Not much going on in the markets, today, to be honest. Investors are waiting to see if anything comes out of this G20 meeting that would either support or further undermine the dollar. Meanwhile, the earnings parade continues, with Verizon and Honeywell headlining today. Also, we take a look at coffee, and suss out whether or not you can expect to pay more for a cup of joe anytime soon (um, yes, you can.)
Stocks generally higher in Asia overnight, European markets edging lower, US dollar a shade positive and premarket mood for US stocks looks subdued.
Oil’s gaining, gold easing a bit. Economic data calendar is empty, while torrent of 3Q earnings reports lets up a little. Amazon reported late yesterday, no major surprises, but shares are down 3% premarket.
Notables reporting this morning include Verizon and Honeywell, HON already out; says it’s raising 2010 EPS view to $2.52, but that’s in line with Street expectations. Shares up a little in light premarket action.
S&P futures up 1.80, DJ futures up 13. Ten-year note lower, yield at 2.55%.
Banks, Economy, Federal Reserve, Financials, Housing, Markets, Media, Recession, S&P 500, Technology, Unemployment, Washington / Comments Off
- Lots of chatter that Obama will appoint a CEO to replace Larry Summers, an idea that irks Paul Krugman. “For one thing, the NEC director is supposed to serve as a coordinator and honest broker among views — not, or at least not primarily, as a decision maker,” Krugman writes. “That’s not what CEOs are paid for — their job is to be decisive, not summarize other peoples’ arguments.”
- Blockbuster filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy highlights how the mighty have fallen compared to the raging success of Netflix, Josh Brown says. “There is a cautionary business tale in here that is both timeless and essential for all investors to understand…It’s a story that’s been told a million times — the complacent giant felled by a nimbler, hungrier upstart with new ideas.”
- Initial jobless claims continue to portray a labor market stuck in neutral. “Make no mistake: The longer the job market remains stuck in a rut, the stronger the case for arguing that we’re suffering a potent bout of structural unemployment,” James Picerno notes.
- Cable giants publicly say the “cord-cutting” trend — consumers giving up cable for Internet video — is just a myth. But Verizon (VZ) CEO Ivan Seidenberg begs to differ, saying the cable bundle will follow wireline telephone as an example of old technology that eventually becomes obsolete. “Young people are pretty smart,” Seidenberg says. “They’re not going to pay for something they don’t need to.”
- The timing of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to Newark, NJ, public schools is getting the usual scrubbing in the blogosphere. Donation coincides with premiere of “The Social Network,” a movie that doesn’t exactly paint the prettiest picture of Zuckerberg. All Things D blogger Kara Swisher says: “Zuckerberg himself decided to move forward now, sources said, apparently concluding that even if a prominent movie was portraying him as the villain, he did not have to act like one in real life.”
- Existing home sales bounced off a record low and rose a better-than-expected 7.6% in August. But Calculated Risk points out inventory increased 1.5% in August from a year earlier. “The bottom line: Sales were very weak in August — almost exactly at the levels I expected – and will continue to be weak for some time. Inventory is very high, and that will put downward pressure on house prices.”
- Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone tops JD Power’s smartphone satisfaction study for a fourth straight year. But the results weren’t so sweet for Nokia (NOK), ranking below Palm, which isn’t even a public company anymore. “Another humiliating blow for Nokia which continues to struggle for relevance in the smartphone market,” Digital Daily blogger John Paczkowski says. “Incoming CEO Stephen Elop has his work cut out for him.”
- Stock-exchange operators and regulators are moving closer toward replacing new circuit breakers for individual stocks with curbs that would limit trading outside of a set range, WSJ reports.
- In the “Wall Street” sequel, Michael Douglas is splendidly slimy as Gordon Gekko but the rest of the film doesn’t measure up, says Joe Morgenstern.
- F-bomb your way to the top. “Swearing may help you do your @#!%ing job. Yeah, you read that correctly, WSJ’s Deal Journal blog says.
Banks, Credit Crisis, Earnings, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing, Internet, Markets, Media, Recession, S&P 500, Technology, Unemployment, Washington / Comments Off
- “In this recovery there is less job creation, less household formation, and less demand for housing units than a normal recovery. This is sort of a circular trap for both GDP growth and employment,” Calculated Risk says. “This is one of the reasons I expect the unemployment rate to tick up over the next several months.
