Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

by SA Editor Rachael Granby

  • AIG CEO changes restructuring plan. New AIG (AIG) CEO Robert Benmosche is already making his presence felt in the company, calling off a planned sale of the insurer's investment advisory unit in order to "continue to build a world-class financial advisory business." The scrapped sale is an early sign that more significant changes may be in store for AIG's restructuring plans as Benmosche conducts a "strategic review" of the company. Shares -1.8% premarket (7:00 ET).
  • Regulators pressured Citi on management. According to a confidential June agreement between Citigroup (C), the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the FDIC, Citigroup said it would consider replacing then-CFO Ned Kelly by October. Kelly resigned in July after less than four months on the job once he learned of the agreement. The arrangement between Citigroup and regulators emphasizes just how large a role authorities have played in Citigroup's management shake-up and contradicts the official account of the episode that had been presented by both sides. Shares -2.2% premarket (7:00 ET).
  • Tax probe nets other European banks. As wealthy U.S. citizens embroiled in the UBS (UBS) tax probe join a tax-evasion amnesty program, authorities have received information on ten other Swiss and European banks where Americans held accounts, potentially opening new fronts in the IRS's investigation of tax crimes. Banks named in the disclosures, including Credit Suisse (CS), Julius Baer Holding and Union Bancaire Privee, haven't necessarily engaged in any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the U.S. is building criminal cases against more than 150 of UBS' American clients, and that number is expected to grow.
  • MSFT fights to keep selling Word. Microsoft filed to stay an injunction that could prevent the company from selling its core Word software, arguing the injunction would cause "irreparable harm." The permanent injunction was issued last week and barred Microsoft from selling recent versions of Word because it infringes on a patent held by technology firm i4i Inc. If upheld, Microsoft will have to significantly change a major upgrade to the software due to launch next year and will have to stop selling versions of Word 2003 and Word 2007.
  • IMF: Global recovery begins. Olivier Blanchard, the IMF's chief economist, said the global economic recovery has begun but a sustainable recovery will require fundamental changes, including a U.S. shift towards more exports and an Asian shift towards more imports. Potential economic output may also remain depressed as "the crisis has left deep scars, which will affect both supply and demand for many years to come."
  • HP calls tech spending bottom. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) narrowly beat earnings expectations in its most recent quarter (see details below), but saw sales fall sharply in several key business areas, including PCs and printers. Looking forward, the company said it sees a "stabilized market" and that technology spending has already hit bottom.
  • Macquarie buys asset manager. Continuing an industry trend of consolidation, Australian investment bank Macquarie Group agreed to buy U.S. asset manager Delaware Investments from Lincoln National Corp. (LNC) for $428M. The deal will raise Macquarie's total assets under management to over $300B.
  • Mortgage apps rise. Mortgage applications rose 5.6% from last week, MBA said. The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 5.15% from 5.38%.
  • Retail sales. Chain store sales fell 0.7% in the first two weeks of August, Redbook said, slightly worse than the -0.6% expected. According to ICSC, weekly sales were down 0.6% Y/Y and down 0.9% from the previous week as heavy discounts failed to increase sales.
  • Housing starts miss consensus (.pdf). July Housing Starts came in at 581K vs. consensus of 605K. Permits were 560K vs. 577K. Starts were 1% lower than June's 587K (revised) and 37.7% lower than last July.
  • Prices fall. July's Producer Price Index was -0.9% vs. consensus of -0.3% and +1.8% in June. Core PPI fell 0.1% vs. consensus of +0.1% and +0.5% in June. Core producer prices were down 6.8% from a year ago.

Earnings: Wednesday Before Open

  • Deere & Co. (DE): FQ3 EPS of $0.99 beats by $0.42. Revenue of $5.3B (-25%) in-line. (PR)

Earnings: Tuesday After Close

  • Analog Devices (ADI): FQ3 EPS of $0.22 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $492M (-25%) vs. $480M. Sees Q4 EPS of $0.24-0.26 vs. $0.24 and Q4 revenue of $510M-530M vs. $498M. (PR)
  • Hewlett-Packard (HPQ): FQ3 EPS of $0.91 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $27.5B (-2%) vs. $27.3B. Sees Q4 EPS of $1.12 vs. $1.07. Sees Q4 revenue up 8% sequentially and affirms full-year revenue guidance. Q3 services revenue up 93% to $8.5B due to EDS merger; enterprise storage/servers sales down 23% to $3.7B; software sales down 22% to $847M. Cash flow $3.9B and inventory down 10 days, to $5.9B. (PR)
  • La-Z-Boy (LZB): FQ1 EPS of $0.05 beats by $0.10. Revenue of $263M (-18%) vs. $255M. (PR)
  • Photronics (PLAB): FQ3 EPS of -$0.55 misses by $0.36. Revenue of $95M (-10%) vs. $88M. (PR)

Today's Markets

Asian markets closed down, with a heavy drop in China spooking European markets and U.S. futures.

  • In Asia, Nikkei -0.8% to 10,204. Hang Seng -1.7% to 19,954. Shanghai -4.3% to 2,786. BSE -1.5% to 14,810.
  • In Europe at midday, London -0.8%. Paris -0.9%. Frankfurt -1.2%.
  • Futures: Dow -0.9%. S&P -1%. Nasdaq -1.2%. Crude -0.6% to $68.76. Gold -0.4% to $935.30.

Wednesday's Economic Calendar

Seeking Alpha editor Eli Hoffmann contributed to this post.

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