Friday, September 2, 2011

Morning Note Sept 2nd

September 2, 2011

US Equity futures are trading lower relative to fair value following yesterday's selloff, which sparked corresponding weakness in Asia and Europe. Today's key will be the Aug employment data at 08:30ET that is expected to show an increase of 75k jobs (BMO expects closer to +35k), yet down from +117K in July.

European Commission, ECB and IMF Mission to Greece has temporarily left Athens to allow the authorities to complete technical work, among other things, related to the 2012 budget and growth-enhancing structural reforms. A joint EC/ECB/IMF team has been discussing recent economic developments and reviewing policy implementation in the context of the fifth review ofGreece's economic program. The mission has made good progress. The mission expects to return to Athens by mid-Sep, when we expect the Greek authorities to have completed the technical work, to continue discussions on policies needed to complete the review.

Fed reports balance sheet assets of $2.857T on Wednesday, ($5.76B) w/w and +$552B y/y 
Holdings of US Treasury securities were $1.65T on 31-Aug, +$3.7B w/w and +$865.8B y/y.
Holdings of mortgage-backed securities were $884.9B on 31-Aug, ($7.4B) w/w and ($218.2B) y/y.
Holdings of federal agency debt securities were $109.8B on 31-Aug, unch. w/w and ($46.7B) y/y.

Libor fixings 

- Overnight Libor: Dollar: 0.141% vs prior 0.142% ; Sterling: 0.581% vs prior 0.581%; Euro: 0.836% vs prior 0.838%
- 1-month Libor: Dollar: 0.222% vs prior 0.222% ; Sterling: 0.660% vs prior 0.660%; Euro: 1.298% vs prior 1.298%
- 3-month Libor: Dollar: 0.331% vs prior 0.329% ; Sterling: 0.889% vs prior 0.888%; Euro: 1.483% vs prior 1.484%

WTI ($0.73) at $88.20

Natural gas ($0.024) at $4.026

Spot Gold +$26.20 at $1851.65

10-yr yield 2.13%
30-yr yield 3.52%

Asian Markets

Asian markets followed Wall Street down this morning as investors awaited US jobs data. Oil and gas stocks sent Taiwan down. Financials, however, powered the market to a flat finish when the island’s banking regulator said it would make it easier for them to invest in ChinaChina fell; turnover was the lowest in more than a year as investors worried about more policy tightening. In low volumes, Japan fell on profit-taking after a six-day winning streak. Banks and miners led Australia down. Hong Kong fell. The yen is trading at 76.79 to the US dollar.

European Markets

European equity markets snapped a four day winning streak, declining from the open following weaker markets in Asia and a disappointing close in the US, with market participants focusing on the periphery on reports that Greece will miss its budget deficit target in 2011. With little significant regional economic or corporate release, indices extended initial fall before modestly paring losses. The pound and the euro are trading at $1.6194 and $1.4241 respectively. The pound was pressured by UK Construction PMI data with its weakest reading since Dec 2010 UK Aug Construction PMI 52.6 vs consensus 52.6, prior 53.5. Eurozone July PPI +6.1% y/y vs consensus +6.1% and prior +5.9%. Eurozone July PPI +0.5% m/m vs consensus +0.5% and prior +0.0%. The pound and the euro are trading at $1.6194 and $1.4241 respectively.

Today's Economic Releases (Eastern Time)

08:30 US Nonfarm Payrolls (Aug); consensus +61K
08:30 US Unemployment Rate (Aug); consensus 9.1%
08:30 US Hourly Earnings (Aug); consensus +0.2%
08:30 US Average Weekly Hours (Aug); consensus 34.3 

Today's Key Events (Eastern Time)

—:— Dreamforce ~ Cloud Computing Industry Event 

Company Specific News

CPB (Campbell Soup reports Q4 EPS $0.43 ex-items vs Reuters $0.38; Reports Q4: Revenues $1.61B vs Reuters $1.57B)
ESL (Esterline Technologies reports Q3 EPS $1.21 cont ops vs Reuters $1.22; Reports Q3: Revenues $409.5M vs Reuters $418.9M)
FLOW (Flow International reports Q1 EPS $0.01 vs Reuters $0.02; Reports Q1: Revenues $60.0M vs Reuters $60.2M)
HRB (H&R Block reports Q1 EPS ($0.37) ex-items vs Reuters ($0.40); Reports Q1: Revenues $267.6M vs Reuters $275.1M)
FNSR (Finisar reports Q1 EPS $0.21 ex-items vs Reuters $0.18; Reports Q1:
Revenues $228.2M vs Reuters $228.4M)
WBC (WABCO Holdings reiterates f11 EPS guidance $4.55-$4.88 v. Reuters $4.75. Reiterates f11 guidance: EPS $4.55-$4.80 vs Reuters $4.75)
ZQK (Quiksilver reports Q3 EPS cont ops $0.06 vs Reuters $0.08; Reports Q3:
Company did not record any pro-forma adjustments for Q3 of fiscal 2011)