- FusionIQ CEO Barry Ritholtz makes the argument that US bonds are resembling tech stocks during the dot-com bubble. “What made the dot-com situation so pernicious was that anyone who was judged on relative performance (i.e., mutual fund managers), were all but forced into these names in order to keep up,” Ritholtz says at The Big Picture. “Very few people — Buffett and Grantham come to mind — managed to both avoid both chasing these names and losing their client base.”
- There’s no denying the strong quarterly profit reports coming from S&P 500 companies in 2Q. But the notion that strong profits actually represent good news is “murky at best,” Derek Thompson writes at the Atlantic. “High unemployment is, strangely, both dampening revenue and enhancing profits.”
- Mortgage Bankers Association reports refinance activity surged 17% amid historically low interest rates. But Miller Tabak’s Peter Boockvar notes purchasing fell 3.4% and remains just 3.5% off lowest level since 1997. “This economic response to low rates is indicative of our whole economy that has the Fed now pushing on a string,” Boockvar says. “In times of deleveraging, lower rates only encourage refi’s, not new economic activity whether the purchase of a home or the expansion of a business.”
- Boston Fed argues economists aren’t to blame for missing the housing bubble, which absolutely baffles naked capitalism blogger Yves Smith. “It is truly astonishing to watch how determined the economics orthodoxy is to defend its inexcusable, economy-wrecking performance in the runup to the financial crisis,” Smith says.
- UPS recently said in a 10-Q that the impact of the health-care reform legislation “was not material” to its financial results, which shocks Footnoted blogger Michelle Leder, especially since many companies have said they’ll take big charges related to legislation, including AT&T’s (T) $1B charge.
- Since Fed’s announcement last week to reinvest proceeds from expiring MBS, the dollar’s risen while crude oil and S&P 500 have tumbled. “A cynic, however, might look at the lackluster reaction and think that the US central bank is losing some of its market-firepower in terms of unconventional monetary policy,” FT’s Alphaville says. “And an even bigger cynic might think that the market is simply holding out — or pushing — for a bigger bout of unconventional policy. Either way though, something’s out of sync here — the market or the Fed.”
- Tech blog Download Squad says Google (GOOG) and hardware maker HTC (2498.TW) are teaming up to build a tablet device that runs GOOG’s Chrome operating system. The blog says the tablet will be offered in conjunction with Verizon (VZ) and launched on Nov. 26, or Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year in the US.
- Looking to succeed at the dating game? Maybe its time to get off match.com and other dating sites and hit the athletic fields. WSJ explains.
Banks, Deflation, Dow Jones Industrials, Economy, Federal Reserve, Financials, Inflation, Internet, Markets, Media, Recession, S&P 500, Technology, Unemployment, Washington / Comments Off
- Jobless claims rising 2,000 is a relatively minor change. “The bigger problem is the trend,” James Picerno says at The Capital Spectator, noting claims have jumped 13% since bottoming in mid-July. “For months, it was treading water. That was bad enough. But now it’s rising, raising fears that it could go higher still.”
- Deflation is “overblown fear” and is unlikely for three reasons, writes blogger and MIT professor Simon Johnson.
- Appears the stock market has finally awoken to poor recent economic news. And Fed saying it won’t shrink its balance sheet isn’t generating much confidence. “The Fed seems to be exhibiting a pretty bad case of ‘if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail’ syndrome, particularly when it has (or perhaps more accurately, had) other tools at its disposal,” Yves Smith says.
- Reuters blogger Felix Salmon wonders if the “twitchy, volatile” stock market is still a worthwhile long-term investment, especially if long-term volatility continues increasing.
- Yesterday’s steep selloff and today’s drop show the “sharp risk-on/risk-off swings in markets are to be expected given the reality of today’s macro context,” PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian writes.
- Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner recently said surging imports “reflect healthy and growing American demand.” So much for that optimism, especially in the wake of yesterday’s trade deficit report. “Combined trends in exports and imports are simply not supportive of economic growth,” Tim Duy writes at Economist’s View. “And, given the current state of the global financial architecture, where the US is expected to be the repository of global savings, it is difficult to see how the external sector contributes positively to the recovery.”
- Microsoft (MSFT), which lately has been knocked for lacking a strong consumer strategy, is launching a studio to develop games for mobile phones. The idea, it appears, is to promote use of the Windows Phone operating system.
- The latest on the rumor mill regarding a Verizon Wireless iPhone comes from Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber, who says Apple (AAPL) is taking part in advanced testing of a CDMA version of iPhone, the type compatible with VZ’s wireless network. “The drumbeat of reports pointing to an impending Verzion iPhone launch is getting louder,” MediaMemo blogger Peter Kafka says. “Which doesn’t mean that it’s true. Just that there’s a lot of drumming going on.”
