InPlay from Briefing.com

Briefing.com

5:36 pm Navidea Biopharma provides progress updates on Lymphoseek programs (NAVB) : Co provided updates on several programs and events relating to Lymphoseek (technetium Tc 99m tilmanocept) Injection, including a head-to-head clinical study underway at the University of California, San Diego (:UCSD). The UCSD study is comparing the level of discomfort experienced by breast cancer patients after injection of Lymphoseek or radiolabeled sulfur colloid in lymphatic mapping procedures. Navidea also highlighted updates on the European filing for Lymphoseek with the Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) and multiple upcoming medical and scientific presentations. Lymphoseek is a novel, receptor-targeted, small-molecule radiopharmaceutical approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in lymphatic mapping to assist in the localization of lymph nodes draining a primary tumor in patients with breast cancer or melanoma.

  • Navidea has also made progress with the Lymphoseek Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) in Europe. Following Navidea's presentation of Oral Explanations to the European Medicines Agency's ("EMA") Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use ("CHMP") on March 19, 2014, the Company anticipates that CHMP will convene the Scientific Advisory Group on Oncology (SAG-O) to discuss additional elements of the Lymphoseek clinical study in patients with head and neck cancer. The SAG-O meeting will provide an opportunity for Navidea and independent experts in head and neck cancer surgery to review clinical data in the MAA filing and discuss broad aspects of care for patients with head and neck cancer in Europe. During this process, the MAA remains active and the review clock will continue to be stopped while Navidea works with the CHMP to continue expanded discussions.
  • Results from Lymphoseek studies will be presented at the following conferences in April and May.
    • 6th European Congress on Head and Neck Oncology
    • American Society of Breast Surgeons

5:30 pm Sotheby's to mail letter to shareholders: 'Believes Third Point has presented misleading information that distorts the reality at Sotheby's' (BID) : Co announced that it is mailing a letter to shareholders in connection with the Company's 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, which will be held on 6 May 2014. Highlights of the letter include:

  • Sotheby's believes Third Point has presented misleading information that distorts the reality at Sotheby's. 
  • Sotheby's strong financial and operating performance under the stewardship of Sotheby's Board and management team demonstrates that Mr. Loeb's assertions lack substance. Sotheby's is:
    • Increasing its global footprint by expanding into key emerging markets with attractive dynamics and growth potential;
    • Maintaining - and building upon - a leadership position across multiple art auction market categories, leveraging its global, enduring brand and deploying innovative strategies;
    • Demonstrating a disciplined approach to growth, capital allocation and return of capital; and 
    • Creating value for ALL Sotheby's shareholders. 
  • Under the stewardship of Sotheby's Board and management team, Sotheby's has delivered significant shareholder returns. 
  • Sotheby's has the right Board, the right leadership, and the right strategy to deliver shareholder value now and into the future.

5:17 pm Northwest Pipe's Water Transmission Group awarded section 15-1 of the Integrated Pipeline Project (NWPX) : Co was selected to provide 81,958 feet of 108-inch diameter, cement mortar lined and polyurethane coated spiral welded steel pipe for section 15-1 of the Integrated Pipeline Project. The construction contract for the installation of the pipeline project has been awarded to Garney Construction out of Kansas City, MO. The pipeline will transport raw water and provide new infrastructure capacity for the area. The project is anticipated to be complete mid-March 2016 and is jointly owned by Tarrant Regional Water District and Dallas Water Utilities.

5:16 pm Supervalu completes repricing and amendment of its $1 bln asset-based revolving credit facility (SVU) : Co announced it has successfully completed the repricing, amendment and extension of its existing $1.0 billion asset-based revolving credit facility, which is secured by the Company's inventory, credit card and certain other receivables and certain other assets. The amendment reduces the facility's interest rates to LIBOR plus 1.50 percent to 2.00 percent and prime plus 0.50 percent to 1.00 percent, depending on utilization. The amendment also eliminates the springing maturity provision that would have accelerated the revolving credit facility's maturity to 90 days prior to May 1, 2016 if more than $250 million of the Company's 8% senior notes remained outstanding as of that date. The springing maturity provision was replaced with a springing reserve provision that calls for a reserve to be placed against availability under the facility in the amount of any outstanding material indebtedness (as defined in the credit facility) that is due within 30 days of the date the reserve is established. In addition, the amendment also expands the ability to increase the Company's $1.5 billion senior secured term loan facility, subject to a secured leverage test, by up to $500 million (previously $250 million), subject to identifying term loan lenders or other institutional lenders willing to provide the additional loans and the satisfaction of certain terms and conditions. The amendment also contains modified covenants to give the Company additional strategic and operational flexibility and includes certain other non-material changes. Additionally, the maturity date of the revolving credit facility was extended by eleven months to February 2019.

5:12 pm This week's biggest % gainers/losers (:SCANX) : The following are this week's top 20 percentage gainers and top 20 percentage losers, categorized by sectors (over $300 mln market cap and 100K average daily volume).

This week's top 20 % gainers

  • Technology:ZIGO (19.25 +31.13%),GRUB (35.95 +16.31%),WBMD (44.99 +15.06%),SPLK (65.84 +12.74%),RALY (13.86 +12.5%)
  • Services:GLOG (28.04 +12.61%),GLNG (46.47 +12.6%)
  • Healthcare:AKBA (26.09 +41.18%),RGEN (15.84 +15.79%),AGN (133.92 +14.82%)
  • Financial:BOFI (85.3 +14.59%),AHL (44.45 +12.76%),IBKR (23.95 +12.6%)
  • Basic Materials:GDP (24.36 +35.94%),TPLM (9.83 +21.81%),HK (5.34 +17.88%),MPO (5.91 +17.03%),CRK (26.4 +12.53%),PSXP (57.66 +12.22%),AXAS (5.15 +12.2%)
This week's top 20 % losers
  • Technology:NQ (12.9 -19.32%),HIMX (9.12 -16.02%),OIBR (1.18 -15.11%)
  • Services:CNSI (26.41 -24.43%),PBY (10.26 -15.14%)
  • Healthcare:RARE (42.56 -26.54%),RTRX (14.5 -20.55%),ARWR (12.77 -19.53%),INO (2.52 -16%),DYAX (6.73 -15.24%),MGNX (20.02 -14.77%),NWBO (5.88 -14.16%),INSM (13.41 -14.04%),GWPH (46.2 -13.81%),ECYT (18.15 -13.2%)
  • Financial:MGI (14.81 -17.58%),NBG (4.48 -17.19%)
  • Basic Materials:CAK (0.7 -17.35%),PVG (5.48 -16.21%),ANV (3.63 -13.57%)

5:01 pm SM Energy announces plans to collect and discloses emissions data, resulting in withdrawal of stockholder climate change proposal (SM) : Co announces that, as the result of its conversations with Mercy Investments, Mercy has elected to withdraw its stockholder resolution concerning a Climate Change Mitigation Plan proposed to be submitted at the Company's 2014 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. "We recognize the environmental and financial impacts associated with natural gas flaring and methane emissions and actively manage these impacts," the Company said. The Company has agreed that it will disclose emissions data consistent with industry best practices by early 2016, with respect to data gathered in 2015."

4:58 pm Corporate Resource to delay its 10-K filing (CRRS) : Co announced that it will not meet its extended deadline for filing its Annual Report on Form 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company expects to complete its Form 10-K and file it with the SEC within the next few weeks.

"We are working diligently with our external auditors to finalize our financial statements and file our Form 10-K with the SEC. With the filing of our 10-K, we expect to report revenue growth in excess of 20% and record profitability for the year," said Michael J. Golde, Chief Financial Officer of CRS. "Details of our conference call to discuss the fourth quarter and full year results will be announced once our Form 10-K is filed."

4:58 pm Interactive Intelligence to acquire OrgSpan, terms not disclosed (ININ) : Co has entered into a letter of intent to acquire OrgSpan Inc., a privately held company that offers cloud-based enterprise social communications solutions. Subject to the negotiation of definitive documentation approval by the Interactive Intelligence audit committee and board, and the satisfaction of customary conditions, the companies expect to close the transaction within 30 days. Among its solutions, OrgSpan offers OrgSpan Select, which enables customers to search and view agent social profiles by multiple criteria, creating new and more effective ways of connecting customers and contact center agents. The company also offers OrgSpan Connect, a unified company directory of OrgSpan Connect users that includes information-rich personal profiles designed to improve employee collaboration.

4:28 pm Dynagas LNG Partners L.P. announces new 13-year time-charter contract for the clean force and amendment of current contract expiration date (DLNG) : Co owner and operator of LNG carriers, today announced that it has entered into a new 13-year time-charter contract with Gazprom Marketing & Trading Singapore Pte. Ltd ("Gazprom") for the Clean Force, a fully winterized, 149,700 cbm Ice Class LNG carrier built in 2008.

In addition, the Partnership has entered into an agreement with BG Group Plc., the current charterer of the Clean Force, to amend, at no cost to the Partnership, the expiration date of the current time-charter contract from the third quarter of 2016 to July 2015, at which time the new Gazprom contract will take effect.

As of April 17, 2014, the amended BG Group charter and the new Gazprom charter, taken together, are expected to increase the Partnership's (i) average remaining charter term to ~6.9 years from an average of ~3.0 years and (ii) average fleet-wide time charter equivalent rates, calculated for a period of twelve months following the commencement of the new charter to ~$78,200 per day per vessel from an average of ~$76,150 per day per vessel based on the Partnership's three existing vessels. The Clean Force is expected to be renamed Amur River prior to its delivery to Gazprom.

4:26 pm Mercury receives $3.2 mln order for high-performance digital signal processing modules for synthetic aperture radar application (MRCY) :  

4:25 pm Lions Gate Entertainment moves to integrate its motion picture marketing operations (LGF) : Co is integrating the marketing operations of its Lionsgate and Summit film labels, the Company announced today. As a result of this integration, Nancy Kirkpatrick, who has served as Summit Entertainment's President of Worldwide Marketing for the past six years, will resign at the end of this month. Ms. Kirkpatrick shepherded the marketing of all five films of the global blockbuster Twilight Saga franchise and the recent successful launch of the Company's new Divergent franchise. The Company's feature film marketing is being integrated under Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen, who will have marketing oversight of the Company's Lionsgate and Summit film labels as well as its Pantelion Films joint venture with Televisa and its urban Codeblack Films label along with expanded responsibilities for merchandising, theme park attractions and new business opportunities generated by the Company's franchises.

4:20 pm Advanced Micro beats by $0.02, beats on revs; guides Q2 revs above consensus (AMD) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.02 per share, $0.02 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of ($0.00); revenues rose 28.4% year/year to $1.4 bln vs the $1.34 bln consensus; GAAP gross margin flat QoQ at 35%.

  • Computing Solutions segment revenue decreased 8 percent sequentially and 12 percent year-over-year. The sequential and year-over-year declines were due to decreased client unit shipments. 
    • Operating loss was $3 million, an improvement from an operating loss of $7 million in Q4 2013 and $39 million in Q1 2013 driven by lower operating expenses.
    • Microprocessor average selling price (ASP) was flat sequentially and decreased slightly year-over-year. 
  • Graphics and Visual Solutions segment revenue decreased 15 percent sequentially and increased 118 percent year-over-year driven largely by semi-custom SoCs. GPU revenue increased sequentially and year-over-year due to strong demand for the AMD Radeon R7 and R9 family of products. 
    • Operating income was $91 million compared with $121 million in Q4 2013 and $16 million in Q1 2013. The sequential decline was primarily due to decreased revenue from semi-custom SoCs while the year-over-year increase was driven by higher sales of semi-custom SoCs. 
    • GPU ASP increased sequentially and year-over-year driven by the Radeon R7 and R9 family of products.
Co issues upside guidance for Q2, sees Q2 revs +0-6% QoQ to ~$1.40-1.48 bln vs. $1.36 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 

4:18 pm Actavis acquires four products from Akorn Inc. Terms not disclosed (ACT) : Co has entered into agreements with Akorn Inc (AKRX) and Hi-Tech Pharmacal (HITK) to purchase four currently marketed products and one product under development for cash consideration. The closing is contingent upon the consummation of Akorn's acquisition of Hi-Tech. The agreements include three products marketed under ANDA - Ciprofloxacin Hydrochloride Ophthalmic Solution, Levofloxacin Ophthalmic Solution and Lidocaine Hydrochloride Jelly - and one product marketed under a NDA: Lidocaine/Prilocaine Topical Cream. The agreements also include one product under development.

4:18 pm Transocean provides fleet status report: total value of new contracts since the March 17, 2014 Fleet Update Summary is approximately $209 mln (RIG) : Co issued a comprehensive Fleet Status Report which provides the current status and contract information for the company's entire fleet of offshore drilling rigs. The total value of new contracts since the March 17, 2014 Fleet Update Summary is approximately $209 million. Other items include:

  • Transocean Marianas - Awarded a four-well contract offshore South Africa at a dayrate of $370,000 ($118 million estimated backlog). The rig was previously idle.
  • Transocean Arctic - Awarded a two-well contract in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea at a dayrate of $519,000 ($83 million estimated backlog). The rig's prior dayrate was $419,000.
  • Sedneth 701 - The rig sustained damage from a galley fire. The company has decided to divest the rig and has classified it as held for sale. Discussions are underway with the customer to transfer the remaining contract backlog to an alternative rig. 
Estimated planned 2015 out-of-service time is provided on a rig-by-rig basis. A preliminary review of anticipated projects indicates approximately 1,306 days of planned out-of-service time in 2015, compared with 1,845 days in 2014. Total out-of-service days are aggregated by asset class in the Fleet Status Report. Since the prior report, estimated 2014 out-of-service time increased by a net 105 days, including 59 days associated with contract preparation on the Transocean Marianas.

4:17 pm Stillwater Mining Production reports Q1 production of palladium and platinum from the Co's Montana mine operations, which totaled 130,700 ounces in Q1 of 2014, a 2.8% increase YoY (SWC) :

  • Production of palladium and platinum from the Company's Montana mine operations totaled 130,700 ounces in the first quarter of 2014, a 2.8% increase over the same period in 2013. The 18.8% increase in East Boulder Mine production in this year's first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2013 was driven by slightly higher realized ore grades and higher tons mined. The 3.0% decline in ounces produced at the Stillwater Mine reflected lower ore tons mined and increased allocation of resources to development activities during the 2014 first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2013. 
  • During the first quarter of 2014, total volumes of palladium, platinum and rhodium processed from recycled material totaled 101,500 ounces, a decrease of 34.2% compared to the same period in 2013.

4:16 pm Keating Capital notes that two of its portfolio companies, TrueCar and Zoosk, have filed registration statements with the SEC for proposed IPOs (KIPO) : Co noted that two of its portfolio companies, TrueCar and Zoosk, have filed registration statements with the SEC for proposed IPOs.

TrueCar files for $125 million IPO

  • TrueCar, a negotiation-free car-buying platform, filed a registration statement on April 4, 2014, with the SEC to raise up to $125 mln in an initial public offering. The co plans to list on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol TRUE. TrueCar initially filed confidentially on February 14, 2014. 
  • Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are the joint bookrunners on the deal. No pricing terms were disclosed. 
  • Keating Capital made a $3 million common stock investment in TrueCar on September 26, 2011. 
Zoosk files for $100 million IPO
  • Zoosk, an online dating platform with 26 million members, filed a registration statement on April 16, 2014, with the SEC to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering. The co plans to list on the NYSE under the ticker symbol ZSK. 
  • BofA Merrill Lynch, Citi and RBC Capital Markets are the joint bookrunners on the deal. No pricing terms were disclosed. 
  • Keating Capital made a $3 million investment in the Series E Convertible Preferred stock of Zoosk on January 27, 2012.

4:11 pm Closing Market Summary: Stocks End Strong Week on Mixed Note (:WRAPX) : The stock market ended the holiday-shortened week on a mixed note as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1%, while the S&P 500 added 0.1% with seven sectors posting gains.

Equity indices faced an uphill climb from the opening bell after disappointing quarterly results from Google (GOOG 536.10, -20.44) and IBM (IBM 190.04, -6.36) weighed on the early sentiment. Google reported earnings $0.15 below the Capital IQ consensus estimate on revenue of $15.42 billion (expected $15.52), while IBM revealed in-line earnings on revenue that was roughly $500 million below expectations.

