Intel Reports 44% Q2 Profit Rise; Margins Disappoint
Intel posted a 44% rise in Q2 profit on the back of its first increase in sales in six quarters, but disappointing profit margins sent the shares down nearly 5% to $25.05 in AH trading. Net income came in at $1.28 billion ($0.22/share) versus $885 million ($0.15) in the year-ago quarter. Revenue gained 8.4% to $8.68 billion. Net income reflected a per-share tax benefit of $0.03. Minus the benefit, the result matched analyst expectations of $0.19. Sales of $8.68 billion were ahead of analyst forecasts of $8.55 billion. Intel had projected Q2 sales at $8.2-8.8 billion. Profit margins were squeezed by slow demand for NOR flash memory chips and a decline in prices for microprocessors, reflecting the continuing effects of the company's price war with competitor AMD. Intel plans to spin off NOR flash into a JV by Q4. The company is forecasting Q3 sales of $9-9.6 billion; analysts are anticipating $9.3 billion. For the full year, the company is maintaining its gross margin forecast of approximately 51%. "Even though we believe the company is making pretty steady progress in its turnaround, expectations were so high that it was going to take inarguable upside in Q2 results and better Q3 guidance to keep the stock moving," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Cody Acree.
Sources: Press release, Intel Q2 2007 Earnings Call Transcript, MarketWatch, Bloomberg, TheStreet.com, Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal
Commentary: The Vista-Driven Long Case for Intel Corporation • Revisiting My Four-Way Intel Trade • iPhone: A Look Inside
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Intel Corp. (INTC). Competitors: Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN). ETFs: Ultra Semiconductor ProShares (USD), Semiconductor HOLDRs (SMH), iShares S&P GSTI Semiconductor (IGW)
Yahoo Posts Slight Profit Drop, Lowers Guidance
Yahoo, in its first earnings report since CEO Terry Semel was replaced by company co-founder Jerry Yang, said late Tuesday that Q2 profit fell 2% from Q2 2006. It also trimmed guidance for 2007. This is the sixth consecutive quarterly decline in profit for the company. Net income was $161 million ($0.11/share) vs. $164 million ($0.11) in the year-ago period. Total revenue was up to $1.7 billion from $1.58 billion. Net sales excluding items reached $1.24 billion from $1.12 billion, its slowest growth rate since 2001. Analysts had forecast EPS of $0.11 on net sales of $1.24 billion. Yahoo recently reshuffled its executive ranks in an attempt to gain traction against rival Google, which continues to dominate Internet search. Its shares are off about 5% YTD, while Google's are up about 10%. Yahoo's online search market share for June was 25.1% against Google's 49.5%. "We are operating with a great sense of urgency," said Yahoo President Susan Decker. Project Panama, the company's new ad platform, showed "real financial gains," she added. Yahoo is now projecting Q3 net sales of $1.17-1.31 billion, down from a prior estimate of $1.2-1.3 billion, and full-year revenue of $4.89-5.19 billion. Analysts had been forecasting $1.29 billion in Q3 sales and $5.18 billion for the year. Shares fell 4.1% to $26.40 in AH trading.