- With so much information online, it’s easy to read something one day and forget where you’ve seen it the next. But there may be a solution. On Thursday, TechCrunch reviewed Sentimnt, a search engine that tackles the question, “Where did I read that?”
- Jetblue (JBLU) finally ends the silent treatment regarding its flight-attendant-turned-wing-nut Steven Slater. “It wouldn’t be fair for us to point out absurdities in other corners of the industry without acknowledging when it’s about us,” JetBlue says on its blog. “While we can’t discuss the details of what is an ongoing investigation, plenty of others have already formed opinions on the matter. Like, the entire Internet.”
Banks, Deflation, Economy, Federal Reserve, Financials, Internet, IPO, Markets, Media, Recession, S&P 500, Technology, Treasury Department, Unemployment, Washington / Comments Off
- The multi-year deal pay-cable movie channel Epix and Netflix (NFLX) agreed to is “a major move for Netflix, and undoubtedly a nice cash infusion for Epix, which has struggled to get carriage deals from traditional cable operators,” MediaMemo blogger Peter Kafka says. “This deal may make Netflix more competitive with cable, but it’s not designed to threaten Hollywood’s DVD business.”
- Demand Media filing a $125M IPO at a reported $1.5B valuation shows making it in the online content business is a “long march to the big time,” Kara Swisher writes. “Hence, the IPO, which will give it both cash and stock to use to grow itself, either organically or via acquisition, all while keeping the costs of content creation lower and lower via innovative technology.”
- Small business optimism sharply declines for second straight month. “Businesses and households are losing confidence and are adjusting their spending and investing plans accordingly,” Ryan Avent says. “A chill has settled on expectations around the country. It will take credible policy steps to change the tune.”
- Former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Mark Hurd’s severance package, which could be worth as much as $30M, is “appalling,” writes Nell Minow, shareholder activist and editor of The Corporate Library blog. “While most CEO contracts exempt poor performance as a reason for ‘termination for cause,’ there is no reason to permit a departure following an ethics violation to be characterized as a resignation — when the result is a $50 million payout that would otherwise stay in the corporate bank account.”
- Now that Mark Hurd is no longer H-Ps’ CEO, a “dirty little secret” has been revealed about H-P’s business model. “H-P is a sprawling, ungainly conglomerate of tech companies that have only tangential connections to each other and that generate the most tepid of synergies,” writes Kevin Kelleher at AOL’s Daily Finance blog.
- This won’t get the attention of the Hurd departure, but TechCrunch reports the man who designed the Palm Pre has left H-P for greener pastures. Peter Skillman’s exit is the latest in a string of departures from the recently acquired smartphone maker.
- Productivity unexpectedly posted its first quarterly drop in 18 months as output growth slowed and labor costs rose. “If you were looking for one more reason to wonder about the already shaky prospects for a recovery in the labor market, today’s report on second-quarter worker productivity is just the ticket,” James Picerno writes at The Capital Spectator.
- Don’t get too anxious about Google (GOOG) and Verizon’s (VZ) joint proposal: the net neutrality situation still hasn’t changed much, Stacey Higginbotham says at GigaOm. “The good news is nothing about this compromise has any teeth without the FCC deciding to make it part of its official rules on network neutrality.”
- Rail traffic rose 4.1% last month compared to July 2009, but was still 15% lower than in July 2008, Calculated Risk reports, citing data from the Association of American Railroads. “Rail traffic collapsed in November 2008, and now, a year into the recovery, traffic has only recovered part way,” Calculated Risk adds.
- Former Sen. Ted Stevens, along with eight others, die in a plane crash in Alaska.
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This is already a bit dated, now that the oh so credible results of the stress tests are out, but here’s this morning’s Markets Hub video. Focus is on earnings from the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, Ford, McDonald’s, Kimberly-Clark and Verizon. We didn’t have the results of the tests when we taped, so we just mentioned it toward the end.
By the by, did’ja get a load of those stress-test results, by the way? Bear Stearns could have passed that test.
Banks, Economy, Financials, GDP, Internet, Markets, Media, Recession, S&P 500, Stimulus, Technology, Unemployment, Washington / Comments Off
- “The arguments for a slowdown and double-dip recession are basically the same: less stimulus spending, state and local government cutbacks, more household saving impacting consumption, another downturn in housing, and a slowdown in Europe and in China,” Calculated Risk blogger Bill McBride notes. “It is only a question of magnitude of the impact.”
