Frontrunning: January 21

Frontrunning: January 21
  • Hilsenrath: Next Cut in Fed Bond Buys Looms – Reduction to $65 Billion Could Be Announced on Jan. 29 (WSJ)
  • China Workforce Slide Robs Xi of Growth Engine (BBG)
  • Obama pulls the race card: Obama Says Race May Blunt Poll Standing in Interview (BBG)
  • Chinese firm’s IPO deal switches banks as chairman’s daughter moves from JPMorgan to UBS (SCMP)
  • China and Russia may hold joint naval drill in the Mediterranean (RT)
  • Iran invite to Syria talks withdrawn after boycott threat (Reuters)
  • Seven Chinese IPOs Halt Trading After 44 Percent Share  (BBG)
  • U.S. military says readying plans for Olympic security assistance (Reuters)
  • Thank you Bernanke: Investors Most Upbeat in 5 Years With Record 59% Bullish in Poll (BBG)
  • From His Refuge in the Poconos, Reclusive Imam Fethullah Gulen Roils Turkey (WSJ)
  • Hong Kong, Vancouver Least Affordable Home Markets, Survey Shows (BBG)
  • Link to Target breach of pair’s arrests questioned (CBSNews)
  • China Money Rate Drops as PBOC Cash Injections Spur Stocks Rally (BBG)
  • First its notebooks, now… Lenovo Said to Be in Discussions to Buy IBM Server Business (BBG)
  • Snow Closes Washington Offices as U.S. Flights Disrupted  (BBG)
  • Why a Balkan diploma-mill degree is more valuable than one from Oxford (CSMonitor)
  • JPMorgan Says BVG Owes $200 Million Over ‘Unfortunate’ CDS (BBG)

Overnight Media Digest:


* The Fed is on track to trim its bond-buying program for the second time in six weeks as a lackluster December jobs report failed to diminish the central bank’s expectations for solid U.S. economic growth this year.

* President Barack Obama’s sagging approval ratings and the rocky health-law rollout are expanding the map of competitive Senate races this year, giving Republicans new hope of capturing seats in states that the president carried in 2012.

* China’s growth prospects this year depend on the gains it can chalk up from exports and the pains that come from trying to remake the world’s No. 2 economy. China is one of the most powerful engines of global growth, but one that no longer operates at full throttle. On Monday, Beijing reported that its gross domestic product last year grew 7.7 percent, matching 2012’s rate. China economists generally forecast economic growth of somewhere between 7 percent and 8 percent this year, too.

* Iran would have to remove 15,000 centrifuge machines and take other drastic measures to forge a comprehensive nuclear agreement with the West, according to a report by a U.S. think tank that drew from conversations with senior U.S. officials.

* Fethullah Gulen, a reclusive imam whose crumbling alliance with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened the country’s stability, lashed out Monday at his one-time partner, the strongest sign yet of an irreparable split.

* KKR & Co and Affinity Equity Partners have agreed to sell South Korea’s Oriental Brewery back to Anheuser-Busch InBev for $5.8 billion in the largest deal on record allowing a private equity firm to exit from an Asian investment.

* PSA Peugeot Citroën is moving closer to a 3 billion euros ($4.06 billion) transformative deal with a Chinese partner and the French government that will hinge on whether private investors have appetite for shares in an unprofitable and cash-bleeding car maker exposed to cutthroat competition in Europe.

* Deutsche Bank AG’s surprise 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) fourth-quarter loss suggests that a new phase of banking cleanups is getting under way in Europe, a likely precursor to other European lenders absorbing financial hits.

* Royal Dutch Shell is selling its stake in an Australian natural gas project, the oil company’s first disposal since it issued a rare profit warning last week. Shell said it has agreed to sell its 8 percent equity interest in the Wheatstone-Iago gas field, which is operated by U.S.-based Chevron Corp, and a 6.4 percent interest in the Wheatstone liquefied natural gas project in Western Australia for $1.14 billion in cash to state-owned Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Co.

* China’s Lenovo Group Ltd is in talks to buy International Business Machines Corp.’s low-end server business, a person familiar with the matter said, reviving negotiations that fell apart last year over valuation.

* A cross-border buyout that once valued Cooper Tire & Rubber Co at $2.5 billion has now devolved into a court battle over as little as a few hundred million dollars. Cooper officially terminated its sale to India’s Apollo Tyres Ltd Monday after months of delay in which Apollo sought to cut the $35 per share price.

* Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel is calling to adopt chip-based credit-card technology to thwart theft. But the debate was different a decade ago, when Target pulled the plug on a $40 million program that did just that.

* Investors will be paying close attention to Samsung Electronics Co’s earnings this week for any signs of weakness in the smartphone market and to see whether the company’s streak of record results is coming to an end.

* The fiery tit-for-tat that erupted in court last week between Apple Inc and a court-appointed lawyer overseeing the company’s e-book pricing shined a light on something that has annoyed corporations for years: compliance monitors.

* Needing to generate revenue, Twitter is moving to capitalize on the fact that its user base is more racially diverse than U.S. Internet users as a whole.

* Senior Argentine officials met with representatives of the Paris Club on Monday in a bid to jump start negotiations to settle Argentina’s long-standing debt with the club of creditor nations.


Airbus Group is expected to challenge British eurosceptics and make a case in favour of UK’s membership of the European Union. The aerospace company told the Financial Times that the UK as part of the EU is an economic model that works “extremely well”.

Discount retailer Poundlands and Pets at Home are expected to float by early February, sources told the Financial Times. Poundlands may seek a valuation of 700 million pounds to 800 million pounds, while Pets at Home may be valued at 1.5 billion pounds.

WM Morrison suspended group treasurer Paul Coyle, arrested in December by the Financial Conduct Authority in connection with an insider trading case, according to sources. Coyle has not been charged for any offence as yet.

The Financial Reporting Council will probe auditor KPMG’s book-keeping at the Co-operative Bank, which has been hit by a capital shortfall of 1.5 billion pounds and a drugs scandal involving its ex-chairman.

Off licence group Conviviality Retail’s chief executive Diana Hunter said minimum pricing is expected to create a “level playing field” for off licences against supermarkets, and that she did not expect the government to change its stance from an earlier rejected plan for a price floor in alcoholic beverages last year.


* Europe lacks a vibrant market for corporate bonds issued by smaller, riskier companies, making European companies more dependent on bank credit than American businesses.

* The World Economic Forum, for which the cost of membership and a ticket to the annual meeting is more than $70,000, is both admired and derided as a velvet-rope club for the 1 percent of the 1 percent. However, the leaders of some of the largest and most transformative companies are demonstrating, with their absence, the difficulty of convening a global conversation with all the main stakeholders.

* Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday that it would sell its minority interest in an Australian liquefied natural gas project to the Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company for about $1.1 billion.

* Waste Control Specialists has a monopoly: as aging nuclear reactors retire, their most radioactive steel, concrete and other components must be shipped for burial somewhere.

* Account information stolen during the Target security breach is now being divided up and sold off regionally, a South Texas police chief said on Monday following the arrest of two Mexican citizens who the authorities say arrived at the border with 96 fraudulent credit cards.

* Bixi, the Canadian company that designs and builds bicycles and supporting technology for bike-sharing systems around the world, including those in New York and London, sought bankruptcy protection on Monday.

* Weixin, a fast-growing social messaging app from the Chinese Internet company Tencent, is no mere copy of any existing service, and its success may thwart Facebook’S ambitions in China. Weixin, a highly addictive social networking tool that allows smartphone users to send messages and share news, photos, videos and web links, much like America’s WhatsApp, or Line, a Japanese communications and messaging app.

* Hotels are competing with one another to create luxury suites for the extremely wealthy, who are willing to pay five-figure nightly rates. In New York, the race to capture the highest end of the market continues. In November, the Mandarin Oriental, New York, opened a 3,300-square-foot suite that includes floor-to-ceiling windows and a dining room that seats 10; its rate is $28,000 a night.

* A 60-second Chobani commercial – in the first Super Bowl appearance for the No. 1 brand of Greek yogurt – is scheduled for the third quarter. Two brands of Greek-style yogurt, Chobani and Dannon Oikos, have bought commercial time during the game.

* Some farmers are raising their pigs more humanely in wide open spaces, instead of tight quarters, and selling them to restaurants and grocers increasingly interested in how animals are treated.



* Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has made backing Israel a governing credo, used a historic speech to the Knesset to lay out the case for his staunch support – insisting it is not only a “moral imperative” but also strategically important to democracies around the world.

* The pace of new oil-sands development should be slowed so governments can focus on an infrastructure shortage in Fort McMurray, the region’s ex-MP says. Brian Jean resigned this month as the Conservative member of Parliament for Fort McMurray-Athabasca, and says now the most pressing issues facing his community are largely out of federal hands.

