Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

by: SA Editor Yigal Grayeff
SA Editor Yigal Grayeff
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.

HP in massive revamp. In one of the most dramatic restructurings in corporate history, HP (NYSE:HPQ) may sell or spin off its mammoth PC division, and it plans to close its tablet computer and smartphone business. The company also intends to buy cloud search-software specialist Autonomy (OTC:AUTNF) for about $10B. HP, the world's top computer maker, earned $40.74B in revenue last fiscal year from the PC unit but it is the company's least profitable business. The discontinuation of the smartphone and tablet operations comes just two years after HP spent $1.8B on Palm and follows poor sales of the TouchPad tablet. The restructuring and increased focus on the corporate market signals HP's surrender in the fight with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) for consumers and marks a similar trajectory to IBM (NYSE:IBM). HP also reported that FQ3 adjusted EPS rose to $1.10 from $1.08, beating expectations, while revenue inched up less than 2% to $31.2B. However, HP gave guidance below Street estimates. Shares fell 10.2% premarket.

U.S. stocks set for further falls as Europe sinks. U.S. stock futures were down premarket, and following European and Asian shares lower after more sharp losses yesterday on worries about global growth and the health of Europe's banks, which suffered again today. Yesterday's drops were exacerbated by disastrous Philadelphia Fed data not seen since the worst of the recession, as well as an unexpected spike in inflation. In reaction, 10-year Treasury yields fell below 2% to their lowest levels since the 1960s. The gold rush has continued as well, with futures today reaching another new high of $1,872 an ounce. (See below for more details.)

Sprint in talks to buy 100% of Clearwire. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is reportedly in talks with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Cox and Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) about a possible investment in Sprint that would give it the money to buy the shares in Clearwire (CLWR) it doesn't own. Alternatively, the cable companies could invest in Clearwire through Sprint. Clearwire needs funding to undertake a $600M upgrade of its network to better compete with AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ). A deal would also help Sprint and the cable companies in their rivalry with the big two carriers.

BofA to slash up to 10,000 jobs. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) reportedly intends to cut 3,500 jobs this quarter as part of a larger restructuring that may see at least 10,000 positions - 3.5% of the firm's workforce - eliminated. The plan, known as "Project New BAC," is a step towards the goal of CEO Brian Moynihan to reduce annual expenses by $6B. The staff reductions add to a wave of layoffs across the global banking industry, with HSBC (HBC), for example, intending to cut 30,000 jobs. BofA shares -2.85% premarket.

National Archives criticizes SEC over document destruction. Despite the SEC saying the destruction of documents relating to thousands of preliminary investigations was not illegal, the National Archives & Records Administration said yesterday that the agency "did not have authority to dispose of" the records. NARA also said it is concerned that the SEC has been slow in creating schedules over which records to keep or discard, warning that such records "remain at risk" even though the SEC said it ended the now controversial disposal policy last year.

Liberty invests $204M in Barnes & Noble. Liberty Media (LCAPA) has abandoned its attempt to purchase Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) and instead opted to invest $204M in the book retailer in return for a 16.6% stake. While the deal will be dilutive to shareholders, the money will enable Barnes & Noble to spend more on its Nook e-readers as it battles Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (AAPL) in the market for online books. Barnes & Noble shares rose 3.4% post-market.

GAP's profit falls but beats estimates. GAP's (NYSE:GPS) Q2 EPS fell to $0.35 from $0.36 a year ago but topped analyst forecasts while revenue rose 2% to $3.38B, with margins suffering from deep discounting and rising production costs. GAP's results were much weaker than many of its peers, several of whom have increased profits and pushed through price hikes to offset higher expenditures. GAP reiterated its FY EPS forecast of $1.88-$1.93 but warned that shoppers' confidence will probably worsen in H2. Still, shares rose +3.1% post-market.

NY AG subpoenas natural gas companies. New York AG Eric Schneiderman has reportedly sent subpoenas to Range Resources (NYSE:RRC), Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE:COG) and Goodrich Petroleum (GDP) requesting information about formulas used to predict gas output from their wells and their assumptions about drilling costs. The subpoenas are part of a probe into whether the companies have accurately forecast to investors the prospects for their wells, with Schneiderman also widening an existing inquiry into Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK). His overall investigation is in addition to one by the SEC.

Pressure increases on Lagarde in French probe. A report recommending an investigation of IMF Chief Christine Lagarde from when she was French Finance Minister has found that she "seems to have personally contributed to events" that led to the approval of a €403M ($577M) settlement to a political supporter. Lagarde is now being probed for "complicity in forgery" and/or "complicity in misuse of public funds," and faces 10 years in prison and a fine of €150,000 if found guilty. The investigation will decide whether Lagarde should be tried or the charges dropped.

Japan's Kan set for exit. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan could step down as early as next week if the country's lower House of Parliament today approves a bill, as expected, to subsidize renewable energy. The measure is the last of three Kan said must be passed before he would resign.

Spain to announce more austerity. Spain's government is due to unveil further austerity measures of around €5B ($7B) as it looks to reassure debt markets but avoid the kind of cuts that would hurt the chances of the ruling socialists winning November's election. Although the savings are comparatively small, they could offset any overspending by Spain's 17 autonomous regions, which has been a market concern. Parliament is due to vote on the proposals today.

Pennsylvania bank closed. Regulators have shut Public Savings Bank in Pennsylvania, the 65th closure this year. The estimated cost to the FDIC's insurance fund is $11M.

Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -2.5% to 8719. Hong Kong -3.1% to 19400. China -1.0% to 2534. India -2.0% to 16142.
In Europe, at midday, London -2.7%. Paris -2.5%. Frankfurt -3.9%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -1.7%. S&P -2%. Nasdaq -2%. Crude -2.6% to $80.27. Gold +2.7% to $1870.90.

Friday's economic calendar:
8:30 Fed's Dudley: Economic Outlook
8:30 PM Fed's Pianalto: 'The Evolving Financial Services Industry'

Earnings Results: Companies that beat EPS expectations last night and today include HP (HPQ shares -10.2%), Intuit (INTU +5.5%), Marvell (MRVL -0.6%), Brocade (BRCD +2.1%), Salesforce.com (CRM +3.45%), Aeropostale (ARO -10.25%), Gap (GPS +3.1%). Full real-time earnings coverage here.

Notable earnings before Friday's open: ANN, YGE

Get Wall Street Breakfast by email -- it's free and takes only seconds to sign up.