Sources: Press release (.pdf), Yahoo! Q2 2007 Earnings Call Transcript, Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, TheStreet.com,
Commentary: Yahoo: New CEO To Make Earnings Debut Tuesday Amid Low Expectations • New Yahoo CEO Expected To Detail Plans With Q2 Report Tuesday • Yahoo Shakeout: CEO Semel Out, Co-Founder Yang In
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO). Competitors: Google Inc. (GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Time Warner Inc. (TWX). ETFs: Internet HOLDRs (HHH), First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index (FDN)
3Com a Buyout Target -- WSJ
Shares of 3Com rallied in after-hours trading Tuesday after the Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site that the maker of computer networking equipment had been approached regarding a possible buyout. The Journal said private-equity firms such as Silver Lake Partners and Bain Capital LLC have approached Marlborough, Massachusetts-based 3Com about a purchase. The two firms unsuccessfully tried last year to buy 3Com's stake in a Chinese joint venture with Huawei Technologies Co. The report also said Nortel may be interested in the company. 3Com spokesman John Vincenzo and Silver Lake Partners spokesman Matthew Benson told Bloomberg their companies don't comment on rumors. UBS analyst Long Jiang said the news wasn't unexpected given the stock's "depressed" value and ongoing industry consolidation. "We think 3Com will need to significantly step up restructuring efforts for the traditional business and/or monetize its assets," Jiang told clients. 3Com, which is valued at about $1.7 billion based on Tuesday's closing price, rose more than 5% after hours.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, MarketWatch
Commentary: 3Com: Turnaround Depends on IBM Deal • 3Com: Recent Acquisition Weakens Cash Position • 3Com Corp.: Citadel Raises Stake to 9.8%, Updates on Meetings With Company
Stocks/ETFs to watch: 3Com Corp. (COMS), Nortel Networks Corp. (NT). Competitors: Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), Juniper Networks Inc. (JNPR). ETFs: iShares Dow Jones US Technology Index (IYW), PowerShares Dynamic Telecom & Wireless ETF (PTE), PowerShares Dynamic Networking (PXQ)
Earnings call transcript: 3Com F4Q07
Bell Canada Bondholders May Sue Over Buyout
Bondholders of Bell Canada Inc. are preparing a lawsuit against the company's parent BCE Inc. in connection with last month's agreement for Canada's largest telecommunications company to be acquired by a consortium led by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan in a leveraged buyout, press reports said. "While equity shareholders appear pleased with the $42.75-a-share price tag, the bondholders have suffered since rumors of a potential takeover first surfaced in late March, with the benchmark 6.1%-coupon 2035 bond down about 23%," Canada's National Post newspaper reported. The deal was valued at C$51.7 billion, including debt. Bondholders of leveraged-buyout targets have seen investment-grade bonds descend to junk grade amid market fears of the huge debt private-equity firms use to finance their buyouts; shareholders usually receive large premiums. The lawsuit, some speculate, could be the first of many to come: "This sort of thing may become more common," said BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst Michael Gregory. Toronto-Dominion Bank said Tuesday it would put up C$3.8 billion, including C$500 million of equity, to finance the deal in exchange for a 7% stake in BCE.
Sources: Dow Jones, MarketWatch, Reuters
Commentary: The BCE Deal Blows the Curve • Bell Canada: Private Equity Provides Less For Investors • BCE Agrees to $48.8 Billion Buyout
Stocks/ETFs to watch: BCE Inc. (BCE), Toronto Dominion Bank (TD). Competitors: Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI), Telus Corp. (TU). ETFs: iShares Dow Jones U.S. Telecom Sector Index ETF (IYZ), Telecom HOLDRS ETF (TTH), Vanguard Telecom Services ETF (VOX)
Computer Sciences Corp. Inks 10-Year NASA Deal Worth Up To $597M
Computer Sciences Corp. [CSC] inked a 10-year contract with NASA Tuesday worth up to $597.1 million if all options are exercised. CSC reported total annual revenue of nearly $15 billion in its most recent fiscal year. The contract is for IT service provider CSC to give support to NASA's Advanced Supercomputing Unit at its Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. As part of the deal, CSC may also provide support to the Center for Computational Sciences at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., though that is as of yet unclear. CSC shares gained 2.21% in composite trading yesterday before the deal was announced.
Sources: Press Release, AP, Dow Jones Newswire
Commentary: Computer Sciences Considering Acquisition of iSoft • Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corp. Ink Deal With Army For Up To $11.2B • Covansys, Computer Sciences: IT Outsourcing Merger Update
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC). Competitors: Infosys Technologies Limited (INFY), Accenture Ltd. (ACN), Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS)
MACRO AND HOUSING
Pulte Homes Warns of Worse Than Expected Q2 Loss
Pulte Homes said Tuesday it expects to report a loss of $2.00-2.10/share for its second quarter amid worsening conditions in the U.S. homebuilding market. Net new orders during the period fell 20% from 2006 to 7,532, the homebuilder said, while the average sales price per home decreased 4% to approximately $320,000. Pulte said it closed 5,938 homes during the quarter, 40% fewer than the prior-year quarter. "The difficult conditions that plagued the homebuilding industry in the first quarter of 2007 worsened in the second quarter, with increased competitive pricing pressures, elevated levels of new and resale home inventory, and weak consumer sentiment for housing affecting the entire industry," said CEO Richard J. Dugas Jr. Pulte expects that impairments and land-related charges during the quarter will be in the range of $740-770 million on a pre-tax basis ($1.85-1.92/share after-tax). The results also reflect a $40 million ($0.10/share) charge for a restructuring plan announced May 29 designed to reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies. Pulte had previously had forecast Q2 results of break-even to -$0.10 exclusive of impairments, land-related charges and restructuring. Analysts had been expecting an $0.18/share loss. J.P. Morgan analyst Michael Rehaut called the "magnitude of charges disappointing, but similar to other builders on a percent of equity." Fellow homebuilders such D.R. Horton, KB Home, Lennar and Ryland also have warned of worsening conditions in the market over the last few months. The company expects to post final Q2 numbers on July 25.