The results from the two pressured the technology sector (-0.3%), which was down as much as 1.0% during early action. The sector was able to shed the bulk of its losses thanks to strength among chipmakers and other high-beta components. Chipmakers rallied throughout the session after upbeat earnings from SanDisk (SNDK 82.99, +7.14) and Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM 20.71, +0.56) underpinned the space. The broader PHLX Semiconductor Index, meanwhile, jumped 1.9%.

Even though Google and IBM pressured the market early on, equity indices were able to rebound with help from several other major listings that reported above-consensus results. General Electric (GE 26.56, +0.44), Goldman Sachs (GS 157.44, +0.22), Morgan Stanley (MS 30.76, +0.87), and PepsiCo (PEP 85.55, +0.78) all beat their estimates.

Also of note, the biotech space remained volatile with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 222.16, -0.57) spending some time on each side of its flat line. Furthermore, the ETF ended just above its 200-day moving average (220.19) after spending the past week near that key level.

Although the Nasdaq and S&P 500 posted modest gains, the Dow Jones (-0.1%) was unable to catch up to its peers as losses in several large components like IBM, American Express (AXP 86.22, -1.18), and UnitedHealth (UNH 75.78, -2.41) acted as a wet blanket on the price-weighted index.

Treasuries retreated steadily throughout the session, causing the benchmark 10-yr yield to add nine basis points to 2.72%. The slide took place amid reports from Geneva indicating representatives from the European Union, United States, Ukraine, and Russia have reached an agreement on steps aimed at de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine. The agreement was announced by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who also said Ukraine needs 'decentralization' and 'more regional powers.'

Trading volume was above average thanks to a boost in activity resulting from options expiration. As a result more than 800 million shares changed hands at the New York Stock Exchange.

Today's data was limited to two releases:

  • The initial claims level increased to 304,000 for the week ending April 12 from an upwardly revised 302,000 for the week ending April 5. The Briefing.com consensus expected the initial claims level to increase to 312,000. The Department of Labor stated that there were no special factors impacting the claims data. However, we remain skeptical of that. Over the past few years, the DOL has had extreme difficulties managing the seasonal adjustment factors around the Easter holiday. With Easter falling on a later date this year, we suspect that the claims are underreporting actual layoff levels. We expect some volatility in the next few weeks before the initial claims level settles back in the 320,000 -- 330,000 range by the beginning of May. 
  • The Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook increased to 16.6 in April from 9.0 in March. The Briefing.com consensus expected the index to fall to 8.6. There was a general strengthening across the board. Shipments spiked to 22.7 in April from 5.7 in March. Most of the gain was the result of a significant strengthening in new orders demand, 14.8 from 5.7. The gains in shipments, however, may not be sustainable. Unfilled orders softened as the related index fell to 2.0 in April from 2.6 in March. Without a steady supply of backlogs, weaker new orders will pull down shipments growth. The employment index increased to 6.9 in April from 1.7 in March. 
Monday's data will be limited to the Leading Indicators report for March, which will be released at 10:00 ET.
  • S&P 500 +0.9% YTD 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average -1.0% YTD 
  • Nasdaq Composite -1.9% YTD 
  • Russell 2000 -2.1% YTD 
Week in Review: Stocks Rebound From Recent Pressure

The major averages finished the Monday session on a modestly higher note, but they ended below their best levels of the day after volatility during the last two hours of action forced the indices to test their flat lines. The S&P 500 rose 0.8%, while the Nasdaq added 0.6% after being up as much as 1.3%. The stock market began the session on an upbeat note, casting aside renewed concerns about the situation in Ukraine, where the country's army was called in over the weekend to deal with pro-Russian separatists in several cities in the Southeast. Instead, the market rallied in the morning after Citigroup's (C 48.22, +0.04) above-consensus quarterly results, combined with a better-than-expected March Retail Sales report, invited buyers into the mix. In all likelihood, the early advance was assisted by some short-covering as many areas that displayed weakness in recent sessions, showed relative strength.

On Tuesday, equities ended on a modestly higher note, but not before heavy selling pressure sent the Nasdaq Composite (+0.3%) for a test of its 200-day moving average. The S&P 500, meanwhile, added 0.7% with all ten sectors posting gains. Stocks climbed at the open with the advance built on the relative strength of biotechnology and other momentum names. Despite the solid early gains in those areas, the market began fading from its high as multiple reports pointed to an escalation of tensions in Ukraine. Specifically, a skirmish reportedly took place at the Kramatorsk airbase, but there were inconsistencies with regard to the number of injured. Some reports put the number of casualties between four and 11, while others said there were no casualties. After these reports made the rounds, Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov was quoted by Interfax as saying the airfield has been retaken from pro-Russian militants.

The stock market ended the Wednesday session on an upbeat note with the Nasdaq (+1.3%) ending in the lead. The S&P 500 settled higher by 1.1% with all ten sectors posting gains. The benchmark index spent the entire trading day in the green, rallying to new highs during the last hour of action. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, meanwhile, briefly dipped into the red during morning action, but was able to recover swiftly. Stocks began the trading day with modest gains after the overnight session featured the release of China's Q1 GDP. Although the report could be classified as better-than-feared, it did not necessarily produce a clear-cut signal as the year-over-year reading of 7.4% beat estimates (7.3%), while the quarter-over-quarter growth of 1.4% was just below expectations (1.5%).

4:11 pm ONEOK increases quarterly dividend by 40% to $0.56 per share from $0.40 per share (OKE) :  

4:10 pm AthenaHealth: Updates 2014 Guidance- Lowers high end of EPS, raises high end of revenue (ATHN) :

  • Sees GAAP revenue between $725-755 mln, prior guidance $725-750 mln; Capital IQ consensus $751 mln
  • Sees Non-GAAP EPS in the range of $0.98-1.10, prior guidance $0.98-1.15; Capital IQ consensus $1.09
  • Sees gross margin in the range of 62.5-63.5%
  • Sees Non-GAAP adjusted operating income between $70-80 mln
  • Sees Non-GAAP tax rate of approx 40%

4:10 pm Cepheid beats by $0.06, beats on revs; lowers FY14 EPS, reaffirms FY14 revs guidance (CPHD) : Reports Q1 (Mar) loss of $0.01 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.06 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of ($0.07); revenues rose 16.3% year/year to $106.9 mln vs the $104.98 mln consensus.

  • During the quarter, Cepheid installed a total of 181 GeneXpert systems in its commercial Clinical business. Additionally, the Company placed a total of 322 GeneXpert systems as part of its High Burden Developing Country (:HBDC) program. Including the HBDC systems, a cumulative total of 6,012 GeneXpert systems have been placed worldwide as of March 31, 2014. 
  • Non-GAAP gross margin on sales was 51%, which compares to 53% and 55%, respectively, in the first quarter of 2013.
Co issues guidance for FY14 reflecting the issuance of the Convertible Senior Notes in February 2014, lowers adj. EPS to $0.19-0.24 from $0.24-0.29 vs. $0.26 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; reaffirms FY14 revs of $446-461 mln vs. $457.71 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 

"We placed an additional 503 GeneXpert systems globally in the first quarter of 2014, contributing to 26% growth in our clinical business, and bringing our cumulative installed base to more than 6,000," said John Bishop, Cepheid's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Growing adoption of our broad menu of 14 Xpert tests drove Commercial Clinical Xpert reagent growth of 20% in the first quarter. With the recent additions of Xpert HPV and Xpert Norovirus to our test menu outside the US, we are entering a prolific, global product cycle that will further extend the portfolio of accurate, fast and easy-to-use molecular diagnostics available to our customers." 

4:10 pm HFF Inc. secures $165 million in financing for a four-property retail portfolio totaling more than 1.9 million square feet in Pennsylvania and Ohio (HF) :  

4:08 pm Assoc Banc-Corp beats by $0.02 (ASBC) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.27 per share, $0.02 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.25.

  • Average loans grew $416 mln or 3% from Q4
  • Average total commercial loan balances grew a record $420 mln, or 4% from Q4, and accounted for the majority of this quarter's average loan growth Noninterest expenses of $168 mln declined $12 mln or 6% from Q4
  • Net interest income of $165 mln increased $7 mln or 5% from the comparable year ago period
  • Net interest income, net of interest recoveries, increased $1 mln from Q4
  • Pretax income of $66 mln increased $4 mln or 7% from Q4 
  • Credit quality continued to improve with net charge offs, nonaccrual loans, past due loans and potential problem loans all declining quarter over quarter
  • During Q1, the Co repurchased $39 mln, or ~2.3 mln shares, of common stock at an average cost of $17.20 per share Return on Tier 1 common equity was 9.4% for Q1
  • Capital ratios remain very strong with a Tier 1 common equity ratio of 11.20% at March 31, 2014

4:07 pm First Financial beats by $0.04 (FFIN) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.70 per share, $0.04 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.66.

  • Net interest income for the first quarter of 2014 increased 21.99 percent to $47.17 million compared with $38.67 million in the same period of 2013. The net interest margin, on a taxable equivalent basis, was 4.32 percent, up five basis points from 4.27 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and up 13 basis points from 4.19 percent in the same quarter last year.

4:06 pm ONEOK Partners increases quarterly distribution to $0.745 per unit from $0.73 per unit (OKS) :  

4:06 pm Select Comfort misses by $0.01, beats on revs; reaffirms FY14 guidance (SCSS) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.31 per share, $0.01 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.32; revenues rose 7.0% year/year to $276.4 mln vs the $273.51 mln consensus; comps +2% vs. +0.4% ests.

  • Co reaffirms guidance for FY14, sees EPS of ~$1.07 vs. $1.10 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 
    • This outlook assumes mid- to high-single-digit total revenue growth and the addition of 20 to 30 net new stores during the year.
  • During the first quarter, the company repurchased 0.6 million shares of its common stock for a total cost of $10 million. 
"We are pleased with our results, which were in line with internal expectations. We continue to make progress and are on track with our three important growth strategies: product innovation, marketing effectiveness and local market development. During the quarter, we introduced the most significant product innovations and marketing advancements in our company's history. Customer reaction has been strong and we remain cautiously optimistic in an ongoing challenging consumer environment."

4:06 pm AthenaHealth misses by $0.05, misses on revs (ATHN) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.12 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.05 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.17; revenues rose 29.8% year/year to $163.03 mln vs the $170.45 mln consensus.

  • Griffin Hospital announced that the hospital has selected athenaCoordinator Enterprise, athenahealth's end-to-end service created to activate patients, coordinate care, and analyze the clinical and financial impact of that care, for use across its community health care network, serving more than 100,000 Connecticut residents. 
  • Steward Health Care System announced that Steward has selected athenaCoordinator Enterprise to enable care coordination for its employed providers and their patients.

    Steward and athenahealth are expanding their existing partnership

4:05 pm Actavis and Forest Laboratories (FRX) receive FTC second request under Hart-Scott-Rodino (ACT) : ACT and FRX announced that they have each received a request for additional information from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in connection with Actavis' pending acquisition of Forest. The information request was issued under notification requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended ("HSR Act").

  • The effect of the second request is to extend the waiting period imposed by the HSR Act until 30 days after Actavis and Forest have substantially complied with the request, unless that period is extended voluntarily by the parties or terminated sooner by the FTC.
  • Actavis and Forest intend to cooperate fully with the FTC and they continue to expect the transaction to close in mid-year 2014.

4:03 pm Hub Group misses by $0.03, reports revs in-line (HUBG) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.33 per share, $0.03 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.36; revenues rose 10.3% year/year to $848.4 mln vs the $841.59 mln consensus. 

  • "The first quarter of 2014 was marked by a truly challenging operating environment due to the extreme weather in many markets. While this negatively impacted our financial results, we are pleased with the way our organization responded to these challenges," said David P. Yeager, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hub Group.

4:03 pm Hi-Crush Partners announces Q1 distribution of $0.525 per unit, up 3% over the previous qtr (HCLP) : "In light of our recently announced Augusta dropdown, we intend to update our 2014 full year distribution and financial guidance on the first quarter earnings call."

  • The distribution will be paid on May 15, 2014 to all common and subordinated unit holders of record on May 1, 2014.

4:03 pm Acacia Research misses by $0.16, misses on revs (ACTG) : Reports Q1 (Mar) loss of $0.11 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.16 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.05; revenues fell 83.7% year/year to $12.57 mln vs the $16.38 mln consensus. 

  • Co announced that its Board of Directors has approved a quarterly cash dividend, payable in the amount of $0.125 per share, which will be paid on May 30, 2014, to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 1, 2014. 
  • Future cash dividends are expected to be paid on a quarterly basis and will be at the discretion of the Board of Directors.

4:02 pm Digital Power Corporation states its policy is not to comment on unusual market activity (DPW) :  

4:01 pm Healthways and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota reach settlement agreement: HWAY to pay total of $9 mln (HWAY) : HWAY announced an agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota ("BCBSMN") resolving a former contractual dispute.

  • Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Healthways will pay BCBSMN in two separate installments: $4 million by the end of April 2014 and $5.5 million in January 2015. BCBSMN has an option to receive discounts on Healthways well-being improvement services in lieu of the January 2015 payment. 
  • As a result of the settlement agreement, Healthways will incur a charge of $9.4 million, or approximately $0.17 per share after tax, in the Company's first-quarter 2014 financial results. Healthways' lenders have agreed to exclude the $9.4 million charge from debt covenant calculations under the Company's Senior Credit Facilities.
  • The $9.4 million charge was not a component of the Company's 2014 financial guidance provided as part of its February 2014 earnings release and conference call. The Company is today affirming its 2014 financial guidance as issued and discussed on February 13, 2014, excluding the impact of the $9.4 million settlement charge. 
  • The dispute was related to a contract between BCBSMN and Healthways that was in effect from 2001 to 2008. Healthways and BCBSMN engaged in a contractually specified binding arbitration process leading to a hearing in October 2013 and the companies then jointly requested that the arbitrator not issue any award or decision, after which the companies engaged in settlement and business discussions. 

4:00 pm Amazon.com announces that Hulu Plus, Crackle, and SHOWTIME ANYTIME are joining VEVO in integrating their full catalogs into Fire TV's unified voice search (AMZN) :  

3:57 pm iCAD reports continued growth in adoption and utilization of its Xoft system to treat skin cancer (ICAD) : Co announced that more than 4,000 non-melanoma skin cancer (:NMSC) patients have been treated using the Xoft Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy System, "demonstrating continued growth and utilization of the system among radiation oncologists and dermatologists. In addition, a growing body of clinical evidence provides ongoing support for the use of the Xoft System for this skin cancer application. The Xoft System offers an alternative, pain-free treatment option for patients who may not be candidates for surgery or who are concerned with cosmetic outcomes associated with surgery. The Xoft System is the only electronic brachytherapy (eBx ) system with peer-reviewed published data in support of this application."

3:53 pm GlaxoSmithKline and Genmab receive FDA approval for Arzerra (ofatumumab) as first-line treatment in combination with chlorambucil for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (GSK) : Co and Genmab A/S announced that FDA has approved a Supplemental Biologic License Application (sBLA) for the use of Arzerra (ofatumumab), a CD20-directed monoclonal antibody, in combination with chlorambucil for the treatment of previously untreated patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL.TO) for whom fludarabine-based therapy is considered inappropriate. The FDA approval of the first-line indication is based on results from a Phase III study (COMPLEMENT 1) which demonstrated statistically significant improvement in median progression-free survival (PFS) in patients who received the combination of ofatumumab and chlorambucil compared to patients who received chlorambucil alone.

