Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

by: Judith Levy
Judith Levy
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.

Today's Markets

Asia: Nikkei: +2.99%, Hang Seng: +0.99%, Shanghai +0.87%.

Europe: FTSE: +1.20%, DAX: +0.95%, CAC: +1.45%.

U.S. futures: DJIA: +0.15%, S&P 500: +0.24%, Nasdaq: +0.04%. Gold hit a record $929.80 an ounce before closing up 1.8% at a record close of $927.10. Platinum also hit a record $1,733 an ounce before ending the day ended up $48.60 at $1,728.70.

Must-Know News for Tuesday

  • Foreclosures jump.. RealtyTrac said Tuesday 2,203,295 foreclosure filings were reported in 2007, a 75% increase over 2006. Q4 foreclosures were up 86% from the year-ago period.
  • Crude cuts in store? OPEC is expected to keep output steady this Friday in Vienna, but it may cut production quotas in March if crude inventories continue to build and demand continues to wane amid global economic weakness.
  • New home sales plummet. Sales of new homes fell 26% in 2007, the steepest drop since records began in 1963. Prices fell 10.9% from a year ago. Analysts called the report "simply awful" and saw no sign of any bottom to the housing market.
  • Liquidity comeback. U.S. Treasury Assistant Secretary Anthony Ryan says liquidity is slowly returning to the markets, but stopped short of sounding the all-clear signal. He also said investors must learn to better appreciate risk.
  • Kellwood under downgrade review. Moody's (NYSE:MCO) is placing Kellwood's (KWD) rating under review following the apparel company's decision to remove all obstacles to its $21/share acquisition by Sun Capital Securities Corp. Kellwood shares rose 18.71% Monday.
  • Sallie Mae remains under downgrade threat. Moody's (MCO) is also keeping Sallie Mae (NYSE:SLM) under review for possible downgrade following the lender's settlement of its suit against a consortium that retracted a buyout offer.
  • Liberty Media wants Diller off IAC board. In response to the decision by IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI) to split into five companies, Liberty Media's (LCAPA) John Malone is seeking the removal of seven IAC board members, including Barry Diller. Diller controls Liberty Media's voting rights via proxy, but Malone says he forfeited that power when he decided unilaterally to pursue the spinoffs.
  • Buffett to the rescue. Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) is ready to expand its new bond-insurance business, a move regulators hope will help stabilize debt markets. In exchange, its licensing is being fast-tracked.
  • BSkyB must cut stake in ITV. The British government has ordered BSkyB (BSY) to reduce its stake in ITV plc to below 7.5% to protect competition in the TV market.
  • Dow Chemical beats. Dow Chemical (DOW) reported Tuesday Q4 EPS of $0.84, vs. consensus estimates of $0.80. Q4 revenue was $14.23B vs. consensus of $13.09B. Dow credited the beat to its "global footprint" and said 2008 earnings should be "solid."
  • Lexmark blows past estimates. Lexmark (NYSE:LXK) reported Tuesday Q4 EPS of $1.29 vs. consensus estimates of $0.58. Q4 revenue of $1.31B beat estimates of $1.29B. LXK sees Q1 EPS of $0.80-0.90, vs. consensus estimates of $0.80. Shares added 2.25% AH to a 4.7% gain.
  • VMware plummets after hours on revenue miss, outlook. The business software manufacturer (NYSE:VMW) reported Q4 net profit of $78 million ($0.19/share), up from $31 million ($0.09) a year ago. Revenue was up 80% to $412 million, shy of analyst forecasts of $417 million. VMware forecast 2008 revenue growth of 50% to $2 billion in 2008, also below estimates. Shares fell 26% in AH trading.
  • Amex reports 9.9% income drop. American Express (NYSE:AXP) posted net income of $831 million ($0.71/share), down from $922 million ($0.75) a year earlier. Revenue was up 10% to $6.42 billion from $5.84 billion, below analyst expectations of $7.85 billion. Shares fell 2.9% after hours.
  • SanDisk makes it through challenging quarter. SanDisk (SNDK) reported Q4 EPS of $0.69, beating consensus estimates of $0.64. Q4 revenue of $1.25B was in line with estimates of $1.27B. Gross margin fell to 28.1% from 30.7% amid a memory chip glut. CEO Eli Harari said SNDK expects to grow both top and bottom lines in 2008. Shares gained 1.2% AH.
  • Icahn still angling to sell Biogen. Activist investor Carl Icahn has filed to appoint three members to Biogen Idec's (NASDAQ:BIIB) board. He claims the lack of interest shown by big pharma companies in Biogen is the product of excessive hurdles placed in their path by the biotech.
  • Sarkozy Says Societe Generale Executives Share Blame
  • Matria Healthcare down despite bid
  • Al Gore's Current Media files for $100 million IPO
  • Investors Turn More Skeptical of Wendy's Sale
  • Tyson's Profit Drops 40% On Beef Loss, Rising Costs

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