- US: Dow: 13057.50 (-0.88%), S&P 500: 1408.02 (-0.81%), NASDAQ: 3053.40 (-0.66%)
- Europe: CAC: 3432.56 (-0.85%), DAX: 6949.57 (-0.98%), FTSE: 5776.60 (0.04%).
- Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4383.70 (0.18%), China: 2113.07 (0.25%), Hong Kong: 20132.24 (1.21%), India: 5415.35 (0.05%), Japan: 9178.12 (0.51%).
- Metals: Gold: 1672.80 (1.97%), Silver: 30.46 (3.05%), Copper: 3.49 (1.10%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 96.27 (-1.02%), Natural Gas: 2.80 (-0.85%)
- Commodities: Corn: 8.14 (-2.40%), Soya Bean: 17.15 (-0.74%), Wheat: 8.94 (-2.43%)
- Currency: Euro (€) / US Dollar ($) (EURUSD): 1.2565 (-0.27%), British Pound Sterling (UK£) / US Dollar ($) (GBPUSD): 1.5859 (0.12%), US Dollar ($) / Japanese Yen (¥) (USDJPY): 78.4850 (-0.09%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 1.678% (-0.014)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. markets end lower: U.S. markets closed near the lows of the day on Thursday amid investor concern about a global growth slowdown, and as optimism over further measures from the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy diminished, following comments from Federal Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) tumbled 115.30 points, or 0.88 percent, to close at 13,057.46, the fourth straight down day. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) dropped 11.41 points, or 0.81 percent, to end at 1,402.08, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) erased 20.27 points, or 0.66 percent, to finish at 3,053.40.
Oil prices fall: Oil prices declined on Thursday amid profit-taking following the recent rally. Sentiment was also affected by fading hopes for more stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Crude oil for September delivery slumped 1 percent, to settle at $96.27 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for October settlement fell 0.4 percent to $114.50 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Stocks in Focus
- Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) said the Federal Reserve has approved its revised capital plans, submitted in June. Citigroup had failed the Federal Reserve’s stress test in March, designed to ensure bank holding companies have sufficient capital.
- Business-software maker salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) reported second quarter earnings excluding certain items of 42 cents per share, on revenue of $732 million, topping analysts’ estimate of earnings excluding items of 39 cents a share, on $728.3 million in revenue. The San Francisco-based company provided current quarter earnings outlook that was below certain estimates.
- Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADSK) reported second quarter adjusted earnings of 48 cents a share, on revenue of $568.7 million that missed the average analysts’ estimate of 49 cents a share on $593.40 million in revenue. The company slashed its full-year sales forecast and said it plans to cut jobs in the near-term.
- Computer networking company Aruba Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARUN) posted fourth quarter earnings excluding items of 18 cents a share, on revenue of $139 million, beating Street expectations for earnings excluding items of 17 cents a share on revenue of $137 million.
- Lawn care and landscaping-equipment company The Toro Company (NYSE:TTC) reported a 16 percent rise in third quarter profit to $40.5 million, or 67 cents a share, versus $35.1 million, or 55 cents a share, in the year ago quarter. Sales grew 0.6 percent to $504.1 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 62 cents a share on revenue of $526 million. The company lowered its full-year earnings and revenue outlook.
- Telecommunications equipment company Qualcomm, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) has agreed to acquire Israeli start-up DesignArt Networks, for an undisclosed sum.
- bebe stores, inc. (NASDAQ:BEBE) reported fourth quarter net income of $3.0 million or 4 cents per share, compared to $4.7 million or 6 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. Sales fell to $131.54 million from $132.32 million, a year earlier. Analysts were looking for earnings of 3 cents a share on revenue of $128.40 million for the fourth quarter.
- Restaurant chain Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE:EAT) has raised its quarterly dividend by 25 percent to 20 cents per share from 16 cents per share. The company’s board also approved $500 million in additional share repurchases.
- Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE:WPI) has received final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on its lidocaine topical patch, the generic equivalent to Endo Health Solutions Inc (NASDAQ:ENDP)’s Lidoderm.
- Specialty truck maker Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK) and defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) were selected by the U.S. Military to develop a replacement for the Humvee utility vehicles.
- Electronic design automation company Synopsys, Inc. (NASDAQ:SNPS) said third quarter profit rose 45 percent to $75.7 million, or 50 cents a share, up from $52.1 million, or 35 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 15 percent to $443.7 million. The company also raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast.