Sources: Press release, AP, TheStreet.com, Dow Jones
Commentary: Pulte Homes Cuts Another 16% of Its Workforce • 25 Good Short Candidates • Is It Time to Buy the Homebuilders? 13 Stocks to Consider
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Pulte Homes Inc. (PHM). Competitors: D.R. Horton Inc. (DHI), Centex Corp. (CTX), Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (HOV), KB Home (KBH), Ryland Group Inc.(RYL). ETFs: streetTRACKS SPDR Homebuilders ETF (XHB), iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction (ITB)
Wholesale Prices Drop Unexpectedly on Lower Energy Costs
U.S. wholesale prices fell an unexpected 0.2% in June on lower energy prices, but core wholesale prices (excluding food and energy) rose 0.3%, the Labor Department said Tuesday. The 0.2% drop in the PPI was the first since January, surprising economists who were calling for a 0.2% rise. Conversely, the 0.3% jump in core PPI was its biggest since February as non food and energy prices rose more than expected; economists were looking for 0.2%. Food prices fell 0.8% and energy prices were down 1.1%. Core PPI gains were largely a result of increases in car and truck prices. Over the last 12 months, PPI is up 3.3% while core PPI is up just 1.8%. Separately, U.S. industrial production was up 0.5% in June, slightly short of the 0.6% economists expected, the Federal Reserve said. Capacity utilization was up 0.3% to 81.7%, the highest level of utilization since last October. Economists were looking for a 0.2% increase. After a 1.1% rise in Q1, Q2 production growth was a much stronger 2.9% annually.
Sources: Labor Dept. press release, Fed press release, Dow Jones, MarketWatch I, II
Commentary: Beyond The 'Wall Of Worry' • Remaining Cautiously Optimistic On the Market • The Stock Market Moves Closer To Fair Value
Stocks/ETFs to watch: S&P 500 Index (SPY), Diamonds Trust Series 1 ETF (DIA), iShares Lehman Aggregate Bond (AGG)
Dow Jones Board Approves Murdoch Bid; Bancrofts to Decide
Following a three-hour meeting Tuesday night, the board of directors of Dow Jones has endorsed Rupert Murdoch's $5 billion bid to take over the company. The Bancroft family, which holds a collective 64% stake in Dow Jones, is now considering the proposal, and is believed to remain sharply divided. Of the four family representatives on the board, Christopher Bancroft -- who is adamantly opposed to the sale -- left the meeting early without voting; Leslie Hill, another opponent of the sale, abstained; and Elizabeth Steele and Michael Elefante voted in favor. Elefante is the family's lead trustee. One other director, Dieter von Holtzbrinck, abstained, and the rest voted in favor. Christopher Bancroft and Leslie Hill have both tried to come up with alternatives to the sale to Murdoch, but their efforts have not resulted in any viable challenges. The board released a statement indicating it is "prepared to approve and recommend" the offer to shareholders. The statement also indicated the family is expected to respond promptly, suggesting Murdoch is prepared to withdraw the bid if deliberations are drawn out. "For all the teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing over Murdoch as owner, ultimately, money talks," said Robert Broadwater, managing director of media investment bank Broadwater & Associates. "This is a blow-away offer."
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg, Financial Times
Commentary: News Corp. and Dow Jones Reach Tentative Deal -- WSJ • At Long Last, Dow Jones And News Corp. Reach (Possible) Deal • Why Buying Dow Jones Could Be A Money Loser For News Corp.
