Wall Street Breakfast

by: SA Editors
SA Editors
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.

A one-page summary of this morning's key market- and stock-moving stories. Headlines link to the original article. Use Wall Street Breakfast as a starting point, and check the original before trading.

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Nasdaq short-interest positions rose in October [Reuters]

Summary: Short positions rose to an all-time high on the Nasdaq, reaching a total number of 7.41 billion shares - up from 7.35 billion shares during the previous month, a rise of 0.8%. The Nasdaq's short ratio, or the average number of days it would take to cover the outstanding short positions, fell to 3.73 days from 4.36 days in September. Despite a run-up in prices over the last few months, the continued increase in short activity is an indication that the level of bearishness continues to rise, along with the market. The rise greatly outpaced the 0.1% increase in short interest at the NYSE, which also recently reported that short positions reached record highs in the October period.
Related links: Record Short Interest Pushing Market HigherA Closer Look at the ProShares Inverse ETFsShorts, Rejoice: Double-Inverse ETFs To Begin Trading ThursdayNew ProFunds ETFs: Awaiting the Leveraged Short OnesBearish Bets On the Nasdaq Reach a Record [WSJ] • Nasdaq Short Reports [Nasdaq.com]
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: NASDAQ 100 Trust Shares (QQQQ), Short QQQ ProShares (NYSEARCA:PSQ), Ultra QQQ ProShares (NYSEARCA:QLD), UltraShort QQQ ProShares (NYSEARCA:QID)


Amazon to Curtail Its Spending [New York Times]

Summary: Online retailer Amazon.com, whose Q3 earnings fell by over one-third, has announced that it will begin to curtail spending on technology projects, expansion and new personnel. Relieved investors rewarded this news by bidding the stock up 14% in after-hours trading to close at $38.38. Amazon competes not only with sellers of physical merchandise but also with digital merchants like Apple's iTunes. Amazon has responded by investing heavily in new technology and services and bolstering its roster of software engineers. Amazon's investment in new technology over the quarter totaled $171 million, a 42% increase -- a commitment the company defended as being essential to achieve "power growth" in its competitive environment. Amazon also invested heavily in the toy business after the courts gave permission to Toys "R" Us to sell its merchandise on its own website. In addition to reassuring investors that the period of intense spending is over, Amazon has boosted its guidance for Q4, anticipating revenue of $3.63-$3.95 billion, an increase of 22-33% over the period last year and ahead of Wall Street’s forecast. Sales increased to $2.31 billion in Q3 versus $1.86 billion in the period last year, just edging the $2.25 billion expected by analysts. Profit in the quarter declined 37% to $19 million, or 5 cents a share, from $30 million, or 7 cents, a year earlier.
Related links: Amazon.com Q3 2006 Earnings Call TranscriptAmazon Trading Up Nearly 15% After Hours On Earnings BeatAmazon Struggling Against Independent Toys "R" UsSecond Life for AmazonAfter Years of Complaints, IBM Finally Sues Amazon For Patent InfringementInternet Stocks: Amazon Overvalued, Shutterfly Won't Be ProfitableAmazon Focuses on Revenue [Washington Post]
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) • First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund (NYSEARCA:FDN), Internet HOLDRs Trust (NYSE:HHH)

Alcatel, Lucent Stock Up Despite Reports [AP]