Other News
Eurozone sovereign debt crisis 

- Italian bonds fall for 10th day as Greek two-year yield climbs to record: Bloomberg reported Italian and Spanish bonds fell and German bunds rose in the wake of higher Spanish unemployment, concerns over Italy's stomach for austerity and worries that US employment figures will highlight the continued lackluster recovery in the labor market. The article also noted that Greek two-year yields soared to a record, approaching 47%, while Italy's 10-year bonds dropped for a 10th day, the longest losing streak since the euro's 1999 introduction.
Greece denies troika talks break down: The WSJ reported that Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Friday that Athens must avoid taking further measures that would deepen recession. He also rejected reports of a breakdown in talks with international inspectors after they were suspended earlier amid a dispute over Greece's ability to meet its deficit targets. Venizelos said that talks with the troika were friendly and the suspension had been agreed by common consent. The talks were originally expected to conclude by 5-Sep. The article went on to note that while Greece is blaming the recession for the missed targets, the troika is more concerned about the implementation of policy and is pushing for additional spending cuts.
Greece, EU/IMF at odds over deficit; pause talks: Reuters also discussed the unexpected pause in talks between Greece and the troika. The article noted that the troika feels that Greece is not pursuing reforms aggressively enough and have in particular criticized the lack of progress on privatizations and on labor and pension reforms. Reuters also cited a source who said that the troika believes that only about 25% of the budget deviation is due to the recession. In addition, the article pointed out that given that there are no Greek government bonds maturing before March next year, the country will not be at immediate risk of default even if it does not receive this month's €8B tranche from the first rescue package as planned.
- Eurozone nearing Greek collateral compromise: Reuters reported that Eurozone governments are moving towards a compromise on the backlash surrounding a bilateral deal that would giveFinland collateral in return for its participation in the next Greek bailout package. The article noted that Ireland's Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that the original deal between Greece andFinland has been scrapped and that a new compromise was being hashed out. Reuters also pointed out that Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager, speaking in the Hague, said a solution to the dispute was not far off. However, the article went on to note that contrary to earlier reports, the collateral issue is not officially on the agenda for - - Tuesday's meeting between the finance ministers of the NetherlandsFinland and Germany.
Restaurants in Greece refuse to pay VAT rise: The FT reported that café and restaurant owners are banding together and refusing to pay a 10-point VAT increase. The article pointed out that the increase in the value added tax on the hospitality sector from 13% to 23% is projected to raise €750M over the next year and is part of the latest austerity push underpinning the next Greek bailout package. The paper said that already hit hard by the recession, café and restaurant owners view the VAT rise as the final straw. The finance ministry has said that owners will be fined for tax evasion if they fail to pay the VAT at the increased rate.
Italy near completion on austerity deal: The FT said that after three weeks of disputes and numerous revisions, Italian finance minister Giulio Tremonti reached a deal with coalition leaders on a compromise austerity package. The article, which also discussed the latest sex scandal-related troubles surrounding Prime Minister Berlusconi, noted that the government's credibility with international investors has been severely undermined.
- ECB steps up pressure on Italy as debt worries grow: Reuters reported that an interview with Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore, ECB President Trichet said that Italy's government needs to deliver on its promised austerity package. The article noted that Trichet's comments highlight the mounting concern surrounding Italy's chaotic process in agreeing on measures to bring its public finances under control. Reuters, which like the FT also discussed the latest scandal surrounding Berlusconi, noted that the spread on Italian debt over German bonds widened on Friday to levels not seen since the ECB started buying Italian debt a few weeks ago.
- Economists call on ECB to cut rates: Bloomberg reported that the shadow ECB council said that the ECB should reverse this year's tightening to prevent the Eurozone economy from slipping back into recession. The shadow council expressed concern about a contraction in European manufacturing and plunging business and consumer confidence that suggest that the sharp slowdown in Q2 may spill over to Q3.
- ECB's Coene says crisis heading to 2008/9 level: Reuters reported that ECB Governing Council member Luc Coene said in an interview with the French-language daily newspaper La Libre Belgique published on Friday that while liquidity and confidence problems in Europe are not as severe as they were during the post-Lehman crash, they are heading in that direction. Coene chalked up the concerns to the continued uncertainty surrounding bailout plans, particularly for Greece. Coene went on to downplay the near-term issuance of Eurozone bonds and said that capital increases for banks do not make sense at this point given that the only subscribers to such increases would be governments.

