Wall St. Breakfast's Pre-Market Snapshot:
U.S. Futures As of 8:31 AM ET
S&P 500: -0.10; 1,476.50
NASDAQ 100: -3.25; 2,000.00
Dow: +0.00; 13,343.00
NIKKEI 225: +0.61%; 16,257.00 (+98.55)
HANG SENG: -0.08%; 24,050.40 (-18.77)
SHANGHAI SE COMPOSITE: +1.56%; 5,393.66 (+82.94)
BSE SENSEX 30: +1.10%; 15,616.31 (+170.16)
FTSE 100: -0.35%; 6,248.90 (-21.80)
CAC 40: +0.07%; 5,555.18 (+3.63)
XETRA-DAX: -0.38%; 7,559.18 (-28.85)
Commodity Futures (Reuters/Jefferies CRB)
Oil: +0.62%; $76.20 (+$0.47)
Gold: +0.52%; $694.30 (+$3.60)
Natural Gas: +1.86%; $5.91 (+$0.11)
Silver: +0.36%; $12.40 (+$0.045)
U.S. Breaking Newssee today's Wall Street Breakfast for earlier news
BoE, ECB Intervene to Curb Turmoil, Leave Rates Unchanged
The Bank of England on Thursday left its key interest rate at 5.75%, saying it was still too early to gauge how the turmoil in financial markets would impair the availability of credit. Likewise, the European Central Bank left its interest rate unchanged at 4%, calling off an anticipated increase after the U.S. housing slump and credit market turmoil threatened economic growth. The BoE said its Monetary Policy Committee is closely monitoring "the evolution of both credit spreads and the quantity of credit extended." The statement was unprecedented, as the central bank normally only comments when there's a rate change. The decision came a day after the BoE offered extra money to reduce "unusually high" overnight rates. That move was closely followed Thursday by the ECB lending €42.25B in emergency cash to banks for the fifth time in a month to lower the cost of credit. One strategist said the move "could help calm nerves," but that it remained to be seen whether it would resolve the situation. The ECB had indicated late Wednesday it was prepared to intervene again to assure orderly conditions. Central banks around the world added more than $350B to money markets from August 9-14 to help smooth lending as the credit crisis that started in the U.S. subprime market spread. Meanwhile, Australia's central bank said it would buy debt backed by home loans to add cash to the financial system.
Sources: Bloomberg, MarketWatch, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal
Commentary: Why is the EU a Basket Full of Worries? • Housing, Credit Weakness to Further Test U.S. Economy -- OECD
Stocks/ETFs to watch: SPY, DIA, AGG, EFA
Campbell Soup Q4 Net Up 39%, But EPS Misses; FY Guidance Disappoints
Campbell Soup reported a 39% increase in fourth-quarter net income to $61 million, or $0.16/share, on revenue growth of 9.6% to $1.59B. However, adjusted EPS of $0.14 came up short of expectations of $0.18, on sales of $1.52B. Campbell offered fiscal 2008 (ending July) guidance for EPS growth of 5% - 7% and adjusted EPS of $1.95, on 3% - 4% higher sales (approx. $8.10B - $8.18B). Analysts had forecast EPS of $2.14, on sales of $8.16B, on average. A Citigroup analyst who rates Campbell shares a "hold," commented that "many of the company's initiatives in the soup category appear to be gaining traction" and said "pricing increases across Campbell's portfolio should enhance profitability." Shares of Campbell Soup were last down 5.3% to $36.00 in thin pre-market trading. Campbell lost 0.5% to $38.00 on Wednesday.
