Seeking Alpha
  • Today - Thursday, December 18, 2014

  • 3:49 PM
    • Exxon Mobil (XOM +1.8%) says it successfully drilled its second shale oil and gas well this year at the Vaca Muerta deposit in Argentina.
    • “Our second well is flowing at levels that make it one of the best in the formation and complements those obtained at our first well," XOM says.
    • XOM has interests in ~900K acres in Vaca Muerta, and is among foreign energy companies including Chevron and Shell developing shale fields in the huge deposit that holds at least 23B barrels of oil.
    | Comment!
  • 3:31 PM
    • The Brazilian congressional committee investigating alleged corruption at Petrobras (PBR +2.4%) has ended its inquiry, recommending that prosecutors bring indictments against 52 people for alleged money laundering and racketeering.
    • Most of the people named already have been arrested, charged or mentioned in a parallel investigation by the Brazilian Federal Police.
    • The congressional report does not call for charges to be filed against any current Petrobras executives.
    | Comment!
  • 3:29 PM
    • Terms of AJG's purchase were not disclosed. Established in 2001, Affinity Marketing Group is a national program banker that provides access to products and services designed for members of affinity groups, associations and fraternal organizations throughout the U.S.
    • Source: Press Release
    | Comment!
  • 3:26 PM
    • Part of a defamation suit against American Realty Capital (ARCP -3.9%) by former Chief Accounting Officer Lisa McAlister, Schorsch in July is said to have directed then-CFO Brian Block to move some numbers around in the Q2 results to cover up for errors made in Q1.
    • McAlister and Block stepped down from ARCP on Oct. 29, the day after accounting irregularities were disclosed.
    • McAlister also says she repeatedly let other executives and the company's auditor Grant Thornton know of her concerns.
    • RCS Capital (RCAP -17.2%) - where Schorsch remains chairman - is really taking it on the chin, and New York REIT (NYRT -0.9%) - where Schorsch is chairman and CEO - initially tumbled on the news, but has regained its footing.
    | 1 Comment
  • 3:22 PM
    • Wayne Savings (NASDAQ:WAYN) declares $0.09/share quarterly dividend, in line with previous.
    • Forward yield 2.74%
    • Payable Jan. 21; for shareholders of record Jan. 7; ex-div Jan. 5.
    | Comment!
  • 3:16 PM
    • He's to be replaced as one of the three co-heads of investment banking by John Waldron. The others are David Solomon and Richard Gnodde. Waldron joined Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) in 2000 and most recently was head of investment banking services.
    • Weinberg will move to a new client-development role, and will remain one of Goldman's three vice chairman.
    • The move comes as the bank is wrapping up one of its best investment-banking years ever, including advising on M&A deals totaling more than $1T - the first time any bank hit that mark since 2007.
    | Comment!
  • 3:00 PM
    • Dow +1.69%.
    • 10-yr -0.46%.
    • Euro -0.49% vs. dollar.
    • Crude -2.83% to $55.19.
    • Gold +0.14% to $1,196.20.
    | Comment!
  • 2:37 PM
    • As expected, Zillow (Z -3.3%) and Trulia (TRLA -3.6%) shareholders have signed off on the companies' all-stock merger by overwhelming margins.
    • Regulators still need to sign off on the deal, which the companies expect will close in 1H15. Zillow previously agreed not to close the merger before Feb. 1, to give the FTC more time to review.
    • Trulia shareholders will receive 0.44 shares of the combined company for each Trulia share they own. Trulia shares currently trade at a 0.43x ratio to Zillow shares (implies a slight discount to the merger price).
    • Shares of both companies are selling off in spite of a strong market rally.
  • 2:31 PM
    • Washington Trust Bancorp (NASDAQ:WASH) declares $0.32/share quarterly dividend, in line with previous.
    • Forward yield 3.35%
    • Payable Jan. 14; for shareholders of record Jan. 2; ex-div Dec. 30.
    | Comment!
  • 2:20 PM
    • Memorial Production Partners (MEMP +2%) is higher after authorizing a new stock buyback program for up to $150M of its common units, effective immediately.
    • MEMP says the repurchase is a prudent investment given its strong balance sheet and liquidity, adding that despite recent volatility in crude oil prices, "we remain confident in our ability to maintain distributions based on our strong asset base and best in class hedging program."
    • Wunderlich says MEMP remains its favorite name in the upstream MLP sector, saying it has the best in class hedge book and ample liquidity that lowers its relative risk of a distributions cut, a fear that has left the investors in a lurch (
    | Comment!
  • 2:11 PM
    • Germany's BASF (OTCQX:BASFY) and Russia's Gazprom (OTCPK:OGZPY) are calling off a swap of natural gas storage and trading assets the two companies had planned for the end of this year because of the difficult political environment.
    • The planned swap would have seen BASF subsidiary Wintershall transfer a jointly operated natural gas trading and storage business to Gazprom, and the Russian gas company would have obtained a 50% share in the activities of a unit that explores for and produces oil and gas in southern areas of the North Sea; in return, Gazprom and Wintershall were to develop jointly two additional blocks at a gas field in Siberia.
    • Because of the deal's collapse, BASF now expects this year's EBIT to be slightly rather than considerably higher this year since it will not collect income from divestitures related to the transaction; BASF also says it will book expenses of €113M for 2013 and €211M for 2014.
    | Comment!
  • 2:04 PM
    • With the help of stronger-than-expected hardware sales, Oracle (ORCL +9.2%) beat FQ2 estimates in spite of a 400 bps forex headwind (twice what was originally expected). FQ3 guidance was conservative after taking forex pressures into account.
    • The numbers have been good enough for Oracle to surge to new highs and receive a slew of target hikes, and to lead many enterprise tech names to outperform amid a big market rally. The Nasdaq is up 1.9%.
