- Feinberg unveils pay cuts. So-called pay czar Kenneth Feinberg outlined much-awaited compensation rules for seven TARP recipient firms; top executives at firms such as Citigroup (C), AIG (AIG) and Bank of America (BAC) will have a pay cap of $500K – for many a 90%-plus reduction. Also, rather than cash, the rules require that the majority of salaries be paid in stock held for the long-term. The rules are only valid for two months – November and December – but will also form the basis for next year’s reviews. Feinberg said the rulings are significant, and hopes his standards, which seek to strike a balance between compensation and risk-taking, will be “voluntarily picked up in the marketplace.” In a brief statement, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said he hopes the new framework will encourage these companies to “return taxpayer dollars as soon as possible.”
- Fed proposes compensation checks. While Feinberg was busy administering to TARP recipient firms, the Fed proposed a framework to crack down on pay packages that encourage bankers to take excessive risks by subjecting executives, traders and dealmakers’ compensation to regulatory scrutiny. Instead of pay limits, the Fed’s plan is to monitor pay practices at the nation’s 28 biggest institutions, making sure compensation structures reward executives for long-term performance and discourage excessive risk-taking. Skeptics worry firms will continue to outsmart regulators in finding inventive ways to circumvent restrictions. (read the Fed’s press release, proposal (.pdf), and Q&A (.pdf))
- Britain mired in recession. U.K. GDP dropped a surprising 0.4% in Q3, according to the Office for National Statistics, the sixth straight quarter of contraction. Economists had expected the British economy to move back to timid growth of 0.2%. Six quarters is the longest string of declines on record, while the 5.9% peak-to-trough drop in output is just short of the 6% contraction recorded in the recession of the early 1980s. The pound (ETF: FXB) fell like a stone following the report (-1% at 5:00 a.m.), retreating from a six-week high. (read ONS’s preliminary GDP estimate (.pdf))
- CIT, Goldman near deal. After a week of tense negotiations, sources say CIT Group (CIT) and Goldman Sachs (GS) have reached an agreement over a $1B “make whole” payment CIT would owe Goldman if it files for bankruptcy, connected to a $3B credit facility Goldman extended it last year. The deal calls for Goldman to reduce the facility to just over $2B, and for CIT to pay Goldman $300M if it files for bankruptcy. An agreement opens the door for CIT to strike a deal with its bondholders, who were waiting on the outcome of the Goldman talks; it could also reduce CIT’s need for financing from $6B to $4B.
- Nokia wants Apple to pay its dues. Nokia (NOK) filed a patent suit against Apple (AAPL) Thursday, claiming the iPhone violates 10 patents for GSM, UMTS and wireless LAN technologies. Nokia said it has repeatedly asked Apple to license its patents, which it developed as part of a consortium of global telecommunications companies, and says Apple is “attempting to get a free ride” on the back of its innovation. Cellphone royalties typically run at 1-2% of the wholesale price, estimated at $600 for the iPhone; a 2% royalty would put $12 per iPhone in Nokia’s pockets.
- Book price-war under review. The American Booksellers Association asked the Department of Justice to investigate this week’s book price-war between Amazon.com (AMZN), Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT), claiming it constitutes illegal predatory pricing that is damaging to the book industry and harmful to consumers. If the trio is allowed to continue selling hot-item books for under $10, the net result “will be the closing of many independent bookstores and a concentration of power in the book industry in a very few hands,” it said. While mega-retailers can use book sales as a loss leader to drive traffic, independent bookstores rely almost entirely on profits from books. (read the ABA’s letter to the DoJ)
- Amazon: emerging juggernaut. Amazon (AMZN) announced Q3 results that exceeded expectations, including a 28% jump in sales, and offered Q4 guidance that was well above analyst consensus, sending shares up over 14% in after-hours trade (see below). Electronics and other general merchandise (EGM) now accounts for 43% of Amazon’s sales, vs. 54% for media. The rate of EGM growth (44%) versus that of media (17%) signifies the online retailer’s rapid and successful transition from a bookseller to an “everything store,” which will become even more pronounced once it completes acquiring Zappos in Q4. (read Amazon’s Q3 earnings call transcript)
- Merck/Schering merger wins EC approval. The European Commission cleared Merck’s (MRK) bid to buy Schering-Plough (SGP) in a deal worth more than $41B. “The proposed transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European economic area or any substantial part of it,” the EC said. Merck agreed to sell its half of the Merial animal health business to Sanofi-Aventis (SNY), its JV partner, for $4B in order to meet antitrust requirements. The merged companies will cut 15% of their combined workforces.
