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Frontrunning: March 16

  • Germans Tired of Greek Demands Want Country to Exit Euro (BBG)
  • Weak euro powers European stocks to new highs (Reuters)
  • Siemens Cheers Euro Slump as Emerson Eases Dollar’s Sting (BBG)
  • A Police Gadget Tracks Phones? Shhh! It’s Secret (NYT)
  • If Economists Were Right, You Would Have a Raise by Now (BBG)
  • iWatch: who’s going to pay $17K for a device that will be obsolete in two years? (Barrons)
  • Ferguson Suspect Said to Claim He Wasn’t Firing at Police (BBG)
  • Why Bankers Are Leaving Finance for No-Salary Tech Jobs (BBG)
  • New York real estate baron Durst arrested on LA murder warrant (Reuters)
  • Major move: Total puts North Sea gas stake on block (FT)
  • Putin reveals nuclear plan over Crimea (FT)
  • Bogle launches renewed attack on ETFs (FT)
  • China has plenty of room to maneuver policy (Reuters)
  • Was that it for Meerkat: We Will Build Our Own Social Network (Yahoo)
  • Tax inversion curb turns tables on US (FT)
  • Germany and Greece should look to Goethe to resolve their standoff (Guardian)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* Amid growing pressure from congressional Republicans, the Federal Trade Commission is revising procedures for challenging mergers it believes are anticompetitive, a move that could factor into its pending case against the deal that would combine Sysco Corp and US Foods Inc. (http://on.wsj.com/1NYJMQL)

* Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a "real danger" he would lose his job in Tuesday's election and pleaded with conservative voters to shore up his campaign, blaming a foreign conspiracy for boosting his rivals' prospects. (http://on.wsj.com/1BKpN34)

* The congressional Medicare Payment Advisory Commission called for changes to discourage long-term hospitals from timing patients' discharges to financial incentives. (http://on.wsj.com/1wOtVyB)

* The euro's plunge has given a much-needed lift to hedge funds that have been repeatedly frustrated by the world's central banks. (http://on.wsj.com/1BIkzn0)

* Older adults are abusing drugs, getting arrested for drug offenses and dying from drug overdoses at increasingly higher rates. These surges have come as the 76 million baby boomers, who as youths used drugs at the highest rates of any generation, reach late middle age. (http://on.wsj.com/1wOtG6K)

* Many states and cities are facing pushback from workers as they seek cutbacks on pension entitlements to existing employees. But Memphis is particularly notable because workers have moved beyond rhetoric and into action. (http://on.wsj.com/1BIkG24)

* Blackstone Group LP has struck a deal to purchase the Willis Tower in Chicago for $1.3 billion in what would be the highest price ever paid for a U.S. office tower outside of New York, according to executives of the private-equity firm. (http://on.wsj.com/1EiyY8a)

* Researchers reported the first evidence that a new class of drugs known to dramatically lower cholesterol may also reduce risk of heart attacks, strokes and other serious consequences of cardiovascular disease. (http://on.wsj.com/1MEy9L7)

* Wal-Mart has struck a deal to be the exclusive carrier of a new, premium-priced laundry-soap brand in the United States and it has stacked the brand, Persil, on store shelves right next to the reigning champion of high-end laundry detergent: Tide. (http://on.wsj.com/1ClF9xa)

 

FT

French oil major Total is putting up a stake for auction in one of the UK's natural gasfields, in a move that could be the first of a string of deals in the North Sea.

Tony Blair is relinquishing his post as the envoy for the Middle East Quartet to take a different role in the peace negotiations, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing people it said were familiar with the matter.

Life sciences company Malin, backed by British fund manager Neil Woodford and Irish state's new strategic investment fund, aims to raise about 300 million euros in an intial public offering which will be completed within days.

 

NYT

* Federal authorities investigating the attack at JPMorgan Chase & Co are increasingly confident that a criminal case will be filed against the hackers in the coming months. Law enforcement officials believe that several of the suspects are "gettable," meaning that they live in a country with which the United States has an extradition treaty. That would not include countries like Russia. (http://nyti.ms/1CkoWXk)

* Federal Highway Administration, the federal agency charged with investigating a potentially dangerous guardrail, defended its methods of analysis, after it was criticized for giving a guardrail a passing grade in a crash test despite severe damage to the driver's door. (http://nyti.ms/1ET9Nyi)

* A new class of experimental cholesterol drugs might sharply reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, researchers reported on Sunday, citing what they described as preliminary evidence. The drugs, one being developed by Amgen Inc and the other by Sanofi SA and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, are already known to sharply reduce so-called bad cholesterol. (http://nyti.ms/19omEvn)