Summary: Despite reporting weak earnings yesterday, shares of French telecom equipment company Alcatel and Lucent Technologies, the company it is in the midst of buying, each rose sharply yesterday. Although Lucent reported flat earnings, its main wireless business managed results that came in above consensus. The upcoming acquisition seems to be what sparked the stocks to rise as Alcatel officials stated they were still on track to complete the $11 billion deal by year's end. The move is expected to save $1.7 billion a year for the new company which will have Alcatel at the helm. Alcatel posted a 42% drop in its third-quarter net income from the year earlier period, and blamed the decline on falling sales of its mobile network equipment, despite revenue rising 1.4%. Lucent reported earnings of $0.7 a share, the same as the year earlier period, and above the consensus estimate of $0.5 cents a share posted by Thomson Financial. Revenue rose 5 percent at the company. In trading yesterday, Lucent shares rose 6.4% while Alcatel shares closed the day up 7.15%.
Related links: Alcatel Q3 2006Earnings Call Transcript • Lucent Technologies F4Q06 (Qtr End 9/30/06) Earnings Call Transcript • Alcatel / Lucent Technologies Inc. Merger Announcement Conference Call Transcript (ALA, LU)Patricia Russo on Taking the Lucent-Alcatel Helm -- "The Buck Stops With Me"Prediction on Alcatel: Under $10 Within 3 Months (ALA) • Ciena CFO: Alcatel-Lucent Merger "A Good Thing"Lucent And Alcatel Create The Second Largest Wireless Vendor (ALA, LU, NOK, ERICY)Selling Lucent on the Alcatel Merger News (LU) • Alcatel / Lucent Merger: Implications For Wireless Business (ALA, LU)Lucent Stockholders Take Note: Alcatel Deal is No 'Merger of Equals' (LU, ALA)Lucent and Alcatel: A Merger By Any Other Name is an Aquisition
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Alcatel (ALA), Lucent (LU), Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) • Broadband HOLDRS (NYSE:BDH)

Sony Says Recall Strains Battery Production [New York Times]

Summary: Yesterday, Sony admitted its notebook PC lithium-ion battery recall now totaling 9.6 million units, is straining its production capacity and could result in lost business. Yutaka Nakagawa, Sony's executive VP, told reporters Sony lacked adequate supply to both replace recalled batteries and manufacture batteries for new notebook PC sales. Its battery business is said to account for 2% of group revenue. Sony has estimated recall costs to be 51 billion yen ($429 million), forcing it to cut its full-year operating profit guidance. Sanyo is Sony's chief competitor in notebook battery production and stands to benefit from Sony's woes.
Related links: Sony Press Release on Battery Replacement ProgramSony Profit Forecast Drops 39% Due to Battery Recall, Sluggish SalesAnother Blow For Sony: Consumer Electronic Companies May Seek Damages for Battery RecallUpdate on Sanyo's Forthcoming DelistingIs the Worst Over for Sony's Stock?Sony's Battery Recall Costs Mounting
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Sony (NYSE:SNE), Sanyo (OTC:SANYY), BLDRS Asia 50 ADR Index ETF (NASDAQ:ADRA)

KLA Sales Rise, Income on Hold [TheStreet.com]

Summary: KLA-Tencor said that its sales grew steadily amid increasing demand for its cutting-edge chips, although the company's earnings picture remains incomplete as it struggles to restate earnings in the wake of options backdating charges. The chip equipment company's sales increased $630 million from $483.9 million last year and it closed the quarter with $2.4 billion in cash and investments, although it cannot give a full earnings report until corrections are made in KLA's stock options information. The company received subpoenas from the Justice Department and will have to pay $400 million in charges for irregular dates on options. A few weeks ago, chairman and company founder Kenneth Levy resigned and KLA has cancelled all options of ex-CEO Kenneth Schroeder.
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: KLA Tencor (NASDAQ:KLAC), • Competitors: Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT), Veeco Instruments (NASDAQ:VECO)


HEARD IN ASIA Sun Hasn't Set On Solar Shares In U.S. and Asia [Wall Street Journal]

