Wall Street Breakfast: Tax Inversions, Tech Partnerships, New Development Bank

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.

The Obama administration is calling for new legislation that will limit the benefits of U.S. companies which reincorporate overseas for tax benefits. In the last decade, 50 U.S. firms have relocated for tax inversions. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has written to congressional tax-writing committees stating lawmakers "should enact legislation immediately…to shut down this abuse of our tax system."

The long-awaited New Development Bank has been launched after BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) leaders put their finishing touches on the $100B bank and currency reserve pool aimed at reshaping the Western-dominated international financial system centered around the IMF and World Bank. The launch marks the first big accomplishment by BRICS countries which account for almost half the world's population. The bank is scheduled to start lending in 2016.

European leaders are expected to increase sanctions against Russia at an EU summit today following the latter's lack of concrete steps to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine. This will mark the first time EU sanctions will be used against businesses that are benefiting from the unrest in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Western officials say Russia is funneling weapons, armored vehicles and fighters across the eastern border.

Samsung is looking to partner with Under Armour to increase its wearable devices product line, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reports. A meeting was stated to have taken place between Lee Jay-yong, the heir of Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) Group, and Under Armour (NYSE:UA) CEO Kelvin Plank earlier this month discussing ways to combat Apple-Nike's wearable device market share. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Nike (NYSE:NKE) have been connecting sports wear with smart devices since 2006.

Microsoft is preparing to cut 1,000 jobs at its Nokia unit in Finland. The plan is in line with a Bloomberg report from earlier this week which suggested a large amount of pending layoffs. The reductions will affect offices all across Finland and will close former Nokia research and development unit in Oulu. Total Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) job cuts may exceed the 5,800 record layoffs in 2009.

As part of a comprehensive enterprise mobility partnership, Apple (AAPL) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) plan to develop 100+ "industry-specific enterprise solutions," including new iPhone and iPad apps. The apps will begin to arrive this fall, and IBM will resell the iPhones and iPads containing the industry-specific solutions to business clients worldwide.

Intel is confident that the worst is over for the personal computer industry, forecasting well above Wall Street's expectations for third-quarter revenue. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is now expecting Q3 revenue of $13.9B-$14.9B, a range largely above a $14.02B consensus. Full-year revenue is expected to grow 5% Y/Y compared to the consensus at 3.5%. The positive expectations have shot the stock over +5.1% premarket.

Gtech has agreed to buy International Game Technology in a cash and stock deal for $4.7B. Gtech (OTCPK:GTKYY) will pay an 18% premium on International Game Technology's (NYSE:IGT) stock price, which closed yesterday at $15.50 per share. At a time when the gambling industry is experiencing slower growth, the new deal will link the world’s main provider of lottery systems with the largest slot-machine maker.

Standard & Poor's is willing to reopen talks regarding its pending lawsuit with the Department of Justice over the inflated ratings it gave to shoddy mortgage bonds prior to the financial crisis, which cost investors billions of dollars. Previously, S&P (MHFI) tried to ignore the negotiation process until the DOJ filed a lawsuit in February 2013. The ratings agency is now looking to settle for up to $1B.

Hershey has announced a weighted average price boost of about 8% across its packaged candy and grocery lines. The increase is intended to help offset input costs, including raw materials, packaging, fuel, utilities, and transportation. Due to the transitional nature of the price increase, Hershey (NYSE:HSY) doesn't expect much income statement benefit until 2015. The company now sees sales growth to be towards the lower end of its 5-7% target this year.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has begun a review of electronic trading hours for its cattle and hog contracts and may decrease trading hours to concentrate volumes and curb market volatility. "We're in the early stages...we're beginning the process of conducting a review based on customer feedback," says CME (NASDAQ:CME) spokesman Chris Grams.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has revived a lawsuit in which participants in BP (NYSE:BP) employee retirement savings plans alleged they were deceived into buying and holding BP stock before and after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The participants say BP misled them as investors after the value of a BP stock fund where their money was invested fell by $1.85B in the months after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded.

Volkswagen’s chief exec has demanded senior managers generate €5bn in annual savings by 2017 as the company faces falling sales, weak growth and high development costs. “This is urgent because today the profitability of our brand is still too low,” warns VW (OTCPK:VLKAY) CEO Martin Winterkorn. Sales have been declining for the automaker in major markets such as the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India, and have been simultaneously hit by the impact of the strong euro.

All eyes will be on the GM testimony at its Senate hearing on Thursday, when Senators will drill the automaker as to why senior execs did not recall cars containing the faulty ignition switch a decade earlier. At center stage is GM (NYSE:GM) General Counsel Mike Millikin, whose staff signed off on wrongful-death payouts dating back to 2007 involving deaths in accidents which the air bags failed to deploy.

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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.1% to 15379. Hong Kong +0.3% to 23523. China -0.2% to 2067. India +1.3% to 25550.
In Europe, at midday, London +1%. Paris +1.5%. Frankfurt +1.3%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.3%. S&P +0.3%. Nasdaq +0.4%. Crude +0.7% to $100.65. Gold +0.1% to $1298.10.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -1 bps to 2.54%

Today's economic calendar:
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:30 Producer Price Index
9:00 Treasury International Capital
9:15 Industrial Production
10:00 Atlanta Fed's Business Inflation Expectations
10:00 NAHB Housing Market Index
10:00 Yellen delivers semi-annual monetary policy testimony
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
12:00 PM Fed's Fisher: Monetary Policy
2:00 PM Fed's Beige Book

Notable earnings before today's open: ABT, ASML, BAC, BLK, FRC, IGTE, MTG, NTRS, PNC, SCHW, STJ, TXT, USB

Notable earnings after today's close: EBAY, EPB, EWBC, HAWK, KMI, KMP, LVS, PLXS, RLI, SCSS, SNDK, URI, YUM

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