* Facebook Inc, the world's largest social network, is releasing data to help users better understand what is allowed on the service, and is also issuing a report on government requests to take down content. (http://nyti.ms/1LhhYIk)

 

Hong Kong

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

-- China's annual consumer rights gala has slammed foreign carmakers, including Mercedes, Volkswagen, Range Rover and Nissan, for poor vehicle quality and aftersales service. The programme, 315 Gala, which CCTV broadcasts on every March 15, is popular on the mainland because most of the show's allegations are followed by government action. (bit.ly/1LgBiWi)

-- Society is becoming more divided over political reform, with a Chinese University poll showing a narrowing gap between those who accept a reform package for the 2017 chief executive election even if it is based on Beijing's framework, and those who reject it. (bit.ly/1HUVk39)

THE STANDARD

-- Core profit at Wharf Holdings fell 7 percent to HK$10.5 billion ($1.35 billion) in the past year, dropping below the lower end of market expectations. That came amid the mainland property market woes that ate into the real estate firm's profit margin. (bit.ly/1HUVTde)

-- Developers rolled out new flats at higher prices over the weekend, encouraged by the recent keen interest in new homes. This comes after tighter mortgage rules made purchasing flats in the resale market more difficult. Cheung Kong put the last 32 flats at La Lumiere on the market after clearing all 76 units in its Saturday sales, 75 of which went in less than an hour. (bit.ly/1GTmSIu)

HONG KONG ECONOMIC JOURNAL

-- China Mobile Ltd is forecast to post a decline in yearly profit of between 9.37 percent and 14.41 percent partly due to market competition, while discounts and subsidies also weigh on its earnings, according to analysts.

HONG KONG ECONOMIC TIMES

-- Chinese internet firm Tencent Holdings Ltd is expected to report strong growth in its yearly profit, rising between 53 percent and 65 percent, boosted by increasing revenues from advertising and mobile games, according to analysts.

 

Britain

The Times

DON'T RISK RECOVERY, BOSSES WARN PARTIES

The chairmen of Marks and Spencer Group Plc, WM Morrison Supermarkets Plc and Next Plc have warned a future government that consumer confidence remains fragile and that stability after the general election is key to securing the recovery.(http://thetim.es/1BmYB5A)

CITY INVESTORS REVVED UP TO BUY HAVERSHAM HOLDINGS

Shares in Haversham Holdings, an acquisition vehicle set up by the former chairwoman of Stobart Group, will be suspended this morning as it closes in on a City-backed 1.2 billion pounds ($1.77 billion) takeover of Europe's largest used-car dealership, British Car Auctions.(http://thetim.es/1BmZhYB)

The Guardian

UK HIGH STREETS RUNNING OUT OF TIME AS MORE SHOPS CLOSE THAN NEW ONES OPEN

Britain's high streets are fading away because new shops are not opening fast enough to replace those that close, despite the economic recovery.(http://bit.ly/1BmZsDl)

HEAD OF BHS PENSION FUND ADMITS DEFICIT IS MUCH HIGHER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT

Struggling fashion and homewares chain BHS is facing a new drain on its finances, after the head of its pension fund admitted the retirement scheme is running a much higher deficit than previously thought.(http://bit.ly/1BmZLy3)

The Telegraph

PROPERTY ASKING PRICES JUST 30 POUNDS BELOW ALL-TIME RECORD

Asking prices for homes are now just £30 below the all-time record set last summer, driven higher by a lack of properties coming on to the market. Average asking price for UK home is now 281,752 pounds($415,669) according to Rightmove house price index.(http://bit.ly/1GToqSF)

BUDGET 2015: SAVERS MUST BE PUT AT HEART OF PENSIONS SHAKE-UP

Savers must be put at the heart of government plans to shake-up pensions, experts said on Sunday, as the Chancellor unveiled proposals to make new freedoms available to all.(http://bit.ly/1FmV7Gn)

Sky News

BANKERS TO FACE 'ANNUAL MOT' UNDER FCA RULES

Lenders will be required to annually certify the fitness of staff to perform their roles under a new framework that will reinforce the City watchdog's new-found status as one of the world's toughest banking supervisors.(http://bit.ly/1Cjox7t)

CO-OP BANK TAPS FUNDS OVER 6 BLN POUNDS OPTIMUM SALE

The troubled Co-operative Bank has approached some of the world's biggest distressed investment funds about a sale of billions of pounds of British mortgages as part of its revival plan.(http://bit.ly/1Bn0j6U)

 

Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS

Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Empire State manufacturing survey for March at 8:30--consensus 8.0
Industrial production for February at 9:15--consensus up 0.2%
Capacity utilization rate for February at 9:15--consensus 79.5%
NAHB housing market index for March at 10:00--consensus 56

