Thursday, June 25, 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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  • SEC targets money market funds. The SEC wants to tighten regulation on money-market funds. Proposed changes include keeping a minimum percentage of assets in cash or its equivalent, limiting funds' ability to invest in Tier II securities, periodic stress tests, monthly reports and new tools to unwind a fund that breaks the buck. However, the SEC didn't make any definitive proposals on the highly contentious issue of whether funds should no longer be allowed to maintain stable $1/share net asset values. (Read the SEC's proposals)
  • Fed accused of BoA/Merrill cover-up. Bernanke will testify in Congress today on the Bank of America (BAC) acquisition of Merrill Lynch, following accusations yesterday by a top Republican lawmaker that the Federal Reserve "engaged in a cover-up and deliberately hid concerns and pertinent details regarding the merger from other federal regulatory agencies." New details of the acquisition continue to come to light, including that regulators tightened their grip on Bank of America with a secret agreement that contributed to the ongoing turnover of its directors and executives.
  • FOMC: slowing contraction, subdued inflation. As expected, the FOMC left interest rates unchanged at 0-0.25%, and rates will likely remain low 'for an extended period.' The pace of economic contraction is slowing, and financial markets have 'generally improved' over the last few months. The FOMC statement predicted "inflation will remain subdued for some time," as compared to its previous statement that "inflation will remain subdued." There were no indications of how or when the Federal Reserve plans to exit its unprecedented credit programs, and there were no changes to the Fed's Treasury buyback program. (Read the FOMC press release)
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  • Crisis in California. Republican lawmakers in California rejected a Democratic plan to cut $11B in state spending, saying the cuts aren't large enough considering the state faces a $24B budget shortfall. State Controller John Chiang warned he'll start issuing IOUs to local governments, private contractors and state vendors as of July 2 if lawmakers can't find another solution, a move that would further jeopardize California's shaky credit rating.
  • IPO approved for AIG units. AIG (AIG) received approval from the Federal Reserve for an initial public offering of its American Life Insurance Company and American International Assurance. Before the IPO, AIG will contribute the equity of ALICO and AIA to a special purpose vehicle in which the Federal Reserve will receive preferred interests of $9B and $16B respectively.
  • China blocks Google. As of last night, Google's (GOOG) global website was blocked in China, seemingly by internet censors, marking a major escalation in China's battle with the search engine company. The move came after Google apparently resisted an earlier order to restrict access to foreign websites via its local website, and after government officials continued to accuse Google of displaying links to pornographic websites. After Google received reports that "most users cannot access in China," the company said "we are investigating the matter and hope that the service will be restored soon."
  • ECB's major loans. The European Central Bank lent a staggering €442B ($619B) to 1,121 banks at 1% in its first-ever one-year tender. It was the largest sum ever allotted in a single ECB auction; many banks don't believe rates are going any lower, and viewed this as one of their last chances to lock in low rates. Euribor fell to a record low 1.57%.
  • Sprint spared nationwide suit. A judge ruled Sprint Nextel (S) will not have to face a nationwide class-action lawsuit because plaintiffs failed to prove a nationwide suit would be preferable or even manageable. The lawsuit claimed Sprint overcharged customers for taxes and refused refunds.
  • KKR to list. Private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts announced plans to merge into its Amsterdam-listed fund, a backdoor way of gaining a European listing and allowing for a possible switch to the New York Stock Exchange at some point in the future, possibly by late 2010. KKR has been trying to become a publicly traded company for two years, following similar moves by Blackstone (BX) and Fortress Investment Group (FIG).
  • New Yahoo. Yahoo (YHOO) is reportedly planning a major rebranding campaign to repair a tarnished public image and focus consumers on what defines the company. Sources say the rebranding efforts could be built around Yahoo's latest relaunch of its home page design, and the idea that Yahoo is "your home on the Web." Yahoo holds its annual meeting today, but investors will likely hear few details of the new marketing plan.
  • Durable goods rise. Durable Goods Orders rose 1.8% in May vs. consensus of -0.5% and last month's +1.8% (revised). Net of transportation, orders were up 1.1% vs. last month's +0.8%.
  • Home sales dip down. New Home Sales came in at 342K in May, down 0.6% from April, vs. consensus of 360K. Sales are down 32.8% vs. last year. The median home price of $221,600 was up from April's $212,600. Inventory of 292K homes represents a 10.2 month supply, down from 10.4 months in April.

Earnings: Thursday Before Open

  • Lennar (LEN): FQ2 EPS of -$0.76 misses by $0.12. Revenue of $892M (-20.9%) vs. $597M. (PR)
  • McCormick & Company (MKC): FQ2 EPS of $0.38 misses by $0.03. Revenue of $757M (-0.9%) vs. $781M. (PR)

Earnings: Wednesday After Close

  • Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY): Q1 EPS of $0.34 beats by $0.09. Revenue of $1.69B (+2.8%) in-line. Same-store sales down 1.6%. (PR)
  • Nike (NKE): FQ4 EPS of $0.99 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $4.7B (-7%) vs. $4.72B. Says worldwide futures orders down 12% to $7.8B. (PR)
  • Paychex (PAYX): FQ4 EPS of $0.32 misses by $0.02. Revenue of $495.9M (-4.5%) vs. $510.5M. Sees FY '10 revenue decreasing 1%-4%. (PR)
  • Red Hat Inc. (RHT): Q1 EPS of $0.15 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $174M (+11%) vs. $171.8M. (PR)

Today's Markets

Asian markets closed mostly up. European markets and U.S. futures are off to a weak start.

  • In Asia, Nikkei +2.15% to 9,796. Hang Seng +2.1% to 18,275. Shanghai +0.1% to 2,925. BSE -0.5% to 14,346.
  • In Europe at midday, London -0.75%. Paris -1.3%. Frankfurt -1.4%.
  • U.S. futures: Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.04%. Nasdaq -0.2%. Crude +0.6% to $69.07. Gold -0.1% to $933.40.

Thursday's Economic Calendar

Seeking Alpha editor Eli Hoffmann contributed to this post.

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