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  • King: Break up the banks! Bank of England Governor Mervyn King stepped up his call to break apart Britain's largest banks, saying more stringent capital requirements won't shield taxpayers from having to bail out more too-big-to-fail banks in the future. "The massive support extended to the banking sector around the world, while necessary to avert economic disaster, has created possibly the biggest moral hazard in history," King said in a speech (.pdf) late Tuesday. His comments were at odds with those of Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, who said yesterday focusing on capital rules may be enough to ward off future crises. Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, Paul Volcker keeps pounding the desk to split up banks, but no one's listening.
  • State Street slapped with fraud suit. The California AG's office charged State Street (STT) with fraud Tuesday, accusing it of bilking the state's two largest pension funds - Calpers and Calstrs - of $57M, and seeking $200M in overcharges and penalties (complaint (.pdf)). The lawsuit stems from an inquiry launched after a whistleblower claimed State Street secretly and substantially marked up the price of its currency trades. State Street beat Q3 earnings estimates Tuesday, but shares dived 8.4% on news of the lawsuit and a sobering outlook.
  • Yahoo defies bears. Shares of Yahoo (YHOO) are up 4.6% premarket after the internet giant beat Q3 earnings estimates handily with the help of some serious cost cutting ($0.13/share vs. $0.06), while revenue was steady from last quarter at $1.13B. "There's a change occurring in Yahoo," CFO Tim Morse said on Yahoo's earnings call (transcript), "that will value that kind of work - that good old-fashioned, get-your-hands-dirty kind of find ways to take costs down or make sure that they don't go up as much as they otherwise would have - type work." Analysts were impressed with the quarter, but said the real test of Yahoo's massive branding initiative would come in Q4. Bernstein's Jeffrey Lindsay summed it up: "The patient is off life support and back in the recovery ward. But it is certainly not out playing soccer again."
  • Shedding light on the dark pools. In an effort to bring transparency to famously opaque "dark pool" off-exchange trading cliques on which Wall Street firms execute some of their largest trades, the SEC will reportedly today propose slashing the percent of daily volume in a company's shares that can be executed on the systems before quotes must be publicized to 0.25% from 5%. The move would force dark pools to either bring their prices in line with open markets, or risk losing their order flow. Trading executives warn sweeping rule changes could ultimately hurt the investors regulators are trying to empower.
  • AT&T sues LCD makers over price fixing. AT&T (T) sued Samsung Electronics, LG Display (LPL), AU Optronics (AUO) Corp. and other LCD manufacturers, claiming they colluded to fix prices of panels sold in the U.S. "The conspiracy included communications and meetings in which defendants agreed to eliminate competition and fix the prices of LCD panels that were ultimately incorporated into LCD products that they knew would be sold in California and the U.S.," according to the complaint.
  • Logi offer: does it make sense? An obscure hedge fund - logi Energy - said it offered to buy $1B of CIT Group's (CIT) debt, but wouldn't identify its source of capital. Logi said the deal could give CIT "wiggle room" as it works to sidestep bankruptcy. CIT wouldn't comment on whether it was seriously considering the offer.
  • Volvo sale hits snag. Sources say China carmaker Geely's $2B attempt to buy Ford's (F) Volvo unit is in danger of stalling over disagreements about intellectual property rights. The impasse centers on Ford's concerns about sharing its proprietary technology and plans for new products.
  • Morgan mulls giving away Crescent. Sources say Morgan Stanley (MS) may hand over its Crescent Real Estate Equities unit to Barclays (BCS), to whom the business owes $2B which comes due Nov. 2. Morgan bought Crescent for $6.5B in August 2007, and had planned to put its assets into real estate investment funds, but was left holding the bag when markets seized up.
  • IRS watchdog says homebuyer plan fraught with fraud. The IRS's internal watchdog will warn the agency again about fraud in the multibillion dollar homebuyer tax credit program. The IRS faces significant challenges in preventing individuals from scamming the tax credit program.
  • JPMorgan, Goldman cornering the M&A market. According to a study by Bloomberg News, JPMorgan (JPM) edged out Goldman Sachs (GS) in M&A advisory fees ($1.26B vs. $1.22B) for the first time since 2000. By deepening relationships with corporate clients, the two have created a deep moat around M&A counselling. "It's going to be very difficult for upstart or broad-based firms to come in and usurp what many believe are the insurmountable leads that Goldman and JPMorgan have over competitors," one analyst says.
  • Business spending perks up. Industrial bellwether Caterpillar (CAT) joined the ranks of those who say the worst is behind us, as corporate buyers slowly begin reinvesting in their businesses. While Caterpillar's sales were 44% lower than a year ago, CFO David Burritt said he sees "encouraging signs that indicate a recovery may be under way," and predicted sales could rise 10-25% next year (read Caterpillar's Q3 earnings call transcript). Business spending accounts for about 9.5% of U.S. GDP - a fraction of the 68.2% accounted for by consumer spending - but still a potential catalyst for recovery.
  • Get ready for pay as you play internet. Internet service providers including AT&T (T) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) are considering returning to usage-based pricing for internet, amid a surge in traffic as more people watch videos online, and after a push by the FCC to force ISPs to treat all web traffic equally. "Some type of usage-based model, for those customers who have abnormally high usage patterns, seems inevitable," an AT&T spokesman said, declining to provide details on the company's exact plans.

