2011 October

EU Bailout Fund Chief Speaks About China

European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) Chief Executive Klaus Regling was in China just a day after EU leaders struck a deal to boost its rescue fund, recapitalize banks and reduce Greece’s debt burden. Regling was scouting out possibilities for China investments.

“We all know China has a particular need to invest surpluses,” Regling said at a news conference, referring to China’s foreign exchange reserves of $3.2 trillion. Analysts estimate a quarter of the reserves are euro-denominated assets. Regling is scheduled to meet officials from China’s central bank and finance ministry on Friday. Regling also said he was also in contact with sovereign funds globally.

European leaders are now under pressure to finalize the details of their plan to slash Greece’s debt burden and strengthen efforts to revive the euro zone. French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said an investment by China would be a “gesture of confidence”.

Analysts are saying China has far more of an upside when it comes to dealing with the Europeans. Chinese analysts say now is the time for Beijing to negotiate hard with the EU. In negotiations, China could secure control or ownership of some of Europe’s best brand names, companies and intellectual property in return for fresh funds. “Europe has some many famous brands, intellectual property and many high-quality corporate assets. Why should we worry that we cannot get enough returns?” Ding Yifan, an economist at Development Research Centre, a cabinet think-tank, said.

European officials have said the leverage would be achieved by two methods. First, by offering insurance to buyers of euro zone debt in the primary market or second, via a new special purpose investment vehicle with hopes of drawing funds mainly from China and Brazil. Brazil rejected the idea of buying euro zone bonds even before the region’s leaders struck a deal.
“I believe that European countries do not need funds from Brazil to buy bonds. Brazil is not considering it,” Mantega told reporters in Brasilia on Tuesday. “They have to find solutions to the European problems within Europe.”

China is definitely in a unique position at this point. Investing in the European Financial Stability Fund has enormous risks, but it may well be worth it for the political gains China would enjoy in trying to promote its global ambitions.

Electronic Arts 2Q Loss Worse Than Last Year

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) second quarter results saw losses grow from the same period last year, but revenue also grew. EA raised its sales forecast for the holiday season, which is always big in the video game market. CEO John Riccitello said sales of their blockbuster hit Battlefield 3 were “very strong.” Battlefield 3 shipped over 10 million copies since launching this week and is about to release in Europe.

The loss for Electronic Arts added up to $340 million, or $1.03/share. In the same period last year, EA had a loss of $201 million or $0.61/share.

The adjusted earnings came out to be $0.05/share, exceeding most analysts expectations of $0.04/share. Revenue also exceeded analysts’ expectations with over $1 billion in revenue, while Wall Street expected $884 million. This revenue was boosted by video game juggernauts FIFA 12 and Madden 12.

During the conference call, Riccitello said, “Our results reflected a tremendous performance by our EA Sports titles and a strong showing on a new game on the Facebook platform, `The Sims Social.”’ He added, “We’re now focused on our biggest title for the holiday.”

The company is adjusting the bottom end of its full-year adjusted earnings to a range of $0.73 to $0.90. This is up from a low end of $0.70.

Shares of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) are down 2.5% in after-hours trading at $23.89.

Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Lead Financials in Rally

Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are all rallying along with Wall Street today after big news from Europe on a euro zone debt deal. European leaders agreed today to cut Greece’s debt load and prevent the sovereign debt crisis from spreading to other larger countries such as Italy.

Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) is up 7.66% this afternoon at $7.09 with a high of $7.15. BAC is rallying along with the overall stock market despite being downgraded by Morgan Stanlely. Morgan Stanley downgraded BofA down to “equal weight” from “overweight,” and also warned that there are no stock gain catalysts in the near future.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) is the biggest winner in the financial sector today with gains of over 15% at $19.13. MS is up on above average volume with 36 million shares traded with about 2 hours left in the trading day.

Citigroup, Inc. (NYSE:C) is up over 8% today at $33.74 with an intraday high of over $34. A U.S. federal judge is questioning the settlement between the company and the SEC this afternoon. One of many questions the judge brought up is why Citigroup is only paying a $95 million which is one-fifth the fine that Goldman Sachs had to pay in a similar case last year. This news isn’t affecting Citigroup today though as it rallies with the overall stock market on the news out of Europe.

Other U.S. banks rallying today include Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF) up 7.68%, SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE:STI) up 8.30% and Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) up 8.13%.

