- EU casts shadow over Oracle's Sun. European antitrust authorities formally objected to Oracle's (ORCL) proposed $7.4B takeover of Sun Microsystems (JAVA), issuing a statement of objections that focuses on whether Oracle ownership of Sun's MySQL database software would reduce competition. The move doesn't necessarily mean the EU will reject the deal, but should delay the process. The U.S. Justice Department, which has already signed off on the combo, reiterated that the merger is "unlikely to be anticompetitive." Oracle, meanwhile, said the acquisition "does not threaten to reduce competition in the slightest," adding that the EC's concerns "reveal a profound misunderstanding of both database competition and open source dynamics."
- Lending standards loosen. A smaller percentage of banks tightened lending standards in Q3, according to the Fed's loan officer survey, but credit conditions remain far from a comfort zone. About 25% of banks tightened standards on good quality real estate loans, down from 75% in July 2008. Banks tightening standards for credit cards fell to 15% from 35% last quarter, the lowest percentage since April 2008. And 15% of banks tightened standards on commercial and industrial loans, down from 80% in October 2008. "We're back to just normally tight, not pathologically tight," says an economist.
- U.K. most at risk of AAA downgrade. The U.K. is most at risk among large developed economies of losing its AAA rating, Fitch said Tuesday, but the ratings service maintained its stable rating which it said "reflects our expectation that the U.K. government will articulate a stronger fiscal consolidation program next year." In response, U.K. Trade Minister Mervyn Davies insisted Britain's sovereign rating is "absolutely" safe, and said the government's "been very clear that over the next four years there's going to be a program to reduce the public debt level." In May, S&P put the U.K.'s AAA credit rating on negative outlook, saying it would make a decision after the government makes its intentions clear.
- Moody's sees AIG comeback. AIG (AIG) will be able to repay its $60B Fed credit line and "much or all" of the Treasury's $69.8B investment if financial markets stabilize, Moody's said Monday. In a vote of confidence for CEO Robert Benmosche's strategy of rebuilding some of the businesses AIG previously targeted for sale, Moody's said, "We believe that the slower approach to restructuring could help AIG to generate more favorable values from its business portfolio than would be the case under rushed asset sales."
- Employment trends turn corner. In perhaps the most bullish employment report since the onset of the recession, Conference Board reported its Employment Trends Index rose 0.7% to 89.3 in October from 88.7 last month. "The Employment Trends Index has likely turned a corner in September, and the historical relationship between the index and employment suggests that job losses will end in early 2010," the group said, adding, "While layoffs have certainly declined in recent months, we still expect to see employers adding hours to their existing workforce before hiring will strongly increase." The improvement was driven by positive contributions from measures of jobless claims, temporary hires, industrial production, and sales. Conversely, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg said unemployment may hit a post-war high of 13% as growth stagnates. "This is going to be the mother of all jobless recoveries. At the beginning of the year, who was calling for unemployment to go up to 10%?"
- Hedge funds alive and well. Hedge fund assets may top the previous high of $2T by the end of 2010 as double-digit returns lure investors, Deutsche Bank says. "We fully expect to see material inflows into 2010 and beyond. The expected growth is reflective of continuing institutional demand for increased risk-adjusted returns in the face of low bond yields and disappointing passive equity performance." Global hedge funds have rebounded faster than expected, recovering to $1.53T in September from $1.33T in March, even as regulators turn up the pressure to increase scrutiny of the industry and amid some high-profile scandals.
- Barclays accused of huge Lehman heist. In a recent court filing, Lehman's creditors claim Barclays (BCS) received Lehman securities valued at $50B for just $45B in cash, accusing the U.K. bank of the "largest theft in banking history." Some Lehman executives who negotiated that deal, the complaint asserts, knew they would receive offers to work at Barclays, and received or were offered plump compensation deals. At the time, the deal was presented in bankruptcy court by Lehman's lawyers as a wash.
- Cadbury bitter at Kraft's bland offer. Kraft (KFT) took its offer for Cadbury (CBY) directly to shareholders, disappointing investors who had hoped Kraft would sweeten its original bid of 300p and 0.2589 new Kraft shares for each Cadbury share. Kraft said its proposal "offers the best immediate and long-term value for Cadbury's shareholders and for the company itself compared with any other option currently available, including Cadbury remaining independent." Cadbury, not surprisingly, recommended shareholders "emphatically" reject Kraft's (KFT) "derisory" offer, which it says "is worse than the proposal that the Board has previously rejected as fundamentally undervaluing Cadbury and its prospects," due to a drop in Kraft's share price. The cash and share offer originally valued Cadbury at £10.2B, but is now worth about £9.8B. Kraft now has 28 days to publish a prospectus on the offer for Cadbury shareholders, and 60 days to collect enough shares to clinch a deal.
- Google picks up mobile ad leader for $750M. In a push to expand its digital advertising empire to cellphones, Google (GOOG) agreed to acquire mobile advertising start-up AdMob for $750M in stock. AdMob is a leading seller of banner ads on iPhone apps and mobile-specific web pages; the acquisition could help establish Google as an early leader in the small but rapidly expanding mobile phone advertising business. Aggregate sales of mobile ads were just $160M last year.
- Madoff payback fund could swell. Settlement talks between Madoff trustee Irving Picard and lawyers for the estate of Madoff investor Jeffry Picower are making progress, with Picower's family lawyer saying discussions range between $2.4B (the amount Picower withdrew over the six-year recovery period allowed for the trustee’s claims under New York State law) and $7B (the total amount of his withdrawals over several decades). The estate is large enough to add at least several billion dollars to the $1.4B the trustee has gathered so far.