    • Microsoft (MSFT +3.2%), Cisco (CSCO +2.3%), EMC (EMC +3.7%), VMware (VMW +5.1%), and beaten-down IBM (IBM +2.8%) are among the enterprise tech names outperforming today. Others: SPLK +4.6%. CA +3.5%. RHT +3.4%. VRNS +6.3%. PCTY +5.8%. JIVE +4.6%. VMEM +5.2%. SAAS +4.7%. BRCD +3.8%.
    • Oracle's healthy cloud software numbers are drawing attention: While traditional software license revenue fell 4% Y/Y, its SaaS/PaaS revenue rose 41%. SaaS/PaaS bookings totaled $170M, and are expected to be "well over" $1B in FY16 (ends May '16). Fusion cloud app bookings rose over 100%.
    • On the CC (transcript), Oracle performed its customary trash-talking of cloud app rivals. "We are clearly growing faster than Salesforce (CRM +4%) and were more than three times the size of Workday (WDAY +3.2%)." Both firms are posting solid gains.
    • Oracle's numbers come as Bloomberg reports the Chinese government is looking to "purge most foreign technology from banks, the military, state-owned enterprises and key government agencies by 2020." IBM, Cisco, and other U.S. firms have already seen their Chinese sales fall sharply following last year's NSA spying uproar.
    | Comment!
  • 2:00 PM
    • Dow +1.71%.
    • 10-yr -0.53%.
    • Euro -0.56% vs. dollar.
    • Crude -2.34% to $55.46.
    • Gold +0.18% to $1,196.60.
    | Comment!
  • 1:44 PM
    • NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) says it will pull NBC and ten other cable networks off Cable One if a new carriage deal isn't struck by January 1.
    • A blackout would impact 475K subscribers.
    • NBCU wants an agreement at the same rates it applies to the National Cable Television Cooperative, while Cable One is looking for lower costs.
    • Cable One is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (GHC +0.9%).
    | Comment!
  • 1:34 PM
    • The FDA approves Lannett Company's (LCI +0.3%) Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for Dorzolamide Hydrochloride and Timolol Maleate Ophthalmic Solution, the therapeutic equivalent to the reference listed drug, Cosopt Ophthalmic Solution of Oak Pharmaceuticals (AKRX +0.4%). The U.S. wholesale market is ~$123M.
    • The product is indicated for the reduction of elevated intraocular pressure in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension who are insufficiently responsive to beta-blockers.
    | Comment!
  • 1:31 PM
    • Nestle (OTCPK:NSRGY) says its Nescafe Dolce Gusto unit will open a new factory in Montes Clares, Brazil next year.
    • The facility will be the first Dolce Gusto capsule producer outside of Europe.
    • Nestle expects the coffee capsule market wukk continue to see strong demand.
    | Comment!
  • 1:22 PM
    • Peru's government approves the environmental study for Southern Copper's (SCCO +2.8%) $1.2B expansion of its Toquepala mine, a project expected to raise the miner's copper output by 100K metric tons/year.
    • Construction on the expansion, which will add a new concentrator at the mine and boost its tailings storage capacity, is scheduled to wrap up in two years.
    | Comment!
  • 1:14 PM
    • In addition to beating FQ1 estimates, Accenture (ACN +4.3%) has hiked its guidance for FY15 (ends Aug. '15) local currency revenue growth to 5%-8% from 4%-7%. On the other hand, forex is now expected to have 500 bps impact on revenue, up from a prior 200 bps.
    • As a result, FY15 EPS guidance has been lowered to $4.66-$4.80 from $4.74-$4.88 - consensus is at $4.81 - and FQ2 revenue guidance of $7.25B-$7.5B is mostly below a $7.46B consensus. The market appears to have discounted forex pressures in advance.
    • FQ1 new bookings totaled $7.7B, down from $8.7B a year ago. Consulting bookings fell to $3.9B from $4.3B, and outsourcing bookings to $3.8B from $4.4B.
    • Gross margin fell 110 bps Y/Y to 32.2%, but cost controls helped SG&A spend fall to 17.1% of revenue from 18.7%. As a result, op. margin rose 20 bps to 15%. $670M was spent on buybacks.
    • North America revenue +11% to $3.44B; Europe +5% to $2.91B; "Growth Markets" +3% to $1.55B. Forex respectively had 400 bps and 600 bps impacts on Europe and Growth Markets revenue growth.
    • Accenture has made new highs. Outsourcing rivals Infosys (INFY +3%), Wipro (WIT +4.9%), and Cognizant (CTSH +4.3%) are also outperforming on a good day for equities.
    • FQ1 results, PR
    | Comment!
  • 1:11 PM
    • Through November ETFs have taken in $192B vs. $188B for all of 2013, according to BlackRock's (NYSE:BLK) iShares and Vanguard account for $7 out of every $10 of inflows this year, says InvestmentNews, and BlackRock says it brought in $89.7B globally, $71.4B in the U.S.
    • Vanguard places flows at $75B globally, $63.5B in the U.S., putting it in position to overtake State Street (NYSE:STT) in the #2 spot in ETF business.
    •'s Dave Nadig calls it a "victory of Vanilla" story, noting that for all of the low-vol, currency hedging, and smart beta strategies, core product offerings with broad exposure to stock and bond markets continue to dominate inflows.
    | Comment!
  • 1:01 PM
    • IPO Bellicum Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:BLCM) debuts strongly. Shares are up 41% on turnover of 6.3M. Juno Therapeutics (Pending:JUNO) is on deck for tomorrow.
    • Previously: Bellicum Pharma on deck for IPO (Dec. 10, 2014)
    | Comment!
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