Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

by: Wall Street Breakfast
Wall Street Breakfast
Seeking Alpha's flagship daily business news summary, gives you a rapid overview of the day's key financial news. It is published before 7:00 AM ET every market day and delivered to over 900,000 email subscribers.

Top Stories
Treasury exits rest of GM stake and makes loss of $10.5B. The government has sold the remainder of its 31.1M shares in GM (NYSE:GM) for $9.2B, which will end restrictions on executive pay and could pave the way for dividends and buybacks. The government recovered $39B out of the $49.5B it invested in the automaker, ending the bailout of GM with a loss of $10.5B.

Details of Volcker rule set to be unveiled. A panoply of regulators are today due to disclose the details of the Volcker rule, which will ban banks from proprietary trading. Banks fear that the measures could cost them billions of dollars by making it more difficult to engage in activities that are permitted under the regulation, such as market-making, underwriting and hedging against risks. Expect the lawyers to go through the proposals to see what could be struck down in court.

Italy ends two years of contraction. Italy has technically exited a recession that lasted two years, with GDP having stopped contracting in Q3 and Q2, new data shows. Instead, the economy showed little or no change vs prior estimates of -0.1% and -0.3% respectively. The improvement was helped by an inventory buildup, which is an indicator of growing confidence among businesses. However, a government official cautioned that "it's too early to say that the recession is finished." The FTSE MIB was +0.3% at the time of writing.

Top Stock News
Lululemon appoints CEO; founder to step down as Chairman. Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ:LULU) has named Laurent Potdevin as CEO to replace Christine Day, who said in June that she would leave the clothing retailer. Potdevin was most recently President of TOMS Shoes, while he has also worked at Burton Snowboards and LVMH. Meanwhile, founder Dennis "Chip" Wilson is resigning as Chairman and is being replaced by director Michael Casey. Wilson caused a storm last month by saying that Lululemon's products were wrong for certain body shapes.

Novartis mulls swapping animal-health ops with another business. Novartis (NYSE:NVS) is reportedly considering swapping its animal-health division with a business owned by Merck (NYSE:MRK) or another company. Novartis, which apparently has little use for the cash that a sale or IPO would bring, has its eye on Merck's over-the-counter drug business, although it's not clear whether the latter would be open to such an exchange. Novartis' animal-health unit has drawn interest from German drugmakers Boehringer Ingelheim and Bayer (OTCPK:BAYZF), and Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY).

Nokia's Indian tax bill could reach $3.4B. Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) tax bill in India could hit $3.4B, a government official says, far higher than the $340M that has been at the center of a dispute so far. India has frozen Nokia assets in the country to ensure the company has enough money to pay the smaller bill, although Nokia has gone to court to defend itself. The firm needs access to the assets by Thursday so that it can complete the sale of its handset unit to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and it has set aside $350M for the purpose.

GM continues to vacillate over Aussie operations. GM (GM) hasn't yet decided whether to end production in Australia after 2016, the carmaker said today as it kept up the pressure on the country's government to provide more aid to the industry. The comments are in contrast to a report on Sunday that said that GM planned to halt manufacturing in Australia, where the company has been hit by the strong Aussie dollar.

Tribune files to spin off Tribune Publishing. Media conglomerate Tribune (TRBAA) intends to spin off 98.5% of the outstanding shares of the common stock of Tribune Publishing Company to its shareholders. The latter intends to apply to list its stock on the NYSE. In a recent article, ValueArtifex wrote that the proposed spinoff "represents an excellent opportunity for investors to realize value."

Top Economic & Other News
China's industrial output slows a bit. Growth in China's industrial production slowed to 10% on year in November from 10.3% in October and just missed consensus of 10.1%. The expansion in urban investment, an indicator of construction spending, also eased, although the increase in retail sales accelerated. The data comes as Chinese officials start an annual central economic work conference, where they will set goals and policies for next year. Last month, the country's leaders agreed on a massive reform program aimed at liberalizing and re-balancing the economy.

Americans near to recovery of all lost wealth. The net worth of U.S. households and nonprofit organizations increased 2.6% in Q3 to $77.3T, although that's still around 1% below the pre-recession peak, when adjusted for inflation. Rising share prices boosted the figure by $917B and increasing home values by $428B.

Alpha-Rich Stock Movers and Great Calls
1) On Friday, Value Digger called out Chinook Energy (OTC:CNKEF) as undervalued by every measure, with pending asset sales a catalyst for explosive gains. Shares are +28.2% in the two sessions since. Read article »
2) On September 4, Michael Sacerdote called the then-high-flying biotech Ambit Biosciences (NASDAQ:AMBI) a "one-trick pony with a broken leg." After a regulatory setback last week, the stock is -41.9% to date. Read article »

Alpha-Rich Stocks To Watch
1) West Marine (NASDAQ:WMAR) is a best-in-breed operator trading close to tangible book value and potentially seeing 80% upside as the boating industry recovers, writes Carbondale Capital. Read article »
2) Paulo Santos sees a substantial mis-pricing in Altisource Asset Management (NYSEMKT:AAMC); after a gain of nearly 1,000% this year, shares should come crashing down once investors truly understand its corporate structure. Read article »

Alpha-Rich articles are the best long and short ideas on Seeking Alpha. SA PRO subscribers receive early access to these Alpha-Rich articles, which often move markets. For more information about SA PRO and becoming a subscriber, click here.

Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.3% to 15611. Hong Kong -0.3% to 23744. China flat at 2237. India -0.3% at 21256.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.1%. Paris +0.1%. Frankfurt +0.2%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.1%. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +1.2% to $98.49. Gold +1% to $1246.30.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -2 bps to 2.83%.

Today's economic calendar:
7:30 NFIB Small Business Optimism Index
7:45 ICSC Retail Store Sales
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
10:00 Wholesale Trade
1:00 PM Results of $30B, 3-Year Note Auction

Notable earnings before today's open: AZO, HDS, HITK, TOL

Notable earnings after today's close: AVNR, DDC, HRB, IRET, MIND, PLAB, PPHM, SWHC

See full real-time earnings coverage »

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