Sources: Press release, Bloomberg, MarketWatch
Commentary: Campbell to Sell Godiva -- WSJ • Jim Cramer's Take on CPB • 100 Stocks to Offset Rising Food Prices
Stocks/ETFs to watch: CPB. Competitors: GIS, HNZ, KFT
Vodafone Faces Potential $2 Billion Tax Bill In Hutchison Purchase
India's Income Tax Authority has sent a letter to Vodafone demanding $2 billion (£989 million) in tax payments following its successful purchase of two-thirds of Indian mobile operator Hutchison Essar for $11.1 billion, The Times of London reports. According to Indian law, a corporate gains tax of 22% is due, although parties familiar with tax law note capital gains taxes usually fall on the seller, not buyer. A Vodafone spokesman responded: “We have had clear legal and tax advice that no tax is payable either by Vodafone Essar or any other member of the Vodafone group and will defend our position vigorously.” The Tax Authority's case is predicated on complications surrounding the legal definition of exactly which body carried out the purchase of Hutchison Essar, the Times wrote. Separately, Vodafone is considering purchasing fixed-line networks owned by Tele2 in Italy and Spain. Such a move would enable the company to provide fixed-line broadband to its mobile phone customers.
Sources: Times of London, MarketWatch, Financial Times
Commentary: Vodafone Tops Estimates • Vodafone's Smart Move in India
Stocks/ETFs to watch: VOD. Competitors: VZ, HTX,TI, T, S, DT. ETFs: PTE, WMH, IXP
Earnings call transcripts: Vodafone Group FY 2006
NetApp Sues Sun Micro for Patent Infringement
Network Appliance said Wednesday it filed a patent lawsuit against Sun Microsystems, alleging Sun violated seven patents for data processing systems and software. NetApp is seeking unspecified compensatory damages as well as a permanent injunction against future versions of Sun's ZFS storage software. NetApp is also requesting a judgment that it isn't infringing on three of Sun's patents and wants the patents ruled invalid (note: Sun has not filed any patent lawsuits against NetApp). In a statement Sun said, "Many of the claims raised in the lawsuit are factually untrue," and added the lawsuit "is a clear indication that NetApp considers Sun technology a threat and is a direct attack on the open-source community." NetApp executives said the company began to review its patents around 18 months ago, following an accusation of patent infringement and aggressive demands for licensing from Sun. The executives do not expect a settlement before a court ruling. Separately, Sun shareholders will vote on a 1-for-4 reverse stock split at the company's annual meeting Nov. 8. CEO Jonathan Schwartz said Sun's sub $10 share price mistakenly implies the company continues to struggle after the dot-com bust. Shares of Sun lost 2.4% to $5.37 on Wednesday, while Network Appliance was unchanged at $28.22.
Sources: CNET, MarketWatch, Reuters, Wall Street Journal
Commentary: Sun Micro Changes Ticker Symbol To JAVA In Clever Branding Play • IBM to Sell Sun's Solaris • Network Appliance Jumps on Strong Outlook, Buyback
Stocks/ETFs to watch: SUNW, NTAP
Earnings call transcript: Sun Microsystems F4Q07, Network Appliance F1Q08
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Asian Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)
• Asian Steelmaker Stocks Rise on Higher Prices; Posco Gains, Toyota Falls Asian steelmakers' shares rose, led by Posco (NYSE:PKX), after Nippon Steel Corp. increased its full-year profit forecast to a record and Hyundai Steel Co. said it's considering raising rates for its main product.
• China Raises Banks' Reserve Requirement to 12.5 Percent to Cool Economy China ordered banks to put aside more money as reserves for a seventh time this year to cool the world's fastest-growing major economy after inflation surged to a 10-year high.
• Australia Central Bank Widens Debt Buying, Boosts Cash in Financial System Australia's central bank said it will buy debt backed by home loans to add cash to the financial system, after the U.S. subprime credit rout eroded demand for asset-backed securities and drove up interest rates.
• Credit Rout May Paralyze $34 Billion of Infrastructure Loans, S&P Says The global credit rout sparked by the U.S. subprime mortgage slump may leave as much as $34 billion of leveraged loans for railroads, tollways and similar projects ``paralyzed,'' said analysts at Standard & Poor's.
European Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)
• European Stocks Drop on German Factory Report; Royal Bank, Barclays Fall Stocks in Europe fell after a report showed German manufacturing orders dropped the most in at least 16 years in July, reigniting concern economic growth in the region is slowing.
• Enel Second-Quarter Net Drops 8.5 Percent After Italian Power Prices Fall Enel SpA, Italy's biggest utility, said full-year earnings will top 2006 as it reported an 8.5 percent decline in second-quarter profit because of lower power prices.