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Frontrunning: February 19

  • Greece requests euro zone loan extension, offers big concessions (Reuters)
  • Germany Rejects Loan Request Saying Greece Must Meet Conditions (BBG)
  • Did the Fed Just Enter the Currency Wars (BBG)
  • French consumer prices fall for first time since 2009 (Reuters)
  • Oil falls sharply after U.S. crude inventories rise (Reuters)
  • High-Speed Firm Virtu Revives IPO Plans (WSJ)
  • Fed Tiptoes Into Rate-Hike Debate (Hilsenrath)
  • Rajoy’s Nemesis Is Back: Anti-Graft Editor Targets Vote (BBG)
  • Are the World’s Biggest Banks Moving Money for Terrorists? (BBG)
  •  U.S. authorities probe alleged forged letter from Mirach in Sahara deal (Reuters)
  • McDonald’s Brings Back Tenders, Giving Boost to Chicken Industry (BBG)
  • Caterpillar Faces Pileup of Probes and Inquiries (WSJ)
  • Apple poaching auto engineers to build battery division (Reuters)
  • Sears Turnaround Seen Failing by Traders in Credit-Swaps Market (BBG)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* Federal Reserve officials held detailed discussions in January on the timing and pace of interest-rate increases, though they stopped short of agreeing to specific plans, according to minutes of the meeting. (http://on.wsj.com/1E6ycyK)

* A growing list of federal investigations and inquiries threatens to become a serious embarrassment for Caterpillar Inc , which has long projected a squeaky-clean image. (http://on.wsj.com/1MzdM4O)

* Federal authorities are probing whether a hacker is behind the online posting of a cache of Morgan Stanley's client data - and not the financial adviser who was fired in connection with the breach. (http://on.wsj.com/1DtHHJ2)

* Virtu Financial Inc, one of the world's biggest high-frequency trading firms, is reviving its plan to go public, according to people familiar with the matter. (http://on.wsj.com/1Boqb8u)

* Auto-parts maker Delphi Automotive Plc agreed to sell its car heating and cooling business to Germany's Mahle for more than $700 million in a move to refocus on higher margin electronic safety and self-driving technologies. (http://on.wsj.com/1ESXKNq)

* NBC's "Nightly News" held on to first place in the ratings last week, but its numbers took a tumble with Lester Holt sitting in the anchor chair in place of Brian Williams. (http://on.wsj.com/17X3L1N)

* Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said it had acquired a U.S. startup whose technology is likely to underpin the South Korean technology giant's new mobile-payment service. The deal to buy LoopPay Inc, represents the clearest signal that Samsung intends to compete aggressively with Apple Inc in trying to change consumer behavior at the checkout counter. (http://on.wsj.com/17X4ikr)

 

FT

British businesses fear the charge towards regional devolution will damage growth and undermine the internal market, Confederation of British Industry, the country's largest employers' group will say on Thursday.

Secret policies for eavesdropping on confidential conversations between lawyers and their clients by British spy agencies do not adhere to European human rights laws, the government has admitted.

The adoption of expensive new drugs by the National Health Service is doing patients more harm than good, according to a research report by the University of York urging sharp reduction in the price pharmaceuticals companies are paid for their products.

Harriet Yeo, a former head of Labour's ruling body, the National Executive Committee said she has left the party to support the anti-EU UK Independence Party at the next election as she was "disillusioned" with its failure to offer a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.