3:41 pm Earnings Preview for the week of April 21 - 25 (:SUMRX) : Of the companies reporting earnings for the week of April 21 - 25 some of the bigger names include:

  • Monday:
    • Pre Market - HAL, KMB, RCI, STI, LII, HAS, TNC
    • After Hours - CE, NFLX, RCII, ZION, WCN
  • Tuesday:
    • Pre Market - CMCSA, UTX, LMT, MCD, TRV, PHG, XRX, BK, GPC, ITW, OMC, CNC, SAH, PNR, IPG, HOG, CP, AKS, RF, SPG, ATI, LXK, ACI
    • After Hours - T, AMGN, GILD, YUM, CNI, DFS, FTI, WRB, NBR, SANM, PKG, VMW, JNPR, TMK, UIS, BCR, ISRG, CREE, ILMN, CBST, 
  • Wednesday:
    • Pre Market - ERIC, PG, BA, DOW, JCI, DAL, GD, NOC, EMC, MAN, SVU, TMO, TEL, PX, NSC, IR, APD, BIIB, RAI, FDML, R, AVY, OCR, GDI, DPS, OC, ABG, APH, BEAV, PII, AMTD
    • After Hours - AAPL, IM, SWY, QCOM, CBI, TXN, AIZ, FB, SYK, ORLY, RE, NXPI, USTR, LRCX, USTR, LRCX, TSCO, RJF, FLS, LPLA, RHI, CCI, OII, VAR, CTXS, ETFC, FFIV, ZNGA, ANGI
  • Thursday:
    • Pre Market - GM, CAJ, VZ, ABC, NVS, UPS, AET, CAT, AAL, MMM, AVT, AZN, TWC, RTN, FCX, NUE, LLY, DLPH, LUV, MO, PAG, WM, ETR, SWK, RS, CAM, CMS, GPI, CCE, HSY, WCC, CELG, DGX, BTU, DHI, UFS, NLSN, POT, HOT, JBLU, NBL, SCG, BMS, 
    • After Hours - MSFT, AMZN, SBUX, LVS, WFT, CB, V, RGA, PFG, EMN, UHS, RSG, MAS, BRCM, NEM, BIDU, CINF, FSL, SPN, HBI, CERN, SPWR, DV, P, 
  • Friday:
    • Pre Market - HMC, F, ABBV, CL, WHR, LEA, AON, VFC, DTE, COV, TYC, STT, ALV, WY, DAN, LH, ALK, LPNT, MCO, BKW

3:35 pm Herbalife issues statement; says 'We are confident in the integrity of our longstanding business and the Company's compliance with applicable laws and regulations' (HLF) : Co issued the following statement:

We have more than 15,000 members and many more thousands of satisfied customers in Illinois. We will continue to provide the outstanding products and services that they have come to expect from Herbalife over the past three decades. We will always support the good work of our members.

We are confident in the integrity of our longstanding business and the Company's compliance with applicable laws and regulations. We look forward to working with the Illinois Attorney General's office to resolve the consumer complaints it has received.

3:31 pm Donegal Group increases quarterly dividend on Class A and Class B common stock (DGICA) : Co reported that its board of directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $.1315 per share of the Company's Class A common stock and $.1160 per share of the Company's Class B common stock. The dividends are payable on May 15, 2014 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on May 1, 2014. These dividends represent percentage increases of 3.1% for the Company's Class A common stock and 0.9% for the Company's Class B common stock compared to the previous quarterly cash dividend rates.

3:28 pm Earnings Calendar (:SUMRX) : Today after the close look for the following companies to report:

  • AMD, HUBG, SCSS, ASBC, ATHN, CPHD, ACTG
Monday before the open look for the following companies to report:
  • HAL, KMB, RCI, STI, LII, HAS, TNC

3:17 pm Cisco Systems sets new session high of 23.25, last week's high and its five month high from early April are at 23.32/23.35 (CSCO) :  

3:14 pm Afternoon S&P +6.3 slip off peak holds above mid-morning high at 1865, edging back toward session high again (:TECHX) : Relative sector strength in recent trade has developed in: Steel SLX, Rail, Transports IYT, Energy XLE, Industrial XLI.

2:57 pm Index Change Reminder (:INDXCH) : Repligen (RGEN) will replace Hi-Tech Pharmacal in the S&P SmallCap 600, S&P SmallCap 600 constituent Umpqua (UMPQ) will replace Scientific Games (SGMS) in the S&P MidCap 400, and Scientific Games will replace Umpqua in the S&P SmallCap 600 after the close of trading today.

2:49 pm NYMEX Energy Closing Prices (:COMDX) :

  • May crude oil rose $0.58 to $104.31/barrel 
    • Crude oil traded higher today, rising as high as $104.78 in morning action. It then pulled back to a session low of $103.85 but recovered some of the gain in afternoon floor trade. The energy component eventually settled 0.6% higher. 
  • May natural gas rose 21 cents to $4.74/MMBtu 
    • Natural gas slipped to a session low of $4.48 in morning action but rallied sharply into positive territory following bullish inventory data that showed a build of 24 bcf when a larger build of 34-36 bcf was anticipated. It inched higher for the remainder of the session and settled just below its session high of $4.75, booking a gain of 4.6%. 
  • May heating oil settled unchanged at $3.01/gallon 
  • May RBOB rose 1 cent to $3.05/gallon

2:21 pm CBOT Agriculture and Ethanol/ICE Sugar Closing Prices (:COMDX) :

  • May corn fell 3 cents to $4.95/bushel 
  • May wheat rose 3 cents to $6.91/bushel 
  • May soybeans fell 3 cents to $15.16/bushel 
  • May ethanol rose 2 cents to $2.19/gallon 
  • July sugar (#16 (U.S.)) rose 0.23 of a penny to 24.63 cents/lbs

1:55 pm Dollar Erases Losses, Trades Flat: 10-yr: -26/32..2.722%..USD/JPY: 102.43..EUR/USD: 1.3818 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index has recovered its early losses and now holds little changed near 79.80. Click here to see a daily Dollar Index chart.
  • Aiding the greenback were reports of a de-escalation in Ukraine
  • EURUSD is flat @ 1.3815 after trade was once again rejected by minor resistance in the 1.3850 level. The afternoon weakness has the single currency looking at a third straight flat session as action remains trapped between 1.3800 support and 1.3850 resistance. Markets across the region will be closed Friday and Monday for Good Friday/Easter. 
  • GBPUSD is flat @ 1.6795 as action presses its worst levels of the session. Early strength lifted sterling to nearly 1.6850, its best since November 2009, but action has struggled to hold onto those gains ahead of the holiday. Minor support rests near 1.6725 while 1.6600/1.6650 provides further help. British markets are closed on Friday and Monday. 
  • USDHCF is +5 pips @ .8820 as buyers look to remain in control for a fourth day. The current streak has action testing resistance helped by the 50 dma. Swiss banks will be shuttered Friday and Monday. 
  • USDJPY is +20 pips @ 102.40 as action probes the 50 dma. Today's advance comes despite further commentary from Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda, which reiterated the economy is strengthening and inflation is likely to pick up as wages grow. The pair has not lost ground in six sessions and is on track to close at its best level in one and a half weeks. Japan's tertiary industry activity is due out this evening. 
  • AUDUSD is -40 pips @ .9330 as trade looks likely to post its lowest close since April 7. Today's selling comes following Australia's disappointing NAB Business Confidence and new motor vehicle sales, and the slowdown in the pace of acceleration of China's foreign direct investment. A more than 700 pip rally off the January lows has run the hard currency to five-month highs, but action has struggled to push through the .9400/.9450 level. Australian banks are closed on Friday and Monday. 
  • USDCAD is -15 pips @ 1.1000 as trade stalls at resistance in the area. The pair has struggled since this morning's hotter than anticipated headline CPI (0.6% MoM actual v. 0.4% MoM expected).

1:53 pm COMEX Metals Closing Prices (:COMDX) :

  • June gold fell $9.20 to $1294.20/oz 
    • Gold slipped deeper into negative territory today as the dollar index erased earlier losses. The yellow metal pulled back from its session high of $1303.20 set in morning action and fell as low as $1292.80. Unable to gain momentum, it settled with a 0.7% loss. 
  • May silver fell $0.04 to $19.60/oz 
    • Silver chopped around slightly below the unchanged line after retreating from a session high of $19.69 set moments after floor trade opened. It brushed a session low of $19.56 and eventually settled with a 0.2% loss. 
  • May copper rose 1 cent to $3.04/lbs

1:50 pm General Motors confirms Q1 deliveries rise 2% YoY (GM) :

  • Co dealers delivered 2,416,028 vehicles around the world in the first quarter of 2014, up 2 percent compared with a year ago. Among GM's top five global markets by volume, China posted the largest year-over-year sales increase, with deliveries up 13 percent to a record 919,114 units. 
  • Sales in the United Kingdom and Germany were also up, and Opel/Vauxhall grew its share in 10 European markets. 
  • In Europe, GM's improving market position is linked to the Opel Mokka and the new Insignia flagship sedan. Cumulative Mokka orders have surpassed 215,000 units since it was launched in fall 2012, while Insignia has topped 85,000 units since it was launched in fall 2013. 
  • GM sales in China set a record in the first quarter. In addition, 2014 deliveries surpassed 1 million units in early April. This is the earliest sales have reached the seven-figure range.

1:43 pm Sotheby's issues presentation to 'set the record straight'; says 'We believe Mr. Loeb does not possess the long-term focus necessary to drive value for ALL Sotheby's shareholders' (BID) : Co announced that it has issued a presentation in response to Third Point's recent misleading claims regarding the co. The presentation is available on the Investor Relations section of Sotheby's webside (click here for co's events page).

Highlights of the presentation include:

  • Sotheby's has consistently delivered strong, long-term performance and is executing a clear strategy to drive continued growth and profitability; 
  • Sotheby's maintains a strong leadership position within the art market and continues to invest in areas exhibiting substantial growth and potential for attractive returns; 
  • Sotheby's Board and management remain keenly focused on expense management and have effectively managed the capital needs of a growing and cyclical business with prudent fiscal discipline; 
  • We believe Mr. Loeb does not possess the long-term focus necessary to drive value for ALL Sotheby's shareholders; and 
  • Sotheby's Board and management are steadfast in their commitment to strong corporate governance and shareholder stewardship.

1:20 pm June gold sold off to a new session low in recent action to $1292.80/oz. Gold is now -0.7% at $1294.10/oz (:COMDX) :  

1:16 pm Nasdaq Comp +16 joins S&P +4.7 at minor new session high, Dow +17 edges above mid-morning high (:TECHX) :  

1:08 pm MasterCard Board of Directors recommends two new candidates for election (MA) : Co announced that its Board of Directors has nominated Julius Genachowski and Merit Janow for election as independent directors at the company's June 3, 2014 annual meeting of stockholders. If elected along with each of the company's existing directors, the Board will increase its size to 13 members.

1:01 pm Intercontinental Hotels Group announces strategic alliance with the Coca-Cola (KO) company (IHG) : Co and The Coca-Cola Company (KO), the world's largest beverage company, announced a new multi-year agreement to offer the refreshing Coca-Cola soft drink and juice brands+ that guests enjoy during their stays at IHG brands in the United States, representing more than 3,200 hotels.

12:58 pm Midday Market Summary: Flat (:WRAPX) : The major averages hover near their flat lines at midday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.1%) showing the biggest loss, while the Nasdaq (+0.2%) outperforms. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 trades little changed.

Equities began the trading day on a tentative note after disappointing quarterly results from Google (GOOG 534.70, -21.84) and IBM (IBM 189.76, -6.64) contributed to the early weakness. Google missed on earnings and revenue, while IBM reported a revenue miss on in-line earnings.

Despite the weakness observed in the two major tech industry players, equity indices were able to rebound from their early lows thanks to a slew of other results that surpassed estimates. General Electric (GE 26.70, +0.58), Goldman Sachs (GS 157.85, +0.63), Morgan Stanley (MS 30.90, +1.02), PepsiCo (PEP 85.23, +0.46), SanDisk (SNDK 83.86, +8.01), and Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM 20.74, +0.60) hold gains across the board after reporting upside surprises.

Even though the major indices have been able to claw back to their flat lines, they have not been able to make a sustained push into the green. The Nasdaq has slipped from its early high, while the biotech group has also retreated from its best level of the session.

Currently, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 222.69, -0.04) hovers just below its flat line as the weeklong duel with its 200-day moving average (220.19) continues. The health care sector, meanwhile, is lower by 0.1%.

On a separate note, the Treasury market has been retreating steadily since this morning, with the 10-yr note notching its session low over the past 30 minutes after reports from Geneva indicated representatives from the European Union, United States, Ukraine, and Russia have reached an agreement on steps aimed at deescalating the crisis in Ukraine. The agreement was announced by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who added Ukraine needs 'decentralization' and more regional powers. In all likelihood, the last portion of Mr. Lavrov's statement will draw scrutiny with regards to the meaning. The 10-yr note is lower by 22 ticks with its yield up eight basis points at 2.71%.

Today's data was limited to two releases:

  • The initial claims level increased to 304,000 for the week ending April 12 from an upwardly revised 302,000 for the week ending April 5. The Briefing.com consensus expected the initial claims level to increase to 312,000. The Department of Labor stated that there were no special factors impacting the claims data. However, we remain skeptical of that. Over the past few years, the DOL has had extreme difficulties managing the seasonal adjustment factors around the Easter holiday. With Easter falling on a later date this year, we suspect that the claims are underreporting actual layoff levels. We expect some volatility in the next few weeks before the initial claims level settles back in the 320,000 -- 330,000 range by the beginning of May. 
  • The Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook increased to 16.6 in April from 9.0 in March. The Briefing.com consensus expected the index to fall to 8.6. There was a general strengthening across the board. Shipments spiked to 22.7 in April from 5.7 in March. Most of the gain was the result of a significant strengthening in new orders demand, 14.8 from 5.7. The gains in shipments, however, may not be sustainable. Unfilled orders softened as the related index fell to 2.0 in April from 2.6 in March. Without a steady supply of backlogs, weaker new orders will pull down shipments growth. The employment index increased to 6.9 in April from 1.7 in March.

12:51 pm S&P +2.2 edges up to session/midday range high at 1865 -- Dow -9, Nasdaq Comp +9 (:TECHX) :  

12:36 pm LRR Energy L.P. increases quarterly distribution to $0.4925 per outstanding unit from $0.49 per unit (LRE) :  

12:34 pm Notable movers of interest (:SCANX) : The following are some of today's most notable movers of interest, categorized by market capitalization (large cap over $10 billion and mid cap between $2-10 billion) and ranked by % change (all stocks over 100K average daily volume).

Large Cap Gainers

  • SNDK (83.67 +10.31%): Beat on EPS by $0.19, beat on revs; sees Q2 revs of $1.55-1.625 bln vs $1.58 bln consensus; reaffirmed FY14 revs of $6.4-6.8 bln vs $6.67 bln consensus; target raised to $125 from $85 at Credit Suisse; assumed with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray; tgt $85; target raised to $77 at Cowen; target raised to $90 at Needham; target raised to $97 at Pacific Crest.
  • BHI (69.41 +4.67%): Beat on EPS by $0.06, reported revs in-line.
  • MS (30.91 +3.41%): Beat on EPS by $0.08, beat on revs.
Large Cap Losers
  • ADS (250.81 -5.02%): Beat on EPS by $0.07, missed on revs; guided Q2 EPS below, revs above consensus; raised FY14 guidance.
  • FITB (20.85 -4.55%): Missed on EPS by $0.06.
  • UNH (75.7 -3.18%): Beat on EPS by $0.01, reported rev in-line; reaffirmed FY14 EPS guidance, revs guidance.
Mid Cap Gainers
  • SHLD (35.5 +5.65%): Director disclosed purchase of 475000 shares, worth total of $15.94 mln on 4/15 and 4/16.
  • PVTB (29.34 +5.2%): Beat on EPS by $0.03.
  • BWP (15.75 +4.72%): Upgraded to Overweight from Underweight at JP Morgan; tgt raised to $18 from $14.
Mid Cap Losers
  • CHMT (23.61 -6.35%): Platform Specialty Products (PAH) announced agreement to acquire agrochemicals business from Chemtura for ~ $1 bln.
  • WU (15.4 -4.04%): Trading lower following Wal-Mart (WMT) news: WMT introduced exclusive money transfer service, cut fees by up to 50% for customers.
  • STLD (18.15 -3.97%): Reported Q1 adj. earnings of $0.16 per share, $0.02 worse than consensus (GAAP EPS was $0.17 vs $0.16 consensus), missed on revs.

