- Thermo Fisher sells Athena to Quest. Thermo Fisher (TMO) agreed to sell its Athena Diagnostics and Lancaster Laboratories businesses to Quest Diagnostics (DGX) for a total of $940M in cash. Thermo Fisher also announced a new $750M share repurchase program.
- Conexant ditches Standard Micro. Conexant Systems (CNXT) announced in after-hours trading yesterday that it had agreed to Golden Gate Capital’s takeover offer of $2.40/share in cash and had terminated its earlier agreement with Standard Microsystems (SMSC). Earlier yesterday, Standard Micro said it would not increase its $2.25/share offer and shares of Conexant fell 7.1% to $2.34. News of the Golden Gate deal lifted Conexant's stock slightly in after-hours trading; +0.85% to $2.36.
- Oil continues its climb. Crude futures are up another 3% this morning, breaking the $100 barrier and trading around $101/barrel (7:00 ET) after hitting an intraday high of $103.41, while brent crude breached $119 during a frantic period of trading around 2:45 ET. The IEA's governing board, which is meeting today and tomorrow, said it will be discussing the 'oil-market situation' and the potential impact of continued unrest in Libya.
- Obama pushes mortgage settlement. The White House is reportedly pushing for a sweeping settlement that would force the country's largest banks to spend billions of dollars reducing mortgage principals on underwater mortgages following breakdowns in mortgage servicing. In addition to the settlement, sources say some state attorneys general are looking to get banks to pay more than $20B of civil fines or to fund a similar amount of loan modifications for troubled borrowers. The settlement would cover 14 servicers, including JPMorgan (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Bank of America (BAC). The terms of a possible settlement still need to be finalized, and the banks declined to comment.
- RBS falls short. RBS (RBS) reported (.pdf) a 2010 net loss of £1.1B ($1.8B), certainly an improvement from the 2009 net loss of £3.6B but also substantially worse than analysts' expectations of a £406.5M loss. The bank attributed the miss to climbing losses in Ireland and shrinking profits at RBS' investment bank. CEO Stephen Hester said "RBS’ recovery is ahead of schedule," though he admitted "we have much work still to do and there are significant obstacles still to overcome." Hester expects the bank to return to profitability this year. Shares -4.3% in London trading (7:00 ET).
- Sears gets new chief. Sears (SHLD) has finally appointed a new CEO, three years after it began looking for a new chief executive. Lou D'Ambrosio, a long-time technology executive, will assume the CEO and president role, effective today. The company hopes his technology background will help transform a company that began as a catalog business into a competitive internet retailer. (Also: Sears' better-than-expected earnings; details below).
- Rio extends Riversdale bid. Rio Tinto (RIO) extended its $3.9B takeover offer for Riversdale Mining to March 18 from March 4, as top Riversdale shareholder Tata Steel (OTC:TATLY) said it still hasn't decided whether to sell or hold its stake. This is the second time Rio had to extend its offer deadline as it tries to secure the 50.1% shareholder acceptance it needs to move ahead with the bid. Premarket: RIO -1.15% (7:00 ET).
- Valero eyes Chevron refinery. Valero Energy (VLO) is reportedly in talks to buy Chevron's (CVX) U.K. refinery for $1B-1.5B, with an agreement possible as soon as next month. Chevron is selling refineries in order to cut debt and redeploy spending to higher growth regions, while Valero is looking at refineries in Europe that would add shareholder value. Other bidders may be interested in the refinery as well.
- Treasury's restructuring officer moves on. Jim Millstein, the Treasury's chief restructuring officer, is leaving his post to explore other job opportunities. Millstein played a key role in restructuring AIG (AIG) and accelerating the insurer's plans to exit government ownership, but feels that "the financial crisis has passed, and now that [the Treasury] is on a path to recover the bulk of our investments, I think it's time for me to move on."
- Ford recalls pickup trucks. Ford (F) will recall nearly 150,000 F-150 pickup trucks in the U.S. and Canada to fix air bags that could deploy without warning. A mistake in the assembly of the trucks at its Norfolk, Virginia plant could cause an airbag wire in the steering wheel to short-circuit. The NHTSA has been investigating the air bag issues for more than a year, and is reviewing Ford's recall response to determine whether the recall is too limited.
