Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

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Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

by SA Editor Rachael Granby


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  • Stress tests may reveal banks' capital needs. As the May 4 reveal date for stress tests draws closer, officials are considering releasing assessments for each of the 19 banks and may require those that need more capital to disclose how they plan to raise additional funds. Under that scenario, lenders would have to specify whether they want to convert government preference shares, issue more stock or rely on an additional bailout. The push for disclosure is meant to help the public better discern between the health of individual banks. Sources say regulators want the banks to have at least 3% tangible common equity.
  • Lewis: Fed, Treasury urged Merrill silence. According to a recently obtained copy of CEO Ken Lewis' February testimony to New York's attorney general, Bernanke and then-Treasury chief Paulson pressured Bank of America (BAC) to stay silent on its increasingly troubled deal to acquire Merrill Lynch. Despite an obligation to disclose any material financial hits to shareholders, officials pressed Lewis to keep quiet during government-funding negotiations to ensure important financial institutions wouldn't fail. Publicizing Merrill's losses would have allowed Bank of America's shareholders the opportunity to stop the deal and let Merrill collapse.
  • Counter-counter-offer on Chrysler debt. After rejecting a too-rich counter-offer from Chrysler creditors, the Treasury has reportedly raised its own offer in an effort to reach a deal with lenders by the end of the month. The new deal would see lenders get $1.5B of first-lien debt and a 5% equity stake in a restructured Chrysler in exchange for the $6.9B of debt they now hold. The Treasury had previously suggested lenders write off all but $1B of the debt and receive no stock.

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  • GM to miss debt payment, idle plants. Trying to avoid bankruptcy ahead of the government's June 1 deadline, General Motors (GM) may rush to close dealerships, scrap models and could idle most of its plants for around two months this summer. The moves could help GM break even with annual sales as low as 10M vehicles. Meanwhile, CFO Ray Young said the company doesn't plan to pay off $1B of debt due June 1, and will instead swap the debt for shares or rely on bankruptcy protection. The tougher public stance towards bondholders is meant to lay the groundwork for what promises to be an ugly debt-for-equity swap GM expects to launch by next week.
  • Hard times for Hartford. Hartford Financial Services (HIG) is said to be seeking bids from rivals including Travelers Companies (TRV) for its flagship property insurance business. Sources said Hartford has been shopping the unit after losses in its life division led to credit downgrades, and that damage from the financial crisis may ultimately lead to a breakup of the insurer. The property unit is estimated to be worth $4B-$8B.
  • Obama meets with credit card chiefs. Obama will meet with executives from the credit card industry today, one day after a congressional panel approved legislation to curb credit card fees and limit consumer penalties. The American Bankers Association is concerned such restrictions will tighten the availability of consumer credit and make it more expensive. Bank of America (BAC), American Express (AXP), Citigroup (C), Wells Fargo (WFC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Capital One (COF), Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA) will be among the 13 companies represented.
  • NY cracks down on pension agents. New York State's public pension fund will ban the use of middlemen who help private-equity funds and other investors secure its business. The state is investigating whether these middlemen, called placement agents, were involved in a scheme to receive illegal payments from firms trying to win state business. As one of the nation's largest public pension funds, New York's decision could prompt other states to follow suit.
  • Morgan mulls TARP repayment. Despite reporting a larger-than-expected quarterly loss, Morgan Stanley (MS) CFO Colm Kelleher said the company will 'consider' repaying $10B to the government. The statement comes less than a month after CEO John Mack told employees 'it's the wrong time' to return the money. Morgan Stanley had a Tier 1 ratio of 16.4% at the end of March, or 12.9% if the bank repays TARP funds. Shares +2.9% premarket (7:00 ET).
  • Credit Suisse profit beat. Credit Suisse (CS) posted a better-than-expected Q1 profit, bouncing back from several quarterly losses in 2008. The bank saw a net profit of 2B Swiss francs ($1.72B), more than double analysts' forecasts. Though short on details for its 2009 outlook, the bank said it is "in a position to weather the storms and perform well when market opportunities arise." Shares +10.5% premarket (7:00 ET).
  • Apple shines on iPhone sales. Apple's (AAPL) quarterly earnings easily beat consensus estimates (see details below) as strong sales of iPods and iPhones held up despite the weak economy. Profit was also helped by declining commodity prices for key product components like aluminum and memory chips. This was the company's first quarter since CEO Steve Jobs went on medical leave.
  • eBay gets okay on Gmarket buy. eBay (EBAY) won regulatory approval from South Korea's antitrust watchdog to proceed with its planned purchase of Gmarket (GMKT). A majority of Gmarket shareholders have already agreed to the cash tender offer.
  • Glaxo to release study after long delay. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will release the first study comparing its cervical cancer vaccine with Merck's (MRK) blockbuster Gardasil at a May 10 medical meeting. The fact that the results are being released 14 months after the study concluded and at a relatively unknown meeting have left investors and analysts puzzled.
  • Freddie CFO takes his own life. Acting CFO of Freddie Mac (FRE) David Kellerman was found dead in his home in what appears to be a suicide. Kellerman had worked at the mortgage giant for 16 years.
  • House prices rise slightly (.pdf). FHFA's House Price Index showed U.S. home prices rose 0.7% in February M/M, bringing the twelve-month total to -6.5%. January's previously reported 1.7% gain was revised down to 1.0%.