12:28 pm Stocks/ETFs that traded to new 52 week highs/lows this session - New highs (126) outpacing new lows (38) (:SCANX) : Stocks that traded to 52 week highs: AA, AAV, ADM, AEP, AGN, AGRO, ALSN, ALV, AN, ANDE, ARCW, ASX, ATHL, ATO, AXAS, BAM, BBW, BDC, BHI, BIOF, BKH, BLL, BPO, BRK.A, BRK.B, CAR, CCK, CENX, CJES, CLB, CLR, CMS, CNX, CODE, CPE, CQP, CWEI, CXDC, CXO, DIOD, DTE, DVCR, DVN, E, ECA, EGY, EIX, EMN, ERF, ESCA, FANG, FNHC, FTR, GA, GAS, GLBZ, GLNG, HAL, HIL, HOLI, HP, IIIN, IM, ITC, JFBI, KMB, KNL, KONA, LNT, LYB, MINI, MPLX, MTRN, MYE, NED, NEE, NFX, NLP, NS, NU, ORAN, ORM, PBA, PDS, PEG, PFIS, PLXS, PPC, PTEN, RDS.B, REI, RES, RHP, ROIC, RRC, RUSHB, SAFM, SE, SEP, SGY, SLB, SMIT, SNA, SPCB, SPN, SPRO, SRE, ST, SWN, TFSL, TRGP, TSLX, TSM, UHAL, VET, VLP, VNO, VOCS, VVC, WBC, WEC, WIN, WLL, WR, WRES, WSO

Stocks that traded to 52 week lows: ACFN, AMBT, ARQL, AUY, AVP, AXGN, BIOC, CFFI, COCO, CWTR, CYH, DRD, EGLT, EVRY, GLMD, GYRO, MGI, NEWL, OIBR.C, OPWR, PMFG, QSII, QURE, RBCAA, RDC, RSH, SBY, SDRL, SIGM, SQBK, SSN, STRL, SWAY, TEAR, TEDU, TZOO, UNXL, ZNH

ETFs that traded to 52 week highs: DIG, EWT, FXB, IEO, IGE, IXC, IYE, OIH, USCI, XLE, XLU, XOP

ETFs that traded to 52 week lows: none

12:24 pm Chipotle Mexican Grill drop more than 7.5% off session high (CMG) :  

12:05 pm Express Scripts: Liberty Medical highlights complaint filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court against ESRX subsidiary Medco Health Solutions (ESRX) : Co highlighted today a recent complaint that it filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware against Medco Health Solutions, a subsidiary of Express Scripts Holding Company (ESRX). In the complaint, the Company alleges that Medco engaged in inequitable conduct related to Liberty management's December 2012 buyout of Medco's then-subsidiary Polymedica, a transaction that included the Liberty business. Among other remedies, Liberty seeks damages relating to a series of transactions and over $1 billion in equity redemptions that left Liberty and its subsidiaries insolvent at a time when the businesses were being prepared for sale. The complaint also asks the Bankruptcy Court to find that Medco improperly failed to pay certain pre-closing taxes, improperly refused to transfer certain assets and breached various material contract and financial statement warranties in connection with the sale of the Liberty business to management.

12:01 pm Perry Ellis announces children's license agreement for Perry Ellis and Original Penguin brands (PERY) : Co announced that it has entered into license agreements with Parigi Group Ltd. for boy's and girl's casual sportswear, activewear and swim for sizes newborn to 20 in the U.S. and Canada under the Perry Ellis and Original Penguin trademarks. The company will continue to partner with LF U.S.A. Inc. for Perry Ellis Portfolio boy's dress wear. The new collections launch in better department stores, with Original Penguin available for spring 2015 and Perry Ellis for Back to School 2015.

11:58 am European Markets Closing Prices (:SUMRX) : European markets are now closed; stock markets across Europe performed as follows:

  • UK's FTSE:+0.6%
  • Germany's DAX:+1.0%
  • France's CAC:+0.6%
  • Spain's IBEX:+0.2%
  • Portugal's PSI:+0.9%
  • Italy's MIB Index:+0.4%
  • Irish Ovrl Index:-0.2%
  • Greece ATHEX Composite: +2.5%

11:43 am GlaxoSmithKline confirmed approval in Canada for Incruse Ellipta (umeclidinium) as a treatment for COPD (GSK) :

  • Co announced that Incruse Ellipta has received market authorisation in Canada for the long-term once-daily maintenance bronchodilator treatment of airflow obstruction in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. This is the first market authorisation granted for this product anywhere in the world. 
  • Incruse Ellipta is GSK's first long-acting muscarinic antagonist monotherapy, a type of bronchodilator also known as a long-acting anticholinergic. It contains 62.5 micrograms of umeclidinium delivered by GSK's Ellipta dry powder inhaler.

11:32 am NovaBay Pharma: WoundSource reports on the role of NovaBay's NeutroPhase in treatment of 'flesh-eating' infections; 'NeutroPhase has been shown in the laboratory to neutralize the toxins that make these infections so deadly' (NBY) :

  • Co announced that WoundSource has highlighted NovaBay's NeutroPhase wound cleanser in a recent blog posting. The blog explains why NeutroPhase can play an important role in treating life-threatening necrotizing fasciitis, or 'flesh-eating' infections. 
  • In the blog posting, Dr. Bruce Ruben, founder and medical director of Encompass HealthCare in West Bloomfield, Michigan, describes new findings about "the vicious and deadly world of necrotizing fasciitis, the ghastly 'flesh-eating disease' that's been widely reported by the media." 
  • "NeutroPhase, a 0.01% pure hypochlorous acid saline solution with no bleach impurities, has been shown in extensive in vitro testing to kill bacteria in seconds and has the ability to neutralize toxins generated by GAS."

11:31 am Skystar Bio Pharmaceutical provides update to its patent portfolio: China's SIPO granted patents in application status for two new products (SKBI) : Co announced the following updates to its patent portfolio:

  • China's State Intellectual Property Office (:SIPO) granted the Company patents in application status for two new products Additional two patents have application pending and review status with SIPO 
  • Patent for one product in development expired, but the Company retains know-how and exclusive rights to sell and market the product through 2020.

11:23 am Opko Health acquires next generation dry powder inhaler to treat respiratory disorders (OPK) : Co has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Inspiro Medical, an Israeli medical device company developing a new platform to deliver small molecule drugs such as corticosteroids and beta agonists or larger molecules to treat respiratory diseases. Inspiro's Inspiromatic is a "smart" easy-to-use dry powder inhaler with several advantages over existing devices. 

11:21 am S&P +1 pushes to new session/weekly high and pauses (SPY) : The index was able to extend to the new high after a choppy first hour of action with it recently testing first level resistance from The Technical Take at 1865/1867 (62% retrace of April slump/congest) -- session high 1865. 

11:19 am Currency Commentary: DXY Remains Rangebound (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index has traded in a tight range for the majority of the week. The DXY has stabilized from its recent decline to cut a path in the 79.50-79.80 area. Economic Data this morning was positive as Initial Claims were lower than expected and the Philadelphia Fed posted a strong beat against expectations. However volume remains light as markets prepare for a three day holiday weekend. 
  • The euro continues to hold the 1.38 level despite EU and ECB officials attempts at verbal intervention. The euro ignored a weak German PPI number to stretch to 1.3863 but it has since given up some of those gains. Europe is also seeing lighter volume as it prepares for the holiday weekend. 
  • Sterling has hit a fresh multi-year high as it reached 1.6842, its best level since November of 2009. Sterling has been bid all week following a better than expected jobs report.
  • The yen attempted to break above 102 overnight but ran into resistance at 101.86 and has since fallen back to the 102.20 area. The move comes as markets see a return to risk as earnings reports in the U.S. and E.U. are coming in better than expected. The trading volume does remain light which has participants cautious about the recent market trends (FOREX, BONDX).

11:14 am AEGON N.V. announces pricing of EUR 700 mln of subordinated notes (AEG) : Co announces the pricing of an offering of EUR 700 million subordinated notes, first callable on April 25, 2024 and maturing on April 25, 2044. The coupon will be fixed at 4% until the first call date and floating thereafter. Net proceeds from this issuance will be used for general corporate purposes, including the potential refinancing of outstanding debt. The notes are expected to be rated BBB, Baa2 and BBB by Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch, respectively. The notes are expected to be Tier 2 compliant under Solvency II.

11:09 am S&P +2 and Dow +2.5 extend push off first hour lows -- Nasdaq Comp +12, which is outperforming, is hovering just under its high (:TECHX) :  

10:31 am Avis Budget increases share repurchase authorization to $300 mln; co has repurchased ~$135 mln under current plan (CAR) : Co announced that it has repurchased approximately $135 million of stock under its current stock repurchase program. The program was first announced in August 2013 and authorized an initial maximum amount of $200 million. Today, the Company's Board of Directors has authorized an increase to the amount remaining for future repurchases under the program from the approximately $65 million remaining to $300 million.

10:31 am May natural gas rallies sharply to new session highs following inventory data; now up 2.5% at $4.64 (:COMDX) :  

10:30 am Relative sector strength (:TECHX) : Sectors outperforming the S&P in recent trade include Biotech IBB, Internet FDN, Software IGV, Networking and Semi SMH which have allowed Nasdaq to outperform of late. Also displaying relative strength are Health XLV, Telecom IYZ, Medical Supplies, Rail, Defense PPA, Transports IYT, Industrial XLI, Discretionary XLY.

10:27 am Nasdaq Comp +9.7 lagged early, now breaks out above Wednesday high -- Dow -28, S&P -1 (:TECHX) :  

10:19 am Galectin Therapeutics announces first patient dosed in second cohort of Phase 1 trial of GR-MD-02 for NASH with advanced fibrosis (GALT) : Co announced that the first patient in cohort 2 of its Phase 1 clinical trial of GR-MD-02 in patients with NASH with advanced fibrosis has been successfully dosed with 4 mg/kg, which is double the dose given in cohort 1. Cohort 2, as with all phases of the clinical trial, was initiated in full compliance with the rules, regulations, and specific conditions set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (:FDA) for this Phase 1 clinical trial. The second cohort follows highly successful results from the first cohort showing that 2 mg/kg was safe and very well tolerated, and that GR-MD-02 treatment resulted in significant improvement in multiple biomarkers of fibrosis and liver inflammation in patients with NASH with advanced fibrosis. The remaining patients in cohort 2 are expected to be enrolled over the next few weeks and we anticipate reporting the results of cohort 2 around the end of July.

10:14 am Aaron's: Vintage Capital Management responds to latest entrenchment action by Aaron's, withdraws $30.50 per share all cash offer to acquire Aaron's (AAN) : Vintage Capital Management, the second largest shareholder of Aaron's (AAN), announced that it has delivered a letter to the independent directors of Aaron's. In the letter, VCM withdrew its previously-announced offer to acquire Aaron's for $30.50 per share in cash in light of the company's recent acquisition of Progressive Finance and continued poor performance. The letter also corrected the numerous misstatements by Aaron's about VCM's offer. Finally, the letter confirmed that VCM will proceed with a proxy contest at this year's annual meeting and asked Aaron's to allow shareholders to choose the candidates of their choice at the annual meeting.

10:01 am Choppy trade continues with market indices lifting after setting minor new lows -- Dow -44, S&P -3.9, Nasdaq Comp -13 (:TECHX) : The S&P slipped back to first level support from The Technical Take at 1856/1855 (session low 1856) in recent trade but quickly bounced as the choppy early action persists.

9:56 am UnitedHealth extending gap down (UNH) : Hurt in early trade in reaction to peer earnings with it dropping as low as 73.61. The next level of note is at its 200 sma at 73.39.

9:54 am Yahoo!: YHOO -1.55% with no follow-through whatsoever, price takes out yesterday's 35.81 gap up Lod post earnings results (YHOO) :  

9:52 am General Electric gaps higher after reporting, tests breakdown point (GE) : Gaps higher and above its near three month range top to test the Mid-Jan breakdown point and 62% retrace of the Dec-Feb decline at 26.68/26.65 (session high 26.64). Little pressure has develop after the gap up with the next area of interest at the bottom of the Mid-Jan gap (26.92).

9:46 am Opening Market Summary: Technology Weighs on Early Action (:WRAPX) : The major averages slumped out of the gate, but were quick to claw their way back to unchanged. The Dow (-0.2%) trails other key indices as IBM (IBM 189.22, -7.18) weighs after reporting in-line earnings on below-consensus revenue.

With IBM on the defensive, the technology sector (-0.8%) is the weakest performer in the early going. Google (GOOG 544.30, -12.24) has also been an early drag on the sector following its below-consensus results. Chipmakers, however, are seeing relative strength thanks to beats from SanDisk (SNDK 82.82, +6.97) and Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM 20.67, +0.52). The broader PHLX Semiconductor Index is higher by 1.3%.

Elsewhere, the industrial sector (+0.3%) is the top performer thanks to a one-cent beat from General Electric (GE 26.59, +0.47). The top sector component trades higher by 1.8%.

On a side note, the Philadelphia Fed Survey will be released at 10:00 ET.

9:44 am Urban Outfitters appoints Trish Donnelly as President of Urban Outfitters brand, North America effective July 14, 2014 (URBN) : Donnelly joins the Urban Outfitters brand from Steven Alan where she has served as President for almost three years. Prior to joining Steven Alan, she spent over seven years at J. Crew (now private) as the Executive Vice President of J. Crew Direct. Donnelly began her retail career with Ralph Lauren (RL) where she spent 12 years immersed within the merchandising organization.

9:40 am Stock indices mildly lower in early trade --Dow -26, S&P -1.8, Nasdaq Comp -3.3 (:TECHX) : The Dow and S&P did edge above Wednesday highs (S&P by just a fraction) but quickly rotated into the red. Pressure has been limited thus far with Nasdaq underperforming. Sector weakness has been noted in: Biotech IBB, Solar TAN, Transports/Rail IYT, Internet FDN.

9:35 am Thinly traded Industrie Natuzzi, S.p.A is modestly higher off the open after confirming Edward Teplitz as Chief Commercial Officer of Natuzzi Americas (NTZ) :

9:31 am Assurant Correction: AIZ acquires SteetLinks for ~$60 mln in cash plus potnetial earnouts (AIZ) : Our original comment said the price was ~$90 mln and has been edited.

9:27 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Brightcove (BCOV) announced that the Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T (T), has chosen the Brightcove Video Cloud online video platform to support a range of video initiatives for the 2014 Festival, which runs from April 16 - 27 in New York.
  • Nimble Storage (NMBL) announced that its flash-optimized storage solutions have been verified as part of the Citrix (CTXS) Ready VDI Capacity Program Verified for Citrix XenDesktop.
  • International Rectifier (IRF) announced the expansion of its StrongIRFET MOSFET portfolio to include 60V devices for a wide variety of industrial applications including power tools, Light Electric Vehicle inverters, DC motor drives, Li-Ion battery pack protection, and Switched Mode Power Supply secondary-side synchronous rectification. 
  • Mentor Graphics (MENT) announced that Imagination Technologies has adopted the Veloce 2 enterprise emulation platform to complement its existing emulation and verification infrastructure. 
  • EaglePicher Technologies, an OM Group (OMG) co, announced that it is merely weeks away from reaching a major milestone. Co is closing in on 2 bln cell hours in space without a mission failure.
  • Zynga (ZNGA) announced the launch of FarmVille 2: Country Escape. Starting today, the game will begin its global roll out on the App Store for AAPL iPhone and iPad and on GOOG's Google Play.
  • Medical Marijuana (MJNA) announced that its subsidiary, HempMeds, is participating as a sponsor of the HIGH TIMES US Cannabis Cup in Denver, Colorado April 19-20.

    -Marrone Bio Innovations (MBII) has submitted GRANDEVO bioinsecticide for registration in Mexico.

  • SYNNEX (SNX) announced that it is the first distributor to offer Google Play (GOOG) for Education on tablets to authorized solution providers.
  • BlackBerry (BBRY) announced the launch of the BlackBerry Smartphone App Development Award for Canada-Wide Science Fair 2014. 
  • LRAD (LRAD) announced the receipt of a $760,000 order for LRAD 500X and 1000Xi systems and accessories for a new customer in Northern Africa. 
  • Materion Brush Beryllium & Composites, a Materion (MTRN) business, qualified and entered into a strategic manufacturing and marketing partnership with Aristo Cast for its proprietary AlBeCast aluminum-beryllium investment castings product line. The two companies initiated their partnership in October 2013.

9:17 am Home Bancshares beats by $0.01 (HOMB) : Reports Q1 (Mar) adj. earnings of $0.43 per share, excluding $0.01 in merger expenses, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus of $0.42. 

