Under The Radar News - Friday

by: SA Eli Hoffmann
  • Too little too late. A survey of economists says forthcoming tax rebate checks will not stimulate the U.S. economy. "Consumers have gone into the bunkers," one says. "A $600 check isn't enough to turn things around. It took so much to wilt consumer confidence, that it's not going to be rebuilt real fast." They apparently aren't listening to White House top economist Ed Lazear who recently said stimulus checks will boost growth as soon as this quarter. The pessimistic bunch also reduced its second-half GDP growth estimate from a month ago. (But see below.)
  • Retail shoppers snub recession talk. Consumer companies, led by giants like Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT), Ford Motor (NYSE:F) and Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS), are by-and-large exceeding Wall Street estimates. "Why, if it's a recession, are all the economically sensitive stocks leading the market?" Wells strategist James Paulsen asks. S&P 500 consumer constituents have topped consensus estimates by a robust 11.5%, the most of the index's 10 industry groups. Financials have trailed the index by 6.3%.
  • Newsday doesn't discount Dolan. Newsday (the publication) says Newsday (the company) is seriously considering Cablevision's (NYSE:CVC) $650M offer, despite insistence from News Corp.'s (NASDAQ:NWS) Rupert Murdoch that he will prevail with his lower $580M offer. "Interest in working with Cablevision has increased with the passage of time," a source says. Cablevision CEO James Dolan had no remarks on the topic during the company's recent conference call. On the one hand, Dolan has no apparent experience at running a newspaper; on the other Cablevision would be less likely to face regulatory hurdles. Sources also say Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman, who also bid $580M, is working up a revised offer.
  • Blinkx blinds. Shares of UK search engine Blinkx plc (OTCPK:BLNKF) jumped 50% on speculation of a takeover bid from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and News Corp. (NWS). A clause which would see Blinkx paying $50M to Autonomy in the event of its buyout expires May 24. comScore says Blinkx-linked videos score more UK visits than those linked-to through Google UK.
  • Synchronoss gets some help. Goldman analysts think Synchronoss Technologies (NASDAQ:SNCR) can overcome its iPhone (NASDAQ:AAPL) dependencies and shares will recover. (They're up 1.5% in early trading to $12.48.)
  • Mother's Day stocks. In case you were wondering how you're going to foot the bill for those costly Mother's Day gifts, Stockerblog has ten stocks that may benefit from the widely-celebrated day. (AM, CSS, FLWS, HSY, NILE, RMCF, SIG, TIF, UNTD, ZLC)
  • Jobs' jobs. Apple's (AAPL) latest job opportunities include multiple listings that hint at multi-carrier strategies in some of the iPhone's new territories, including Australia, Brazil and Mexico.
  • UPS mulls Mumbai transporter. UPS (NYSE:UPS) may be in talks to acquire Indian freighter AFL.
  • Virgin courts Helio. Virgin Mobile (VM) is interested in combining its more-than five million subscribers with Helio's "cool" phones (Helio is majority owned by SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM)). Both run on the Sprint (NYSE:S) network. A look at the potential synergies.
  • Small settlement, big implications. Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (NYSE:CM) settled a dispute over asset-backed commercial paper. Barrick was angry the bank sold it about $66M of paper that is now almost worthless. Undisclosed terms are "mutually agreeable." More importantly, it clears the way for a planned restructuring of the C$32B ABCP (Asset-Backed Commercial Paper) market.
  • Microhoo could have balanced ad market. Someone (besides Yahoo shareholders) regrets the breakdown of the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)/Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) merger talks. WPP (NASDAQ:WPPGY) CEO Martin Sorrell says the deal would have brought balance to a Google (GOOG) dominated marketplace. Needless to say, Sorrell's no big fan of a possible Google (GOOG)/Yahoo ad tie-up.
  • Corporate bonds extend bounce. Investment-grade corporate bonds posted another strong week of sales. 28 firms, including Citigroup (NYSE:C) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), sold $33.1B in debt.