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  • No recession in Washington. White House top economist Edward Lazear says he's confident the U.S. is not in recession, and is optimistic stimulus checks will boost growth in the current quarter, earlier than many expect. Lazear notes only two areas of the economy -- retail sales and manufacturing -- are demonstrating recessionary deterioration. Job declines so far are well below those of the 2001 recession, which is considered a mild one. "I would be very surprised if the NBER, looking back at this period, would date this as a recession. Unless, of course, things change in the future and become much more negative. Were they to become much more negative, it's conceivable they could reach back and date the recession as having started here. But we don't anticipate that."
  • Best Buy moves into Europe. Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is paying £1.1B ($2.15B) for a 50% stake in UK retailer Carphone Warehouse, with 2,400 stores in nine European countries. Best Buy will open stores under its name across Europe. "Best Buy gets knowledge of the European market quite quickly," an analyst said. "We have seen great companies fail because they thought they could simply export their current business model to new geographies," Best Buy's Bob Willett said.
  • Same store sales outdo. Same-store sales were up 8% at Costco (NASDAQ:COST). Net sales rose 12% to $5.54B. Excluding gasoline inflation, domestic comps would have gained 5%. Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) same-store sales (ex-fuel) rose 3.2%, well ahead of analyst expectations of a 2.1% increase. Net sales rose 9.8% to $29.18B. International sales grew 18.4% to $7.61B. Wal-Mart sees quarterly net sales of $94B, better than consensus estimates of $92.44B. It forecasts May comps of flat to +2%. Bear in mind that Easter in 2006 was in March, which skewed 2007's April results and makes SSS growth for this April look rosier than it is.
  • Toyota disappoints. Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM) posted a steeper-than-expected 28% drop in quarterly earnings to ¥316.8B ($3B); analysts expected ¥375.2B. Sales rose 3.8%. Toyota sees earnings falling 27% on the year due to the strength of the yen and weak U.S. sales, echoing similar forecasts from Honda (NYSE:HMC) and Mazda. Shares of Toyota are down 18% in Tokyo YTD. Nissan reports on May 13.
  • No plans for another Yahoo bid. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) executive Craig Mundie says the company has no plans to court Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) after pulling its $47.5B bid on Saturday. "The market may wish that the Yahoo deal may come back together, but Microsoft at least at this point assumes it's over."
  • Microsoft exploring its options. Sources say Microsoft (MSFT) recently approached Facebook to gauge its interest in selling itself. Microsoft has also talked informally with News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS), possibly considering spinning of some of its online operations and combining them with MySpace and Yahoo.
  • Yahoo/Google union not a given. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) executives now seem to be divided over whether it should pursue an advertising deal with Yahoo (YHOO), sources say.
  • Italian defense co. goes on offensive. Italian defense company Finmeccanica is in advanced talks to buy New Jersey's DRS Technologies (DRS), a major supplier to the U.S. military. The acquisition price is unknown, but is thought to be at a premium of at least 25%. European aerospace companies are jostling for stronger footholds in the U.S. defense market, the world's biggest. The Italian goverment owns 1/3 of Finmeccanica, so it will be interesting to see how regulators deal with such a move.
  • Siemens helps U.S. to stay clean. FPL Energy ordered 218 Siemens (SI) wind turbines, one of its largest wind turbine orders ever. The turbines capacity is enough so provide clean energy to about 150,000 households.
  • 5% and steady in England. The Bank of England held interest rates steady at 5%, taking a wait-and-see approach due to fears of inflation. Most economists predicted the BoE would stay put.
  • ECB stays put at 4%. The ECB kept its benchmark rate at 4%, unmoved since last summer. The move was widely expected. "While the U.S. economy has succumbed to stagnation and the U.K. economy is decelerating sharply, the euro zone has so far held up fairly well," BofA economist Holger Schmieding said.