Summary: Solar energy companies listed in the U.S. and Asia are still trading as much as 50% off their highs from earlier this year. Some analysts, such as those at Citigroup, see an opportunity and point out the 20%-30% expected annual growth rates over the next few years, in spite of falling oil prices, which alternative energy stocks have historically been closely correlated with. Although solar-generated power makes up less than 0.1% of global power supply, it is seen booming as countries subsidize and incentivize renewable energy sources to reduce dependence on heavy polluting fossil fuels. Subsidies will make solar power more cost-effective, and supporters counter critics who say subsidies mask the financial troubles of the industry by pointing out many energy companies are subsidy recipients.
Related links: Citigroup: Solar Power Looks HotAnother Solar Power IPO: Canadian Solar To Try Its Luck on the NASDAQThe Long Case for Solar Powered SunPowerInvestment Thesis: Clean Energy ETFSharp to Supply Solar Panels for "Googleplex"Despite Missed Estimates, Evergreen Solar's Negatives Already Priced InSolar Power Research: Energy Conversion and SunPower are Buys, Evergreen a HoldSolar Stocks Don't Necessary Rebound With Oil: The Short Case on SunPowerSolar Energy's Long Term AppealSeeking Alpha's Alternative Energy Sector
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Kyocera (NYSE:KYO), Sharp (OTCPK:SHCAY), Suntech Power Hldgs (NYSE:STP), Evergreen Solar (ESLR), SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR), Energy Conversion Devices (NASDAQ:ENER), DayStar Technologies (OTC:DSTI), PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (NYSEARCA:PBW), Companies mentioned not traded in the U.S. include: Motech Industries, E-Ton Solar, Sino-American Silicon Products and Sysgration Ltd of Taiwan, and Hong Kong-listed China Solar Energy Holdings


Honda 2nd-Quarter Profit Falls on Derivative Costs [Bloomberg]

Summary: Honda's Q2 sales grew 12%, but net income fell 4.3% to 127.9 billion yen ($1.1b), or 70.5 yen/share, on a 30.6 billion yen ($257m) loss on derivatives "mainly due to fluctuations in fair value of interest rate swaps under non- operating income and expenses." Earnings came in short of its own estimate of 131.6 billion yen, and also missed the 138.6 billion yen estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. This is the fourth time in the past two years that Honda has suffered derivatives losses that erased a 43.7 billion yen foreign exchange profit in Q2 from the weaker-than-expected yen. Honda raised its forecasts for full-year net income (+1% to 555 billion yen), operating profit (+9.3% to 820 billion yen) and sales (+2.8% to 11 trillion yen), citing the weak yen and strong sales of compact cars. To the delight of investors, Honda raised its full-year dividend by 6.7%, and said it will introduce a quarterly dividend payout system. The derivatives exposure stems from the fact it earns as much as 70% of its operating profit from North America.
Related links: Honda Investor Relations Q2 Earnings • Reuters: Honda Q2 drops on finance losses, yen lifts f'casts • AP: Honda Reports Booming 2Q SalesGM Posts Q3 Loss But Beats Street -- Shares RiseFord Bleeds $5.8 Billion in Q3; SUV's, Foreign Competition To BlameToyota Gets Knocked Off Its PerchWhy Japanese Cars Earn $2400 More Profit EachJapan's Big-3 Auto to Further Expand Fuel EfficiencyJapanese Auto Industry Struggles Continue, But Mini-cars Rule
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Honda (NYSE:HMC), Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY), Toyota (NYSE:TM), DaimlerChrysler (DCX), Ford (NYSE:F), General Motors (NYSE:GM), BLDRS Asia 50 ADR Index ETF (ADRA)

GM Rises 1.4 Percent on Results [Reuters]