"We saw our diluted earnings per share and net interest margin improve 11 cents and 33 basis points during the first quarter of 2014 when compared to the prior year first quarter. Our core efficiency ratio also made a significant improvement to 41.39% for the quarter just ended when compared to the 46.39% and 45.22% from the first and fourth quarters of 2013, respectively. Another important item of note for the first quarter of 2014 is a 1.67% return on average assets excluding merger expenses. This ratio demonstrates we are making the necessary earnings improvements to get the acquired Liberty franchise up to our standards,"

9:17 am S&P futures vs fair value: -0.40. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -11.00. (:WRAPX) : The stock market is on track to begin the final trading day of the holiday-shortened week on a subdued note. The S&P 500 futures trade right in line with fair value, while Nasdaq futures lag (-11 versus fair value) as Google (GOOG 553.64, -10.26) weighs after reporting below-consensus quarterly results.

Google notwithstanding, participants have received a full slate of quarterly earnings between yesterday's close and today's open. IBM (IBM 187.89, -8.51) is also expected to display early weakness after the Dow component reported in-line earnings on revenue that was below estimates.

Even though the two major tech components reported disappointing results last night, earnings from this morning have improved sentiment. For instance, Goldman Sachs (GS 161.49, +4.27), Morgan Stanley (MS 30.74, +0.85), PepsiCo (PEP 86.50, +1.73), and SanDisk (SNDK 81.24, +5.39) all delivered better-than-expected reports.

Also of note, the weekly initial claims count increased to 304,000 from 302,000, but remained below the reading of 312,000 that was expected by the Briefing.com consensus. The report exerted some pressure on Treasuries, but they have since returned to levels seen before the claims number hit the wires. The benchmark 10-yr yield is higher by one basis point at 2.65%.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey for April will be released at 10:00 ET.

9:15 am PPG Industries authorizes $2 bln share repurchase program (PPG) : Co announced that its board of directors has authorized the repurchase of $2 billion of outstanding common stock. The authorization is effective immediately, does not expire and gives management discretion in determining the conditions under which shares may be purchased.

9:14 am Wipro beats by INR0.60, reports revs in-line (WIT) : Reports Q4 (Mar) earnings of INR9.04 per share, INR0.60 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of INR8.44; revenues rose 21.3% year/year to INR116.53 bln vs the INR116.44 bln consensus.

  • IT Services Revenue was $1,720.2 mln, a sequential increase of 2.5% and YoY increase of 8.5%. 
  • IT Services Operating Margins was 24.5%, an expansion of 150 basis points sequentially 
Guidance:
Co expects Revenues from our IT Services business to be in the range of $ 1,715-1,755 mln

9:11 am Aspen Insurance adopts one-year shareholder rights plan (AHL) :

  • The Board of Directors has adopted a shareholders rights plan and resolved to issue one preferred share purchase right on each share of the Company's ordinary shares issued and outstanding at the close of business on April 28, 2014. The Rights Plan expires on April 16, 2015, and the Board of Directors may terminate the Rights Plan at any time if it no longer believes that the Rights Plan is in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders.
  • In the absence of further action by the Board, if a person or group acquires beneficial ownership of 10% or more (15% in the case of a passive investor), the rights generally will become exercisable and allow holders to acquire the ordinary shares at a discounted price. In addition, at any time after a person or group acquires 10% or more of Aspen's ordinary shares (15% in the case of a passive institutional investor), the Board of Directors may determine to exchange one Aspen ordinary share for each outstanding right. 

9:09 am Senior Housing priced a public offering of 13.5 mln common shares at a price to the public of $21.75/share (SNH) :  

9:08 am Omnicom unit acquired Media Interactive SA; no financial terms disclosed (OMC) : Media Interactive is provider of integrated digital solutions across three of LATAM's fastest growing markets -- Chile, Columbia and Peru

9:06 am Lehigh Gas Partners announced the acquisition of wholesale motor fuel supply contracts and motor fuel stations in the chicago market for $38.5 mln (LGP) :

  • Co announced that it entered into an asset purchase agreement with affiliates of Atlas Oil Company to purchase 55 wholesale supply contracts, 11 fee or leasehold sites, 2 commission marketing contracts and certain other assets for total consideration of $38.5 mln. 
  • In addition, LGP is acquiring certain other short term financing assets associated with the acquired wholesale supply and commission marketing contracts for $11.9 mln, bringing the total consideration for the transaction to $50.4 mln, subject to certain closing adjustments.
  • The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2014. The Partnership expects to fund the transaction through funds available under its credit facility.

9:05 am Thor Industries to acquire outstanding capital stock of recreational vehicle manufacturer K-Z in transaction closing effective May 1, 2014; expects acquisition to be accretive (THO) : The purchase price, which will be paid in cash, is approximately $53.4 million, subject to adjustment. K-Z generated sales of nearly $150 million for its fiscal year ended December 31, 2013, and Thor expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings.

9:03 am Ubiquity Broadcasting announces plans to acquire Monkeybars; consideration for the purchase will be restricted shares of Ubiquity common stock, having an aggregate value of $2.25 mln (UBIQ) : Monkeybars is online marketplace for musical artists to utilize social networking tools to increase their audience, sales and create new revenue streams. Under the terms of the LOI, Ubiquity will purchase all of the assets of Monkeybars. Consideration for the purchase will be restricted shares of Ubiquity common stock, having an aggregate value of $2,250,00, with the number of shares determined by the average share price over an mutually agreed upon time period.

9:01 am Cannabis-RX Acquires Commercial Property in Sarasota, Florida (CANA) : Co announced the acquisition of a 209,000 square foot commercial space, consisting of three buildings situated on 9.26 acres of land in Sarasota, Florida. "This acquisition represents a continuation of our strategy to acquire strategically located properties at a significant discount to replacement cost, rehabilitate the asset to increase its value and either sell it or lease it to achieve our target internal rate of return (IRR)... Given the current push to legalize and regulate medicinal marijuana in Florida, we believe this well-located property would serve as an ideal location for a licensed grow facility and/or distribution center. Regardless of what happens in the state, we are confident in our ability to maximize the value of the asset."

8:57 am S&P futures vs fair value: -0.40. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -11.30. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade within a point of fair value.

Asian markets ended the quiet session on a mixed note. The overnight news flow was light, but the chief of Japan's pension fund GPIF said the fund is adjusting its portfolio towards greater exposure to equities.

Economic data was limited. Japan's Household Confidence slipped to 37.5 from 38.3 (previous 40.2), while the weekly Foreign Bonds Buying report indicated net purchases in the amount of JPY115.50 billion (prior net sales of JPY378.10 billion). China's Foreign Direct Investment Increased 5.5% (previous 10.4%). Australia's NAB Quarterly Business Confidence slipped to 6 from 8, while New Motor Vehicle Sales decreased 0.3% month-over-month (prior -0.1%). South Korea's PPI was unchanged month-over-month (last 0.1%).

  • Japan's Nikkei ended flat after spending the session in a narrow range. Honda and Olympus both lost near 2.0%, while producers of basic materials outperformed. Nisshin Steel jumped 4.8% and Taiheiyo Cement rose 3.7%. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.3%, thanks to support from energy names. CNOOC and China Petroleum gained 1.4% and 1.2%, respectively. Consumer names lagged with Belle International falling 1.1%. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite shed 0.3% after spending the bulk of the session in the red as financials weighed. China Vanke lost 1.5%. 
Major European indices hold gains after climbing out of the red. It is worth mentioning that markets across Europe will be closed on Monday.

Economic data was limited to Germany's PPI, which slipped 0.3% month-over-month (expected 0.1%, prior 0.0%), while the year-over-year reading fell 0.9% (consensus -0.7%, previous -0.9%).
  • Great Britain's FTSE is higher by 0.5% with Barclays in the lead. The stock trades up 4.6% after its peer Morgan Stanley reported above-consensus results. Diageo lags, trading lower by 3.9% after reporting disappointing sales. 
  • France's CAC trades up 0.5%. Advertiser Publicis Groupe outperforms with a gain of 2.2%. Consumer names lag with Danone and Pernod Ricard down 1.8% and 3.1%, respectively. 
  • Germany's DAX holds an advance of 0.7%. Exporters lead with Daimler and BMW up 2.6% and 1.3%, respectively. On the downside, utility provider RWE is the weakest component, down 6.1%.

8:54 am European Markets Update: FTSE +0.5%, CAC +0.5%, DAX +0.7% (:SUMRX) : Major European indices hold gains after climbing out of the red. It is worth mentioning that markets across Europe will be closed on Monday.

Economic data was limited to Germany's PPI, which slipped 0.3% month-over-month (expected 0.1%, prior 0.0%), while the year-over-year reading fell 0.9% (consensus -0.7%, previous -0.9%).

  • Great Britain's FTSE is higher by 0.5% with Barclays in the lead. The stock trades up 4.6% after its peer Morgan Stanley reported above-consensus results. Diageo lags, trading lower by 3.9% after reporting disappointing sales. 
  • France's CAC trades up 0.5%. Advertiser Publicis Groupe outperforms with a gain of 2.2%. Consumer names lag with Danone and Pernod Ricard down 1.8% and 3.1%, respectively. 
  • Germany's DAX holds an advance of 0.7%. Exporters lead with Daimler and BMW up 2.6% and 1.3%, respectively. On the downside, utility provider RWE is the weakest component, down 6.1%.

8:53 am PPG Industries raises quarterly dividend by 10% to $0.67 per share from $0.61 per share (PPG) :  

8:52 am Wal-Mart introduces exclusive money transfer service, cuts fees by up to 50% for customers... (WMT) :

  • Walmart and Ria (EEFT subsidiary) are launching Walmart-2-Walmart Money Transfer Service. Available April 24, the new low-cost service allows customers to transfer money to and from more than 4,000 Walmart stores nationwide for up to 50 percent less than similar offerings on the market. Ria is a subsidiary of Euronet Worldwide (EEFT).
  • Last night it was announced that Euronet and Wal-Mart (WMT) would announce new service this morning (conf. call at 8:30 ET).
  • Related money-transfer stocks that could be impacted: WU, MGI... CSH, EZPW, FCFS, PAY

8:48 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Pandora (P) announced that it is bringing its Discovery Den event to Miami on April 21.
  • ARCA biopharma (ABIO) announced that the first patient has been genetically screened in GENETIC-AF, its Phase 2B/3 adaptive design clinical trial. The trial will evaluate Gencaro (bucindolol hydrochloride) as a potential treatment for the prevention of atrial fibrillation in patients with heart failure and/or left ventricular dysfunction who also have a specific genotype of the beta-1 adrenergic receptor (389 arginine homozygous), which is believed to be present in ~ 50% of the U.S. population.
  • Fusion-io (FIO) announced that the Fusion ioControl Hybrid Storage Appliance completed the Citrix Ready VDI Capacity Program Verified for Citrix XenDesktop.
  • Simon Property (SPG) and NRG eVgo, a subsidiary of NRG Energy (NRG) will host an amped-up Earth Day Electric Car Caravan celebrating the unveiling of three new electric car fast-charging Freedom Station sites at St. Charles Towne Center, Bowie Town Center and Queenstown Premium Outlets in Maryland.

8:44 am Neptune Technologies announces that it had noted with interest and approval the Schedule 13D filing made recently by George W. Haywood and Messrs. Egan, O'Driscoll and Dobrich with respect to Neptune (NEPT) : Joshua Silverman, the Managing Member of Iroquois Capital, stated, "As a shareholder of Neptune, we are supportive of the goals set forth in the Schedule 13D. We too believe that a change in the Board of Directors and management of Neptune would be beneficial for the stockholders of Neptune."

8:39 am Syntel beats by $0.14, reports revs in-line; lowers high end of FY14 EPS guidance, raises low end of revs guidance (SYNT) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $1.39 per share, $0.14 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.25; revenues rose 16.1% year/year to $219.5 mln vs the $219.2 mln consensus.

  • During the first quarter, Banking and Financial Services accounted for 49% of total revenue, with Healthcare and Life Sciences at 17%, Retail, Logistics and Telecom at 16%, Insurance at 15% and Manufacturing at 3%. 
  • The Company's gross margin was 43.7 percent in the first quarter, compared to 41.1 percent in the prior-year period and 47.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Co issues guidance for FY14, lowers EPS to $5.10-5.28 from $5.10-5.35 vs. $5.38 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; raises FY14 revs to $915-940 mln from $910-40 mln vs. $932.80 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

8:37 am Teva Pharma settles patent litigation with Pfizer (PFE) on Celebrex; Teva may launch its generic versions in Dec 2014, or earlier under certain circumstances (TEVA) : Co announced that its subsidiary Teva Pharmaceuticals USA has entered into a settlement with Pfizer (PFE) related to Teva's generic version of Celebrex (celecoxib) 50, 100, 200 and 400 mg capsules in the United States. Under the terms of the settlement, Teva may launch its generic versions in December, 2014, or earlier under certain circumstances. Teva has received tentative approval from the FDA for all strengths and believes that it is first-to-file on at least the 100, 200 and 400 mg capsules.

8:36 am Asian Markets Close: Nikkei UNCH, Hang Seng +0.3%, Shanghai -0.3% (:SUMRX) : Asian markets ended the quiet session on a mixed note. The overnight news flow was light, but the chief of Japan's pension fund GPIF said the fund is adjusting its portfolio towards greater exposure to equities.

  • Economic data was limited: 
    • Japan's Household Confidence slipped to 37.5 from 38.3 (previous 40.2), while the weekly Foreign Bonds Buying report indicated net purchases in the amount of JPY115.50 billion (prior net sales of JPY378.10 billion). o China's Foreign Direct Investment Increased 5.5% (previous 10.4%). 
    • Australia's NAB Quarterly Business Confidence slipped to 6 from 8, while New Motor Vehicle Sales decreased 0.3% month-over-month (prior -0.1%). 
    • South Korea's PPI was unchanged month-over-month (last 0.1%). 
  • Japan's Nikkei (UNCHF) ended flat after spending the session in a narrow range. Honda and Olympus both lost near 2.0%, while producers of basic materials outperformed. Nisshin Steel jumped 4.8% and Taiheiyo Cement rose 3.7%. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng (+0.3%) was supported by energy names. CNOOC and China Petroleum gained 1.4% and 1.2%, respectively. Consumer names lagged with Belle International falling 1.1%. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite (-0.3%) spent the bulk of the session in the red as financials weighed. China Vanke lost 1.5%. 
  • India's Sensex (+1.6%) rallied with nearly all components posting gains. Hindalco Industries and Tata Motors led with gains of close to 4.4% apiece. HDFC Bank was the lone decliner, down 1.0%. 
  • Australia's ASX (+0.6%) was underpinned by financials. ANZ Banking Group and Westpac rallied 0.7% and 1.0%, respectively. 
  • Regional Decliners: South Korea (-0.01%) 
  • Regional Advancers: Taiwan (+0.2%), Thailand (+0.6%), Vietnam (+1.1%) 
  • FX: USDCNY slipped to 6.2191, USDINR rose to 60.33, USDJPY is little changed near 102.22, AUDUSD is lower near .9341

8:36 am Sandy Spring Banc beats by $0.05 (SASR) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.43 per share, $0.05 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.38.

  • Total loans increased 10% compared to Q1 of 2013 and 2% compared to Q4 of 2013 due to significant loan growth in the residential mortgage and commercial investor real estate portfolios.
  • The provision for loan and lease losses for Q1 of 2014 was a credit of $1.0 mln compared to a charge of $0.1 mln for Q1 of 2013 and a charge of $0.6 mln for Q4 of 2013. The current quarter's credit was the result of lower historical charge-offs and improved credit metrics over the preceding twelve months, which more than offset the impact of loan growth during the same period.
  • The net interest margin was 3.47% for Q1 of 2014, compared to 3.59% for Q1 of 2013 and 3.53% for Q4 of 2013. The decline was the result of declining rates during the period, primarily impacting the commercial loan portfolio.
  • Non-interest income decreased 9% for the quarter compared to the prior year quarter due primarily to the decline in income from mortgage banking caused by a significantly lower volume of saleable mortgage loan originations. The prior year quarter also included income as a result of a legal settlement. During this same period wealth management income increased 10% and insurance agency commissions increased 22%.
  • Non-interest income decreased 3% as compared to Q4 of 2013, which included gains from the sales of fixed assets and SBA loans.
  • Non-performing loans totaled $38.7 mln at March 31, 2014 compared to $49.5 mln at March 31, 2013 and $40.0 mln at Dec 31, 2013. The coverage ratio of the allowance for loan and lease losses to non-performing loans was 98% at March 31, 2014 compared to a coverage ratio of 83% at March 31, 2013 and 97% at Dec 31, 2013.

