- Russia's Phosagro plans Potash bid. Russian fertilizer firm Phosagro is planning to make a bid for Potash (POT), according to a report in business daily Vedomosti, and has already asked PM Vladimir Putin to approve a potential deal and request half the financing from Russian banks. The other half of the financing would be supplied by Canadian banks; the size of the potential offer couldn't be determined. This latest development comes as Canada's government is set to rule on BHP's (BHP) bid for Potash today, with rumors swirling that Canada will likely block it. Premarket: POT +0.7%, BHP +0.7% (7:00 ET).
- MUFG eyes RBS' project finance unit. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MTU) is said to be in talks to buy RBS' (RBS) project financing unit in a deal that could be worth $6.4B. The deal would help accelerate MUFG's overseas expansion, and put it in a strong position to lend for infrastructure projects in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. RBS would use some or all of the sale proceeds to help repay its taxpayer bailout. According to an MUFG spokesman: "No decision has been made. This is all we can say." Premarket: RBS +0.55% (7:00 ET).
- Pride Int'l considers sale of company. Offshore driller Pride International (PDE) is said to be exploring strategic options, including a possible sale of the company, and has held talks with potential suitors such as Seadrill (SDRL) and Ensco (ESV). The news helped send Pride's shares up 11.5% in AH trading, but sources caution that a deal isn't certain or imminent, that Pride periodically reviews its strategic options and that the company is known for moving slowly.
- Regulators probe nat-gas trades. The CFTC is investigating a range of natural-gas derivatives-trading activity that occurred during parts of 2008 and 2009, sources said. The CFTC sent subpoenas to hedge funds and other major nat-gas traders asking for information about trading that was discussed in emails, voicemails and other formats. Though subpoenas aren't uncommon, it has been several years since the CFTC sent out this many. Despite the volume of information requests, industry experts say they're not sure what exactly the CFTC is looking for.
- Xstrata rounds up Sphere offer. Xstrata (OTC:XSRAF) raised its bid for Australia's Sphere Minerals to A$3.00/share from A$2.50, valuing the company at A$514M ($513M) and marking a 94% premium to Sphere's pre-offer trading price. Xstrata has been pursuing Sphere since August, and has already lowered the level of acceptances needed for its offer to 50% from 90% and twice extended its offer. The new offer period ends Nov. 12, and Xstrata said there will be no further extensions. In Aussie trading, Sphere closed +19% to $2.95. In London, Xstrata +0.4% (7:00 ET).
- R&D gets downsized. Research and development spending declined at major companies last year for the first time in more than a decade, according to Booz & Co's annual survey, dropping 3.5% to $503B. The top three R&D spenders were Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY with $9.12B), Microsoft (MSFT, $9.01B) and Nokia (NOK, $8.24B). R&D spending as a percentage of revenues was up slightly from the year before, but that's only because revenues dropped even faster than R&D spending did. R&D cuts last year were concentrated in auto, computing, electronics and industrial companies, sectors that usually produce some of the highest research spending. Booz expects "the most forward-looking companies" to quickly restore R&D budgets, though it found that heavy R&D spending didn't always translate into recognition as a technology leader. (Report to be released here)
- GM's tax holiday. As a result of billions of dollars of debt, a bailout and bankruptcy, GM may get a tax break worth as much as $45.4B. According to documents filed with regulators, tax-loss carry-forwards and other provisions will allow GM to use losses in prior years and other costs to shield its future profits from taxes for up to 20 years. Tax experts said that under normal conditions, a major restructuring such as the one undertaken by GM would come with limitations on tax benefits, but a little-noticed federal ruling last year exempted recipients of TARP bailout money from these limitations.
- Air Products balks at Airgas' self-valuation. Airgas (ARG) said yesterday that it believes the company's value in a sale is at least $78/share, prompting suitor Air Products (APD) to say it wouldn't pay anywhere near the $6.53B Airgas thinks it's worth. Air Products has offered $65.50/share. Airgas had said previously that a transaction could happen only if it was "meaningfully in excess of $70/share," but investors may have felt that Airgas' $78/share stance was a bit too much of a stretch, as shares closed down 0.8% to $70.43 in yesterday's trading. APD closed +1.7%.
- FedEx expands in India. FedEx (FDX) agreed to buy the logistics, distribution and express businesses of smaller Indian rival AFL Pvt. Ltd. and its affiliate, Unifreight India Pvt. Ltd., for an undisclosed amount of money. FedEx said the move "supports our long-term strategy to grow our international business and better serve our customers seeking to expand or enter the Indian market," where the logistics market is expected to expand to $120.4B in 2014 from $75.2B in 2009.