Chrysler 3Q Sales Rise 24% Posting a $212 Million Profit

Chrysler Group LLC announced the companies second quarterly profit of the year this morning. The Auburn Hills, Michigan based company reported a 3Q profit of $212 million besting the same quarter from last year where the company lost $84 million. For the period ending September 30th, Chrysler reported a worldwide increase in vehicle sales of 24% while revenue increased by 19% to $13.1 billion.

This is a positive step for Chrysler, which has only seen two positive fiscal quarters since 2006. In the first three quarters of the year, Chrysler is in the red posting an overall loss of $42 million . This recent quarter is a step in the right direction for a company that recently underwent a change to Italy’s Fiat management team.

Sergio Marichonne, the CEO for both Fiat and Chrysler, said “This house(Chrysler) continues to be fully focused on financial performance and making outstanding cars and trucks by fully leveraging its alliance with Fiat.” Under the guidance of Marichonne Chrysler is one the verge of posting the first annual profit for the company since 2005.

Several other factors, including topping the charts in Consumer Reports reliability ranking, are helping to carry Chrysler to a stronger performance in the automotive industry. Combine a strong advertising campaign, with the recently ratified agreement with the United Auto Workers union, and Chrysler has a strong foundation to build on for the future.

Floods In Thailand Puts Damper On Toyota And Honda

Due to extreme flooding in Thailand, Toyota (NYSE:TM) has announce it will suspend some plants in North America on Saturday as the global supply chain has been interrupted. Honda (NYSE:HMC) said it has postponed its launch of a mini-vehicle due to the flooding saying it hasn’t been able to get the needed parts for the car from Thailand.

Toyota, Japan’s largest car maker by volume, announced the one day stoppage at its assembly plants in Indiana, Kentucky and Ontario, Canada, along with an engine factory in West Virginia, stemmed from an interruption in the supply of some Thai-made components. A spokesman for Toyota’s North American unit said the company will monitor the on-going situation in Thailand.

The work stoppage at those Toyota factories follows a cut in production in Japan announced on Monday by a total of 6,000 vehicles. Toyota is suspending overtime at all its domestic assembly plants through Oct. 28. Toyota also announced it built 309,389 vehicles in September at its Japanese factories, up 1.2% from the same month a year earlier.
The floods in Thailand have caused a loss of 37,500 vehicles in the Southeast Asian country since Toyota idled three plants there on Oct. 10.

Meanwhile, Honda Managing Officer Sho Minekawa spoke of Honda’s newest mini-vehicle the Life Diva, “We are supposed to import all the aluminum wheels from Thailand.” Honda has suspended operations since Oct. 4 at its four-wheel vehicle factory in Ayutthaya,Thailand, as the factory remains submerged due to the flooding.

Japanese car-makers dominate the southeast Asian auto market. The work slowdown will eat into some of their profits at a time when the companies are ramping up operations following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. Many Japanese car makers have announced huge investments in the region to meet the booming demand.

Shares of Toyota were trading up at 68.89 or 2.99% at 12:10 pm ET.

Shares of Honda were trading up at 31.93 or 4.07% at 12:12 pm ET.

3 NYSE Stocks Up as Wall Street Rallies Following Eurozone Deal

Wall Street is having a big time rally this morning following news of a euro zone deal. The Dow is up more than 240 points right now at 12,117, the Nasdaq is up over 50 points at 2,701 and the S&P 500 is up 27 points at nearly 1,270.

The deal that European leaders struck with private banks on Thursday will see banks accept a 50% loss on holdings of Greek government bonds. This is part of their plan to lower Greece’s current debt burden and contain the euro zone debt crisis.

Greece will see its debt burden reduced by 100 billion euros with its debt being 120% of GDP by 2020 versus 160% now. The euro zone will also be offering “credit enhancements” to the private sector totaling around 30 billion euros. The total value of the deal will be 130 billion euros.

Let’s take a look at a few NYSE stocks that are rallying with the market today.

SolarWinds, Inc. (NYSE:SWI) is up nearly 15% at $27.54 today and was as high as $28.19 earlier this morning. SWI is up on above average volume with over 1.5 million shares traded so far today, above its daily average of 1 million shares.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (NYSE:COG) is up 15% at $76.81 with an intraday high of $79.35. COG is rallying after analysts’ remarks that the company’s production target for 2012 of 45% to 55% looks conservative. COG has traded over 3 million shares this morning, about 50% more than its daily volume.

Shares of Terex Corporation (NYSE:TEX) are up 14% at $17.16. TEX announced third quarter results on Wednesday that beat expectations and the company also announced it is raising its 2011 sales outlook. TEX has traded over 4.5 million shares so far today.