8:32 am S&P futures vs fair value: -0.60. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -11.50. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade less than a point below fair value.

The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 304,000, which was lower than the 312,000 that had been expected by the Briefing.com consensus. Today's tally was above the revised prior week count of 302,000 (from 300,000). As for continuing claims, they fell to 2.739 million from 2.750 million.

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8:31 am Barnes & Noble Chairman announces stock sale of 3.7 mln shares (BKS) : Co's Chairman Leonard Riggio announced the sale of a portion of his holdings of Barnes & Noble stock. Mr. Riggio said he sold 3.7 million shares of Common Stock, after which his holdings are expected to represent ~ 20% of Barnes & Noble's Common Stock outstanding. Mr. Riggio added that his sale is part of his long-term financial and estate planning and that he has no plans to sell more stock this calendar year.

8:31 am Market View: Front-month Jun. index futures remain below fair values following the 8:30 a.m. ET Weekly & Continuing Jobless Claims figures- (:TECHX) :

  • ESm4 currently trades @ 1855.00 +2.25

  • YMm4 currently trades @ 16342 +11

  • NQm4 currently trades @ 3512.25 +10.75

8:28 am General Cable comments on Venezuelan currency exchange system; co has decided to use the exchange rate determined by periodic auctions (BGC) :

  • Co announced that based on recent changes to the Venezuelan currency exchange system, the Company is changing the exchange rate used to remeasure its Venezuelan subsidiary's financial statements. The Company has decided to use the exchange rate determined by periodic auctions for U.S. dollars conducted under Venezuela's Complementary System of Foreign Currency Administration (SICAD I). As of the first quarter ended March 28, 2014, the SICAD I exchange rate used by the Company was 10.8 bolivars to the U.S. dollar as compared with the official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars to the U.S. dollar used previously. 
  • The SICAD I exchange rate is determined by periodic auctions and, therefore, the potential exists for it to change significantly in future periods. As a result of remeasuring the balance sheet of its Venezuelan subsidiary on March 28, 2014 at the SICAD I exchange rate of 10.8 bolivars to one U.S. dollar, the Company expects to record a charge in the range of $80 to $85 million in the first quarter of 2014 results. Due to the changes in the currency exchange system, restrictive pricing controls, ongoing labor negotiations and lingering social unrest, management estimates pre-tax income for 2014 from Venezuela to be in the range of $0 to $20 million, which is down from its previous communicated expectation of $30 million. 
  • As a result of the above, the Company has initiated an impairment analysis of goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets attributable to the Company's Phelps Dodge International Corporation business unit, which includes the operating results of Venezuela. While the amount of the non-cash impairment charge has yet to be determined, the goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets attributable to the PDIC business unit were approximately $155 million and $124 million, respectively, as of March 28, 2014. The Company anticipates the amount of the impairment charge may be a material portion or all of the goodwill and/or indefinite-lived intangible assets attributable to the PDIC business unit.

8:24 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • The ExactTarget Marketing Cloud from salesforce.com (CRM) announced a new partnership with Datalogix, expanding its capabilities to power and measure the sales impact of advertising campaigns. 
  • Level 3 Communications (LVLT) announced the University of Notre Dame can now support the delivery of professional quality, high-definition broadcasts using Level 3's Vyvx VenueNet Lite technology.
  • Huawei has designed TrueTouch Gen4 capacitive touchscreen controllers from Cypress Semiconductor (CY) into five of its newest smartphones.
  • Accelrys (ACCL) announced the availability of two new mobile applications supporting key life sciences workflows and real-time collaboration spanning both the ScienceCloud workspace and on-premises systems.
  • Liquid (LIQD) will be among the first group of approved service providers included in the FIS Group Ecosystem.
  • Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System in Denver, Colo., has chosen Allscripts (MDRX) EPSi solution to unify and rationalize the healthcare organization's disparate financial management software systems. 
  • ThingWorx, a PTC (PTC) business, announced NTT DOCOMO (DCM) has partnered with ThingWorx and Nippon Systemware for its new M2M cloud solutions powered by the ThingWorx platform.

8:21 am PPG Industries beats by $0.10, reports revs in-line (PPG) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $1.98 per share, $0.10 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.88; revenues rose 17.0% year/year to $3.64 bln vs the $3.66 bln consensus.
First Quarter 2014 Reportable Segment Financial Results 

  • Performance Coatings segment net sales for the quarter were $2.0 billion, up $429 million, or 27 percent. Acquired businesses increased sales by 23 percent year-over-year, and segment volume growth added 3 percent, with currency translation and price accounting for the remaining net sales change. Automotive refinish and aerospace increased sales volumes in all major regions, reflecting continued global industry growth.
  • Industrial Coatings segment net sales for the quarter were $1.4 billion, increasing $89 million, or 7 percent. Volume growth of 7 percent accounted for the net sales change, with all regions delivering higher volumes. Automotive OEM coatings grew by more than 10 percent globally, outpacing a global industry growth rate of about 4 percent, with strong growth in each major region. 
  • Glass segment net sales were $266 million for the quarter, up $10 million, or 4 percent, year-over-year. Segment volumes grew 3 percent on continued improvement in global fiber glass demand, partly offset by lower flat glass volumes. Flat glass pricing increased year-over-year. 

8:21 am Gapping down (:SCANX) : In reaction to disappointing earnings/guidance: REGI -15.7%, EFII -4.2%, IBM -4.1%, SAP -4.1%, DEO -3.8%, MAT -3.6%, NSR -3.4%, (light volume), GOOG -2.6%, SLM -2%, AXP -0.6%, KSU -0.2%, COF -0.2% (light volume), UNH -0.2% (light volume).

Tech/internet names under pressure following heavyweight GOOG disappointing results: YELP -1.9%, YY -1.5%, QIHU -0.9%, BIDU -0.9%, FB -0.9%, PCLN -0.9%, AMZN -0.8%, LNKD -0.5%, TWTR -0.5%, SINA 0.8%, .

Select metals/mining stocks trading lower:  BHP -1.2% (Bloomberg discusses that BHP spinoffs may not increase profits), BBL -1.1%, RIO -1%, GOLD -0.9%, GDX -0.6%.

Other news: UEPS -20.6% (still checking for catalyst), SSN -8.7% (provides weekly operations update; announces equity placement), YOD -6.1% (cautious blog mention), SNH -5.6% (announces proposed public offering of 12 mln common shares), SYNM -4.3% (followiong REGI results), BKS -3.2% (still checking), MPET -2% (receives the final AUD $5 mln payment contemplated by the Share Sale and Purchase Deed entered into with Central Petroleum for the sale of the co's onshore Australia assets), UL -1.6% (following DEO results), HMC -1.6% (still checking), SPWR -1.3% (disclosed certain holders of the Debentures exercised their rights to convert their Debentures into shares; SunPower issued a total of ~7.1 mln shares ), BUD -0.9% (following BUD and REMYF results), HPQ -0.7% / ORCL -0.3% / MSFT -0.5% (following IBM results), V -0.4% (following AXP / COF results).

Analyst comments: NGLS -1.3% (downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies), SO -0.5% (downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital), SDRL -0.4% (downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill)

8:09 am Chipotle Mexican Grill misses by $0.22, beats on revs; raises FY14 comp guidance; adds to buyback (CMG) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $2.64 per share, $0.22 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $2.86; revenues rose 24.4% year/year to $904.2 mln vs the $873.22 mln consensus. 

  • The growth in revenue was from a 13.4% increase in comparable restaurant sales (consensus +9%) and new restaurants not in the comparable base. Comparable restaurant sales growth was driven primarily by increased traffic and to a lesser extent by an increase in average check and the benefit of one additional trading day in the quarter as compared to the first quarter of 2013. 
  • Food costs were 34.5% of revenue, an increase of 150 basis points driven by higher commodity costs. Higher commodity costs were primarily driven by inflationary pressures in beef, avocados, and cheese prices
  • Restaurant level operating margin was 25.9% in the quarter, a decrease of 40 basis points from the prior year period. The decrease was driven by higher food costs, partially offset by favorable sales leverage in labor and occupancy costs.
Co raises FY14 comp guidance to high single digit growth, excluding any menu price increase, from low to mid single digits (consensus +7%). 180 -- 195 new restaurant openings.  

"Our Board of Directors has also approved the investment of up to an additional $100 million, exclusive of commissions, to repurchase shares of our common stock. This repurchase authorization, in addition to up to $77 million available as of March 31st for repurchases under previously announced repurchase authorizations, may be modified, suspended, or discontinued at any time."

8:08 am Gapping up (:SCANX) : In reaction to strong earnings/guidance: PLXS +8% (light volume), CMG +6.8%, SNDK +6.7% (also assumed with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray), NE +4.2%, TPLM +4.1%, BHI +3.7%, BLK +3.2%, BX +3.1%, URI +3%, MS +2.9%, AF +2.9% (light volume), TSM +2.7% (light volume), ALSN +2.5% (light volume), PEP +2.4%, UNP +2.3%, SHW +2.3% (light volume), CY +2.1% (light volume), GE +2%, GS +1.5%, FHN +1.4% (ticking higher), PM +0.8%, BAX +0.8%, PTP +0.3%, (light volume).

M&A news: POST +1.4% (to acquire Michael Foods for $2.45 billion; transaction is expected to be accretive to Post's earnings per share prior to giving effect to purchase accounting adjustments and one-time transaction expenses),AIZ +0.5% (acquires StreetLinks; expected to be accretive to earnings in 2015).

Select financial related names showing strength boosted by earnings from several names in the sector: NBG +4.3% (upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JP Morgan), BCS +3.6%, DB +0.8%, ING +0.6%, JPM +0.3%.

Battery related names are higher: FCEL +3%, PLUG +1.3%, CPST +1%,

A few India related names are modestly higher: TTM +1.8%, IBN +1.8%, VOD +0.5%

Other news: AAU +31% (ticking higher; announces positive PEA for the Ixtaca Gold-Silver Deposit, Mexico),SD +3.4% (positive MadMoney mention),NFLX +2.6% (Senator Franken critical of Comcast and NFLX interconnection deal, according to reports; upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at Pacific Crest)),EEFT +1.9% (Euronet and Wal-Mart to announce new service; will host call April 17 at 8:30am ET),END +1.6% (Endeavour Intl announces settlement of SM Energy (SM) litigation),SYT +1.1% (follow through from yesterday's earnings),MU +0.7% (following SNDK results)

Analyst comments: GOGO +5.9% (upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan),SCTY +2.3% (upgraded to Outperform form Neutral at Robert W. Baird),BWP +2.1% (upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan),BOFI +0.9% (upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee)

8:08 am Knoll beats by $0.05, beats on revs (KNL) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.18 per share, $0.05 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.13; revenues rose 14.3% year/year to $229.3 mln vs the $220.56 mln consensus. 

  • "In what is seasonally our weakest quarter, organic sales growth exceeded the industry, and operating profits and margins expanded. I believe we have turned the corner and that the combination of improving market conditions, diminished government headwinds, the success of strategic investments in our businesses to grow our top and bottom lines and most recently the acquisition of HOLLY HUNT, bode well for the balance of 2014 and beyond," he added.

8:08 am Sonic aims to open one thousand locations over the next 10 years (SONC) : SONCis aiming to expand across the United States primarily through coast-to-coast franchise development.

  • The brand recently placed in the top six percent of franchise brands in the Entrepreneur 2014 Franchise 500, coming in as the third highest burger chain among all franchise brands reviewed, signifying a strong start to 2014. 
  • As a franchise-centric co offering substantial franchisee support services, a national advertising budget in excess of $100 million annually and brand differentiation impossible to duplicate, SONIC Drive-In is primed for expansion with a goal of one thousand new drive-ins in the next 10 years.

8:07 am StemCells completes enrollment in spinal cord injury trial; interim data to be presented at upcoming American Spinal Injury Association Conf (STEM) :

  • Co announced that it has completed enrollment in its Phase I/II clinical trial in spinal cord injury.
  • The multi-national, open-label, Phase I/II trial is evaluating both safety and preliminary efficacy of StemCells, Inc.'s proprietary HuCNS-SC human neural stem cells as a treatment for chronic spinal cord injury.
  • The trial enrolled twelve subjects with chest-level injury to the spinal cord.
  • The trial enrolled seven patients with complete paralysis, no motor or sensory function below the point of injury, classified as complete (AIS A), according to the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale, and five patients with no motor function and limited sensory function below the point of injury classified as incomplete (AIS B).
  • Zurich study site principal investigator, Dr. Armin Curt, will present an interim update based on six month data for the first six subjects at the American Spinal Injury Association conference this coming May.
  • Final results from this landmark study are expected to be released mid-2015. The study, initiated at the University of Zurich under Dr. Armin Curt, subsequently expanded to include two sites in Canada and also received an Investigational New Drug authorization from the U.S Food and Drug Administration.

8:06 am Timberline Resources announced that it has restructured its proposed acquisition of Wolfpack Gold Corp; Upon completion of the transaction, Timberline shareholders will hold, as a group, approximately 65% of the outstanding shares (TLR) :

  • Co announced that it has restructured its proposed acquisition of Wolfpack Gold Corp. (TSX VENTURE: WFP) ("Wolfpack") and has executed an Amended Letter of Intent ("LOI") reflecting the revised terms.
  • Timberline's acquisition of Wolfpack is expected to create a Nevada-focused gold exploration co.
  • Pursuant to the amended structure, Timberline intends to acquire all of the outstanding shares of a Wolfpack subsidiary which will hold all of Wolfpack's current assets other than its uranium holdings in exchange for shares of common stock in the capital of Timberline at a ratio equal to 0.75 shares of Timberline for each outstanding share of Wolfpack.
  • Wolfpack expects to distribute the Timberline shares to its shareholders at closing through dividend or other means. Under the amended terms of the LOI, Timberline will retain ownership of its 50% carried-to-production interest in the Butte Highlands Gold Project in Montana.
  • Upon completion of the transaction, Timberline shareholders will hold, as a group, ~65% of the outstanding shares of Timberline, while Wolfpack shareholders will hold, as a group, ~35% of the outstanding Timberline shares

8:05 am Scotts Miracle-Gro names Randy Coleman as Chief Financial Officer (SMG) :

  • Co announced that its Board of Directors has named Randy Coleman as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Coleman replaces Larry Hilsheimer, who has left the co effective immediately and is pursuing other opportunities.
  • Coleman was most recently senior vice president of operating finance as well as enterprise performance analytics.

8:05 am IMRIS: Neurosurgery journal published study reinforces value of high-field iMRI; VISIUS intraoperative MRI significantly enhances amount of complete resection in brain tumors and leads to better patient outcomes (IMRS) :

  • Co announced that a study published this month in the journal Neurosurgery by the neurosurgical team at Cleveland Clinic adds to growing clinical evidence which validates use of high-field intraoperative MRI  as an effective tool for maximizing the amount of surgical resection of gliomas.
  • Conducted using an IMRIS VISIUS Surgical Theatre, the study retrospectively reviewed use of high-field 1.5T iMRI on the extent of resection of enhancing (high-grade) and non-enhancing (low-grade) gliomas in 104 surgical cases. This and past studies have indicated a link between increased or more complete removal of some types of tumors and longer life expectancy and quality of life. 
  • Use of iMRI, according to the article, was associated with improvement in the median amount of tumor removal from 94.9 percent before iMRI to a final of 99.6 percent post-surgery after iMRI. Complete resection was possible in 65 percent of patients when iMRI was used compared to 34 percent without iMRI. 
  • All resection results were considered statistically significant. The results reinforce previously published evidence that IMRIS systems with high-field iMRI-guided surgery are more effective in achieving complete resection than conventional surgery using neuronavigation and direct visualization alone.

8:04 am Endo Health announces it has received requisite tenders and consents (ENDP) : Co announces it has received requisite tenders and consents in connection with its previously announced offers to exchange any and all of the outstanding unsecured 7% Senior Notes due 2019, 7.00% Senior Notes due 2020 and 7 1/4% Senior Notes due 2022 issued by EHSI for new unsecured 7.00% Senior Notes due 2019, 7.00% Senior Notes due 2020 and 7.25% Senior Notes due 2022.

