Yoox to Buy Richemont’s Net-a-Porter for $775 Million (BBG)
  • San Francisco Boom Pins Office Landlords to Tech Bets (BBG)
  • Blackstone’s Latest Fund Raises $14.5 Billion in Institutional Capital (WSJ)
  • Euro-Area Price Drop Slows as Draghi Implements QE Plan (BBG)
  • Cablevision to make $1 offer for New York Daily News (Reuters)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* At MillerCoors LLC, the U.S. joint venture of SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Co, profit margins are under pressure and rival craft beers are cutting into sales. On top of this, the company needs to find a new CEO. (http://on.wsj.com/1DiJgZJ)

* The British government is hoping to score big by offering millions of dollars of tax breaks to lure digital-game developers. However, to win tax breaks, developers need to pass a European Union-mandated "cultural test" to prove that their planned games are British - or at least European - enough. (http://on.wsj.com/1DiKowt)

* Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican and chairman of the Senate's antitrust panel, plans to ask the Federal Trade Commission for information about meetings it had with Google Inc executives while the FTC was investigating the company for possible antitrust violations. (http://on.wsj.com/1CroaX0)

* UnitedHealth Group Inc's deal to acquire Catamaran Corp for about $12.8 billion in cash will bulk up its pharmacy-benefit business amid growing concern from employers and insurers about the rising costs of cutting-edge drugs. (http://on.wsj.com/1CrpAAM)

* In the latest sign of the importance of its drone program, Amazon.com Inc has hired Sean Cassidy, the former number-two executive at the Air Line Pilots Association, to help with the project. (http://on.wsj.com/1Crpw3W)

* Tesla Motors Inc will unveil a new product on April 30 that is not a car, but is likely a stationary battery storage system. (http://on.wsj.com/1CrpGse)

 

FT

Allowing EU nationals living in the UK to vote could be one of the conditions levied by the Liberal Democrats in exchange for allowing a referendum to the Conservatives, the Financial Times reported.

Rory Cullinan, head of Royal Bank Of Scotland Group Plc's investment bank, resigned after a disagreement with senior management over strategy, the Financial Times reported citing a person close to RBS.

The Confederation of British Industry is looking for a replacement for its Director-General John Cridland after he decided to follow the path of his predecessors in stepping down after one five-year term.

Iraqi Kurdistan-focused oil producer Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd on Monday announced its plans to raise at least 30 million pounds($44.42 million) for short-term financial stability, from a placing of up to 86 million shares.

 

NYT

* Jay Z, the rap star and entertainment mogul, announced his plans for Tidal, a subscription streaming service he recently bought for $56 million. Facing competition from Spotify, Google Inc and other companies that will soon include Apple Inc, Tidal will be fashioned as a home for high-fidelity audio and exclusive content. (http://nyti.ms/1CrrykP)

* In a recent series of attacks on websites like Github that try to help Internet users in China circumvent censorship, a portion of the torrents of Internet traffic was diverted using the Great Firewall, to overload targeted websites. The attacks appear to hijack advertising and analytics traffic intended for Baidu Inc, China's largest search company, and then send that traffic to smaller websites in what is known as a distributed denial of service or DDoS attack. The huge flow of traffic has the effect of crashing the sites. (http://nyti.ms/1CrsSnD)

* With the prospect of a default looming in Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is preparing to meet next week with President Vladimir Putin of Russia as a European deal to give more aid to Athens falters. (http://nyti.ms/1Crt9XF)

* The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said it was working with the Kraft Foods Group Inc to end part of a deal that allowed the food company to use one of the academy's logos on packages of Kraft Singles. (http://nyti.ms/1CrthGB)

* On Monday, the government charged that in the shadows of an undercover investigation of Silk Road, two federal agents sought to enrich themselves by exploiting the very secrecy that made the site so difficult to penetrate. The agents, Carl Mark Force IV, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Shaun Bridges, who worked for the Secret Service, were charged with money laundering and wire fraud. Force was also charged with theft of government property and conflict of interest. (http://nyti.ms/1CrtObR)

 

China

CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL

- China's will encourage private firms to invest in water conservation projects, with eligible companies potentially gaining exemption from corporate income taxes for the first three years, three top government bodies said in a joint statement.

- Bank of China Ltd said it expects China could cut the reserve requirement ratio 2-3 more times in the future and that GDP could reach 7.2 percent in the second quarter of the year, according to a report from the bank.