Earnings: Wed. Before Open

  • Air Products and Chemicals (APD): FQ4 EPS of $1.14 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $2.13B (-21.6%) in-line. (PR)
  • AirTran (AAI): Q3 EPS of $0.08 in-line. Revenue of $597M (-11.3%) vs. $600M. Shares -0.9% premarket. (PR)
  • Allegheny Technologies (ATI): Q3 EPS of $0.01 misses by $0.02. Revenue of $698M (-49.9%) vs. $738M. Says the worst appears to be behind us, but many customers remain cautious due to the uncertain global economy and are keeping inventories low. Shares -8.8% premarket. (PR)
  • Altria (MO): Q3 EPS of $0.48 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $4.32B (+0%) vs. $4.66B. Shares -1.4% premarket. (PR)
  • Boeing (BA): Q3 EPS of -$2.23 misses by $0.11. Revenue of $16.69B (+9.1%) vs. $17.16B. Sees full-year EPS of $1.35-1.55 vs. $1.54 consensus. "The 787 cost reclassification and the 747 charge for increased costs and difficult market conditions clearly overshadowed what continues to be otherwise solid performance across our commercial production programs and defense business, We look forward to getting the 787 and 747-8 in the air soon and moving forward with flight test and certification for these two important programs." Shares -2.5% premarket. (PR)
  • Deutsche Bank (DB): Q3 net income of €1.4B vs. consensus of €811M and last year's €435M. Pretax profit of €1.3B vs. consensus of €1.19B. Tier 1 capital ratio rose to 11.7% from 11% in Q2. Shares -2.3% premarket. (Bloomberg)
  • Continental (CAL): Q3 EPS of $0.02 beats by $0.08. Revenue of $3.32B (-20.2%) in-line. (PR)
  • Elan (ELN): Q3 EPS of -$0.06 beats by $0.07. Revenue of $399M (-19.5%) vs. $382M. (PR)
  • Eli Lilly (LLY): Q3 EPS of $1.20 beats by $0.18. Revenue of $5.56B (+6.8%) vs. $5.41B. Gross margin as a percent of total revenue increased by 3.7% to 81.1%. Shares +0.4% premarket. (PR)
  • FLIR Systems (FLIR): Q3 EPS of $0.38 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $286M (+3.2%) vs. $281M. Shares +2.9% premarket. (PR)
  • Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold(FCX): Q3 EPS of $2.07 beats by $0.73. Revenue of $4.14B (-10.2%) vs. $4.24B. Reinstates dividend due to strong performance. Shares -0.1% premarket. (PR)
  • KeyCorp (KEY): Q3 EPS of -$0.50 misses by $0.09. Takes a $733M provision for loan losses, which KEY says drove the miss. Average deposits were +6% (+$3.6B). Shares -4.7% premarket. (PR)
  • Knight Capital Group (NITE): Q3 EPS of $0.32 misses by $0.07. Revenue of $300M (+24.5%) vs. $282M. Shares -6.4% premarket. (PR)
  • Manpower (MAN): Q3 EPS of $0.26 beats by $0.09. Revenue of $4.19B (-26%) vs. $3.95B. Sees Q4 EPS of $0.17-0.27 vs. $0.28. "We continued to experience sluggish demand for our services as the labor markets throughout the world were hampered by lack of demand for companies' products and services... the uptick in revenue is muted at this time compared to previous recoveries." Shares -5.3% premarket. (PR)
  • Morgan Stanley (MS): Q3 EPS of $0.38 beats by $0.11. Revenue of $8.7B vs. $6.99B. Assets under management $386B vs. $483B last year. Declares $0.05 quarterly dividend. Shares +0.9% premarket. (PR)
  • Northern Trust (NTRS): Q3 EPS of $0.72 misses by $0.12. Revenue of $928M (-1.2%) vs. $985M. Shares -5% premarket. (PR)
  • Northrop Grumman (NOC): Q3 EPS of $1.29 beats by $0.11. Revenue of $8.73B (+4.1%) vs. $8.58B. (PR)
  • Omnicom Group (OMC): Q3 EPS of $0.53 in-line. Revenue of $2.83B (-14.4%) in-line. (PR)
  • Penn National Gaming (PENN): Q3 EPS of $0.33 misses by $0.02. Revenue of $620M (+0.4%) vs. $642M. Shares -8.2% premarket. (PR)
  • St. Jude Medical (STJ): Q3 EPS of $0.59 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $1.16B (+7%) in-line. Sees Q$ EPS of $0.61-0.63 vs. $0.66. "We are lowering our expectations for our fourth quarter results to accommodate the issues we are experiencing from a limited portion of our customer base in the U.S., but we are confident that our long term growth program is on track." Shares -0.9% premarket. (PR)
  • U.S. Bancorp (USB): Q3 EPS of $0.30 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $4.25B (+2.2%) vs. $4.12B. Says credit deterioration moderated somewhat. Shares +0.8% premarket. (PR)
  • Wells Fargo (WFC): Q3 EPS of $0.56 beats by $0.19. Revenue of $22.47B (+116.5%) vs. $21.63B. Q3 chargeoffs of $5.1B, up from $4.4B in Q2. Sees credit losses peaking in 2010, "with consumer losses potentially peaking in first half of the year and gradually declining, absent further economic deterioration." Shares -1% premarket. (PR)