Earnings: Thursday Before Open

  • Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN): Q1 EPS of $0.16 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $81M (+78.7%) vs. $82M. (PR)
  • Bunge (BG): Q1 EPS of -$1.76 misses by $2.25. Revenue of $9.2B (-26.2%) vs. $11B. (PR)
  • Danaher (DHR): Q1 EPS of $0.72 misses by $0.01. Revenue of $2.63B (-13.2%) vs. $2.67B. (PR)
  • Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB): Q1 EPS of -$0.04 beats by $0.23. Tier 1 capital ratio of 10.9%. Tangible equity ratio of 7.9%. (PR)
  • Marriott International (MAR): Q1 EPS of $0.24 beats by $0.10. Revenue of $2.5B (-14.8%) in-line. Issues downside EPS guidance for Q2 of $0.20-0.23 vs. $0.26 consensus. Maintains guidance for FY '09 of $0.88-1.02 EPS. (PR)
  • PNC Financial Services (PNC): Q1 EPS of $1.03 beats by $0.61. Revenue of $3.9B (+112.6%) vs. $3.5B. (PR)
  • Potash (POT): Q1 EPS of $1.02 beats by $0.16. Revenue of $922.5M (-51.2%) vs. $975.5M. Issues downside EPS guidance for Q2 of $1.10-$1.50 vs. $2.21 consensus, and FY '09 EPS of $7.00-$8.00 vs. $9.65. (PR)
  • RadioShack (RSH): Q1 EPS of $0.34 beats by $0.12. Revenue of $1B (+5.6%) vs. $0.94B. Comps were up 5% vs. Q1 2008. (PR)
  • Suncor Energy (SU): Q1 EPS of $0.24 beats by $0.12. The decrease in earnings was primarily from lower price realizations, with benchmark commodity prices significantly weaker in Q1 '09 vs. Q1 '08. (PR)
  • SunTrust Banks (STI): Q1 EPS of -$0.46 beats by $0.19. Revenue of $2.24B (+16.3%) vs. $2.06B. Majority of loss was due to a $715M goodwill impairment charge. Tier-1 ratio estimated at 11%, up 13 points from last quarter. (PR)

Earnings: Wednesday After Close

  • Apple (AAPL): FQ2 EPS of $1.33 beats by $0.24. Revenue of $8.16B vs. $7.96B. Sees FQ3 EPS of $0.95-1.00 vs. consensus of $1.12, and revenue of $7.7-7.9B vs. $8.28B. Mac sales of 2.22M (-3% Y/Y). iPod sales 11M (+3%). iPhone sales 3.79M (+123%). (PR)
  • Alliance Data Systems (ADS): Q1 EPS of $1.19 beats by $0.09. Revenue of $480M (-3.8%) vs. $488M. Sees Q2 EPS of $1.05 vs. $1.22. (PR)
  • eBay (EBAY): Q1 EPS of $0.39 beats by $0.05. Revenue of $2.02B (-7.8%) vs. $1.94B. (PR)
  • Equifax (EFX): Q1 EPS of $0.58 beats by $0.04. Revenue of $453M (-10%) vs. $448M. (PR)
  • F5 Networks (FFIV): FQ2 EPS of $0.38 in-line. Revenue of $154M (-3.1%) in-line. Says Feb. sales were particularly slow, but March improved significantly. (PR)
  • Leggett & Platt (LEG): Q1 EPS of $0.06 misses by $0.01. Revenue of $718M (-28.1%) vs. $807M. Sees full-year EPS of $0.60-0.90 vs. $0.72, and revenue of $2.9-3.3B vs. $3.39B. (PR)
  • Lam Research (LRCX): FQ3 EPS of -$0.71 misses by $0.05. Revenue of $174.4M (-71.6%) vs. $175.9M. (PR)
  • Noble (NE): Q1 EPS of $1.62 beats by $0.16. Revenue of $896M (+4%) in-line. (PR)
  • Novellus Systems (NVLS): Q1 EPS of -$0.47 beats by $0.04. Revenue of $98.9M (-68.6%) vs. $101.7M. Says it's cautiously optimistic order activity has stabilized. (PR)
  • Pactiv (PTV): Q1 EPS of $0.69 beats by $0.23. Revenue of $766M (-5.2%) vs. $732.5M. Sees Q2 EPS of $0.54-0.58 vs. $0.51 and full-year EPS of $2.15-2.25 vs. $1.89. "Compared with the first quarter of last year, we benefited from lower raw material costs, as well as lower logistics costs, and improved productivity." (PR)
  • Robert Half International (RHI): Q1 EPS of $0.06 in-line. Revenue of $823M (-32.8%) vs. $844M. (PR)
  • SLM Corp. (SLM): Q1 EPS of -$0.03 vs. consensus of $0.12. Loss was partly the result of ongoing dislocation in the commercial paper market. (PR)
  • VMware (VMW): Q1 EPS of $0.25 beats by $0.05. Revenue of $470M vs. $474M. Sees Q2 revenue flat to down vs. a year ago. (PR)
  • Xilinx (XLNX): FQ4 EPS of $0.26 beats by $0.08. Revenue of $395M (-17%) vs. $383M. (PR)
  • Yum! Brands (YUM): Q1 EPS of $0.48 beats by $0.08. Revenue of $2.22B (-8.1%) vs. $2.33B. Sees full-year EPS of $2.10 vs. $2.08. Says Q2 likely to be its most challenging quarter. (PR)

Today's Markets

Overseas markets moved higher Thursday, giving a boost to futures.

  • Asia: Nikkei +1.37% to 8,847. Hang Seng +2.26% to 15,214. Shanghai +0.11% to 2,464. BSE +2.93% to 11,135.
  • Europe at midday: London +0.5%. Paris +0.1%. Frankfurt -0.3%.
  • Futures: Dow +0.7% to 7869. S&P +0.8% to 843.50. Nasdaq +1.3%. Crude +1% to $49.33. Gold +0.2% to $894.30. Euro +0.4% vs. dollar. Yen -0.4%.

Thursday's Economic Calendar

Seeking Alpha editor Eli Hoffmann contributed to this post.


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