Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

by: Wall Street Breakfast
Wall Street Breakfast
Seeking Alpha's flagship daily business news summary, gives you a rapid overview of the day's key financial news. It is published before 7:00 AM ET every market day and delivered to over 900,000 email subscribers.

Top Stories
Detroit files for record bankruptcy. Once a powerhouse because of the auto-industry and a music hub because of Motown, Detroit has sunk into bankruptcy. The city yesterday submitted what is the largest municipal Chapter 9 filing in U.S. history after emergency manager Kevyn Orr failed to cut a deal with creditors over restructuring up to $20B in debt. Following "decades of fiscal mismanagement; plummeting population, employment and revenues; decaying City infrastructure...Detroit today is a shell of the thriving metropolis that it once was," Orr wrote.

Microsoft shares slump as Surface flops. Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) shares plummeted 6.4% pre-market after its FQ4 earnings missed forecasts, with the company continuing to suffer from the slump in the global PC market. Microsoft swung to a net profit of $4.97B from a loss of $492M a year earlier, EPS was $0.66 and revenue grew 10% to $19.9B. "We know we have to do better, particularly on mobile devices," said CFO Amy Hood. A $900M charge on unsold Surface tablet computers demonstrates why.

As with Microsoft, Google still stumped by mobile conundrum. Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Q2 earnings also undershot consensus as it struggled to work out how to maximize its revenue from mobile. In cricketing parlance, it would be called a googly. Still, it's worth remembering that net profit increased 16% to $3.23B, EPS came in at $9.56 and revenue rose 19% to $14.11B. Mobile is "clearly" having an impact on Google's (GOOG) ad prices, management said, but it's not the only factor. Shares dropped 3.7% premarket.

Top Stock News
Vodafone continues to suffer European woe. Vodafone's (NASDAQ:VOD) FQ1 organic service revenue slipped 3.5% to £10.2B, dragged down by sharp declines in Southern Europe, as well as more moderate falls in Northern & Central Europe, where the carrier struggled with "competitive intensity." More positively, Vodafone enjoyed good growth in Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Meanwhile, the operator expects to complete its €7.7B acquisition of Kabel Deutschland (OTCPK:KBDHY) by the end of 2013.

Vivus CEO replaced as firm yields to activist investor. Vivus (NASDAQ:VVUS) and First Manhattan have reached a settlement in what has been called the ugliest proxy fight in biotech. The activist shareholder will get seven nominees on an expanded 11-member board, including its CEO candidate, former AstraZeneca executive Tony Zook, who will replace founder Leland Wilson at the helm of the obesity drug company. Vivus will receive four director nominees.

Charter eyes Time Warner Cable. Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) is reportedly working with Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) to acquire Time Warner Cable (TWC) in a move that's part of an attempt by John Malone, whose Liberty Media (LMCA) owns 27% in Charter, to rebuild his U.S. cable empire. TWC already rebuffed Malone's maneuvering earlier this year, and buying the carrier would be a stretch for Charter, due to the latter's high debt and its market cap of $12.6B vs TWC's $33.14B.

Intuitive Surgical shares sink on earnings, FDA warning. Intuitive Surgical's (NASDAQ:ISRG) shares slumped 11.9% in post-market trading after the company's Q2 earnings missed expectations and it disclosed it has received a warning letter from the FDA, including over recalls. Net profit rose 2.7% to $159.1M, EPS came in at $3.90 and revenue climbed 8% to $579M. However, Intuitive cut its FY sales growth forecast, due to a potential defect in the scissors of its da Vinci surgical robot systems.

G20 labels nine insurers systemically important. AIG (NYSE:AIG), MetLife (NYSE:MET) and Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU) are among nine global insurers categorized as "systemically important" by the G20's Financial Stability Board. The designation, which U.S. authorities also want to place on the firms, will mean they'll have to hold higher capital reserves, and formulate recovery and resolution plans to limit any fallout should they collapse. Unlike in the U.S., GE Capital's (NYSE:GE) not on the list.

Apache to sell $3.75B in Gulf of Mexico energy assets. Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA) has agreed to sell its Gulf of Mexico Shelf operations and properties to Fieldwood Energy for $3.75B in cash. The move is in line with previously announced plans to divest $4B in older assets this year in order to pay down debt, repurchase shares, and focus on new projects. Shares rose 1.5% in AH trading.

Top Economic & Other News
Moody's more optimistic on U.S. Moody's has affirmed the U.S.'s AAA rating and even raised the country's sovereign outlook to Stable from Negative, citing economic resilience relative to other top-rated nations and "major reductions" in government spending growth.

G20 backs corporate-tax overhaul. The G20 has endorsed an OECD report that would revamp international corporate taxes and end the loopholes that enable major multinational corporations such as Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), Google (GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to avoid paying large amounts of tax. A major target of the change is the practice of transferring profits from countries where they are generated into low or no-tax jurisdictions via internal company transactions.

Alpha-Rich Stock Movers and Great Calls
1) Harvard Bioscience (NASDAQ:HBIO) closed +8.2% yesterday after fund manager Valuable Insights highlighted the upcoming spin-off as a catalyst for a potential double. Read article »
2) A.T. Cross (NASDAQ:ATX) is +48% since February 7, when Alan Brochstein noted that a spin-off of the company's accessories business could lead to significant upside. His thesis proved correct - on Monday, the company announced a divestiture of that business. Read article »

Alpha-Rich Stocks To Watch
1) Pinetree Capital (OTCPK:PNPFF). Pine Tree's debentures are trading at 64 cents on the dollar. For risk-tolerant investors, 93% potential upside awaits over the next three years. Read article »
2) Canacol Energy (CAAEF.PK). Successful exploration results, a consolidating sector, and a Colombian peace dividend are all tailwinds for the junior oil explorer and producer. Read article »

Alpha-Rich articles are the best long and short ideas on Seeking Alpha. SA Pro subscribers receive early access to these Alpha-Rich articles, which often move markets. For more information about SA Pro and becoming a subscriber, click here.

Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -1.5% to 14590. Hong Kong +0.1% to 21362. China -1.5% to 1993. India +0.1% to 20,149.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.3%. Paris -0.3%. Frankfurt -0.3%.
Futures at 6:10: Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq -0.2%. Crude +0.2% to $108.24. Gold +0.1% to $1286.90.

Today's economic calendar:
No events scheduled.

Notable earnings before today's open: BHI, COL, FHN, FNFG, GE, HON, IPG, IR, KSU, LH, MAN, SLB, STI, STT, VFC, WHR

See full real-time earnings coverage »

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