Earnings: Wednesday After Close

  • Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE:BKD): Q1 EPS of -$0.54 misses consensus of -$0.34. Revenue of $481M in-line. Shares: +0.5%.
  • Andersons (NASDAQ:ANDE): Q1 EPS of $0.42 misses consensus of $0.58. Revenue of $713M vs. consensus of $501.5M. Sees 2008 EPS of $3.65-4.00, better than consensus of $3.68. Shares: -1.9%.
  • Conseco (NYSE:CNO): Q1 EPS of -$0.03 misses consensus of $0.25. Revenue of $1.14B vs. consensus of $1.19B. Shares: +0.5%.
  • Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX): Q1 EPS of $0.09 just misses consensus of $0.10. Revenue of $198.5M vs. consensus of $197M. The company still sees 2008 revenue growth of 15-20% and adjusted EPS of $1.54-1.64, vs. consensus of $1.60. Shares: flat.
  • Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE:DNB): Q1 EPS of $1.14 beats consensus of $1.12. Revenue of $415M vs. consensus of $4114M. Shares: +0.8%.
  • Encore Acquisition (NASDAQ:EAC): Q1 EPS of $1.08 beats consensus of $0.87. Revenue of $269M vs. consensus of $237M. Shares: +3%.
  • Gildan Activewear (NYSE:GIL): FQ2 EPS of $0.35 misses consensus of $0.36. Revenue of $294M vs. consensus of $287M. Sees full-year EPS of $1.45-1.50, down from a previous $1.85-1.90, short of consensus of $1.58. Shares: -1.4%.
  • Hansen Natural (HANS): Q1 EPS of $0.29 misses consensus of $0.35. Net sales of $212M vs. consensus of $221M. Shares: -12.95%.
  • Internap (NASDAQ:INAP): Q1 EPS of $0.06 in-line. Revenue of $62M vs. consensus of $64M. Sees full-year revenue growth of 13-18%. Shares: -3.4%.
  • Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA): Q1 EPS of -$0.45 misses consensus of -$0.07. Revenue of $2.6B vs. consensus of $2.56B. Shares: flat.
  • NeuStar (NYSE:NSR): Q1 EPS of $0.31 beats consesus of $0.27. Revenue of $117.4M vs. consensus of $114.4M. Sees 2008 EPS of $0.90, short of consensus of $1.32, and revenue of $500-515M vs. consensus of $512M. Shares: -10.4%.
  • News Corp. (NWS): FQ3 EPS including a $1.7B tax-free gain on its deal with Liberty Media of $0.91 vs. consensus of $0.31. Revenue of $8.75B vs. consensus of $8.65B. Shares: +1.3%
  • Service Corp (NYSE:SCI): Q1 EPS of $0.20 beats consensus of $0.18. Revenue of $573.5M vs. consensus of $593M. Shares: +27.5%.
  • Willbros Group (NYSE:WG): Q1 EPS of $0.52 beats consensus of $0.40. Revenue of $492M vs. consensus of $387M. Raises full-year EPS guidance to $1.70-1.95 from $1.65-1.90; consensus is $1.81. raises full-year revenue guidance to $1.8-2B from $1.6-1.8B vs. consensus of $1.73B. Shares: +6.9%.