SHANGHAI DAILY

- The number of residents in Shanghai over the age of 60 rose almost 7 percent in 2014 to reach 4.14 million, according to a report from the Civil Affairs Bureau on Monday. That's almost a third of the city's permanent population.

SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS

- Net profit in China's fund sector hit 520 billion yuan ($83.78 billion) in 2014, the highest in five years, the newspaper calculated from the annual reports of fund companies.

 

Britain

The Times

MEDIEVAL MPS ABUSE POWERS, SAYS MOULTON

Jon Moulton, founder of Better Capital, the private equity vehicle that owned City Link, has rebuffed MPs who criticised him over the collapse of the courier group and accused them of abusing their "medieval powers" and failing to give him a fair hearing. (http://thetim.es/1OS0CB6)

B&Q shuts stores as Britain gives up DIY

The parent company of B&Q will reveal plans on Tuesday to shut dozens of DIY stores in response to a long-term decline in the number of Britons willing to spend their weekends immersed in doing things themselves. Kingfisher PLC is to announce that between 40 and 60 DIY stores will close out of a total B&Q estate of 360 outlets. The cutbacks will jeopardise up to 1,000 jobs, including that of Kevin O'Byrne, the chain's boss, who is expected to leave. (http://thetim.es/1CqIuaV)

The Guardian

MORTGAGE DEMAND SURGES AS OPTIMISM ABOUT UK ECONOMY REACHES 13-YEAR HIGH

Britons enter the five-week election campaign more upbeat about the economy than at any time in almost 13 years, according to the latest snapshot of confidence from the polling organisation Gfk. Against a backdrop of falling inflation and a boost to spending power from plunging energy prices, Gfk said all five of its measures of consumer confidence had picked up in the past month. (http://bit.ly/1Dh9Hz5)

TESCO TO REDUCE NUMBER OF CHARGES IMPOSED ON SUPPLIERS

Tesco PLC is radically restructuring the way it works with suppliers, cutting the number of ways in which it charges them from 24 to just three. The plan was outlined by Dave Lewis, the chief executive, as the groceries watchdog investigates Tesco over its dealings with manufacturers and distributors in the wake of a 263-million pound ($389.21 million) accounting scandal linked to misstatement of income from such suppliers. (http://bit.ly/1F9X3AX)

The Telegraph

RBS EXECUTIVE TO LEAVE AFTER COMPLAINING HE WAS 'BORED' AT WORK

Rory Cullinan, chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland's investment bank, is leaving just weeks after messages he sent to his daughter were revealed, showing he was "bored" at work. (http://bit.ly/1BJKvfY)

SFO FINED FOR BAE CORRUPTION CASE SECURITY BLUNDER

Britain's Serious Fraud Office has been hit with a 180,000-pound fine for an "astounding" security blunder that saw it send thousands of confidential papers to the wrong witness in its investigation of allegedly corrupt arms deals between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia. (http://bit.ly/1acgSgO)

Sky News

PENSION DATA SALES CLAIMS TRIGGER INQUIRY

An investigation has been launched by the Information Commissioner's Office into claims that details of millions of people's pensions are being sold to cold-calling firms and fraudsters. (http://bit.ly/1G7Q9gV)

LABOUR BUSINESS LAUNCH OVERSHADOWED BY ROW

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband's business manifesto launch has been overshadowed by a row over Labour's use of business leaders' quotes in an advertisement for the party's stance on the EU. (http://bit.ly/1DhclVe)

The Independent

B&Q PARENT KINGFISHER PULLS OUT OF MR BRICOLAGE TAKEOVER TALKS A DAY BEFORE RESULTS

Executives at B&Q parent company Kingfisher were left empty handed after nine months of negotiations to buy French rival DIY chain Mr Bricolage collapsed. (http://ind.pn/1CqKMqw)

TAX AVOIDANCE INVESTIGATIONS UP BY A QUARTER

A Finance team set up by the UK's HM Revenue and Customs to target wealthy fund managers and investment bankers has brought in 39 million pounds since it started in September 2012, while the number of investigations is up by a quarter in the last year. (http://ind.pn/1EWFXUs)

 

 

Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS
Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
S&P Case-Shiller 20 city home price index for January at 9:00--consensus up 0.6%
Chicago PMI for March at 9:45--consensus 51.7
Conference Board consumer confidence for March at 10:00--consensus 96.4

