- U.S. markets spent most of the day in positive territory, but ended Thursday relatively flat. Dow +0.1%. S&P 0%. Nasdaq -0.27%. Oil once again traded through but failed to hold $100/barrel, closing down $0.44 to $99.18. Gold gained another $9.10 to $869.10. Ten-year notes were flat.
- Asia: Japan's Nikkei tumbled 4% on concerns a stronger yen. The Hang Seng gained 2.35%. Shanghai was up 0.78%. Standouts included Nissan (NSANY -9.2%) [see below], Sony (SNE -6.6%), Canon (CAJ -6%), Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MTU -5%), CNOOC (CEO +5.6%) and PetroChina (PTR +7.4%).
- European stocks posted modest gains early Friday, reversing a two-day drop. FTSE +0.62%. CAC +0.02%. Dax -0.33%. Rio Tinto (RTP +2.9%) and BHP Billiton (BHP +2.5%) led gains.
- During Q4, U.K. retailers issued the most negative sales updates in almost two years, with some 22% of retailers posting sales losses.
MUST-KNOW NEWS FOR FRIDAY
- Major automakers reported lower U.S. sales for December. Ford (F) sales fell 9%. GM (GM) -5%. Nissan (NSANY) -2.4%. Toyota (TM) -1.7%. Honda (HMC) 0%. For 2007 GM sales dropped 6%; Ford -12%; Honda +2.5%; Toyota +2.7%; Nissan +4.5%. GM CEO Rick Wagoner says 2008 will be no better.
- Boeing (BA) sold an industry record 1,413 planes in 2007, topping a previous 1,044. The orders are worth more than $150B at list price. Rival Airbus posts its yearlys later in Jan.
- Microsoft (MSFT) sold 4.3M Xbox 360 consoles in Q4, but said it was "disappointed" with problems at its online gaming service. MSFT said Holiday 2007 was a "blockbuster season for the gaming industry," and that Xbox 360 kept its lead over rivals Wii (NTDOY) and PlayStation 3 (SNE) in dollars spent on hardware and software.
- Regulators are probing several Wall St. brokerage firms to determine whether they sold CDOs to investors just as the market was collapsing.
- Although State Street (STT +8.2%) said it would take a $279M Q4 charge against potential legal liabilities related to subprime investments, investors were more impressed by the firm's Q4 outlook of 30% revenue gains and EPS excluding charges of $4.54-4.57, well ahead of analysts' estimates.
- Sinopec (SNP) denied a report by China's official Xinhua news agency that 2007 net profit surged to 70 billion yuan ($9.6 billion), saying it doesn't yet have a final figure.
- Talbots (TLB) will exit its Talbots Kids and Talbots Mens concepts by Sep. after an internal review showed weak potential. TLB expects $100M revenue impact and EPS impact of $0.15-0.18. Quarter-to-date sales are trending below expectations.
- WuXi PharmaTech (WX) will pay $151M for U.S. medical-research firm Apptec Laboratory Services. The deal will test WX's strategy of renting out inexpensive Chinese scientists to big pharma, because Apptec's American will likely carry a higher price tag.
- Only 6,300 people/day tune in to Fox's (NWS) newly launched business network, according to Nielsen.
- Shares of Jackson Hewitt Tax Services (JTX) dropped 23.1% after the IRS said it may ban tax preparers from offering customers refund loans and audit insurance, which may encourage tax fraud. H&R Block (HRB) fell 4.6%. JTX notes the proposed rule is in the very early stages, and believes that if it results in regulation, it will not lead to the elimination of refund anticipation loans.
- Dutch telecom KPN (KPN) said it is not in merger talks with Spain's Telefonica (TEF) dispelling rumors.
- Selected Earnings: 1) Monsanto (MON +8.5%): Q1 EPS $0.46 vs. consensus of $0.35. Revenue $2.1B vs. consensus of $1.87B. Sees 2008 EPS $2.50-$2.60 vs. consensus of $2.59. Expects higher free cash flow. 2) Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY -3.4%, -6.6% AH) Q3 EPS $0.52 in line. Revenue $1.79B vs. consensus of $1.77B. Sees Q4 EPS $0.64-0.67 vs. consensus of $0.78; sees full-year EPS $2.08-$2.11 vs. consensus of $2.20. 3) Global Payments (GPN +1.5% AH) Q2 EPS $0.48 vs. consensus of $0.45. Revenue $304M vs. consensus of $297M. Sees 2008 EPS $1.89-1.96 vs. consensus of $1.94; revenue $1.23B-1.26B vs. consensus of $1.22B. 4) Finish Line (FINL -1.8%, -1.8% AH) Q3 EPS -$0.17 vs. consensus of -$0.15. Revenue $269M vs. consensus of $271M. 5) Q1 EPS $0.22 vs. consensus of $0.21. Revenue of $190M vs. consensus of $191.5M.
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