- Fed’s Evans warns of weak recovery: The Fed will be in no rush to withdraw fiscal stimulus, Chicago Fed president Charles Evans said yesterday, warning the recovery “is going to be very unsatisfactory in 2010.” With weak labor markets and plenty of idle factory capacity, there is a sufficient slack in the economy to set aside inflation fears, he said. If anything, low levels of inflation are a concern.
- BP mulls rival bid for Jubilee. Sources say BP (BP) has hired Goldman Sachs (GS) to advise it on a rival bid to ExxonMobil’s (XOM) $4B deal to purchase Kosmos Energy’s stake in Ghana’s Jubilee field. Goldman reportedly advised Cnooc (CEO) on a potential bid for the same stake. Cnooc’s attempt is thought to have been hampered by its relative inexperience in developing such a large field, and Goldman’s switch to advising BP implies a Cnooc bid is not forthcoming, analysts say.
- Sept. Leading Indicators: The Conference Board’s Leading Indicators Index came in at +1%, vs. +0.6% in August and consensus of +0.8%. With the sixth consecutive increase, the six-month growth rate is now at the highest pace since 1983. The numbers suggest a strong recovery is developing, the group says, but notes “the continued downtrend in employment is keeping this index of current economic conditions from rising faster.”
Earnings: Fri. Before Open
- Cache (CACH): Q3 EPS of -$0.43 misses by $0.23. Revenue of $44.9M (-22.7%) vs. $48.3M. (PR)
- Dover (DOV): Q3 EPS of $0.58 beats by $0.10. Revenue of $1.5B (-23.7%) in-line. (PR)
- Honeywell (HON): Q3 EPS of $0.76 beats by $0.04. Revenue of $7.7B (-17%) vs. $7.88B. (PR)
- Ingersoll-Rand (IR): Q3 EPS of $0.70 beats by $0.09. Revenue of $3.48B (-19.2%) vs. $3.56B. Sees 2010 EPS of $2.00-2.40 vs. consensus of $1.98. “The outlook for the strength and timing of the global economic recovery and the performance of our end markets remains cloudy. A preliminary review of our internal cost reduction and productivity improvement actions for next year gives us confidence that we can grow our earnings for 2010 even if our markets remain weak.” (PR)
- Schlumberger (SLB): Q3 EPS of $0.65 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $5.43B (-25.2%) in-line. (PR)
- Whirlpool (WHR): Q3 EPS of $1.15 beats by $0.38. Revenue of $4.5B vs. $4.28B. Continues to see uncertain and volatile demand levels in many markets. (PR)
Earnings: Thur. After Close
- Amazon.com (AMZN): Q3 EPS of $0.45 beats by $0.12. Revenue of $5.5B (+28%) vs. $5B. Sees Q4 sales of $8.12B-9.12B vs. consensus of $8.11B. Shares +14.5% AH. (PR)
- American Express (AXP): Q3 EPS of $0.44 beats by $0.06. Revenue of $6B (-16%) vs. $5.9B. Consolidated provisions for losses down 13% to $1.2B. Tier one risk-based capital ratio 9.7%. Sees “broad-based improvements in credit quality” and encouraging trends in spending. Shares -0.5% AH. (PR)
- Broadcom (BRCM): Q3 EPS of $0.16 beats by $0.05. Revenue of $1.25B (-.35%) vs. $1.16B. Sees Q4 revenue flat sequentially. Shares -8.3% AH. (PR)
- Bucyrus International (BUCY): Q3 EPS of $1.21 beats by $0.35. Revenue of $676M (+5%) vs. $623M. (PR)CA Inc. (CA): FQ2 EPS of $0.42 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $1.07B (+1%) in-line. Shares +2.3% AH. (PR)
- Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNI): Q3 EPS of $1.48 beats by $0.20. Revenue of $3.6B (-27%) in-line. Shares -1.9% AH. (PR)
- Capital One (COF): Q3 EPS of $0.94 beats by $0.80. Revenue of $$4.6B (+11.7%) vs. $4.11B. “We are successfully weathering the storm, but the storm is not over.” Shares +8.5% AH. (PR)
- Cheesecake Factory (CAKE): Q3 EPS of $0.29 beats by $0.05. Revenue of $401M (-1%) vs. $397M. Comparable same-store sales down 2.8%. Shares +2.4% AH. (PR)