- Oil and gas company InterOil Corporation (USA) (NYSE:IOC) ended 0.7 percent higher amid news that Korea Gas Corp has agreed to join the company’s LNG Project in Papau New Guinea.
- Specialty retail jeweler Signet Jewelers Ltd. (NYSE:SIG) reported second quarter profit of $70.7 million, or 85 cents per share, beating Wall Street estimates by 2 cents a share. Sales grew 7 percent to $853.9 million from $797.6 million, a year earlier, while same-store sales rose 7.1 percent.
- Dental and veterinary supply maker Patterson Companies, Inc. (NASDAQ:PDCO) reported first quarter net earnings of 45 cents a share that came in below Wall Street expectations. Sales increased 5 percent to $889.2 million, topping estimates of $884 million.
- Semiconductor maker International Rectifier Corporation (NYSE:IRF) tumbled 12 percent after it swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $68.2 million and forecast first-quarter revenue, much below analysts’ expectations. The company also announced a restructuring plan.
Hedge Fund News Update
- Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, one of the largest shareholders of shopping mall operator, General Growth Properties Inc (NYSE:GGP), urged the company’s board to consider a sale of the company to maximize shareholder value.
- New York-based hedge fund Royal Capital Management LLC has called for the ouster of health insurer, WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP), chief executive Angela Braly, according to Bloomberg News.
- Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C)’s private bank has pulled $500 million from billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson’s flagship Advantage funds, according to Reuters report.
- Activist hedge fund Corvex Management LP has asked packaged foods company, Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:RAH), to put itself up for sale, or consider merging with another company, fueling speculation that ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) might again bid for the company, after being rebuffed last year. Corvex Management LP has acquired a 5.13 percent stake in Ralcorp, according to a securities filing on Thursday.
- T. Boone Pickens’ commodities fund, BP Capital is up double-digits in the first eight months of the year, Reuters reported.
- The Florida Board of Administration has hired hedge fund titan Och-Ziff Capital Management to manage $150 million of its pension assets, Reuters reported.
- Matt Grossman, former chief investment officer at SAC Capital Advisors’ CR Intrinsic unit, is reportedly shutting down his New York-based hedge fund, Plural Investments, next month.
- Connecticut-based commodity based hedge fund Austenback Capital Management was up 4 percent during the month of July.
- Alp Ercil, the former head of Asian operation at Perry Capital LLC, has raised $940 million for his own distressed-asset fund, Asia Research & Capital Management Ltd.
Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades on Thursday, August 23, 2012
- Anworth Mortgage Asset Corporation (NYSE:ANH) was raised to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at Sterne Agee with a target price of $7.20.
- AllianceBernstein Holding LP (NYSE:AB) was lifted to “outperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Credit Suisse with a target price of $16.
- Gentiva Health Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:GTIV) was upgraded to “outperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Zacks with a target price of $13.
- L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LLL) was raised to “sector perform” from “underperform” by analysts at RBC Capital with a target price of $74.
- Luminex Corporation (NASDAQ:LMNX) was lifted to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at UBS AG with a target price of $22.
- Pacific Sunwear of California, Inc. (NASDAQ:PSUN) was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at B. Riley.
- Tilly’s Inc (NYSE:TLYS) was raised to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Stifel Nicolaus with a target price of $20.
- Rubicon Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RBCN) was lifted to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at RBC Capital.
- AK Steel Holding Corporation (NYSE:AKS) was downgraded to “sell” from “hold” by analysts at Dahlman Rose with a target price of $5.
- ADTRAN, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADTN) was lowered to “underperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Credit Suisse with a target price of $18.
- CoreSite Realty Corp (NYSE:COR) was cut to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald with a target price of $28.
- Hatteras Financial Corp. (NYSE:HTS) was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at Sterne Agee.
- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) was lowered to “underperform” from “sector perform” by analysts at RBC Capital with a target price of $68.
- Northern Oil & Gas, Inc. (NYSEAMEX:NOG) was cut to “add” from “strong buy” by analysts at Capital One with a target price of $25.
- Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Dahlman Rose.
- Sunrise Senior Living, Inc. (NYSE:SRZ) was lowered to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Stifel Nicolaus.
- Toll Brothers Inc (NYSE:TOL) was cut to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at MKM Partners.
- WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD) was downgraded to “underperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Raymond James.