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Staples earnings slump, sending shares diving. Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) Q2 adjusted EPS sank 18% to $0.22 but was in line with forecasts, while revenue slipped 6% to $5.5B and missed consensus. The office-supplies retailer blamed the earnings fall on softer-than-expected sales in North America, and continuing weakness in Europe and Australia. Staples has adopted a conservative FY outlook, and now forecasts flat sales growth and EPS to increase in the low single-digits. Shares were -5.2% premarket.

Carlyle gets Getty in $3.3B deal. Carlyle Group (NASDAQ:CG) has teamed up with Getty Images' management to purchase the company from Hellman & Friedman for $3.3B. The transaction is expected to close this year, with the deal price less than the $4B originally sought.

Major retailers to unveil mobile payments system. Fourteen leading retailers are expected to today unveil the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), an initiative to jointly develop a mobile-payments network that will compete with those from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and cellular carriers, the WSJ reports. The retailers include Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Target (NYSE:TGT), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Lowe's (NYSE:LOW).

Top Stock News
Berkshire exits Intel after just nine months. Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) had an unusually active quarter in Q2, which included selling its 7.7M Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) shares just nine months after buying into the chipmaker. Berkshire also significantly reduced its holdings in Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Kraft (KFT) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), while buying into Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX) and National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV).

Lloyds continues asset sales with £1B deal. Lloyds (NYSE:LYG) has agreed to sell a portfolio of P-E related investments to London-based Coller Capital for £1.03B, although once the transaction is completed, the bank will continue to manage the assets for a fee of less than £10M a year.

NYT names BBC chief as new CEO. Outgoing BBC boss Mark Thompson has been named as CEO of The New York Times (NYSE:NYT), filling a vacancy that had been open after Janet Robinson left last December. Thompson will join in November and sit on the company's board; his appointment had been the subject of speculation throughout the summer.

Nokia to launch Windows 8 phone soon. Nokia (NYSE:NOK) shares jumped 5.6% premarket after CEO Stephen Elop said the phone maker will launch a Windows 8 smartphone "relatively near term," and didn't deny that it could be at the company's trade show in Helsinki on September 5-6. That's a week before an Apple event on September 12, when it could unveil a new iPhone. Meanwhile, RIM (RIMM) CEO Thorsten Heins called the firm's data network, the subject of IBM (NYSE:IBM) buyout rumors, a "key strategic asset."

Fannie, Freddie up pressure over soured loans. With Fannie Mae (OTCQB:FNMA) and Freddie Mac (OTCQB:FMCC) increasing their efforts to persuade banks to buy back soured mortgages, five top lenders - Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Ally Financial - set aside nearly $3B in H1 to repurchase the loans, Bloomberg calculates. Regional lenders such as SunTrust Banks (NYSE:STI) put aside an extra $1.3B.

StanChart still faces fines despite NY deal. Standard Chartered (OTCPK:SCBFF) shares rose 4.8% in London following its $340M settlement with New York's Department of Financial Services yesterday over the bank's dealings with Iran. However, StanChart still faces fines from other U.S. regulators, including the Treasury and Justice Department, and after the bloodletting at Barclays (NYSE:BCS) over Libor, the jobs of senior management could be at risk.

Cisco's profit seen rising but analysts are concerned. Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) FQ4 earnings are due out after the bell, with analysts expecting that EPS rose to $0.46 from $0.40 a year ago as revenue increased 3.6% to $11.6B. JMP reckons the quarter was "more back-end loaded than normal" and featured increased discounting toward the end. FBR has slashed its estimates due to the usual assortment of worries about macro conditions and capex, as well as aggressive pricing.

Chinese firms look to pull U.S. listings. Chinese companies are beginning to feel the pinch from listing their shares on U.S. bourses. Rife with accounting scandals and clashes about oversight, some are now looking to pull out and head for home, and with the blessing of Chinese authorities. One state bank has reportedly provided $1B in loans to help companies with listings abroad move to Chinese exchanges.

Top Economic & Other News
Chinese bad loans rise again. Chinese non-performing loans rose by 18.2B yuan ($2.86B) in Q2 to 456.4B yuan - the third consecutive quarter of increases. The data comes as Caixin Online describes how local governments have been attempting to stimulate the real-estate market, in direct contravention of the central government's desire to cool it. What happened to China being totalitarian?

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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.1%. Hong Kong -1.2%. China -1.1%. India +0.5%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.3%. Paris -0.3%. Frankfurt -0.3%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.2%. Nasdaq -0.1%. Crude -0.3% to $93.13. Gold -0.4% to $1596.40.

Today's economic calendar:
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:30 Consumer Price Index
8:30 Empire State Mfg Survey
9:00 Treasury International Capital
9:15 Industrial Production
10:00 NAHB Housing Market Index
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
8:00 PM Fed's Kocherlakota: Federal Reserve Overview and the Role of the Board of Directors

Notable earnings before today's open: ANF, CSIQ, DE, SPLS, TGT

Notable earnings after today's close: A, AMAT, CSCO, EXM, LTD, MIPS, NTAP, NTES, PETM, SINA

See full real-time earnings coverage »

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Source: Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News