Indices are recovering from the sell-off of the last two days, with
traders shrugging off the unemployment data as already baked in. The
Commerce Department reported an unemployment rate of 6.5% before the
open, marking the highest rate of joblessness since 1994. The non-farm
and manufacturing payrolls readings were worse than expected, with the
backmonth figures revised downward significantly. Front-month crude is
holding steady around $61, while commodities up slightly.
Ford and GM have released grim third-quarter results. GM's loss was
twice the expected figure, while its global market share has slid
further to 13%, down -0.7% y/y. Ominously the company noted that "Even
if it implements various planned restructuring actions, its estimated
liquidity for the rest of the year will approach the minimum amount
necessary to operate." In a sort of ransom note to the Federal
government, GM said "Looking into the first two quarters of 2009, the
company's estimated liquidity will fall significantly short of that
amount unless economic and automotive industry conditions significantly
improve." Specific liquidity figures were promised for later this
afternoon. Yesterday after the close Ford disclosed a
larger-than-expected loss, although revenue came in well ahead of
estimates. At this point the company's credit reserves are just as
important as its earnings figures: Ford said it has available credit
lines totalling $10.7B and overall liquidity of $29.6B. The CFO said
that he is "comfortable" with this level of liquidity and does not
expect to draw on available credit lines. The company also said it
would eliminate 10% of global salaried jobs, with the cuts coming via
buyouts for 2,600 workers, bringing total 2008 hourly staff reductions
to around 7,000 so far. It also pledged to eliminate merit pay
increases for North America salaried employees in 2009.
Dow component Disney is showing the strain of the crisis, reporting
earnings below expectations. Disney's CEO warned that bookings at parks
have fallen off "considerably" in the past month, and are down just
under 10% y/y. Funny enough Carnival Cruise Lines said much the same
thing one week ago, noting that "bookings have slowed considerably."
Sprint surprised with a sizable loss and a big y/y drop in subscribers.
In addition, the company's revenue per user in the wireless segment
fell significantly, a bad sign given the importance of the business for
Sprint. The CEO said that stabilizing revenue will be a main focus
moving forward. Engineering giant Fluor beat analysts' expectations in
EPS and guidance for FY08 and FY09. Utility major Mirant spiked 10%
this morning before dropping to around even after reporting a huge
quarterly gain thanks to a jump in the value of their hedges and
reversals of unrealized losses recorded in prior periods. Edison
International came in well behind estimates on the top and bottom
lines, but reaffirmed its full-year guidance, helping the name reverse
an early -2% loss and head well into positive territory mid morning. GT
Solar blew out estimates, although there was a note of caution as the
firm lowered the bottom end of its guidance for the full year. In other
renewable energy news, BP said it was canceling its planned wind farms
in the UK, to focus on renewable spending in the United States
The pressure on troubled gaming giant Las Vegas Sands is only getting
worse. The name lost more than a quarter of its value yesterday and is
down another 10% this morning on worries over its projects in Asia.
Last night CEO Adelson said LVS and the Singapore government are
committed to completing their Marina Bay Sands casino project. Its
Singapore financier DBS reassured that there has been no indication of
default its loan to LVS for the company. Last night the South China
Morning Post wrote that LVS may have to suspend construction of a new
$3.3B casino hotel project in Macau, citing a source at LVS auditor
PricewaterhouseCoopers. The paper noted that LVS is in danger of
defaulting on debt and breaching debt ratio covenants.
Speculation about Yahoo! has heated up in the wake of Google walking
away from its search deal with the company. Last night Microsoft CEO
Balmer insisted that he is still not interested in buying YHOO, that no
talks are taking place and that he is not interested in further talks
with the company. This morning CNBC's David Faber reported that his
sources were saying that there is still a possibility of a more limited
Google-Yahoo seach deal even though the more expansive deal from
earlier this year is off the table. In a related story, the Wall Street
Journal wrote that Microsoft is working hard to take a deal with
Verizon Wireless away from Google, noting that MSFT has offered Verizon
a "sweeter" deal to put its search engine and advertising on Verizon
phones. Back in August reports circulated that Verizon and Google were
close to a mobile search. YHOO is down 15% mid morning. In other tech
news, QCOM reported earning in line with expectations but guided lower
for the quarter and the year. QCOM's CEO said that Customers and
partners are telling the company that demand is dropping.
JP Morgan updated investors on some of the less positive sections of
its balance sheet this morning. The firm said it estimates its subprime
losses around $375-425M in early 2009, and that merger costs stemming
from the WaMu merger were around $600M. In a passage hidden away in the
filing, the company noted that "among potential risks factors" it may
not ‚Äúrealize any benefits from Bear Stearns and WaMu purchases.‚ÄĚ In
addition, it noted that its low-quality Level 3 assets had risen to
$1.3B or 6% of total assets. In a move that could affect several
leading financial firms, hedge fund Citadel Investment Group (AUM of
$16B) has been asked by various banks to come up with additional
collateral to cover its losses, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The article notes that Citadel's lenders include Goldman, Deutsche Bank
and Merrill. The rumor mill is cranking up ahead of Goldman's quarterly
report next month. Yesterday CNBC's Charlie Gasparino said that GS may
disclose its first quarterly loss since becoming public company. This
morning there was chatter that GS could go private. In mergers news,
LandAmerica agreed to merge with Fidelity National Financial. Under the
terms of the deal, LFG shareholders will receive 0.993 shares of FNF
common stock for each share of LFG common stock. The transaction has
been structured to reduce the combined debt of LFG and FNF by
approximately $250M prior to the closing of the merger agreement.
In currencies, the greenback was mixed in US trading following the
October non-farm payroll report. As noted during the European session,
the dollar price action has been more dependent on equity movements as
higher stocks usually suggest a weak USD and JPY. A Goldman Sachs
analyst lowered the firm's near-term GDP forecast for US, with Q4 GDP
now seen at -3.5% and at Q109 GDP at -2.0%. Goldman noted that the US
unemployment rate could climb to 8.5% by the end 2009. In addition,
Goldman is predicting another 50bps FOMC interest rate cut by the end
2008. EUR/USD is hugging the 1.28 area, up 120 pips since the Asian
session as equities benefit from the continued perception of lower
interest rates in the pipeline. USD/CAD is below 1.17, aided by the
improved October Canadian employment report and a degree of steadiness
in the commodities this session despite the global recession concerns.
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