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
Tesla bond sale brings in $2B - FT. Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) has raised $2B in the largest U.S. convertible-bond offering in over two years, the FT reports. The electric-car company had originally sought to sell only $1.6B of debt, but increased the amount due to strong demand. An over-allotment provision could take the deal to $2.3B. The sale comes amid a 70% surge in Tesla's share price since the start of the year.

Ukraine accuses Russian soldiers of seizing airports. Armed Russian soldiers have taken over two important airports in Crimea, Ukraine's acting interior minister has said, adding that the actions are an "armed invasion and occupation." The airports are in Belbek in Sevastopol, where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based, and in the Crimean capital of Simferopol. The developments come just a day after gunmen seized government buildings in Simferopol. Russia has denied that its troops have seized Belbek Airport. Meanwhile, Ukraine's central bank has limited foreign-currency bank withdrawals to 15,000 hryvnia ($1,500) a day.

Japanese economic activity bumps up ahead of sales-tax hike. Japanese industrial production grew at the fastest pace since June 2011 in January, jumping 4% on month after a drop of 0.9% in December. Retail sales leapt 4.4% vs +2.5%. The strong figures are not a total surprise, as a bump in economic activity has been expected ahead of a rise in sales tax in April, which is forecast to then drag on the economy. Core inflation held steady at 1.3% on year in January, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%.

Top Stock News
Gap's earnings slip, guidance light. Gap's (NYSE:GPS) net profit dropped 13% to $307M and revenue slipped 3% to $4.58B as the retailer offered large discounts during the holiday season in order to attract shoppers. Revenue missed forecasts slightly, although EPS of $0.68 beat consensus, while same-store sales rose 1%. Gap forecast 2014 EPS of $2.90-2.95, below consensus of $3.03. Shares fell 0.1% premarket.

Salesforce earnings top forecasts but net losses grow. Salesforce.com's (NYSE:CRM) net losses widened to $116.6M in FQ4 from $20.8M a year earlier as aggressive spending continued to pressure margins. However, adjusted EPS was $0.07 and beat by $0.01, while revenue jumped 38% to $1.15B and also topped consensus. Salesforce.com gave FQ1 and FY guidance that was above expectations. Along with its results, Salesforce (CRM) said that CFO Graham Smith will retire in March 2015. Shares were +1.1% premarket.

United Continental hit by deep winter freeze. United Continental's (NYSE:UAL) shares fell 3.7% in post-market trading after the airline warned that its Q1 capacity and passenger unit revenues will come in well below previous expectations, due to the severe winter weather. United Continental has canceled more than 22,500 flights this year, including around 20,000 regional flights.

Major bitcoin exchange seeks bankruptcy protection. Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has filed for bankruptcy protection with debts of ¥6.5B ($63.6M) and said it may have lost 850,000 bitcoins because of hacking. Mt. Gox's liabilities are well above its total assets of ¥3.84B. Bitcoin was -3.1% at $558.68 at the time of writing.

Spain begins privatization of Bankia. Spain has started the privatization of its holding in Bankia by selling a 7.5% stake for €1.3B ($1.78B) to institutional investors at a price of €1.51 per share. Bankia was nationalized in 2012 after receiving €22.4B in EU bailout funds following massive losses on real-estate loans. The state still owns 60.89% in the bank.

German court dismisses €1.57B lawsuit vs Apple. A German court has thrown out a €1.57B ($2.15B) lawsuit that accused Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) of infringing two patents that allow mobile phones to make emergency calls even when networks are overloaded. The lawsuit was filed by Munich-based patent holding company IPCom in 2007.

Top Economic & Other News
Eurozone inflation remains in Draghi's "danger zone." Eurozone inflation has held steady at 0.8% on year in February, but remains below what European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has called a "danger zone" of below 1%. Draghi has warned of inflation getting stuck in that zone, although yesterday he repeated his assertion that there is no deflation. Meanwhile, eurozone unemployment held steady at 12% in January, as expected.

Budget deficit falls at sharpest pace since WWII. The budget deficit dropped to the lowest level since 2008 last year, falling to $680B from $1.1T in 2012. The rate of the drop was the sharpest since the end of World War II. The fall was due to an increase in federal tax revenues amid economic growth and tax hikes, and to a fall in spending. A slowdown in health costs also helped.

Top Ideas: Movers and Great Calls
1) On February 10, Trading the Spread called Guidewire Software (NYSE:GWRE) a once in a generation opportunity, as the insurance industry moves from legacy software to the company's new platform. Shares are +13.3% since. Read article »
2) In July, Stephen Simpson, CFA, called DC-area regional bank Eagle Bancorp (NASDAQ:EGBN) a long-term buy, as the firm was efficiently and safely growing market share and profits. The stock is +45.5% to date. Read article »

Top Ideas To Watch
1) Compelling growth, a scalable model, and pending profitability make online retailer Vitacost.com (NASDAQ:VITC) a buy, writes Mike Arnold. Read article »
2) Helix Investment Research calls network-equipment provider Sonus Networks (NASDAQ:SONS) a shrewd acquisition that has new products which are laying the foundation for growth. Read article »

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

Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.6% to 14841. Hong Kong flat at 22837. China +0.4% to 2056. India +0.6% to 21120.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.1%. Paris -0.6%. Frankfurt flat.
Futures at 6:20: Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq -0.1%. Crude -0.1% to $102.30. Gold -0.2% to $1329.30.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +3 bps to 2.67%.

Today's economic calendar:
8:30 GDP Q4
9:45 Chicago PMI
9:55 Reuters/UofM Consumer Sentiment
10:00 Pending Home Sales
3:00 PM USDA Ag. Prices

Notable earnings before today's open: Notable earnings before Friday's open: AMAP, AUXL, BSFT, DDD, ENDP, GLOG, HMSY, IRM, ISIS, NCT, NIHD, NRG, NWN, PMC, POM, PRIM, RHP, SJI, TTI, VTG, XLS

See full real-time earnings coverage »

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