 

NYT

* The new leftist-led Greek government plans to submit a new proposal on Thursday. The ability of Greece and its banks to remain solvent could depend just as much on Mario Draghi and a series of decisions by the European Central Bank that might determine the financial fate of Greece. (http://nyti.ms/1EqVjBT)

* The Safra Group, led by Joseph Safra, recently bought Chiquita Brands International, the fruit company, and the London office tower known as the Gherkin. (http://nyti.ms/1AIIhCh)

* The Federal Reserve does not sound like an institution that is ready to raise its benchmark interest rate in June. Fed officials at their most recent policy-making meeting in January worried that economic growth remained fragile, and that raising rates prematurely could undermine recent gains, according to an official account released Wednesday. (http://nyti.ms/1JqLlab)

* Uber has expanded its Series E round of venture financing by $1 billion, according to documents filed Wednesday with the Delaware secretary of state, bringing the total capacity for the round up to $2.8 billion. (http://nyti.ms/1CLoxsL)

* The United States Marshals Service announced that it would auction 50,000 Bitcoins, worth nearly $12 million, seized in connection with the online marketplace Silk Road. The Bitcoin auction, to be held on March 5, comes more than two months after the service's second Bitcoin auction in December, when it also sold 50,000 Bitcoins. (http://nyti.ms/1E8gg6T)

* Unusually close competition among films that have split pre-Oscar honors most prominently, "Birdman" and "Boyhood" has brought Hollywood table talk about subtle maneuvers and well-managed serendipity that have made Fox Searchlight the company to beat. (http://nyti.ms/1FwmRtp)

 

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

** Sales of luxury vehicles hit a record in Canada last year and Porsche Cars Canada Inc is riding the wave. Porsche posted the best year-over-year percentage increase of any auto maker in Canada, topping off a four-year run that has doubled sales. (http://bit.ly/1CLZCrD)

** Ontario Superior Court ruled on Wednesday that Target Canada's franchised pharmacists should get C$100,000 ($80,103) from Target Canada to cover their legal and financial advice in the insolvency proceedings of the chain, which is closing all 133 of its stores by mid-May. (http://bit.ly/1DEdiGs)

** Islamic jihadis have "declared war on Canada and its allies," posing a grave threat and justifying sweeping new surveillance of terrorist suspects, Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney said on Wednesday as he headed to a summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama on countering violent extremism. (http://bit.ly/1LdUWwO)

** Barrick Gold Corp slashed jobs and hung the for sale sign on some of its Asia-Pacific assets, as the Canadian company vowed to reduce its debt by at least $3-billion this year. (http://bit.ly/1G6PdrE)

** The Canadian government has failed to get Washington to pay the roughly $250 million needed to build a U.S. Customs plaza on the Michigan side of a new Detroit-Windsor bridge. Ottawa will be responsible for financing the entire cost of the $2.1-billion bridge, including access roads on both sides of the Detroit River as well as U.S. border installations, under a deal announced on Wednesday. (http://bit.ly/1Jr5ooX)

NATIONAL POST

** Leonard Asper, whose family built, and later lost, the Canwest Global Communications Corp empire, had scrambled a last-ditch effort to buy Sun News Network. That was less than 72 hours before its owner, Quebecor Media, officially pulled the plug on it. (http://bit.ly/17Y8tfR)

** Ezra Levant, left unemployed by the demise of Sun News, is hoping to emulate the success of U.S. commentator Glenn Beck by launching his own subscription-based conservative website. (http://bit.ly/1Jr4F7j)

** Parti Quebecois leadership candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau is not excluding the possibility of Quebec becoming an independent country based on an election result that would put the party in power. (http://bit.ly/1vJ8IQW)

** Finance Minister Joe Oliver came under fire on Wednesday over allegations his office broke federal rules by sole-sourcing speechwriting services in 2013 for C$9,200 to the law firm of Guy Giorno - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff. (http://bit.ly/1EVyl5O)

 

Britain

The Times

OLD MUTUAL PUTS CITY BOARDS ON NOTICE OVER TESCO-STYLE 'REWARDS FOR FAILURE'

In a defiant move inspired by perceived "rewards for failure" at Tesco Plc, Old Mutual Global Investors threatened to vote against any company that has failed to shorten service contracts for main board directors to under a year by next March. (http://thetim.es/1LeSg3K)