Summary: General Motors Corp. beat the Street, coming-in with a smaller-than-expected Q3 loss of $115M ($0.20/share), compared to the $1.66B ($2.94) they lost a year ago in Q3. Its losses included "special charges" of $644M, making its adjusted net income $529M. GM narrowed its potential exposure to former GM Parts Unit Delphi Corp.'s bankruptcy filing to $6-7.5B from $5.5-12B. In a victory for GM CEO Rick Wagoner, alliance negotiations between GM and Renault SA/Nissan collapsed earlier this month; Wagoner had been pressured by high-profile shareholder Kirk Kerkorian, who has been critical of Wagoner for not being more aggressive in bringing GM back to profitability. This summer GM announced 35,000 hourly workers accepted incentives to leave, increasing GM's cost savings to $5B this year, and helping it beat its job-cut target. World-wide sales fell 3% for the first half of '06; Q4 GM Daily Chart 25 10 06production has been pegged at -12% y/y. GM shares were up 2.8% yesterday in anticipation of earnings, and have added another 1.4% in this morning's pre-market ($36.71).
Related links: Background to article: Look for GM's earnings conference call transcriptIs Rick Wagoner Corporate America's Comeback Kid of the Year?GM Investor TCW Group Declares its Support for Rick WagonerJerry York Quits GM Board - Is a Kerkorian Fire Sale Next?Talks Between GM, Renault and Nissan FailGM Lends a Hand to Avert a Delphi StrikeKerkorian Files With SEC to Up His Stake in GM in Attempt to Push Proposed Merger ForwardIs GM Stalling With Renault-Nissan Alliance? • Seeking Alpha analysis: Despite a Great Year, GM is Still Trailing Japanese Counterparts Like ToyotaMessage to GM Investors: Whoa!GM Posts Narrower Net Loss; Revises Delphi Exposure [WSJ]
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: General Motors Corp. (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F), DaimlerChrysler (DCX), Toyota Motor Corp. (TM), Honda Motor Co. (HMC) • iShares Dow Jones Transportation Index ETF (NYSEARCA:IYT)


Getty Touts Its Plan to Turn Revenue Around [Seattle Post Intelligencer]

Summary: Getty Images, the world's leading supplier of stock photography, has announced a Q3 profit of $37.6 million, or 62 cents per share, compared with $39 million, or 60 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2005. The figure failed to meet the company's own expectations and continues a grim trend Getty has been suffering throughout 2006. The stock, which was trading above $90 in January, hit a 52-week low of $41.93 in after-hours trading yesterday. The company is suffering from increased competition as well as shifts in the image needs of ad agencies, publishers and the media. In response, Getty plans to invest heavily in its film business and also to downsize staff at its three offices (London, New York and Seattle). It is also planning to restructure its sales organization to cater more to the preferences of its clients.
Related links: Getty Images Q3 2006 Earnings Call TranscriptGetty Images Cutting StaffGetty Images Profit Falls, Outlook Cut [Reuters]
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Getty Images (GYI), Jupiter Media (JUPM)

HEARD ON THE STREET: Cable Horror? Comcast Hopes So [Wall Street Journal]

Summary: Comcast will report Q3 earnings tomorrow, which are expected to reflect the quarter's strong sales in digital cable, broadband internet and its recently debuted phone service, the famed "triple play."The earnings report will follow yesterday's 52-week high for the company's shares. Comcast's latest marketing strategy includes "Fearnet," in which it is releasing a series of horror movies and other Halloween-oriented programming on its cable network, Internet portal and mobile phone service. Through these types of campaigns, the company hopes to convince customers of the value of the "triple play," beyond the one-year sale price. Such marketing strategies also communicate to investors that Comcast is focused on building its brand. Similarly, despite rumors that the company might be considering possible acquisitions, Comcast officials deny any such plans, also quelling investor fears that management might be nervous about the future. Analysts project that Comcast shares can still rise beyond yesterday's high. However, the company can expect to face stiffer competition from phone companies and the possibility of triple play subscribers jumping ship after the first year's discount ends. Another challenge could be devices like Apple's that bring downloaded movies into the living room. However, many analysts estimate that Comcast's growth prospects are strong, particularly in the phone and broadband Internet categories.
Related links: Cable Stocks: Will The Rally Continue?Comcast Signs Up Its Millionth Digital Phone CustomerFiber to the Home: A World of Headaches for Comcast NewRatings.com: Comcast "buy," target price raised • Television Week: Comcast, Turner Invest in User-Generated Ad Firm
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Stocks: Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), DirecTV Group Inc. (DTV), EchoStar Communications Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) • ETFs: SPDR O-Strip (OOO), Vanguard Consumer Discretionary VIPERs (NYSEARCA:VCR), iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Services (NYSEARCA:IYC)