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Dow Jones & Company Inc. (DJ), News Corp. (NWS). Competitors: Reuters Group PLC [ADR] (RTRSY). ETFs: PowerShares Dynamic Media Portfolio ETF (PBS)
Earnings call transcripts: Dow Jones Q1 2007, News Corporation F3Q07
Warner Music Won't Bid for EMI
Warner Music Group has decided not to bid for EMI Group plc, according to a statement released by the company Tuesday, ending a courtship that lasted several years years. Warner shares gained 2.3% in regular trading Tuesday and another 1.8% after hours on the news. EMI shares are down nearly 2% in London trading Wednesday. Warner's decision leaves EMI Group to private equity group Terra Firma's 265 pence ($5.40) a share offer, though thus far, only 5% of EMI's shareholders have accepted that offer on the assumption Warner would try and outbid Terra. Warner's decision to pass on EMI will likely have negative ramifications for the entire recording industry. The Financial Times says Warner executives "were wary of increasing their exposure to the music business" with decreasing record sales and uncertainty of the profitability of digitals distribution, as a result of new players like Apple, whose iTunes dominates digital music sales. Warner was also concerned it wouldn't be able to unload EMI's publishing division, generally felt to be more profitable than its recording division, at a cost that would justify a bid above $4.9 billion. Warner retains the possibility of buying EMI's recording divisions, including the much sought after Capitol Records in the U.S. and Parlophone in the U.K. In 2006, Warner overtook EMI to become the number-three recorded music company globally with a 13.8% market share to EMI's 12.8%. Both trail leaders Sony BMG and Vivendi, who have a global share of 25.7% and 21.2%, respectively.
Sources: Press Release, Wall Street Journal, Reuters I, II, Financial Times
Commentary: Report: Warner Music Prepared to Sweeten Bid for EMI • Any EMI Offer Will Be in Cash -- Warner Music • Apple, EMI to Offer DRM-free 'Premium' Tracks, but No Beatles
Stocks/ETFs to watch: EMI Group PLC (OTC:EMIPY), Warner Music Group (WMG). Competitors: Sony (SNE), Vivendi (OTC:VIVEF), Apple (AAPL)
Earnings call transcripts: Warner Music Group F2Q07 (Qtr End 3/31/07) Earnings Call Transcript
TRANSPORT AND AEROSPACE
Borrowing Costs Rising in Chrysler, Other Buyout Deals
Media reports say the interest rates on loans for buyout deals are rising as investors are demanding higher rates to offset risk. Steven Miller of S&P says the Chrysler/Cerberus LBO and other deals will be re-priced and adjusted to accommodate debt investors. But there's no major liquidity crisis looming, he adds, since corporate debt defaults are at record lows. Lead underwriters of deals are incurring costs from carrying expensive bridge loans on their books used in financing LBOs. An estimated $290 billion of takeover deals still need financing, including Chrysler, First Data Corp. and TXU Corp., according to Bear Stearns strategists. The balance of power is shifting to investors, meaning the size of future buyout deals will likely be limited. As for Chrysler, Bloomberg reports it will face an extra $70m of interest payments annually under new higher-yield debt payment terms. Shares of DaimlerChrysler fell 0.8% to $94.17 on Tuesday.
Sources: Bloomberg, FT.com, MarketWatch
Commentary: Cerberus Capital To Buy 80% Chrysler Stake for $7.4 Billion; Shares Climb • Big Three Automakers Lose Ground to Japanese in June • Chrysler Aligns With China's Chery Automobile
Stocks/ETFs to watch: DaimlerChrysler (DCX), First Data Corp. (FDC), TXU Corp. (TXU)
Earnings call transcripts: DaimlerChrysler Q1 2007
Bear Stearns Hedge Funds Nearly Worthless
Bear Stearns told investors Tuesday that the more leveraged of its collapsing hedge funds has "effectively no value left" and the less leveraged "very little." The WSJ estimates losses at the less leveraged fund at more than 90%. The company's shares fell 3.6% to $134.90 in AH trading following the news. The funds, which had over $20 billion in investments at their peak, were heavily invested in CDOs, pooled debt securities backed by subprime mortgages. CDOs are highly illiquid and difficult to value. As defaults on subprime loans surged, the funds' creditors made margin calls they were unable to meet. The subsequent collapse of the funds brought with it the prospect of an across-the-board repricing of CDOs. The potential fallout at similarly exposed funds will be easier to evaluate now that the market has information on how Bear priced its funds' assets. The effects of abrupt repricing are already being felt elsewhere: funds managed by Australian hedge fund manager Basis Capital have been put up for sale after sharp declines that Basis attributes to sudden markdowns in the value of underlying securities that were "otherwise fundamentally sound." Hedge fund consultant Charles Gradante: "Right now things are starting to come unglued."