Newspaper Articles / Headlines

Atlantic Wire
- Washington Post closing all suburban offices except for Richmond, VA, and Annapolis, MD

Barron's Weekday Trader is positive on Penn Virginia Resource Partners. Barron's Weekday Trader is positive on PVR citing: Exposure to both coal and natural gas. Dividend yield of 7.6%. Expanding presence in the Marcellus Shale region. Recent pipeline deal with Range Resources (RRC) and a iklihood of additional deals in the near future. Current trading levels around 13x expected distrubable cash flow for 2011.

Boersen Zeitung
- Lufthansa hires bank to sell British Midland

De Tijd
JC Flowers looking at KBC Groep's Fidea insurance subsidiary. Sources tell De Tijd that first-round interest from insurers was disappointing, and it is possible that Delta Lloyd (DL.NA) and Credit Agricole (ACA.FP) wil drop out of the bidding, leaving Baloise (BALN.VX) as the only insurer in the second round.
Omega Pharma likely to announce delisting today

Intel to temporarily discontinue development of MeeGo. Industry sources tell DigiTimes that handset and tablet PC vendors are not adopting the platform, so Intel plans to have its hardware work with Android or Windows Phone next year.

Economic Times
Reliance Industries (RIL.IN), Siemens (SIE.GR) to bid to install CCTV cameras in Mumbai. A person close to the matter tells the Economic Times that the companies' alliance could lead to a JV.

Financial Times
FT reports 3 left in the bidding process for GlaxoSmithKline's OTC business. The FT, citing people familiar with the process, reports Bain Capital, Blackstone (BX) and Boehringer Ingelheim, were still in the process.

Giga Om
Liberty Starz Group will probably end up keeping its streaming rights. The article analyzes the situation and notes or concludes: Netflix (NFLX) never had exclusive rights to Starz's streaming rights. Google (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN) probably aren't willing to pay for the rights. Starz CEO Chris Albrecht wants to build a network that has solid original programming.
A streaming deal would limit Starz's ability to reach favorable deals with distribution and studio partners

Globe and Mail
TransCanada applies for permission to cut gas-shipping tolls by 33% on Mainline. The Globe and Mail reports that the company has applied to the National Energy Board. The company plans to cut its depreciation on its Mainline system and raise charges for shipping in Alberta and Ontario. TransCanada has also raised its forecasts for its shipping volumes.
Shaw Communications to build WiFi network rather than spend C$1B to enter cellphones. The company announced its plan yesterday. In an interview, president Peter Bissonnette calls cellphones an idea that would have produced "a horrible return on a significant investment.”
Chinese investors backing Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline. Sources tell the Globe and Mail that in addition to Sinopec (386.HK), whose investment was already known, MEG Energy (883.HK) has invested in the line. Investing in the line now gives companies cheaper shipping rates and option to purchase equity in the future. Sources say Suncor (SU.CN), Total (FP.FP), and CNPC have also made $10M investments in Northern Gateway. Daewoo international (047050.KS) tried but failed.

- Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho calls for Lufthansa to invest in TAP

Kesa Electricals may not be able to sell Comet. Without citing sources, the Independent reports that Opcapita and Hilco may still submit final bids by today's deadline, but the pension liabilties are still a problem. The article says Kesa may have to offer a £150M dowry to a buyer

International Business Times
AT&T prepares solutions to satisfy antitrust concerns regarding purchase of T-Mobile USA (DTE.GR). People close to the matter tell the International Business Times that AT&T will offer to sell assets and promise to keep T-Mobile's cheap pricing. A former antitrust official notes that while AT&T may be able to easly offload regional assets, national assets can probably only be bought by players like Verizon Wireless (VZ) or Sprint Nextel (S), who are so large that they would spark antitrust issues themselves.

London Times
Chorion assets being offered at bargain prices. The Times reports that Disney (DIS), Hasbro (HAS), Viacom (VIA), and Entertainment One (ETO.LN) might be interested in the assets, which include rights to Paddington Bear, Mr Men, Noddy, and Agatha Christie's literary estate.

Los Angeles Times
California politicians not jumping at's jobs offer. The LA Times reports that a government official is also asking Wal-Mart (WMT) about affiliated companies that sell merchandise on but don't collect sales tax on purchases by Californians.