ExxonMobil Posts 41% Profit Increase In 3Q

ExxonMobil’s (NYSE:XOM) quarterly profit rose 41 percent as higher prices for oil and natural gas made up for lower production. ExxonMobil earned $10.33 billion, or $2.13 per share, in the third quarter. That compared with $7.35 billion, or $1.44 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 32 percent to $125.3 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of $2.12 per share on revenue of $118.5 billion, according to FactSet.

ExxonMobil’s strong performance was still well below its record profit of $14.83 billion in the third quarter of 2008.

ExxonMobil’s Chairman Rex Tillerson said, “ExxonMobil’s results for the third quarter of 2011 reflect a continued commitment to operational integrity, disciplined investing and superior project execution. Third quarter earnings of $10.3 billion were up 41% from the third quarter of 2010, reflecting higher crude oil and natural gas realizations and improved refining margins. Earnings for the first nine months of 2011 were $31.7 billion, up 49% over the first nine months of 2010. In the third quarter, capital and exploration expenditures were $8.6 billion, and reached a record level of $26.7 billion for the first nine months of the year as we continue pursuing new opportunities to meet growing energy demand while supporting economic growth, including job creation. Oil-equivalent production decreased 4% compared to the third quarter of 2010. Excluding the impacts of entitlement volumes, OPEC quota effects and divestments, production was in line with 2010. The Corporation distributed over $7 billion to shareholders in the third quarter through dividends and share purchases to reduce shares outstanding.”

ExxonMobil is based out of Irving, TX. Shares of ExxonMobil were trading up at 81.73 or 0.83% at 9:33 am ET.

Good News: U.S. Economy Grows In 3Q

The Commerce Department just released figures on U.S. economic growth in the third quarter. U.S. gross domestic product expanded at a 2.5% annual rate in the third quarter. This was a nice acceleration as compared to the 1.3% pace in the April-June time-frame. The growth met with economists expectations.

Although part of the increase came from the reversal of temporary factors that had restrained growth, the expansion in the U.S. economy was a welcomed as it looked like the nation’s economy was on the brink of recession just weeks ago.

“The probability of a double-dip has diminished quite a bit,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University in the Channel Islands.

Helping the economy along was the rise in consumer spending last quarter. Consumer spending saw its strongest quarter since April 2010. Business investment also contributed with its spending pace, the fastest for the year.

While not out of the woods yet, the U.S. economy is showing it has some life. The economic pace is still too weak to lower the unemployment rate that has been stuck above 9% for five straight months.

The GDP report also showed a moderation in inflation pressures, with the personal consumption price index (PCE) rising at a 2.4% rate in the third quarter, slowing from the April-June quarter’s 3.3% pace. Core PCE, which excludes food and energy, rose at a 2.1% rate after increasing 2.3% in the second quarter.

Gross domestic product (GDP) refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country’s standard of living.

Proctor & Gamble 1Q On Target

The Proctor & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) announced its first quarter results with a 1,9% slip in quarterly profit that was in line with Wall Street’s expectations. P&G earned $3.02 billion, or $1.03 per share, in the first quarter ended on September 30, compared with $3.08 billion, or $1.03 per share, a year earlier. Proctor & Gamble had fewer shares outstanding in the most recent quarter. Sales rose 8.9% to $21.92 billion. Organic sales rose 4%, coming in at the high end of the company’s 2 to 4% forecast.

Proctor & Gamble still expects full-year earnings of $4.17 to $4.33 per share, with sales up 3 to 6%. Analysts expect it to earn $4.20 per share this year. For the current second quarter, which ends in December, P&G forecast earnings of $1.05 to $1.11 per share, with sales growth of 3 to 5%.

Rising commodity costs have hurt the company’s bottom line. Proctor & Gamble has sought to cover the high commodity costs by ramping up cost-cutting measures and hiking prices on its consumer products. Gross margin narrowed to 49.5% from 51.8%, due mainly to higher commodity costs.

Operating cash flow was $2.2 billion for the quarter and free cash flow was $1.3 billion. The Company repurchased $1.3 billion of shares during the quarter and returned $1.5 billion of cash to shareholders as dividends.

“The first quarter was a good start to the fiscal year,” said Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer Bob McDonald. “We maintained strong top-line growth momentum in a difficult operating environment. We are well positioned – due to continued top-line strength, recently implemented price increases and our productivity improvement and cost savings efforts – to improve earnings growth as we progress through the fiscal year.”