Reports in the business section:

* BlackBerry Ltd shares rose more than 8 percent on Monday, after the smartphone company received a vote of confidence from the U.S. Department of Defense. The government agency says about 80,000 BlackBerrys will be deployed on its new mobile device management system by the end of this month.

* A sluggish global economy and stuttering recovery are among the factors that trimmed Bombardier Inc’s aircraft order book and total number of plane deliveries last year. Montreal-based Bombardier Aerospace said on Monday that it received orders for 388 planes, net of cancellations, in 2013, compared with 481 orders in the previous year.


* Prime Minister Stephen Harper Monday warned that a dangerous new form of anti-Semitism has emerged and said the globe has a moral and strategic objective to rally around Israel as a haven for Jews.

* Conservative MP Rob Anders is trying to put the word “rape” back into the Criminal Code, seeking to end the ambiguity that some feminists agree is minimizing the severity of sexual assault in the public’s perception.


* Target Corp is warning its Canadian customers that a massive security breach at the retailer over the holiday season may have led to their personal information being stolen.

* Falling bonds yields could push mortgage rates lower in coming weeks as banks compete in the spring housing market, traditionally the strongest real estate period of the year.



– The Shenzhen Stock Exchange warned investors against “stir frying” newly-listed stocks as the first batch of companies debuts on the exchange following a year-long hiatus of initial public offerings.

– Bank of Communications said it plans to raise up to 40 billion yuan ($6.61 billion) by selling debt in domestic and overseas markets in a bid to replenish capital.


– Nearly 1,000 officials in China’s environmental protection system were punished between January 2012 and June 2013 for violating rules or breaking laws, according to the government.


– During a meeting with Boeing Vice Chairman Ray Conner, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said the country would deepen economic reforms and strive to create an open, transparent and fair environment for foreign investors.


– The Shanghai Film Group Corp is in talks with Marvel Entertainment, owned by Walt Disney Co, for a new Chinese superhero film that will revolve around the adventures of a Chinese terra-cotta warrior, said Ren Zhonglun, president of the group.


The Telegraph


Ministers told the body investigating where to build a new runway not to deliver its findings until after the 2015 General Election, MPs are told, as the Airports Commission’s chairman accuses Boris Johnson of “vulgar abuse”.


The Co-operative Group has opted to hold onto its general insurance business, 10 months after putting it up for sale. The decision was made as the mutual no longer needs the money the sale could have brought in, following a revision of the plans to fill the Co-op Bank’s 1.5 billion pound black hole.

The Guardian


The casual fashion chain Fat Face is set for a stock market flotation in the first half of this year after appointing two advisers. The retailer, which is chaired by former Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose, has hired Citi and Jefferies to sound out potential investors as it seeks a London listing, with March the earliest likely date.


Morrisons’ group treasurer and head of tax is under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority over allegations relating to the trading of shares in Ocado before a tie-up was announced between the companies. Paul Coyle was arrested in December in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, and was taken in for questioning in connection with alleged insider dealing and market abuse.

The Times


Britain’s economy is bouncing back faster than any major trading nation, the International Monetary Fund will say on Tuesday. Underlining the strength of the recovery, the Washington-based fund is set to raise its forecast for the UK economy for the second time in less than four months, lifting Britain from one of the world’s laggards to among its fastest growing developed countries.


The accountancy watchdog has opened an investigation into KPMG’s audits of the Co-operative Bank in the years leading up to the lender’s collapse. The Financial Reporting Council said on Monday that it was examining the “Big Four” firm’s audits up to and including 2012 but did not say how far back its investigation would go.

The Independent


The agency which manages taxpayers’ stake in Lloyds Banking Group is attempting to secure a knockdown price from City bankers vying to work on a share sale that will return it fully to the private sector. Sky News understands that UK Financial Investments has asked investment banks in recent days to present fee proposals for executing a sale of part or all of the government’s remaining 20 billion pound stake in Lloyds.

IMF UPGRADES UK GROWTH FORECAST ABOVE RIVALS The International Monetary Fund is on the brink of upgrading its growth forecast for the UK more than any other major economy, Sky News has learnt. The Fund is poised to increase its projection for UK growth in 2014 from 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent. Although the Fund will also lift its forecasts for world economic growth, the UK upgrade is significantly stronger.