New York Post
Fortress (FIG), Ocwen Financial (OCN) among bidders for Saxon Mortgage Services. Sources tell the NY Post that bidders would like Morgan Stanley to assume responsibility for any litigation costs that may result from the foreclosure investigations into Saxon.

New York Times
Federal Housing Finance Agency to sue more than 12 large banks 6-Sep at latest. People briefed on the matter tell the NYT that the suits will seek billions of dollars for misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities sold in the housing bubble. Sources say the suits will be similar to the one filed in July against UBS (UBSN.VX). Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Goldman Sachs (GS), and Deutsche Bank (DBK.GR) are the only banks named as targets in the new wave of litigation.

Silicon Alley Insider
Netflix CEO says Starz accounted for ~8% of domestic Netflix subscribers' viewing; confident renewel money set aside for Starz contract can be used to find other content.Silicon Alley Insider notes Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says Starz accounted for about 8% of domestic viewings and he expected Starz content viewership to further taper down to the 5-6% range in Q1. Hastings is confident contract renewel money can be spent with other content providers to fill the void left by Starz.

Wall Street Journal
Over past coupe of months. Fed asked Bank of America to explain how it would deal with worsening conditions. People familiar with the situation say BAC responded with a range of options, one of which involved issuing a Merrill Lynch tracking stock, though the article says CEO Brian Moynihan is not expected to charge ahead with the idea. None of the other options appears in the article.
WSJ is basically positive on Deutsche Telekom. A "Heard on the Street" column says that investors need not panic over the hurdles that Justice is putting in the way of the sale of T-Mobile USA to AT&T (T), because the deal may still be approved, and if it isn't, Deutsche Telekom has other options for the unit.
WSJ looks at new Bank of New York Mellon CEO Gerald Hassell. The article is a summary, not really breaking much news. Largely citing analysts, it notes that Hassell is not encumbered by the same management-style issues that Robert Kelly was, but his exceptionally long tenure at the bank raises questions about whether he will be able to adapt to a changing world.

FHFA to sue banks for billions over mortgage bonds. The Federal Housing Finance Agency could today file lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in compensation from a dozen large banks for misrepresenting the quality of mortgage bonds they sold during the housing bubble, sources say. The suits will argue that the banks, which include Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan (JPM), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Deutsche Bank (DB), didn't undertake the due diligence required by law. Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) - and ultimately taxpayers - lost over $30B as a result of the deals.
Fed presses BofA on contingency options. With its potential legal liabilities piling up, Bank of America (BAC) has received a request from the Fed about what it could do if its financial situation worsens. BofA has provided a number of options, including issuing a separate class of shares tied to the performance of Merrill Lynch, the bank's most profitable unit. The move would raise cash but is only theoretical - for now.
Netflix shares plummet after Starz breaks off talks. Liberty Media's (LSTZA) Starz has broken off contract-renewal talks with Netflix (NFLX) over differences in pricing and packaging, saying it will end programming as of March 2012. The move came the day an unpopular Netflix price rise took effect and will deprive the online video service of a key source of newer movies and original Starz shows such as "Spartacus." While Netflix said it will look for alternative programming, industry observers believe a deal could still be struck. Notwithstanding, Netflix shares plunged 8.5% after hours.
AstraZeneca's Crestor no more effective than Lipitor. AstraZeneca's (AZN) blockbuster cholesterol drug Crestor has failed to significantly beat Pfizer's (PFE) Lipitor in a head-to-head study. The result is likely to cap any benefits AstraZeneca might gain after Lipitor loses its patent in November and cheap generics hit the market. However, with full results not due till November 15, RBS notes that while AstraZeneca set a high 0.65% PAV differential to demonstrate "statistical significance," 0.5% might be enough to impress cardiologists.
More gloom expected in jobs report. Employment data for August is due out this morning, with reduced confidence about the economy expected to have caused a slowdown in hiring. Nonfarm payrolls are estimated to have increased by 68,000, sharply down from a 117,000 rise in July. Unemployment is predicted to have held steady at 9.1%, marking 26 out of the last 28 months it has exceeded 9%. The White House said yesterday that it expects the rate to stay above this level into 2012.
AT&T may have to sell 25% of T-Mobile to save deal. AT&T (T) could have to sell up to 25% of T-Mobile's (DTEGY.PK) business, including airwaves and customers, to overcome government antitrust fears about the carriers' tie-up, sources say. While AT&T is preparing for a court fight with the DOJ, it's also formulating an offer to salvage the $39B deal. However, former antitrust enforcer Bob Doyle said it would be difficult to reach a settlement as any divestitures at a national level - which would be to Verizon (VZ) or Sprint (S) - would also raise competition concerns.
Judge quashes Oracle's $1.3B award againt SAP. A U.S. judge has overturned Oracle's (ORCL) $1.3B verdict against SAP for theft of intelletual property, saying that the amount was "grossly excessive" and that the maximum value of the damages proved is just $272M. Oracle can now accept the lower amount or fight for more money at a new trial.
Japan names little-known Jun Azumi as Finance Minister. New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has appointed Jun Azumi to replace him as Finance Minister. Azumi, a legislator from the earthquake-devastated north east, has apparently not shown much interest in economics and finance in the past, and little is known about his views. However, he is known for his efforts to improve relations between government and opposition parties, so could prove important in helping Noda to push through unpopular tax rises to help pay for post-quake reconstruction.
Greece, Troika talks suspended over further austerity. Discussions between Greece and a delegation from the IMF, EU and ECB have been temporarily halted over the country's deficit target. The government has cut its GDP forecast for the year and now believes the economy will contract 4.5%-5.3%, which means the deficit could exceed 8.5% of GDP compared with a goal of 7.6%. The troika wants yet more austerity, but Greece's finance minister believes the cuts approved in June should be enough - if they're implemented. At stake is an €8B ($11.4B) tranche of Greece's rescue package.
Major exporters bar Syngenta GM grain. Cargill and other major U.S. agribusinesses have increased restrictions on accepting Syngenta's (SYT) popular Agrisure Viptera corn as part of curbs against genetically modified grain not yet approved in major foreign markets such as China and the EU. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Bunge North America (BG) have taken similar actions, which come just weeks before the U.S. harvest, when the corn could enter the market. The grain firms are worried that any trace of unsanctioned biotech products in their shipments could close export markets.
LSE in talks to acquire LCH.Clearnet. The London Stock Exchange (LDNXF.PK) said it is in early talks to buy LCH.Clearnet in a deal that the FT says could value the clearing house at €1B ($1.43B). The discussions pit LSE against market-data firm Markit, while Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ) has also shown interest in the past.
Amazon to California: Jobs for tax reprieve. Amazon (AMZN) has offered to invest in Californian distribution centers and create 7,000 full-time jobs by 2015 in exchange for a reprieve from the state's new Internet sales tax law until 2014. In response, Bill Dombrowski of the California Retailers Association said that while Amazon might hire more people, "how many (jobs) do we lose in bricks and mortar retail by 2014?" Amazon's proposal to California comes as it battles with states around the country over the collection of sales tax. 