Earnings: Tue. After Close

  • Amylin Pharmaceuticals (AMLN): Q3 EPS of -$0.19 beats by $0.10. Revenue of $211M (-3%) vs. $219M. Shares -1.1% AH. (PR)
  • Canadian National Railway Company (CNI): Q3 EPS of C$0.94. Revenue of C$1.85B (-18%) in-line. Shares -1.6% AH. (PR)
  • C.H. Robinson Worldwide (CHRW): Q3 EPS of $0.57 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $1.95B (-16%) vs. $1.96B. Shares -0.8% AH. (PR)
  • Cree (CREE): FQ1 EPS of $0.30 beats by $0.08. Revenue of $169M (+20%) vs. $165M. Sees Q2 EPS of $0.28-0.30 vs. $0.23 and revenue of $180M-190M vs. $173M. Shares +3.6% AH. (PR)
  • Gilead Sciences (GILD): Q3 EPS of $0.78 beats by $0.11. Revenue of $1.8B (+31%) vs. $1.75B. Shares -2.2% AH. (PR)
  • Infinera (INFN): Q3 EPS of -$0.03 beats by $0.09. Revenue of $83M (+3%) vs. $80M. Shares +2.5% AH. (PR)
  • Intuitive Surgical (ISRG): Q3 EPS of $1.64 beats by $0.16. Revenue of $280M (+19%) vs. $258M. Shares -5.9% AH. (PR)
  • Nabors Industries (NBR): Q3 EPS of $0.18 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $804M (-44%) vs. $820M. Shares flat AH. (PR)
  • Polycom (PLCM): Q3 EPS of $0.31 misses by $0.01. Revenue of $243M (-16%) vs. $236M. Shares -5.2% AH. (PR)
  • SanDisk (SNDK): Q3 EPS of $0.75 beats by $0.49. Revenue of $935M (+14%) vs. $788M. Shares +0.2% AH and halted. Updated 4:30 p.m.: Shares resume trading, +10.2% AH. (PR)
  • Seagate Technology (STX): FQ1 EPS of $0.58 beats by $0.11. Revenue of $2.66B (-12%) vs. $2.62B. Shares -2.9% AH. (PR)
  • SLM Corp. (SLM): Q3 EPS of $0.26 beats by $0.22. Net interest income after provision for loan losses of $204M (-29%). Shares +7.8% AH. (PR)
  • STMicroelectronics (STM): Q3 EPS of -$0.23 misses by $0.14. Revenue of $2.28B (-16%) vs. $2.25B. Shares +3.7% AH. (PR)
  • Stryker (SYK): Q3 EPS of $0.69 in-line. Revenue of $1.65B (+1%) vs. $1.62B. Shares +3.5% AH. (PR)
  • Tupperware (TUP): Q3 EPS of $0.54 beats by $0.12. Revenue of $514M (flat) vs. $486M. Raises full-year EPS guidance to $2.84-2.89 from $2.59-2.64, vs. $2.73. Shares +4.5% AH. (PR)
  • Walter Industries (WLT): Q3 EPS of $0.45 beats by $0.18. Revenue of $278M (-10%) vs. $223M. Shares +1.7% AH. (PR)

Today's Markets

Overseas markets sustained losses Wednesday. U.S. futures moved lower overnight.

  • Asia: Nikkei -0.03% to 10,333. Hang Seng -0.3% to 22,318. Shanghai -0.45% to 3,071. BSE -1.24% to 17,009.
  • Europe at midday: London -0.8%. Paris -1.2%. Frankfurt -0.9%.
  • Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.4% to 9956. S&P -0.5% to 1084. Nasdaq -0.4%. Crude -1.1% at $78.22. Gold -0.3% to $1,056. Treasurys are flat. Euro and yen are flat against the dollar. Pound +1.3%.

Wednesday's Economic Calendar

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