More Cable Networks Decline Commercial-Ratings System [Wall Street Journal]

Summary: Yesterday, several of the largest cable programing providers in the U.S. announced they would not participate in Nielsen Media Research's plan for measuring viewership of TV commercials. Among those opting out were Viacom's MTV Networks, Discovery Communications' Discovery Networks U.S., Time Warner's Turner cable-networks unit and Walt Disney's ESPN. The announcement comes on the heels of GE-owned NBC Universal's statement Monday that it too wouldn't take part in the plan to measure minutes of commercial time sold to national advertisers. The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau has recommended that its members not take part for now. The programing networks object to the plan based on claims that Nielsen's measuring system has trouble distinguishing switches taking place between national and local ads within the same commercial break, a trend which is especially prevalent on a cable channels. Others argue the cable networks refusal to participate will ultimately come back to hurt them, as advertisers will have no way to verify the breadth of audience their commercials are reaching.
Related links: Cable Stocks: Will The Rally Continue?Time Warner to Spin Off Cable UnitThreatened by Internet Video, Cable Providers Strive to CompeteTime Warner (NYSE:TWX) beats expectations; cable and publishing units report strong quarter • Nielsen Delays Commercial Ratings [MediaWeek]
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Viacom (NYSE:VIA), Time Warner (TWX), Disney (NYSE:DIS), General Electric (NYSE:GE)


Glamis Profit Soars But Misses Expectations [Reuters]

Summary: Glamis Gold, which has agreed to be acquired by Goldcorp Inc., suffered a dip in its share price despite a 12-fold leap in Q3 profit. The company's results were boosted by higher gold prices, enhanced production (particularly at the El Sauzal mine in Mexico, which was responsible for over half the company's gold output this quarter), and lower costs. Still, the quarter's 14-cent EPS figure was shy of analysts' expectation of 17 cents. Revenue surged to $91.8 million from $41.1 million as sales volume leaped to 144,113 ounces of gold from 91,625 ounces and average prices climbed to $609 an ounce from $446 a year earlier. The company generated cash flow of $38.4 million, up from $14.8 million, and cut the cash cost of production to $182 an ounce from $231. Tomorrow (Thursday), Glamis shareholders will vote on its proposed takeover by Goldcorp, which would create the world's third largest gold company in terms of market cap.
Related links: Glamis Gold Q3 2006 Earnings Call TranscriptJudge's Decision on Goldcorp Dismisses Shareholder RightsGlamis/Goldcorp Merger - Keeping it in the FamilyGoldcorp Deals to Acquire Glamis; Investors Unimpressed with TermsGold Stocks and the Flight to SafetyGoldcorp's McEwen Loses Bid for Vote on Glamis Deal [Bloomberg.com]
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Glamis Gold Ltd. (GLG), Goldcorp Inc. (NYSE:GG) • Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDX), streetTRACKS Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD)

Dupont Swings to Profit in 3Q [AP]

Summary: Dupont reported a substantial profit for the third-quarter, a partial recovery from the downturn caused by last year's hurricane season. In spite of the rising cost of raw materials, the chemical company's net profits are at $485 million or 52 cents per share compared $82 million or 9 cents share for the third quarter last year which included $146 million in hurricane-related expenses. Revenue grew 7% to $6.31 billion exceeding analysts' predictions of $6.13 billion. Profit growth, new products and expanding margins are responsible for Dupont's rise. In addition, the company announced a $5 billion stock buyback program and repurchased $100 million in shares during the third quarter. CEO Charles Holliday Jr. expects higher year-over-year earnings in the fourth quarter, even after adjusting for the 2005 hurricanes.
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: E.I. DuPont de Nemours (NYSE:DD) • Competitors: BASF AG (BF), Bayer AG (BAY), Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW)