Fly on the Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot


No market-moving domestic economic reports are scheduled today.



AAR Corp. (AIR) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
Alcoa (AA) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Allscripts (MDRX) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at B. Riley
Bloomin’ Brands (BLMN) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Boston Scientific (BSX) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Burger King (BKW) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman
Century Aluminum (CENX) upgraded to Overweight from Underweight at JPMorgan
Comerica (CMA) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Keefe Bruyette
Gap (GPS) upgraded to Buy from Underperform at Sterne Agee
Inteliquent (IQNT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Motorola Solutions (MSI) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
NVIDIA (NVDA) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Evercore
Quintiles (Q) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Sasol (SSL) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Schlumberger (SLB) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Seagate (STX) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Steven Madden (SHOO) upgraded to Buy from Hold at BB&T
Stratasys (SSYS) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
TESARO (TSRO) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Western Digital (WDC) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital


3D Systems (DDD) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
AEGON (AEG) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC
Apple (AAPL) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Societe Generale
Covance (CVD) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Exxon Mobil (XOM) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
FireEye (FEYE) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
M&T Bank (MTB) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Mechel (MTL) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Nationstar (NSM) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
Noble Corp. (NE) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Skechers (SKX) downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T
SolarCity (SCTY) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Starbucks (SBUX) downgraded to Buy from Conviction Buy at Goldman
T. Rowe Price (TROW) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
TJX (TJX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee
Target (TGT) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Cowen


ARAMARK (ARMK) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
ARAMARK (ARMK) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
ARAMARK (ARMK) initiated with an Outperform at RW Baird
ARAMARK (ARMK) initiated with an Outperform at Wells Fargo
ARAMARK (ARMK) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan
Basic Energy (BAS) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital
CatchMark Timber (CTT) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
CatchMark Timber (CTT) initiated with an Outperform at RW Baird
Hilton Worldwide (HLT) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
Hilton Worldwide (HLT) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
Hilton Worldwide (HLT) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Hilton Worldwide (HLT) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Hilton Worldwide (HLT) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan
SPX Corp. (SPW) re-initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Turkcell (TKC) initiated with an Overweight at HSBC


AB InBev (BUD) reacquired Oriental Brewery from KKR (KKR), Affinity for $5.8B
Roche (RHHBY) said two phase III schizophrenia studies missed primary endpoints
JoS. A. Bank (JOSB) board rejected tender offer from Men’s Wearhouse (MW)
Verizon (VZ) to purchase Intel (INTC) media assets, terms not disclosed
Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) sold equity interest in Wheatstone LNG for $1.135B
Teamsters announced tentative agreement with YRC Worldwide (YRCW)
Boeing (BA), GE Capital Aviation (GE) announced order for 40 737s
GE (GE) acquired Cameron’s (CAM) compression unit for $550M
Cameron (CAM) exploring sale of centrifugal business
Accenture (ACN) acquired ClientHouse, terms not disclosed
Actavis (ACT) divested generics commercial ops in seven markets in Western Europe
Brocade (BRCD) sold network adapter business to QLogic (QLGC)


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Mercantile Bank (MBWM), Baker Hughes (BHI), Signature Bank (SBNY)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
First Defiance Financial (FDEF)


Gates has taken more active role at Microsoft (MSFT), Re/code reports
Wells Fargo (WFC) banning staff from investing in P2P loans, FT reports
Pair arrested in connection with Target (TGT) breach, LA Times reports
Twitter (TWTR) product chief Michael Sippey to step down, WSJ reports
Toyota (TM) reconsiders its Thai investment, Reuters reports
JPMorgan (JPM), faced with a hiring investigation, ends China IPO, Reuters reports
Lenovo (LNVGY) again eyes IBM (IBM) server unit, Reuters reports
Amazon (AMZN) looks towards ‘anticipatory shipping’ method, WSJ reports
HP (HPQ) begins pushing Windows 7 (MSFT) instead of Windows 8, Business Insider reports


Denbury Resources (DNR) shares could advance 20%
Gap (GPS) could climb 30% over the next year
Dean Foods (DF) could rise 30%, attract private equity interest
Intel (INTC) should report mobile along with other PC chips
GameStop (GME) slide creates opportunity for investors
Homebuilders, suppliers may benefit as young buyers emerge (USG, AXLL, HUN, DHI, PHM, HOV, TOL, MDC, LEN, KBH, BZH, RYL)

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