Today - Thursday, April 2, 2015
- JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) is on track to meet its mandate to provide billions of dollars in consumer relief to struggling homeowners as part of a settlement it reached over shoddy mortgage bonds it sold before the financial crisis.
- Joseph Smith, the monitor overseeing the settlement, has so far credited Chase with $2.2B out of the $4B it is required to provide to consumers by 2017.
- Chase must also pay $9B in cash, totaling a $13B settlement.
- Looking to end its standoff with creditors to unlock funding, Athens has handed the eurozone and IMF a more detailed plan for revising its bailout program.
- The list is a "very long way from being a basis (for a deal)," a eurozone official said. "They should negotiate in competence and good faith with the institutions first, and then we will see."
- Yesterday, the ECB raised its cap on emergency liquidity assistance that Greek banks can draw from the country's central bank by €700M, increasing the ELA ceiling to €71.8B. The central bank has been raising the cap in increments to keep pressure on Greece to strike a deal.
- Greek banks: OTCPK:ALBKY, OTCPK:BPIRY, OTCPK:EGFEY, NBG
- ETFs: GREK
- Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) discloses that CEO Marc Benioff's 2014 bonus rose 67% from a year ago, to $2.82M, based on his "achievement of specific corporate performance goals as well as individual performance."
- The company also described an unusual arrangement for its former Chief Financial Officer to stay on past his planned retirement.
- While the job description is vague, Graham Smith will stay with the firm as an adviser, earning the same salary, target bonus, stock-award vesting and perks he received as CFO.
- Europe's competition regulator is preparing the groundwork to file charges against Google (GOOG, GOOGL) in the next few weeks, looking to conclude the five-year-old antitrust investigation of the Internet-search giant.
- The move would kick off the EU's highest-profile antitrust suit since its lengthy campaign that started a decade ago against Microsoft, which paid the bloc €1.7B in fines through 2012.
- To complete the probe, the European Commission is now asking companies that filed complaints against Google for permission to publish some of the information they submitted confidentially.
- Previously: EU lawmakers vote for Google breakup (Nov. 27 2014)
- Bringing the new Internet rules closer to reality, the FCC has sent its net neutrality regulations to the Federal Register, the nation’s official record of government actions,
- Industry trade groups representing telecom and cable companies are widely expected to challenge the new rules once they are formally published (which could take days or longer).
- Previously: First legal challenge filed against net neutrality rules (Mar. 24 2015)
12:00 AM| Comment!
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
- Ford (NYSE:F) is bringing back the Lincoln Continental nameplate after a 13-year hiatus.
- A concept version of the iconic model has been introduced in advance of the New York Auto Show in preparation for launches in China and the U.S.
- The Continental will fight for luxury sales in a crowded segment that will soon see new premium models from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar.
- Lincoln sales in the U.S. are -0.6% YTD at 21,478 units.
- CNET video on the Continental concept car
- The first look from Lincoln
- Carlos Slim's telecom America Movil (AMX +4.3%) is proposing spinning off its Mexican tower business into a listed company that it plans to call Telesites.
- If regulators OK it, the spinoff could happen without a public offering of the new stock. Current shareholders would receive exactly the same number and series in Telesites as they do in their current AMX holdings.
- Part of the deal would mean moving about 21B pesos ($1.4B) of America Movil debt to the tower company.
- The move is the latest in a series that sees America Movil trying to shed assets amid tough antitrust rules passed by Mexico last year.
- AMX says the spinoff would give competitors access to 90% of its towers, up from the current 45%.
- Previously: Slim's America Movil might not face tough penalties if it doesn't sell assets (Mar. 27 2015)
- Canadian and European aviation authorities are pressing for strict new plane position reporting requirements that are substantially more frequent than current standards.
- Position reporting frequencies vary widely around the world, from 18 minutes to as little as 10 minutes depending on region and type of plane, but new proposals suggest as tight a window as a three-minute interval.
- Satellite operators and servicers like Iridium (NASDAQ:IRDM), Inmarsat (OTCPK:IMASY, OTCPK:IMASF), Arinc (NYSE:COL) and SITA are pursuing new business tied to the changes. At least one satellite provider has been asked by the EU about cost requirements to make a three-minute reporting standard happen.
- The moves would allow tighter spacing of planes and more flexible routing, particularly on trans-Atlantic routes -- though some proposals are prompted by the mysterious 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370.
- A federal judge in Nevada issued a temporary restraining order that will bar Allegiant Air pilots from striking tomorrow.
- The pilots union has until next Monday to respond to the ruling.
- Allegiant Travel (NASDAQ:ALGT) says it expects all flight to operate as scheduled for the balance of the week.
- Previously: Allegiant Air pilots plan walkout for Thursday
- ChinaNet Online (NASDAQ:CNET) fell 5% today as it posted preliminary 2014 revenues that grew to $38.9M from fiscal 2013's $30.3M.
- The company has filed a 12b-25 notification of late filing to buy 15 calendar days to produce its 2014 10-K.
- ChinaNet has set a conference call to discuss the results for Friday, April 17 at 8:30 a.m. ET.
- The Phase 2b study evaluating Ocera Therapeutics' (NASDAQ:OCRX) lead product, OCR-002, for the treatment of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is scheduled to be completed by H2 2016, based on an increased target enrollment of 230 patients from the original 140. The increase was part of the recommendations from the independent Data Monitoring Committee following its pre-planned interim analysis of the data. It recommended that the study continue after it determined that it was not futile and no drug-related safety issues were observed.