The Guardian

UK ADMITS UNLAWFULLY MONITORING LEGALLY PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted. (http://bit.ly/1ASzex6)

UK EMPLOYMENT RATE HITS HIGHEST LEVEL SINCE RECORDS BEGAN

David Cameron has hailed news that Britain's employment rate is at the joint highest level since records began in 1971 as evidence that the economy is strengthening. (http://bit.ly/1AkGBf0)

The Telegraph

MONSOON BOSS JOHN BROWETT QUITS

John Browett, who left Apple after just six months in charge of its retail operations, has suddenly quit his position as chief executive of fashion chain Monsoon Accessorize. (http://bit.ly/17VL0M9)

PUTIN WILL TARGET THE BALTIC NEXT, DEFENCE SECRETARY WARNS

There is a "real and present danger" that Vladimir Putin will launch a campaign of undercover attacks to destabilise the Baltic states on Nato's eastern flank, the Defence Secretary has warned. (http://bit.ly/1LeNPpC)

Sky News

LLOYDS AND RBS FACE REPEAT OF CASH BONUS CAP

Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland have been in discussions with UK Financial Investments , the agency which manages taxpayers' stakes in the two lenders, about their pay structures for 2014. (http://bit.ly/1ET0SZK)

ECB EXTENDS FUNDING FOR GREEK BANKS - REPORTS

The European Central Bank has decided to increase its emergency funding to Greek commercial banks, it has been reported. (http://bit.ly/1A7poab)

The Independent

GREEK BAILOUT: GREECE TO ASK EUROZONE FOR EXTENSION OF LOAN DEAL BUT STAND FIRM AGAINST AUSTERITY MEASURES

The Greek government has confirmed it is to ask the Eurozone for a six-month extension of its European loan agreement today. (http://ind.pn/1AHAzZa)

 

Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS

Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Jobless claims for week of Feb. 14 at 8:30--consensus 290K
Philadelphia Fed survey for February at 10:00--consensus 8.2
Leading indicators for January at 10:00--consensus up 0.3%
EIA natural gas storage change for week of Feb. 13 at 10:30
DOE petroleum inventory reports for week of Feb. 13 at 11:00

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

Angie's List (ANGI) upgraded to Overweight from Equal-Weight at First Analysis
Coach (COH) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Topeka
Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Exane BNP Paribas
Garmin (GRMN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Hologic (HOLX) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord
Monster Worldwide (MWW) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Evercore ISI
Pharmacyclics (PCYC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Nomura
RPC, Inc. (RES) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley
Sanofi (SNY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Sasol (SSL) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at HSBC
Tractor Supply (TSCO) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Valero (VLO) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Weingarten Realty (WRI) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at UBS
Werner (WERN) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital

Downgrades

Castlight Health (CSLT) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord
Delek US (DK) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
EOG Resources (EOG) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Heartland Express (HTLD) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Huntsman (HUN) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Intelsat (I) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Intelsat (I) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Mazor Robotics (MZOR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
Pharmacyclics (PCYC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Roth Capital
Pharmacyclics (PCYC) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Potbelly (PBPB) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Sasol (SSL) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Terex (TEX) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital

Initiations

Alaska Air (ALK) reinstated with an Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Allegiant Travel (ALGT) reinstated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
American Airlines (AAL) reinstated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
Delta Air Lines (DAL) reinstated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
EPIRUS (EPRS) initiated with an Outperform at Wedbush
Endo (ENDP) resumed with a Buy at Citigroup
Hawaiian Holdings (HA) reinstated with an Underperform at BofA/Merrill
JetBlue (JBLU) initiated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
Proto Labs (PRLB) initiated with a Sector Perform at Pacific Crest
Southwest (LUV) initiated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
Spirit Airlines (SAVE) reinstated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
United Continental (UAL) initiated with a Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Virgin America (VA) reinstated with an Underperform at BofA/Merrill