Lockheed and Northrop See Solid Growth in '07 [Wall Street Journal]

Summary: Lockheed Martin reported a 47% increase in net income to $629 million, or $1.46/share, versus $427 million ($0.96/share) last year, helped by a $62 million tax gain and a $20 million property sale. Revenues grew 4.4% to $9.61 billion, but were hurt by an expected decline at its aeronautics unit. By comparison, Northrop Grumman reported only a 3.1% increase in net income to $302 million, or $0.86/share, versus $293 million ($0.81/share) last year, on revenue growth of 1.9% to $7.43 billion. Earnings were hurt by a $125 million settlement involving a 2002 acquisition, despite higher profit margins in three of its four business units. Lockheed raised its guidance for this year to $5.45-$5.60/share from $5.10-$5.30, and predicted earnings next year will be between $5.60-$5.80/share. Northrop, on the other hand, lowered guidance to $4.20-$4.25/share from $4.35-$4.45, but says it expects earnings of $4.65-$4.90 next year. Improving operating margins at both companies could help offset a slowdown in sales, as concerns mount about the cost of war in Iraq and a potential change to the political landscape in the U.S.
Related links: Earnings press releases: Lockheed Martin, Northrop GrummanAn In-Depth Look at SAIC Inc's IPO • Jim Cramer comments on SAIC's IPO and the defense sectorGrowing Competition to Be First Company to Offer Affordable, Private, Space TourismLockheed Flying High After Winning Lucrative Shuttle Replacement Contract9/11: Its Lasting Impact on the Economy and Defense Stocks
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), Armor Holdings (AH), Boeing (NYSE:BA), General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), SAIC (SAI), iShares Dow Jones US Aerospace & Defense ETF (NYSEARCA:ITA), PowerShares Aerospace & Defense ETF (NYSEARCA:PPA)


CME's Third Quarter Jumps on Higher Trading Margins [Reuters]

Summary: Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings Q3 earnings rose to $104M ($2.95/share) from $77.5M ($2.22) y/y, beating Street estimates of $2.86. CME managed to squeeze out a better-than-expected rate-per-contract profit margin, reflecting the steadily rising use of Globex, its electronic platform, for interest rate options trading. Net revenues CME Chart 25 10 06of $274M were slightly lower than Wall Street estimates of $282M. It's cash earnings of $107M were a record; CME says cash generation is "its primary focus." Average daily trading volume (5.4M contracts) was up 28%. While all its "growth areas" were strong, CME called its recent initiative to list NYMEX energy contracts a "home run." But shares were down 1.1% ($5.31 to $498) in afternoon trading, prompting Edward Ditmire, analyst at Fox-Pitt, Kelton Group to comment, "They unequivocally beat the Street, but people have high expectations on CME."
Related links: CME/CBOT merger commentary: U.S. Exchanges Continue To Trim Expenses Through Consolidation, M&A ActivityOn the CME-CBOT Merger: Is Chicago the World’s New Risk Manager?CME/CBOT Merger Creates World's Biggest Derivatives ExchangeCME/CBOT to Merge Into $25B Derivatives ExchangeConference call (audio)
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings (NASDAQ:CME), CBOT Holdings Inc. (BOT), NYSE Group Inc. (NYSE:NYX), Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. (NASDAQ:NDAQ), International Securities Exchange Inc (ISE) • ETFs: First Trust IPOX-100 Index (NYSEARCA:FPX), iShares Dow Jones US Broker-Dealers Index Fund ETF (NYSEARCA:IAI) and streetTRACKS KBW Capital Markets (NYSEARCA:KCE) each have approx. 5% holdings in CME

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