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Zero Hedge

Frontrunning: March 3

  • 3 days after Zero Hedge, here's Bloomberg: Company Cash Bathes Stocks as Monthly Buybacks Set Record (BBG)
  • Israel's Netanyahu to address Congress in speech that has strained ties with Obama (Reuters), Risks Diplomatic, Political Pain If Speech Falls Flat (BBG)
  • Before Key Speech, Netanyahu Hails U.S. Ties (WSJ)
  • $1.92 bilion FX rigging charge: Barclays Posts Loss as Foreign-Exchange Provisions Rise (WSJ)
  • Barclays Awards Jenkins First Bonus as CEO, Cuts Pay Pool (BBG)
  • Exxon’s Russia Exposure Surges as Long View Outweighs Sanctions (BBG)
  • Obama says Iran must halt key nuclear work for at least a decade (Reuters)
  • Yellen Turning from Friend to Foe for Dollar Bulls (BBG)
  • Google to launch small US mobile network (FT)
  • Jeff Immelt’s Overhaul of GE Impeded by Falling Oil Prices (WSJ)
  • Iraqi forces try to seal off Islamic State around Tikrit (Reuters)
  • Best Buy to Buy Back Shares, Raise Dividends After Earnings Surge (WSJ)


Overnight Media Digest


Google will launch its own mobile network in the United States, threatening the traditional carriers with competition if they don't innovate quickly to better improve Internet connectivity.

According to a September 2013 audit report, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's inspector general had warned Anthem of vulnerabilities in its computer system two years before online criminals broke into its records and stole personal information belonging to about 80 million people.

Veteran investor Bill Gross has criticised the move by global economies to cut interest rates, opining that the move would hinder rather than help growth. "Low interest rates globally destroy financial business models that are critical to the functioning of modern day economies," Gross wrote.

USA Today publisher Gannett Co Inc. has settled a corporate governance dispute with activist investor Carl Icahn ahead of its spin-off of its publishing arm. In January, Icahn, who holds a 6.6 percent interest in the company, alleged that the company's board might take steps to prevent the takeover of its publishing arm.



* Energy prices began falling last summer, but economists are stumped on what consumers are doing with the extra money. They are not shopping. One hint at what consumers might be thinking came Monday, when new government data on the economy showed a healthy gain for wages and salaries in January, even as spending by consumers inched lower for the second month in a row. (http://nyti.ms/1vWdAaD)

* The diverging prospects for JPMorgan's biggest businesses are reflective of a split within the broader financial industry. (http://nyti.ms/1Ge1ayq)

* How Etihad Airways runs and is financed are central in a fight with airlines in the United States, which accuse Persian Gulf carriers of stealing passengers. (http://nyti.ms/1Ckyi6u)

* A growing number of the wealthy British residents do not have to pay tax on their foreign income or assets, thanks to an Edwardian-era law. (http://nyti.ms/1wO95dA)

* A little over a month ago, Carl Icahn seemed poised for a fight at the Gannett Co Inc. Now, the veteran activist investor is backing down. Gannett disclosed on Monday that Icahn had withdrawn his two nominees for its board, as well as his corporate governance proposals that would have made it easier to sell the media company. (http://nyti.ms/1Nb2pAp)

* Convicted in 2005 of looting nearly $100 million from Tyco International, L. Dennis Kozlowski was the face of Wall Street gluttony. Now a free man, he speaks for the first time of his more modest life. (http://nyti.ms/1AtyysV)

* Under a government crackdown on for-profit schools that leave students with useless credentials and punishing debt, some colleges have converted to nonprofits, in lucrative deals. (http://nyti.ms/1wO8gBw)




** The Canadian government is actively searching for a new top military commander to succeed General Tom Lawson after he asked that his three-year appointment not be extended. (bit.ly/1AAJp4j)

** Oxford Properties Corp and Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc, two of the country's largest landlords have moved quickly to snap up 11 of their best leases from insolvent Target Canada for what it describes as a premium price, underlining their urgency to take back control of their retail space. (bit.ly/1wLOzKz)

** For a new advertising campaign for McDonald's Canada, launched on Monday evening, a small film crew crisscrossed the country interviewing more than 450 McDonald's customers, staff, and suppliers. Some of those people will be the face of the "Welcome to McDonald's" campaign. (bit.ly/1vXqx4d)


** Ottawa's bumpy mission to foster fiercer wireless competition across the country is set to reach a climax when Industry Canada reveals the results of the AWS-3 spectrum auction to be held on Tuesday. (bit.ly/1EdoTww)