COMPANY NEWS

Ball's (BLL) proposed acquisition of Rexam (REXMY) valued at $8.4B
Verizon (VZ) named John Stratton as head of wireless and wireline operations
T-Mobile (TMUS) said COO Jim Alling resigns, effective March 13, and named Mike Sievert as COO
Kimberly Clark (KMB) CFO Buthman to retire at year end, Maria Henry to succeed
Lockheed Martin (LMT) named Dana Jackson as Chief Technology Officer 
Cubic Corporation (CUB) announced the next steps in streamlining its corporate and business segment operations as part of a company-wide activity to improve profitability and competitiveness through its One Cubic initiatives. These initiatives are anticipated to yield $15-16M in annualized pre-tax savings in FY16

EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Hormel Foods (HRL), LPL Financial (LPLA), State Auto Financial (STFC), T-Mobile (TMUS), Teekay Tankers (TNK), Parker Drilling (PKD), Key Energy (KEG), Axiall (AXLL), Barrick Gold (ABX), PRA Health (PRAH), Sunoco (SUN), Coeur Mining (CDE), IAMGOLD (IAG), Oil States (OIS), Employers Holdings (EIG), Apollo Residential Mortgage (AMTG), Theravance (THRX), AVG Technologies (AVG), Six Flags (SIX), Marriott (MAR), Convergys (CVG), Maiden Holdings (MHLD), Altra Holdings (AIMC), SunEdison Semiconductor (SEMI), iPass (IPAS), On Assignment (ASGN), SunEdison (SUNE), United Insurance (UIHC), Synopsys (SNPS), Universal Forest (UFPI), Rex Energy (REXX), Trinity Industries (TRN), Grand Canyon (LOPE), ONE Gas (OGS), Nova Measuring (NVMI), Fidelity National (FNF), Williams (WMB), BJ's Restaurants (BJRI), XPO Logistics (XPO), LDR Holding (LDRH), Intrepid Potash (IPI), Castlight Health (CSLT), Pharmacyclics (PCYC), ARRIS (ARRS)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Pan American Silver (PAAS), Remy International (REMY), Energy Transfer Equity (ETE), SolarCity (SCTY), America's Car-Mart (CRMT), Curtiss-Wright (CW), Questar (STR), EOG Resources (EOG), Regency Energy Partners (RGP), EarthLink (ELNK), Marathon Oil (MRO), Sunoco Logistics (SXL), ExamWorks (EXAM), Tenaris (TS), KEYW (KEYW), American Railcar (ARII), Regulus (RGLS), YuMe (YUME), EVERTEC (EVTC), B&G Foods (BGS), Interface (TILE), Western Gas Partners (WES), Datalink (DTLK)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Quanta Services (PWR), Alamos Gold (AGI), Steiner Leisure (STNR), Healthstream (HSTM), ManTech (MANT), Denny's (DENN)

Hormel Foods (HRL) raises FY15 adjusted EPS to $2.50-$2.60 from $2.45-$2.55
BAE Systems (BAESY) reports 2014 operating profit GBP1.3B vs. GBP806M last year, sees 2015 underlying EPS marginally higher vs. 2014
Curtiss-Wright (CW) sees FY15 EPS $3.80-$3.90, consensus $3.50
Marriott (MAR) sees Q1 EPS 68c-72c, consensus 66c, sees FY15 EPS $3.00-$3.12, consensus $3.03

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

Authorities investigating possible hack in Morgan Stanley (MS) leak, WSJ reports
A123 Systems (AONE) sues Apple (AAPL) for poaching employees, WSJ reports
YouTube (GOOG) to unveil paid music service soon, Reuters reports
Air France-KLM (AFLYY) to reduce investments, make 800 job cuts, Financial Times says
Lockheed Martin (LMT) on track to cut cost of F35 jets by 30%, Financial Times reports

SYNDICATE

Netlist (NLST) files to sell common stock, no amount given
Stamps.com (STMP) files to sell 769k shares of common stock for holders