- Google settles Buzz breaches. Google (GOOG) agreed to settle a class action suit filed by Gmail users who argued Google's Buzz violated their privacy. As part of the settlement, Google created an $8.5M fund for organizations focused on internet privacy. Still, the settlement doesn't bring Google any closer to finding success in the social media landscape.
- Electronic Arts inks Facebook deal. Electronic Arts (ERTS) signed a five-year strategic deal with Facebook, where its Playfish division's social games are among the most popular. Under the terms of the deal, Facebook Credits will become the exclusive payment method for all Electronic Arts games on the social network, and EA will receive 70% of the revenue from these transactions. (EA also reported better-than-expected earnings yesterday but guided Q3 EPS below consensus. See details below.)
- Dell delves into cloud computing. Dell (DELL) announced yesterday it was buying software-as-a-service company Boomi for an undisclosed sum. Dell will use the acquisition to help expand its cloud-computing presence; earlier this year, Dell bought Ocarina Networks, which allows data to be stored online more efficiently, and lost a bidding war to H-P (HPQ) over storage technology firm 3Par.
Earnings: Wednesday Before Open
- Aetna (AET): Q3 EPS of $0.84 beats by $0.17. Revenue of $8.5B (-2.1%) in-line. (PR)
- Cimarex Energy Co (XEC): Q3 EPS of $1.50 misses by $0.01. Revenue of $379M (+52%) vs. $396M. (PR)
- Quanta Services (PWR): Q3 EPS of $0.30 in-line. Revenue of $1.2B (+54.5%) in-line. (PR)
- R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (RRD): Q3 EPS of $0.44 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $2.5B (+1%) in-line. (PR)
- Spectra Energy (SE): Q3 EPS of $0.31 misses by $0.01. Revenue of $1B (+9.2%) vs. $1.1B. (PR)
- WellPoint Health Networks (WLP): Q3 EPS of $1.74 beats by $0.17. Revenue of $14.3B (-5.7%) vs. $14.2B. (PR)
Earnings: Tuesday After Close
- American Capital (ACAS): Q3 EPS of $0.17 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $109.5M (-8.3%) in-line. Shares +1.5% AH. (PR)
- Argo Group (AGII): Q3 EPS of $0.69 beats by $0.07. Revenue of $333M (-12.4%) vs. $308M. (PR)
- Bio-Rad Laboratories (BIO): Q3 EPS of $1.59 beats by $0.38. Revenue of $471M (+2.2%) vs. $477M. (PR)
- Blackbaud (BLKB): Q3 EPS of $0.25 in-line. Revenue of $83M (+5.1%) vs. $83M. (PR)
- BRE Properties (BRE): Q3 FFO of $0.47 in-line. Revenue of $88M (+6.4%) vs. $84M. (PR)
- Career Education (CECO): Q3 EPS of $0.66 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $524M (+14.4%) vs. $535M. Shares -0.8% AH. (PR)
- CBL & Associates (CBL): Q3 FFO of $0.47 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $266M (+1.3%) vs. $254M. Shares -1% AH. (PR)
- Ctrip.com (CTRP): Q3 EPS of $0.31 beats by $0.07. Revenue of $121M (+49%) vs. $117M. Shares -3.8% AH. (PR)
- Discovery Co (DISCA): Q3 EPS of $0.37 misses by $0.06. Revenue of $926M (+10.6%) vs. $920M. Shares -3.3% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
- Electronic Arts (ERTS): FQ2 EPS of $0.10 beats by $0.20. Revenue of $884M (-22.9%) vs. $815M. Guides Q3 EPS below consensus. Shares -2.1% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
- EOG Resources (EOG): Q3 EPS of $0.18 in-line. Revenue of $1.58B (+42.9%) vs. $1.39B. Shares -4.9% AH. (PR)
- Exco Resources (XCO): Q3 EPS of $0.16 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $131M vs. $160M. Shares flat AH. (PR)
- Hartford Financial (HIG): Q3 EPS of $1.43 beats by $0.46. Shares +5.4% AH. (PR)
- Hertz Global (HTZ): Q3 EPS of $0.40 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $2.19B (+7.1%) vs. $2.2B. Shares +1.8% AH. (PR)