Sources: Bear Stearns letter to clients [pdf], Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, TheStreet.com, Financial Times
Commentary: The Financial Cancer Spreading Through the Credit Markets: Subprime Not Contained • Concussions... Now The Repercussions: Hedge Funds Report Monday • Subprime-Exposed Hedge Fund Investors Behind The Gates of Hell • Bear Stearns Hedge Fund Investors Must Wait to Learn Losses
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Bear Stearns Companies Inc. (BSC). Competitors: Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEH), Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. (MER). ETFs: iShares Dow Jones US Broker-Dealers (IAI), KBW Capital Markets ETF (KCE)
OMX CEO Says There's No Rival to Nasdaq's Bid
OMX AB said this week it doesn't expect a rival bid to its agreed upon 25.1 billion Swedish kroner ($3.7 billion) deal to be acquired by Nasdaq. On Sunday, the Web site of Britain's Daily Telegraph reported that the Dubai International Financial Centre [DIFC], which owns the Dubai International Financial Exchange, had funding in place to bid as much as 250 crowns per OMX share -- 20% higher than Nasdaq's 208.1/share cash and stock offer. There was some speculation Nasdaq might mount a proactive counterbid in the area of 230 kroner. But OMX CEO Magnus Boecker told reporters and analysts at its Q2 earnings press conference Wednesday that he doesn't believe another offer will emerge for the Nordic exchange owner: "Of all the knowledge we have, we still don't expect a rival bid based on the facts we have today," Boecker said. The loss of the merger could be a blow to the Nasdaq, which has seen the NYSE merge with Euronext, Germany’s Deutsche Boerse ink a deal to buy the U.S. options exchange ISE, and the LSE agree to buy the Borsa Italiana during the industry's swift consolidation.
Sources: Thomson Financial, Reuters, Seeking Alpha
Commentary: Nasdaq to Purchase Nordic Bourse Operator OMX for $3.67 Billion • London Stock Exchange to Acquire Borsa Italiana for €1.63B • Treading Carefully In Exchange Stocks
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. (NDAQ). Competitors: NYSE Euronext (NYX), Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings Inc. (CME), International Securities Exchange Inc. (ISE), IntercontinentalExchange Inc. (ICE), CBOT Holdings Inc. (BOT). ETFs: Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF), PowerShares Financial Preferred Portfolio (PGF), iShares Dow Jones US Financial ETF (IYF)
Merrill Lynch: Another Huge Quarter
Brokerage firm Merrill Lynch reported second-quarter earnings of $2.24 per share, up 27% from a year ago, and beating the $2.02 analysts were forecasting. Net income rose 31% to $2.14 billion. Revenue climbed 19% to $9.73 billion, beating the $9.25 billion analysts were expecting. The firm said quarterly revenue growth -- its second highest ever -- was driven by strong performances in investment banking (+41%) and wealth management (+18%). Sales and trading revenue surged 34%, including a 55% gain in fixed income, currencies and commodities trading. A full 61% of Merrill's net trading and investment-banking sales were from outside the U.S. Merrill shares are down 10% since January over concerns CEO Stanley O'Neal may have overexposed the company to subprime mortgage lending; the company bought First Franklin Financial, a large subprime mortgage issuer, in December 2006 for $1.3 billion. The firm is also the number-one CDO underwriter; collateralized debt obligation revenues stand to drop as bankers tighten lending standards and demand for CDOs wanes amid investor concern. Company executives have insisted subprime troubles haven't spread to other parts of Merrill's portfolio, while admitting First Franklin won't add to Merrill's earnings this year as originally thought. "We delivered another strong quarter in a volatile and, at times, hostile market environment," said O'Neal. Analysts were not anticipating much Q2 impact to Merrill's earnings from subprime mortgages. Shares are up 2% in pre-market trading.
Sources: Press release, MarketWatch, Bloomberg, Dow Jones I, II
Commentary: Seven Financial Stocks With Strong Momentum Going Into Earnings • Merrill Lynches Bear? • Online Brokers Will Be Acquired By Banks and Brokerages Says optionsXpress Founder
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. (MER). Competitors: Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS), JPMorgan & Chase Co. (JPM), Bear Stearns Companies Inc. (BSC). ETFs: iShares Dow Jones US Broker-Dealers Index Fund ETF (IAI), Vanguard Financials VIPERs (VFH)
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