Earnings: Thursday Before Open

  • AbitibiBowater (ABH): Q1 EPS of -$3.74 misses consensus of -$2.60. Revenue of $1.73B vs. consensus of $1.63B.
  • Barr Pharmaceuticals (BRL): Q1 EPS of $0.57 misses consensus of $0.79. Revenue of $608M vs. consensus $684M.
  • Cablevision (NYSE:CVC): Q1 EPS of -$0.11 misses consensus of $0.02. Revenue of $1.72B vs. consensus of $1.70B.
  • Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG): Q1 EPS of $0.36 beats consensus of $0.34. Revenue of $463M vs. consensus of $444M.
  • Citadel Broadcasting (CDL): Q1 EPS of -$0.03 misses consensus of $0.01. Revenue of $206M vs. consensus $202M.
  • Dendreon (NASDAQ:DNDN): Q1 EPS of -$0.23 beats consensus of -$0.25. Revenue of $31K vs. consensus of $110K.
  • Dynegy (NYSE:DYN): Q1 EPS of -$0.18 misses consensus of $0.05. Revenue of $774M vs. consensus of $895M. The loss was primarily driven by mark-to-market writedowns of $284M.
  • Edison International (NYSE:EIX): Q1 EPS of $0.92 in-line. Revenue of $3.08B vs. consensus of $3B. Sees full-year EPS of $3.61-4.01 vs. consensus of $3.78.
  • El Paso (EP): Q1 EPS of $0.29 misses consensus of $0.30. Revenue of $1.26B vs. consensus of $1.35B. Sees full-year to be sharply higher than $1.00-$1.10, vs. consensus of $1.14.
  • Expeditors International (NASDAQ:EXPD): Q1 EPS of $0.30 just misses consensus of $0.31. Revenue of $1.31B in-line.
  • Fortress (NYSE:FIG): Q1 EPS of -$0.74 misses consensus of $0.14. Revenue of $201M vs. consensus of $160M.
  • Gap (NYSE:GPS): Sees Q1 EPS of $0.30-0.32, better than consensus of $0.27, and full-year EPS of $1.20-1.27 in-line.
  • Gymboree (NASDAQ:GYMB): Sees Q1 EPS of $0.83-0.85, better than consensus of $0.76. Sees Q2 EPS of $0.18-0.20, short of consensus of $0.21. Sees full-year EPS of $3.10-3.15, better than consensus of $3.04.
  • King Pharma (KG): Q1 EPS of $0.36 vs. consensus of $0.35. Revenue of $432M vs. consensus $453M.
  • Lin TV Corp (TVL): Q1 EPS of $0.03 beats consensus of $0.02. Revenue of $93M vs. consensus of $94M. Sees Q2 Revenue of $103-105M vs. consensus of $106M.
  • Macquarie Infrastructure (NYSE:MIC): Q1 EPS of -$0.04 misses consensus of $0.07. Revenue of $279M vs. consensus $267M.
  • Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ): Q1 EPS of $0.48 just misses consensus of $0.49. Revenue of $918M vs. consensus of $861M. Gross profit margin was flat at 34.3%.
  • Plains Exploration & Production (NYSE:PXP): Q1 EPS of $1.43 beats consensus of $0.99. Revenue of $623M vs. consensus of $567M.
  • Progress Energy (NYSE:PGN): FQ3 EPS of $0.58 misses consensus of $0.63. Revenue of $2.07B vs. consensus of $2.27B.
  • Swift Energy (NYSE:SFY): Q1 EPS of $1.61 misses consensus of $1.65. Revenue of $199M vs. consensus of $191M.
  • Trump Entertainment (TRMP): Q1 EPS of -$0.59 misses consensus of -$0.42. Revenue of $228M vs. consensus $229M.
  • Unilever NV (NYSE:UN): Q1 EPS €0.47, up 34%.
  • Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED): Q1 EPS of £0.32. Revenue of £1B and a net loss of £104.4M.
  • Vonage (NYSE:VG): Q1 EPS of -$0.06 beats consensus of -$0.07. Revenue of $225M vs. consensus of $223M. Vonage added 30,000 net subscriber lines to more than 2.6 million.
  • Warner Music (NYSE:WMG): FQ2 EPS of -$0.23 misses consensus of -$0.12. Revenue of $800M in-line.

Today's Markets

  • Asian markets closed mainly lower Thursday. Nikkei -1.13% to 13,943. Hang Seng -0.63% to 25,450. Shanghai +2.17% to 3,656. BSE Sensex -1.49% to 17,081.
  • Everything is down in Europe at midday. FSTE -0.25% to 6,245. CAC -0.27% to 5,061. DAX -0.40% to 7,047.
  • U.S. futures are up from Wednesday's close. Dow +0.26% to 12,868. S&P +0.34% to 1,400. Nasdaq +0.26% to 1,965.
  • Gold is flat at $871. Black gold is down 0.4% to $123.04/barrel.

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