8:04 am Union Pacific beats by $0.01, misses on revs (UNP) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $2.38 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $2.37; revenues rose 6.6% year/year to $5.64 bln vs the $5.7 bln consensus.

  • Quarterly freight revenue increased 6 percent compared to the first quarter 2013, driven by volume growth and core pricing gains. 
  • Union Pacific's operating ratio of 67.1 percent was a first quarter record, 2.0 points better than the first quarter 2013. 
  • "As we look forward, we're watching the economy very closely, as well as the potential impacts of weather, particularly on our coal and grain business... There's still a lot of year ahead of us, but we are seeing signs of gradual economic improvement, and we're encouraged by the opportunities it presents. With the power and potential of the Union Pacific franchise, we'll leverage these opportunities to drive record financial performance and shareholder returns this year and in the years to come."

8:02 am Enservco announces Rick Kasch has been promoted to CEO (ENSV) : Co announced Rick Kasch has been promoted to chief executive officer. Kasch assumes the position from Mike Herman, ENSERVCO's founder and largest shareholder, who will continue in his role as chairman.

8:01 am Agios Pharma initiates phase 1 study of aG-348 for Pyruvate kinase deficiency (AGIO) :

  • Co announced dose administration of AG-348 in a Phase 1 study in healthy volunteers. AG-348 is an orally available, potent, selective small molecule activator of pyruvate kinase-R (PK-R), a metabolic enzyme, which, when mutated, leads to pyruvate kinase deficiency, a rare, inherited hemolytic anemia. 
  • There is substantial unmet need among patients with PK deficiency as there is no therapy available to treat the underlying disease. AG-348 is wholly owned by Agios, with the company maintaining full worldwide development and commercialization rights.

8:01 am Webster Financial beats by $0.02 (WBS) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.50 per share, excluding security gains and one-time items, $0.02 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.48.

NIM

  • Net interest margin was 3.26% compared to 3.23%. The yield on interest-earning assets declined by 4 basis points, while the cost of funds declined by 6 basis points.
  • Average interest-earning assets totaled $19.5 billion and grew by $920.1 mln, or 5.0%. 
  • Average loans grew by $828.8 mln, or 6.9%. 
Provision for loan losses
  • The Company recorded a provision for loan losses of $9.0 mln compared to $9.0 mln in the prior quarter and $7.5 mln a year earlier. 
  • Net charge-offs were $8.0 mln compared to $14.0 mln in the fourth quarter and $16.8 mln in the year-ago period. The ratio of net charge-offs to average loans on an annualized basis was 0.25% compared to 0.45% in the fourth quarter and 0.56% a year ago. 
  • The allowance for loan losses represented 1.18% of total loans at March 31, 2014 compared to 1.20% at December 31, 2013 and 1.40% at March 31, 2013. 
  • The allowance for loan losses represented 106% of nonperforming loans at March 31, 2014 compared to 94% at December 31 and 84% a year ago, with the increase reflecting the reclassification of $17.6 mln of residential and consumer loans as accruing in the quarter under regulatory guidance.
Capital (compared to prior year)
  • The tangible equity and tangible common equity ratios were 8.26% and 7.53%, respectively, at quarter end compared to 8.12% and 7.35%, respectively. 
  • The Tier 1 common equity to risk-weighted assets ratio was 11.46% at quarter end compared to 11.06%. 
  • Book value and tangible book value per common share were $23.13 and $17.21, respectively, at quarter end compared to $21.90 and $15.93, respectively.

8:01 am S&P futures vs fair value: -3.40. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -15.50. (:WRAPX) : U.S. equity futures display slim losses amid cautious action overseas. The S&P 500 futures trade three points below fair value, while Nasdaq futures lag (-16 versus fair value) as Google (GOOG 549.76, -14.14) weighs after reporting disappointing results.

Reviewing overnight developments:

  • Asian markets ended mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng +0.3%, China's Shanghai Composite -0.3%, and Japan's Nikkei settled flat. 
    • In economic data: 
      • Japan's Household Confidence slipped to 37.5 from 38.3 (previous 40.2), while the weekly Foreign Bonds Buying report indicated net purchases in the amount of JPY115.50 billion (prior net sales of JPY378.10 billion). 
      • China's Foreign Direct Investment Increased 5.5% (previous 10.4%). 
      • Australia's NAB Quarterly Business Confidence slipped to 6 from 8, while New Motor Vehicle Sales decreased 0.3% month-over-month (prior -0.1%). 
      • South Korea's PPI was unchanged month-over-month (last 0.1%). 
    • In news: 
      • The chief of Japan's pension fund GPIF said the fund is adjusting its portfolio towards greater exposure to equities. 
  • Major European indices are little changed. Great Britain's FTSE +0.1%, France's CAC +0.2%, and Germany's DAX is flat. Elsewhere, Italy's MIB -0.4% and Spain's IBEX -0.2%. 
    • Economic data was scarce: 
      • Germany's PPI slipped 0.3% month-over-month (expected 0.1%, prior 0.0%), while the year-over-year reading fell 0.9% (consensus -0.7%, previous -0.9%). 
    • Among news of note: 
      • The first half of the European session has been very quiet with indices maintaining narrow ranges ahead of the long weekend. It is worth mentioning that markets across Europe will be closed on Monday. 
In U.S. corporate news:
  • Blackstone (BX 31.80, +0.86): +2.8% after reporting better-than-expected results. 
  • General Electric (GE 26.68, +0.56): +2.1% beat the Capital IQ consensus estimate by one cent on revenue that was a little below estimates. 
  • Google (GOOG 549.76, -14.14): -2.5% after missing bottom-line estimates on revenue that was a bit below analyst expectations. 
  • Goldman Sachs (GS 160.50, +3.28): +1.9% following its better-than-expected earnings. 
  • IBM (IBM 188.42, -7.98): -4.1% following its in-line earnings on revenue that missed estimates. 
  • Morgan Stanley (MS 30.70, +0.81): +2.7% after beating on earnings and revenue. 
  • PepsiCo (PEP 86.70, +1.93): +2.3% after beating on earnings and revenue. 
  • SanDisk (SNDK 80.95, +5.10): +6.7% in reaction to above-consensus earnings and revenue. 
  • SAP (SAP 78.80, -2.82): -3.5% after missing on earnings and revenue. 
  • Schlumberger (SLB 100.69, -0.25): -0.3% following its one-cent beat on below-consensus revenue. 
  • Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM 20.68, +0.53): +2.6% after beating earnings estimates and guiding Q2 revenue above consensus. 
Weekly initial claims (Briefing.com consensus 312K) will be reported at 8:30 ET and the Philadelphia Fed Survey for April (consensus 8.6) will be released at 10:00 ET.

7:52 am Goldman Sachs beats by $0.59, beats on revs (GS) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $4.02 per share, $0.59 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $3.43; revenues fell 7.5% year/year to $9.33 bln vs the $8.74 bln consensus. 

  • Annualized return on average common shareholders' equity (:ROE) was 10.9% for the first quarter of 2014. 
Institutional Client Services 
  • Net revenues in Institutional Client Services were $4.45 billion for the first quarter of 2014, 13% lower than the first quarter of 2013 and 31% higher than the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Net revenues in Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Client Execution were $2.85 billion, 11% lower than the first quarter of 2013, reflecting significantly lower net revenues in interest rate products, currencies and mortgages, as well as lower net revenues in credit products. These results were partially offset by significantly higher net revenues in commodities compared with the first quarter of 2013. During the quarter, market-making conditions generally improved compared with the fourth quarter of 2013. However, Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Client Execution continued to operate in a challenging environment and levels of activity generally remained low. 
  • Net revenues in Equities were $1.60 billion, 17% lower than the first quarter of 2013. 
  • Net revenues in equities client execution were significantly lower compared with the same prior year period, primarily reflecting the sale of the firm's Americas reinsurance business. In addition, net revenues were significantly lower in both derivatives and, to a lesser extent, cash products. 
  • Commissions and fees were slightly higher compared with the first quarter of 2013, primarily reflecting an increase in European equity volumes. 
  • Securities services net revenues were higher compared with the first quarter of 2013, reflecting growth in customer balances. 
  • During the quarter, Equities experienced challenging market-making conditions, particularly in Japan and certain emerging markets as equity prices declined. The net gain attributable to the impact of changes in the firm's own credit spreads on borrowings for which the fair value option was elected was $15 million (all related to Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Client Execution) for the first quarter of 2014, compared with a net loss of $77 million for the first quarter of 2013. 
Investing & Lending 
  • Net revenues in Investing & Lending were $1.53 billion for the first quarter of 2014, 26% lower than both the first quarter of 2013 and the fourth quarter of 2013. Results for the first quarter of 2014 included net gains of $702 million from investments in equities, primarily driven by private equities, principally reflecting company-specific events.
Investment Management 
  • Net revenues in Investment Management were $1.57 billion for the first quarter of 2014, 20% higher than the first quarter of 2013 and 2% lower than the fourth quarter of 2013. The increase in net revenues compared with the first quarter of 2013 reflected significantly higher incentive fees, as well as higher management and other fees primarily due to higher average assets under supervision. 
Expenses
  • Operating expenses were $6.31 billion, 6% lower than the first quarter of 2013 and 21% higher than the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Compensation and Benefits was $4.01 billion for the first quarter of 2014, 8% lower than the first quarter of 2013, reflecting a decrease in net revenues. The ratio of compensation and benefits to net revenues for the first quarter of 2014 was 43.0%, consistent with the first quarter of 2013. 
  • Non-Compensation Expenses were $2.30 billion, 3% lower than the first quarter of 2013 and 24% lower than the fourth quarter of 2013. The decrease compared with the first quarter of 2013 was due to a decline in insurance reserves, reflecting the sale of the firm's Americas reinsurance business, as well as lower other expenses, primarily due to lower operating expenses related to consolidated investments. 
  • The first quarter of 2014 included net provisions for litigation and regulatory proceedings of $115 million compared with $110 million for the first quarter of 2013.
Capital 
  • Book value per common share was $154.69 and tangible book value per common share was $145.04, both approximately 1% higher compared with the end of 2013. 
  • During the quarter, the firm repurchased 10.3 million shares of its common stock at an average cost per share of $166.58, for a total cost of $1.72 billion. 
  • Tier 1 capital ratio was 16.3% and the firm's Common Equity Tier 1 ratio was 14.6% as of March 31, 2014.
  • As of March 31, 2014, the firm's Common Equity Tier 1 ratio computed under this approach was 11.3%.

7:40 am Endo Health: Noven announced earlier settlement of Lidoderm patent litigation; agreement allows Noven to launch its generic Lidoderm product on or after March 1, 2015, if the product is approved by the FDA (ENDP) :

  • Noven Pharmaceuticals announced that it has entered into an agreement with Endo Pharmaceuticals, Teikoku Seiyaku and Teikoku Pharma USA to settle all outstanding patent litigation related to Noven's lidocaine topical patch 5% product. An Abbreviated New Drug Application for Noven's product is currently pending at the FDA. If approved, Noven's product would be a generic version of Endo's Lidoderm. 
  • The agreement allows Noven to launch its generic Lidoderm product on or after March 1, 2015, if the product is approved by the FDA. The agreement provides for an earlier launch under certain circumstances. Pursuant to the agreement, the litigation on this matter, currently pending in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, will be dismissed. Other terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

7:40 am PrivateBancorp beats by $0.03 (PVTB) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.44 per share, $0.03 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.41.

  • "Q1 net income increased 27% from a year ago, largely on the significant improvement in credit quality we have achieved over the last year."
  • Return on average common equity improved to 10.5% and return on average assets improved to 1.0% for Q1 2014. 
  • Net revenue was $135.8 mln, up $1.5 mln from the first quarter 2013 and comparable to the fourth quarter 2013, as loan growth and lower funding costs offset the impact of declining loan yields and lower noninterest income.
  • Operating profit of $60.0 mln was $4.7 mln higher than first quarter 2013 and comparable to the fourth quarter 2013. The increase relative to Q1 2013 was driven by lower noninterest expense, primarily the result of a decline in credit costs. 
  • Total loans grew to $10.9 bln, up 9% from a year ago and 3 percent from Dec 31, 2013, primarily driven by commercial and industrial loans to new clients.
  • Total deposits were $11.9 bln, compared to $11.4 billion as of March 31, 2013, and $12.0 bln as of Dec 31, 2013. The loan-to-deposit ratio was 92%, as compared to 88% as of March 31, 2013, and 89% as of Dec 31, 2013.
  • Net interest margin was 3.23%, up 5 basis points from Q4 2013. The benefits of lower funding costs, reduced liquidity and interest recoveries on non-accrual loans overcame the impact of continued pricing pressure.

7:38 am Fairchild Semi beats by $0.01, misses on revs; guides Q2 revs in-line (FCS) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.04 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.03; revenues rose 0.3% year/year to $344.1 mln vs the $348.63 mln consensus.
GMs

  • Co reported first quarter adjusted gross margin of 30.3%, down 100 basis points from the prior quarter but 250 basis points higher than the first quarter of 2013. 
  • Adjusted gross margin in past quarters excluded accelerated depreciation related to a line closure. 
Guidance:
  • Co issues in-line guidance for Q2, sees Q2 revs of $355-375 mln, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $362.88 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.
  • Co expects adjusted gross margin to be 31.0 to 32.0% due primarily to higher sales and factory loadings as well as improved product mix which all more than offsets the impact of our merit increase. 

7:37 am Sonoco Products beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line; guides Q2 EPS in-line; reaffirms FY14 EPS (SON) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.52 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.51; revenues rose 0.5% year/year to $1.19 bln vs the $1.19 bln consensus, reflecting essentially flat volume for the Company as a whole. The small increase was driven primarily by higher selling prices and sales from two small acquisitions in recycling and graphics management, partially offset by foreign exchange.

  • Abnormally severe winter weather across much of the U.S. and Canada unfavorably impacted first quarter 2014 base earnings. Absent the weather impact, the Company estimates that results would have been at or slightly above the high end of its previously issued guidance of $0.50-54.
Co issues in-line guidance for Q2, sees EPS of $0.63-0.67 vs. $0.66 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

Co reaffirms guidance for FY14, sees EPS of $2.43-2.53 vs. $2.49 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.  "Severe winter weather significantly disrupted our customers' and our operations in January and February resulting in lost production and sales along with higher operating costs, particularly in our Industrial-related businesses. Even with these headwinds, base earnings improved 4 percent in the first quarter as the Company benefited from a positive price/cost relationship, modest productivity improvements and lower pension and interest expenses, partially offset by normal inflation. 

7:36 am Rockwell Collins reports EPS in-line, beats on revs; raises bottom end of FY14 EPS in-line, reaffirms FY14 revs guidance (COL) : Reports Q2 (Mar) earnings from cont ops of $1.07 per share, in-line with the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate consensus of $1.07; revenues rose 12.5% year/year to $1.27 bln vs the $1.25 bln consensus.

  • Co issues guidance for FY14, raises bottom end of EPS to $4.40-4.55 from prior guidance of $4.35-4.55 vs. $4.45 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; reaffirms FY14 revs of $4.95-5.05 bln vs. $5.02 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 
  • "These strong second quarter financial results, including 12% sales growth and 20% total segment operating margins, support our plan to accelerate growth and increase shareowner value...Share gains from new OEM programs, expanding international sales, and growth in our new Information Management Services business more than offset anticipated declines in business aviation and defense. As we look forward, we expect to convert our sales growth into even higher levels of earnings and cash flow generation as we leverage our proven operating model."

7:36 am Alliance Data beats by $0.07, misses on revs; guides Q2 EPS below, revs above consensus; raises FY14 guidance (ADS) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $2.79 per share, $0.07 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $2.72; revenues rose 17.1% year/year to $1.23 bln vs the $1.25 bln consensus.

  • Second Quarter Outlook: Co issues mixed guidance for Q2, sees EPS of $2.70 vs. $2.93 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees Q2 revs of ~$1.25 bln vs. $1.24 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. "We expect acceleration in core EPS growth for the remainder of 2014 as the diluted share drops in conjunction with the maturity of the $345 million convertible notes in May 2014."
  • Full Year: The Company is raising guidance for FY14, sees EPS of $12.25, up from $12.20 vs. $12.30 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY14 revs of $5.25 bln, up from from $5.14 bln vs. $5.19 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 

7:32 am Watsco beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line; Co raises annual dividend rate 50% to $2.40/share (WSO) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.48 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.47; revenues rose 6.9% year/year to $762.6 mln vs the $762.04 mln consensus.