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

AmerisourceBergen (ABC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
Francesca's (FRAN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
Goldcorp (GG) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC
Jabil Circuit (JBL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Cross Research
King Digital (KING) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
L.B. Foster (FSTR) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie
NextEra Energy (NEE) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Petrobras Argentina (PZE) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Randgold (GOLD) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC
Royal Gold (RGLD) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC
Seagate (STX) upgraded to Strong Buy from Buy at Needham
Union Pacific (UNP) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie
West Corp. (WSTC) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
YPF (YPF) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill

Downgrades

Cabot Microelectronics (CCMP) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
DuPont (DD) downgraded to Underperform from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Eastman Chemical (EMN) downgraded to Underperform from Outperform at CLSA
FXCM (FXCM) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
First BanCorp (FBP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Guggenheim
Garmin (GRMN) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer
Hibbett Sports (HIBB) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Sterne Agee
Netflix (NFLX) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Evercore ISI
iDreamSky (DSKY) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel

Initiations

American Midstream Partners (AMID) initiated with a Neutral at UBS
Bellerophon (BLPH) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
Bellerophon (BLPH) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
Bellerophon (BLPH) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Hanesbrands (HBI) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
Inotek Pharmaceuticals (ITEK) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Intersect ENT (XENT) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Scorpio Bulkers (SALT) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital

COMPANY NEWS

Värde Partners, KKR (KKR) and Deutsche Bank (DB) signed an agreement for the purchase of GE Capital’s (GE) Australia and New Zealand Consumer Lending Business at an enterprise value of A$8.2B
Murray Energy to acquire controlling interest in Foresight (FELP) for $1.4B
Holcim's (HCMLY) board rejected Lafarge (LFRGY) merger terms
Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk tweeted, "Tesla press conf at 9am on Thurs. About to end range anxiety...via OTA software update. Affects entire Model S fleet"
Henry Schein (HSIC) to replace CareFusion (CFN) in S&P 500 as of 3/17 close; Hanesbrands (HBI) to replace Avon Products (AVP) in S&P 500 as of 3/20 close; SL Green Realty (SLG) to replace Nabors Industries (NBR) in S&P 500 as of 3/20 close; Equinix (EQIX) to replace Denbury Resources (DNR) in S&P 500 as of 3/20 close

EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Stemline (STML)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Sterling Construction (STRL), Park-Ohio (PKOH)

RadNet (RDNT) sees FY15 revenue $745M-$765M, consensus $746.05M
RadNet (RDNT) reports Q4 EPS 10c, one estimate 10c
Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) affirms FY15 EPS view of up 6%-8%
iDreamSky (DSKY) sees Q1 revenue $54.8M, consensus $69.78M
iDreamSky (DSKY) lowers Q4 revenue view to $52.7M-$53M from $62.9M-$66.1M
Valhi reports Q4 EPS 3c, one estimate 4c
Park-Ohio (PKOH) sees FY15 adjusted EPS 4.32-$4.72, consensus $5.20

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

U.S.poised to charge JPMorgan (JPM) hacking suspects, NY Times reports
Whiting (WLL) attracts interest from Exxon Mobil (XOM), Hess (HES), Continental (CLR), Statoil (STO), Bloomberg reports
David Winters says Coca-Cola (KO) CEO's declined bonus not enough, Reuters reports
Twitter (TWTR) blocks Meerkat access to social network data, Buzzfeed reports
Total (TOT) looking to sell 20% stake in North Sea gasfield, Financial Times reports
Apple's (AAPL) $17,000 watch looks over-priced, Barron's says
Eaton (ETN) can rise 20%, Barron's says
Gaming and Leisure Properties (SLPI) may have to up offer for Pinnacle (PNK), Barron's says

SYNDICATE

Arrowhead (ARWR) files to sell 3.3M shares of common stock for holders
CorMedix (CRMD) files to sell 2.45M shares of common stock for holders
Diplomat Pharmacy (DPLO) files to sell $200M of common stock
Diversified Restaurant (BAGR) files $125M mixed securities shelf and files to sell 1.5M shares of common stock for holders
Kearny Financial (KRNY) files to sell 58.225M-78.775M shares of common stock
Mattersight (MATR) files $75M mixed securities shelf
TerraForm (TERP) files to sell 17.5M shares of Class A common stock for holders
Virgin America (VA) files to sell 4.9M shares for holders
XPO Logistics (XPO) files automatic mixed securities shelf for holders
ZS Pharma (ZSPH) files to sell $150M of common stock