- Chubb (CB): Q3 EPS of $1.56 beats by $0.29. Total net written premiums of $2.7B (-7%). Raises full-year EPS guidance to $5.90-6.00 from $5.20-5.50, vs. $5.51. Shares -1.74% AH. (PR)
- Compuware (CPWR): FQ2 EPS of $0.12 beats by $0.04. Revenue of $218M (-19%) vs. $201M (one estimate). Shares +5.3% AH. (PR)
- Developers Diversified Realty (DDR): Q3 FFO of $0.44 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $202M (-9%) vs. $194M. Shares +1.1% AH. (PR)
- Eastman Chemical Company (EMN): Q3 EPS of $1.38 beats by $0.25. Revenue of $1.3B (-27%) in-line. Sees Q4 EPS of $0.85 vs. $0.79. Shares +3.2% AH. (PR)
- Emulex (ELX): FQ1 EPS of $0.08 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $86M (-23%) vs. $81M. Sees Q2 revenues of $88M-92M vs. $87M. Shares +2% AH. (PR)
- Informatica (INFA): Q3 EPS of $0.22 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $123M (+8%) vs. $120M. Shares -2.1% AH. (PR)
- Interactive Brokers (IBKR): Q3 EPS of $0.20 misses by $0.11. Revenue of $272M (-45.3%) vs. $298M. Market making income -47% Q/Q and -74% Y/Y due to tighter bid/offer spreads on options. Shares -7.2% AH. (PR)
- Juniper Networks (JNPR): Q3 EPS of $0.23 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $824M (-13%) vs. $797M. Shares +1.6% AH. (PR)
- Lattice Semiconductor (LSCC): Q3 EPS of $0.00 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $49M (-15%) vs. $47M. Shares +5.6% AH. (PR)
- Leggett & Platt (LEG): Q3 EPS of $0.34 beats by $0.06. Revenue of $810M (-28%) vs. $840M. Raises full-year EPS guidance to $0.65-0.75 from $0.55-0.70, vs. $0.64. Shares +0.5% AH. (PR)
- MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR): Q3 EPS of -$0.29 misses by $0.23. Revenue of $310M (-43%) vs. $302M. Shares -3.8% AH. (PR)
- Netflix (NFLX): Q3 EPS of $0.52 beats by $0.06. Revenue of $423M (+3.6%) vs. $420M. Subscriber acquisition cost $26.86 per addition vs. $32.21 a year ago. Churn was 4.4% vs. 4.2% a year ago. Shares -3.3% AH. (PR)
- PMC Sierra (PMCS): Q3 EPS of $0.15 beats by $0.01. Revenue of $131M (-6%) in-line. Shares -0.6% AH. (PR)
- Rambus (RMBS): Q3 EPS of -$0.26 misses by $-0.02. Revenue of $28M (-5%) vs. $27.6M (one estimate). Shares -0.3% AH. (PR)
- Riverbed Technology (RVBD): Q3 EPS of $0.19 beats by $0.04. Revenue of $103M (+18%) vs. $97M. Shares +0.8% AH. (PR)
- Sunpower (SPWRA): Q3 EPS of $0.42 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $466M (+23%) vs. $420M. Shares -11.4% AH. (PR)
- Synaptics (SYNA): FQ1 EPS of $0.48 beats by $0.06. Revenue of $120M (+3%) vs. $116M. Expects Q2 revenue of $128M-134M vs. $137M. Shares +10.1% AH. (PR)
- Synovus Financial (SNV): Q3 EPS of -$1.27 misses by $0.60. Net interest income of $758M (-8%). Shares -7.6% AH. (PR)
- Western Digital (WDC): FQ1 EPS of $1.25 beats by $0.31. Revenue of $2.2B (+4.3%) vs. $2.06B. Says demand remains strong. Shares +1.3% AH. (PR)
Overseas markets echoed U.S. gains Friday. Futures are marginally higher in light overnight action.
- Asia: Nikkei +0.1% to 10283. Hang Seng +1.7% to 22590. Shanghai +1.9% to 3108. BSE +0.1% to 16811.
- Europe at midday: London +1.1%. Paris +0.9%. Frankfurt +0.9%.
- Futures: Dow -0.05% at 10033. S&P -0.1% to 1090. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude -0.1% to $81.10. Gold +0.2% to $1,061. 30-year Tsy -0.18% to 119-13. 10-year -0.263%. 5-year -0.19%. 2-year -0.07%. Euro +0.1% vs. dollar. Yen -0.4%. Pound -1.4%.
Friday’s Economic Calendar
- 8:10 Bair, Frank: Options for the Underbanked
8:30 Bernanke, Kohn: After the Fall
9:00 Gensler, Feinberg, Alvarez: Response to the Crisis
10:00 Existing Home Sales
- Notable pre-market earnings: CACH, DOV, EXC, FO, HON, IR, MSFT, SLB, TROW, WHR