- “Of course, you never know until after the fact whether a correction is just the first leg down in a new bear market,” Tom Petruno says. “That, once again, is the agonizing question for investors.”
- Financial regulatory reform legislation, in its present form, has several positive aspects, writes Mark Thoma. Still, it fails to eliminate the too-big-to-fail problem and, as a whole, leaves him wanting more. “As with health care reform, the legislation is unsatisfactory in many ways — it leaves much of the job yet to be done — and it’s not clear that Congress will have the will to follow through,” Thoma says.
- YouTube is the latest to weigh in on the Great Flash War of 2010, siding with Adobe (ADBE), which makes Flash video technology that Apple (AAPL) has banned from its devices. “Today, Adobe Flash provides the best platform for YouTube’s video distribution requirements,” writes John Harding, a YouTube software engineer. That’s why “our primary video player is built with it,” he adds.
- “Restaurants are a discretionary expense, and they tend to be ‘first in, last out’ of a recession for consumer spending,” Calculated Risk says, as opposed to the housing market, which is considered a first in and first out sector in the recession-dating cycle. “Since restaurants both lead and lag recessions, this contraction could be because of the sluggish recovery or might suggest further weakness in consumer spending in the months ahead.”
- Verizon (VZ) will reportedly begin launching its LTE network in 25 markets starting November 15, according to gadget blog Boy Genius Report.
- “The inventory boost has accounted for over 50% of GDP growth so far during the recovery, so a substantial pickup in final demand growth will be necessary to keep gains in employment and output from slowing economists from the Dallas Fed write. “That the required pickup will occur is far from obvious.”
- There’s increasing evidence the economy’s poised for another rough patch in 2H and beyond,” Pete Davis writes. “What more can Washington do? We’ve already done about everything anyone can think of to stimulate the economy. It’s had some beneficial effect, but it may not be enough.”
- Just as the S&P 500 keeps making lower lows, the VIX run-ups can’t quite reach their previous highs. “The increasing sluggishness in the VIX reflects what I call a progressive desensitization to fundamental factors…and technical factors that investors experience after the novelty of various threats — including very serious ones — begins to wear off,” VIX and More blogger Bill Luby says.
- He’s human? Six-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer ousted in quarterfinals.
(Newswires’ telecom reporter Roger Cheng penned the following.)
The fourth-largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscriber base has apparently hit a wall with growth. The first quarter is usually a rough one for the national carriers, as customers in recent years have shifted away from pricier contracts and toward less expensive prepaid services. But T-Mobile saw its growth on both ends falter, suggesting it is having trouble keeping pace at all levels of the wireless business.
In the first quarter, T-Mobile USA lost 118,000 net contract customers, consistent with recent losses, but a reversal of the 160,000 additions seen a year ago. The real concern stems from the prepaid side. It only added 41,000 customers, down 92% from the fourth quarter and 83% from a year ago. The startling drop in prepaid customers — at a time when the other prepaid providers showed impressive growth — illustrates the brutal competitive environment. With T-Mobile USA at the short end of it.
Even Sprint Nextel Corp., which can’t reverse the loss of its most lucrative contract customers, can point to the prepaid side with success. The company purchased Virgin Mobile USA to double down on the low end, and the strategy appears to be working. Verizon Wireless saw its own contract customer business declined, but has expanded its wholesale business to offset the slowdown, while AT&T Inc. has used emerging devices as another source of growth.
Verizon (VZ) shares enjoying a nice run-up this morning on the heals of a WSJ report that a possible new Apple (AAPL) iPhone could be compatible with Verizon Wireless’ network.
A Verizon-powered iPhone would end AT&T’s (T) exclusivity and represent an obvious positive catalyst for Verizon, Jefferies writes. Firm, which has been positive on the stock regardless of the latest iPhone news, says “in a world of handset parity (and the apps that go with those handsets),” customers will focus carrier selection on network quality.
“And we believe Verizon Wireless is currently viewed as the network leader.”
But beyond its expectation for Verizon to carry the iPhone sometime in the second half of 2010, Jefferies thinks increasing traction from Android-based devices “could ultimately level the handset/app playing field,” which is better economically for Verizon than broader iPhone availability.
Lots of unknowns remain. Both the timing and pricing of a Verizon iPhone – as well as how much of a subsidy Verizon would pay Apple – are still unclear. But there seem to be some obvious winners and losers in the event that the iPhone comes to Verizon.