Wall Street Breakfast: Commerzbank Settlement, Open Interconnect Consortium, Samsung Troubles

by: Wall Street Breakfast
Wall Street Breakfast
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Afghani presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah says he will offer plans for his own national government, after accusing rival Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai of ballot-rigging. Replying to the announcement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry declared that any proposal for a parallel government in Afghanistan will jeopardize U.S. support for the country.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed the medical marijuana bill that passed the NY State Senate 49 - 10 in June. The state is the 23rd to allow access to medical cannabis, albeit only via vaporizing, oils and edibles. No smoking will be allowed. "This new law takes an important step toward bringing relief to patients living with extraordinary pain and illness," says Cuomo.

U.S. authorities are starting to discuss settlement options with Commerzbank (OTCPK:CRZBF, OTCPK:CRZBY) and Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) for their money transfer operations which evaded U.S. sanctions, Reuters reports. The banks are accused of transferring money on behalf of companies in Iran and Sudan. Commerzbank set aside $1.3B at the end of 2013 as a provision for litigation risks, and the NYT reports a probable deferred prosecution agreement of at least $500M.

Google's new website that rates ISPs' video streaming quality for content streamed on YouTube, is gaining in popularity. A link to the website appears on YouTube when videos are slow to buffer. Google's (GOOG, GOOGL) new rating service comes at a heated time between broadband providers and content companies pinpointing who is at fault for slow streaming speeds, and new "net neutrality" laws that have added to the conflict.

AT&T says it will be the first U.S. wireless carrier to sell LG's (OTC:LGEIY) smartwatch - known as the "G Watch". The device was made in partnership with Google (GOOG, GOOGL), and will be available for pre-order starting on July 8 for $299. AT&T (NYSE:T) has landed the deal as demand for wearable devices is skyrocketing. Juniper Research forecasts the value of the wearable device market this year at $1.5B, up from $800M in 2013.

Creating a new standard by which household gadgets communicate with each other, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) and Dell have teamed up to form the Open Interconnect Consortium. The partnership also includes chipmakers Broadcom (BRCM) and Atmel (NASDAQ:ATML). The new consortium will rival the AllSeen Alliance, a similar framework supported by Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), LG (OTC:LGEIY), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and other companies.

Most F-35 fighter jets have been inspected, after the entire fleet was grounded this past week. The military had suspended all flights after an engine broke apart and caught fire at an Air Force Base in Florida. The incident has put contract negotiations for the next batch of Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) fighter jets and engines on hold. The warplane's engine is manufactured by Pratt & Whitney (NYSE:UTX).

Standard General confirms in an SEC filing that it is in talks with American Apparel (APP) to shore up the company's finances, reconstitute its board and strengthen its management. If the talks break down, the hedge fund says it could launch a proxy fight to win board seats. American Apparel is also under immense pressure to repay a $10M loan from Lion Capital, and Standard General may play a part in a possible financing agreement.

Samsung expects to report Q2 revenue of KRW51T-53T ($50.4B-$52.4B), and an operating profit of KRW7T-7.4T ($6.9B-$7.3B). Those guidance ranges are below Bloomberg consensus estimates of KRW53.2T and KRW8.1T. Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) blames "mid-to-low end" phone competition in China and Europe, a strong won, and higher marketing spend aimed at lowering phone inventories. Tablet shipments also fell by more than expected, and mobile weakness had a spillover effect on internal display and chip sales.

News did not get any better for the electronics giant, after a Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) factory in Brazil was robbed of $6.4M of cellphones, tablets and other products. The company is hoping that insurance will minimize the cost incurred from the stolen inventory. The heist is also a setback for Brazil, which has been trying for years to draw more electronics makers to do business in the country. Besides the high employment costs and taxes in Brazil, added security concerns can now have some manufacturers thinking twice.

United Airlines has announced it will outsource 637 union jobs (mostly ticket/gate agent and baggage handler positions) at 12 U.S. airports. United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) is trying to cut costs in every area it can, after reporting a first-quarter loss in April due to declining revenue and increased costs. Under the outsourcing plan, United Airlines will shift these jobs from its payroll, and hire other companies to provide the employees.

Air France-KLM warns that its 2014 profit may now be 12% lower than previously expected. The company is now estimating earnings of approximately €2.2B, down from €2.5B. Despite the guidance drop, Air France-KLM (OTCPK:AFLYY) highlighted that this will still represent a 20% improvement from 2013 EBITDA. The carrier has attributed the new projection to overcapacity, which has resulted in weaker prices for both its passenger and cargo markets.

General Motors is beefing up its investment in Latin America, outlining details of a new manufacturing facility in Argentina which will produce aluminum motors. GM (NYSE:GM) will invest $270M in the project, and it will be located in the province of Santa Fe. The factory will produce an annual 90k motors, and operations are expected to begin in early 2017.

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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.4% to 15314. Hong Kong flat at 23541. China +0.2% to 2064. India -2% to 25582.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.6%. Paris -0.6%. Frankfurt -0.6%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow -0.2%. S&P -0.2%. Nasdaq -0.1%. Crude -0.2% to $103.34. Gold +0.2% to $1319.70.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -2 bps to 2.59%

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 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey
1:00 PM Results of $27B, 3-Year Note Auction
1:00 PM Fed's Lacker: Economic Outlook
1:45 PM Fed's Kocherlakota: Monetary Policy
3:00 PM Consumer Credit

Notable earnings after today's close: AVAV, AA, BOBE, TCS

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