** Two transactions in Toronto that saw institutional buyers swoop in and make offers to condo developers for entire buildings, squeezing out all the small-time investors, have caught the eye of people in the high-rise industry. (bit.ly/1EJ1eVq)

** Refugee immigrants are reporting higher incomes to the Canada Revenue Agency than investor-class immigrants, according to data compiled by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The rate of investor immigrants reporting any income whatsoever is far below the Canadian average. (bit.ly/1DCZ5pM)

** Concerns that arms could end up "in the hands of extremists" made Ottawa reluctant to support the Syrian opposition in the aftermath of the August 2013 chemical weapons attack in Damascus, newly released documents show. (bit.ly/1AALmOa)

** The Ontario government has opened the possibility of appealing a court ruling, which allowed a young aboriginal girl with leukemia to abandon chemotherapy, after an unusual, belated decision to get involved in the contentious case. (bit.ly/1EdyCTu)




- China's banking industry should accelerate the transformation of the way it makes profits, improve innovation capacity and further develop risk-control management in order to better adapt to the "new normal" of the Chinese economy, Shang Fulin, president of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, wrote in a state-owned magazine recently.

- The revenue and profits made by 421 companies on Shenzhen's ChiNext board, China's Nasdaq-style board of high-growth companies, hit a three-year high in 2014, according to company results posted on the exchange website.


- China Vanke Co Ltd, the nation's biggest property developer, denied a rumor that the company plans to lay off staff to improve profits amid the ailing property market.


- Starting April 1, all Chinese trust companies are required to allocate one percent of their total assets to a trust insurance fund, the paper reported citing a recent internal statement circulated by the China Banking Regulatory Commission. The trust was set up to reduce financial risk in shadow banking.

- China has imposed a total of 72.3 million yuan ($11.53 million) of fines in 136 environment pollution cases since the revision of the environmental law, said Pan Yue, vice-minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.


- Attempts to promote a separatist agenda in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will be futile, according to an editorial in the official paper. It will only lead the city to a political and economic dead end, said the editorial.



The Times


House prices fell for the first time in five months in February as the property market slowed more sharply than expected, according to figures from Nationwide. (http://thetim.es/18fVfua)


The UK's manufacturing output has reached a seven-month high in the latest sign that the economy is gathering pace after a slowdown towards the end of last year. (http://thetim.es/1BQ8UWH)

The Guardian


Tens of thousands of children have missed out on their first choice of secondary school this year as pressure on places mounts, with almost half failing to get into their top preference in some areas of London. (http://bit.ly/1aJagGB)


A cross party-group of MPs has called for an end to the indefinite detention of migrants, warning that too many people are being unnecessarily detained, sometimes for as long as four years, under a system they characterise as "expensive, ineffective and unjust". (http://bit.ly/1NadIc7)

The Telegraph


A senior executive at the Co-operative Bank has left the company after little more than a year, in the latest high-profile departure from the troubled bank. (http://bit.ly/1zBKqJh)


A group of billionaire Russian investors plans to challenge a UK decision to block their attempt to seize control of a clutch of North Sea gasfields worth billions. (http://bit.ly/1vVoSfq)

Sky News


The emerging markets bank Standard Chartered Plc will risk reigniting a row over City bonuses this week when it reveals that it is cutting bonuses by a smaller percentage than its decline in profits. (http://bit.ly/1GJAiUt)


Two-thirds of the executives suspended over Tesco Plc's 263 million stg profits overstatement scandal have left the supermarket giant. (http://bit.ly/18hpK2N)

The Independent


Lloyds Banking Group, which is backed by the taxpayer, is to pay its first dividend since 2008 as its chief executive collected a 7.4 million stg bonus. (http://ind.pn/1LQmPNv)


Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz


No major domestic economic reports scheduled for today.


Citi (C) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
DURECT (DRRX) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Cantor
LabCorp (LH) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord
NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
Quest Diagnostics (DGX) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord


AK Steel (AKS) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Nomura
American Express (AXP) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Macquarie
Cerner (CERN) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Topeka
Fifth Third (FITB) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette
Freescale (FSL) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
KBR (KBR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
LTC Properties (LTC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Mizuho
MannKind (MNKD) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
Mavenir Systems (MVNR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Medifast (MED) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Micron (MU) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Nomura
PVH Corp. (PVH) downgraded to Neutral from Conviction Buy at Goldman
U.S. Steel (X) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Nomura
Vivendi (VIVHY) downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies
Yum! Brands (YUM) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird


Easterly Government Properties (DEA) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital
Hilton (HLT) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital
MPLX (MPLX) initiated with a Hold at Evercore ISI
Marriott (MAR) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital
Nexvet Biopharma (NVET) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
Shell Midstream (SHLX) initiated with a Buy at Evercore ISI
Starwood (HOT) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Sunoco Logistics (SXL) initiated with a Hold at Evercore ISI
Syneron Medical (ELOS) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Tesoro Logistics (TLLP) initiated with a Buy at Evercore ISI
Valero Energy Partners (VLP) initiated with a Buy at Evercore ISI
Vista Outdoor (VSTO) initiated with a Buy at CRT Capital


Boise Cascade (BCC) announces 2M share repurchase program
Bristol-Myers (BMY) reports hepatitis C cure rate of 97% in study 
Cisco (CSCO), Telecom Italia announce intent to enter cloud services agreement
Citi (C) confirms sale of OneMain Financial To Springleaf to $4.25B
FMC Corporation's (FMC) sale of Alkali business to Tronox clears antitrust review
Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) awarded $430M government contract
Jiayuan.com (DATE) receives 'going private' proposal
Macau reports February casino revenue down 48.6% to 19.54B patacas
Ocwen (OCN) hired Moelis, Barclays to explore strategic options
Ocwen (OCN) not anticipating any material fines from regulators
Petrobras (PBR) announces $13.7B two-year divestment plan
Pluristem (PSTI) announce data showing PLX-R18 cells improve bone marrow transplant
STAAR Surgical (STAA) appoints Caren Mason as CEO
Salix (SLXP) discloses internal probe of disclosures of wholesaler inventory levels
Scientific Games (SGMS) signs contract with ALC to provide lottery game system
SunOpta (STKL) announces $30M share repurchase program


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Tarena (TEDU), Avolon (AVOL), Stage Stores (SSI), JD.com (JD), Nortek (NTK), Halozyme (HALO), Puma Biotechnology (PBYI), Meadowbrook Insurance (MIG), Acura Pharma (ACUR), Diplomat Pharmacy (DPLO), Altisource (ASPS), Opower (OPWR), Intrexon (XON), DTS, Inc. (DTSI), MBIA (MBI), Guidewire (GWRE), McDermott (MDR), Fox Factory (FOXF), DURECT (DRRX), Matador (MTDR), Everyday Health (EVDY), Nutrisystem (NTRI), IGI Laboratories (IG), RigNet (RNET), Palo Alto (PANW), CNinsure (CISG), Epiq Systems (EPIQ), Chuy's (CHUY)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
SunOpta (STKL), Nabors Industries (NBR), FS Investment (FSIC), Compass Diversified (CODI), Baltic Trading (BALT), Mid-Con Energy (MCEP), New Mountain Finance (NMFC), Cumulus Media (CMLS), Sanchez Energy (SN), Aerie Pharmaceuticals (AERI), Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA), Carmike Cinemas (CKEC), Salix (SLXP), Caesars Acquisition (CACQ), Caesar's (CZR), Portfolio Recovery (PRAA), DXP Enterprises (DXPE)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
KYTHERA (KYTH), Chimera (CIM), Revance (RVNC), Mylan (MYL)


Apple (AAPL)-Google (GOOG) proposed $415M settlement headed towards approval, Reuters says
Judge pauses attorney general piracy probe against Google (GOOG), AP says
Obama task force on police doesn't call for body cameras (TASR, DGLY), NY Times says
Taiwan orders Alibaba (BABA) to withdraw from country, Financial Times reports
Toyota (TM) promises to stay profitable in Russia, Financial Times reports


Callidus Software (CALD) files to sell 4M shares of common stock
Concert Pharmaceuticals (CNCE) files $125M mixed securities shelf
Diamond Resorts (DRII) files to sell 4.83M shares for holders
General Finance Corp (GFN) files to sell 4.4M shares of common stock
Harman (HAR) files to sell 839,673 shares of common stock for holders
Heartland Express (HTLD) files to sell 3.25M shares of common stock for holders
Markel (MKL) files automatic mixed securities shelf
NorthStar Asset Management (NSAM) files automatic mixed securities shelf
Northstar Realty (NRF) files to sell 60M shares of common stock
Oaktree Capital (OAK) files to sell 4M Class A units
Pfizer (PFE) files automatic mixed securities shelf
Santander Consumer (SC) files to sell 245.6M shares for holders
TESARO (TSRO) files to sell $150M of common stock
Taylor Morrison (TMHC) files to issue 1.4M shares of Class A stock to holders