- Jack Henry (JKHY): FQ1 EPS of $0.37 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $235M (+28.8%) vs. $228M. (PR)
- Lincoln National (LNC): Q3 EPS of $0.85 may not be comparable to consensus $0.87. Revenue of $2.61B (+25.5%) vs. $2.58B. Shares -3.2% AH. (PR)
- Masimo (MASI): Q3 EPS of $0.28 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $101M (+15.5%) vs. $101M. (PR, earnings call transcript)
- Myriad Genetics (MYGN): FQ1 EPS of $0.24 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $92M (+8%) vs. $93M. Shares -0.2% AH. (PR)
- ONEOK (OKE): Q3 EPS of $0.51 beats by $0.15. Shares flat AH. (PR)
- ONEOK Partners (OKS): Q3 EPS of $1.09 beats by $0.14. (PR)
- OpenTable (OPEN): Q3 EPS of $0.23 beats by $0.08. Revenue of $24M (+44.1%) vs. $23. Shares +16.9% AH. (PR)
- Pitney Bowes (PBI): Q3 EPS of $0.55 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $1.35B (-0.8%) vs. $1.31B. (PR, earnings call transcript)
- Plantronics (PLT): FQ2 EPS of $0.58 beats by $0.07. Revenue of $158M (+9.6%) vs. $162M. (PR, earnings call transcript)
- Primerica (PRI): Q3 EPS of $0.52 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $241M (+1.9%) vs. $239M. (PR)
- SM Energy (SM): Q3 EPS of $0.31 beats by $0.13. (PR)
- SRA International (SRX): FQ1 EPS of $0.31 misses by $0.02. Revenue of $424M (+1.7%) vs. $436M. (PR)
- Success Factors (SFSF): Q3 EPS of $0.01 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $53M (+38%) vs. $53M. Shares -0.6% AH. (PR)
- Syniverse (SVR): Q3 EPS of $0.53 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $167M (+43.1%) vs. $163M. Syniverse is being taken private by The Carlyle Group, although the terms are the deal are being challenged. Shares flat AH. (PR)
- Titanium Metals (TIE): FQ2 EPS of $0.12 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $210M (+15.9%) vs. $217M. Shares -0.4% AH. (PR)
- Trimble Navigation (TRMB): Q3 EPS of $0.39 beats by $0.05. Revenue of $318M (+18%) vs. $308M. Shares +3.9% AH. (PR)
- Unum Group (UNM): Q3 EPS of $0.68 in-line. Revenue of $2.53B (+1%) vs. $2.53B. Shares -0.1% AH. (PR)
- Watts Water Technologies (WTS): Q1 EPS of $0.52 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $315M (+3.6%) vs. $320M. (PR)
- World Fuel Services (INT): Q3 EPS of $0.66 beats by $0.09. Revenue of $4.99B (+55.7%) vs. $4.45B. Shares +1.1% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
- Wynn Resorts (WYNN): Q3 EPS of $0.39 in-line. Revenue of $1B (+29.3%) vs. $990M. Declares $8 cash dividend. Shares -3.6% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
- XL Group plc (XL): Q3 EPS of $0.52 misses by $0.08. Initiates $1B share buyback. Shares +0.1% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
- In Asia, Japan +0.1% to 9160. Hong Kong +2.0% to 24145. China -0.5% to 3031. India +0.6% to 20466.
- In Europe, at midday, London +0.2%. Paris +0.5%. Frankfurt +0.3%.
- Futures at 7:00: Dow +0.1%. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +0.9% to $84.63. Gold +0.1% to $1358.80.
Wednesday's Economic Calendar
- Auto sales
FOMC Meeting, Day 2
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
7:30 Challenger Job-Cut Report
8:15 ADP Jobs Report
9:00 Treasury Quarterly Refunding
10:00 Factory Orders
10:00 ISM Non-Manufacturing Index
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
2:15 PM FOMC Announcement (QE2?)
- Notable earnings before Wednesday's open: AET, AGU, ANR, CTL, CVS, CWH, DVN, EP, GRMN, MGM, PHM, PWR, Q, RRD, RRI, SE, TRW, TWX, WLP, XEC
- Notable earnings after Wednesday's close: AUY, BMR, CAR, CHK, CRL, DOX, HCN, IPI, KGC, KIM, LBTYA, MUR, ONNN, PRU, QCOM, RIG, VCLK, VRSK, WFMI
Seeking Alpha's Market Currents team contributed to this post.
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