- The trial, called STOP-HE, is a randomized, double-blind study assessing intravenously-administered OCR-002 in resolving neurocognitive symptoms of acute HE in hospitalized cirrhotic patients with elevated ammonia. The primary efficacy endpoint is time to meaningful clinical improvement.
- OCR-002 (ornithine phenylacetate) is an ammonia scavenger. HE is a reversible neuropsychiatric disorder observed in patients with acute liver failure or chronic liver cirrhosis in whom the metabolic conversion of ammonia to urea fails. Elevated ammonia levels impairs the function of brain cells and can cause cerebral edema and elevated intracranial pressure. OCR-002 directly lowers circulating ammonia levels by enabling alternate metabolic pathways in the muscle and kidneys.
- After a narrow swipe with total liquidation, the new RadioShack (RSH, OTCPK:RSHCQ) -- or at least the 40% or so of stores that will survive -- will roll out later this month.
- Of the 1,700-plus locations that will remain from more than 4,000, Sprint (NYSE:S) will share more than 1,400, taking up about a third of the store and staffing with its employees; the Sprint logo will dominate, however.
- Phone sales (which were in decline for the Shack) will be outsourced entirely to Sprint. Lower-margin electronics like laptops and tablets will go away, replaced by RadioShack focusing on house-brand batteries, chargers and speakers. Stores will stock about 75% fewer items.
- The bankruptcy case will now turn to RadioShack's intellectual property, including an extensive customer database.
- Reducing the prominence of the RadioShack name may come in handy: Standard General has a six-month royalty-free license to use the name, but if that's sold to someone else, the fund will need to take it off the stores.
- Previously: RadioShack gets OK for Standard General rescue; Sprint to co-operate 1,743 stores (Mar. 31 2015)
- As planned, E.W. Scripps (NYSE:SSP) wrapped its merger/spinoff with Journal Communications (NYSE:JRN) today, making Scripps one of the country's biggest indie TV station owners, with more than 30 stations.
- Scripps shareholders received a $1.0297/share cash dividend along with 0.25 shares in the new newspaper entity, Journal Media Group (Pending:JMG), for each Scripps share they held.
- Journal Communications, meanwhile, terminates trading as its class A and B shareholders get 0.5176 Scripps A shares and 0.195 JMG shares for each JRN share they held.
- The new JMG settled into regular-way trading today at $8.80 after trading 572K shares.
- Kinross Gold (NYSE:KGC) says heavy rains have temporarily suspended operations at its Maricunga mine in northern Chile.
- Severe floods a week ago affected mining operations throughout the region, and KGC says its mining and crushing operations have been halted ever since, although its ADR plant continues to produce gold from existing material in the heap leach.
- Nevertheless, KGC says it does not expect the halt to affect its regional production forecast for the year.
- In Feb. 2014, Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) announced CFO Graham Smith would retire in March 2015. Four months later, the cloud CRM software giant announced the hiring of Autodesk CFO Mark Hawkins as its new CFO. Today, Salesforce discloses Smith is staying with the company as an EVP.
- Smith's current job description is vague: Salesforce only says he'll advise CEO Marc Benioff on "projects reasonably assigned to him," and that these projects will include ones involving the Salesforce Foundation (provides discounted software for non-profits and educational institutions, among other things).
- Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) loses its bid to dismiss a U.S. lawsuit that accuses it of concealing environmental problems at the Pascua-Lama mine on the border of Argentina and Chile and of fraudulently inflating the company's market value by billions of dollars.
- The U.S. district judge in Manhattan ruled today that shareholders can pursue class action claims against ABX but dismissed claims alleging the miner intentionally misled them about costs and production delays.
- Cost overruns, environmental issues, labor unrest, political opposition and falling gold prices contributed to ABX's decision in October 2013 to halt the project, after it had already spent $5B-plus; the investors are suing for losses covering the period from May 7, 2009, when ABX said it would begin construction on Pascua-Lama, through Nov. 1, 2013.
- Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) asserts its new BCM58100 microcontrollers (MCUs) are the first secure MCUs to have built-in NFC radios. The chips, which have begun sampling, are aimed at mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) terminals, PCs, home automation devices, security systems, and other products that could interact with NFC-capable smartphones/tablets.
- Broadcom also claims the chips deliver"unmatched performance and (through a proprietary tamper protection/encryption architecture called BroadSAFE) superior security.
- The chips take aim at NXP (NASDAQ:NXPI), a top player in both the secure microcontroller and NFC chip markets. Thanks to strong Apple NFC chip orders, NXP saw an 81% Y/Y increase in Secure Connected Devices segment sales in Q4 to $349M. The company launched new secure microcontrollers in February.
- Broadcom and NXP also compete in the smartphone/tablet NFC chip market.
- AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) is moving AMC channel president Charlie Collier to head up SundanceTV as well.
- He's taking on both channels, acting as a de facto replacement for Sarah Barnett, who moved from Sundance to take over BBC America after AMC's acquisition.
- The move makes sense, COO Ed Carroll says, since both AMC and Sundance are "heavily focused on high-end drama."
- Meanwhile, a report from Evercore has AMCX shares set to Hold, with an increased price target of $80 (from $71).
- Shares closed today -2.2% to $74.99.
- Whiting Petroleum (NYSE:WLL) can remain profitable and increase production even at current depressed crude oil prices, CEO Jim Volker says.
- The CEO says he is "rigging the company" to run with oil prices at $45-$55/bbl, and is confident that better technology and processes can help production rise in 2015 even as spending is expected to be cut in half from 2014.
- WLL does not plan to shut in existing wells, as their economics - even at current oil prices - still result in margins of at least $25/bbl, Volker says.
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