Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

by: Rachael Granby
Rachael Granby
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.

  • Ventas buys Nationwide Health. Ventas (NYSE:VTR) agreed to buy Nationwide Health Properties (NYSE:NHP) in an all-stock deal valued at $7.4B. The deal is a 15% premium to Nationwide's closing price on Friday, and will create one of the largest publicly traded REITs and the leading healthcare REIT by equity value.
  • Blackstone to buy Centro assets. Blackstone (NYSE:BX) has reportedly agreed to pay $9.4B for the U.S. assets of Australia's Centro Properties Group. Offloading its 588 U.S. properties will allow debt-laden Centro to focus on running its Australian operations as a stand-alone company. For Blackstone, the deal is a hefty bet on the recovery of U.S. retail property.
  • Equinox launches challenge for Lundin. Equinox Minerals (OTC:EQXMF) offered C$4.8B ($4.9B) in stock and cash for Canada's Lundin Mining (OTCPK:LUNMF), challenging a planned C$9B merger of equals with Inmet Mining (OTC:IEMMF). If successful, the C$8.10/share bid will net Equinox four mines in Europe and a stake in a copper and cobalt operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo at a time when a dearth of new projects is forcing producers to grow through acquisitions.
  • JPMorgan eyes Twitter stake. JPMorgan's (NYSE:JPM) new $1.2B digital growth fund is said to be in talks to take a minority stake in Twitter. The fund is hoping to take a 10% stake for around $450M, valuing Twitter at $4.5B. In addition to talks for a direct stake, sources said JPMorgan has also purchased a substantial amount of Twitter's shares on private exchanges.
  • HSBC profit misses estimates. HSBC (HBC) reported 2010 net profit of $13.16B, short of consensus forecasts for a $14B profit but a strong increase from last year's $5.83B. However, HSBC cut its profitability targets due to the increased cost associated with tougher global bank regulations; the new goal is a 12-15% long-term return on equity, down from a 15-19% target. Loan impairment charges fell 47% to $14.04B. Core Tier 1 ratio rose to 10.5% from 9.4%. The bank will pay a Q4 dividend of $0.12/share, up from $0.10 the year before. Premarket: HBC -3.8% (7:00 ET).
  • Berkshire's Buffett eager for major deal. Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK.A) Q4 earnings rose 43% to $4.38B, and its businesses showed increasing stability, including its derivatives portfolio. Berkshire's growth in book value per share, the measure Warren Buffett has used to compare his company's performance against the market, increased 13% for the year, less than the S&P 500's 15.1% return in 2010. Warren Buffett said the company's Burlington Northern acquisition has gone "even better than I expected," as the company has quickly replenished the $22B in cash used. In his annual letter to shareholders (.pdf), Buffett spoke of the need for more 'major' acquisitions, adding "our elephant gun has been reloaded, and my trigger finger is itchy."
  • China lowers growth target. China plans to lower its growth targets, as Premier Wen Jiabao says the country wants to avoid "unsustainable growth featuring industrial overcapacity and intensive resource consumption." The official target for average GDP growth over the next five years will be 7%, down from the previous target of 7.5%. Official targets routinely underestimate growth and Chinese economists say the figure shouldn't be taken literally but as a strong signal that the country is serious about shifting towards more sustainable growth fueled by domestic consumption.
  • U.S. expands tax probe. U.S. regulators are expanding their probe into tax evasion by U.S. citizens after some Swiss bankers, spooked by the U.S. probe into UBS (NYSE:UBS), told clients to shift their assets to accounts in other countries rather than report them to the IRS. Regulators have received information about accounts at Bank Leumi in Israel and China Merchants Bank, as well as information on offshore accounts in New Zealand, Australia, India, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and the Channel Islands.
  • HAMP fails to make broad impact. The government's mortgage assistance program has helped just one in four of the 2.7M homeowners who applied to the program. The bulk of the applicants either failed to qualify for HAMP or were disqualified after initially being accepted into the program. As a result, just $1B has been spent on HAMP, a far cry from the government's initial estimate that $75B would be needed for the program.
  • Libyan rebels allow oil shipments to resume. Libyan rebels took control of a key city near Tripoli on Sunday, declared a provisional government and allowed oil shipments to resume in areas under their territory. There have been no oil shipments from the eastern territory in more than a week. Oil futures are flat at $97.86 (7:00 ET), after rising as much as 0.8% earlier in the morning.
  • OECD: Demand driving commodities' surge. An OECD report being prepared for the G-20's April meeting indicates that commodities' prices haven't been rising because of speculators, as many have suggested, but rather because global demand for the goods is growing faster than supply. The report could lead to increased efforts to boost global output of commodities like wheat, sugar, cotton and metals, and could take some pressure off the U.S. Fed, which had been accused by some policymakers of stoking inflation through its easy-money policies.

Earnings: Monday Before Open

  • JinkoSolar Holding (NYSE:JKS): Q4 EPS of $2.36 beats by $0.80. Revenue of $267.7M (+148.3% Y/Y) beats by $39.43M. Shares +8.2% premarket (7:30 ET). (PR)

Today's Markets

  • In Asia, Japan +0.9% to 10624. Hong Kong +1.4% to 23338. China +0.9% to 2905. India +0.7% to 17823.
  • In Europe, at midday, London -0.3%. Paris +0.2%. Frankfurt +0.4%.
  • Futures at 7:00: Dow +0.1%. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude -0.05% to $97.83. Gold +0.1% to $1410.80.

Monday's Economic Calendar

The SA Currents team contributed to this post.

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