Earnings: Tue. Before Open
- HSBC (HBC): Q3 profit was "significantly ahead" of a year ago, in part due to the first drop in U.S. impairment charges in more than three years. "The more positive signals that we saw in the U.S. run-off portfolio in the first half have continued, with the result that our North American operations did not require any capital support from the group during the quarter. We should have further evidence by the year-end as to whether this is a sustainable trend." Shares +2.6% premarket. (PR, MW)
- JA Solar (JASO): Q3 EPS of $0.10 beats by $0.07. Revenue of $193M (+119.7%) vs. $136M. Shares +9% premarket. (PR)
- Tyco International (TYC): FQ4 EPS of $0.61 beats by $0.07. Revenue of $4.42B (-16.3%) vs. $4.32B. (PR)
Earnings: Mon. After Close
- Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA): Q3 EPS of -$0.38 misses by $0.04. Revenue of $1.7M (+20%) vs. $2.4M. (PR)
- Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO): Q3 EPS of -$0.10 misses by $0.02. Revenue of $661M (-19%) vs. $665M. Shares -0.1% AH. (PR)
- Electronic Arts (ERTS): FQ2 EPS of $0.06 misses by $0.01. Revenue of $1.15B (+2%) vs. $1.13B. Announces cost-reduction plan that will eliminate 1,500 jobs by the end of the first quarter (900 of them in development) saving $100M annually. Expects October is another down month. Shares -1.4% AH. (PR)
- Fluor (FLR): Q3 EPS of $0.89 misses by $0.01. Revenue of $5.4B (-4%) vs. $5.5B. Shares -6.2% AH. (PR)
- Hologic (HOLX): FQ4 EPS of $0.28 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $403M (-9%) vs. $400M. Sees Q1 EPS of $0.24-0.26 vs. $0.30 on revenue of $400M-405M vs. $414M, and full-year EPS of $1.15-1.19 vs. $1.24, on revenue of $1.625B-1.65B vs. $1.69B. Shares -4.4% AH. (PR)
- Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF): FQ2 EPS of $0.26 beats by $0.20. Revenue of $394M (+3%) vs. $375M. Shares +5.6% AH. (PR)
- Live Nation (LYV): Q3 EPS of $0.82 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $1.8B (+14%) vs. $1.6B. Expects Ticketmaster merger to close in Q1. Shares -1.3% AH. (PR)
- MBIA (MBI): Q3 EPS of -$3.50 misses by $2.45. Total consolidated revenue of $-620M, incorporating an $810M unrealized loss on insured credit derivatives. Shares -12.5% AH. (PR)
- McDermott International (MDR): Q3 EPS of $0.50. Revenue of $1.7B (+1%) vs. $1.5B. Shares +1.4% AH. (PR)
- Priceline.com (PCLN): Q3 EPS of $3.45 beats by $0.53. Revenue of $731M (+30%) vs. $694M. Sees Q4 EPS of $1.52-1.62 vs. $1.49 on sequential revenue gain of 24-28%. Shares +8.2% AH. (PR)
- Qiagen (QGEN): Q3 EPS of $0.26 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $260M (+13%) vs. $257M. Raises full-year EPS guidance to $0.88-0.90 vs. $0.85. Shares +3.8% AH. (PR)
- Rackspace (RAX): Q3 EPS of $0.06 misses by $0.01. Revenue of $162M (+17%) vs. $159M. Shares +0.4% AH. (PR)
- Sequenom (SQNM): Q3 EPS of -$0.24 beats by $0.04. Revenue of $9M (-21%) vs. $8.5M. Shares -4% AH. (PR)
- Silver Wheaton (SLW): Q3 EPS of $0.11 in-line. Revenue of $69.8M (+77%) vs. $76.4M. Shares +1.1% AH. (PR)
Asian markets moved higher overnight following strong U.S. gains Monday. Europe markets are flat-to-slightly-higher at midday. Stock futures are slightly lower.
- Asia: Nikkei +0.6% to 9871. Hang Seng +0.3% to 22268. Shanghai +0.1% to 3179. BSE -0.3% to 16441.
- Europe at midday: FTSE +0.3% to 5249. CAC +0.1% to 3788. DAX +0.3% to 5634.
- Futures: Dow -0.2% at 10176. S&P -0.2% to 1089.50. Nasdaq -0.1%. Crude -0.2% at $79.27. Gold -0.1% to $1,100.30. Dec. 30-year Tsy +0.24% to 118-25. 10-year +0.18%. Euro -0.05% vs. dollar. Yen +0.2%. Pound -0.4%.
- 7:45 ICSC Retail Store Sales
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
8:55 Fed's Lockhart: Emerging Trends in Real Estate
9:00 Conference: Cross-Border Insolvency Issues
10:00 Job Openings and Labor Turnover
10:00 Q3 Metro Home Prices/State Resales
10:05 Fed's Yellen: The Outlook for the Economy and Real Estate
11:15 Fed's Rosengren speaks
1:00 PM Results of $25B, 10-Year Note Auction
7:30 PM Fed's Fisher: Economy
- Notable premarket earnings: ARM, BZH, DSX, JASO, TYC
- Notable postmarket earnings: AONE, ATO, CLWR, PAAS
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