Bank of America Merrill Lynch: downgraded AGNC, CIM, DX, HTS, IVR, NLY
Credit Suisse: upgraded ODFL, UPS, TD; downgraded CP, FDX
Morgan Stanley: upgraded EDMC; downgraded MMI
Oppenheimer: upgraded LQDT
RW Baird: upgraded ZQK
Ticonderoga: downgraded EV


This morning we screened  Put Spread Collars in both high-end and low-end Consumer Names that have posted positive QTD returns, have steep skew based on 25/50 delta put implied vol, offer at least a 10x1 max payout, and where the stock could be called away at least 5% above yesterday’s closing price. We currently like this strategy given the environment of elevated implied vol and steep downside skew.

WYNN – Sell Oct 175 Calls to Buy Oct 145/130 Put Spread for $1.15
(12x1 max net payout; risk stk called away at $175 or 14.5% above cls)

RL – Sell Oct 150 Calls to Buy Oct 130/115 Put Spread for 25c
(39x1 max net payout; risk stk called away at $150 or 8.9% above cls)

PVH – Sell Oct 75 Calls to Buy Oct 62.50/55 Put Spread for 55c
(12.6x1 max net payout; risk stk called away at $75 or 13% above cls)

MCD – Sell Oct 95 Calls to Buy Oct 87.5/82.50 Put Spread for 27c
(17.5x1 max net payout; risk stk called away $95 or 5.5% above cls)

COST – Sell Oct 85 Calls to Buy Oct 77.5/72.50 Put Spread for 40c
(11.5x1 max net payout; risk stk called away at $85 or 7% above cls)

XRT – Sell Oct 52 Calls to Buy Oct 47/43 Put Spread for for 9c
(43x1 max net payout risk ETF called away at $52 or 7.2% above cls) 

 *Special thanks to Option Radar, BMO Capital, MEB Options, Bloomberg, Reuters, Optionistics, LiveVolPro, CBOE, AMEX, Option Monster, T.O.P. group, and all of the options desks and traders we work with to provide the option flow! 

 No position at this time. Position declarations are believed to be accurate at time of writing but may change at any time and without notice.

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