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

Brocade (BRCD) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at William Blair
Continental Building (CBPX) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
CyberArk (CYBR) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Summit Research
D.R. Horton (DHI) upgraded to Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna
HCP (HCP) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
Horizon Pharma (HZNP) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Horizon Pharma (HZNP) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Jones Energy (JONE) upgraded to Outperform from In-Line at Imperial Capital
PNM Resources (PNM) upgraded to Overweight from Sector Weight at KeyBanc
Priceline (PCLN) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel
R.R. Donnelley (RRD) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Benchmark Co.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Teva (TEVA) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Toronto-Dominion (TD) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo

Downgrades

Cypress Energy (CELP) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Wunderlich
Echo Global (ECHO) downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T
Hyperion Therapeutics (HPTX) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Cantor
OFG Bancorp (OFG) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Guggenheim

Initiations

EVERTEC (EVTC) initiated with a Buy at Topeka
Express (EXPR) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Flexion (FLXN) initiated with a Buy at MLV & Co.
IAC (IACI) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
INC Research (INCR) initiated with an Outperform at Raymond James
L Brands (LB) initiated with a Hold at Brean Capital
MaxPoint Interactive (MXPT) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
MaxPoint Interactive (MXPT) initiated with an Outperform at Pacific Crest
NGL Energy Partners (NGL) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
New York & Co. (NWY) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Rice Midstream (RMP) initiated with an Outperform at Wells Fargo
Sensient (SXT) initiated with a Buy at BB&T
Skullcandy (SKUL) initiated with a Buy at Wunderlich
Turtle Beach (hear) initiated with a Hold at Wunderlich
Ultragenyx (RARE) initiated with a Buy at MLV & Co.
Virgin America (VA) initiated with a Hold at Stifel
ZAGG (ZAGG) initiated with a Buy at Wunderlich

COMPANY NEWS

IBM (IBM) announced that it will invest $3B over the next four years to establish a new Internet of Things unit, and that it is building a cloud-based open platform designed to help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions
Vail Resorts (MTN) to acquire Perisher Ski Resort for approximately $136M
GO Scale Capital acquired 80.1% interest in Lumileds from Philips (PHG)
Celladon (CLDN) said CUPID 2 topline data release is on track for late April
Teck Resources (TCK) said that it is not in talks with Antofagasta
DryShips (DRYS) announced agreements to sell its four Suezmax tankers, Vilamoura, Lipari, Petalidi and Bordeira, for an en-bloc sales price of $245M. In addition, it has entered into agreements with entities controlled by Economou to potentially sell its six Aframax tankers, Belmar, Calida, Alicante, Mareta, Saga and Daytona
Enterprise Products (EPD) said CEO Michael Creel to retire, A.J. Teague to succeed. The company also named Bryan Bulawa as CFO and W. Randall Fowler as Chief Administrative Officer

EARNINGS

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Conn's (CONN), Medley Management (MDLY), Argos Therapeutics (ARGS)

SORL Auto Parts (SORL) reports Q4 EPS 20c, one estimate 12c

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

McDonald's (MCD) to test all-day breakfast in San Diego area, WSJ reports
Cablevision (CVC) may offer to buy New York Daily News for $1, Reuters reports
Amazon (AMZN) hires former Air Line Pilots Association executive for drones, WSJ reports
Tesla's (TSLA) March China sales up 130%-150% month-over-month, Bloomberg reports
Oracle (ORCL) said to hire former HP (HPQ) executive Dave Donatelli, Business Insider reports

SYNDICATE

Axalta Coating (AXTA) files to sell 35M shares for Carlyle Group affiliates
Caesars Acquisition (CACQ) files to sell 521,062 shares for holders
Cerulean (CERU) files to sell $50M of common stock
Cincinnati Bell to sell common units of limited partners interests in CyrusOne (CONE)
Coherus Biosciences (CHRS) files to sell $100M in common stock
CyrusOne (CONE) files to sell 12.2M shares of common stock
Insmed (INSM) files to sell 10M shares of common stock
Intercept (ICPT) files to sell 1.2M shares of common stock
JG Wentworth (JGW) files to sell 16.7M shares of common stock for holders
Media General (MEG) files to sell 6.8M shares of voting common stock for holders
NovaBay (NBY) files to sell 25.7M shares of common stock for holders
Raptor Pharmaceuticals (RPTP) files to sell $75M of common stock
Synta Pharmaceuticals (SNTA) files to sell common stock
Tata Motors (TTM) files automatic mixed securities shelf
Trillium Therapeutics (TRIL) files to sell $50M in common stock