Earnings: Thursday Before Open
- CapitalSource Inc. (CSE): Q4 EPS of $0.02 may not be comparable with consensus of $0.04. (PR)
- DISH Network (DISH): Q4 EPS of $0.56 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $3.2B (+8.4% Y/Y) in-line. (PR)
- Ensco International (ESV): Q4 EPS of $0.9 beats by $0.2. Revenue of $408M (-18% Y/Y) beats by $8M. (PR)
- Foster Wheeler (FWLT): Q4 EPS of $0.31 misses by $0.15. Revenue of $1.21B (-4.3% Y/Y) beats by $0.2B. (PR)
- Iron Mountain (IRM): Q4 EPS of $0.30 in-line. Revenue of $789M (+1.2% Y/Y) in-line. (PR)
- MetroPCS Communications (PCS): Q4 EPS of $0.20 beats by $0.04. Revenue of $1.1B (+15% Y/Y) in-line. (PR)
- Newmont Mining (NEM): Q4 EPS of $1.16 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $2.5B (+1.2% Y/Y) in-line. (PR)
- SeaDrill (SDRL): Q4 EPS of $0.61 may not be comparable with consensus of $0.76. Revenue of $1.2B (+7.6% Y/Y) beats by $0.04B. Shares -1.2% premarket. (PR)
- Sears (SHLD): Q4 EPS of $3.67 beats by $0.10. Revenue of $13.1B (-0.8% Y/Y) beats by $0.2B. (PR)
Earnings: Wednesday After Close
- Avago Technologies: FQ1 EPS of $0.65 may not be comparable with consensus of $0.57. Revenue of $550M (+21% Y/Y) in-line. Shares -0.1% AH. (PR)
- Exco Resources (XCO): Q4 EPS of $0.11 misses by $0.04. Revenue of $135M (+27% Y/Y) misses by $23M. Shares -0.6% AH. (PR)
- Helix Energy Solutions Group (HLX): Q4 EPS of $0.06 misses by $0.07. Revenue of $306M (+71% Y/Y) beats by $8M. Shares -1.6% AH. (PR)
- Hersha Hospitality Trust (HT): Q4 EPS of $0.08 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $74.60M (+39.4% Y/Y) beats by $6M. (PR)
- InterDigital Communications (IDCC): Q4 EPS of $0.76 misses by $0.03. Revenue of $95.3M (+24.7% Y/Y) misses by $1M. Shares -8.1% AH. (PR)
- Limited Brands (LTD): Q4 EPS of $1.26 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $3.45B (+13% Y/Y) beats by $0.12B. Shares +1.7% AH. (PR)
- Talecris Biotherapeutics (TLCR): Q4 EPS of $0.38 in-line. Revenue of $411M (+5.3% Y/Y) in-line. Shares -0.3% AH. (PR)
- Tenaris (TS): Q4 EPS of $0.54 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $2.06B (+12% Y/Y) misses by $0.08B. (PR)
- Transocean (RIG): Q4 EPS of $0.83 may not be comparable with consensus of $0.89. Revenue of $2.16B (-21% Y/Y) misses by $0.14B. Shares -0.1% AH. (PR)
- Yamana Gold (AUY): Q4 EPS of $0.23 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $535M (+34% Y/Y) in-line. Shares +2.1% AH. (PR)
- In Asia, Japan -1.2% to 10453. Hong Kong -1.3% to 22601. China +0.6% to 2879. India -3% to 17632.
- In Europe, at midday, London -0.3%. Paris -0.4%. Frankfurt -1.0%.
- Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.45%. S&P -0.6%. Nasdaq -0.6%. Crude +3% to $101.03. Gold +0.2% to $1417.10.
Thursday's Economic Calendar
- 7:00 Fed's Bullard: Economic Outlook
8:30 Durable Goods
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
8:30 Chicago Fed National Activity Index
10:00 FHFA Housing Price Index
10:00 New Home Sales
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
11:00 EIA Petroleum Inventories
1:00 PM Results of $29B, 7-Year Note Auction
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
- Notable earnings before Thursday's open: CMS, CSE, DISH, EMS, EP, ESV, FTO, FWLT, GM, GTI, IMAX, IRM, JOE, KBR, KSS, LXP, MYL, NEM, NIHD, OCR, PCS, PXP, SDRL, SRE, SWY, TGT
- Notable earnings after Thursday's close: ADSK, AGO, AIG, AMAT, BEXP, CRM, CROX, CYH, DECK, FSLR GG, GPS, HGSI, LBTYA, MENT, SBAC, SD, SWN
The SA Currents team contributed to this post.
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