About Proctor & Gamble:

P&G serves approximately 4.4 billion people around the world with its brands. The Company has one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands, including Pampers®, Tide®, Ariel®, Always®, Whisper®, Pantene®, Mach3®, Bounty®, Dawn®, Fairy®, Gain®, Pringles®, Charmin®, Downy®, Lenor®, Iams®, Crest®, Oral-B®, Duracell®, Olay®, Head & Shoulders®, Wella®, Gillette®, Braun®, Fusion®, Ace®, Febreze®, and Ambi Pur®.

Dow Chemical Announces Booming 3Q; Shares Rise in Pre-Dawn Trading

Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) shares are up in pre-dawn trading sessions with shares climbing 5% to $28.23 per share. The sharp increase in share prices comes after the release of Dow Chemical’s 3Q fiscal report. Dow reported a net income of $815 million, or $.69 per share versus $.45 per share or $512 million during the same period in 2010. This shows a 59% increase in net income.

Analyst had expected revenue $14.63 billion with a net income of $.63 per share. Dow Chemical surpassed those revenue expectations while posting $15.11 billion in revenue for the quarter. Dow announced that revenue grew within all segments of the company most of which saw gains in the10% or greater range.

With gains being posted early this morning, Dow is looking to gain back some of the value it lost during the previous 52 weeks which saw the company lose nearly $21 a share from a 52-week high of $42.23 per share.

About Dow Chemical Company:

The Dow Chemical Company manufactures and supplies products used as raw materials in the production of customer products and services worldwide. The company offers materials for chemical mechanical planarization pads and slurries, chemical processing aids and intermediates, electronic displays, food and pharmaceutical processing and ingredients.

Euro Zone Leaders Have Deal On Greek Debt

On Thursday, after months of haggling back and forth, European Union leaders finally have a deal with private banks and insurers for them to accept a 50% loss on their Greek government bonds in order to lower Greek’s debt burden and possibly avoid a default.

Currently Greece’s debt is 160% of the nation’s GDP with forecasts as high as 180% for the year. Under the new deal, the private sector agreed to voluntarily accept a 50% cut in its bond investments to reduce Greece’s debt burden down to 120% of GDP by 2020. The aim of the deal is to ensure that Greece has a full second financial program in place for 2012.

Euro zone leaders also agreed to scale up the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), their 440 billion euro ($600 billion) bailout fund set up last year. The fund has already been used to provide help to Ireland, Portugal and Greece, leaving around 290 billion euros available. About 250 billion of that will be leveraged up to 5 times, producing a headline figure of around 1.0 trillion euros, which will be used in a variety of ways.

The European leaders are hoping this will be enough to hold off worsening debt problems in Italy and Spain as well.

The EFSF will be leveraged in one of two ways, either by offering insurance, or first-loss guarantees, to purchasers of euro zone debt in the primary market; or by way of a special purpose investment vehicle that will be set up in the coming weeks. This will be aimed at attracting investment from China and Brazil.

“The summit allowed us to adopt the components of a global response, of an ambitious response, of a credible response to the crisis that is sweeping across the euro zone,” said French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

From the inside of the summit, it looks as if the European leaders have accomplished something great. From the outside looking in, it seems more like another band-aid has been put on the wound. Europe has a long row to hoe with this one as does the rest of the world’s economies.

Visa Post 14% Increase In 4Q Profit

Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) shares are trading slightly below the previous close in the pre-dawn trading hours. Shares are currently down about 2% at 89.97 per share. The decline in share price in extended hours trading comes after Visa reports a 14% increase in profit but fell short of Wall Street analyst expectations.

Visa announced that the credit and debit card company earned $880 million, or $1.27 per share for the company’s fourth quarter that ended on September 30. Revenue for the same period rose to $2.38 billion from $2.12 billion during the same period in 2010. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.25 per share.

Visa missed out on analyst expectations with revenue falling just short of the $2.40 billion forecast by Wall Street. Visa has been trying to get merchants to stay with the company through an incentive program. These incentives have cost the credit card giant $576 million and was the leading reason for Visa missing Wall Street’s forecast.

Visa is continuing a share repurchase plan and the board of director recently approved another $1 billion toward the repurchase program. To date over 43 million shares have been purchased under the buyback program.

About Visa Inc:

Visa Inc. operates retail electronic payments network worldwide. It facilitates commerce through the transfer of value and information among financial institutions, merchants, consumers, businesses, and government entities.

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