  • "Watsco delivered another solid quarter of performance driven by sales growth, higher selling margins and improved operating efficiencies. We experienced healthy demand for residential products in the United States, which grew 13%, from strong unit growth and a better sales mix of high efficiency systems. We are off to a strong start and believe 2014 will be a record year for our company."
  • "It is important to note that the first quarter of each calendar year is the seasonal low point for sales and profits due to the magnitude of the replacement market for air conditioning, heating and refrigeration systems during the second and third quarters of each calendar year. Accordingly, the Co's Q1 financial results are disproportionately affected by this seasonality and the overall general economic conditions." 

7:32 am TASER: Dallas County Hospital District Police deploying EVIDENCE.com with 100 AXON flex body-worn video cameras (TASR) : EVIDENCE.com, a business unit of TASER International, announced multiple orders of AXON body-worn video cameras and EVIDENCE.com as the backend data management system. These orders were received in the second quarter and are expected to ship in the second quarter of 2014. Significant orders were received from the following agencies:

  • Dallas County Hospital District Police Dept (TX): 100 AXON flex cameras with three years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan 
  • Evesham Township Police Department (NJ): 40 AXON body cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com 
  • Campbell County Sheriff's Office (WY): 26 AXON flex and 26 AXON body cameras with EVIDENCE.com

7:31 am Dun & Bradstreet acquires the social data matching business unit of Fliptop; financial terms not disclosed (DNB) : Co announced that it has acquired the social data matching business unit of Fliptop. The acquisition combines social data with D&B's proprietary data and analytics to deliver results for a growing and global customer base. Fliptop will continue to operate as an independent, non-affiliated company. Financial terms of the transaction are undisclosed.

7:25 am Honeywell beats by $0.02, reports revs in-line; raises low end of FY14 EPS, reaffirms FY14 revs guidance (HON) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $1.28 per share, $0.02 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.26; revenues rose 3.8% year/year to $9.68 bln vs the $9.74 bln consensus; organic sales +1%.

Co issues guidance for FY14, raises EPS to $5.40-5.55 from $5.35-5.55 vs. $5.54 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; reaffirms FY14 revs +3-4% to $40.3-40.7 bln vs. $40.8 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; reaffirms margins; raises FCF to $3.8-4.0 bln from $3.5-3.7 bln.

"We saw 3% organic sales growth ex-Defense & Space, with strong execution across each of the businesses driving earnings above the high-end of our guidance. We remain cautiously optimistic on the macro environment, even with some nice momentum exiting the quarter in our short-cycle and long-cycle businesses driving organic sales growth acceleration as we progress through the year."

7:19 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Callidus Software (CALD) announced that Banc of California has selected CallidusCloud's Commissions and Litmos mobile learning solutions to optimize the lead to money process.
  • CyrusOne (CONE) expanded its Carrollton data center, starting construction on the addition of 60,000 square feet and 6 megawatts of power capacity.

7:16 am Dollar Sees Early Selling: 10-yr: -02/32..2.634%..USD/JPY: 102.11..EUR/USD: 1.3855 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index trades modestly lower as action presses the 79.65 level.
  • Traders will continue to monitor key support in the 79.00/79.40 area, which has held up since early 2012. 
  • EURUSD is +35 pips @ 1.3850 as a bid has developed despite the cooler than anticipated German PPI (-0.3% MoM actual v. 0.1% MoM expected). Minor resistance in the area has acted as a headwind the past couple of sessions as it guards the recent highs near 1.390/1.3950. 
  • GBPUSD is +15 pips @ 1.6810 as trade holds at its best levels since November 2009. The early bid has sterling on track for a third day of gains as buyers remain in control amid expectations the Bank of England will be the first major Western central bank to hike rates and emerge from the financial crisis. Click here to see a daily GBPUSD chart.
  • USDCHF is -35 pips @ .8785 as selling takes hold following three days of gains. Minor support near .8760 will be watched closely as a breakdown puts the March lows near .8725 in jeopardy. 
  • USDJPY is -10 pips @ 102.10 as trade slips off the 50 dma. Overnight, Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda spoke in Tokyo, reiterated the economy is improving and that prices will rise as wage growth picks up. The 101.50 area provides key support. 
  • AUDUSD is -25 pips @ .9345 as sellers have taken control following the disappointing NAB Business Confidence (6 actual v. 8 previous) and new motor vehicle sales (-0.3% MoM). The overnight weakness has trade probing minor support in the .9350 area with a breakdown likely putting pressure on .9250/.9275. USDCNY was little changed @ 6.2194.
  • USDCAD is flat @ 1.1015. The pair has gained in four of the past five sessions, which has action testing resistance in the area. Canada's CPI will be released later this morning.

7:13 am Dover beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line; reaffirms FY14 EPS guidance (DOV) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $1.02 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.01; revenues rose 6.8% year/year to $1.88 bln vs the $1.87 bln consensus.

  • Co reaffirms guidance for FY14, sees EPS of $4.60-4.80 vs. $4.79 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; 
    • Continues to expect full year organic revenue growth of 3% to 4%, complemented by growth from completed acquisitions of 3%, resulting in total revenue growth of 6% to 7%. 
    • Full year segment margin expectations of around 18% are also unchanged.

7:13 am AutoNation beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line (AN) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.75 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.74; revenues rose 6.5% year/year to $4.36 bln vs the $4.32 bln consensus.

  • Revs were driven by an increase of 7%, driven by stronger performance in all business sectors -- new vehicles, used vehicles, parts and service, and finance and insurance.
  • AutoNation's retail new vehicle unit sales increased 4% on a same store basis and 6% overall.  
Segment results for Q1 were as follows:
  • Domestic - Domestic segment incomewas $64 million compared to year-ago segment income of $59 million, an increase of 9%.
  • Import - Import segment income( was $65 million compared to year-ago segment income of $71 million, a decrease of 8%.
  • Premium Luxury - Premium Luxury segment income was $83 million compared to year-ago segment income of $69 million, an increase of 21%.
Share repurchase update:
During the first quarter of 2014, AutoNation repurchased 2.4 million shares of common stock for an aggregate purchase price of $115.7 million. As of April 16, 2014, AutoNation has ~$400 million remaining Board authorization for share repurchase and 119 million shares outstanding.  

7:10 am PepsiCo beats by $0.08, beats on revs; reaffirms guidance (PEP) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.83 per share, $0.08 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.75; revenues rose 0.3% year/year to $12.62 bln vs the $12.42 bln consensus. 

  • Organic revenue grew 4.0 percent and reported net revenue was even versus the prior-year quarter. Structural changes negatively impacted reported net revenue performance by nearly half a percentage point and foreign exchange translation had a 3-percentage-point unfavorable impact in the quarter. 
  • Organic revenue grew 5 percent for global snacks and 3 percent for global beverages in the quarter. On a reported basis, revenue grew 1 percent for global snacks and declined 1 percent for global beverages, reflecting unfavorable foreign exchange translation and structural changes. Each operating segment had organic revenue growth in the quarter. 
  • Co reaffirms guidance: Consistent with its previous guidance for 2014, the company expects 7% core constant currency EPS growth versus its fiscal 2013 core EPS of $4.37.
    • Based on the current foreign exchange market consensus, the company currently expects foreign exchange translation to have an unfavorable impact of approximately 4 percentage points on full year core EPS growth in 2014.

7:08 am Blackstone beats by $0.13, beats on revs (BX) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings (ENI) of $0.70 per share, $0.13 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.57; revenues rose 19.9% year/year to $1.51 bln vs the $1.3 bln consensus. 

  • Distributable Earnings were $485 mln for the quarter ($0.41/unit), up 24% from the same period last year, driven by strong growth in Realized Performance Fees and Realized Investment Income. 
  • Total Assets Under Management reached $272 bln, up 25% year-over-year with double-digit increases across all investing businesses, through strong inflows and consistent appreciation. 
  • Gross inflows were $10.2 bln in the first quarter and $62.0 bln for the last twelve months.
  • Real Estate: Fee Revenues rose 18% compared to the first quarter of 2013 reflecting Management Fees from latest European fund and first Asian fund. Real Estate Funds'carrying value(a)appreciated 3.8% for the quarter and 27.8% for the last twelve months, driven by valuation increases from private investments in the office and industrial sectors and certain public holding.
  • Hedge Fund Securities: Total Revenues of $194 mln for the quarter, up 16% year-over-year driven by an increase in Fee-Earning AUM, up 22% over the same period last year.

7:08 am Leju (NYSE: LEJU) prices reduced 10 mln ADS IPO at $10.00 per ADS, at low end of the $10-12 expected range (:IPOXX) : The deal size was reduced from an original offering of 17.7 mln ADSs.

7:07 am Pool misses by $0.01, beats on revs; reaffirms FY14 EPS guidance (POOL) :

  • Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.09 per share, $0.01 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.10; revenues rose 9.7% year/year to $406.3 mln vs the $397.04 mln consensus. 
  • Gross profit as a percentage of net sales (gross margin) declined 20 basis points to 28.1% in the first quarter of 2014. The shift in customer early buy purchases negatively impacted first quarter gross margin. Excluding this impact, gross margin was essentially flat compared to the first quarter of last year.
  • Co reaffirms guidance for FY14, sees EPS of $2.35-2.45 vs. $2.41 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 

7:06 am First Horizon beats by $0.04, beats on revs (FHN) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.19 per share, $0.04 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.15; revenues rose 2.0% year/year to $298.1 mln vs the $288.36 mln consensus.

  • Net interest margin 2.88% vs 2.98% in Q4  
  • Efficiency ratio 75.30% vs 88.66% in Q4 
  • Tier 1 ratio 14.20% vs 13.87% in Q4
In the regional bank average core deposits were up 2% from the same quarter in 2013. Lending increased, too, in specialty lending areas and growth markets, with asset-based lending up 12%, Middle Tennessee up 6%, commercial real estate up 4% and the Mid-Atlantic region -- North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and North Florida -- up 4% from first quarter 2013 to first quarter 2014.

7:06 am Baxter beats by $0.11, beats on revs; guides Q2 EPS below consensus; guides FY14 EPS in-line (BAX) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $1.19 per share, $0.11 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.08; revenues rose 14.6% year/year to $3.95 bln vs the $3.88 bln consensus.

  • Co issues downside guidance for Q2, sees EPS of $1.18-1.22 vs. $1.26 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate;  expects sales growth of approximately 12-13% (consensus +13%). 
  • Co issues in-line guidance for FY14, sees EPS of $5.05-5.25 vs. $5.06 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; expects sales growth for full-year 2014 of 9-10% (consensus +9%).

7:04 am Trina Solar announces grid connection for 23.8 MW PV projects in UK (TSL) : Co announced two of its PV power plants in the United Kingdom have successfully completed connection to the grid. The company is an investor in and sole project developer for these projects, which have a total capacity of 23.77 MW. The two projects, which are located in Cornwall and Dorset, commenced construction in December 2013 and were completed on schedule in March 2014. The two projects were developed using Trina PC05A 255Wp modules and will receive 1.6 Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs), equivalent to GBP 42.02 per megawatt-hour (MWh). They are expected to generate 24,673MWh electricity annually, reducing over 16,542 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The projects will be able to supply clean energy to approximately 7,477 local homes each year.

7:04 am Augusta Resource: Glass Lewis recommends that Augusta Shareholders vote for Continuation of Shareholder Rights Plan (AZC) : Co announced that Glass, Lewis & Co., an independent proxy advisory firm, has recommended that shareholders of Augusta vote for the continuation of Augusta's shareholder rights plan in the face of the unsolicited offer for Augusta common shares by HudBay Minerals Inc. at the shareholders meeting scheduled for May 2, 2014.

7:03 am DSW announces appointment of Mary Meixelsperger as Chief Financial Officer effective May 1 (DSW) :

  • Co announced the appointment of Mary Meixelsperger as Chief Financial Officer effective May 1. 
  • Meixelsperger replaces Douglas Probst, who is retiring from DSW Inc. on the same day.
  • Meixelsperger joins DSW Inc. from Shopko Stores, a regional discount store chain, where she held the roles of Chief Financial Officer, Controller and Treasurer for the last nine years. 

7:02 am Chemtura: Platform Specialty Products (PAH) announces agreement to acquire agrochemicals business from Chemtura for ~ $1 bln; should be immediately accretive to Platform's adjusted earnings, pre-synergies (CHMT) : Co announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its agrochemicals business, Chemtura AgroSolutions, to Platform Specialty Products Corporation (PAH), a global specialty chemicals company, for approximately $1 billion. The consideration will be funded with $950 million in cash and 2 million shares of Platform's common stock. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2014.

Upon completion of the sale, Chemtura's core platform will be focused around two attractive segments: Industrial Performance Products and Industrial Engineered Products. These businesses are global leaders in the markets they serve and are well-positioned for future growth and strong performance. In calendar 2013, on a pro-forma basis, including the elimination of any stranded costs associated with recent portfolio divestitures, Chemtura generated approximately $1.8 billion in net sales and $200 million of Adjusted EBITDA.

7:02 am Snap-On beats by $0.08, reports revs in-line (SNA) :

  • Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $1.62 per share, $0.08 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.54; revenues rose 6.2% year/year to $787.5 mln vs the $781.94 mln consensus.
  • In 2014, Snap-on expects to continue with the advancement of its strategic framework designed to enhance its mobile tool distribution network, expand in the vehicle repair garage, extend to critical industries and build in emerging markets. In pursuit of these initiatives, Snap-on anticipates that capital expenditures in 2014 will be in a range of $70 -80 million. Snap-on continues to expect that its full year 2014 effective income tax rate will be comparable to its 2013 rate.

7:01 am McDermott signs agreement for North Sea Spoolbase (MDR) : Co announced that one of its subsidiaries has signed an option agreement with PD Ports which gives it the exclusive right to operate a spoolbase to serve projects in the North Sea. McDermott expects to have the facility available for projects in early 2015.

Located in Hartlepool, in northeast United Kingdom, the spoolbase is expected to support McDermott's re-entry into the North Sea Reel-Lay market. The Port of Hartlepool is a well-established working port with a history of fabrication for the oil and gas industry and has excellent access from harbor to the open sea.

7:01 am Antares Pharma announces publication of head-to-head, randomized, crossover study of oral versus subcutaneous methotrexate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis; drug-exposure limitations of oral methotrexate at doses greater than or equal to 15 mg may be overcome with subcutaneous administration (ATRS) :

  • Co announced that the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases has published results from an open-label, head-to-head randomized, crossover study comparing the relative bioavailability, safety and tolerability of OTREXUP to oral methotrexate (MTX) in adult patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Patients greater than or equal to 18 years old with adult RA undergoing treatment with MTX for three months or more were assigned to receive one of four dose levels of OTREXUP, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, and 25 mg weekly in a random sequence of three treatments: oral, subcutaneous into the abdomen and subcutaneous into the thigh. For 24 hours after the administration of each treatment, blood samples were collected to measure drug levels and injection sites were assessed. Forty-seven patients completed the study and the results showed that the systemic availability of methotrexate following oral dosing plateaus at 15 mg and greater. Following administration of OTREXUP, the systemic availability increased proportionally at every dose, which extended the range of exposure compared to patients receiving oral therapy. No unexpected adverse events were noted for either formulation in this short term study and higher systemic MTX exposure was not associated with increases in adverse events.

6:57 am Rockwood Holdings announces commencement of asset sale offer to purchase up to $400 mln of senior notes (ROC) : Co announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Rockwood Specialties is commencing a cash tender offer to purchase up to $400 million aggregate principal amount of its 4.625% Senior Notes due 2020, at a purchase price of 100% of the principal amount thereof, plus accrued and unpaid interest thereon, to but not including the date of purchase. The Asset Sale Offer is being made pursuant to the indenture governing the Notes as a result of the Company's sale of its Advanced Ceramics segment and Clay-based Additives business. Those sales constituted "Asset Sales" under the indenture governing the Notes. The source of funds is cash on hand.

6:56 am Morgan Stanley beats by $0.08, beats on revs (MS) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.68 per share, $0.08 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.60; revenues rose 9.6% year/year to $8.93 bln vs the $8.55 bln consensus. 

  • Income from continuing operations applicable to Morgan Stanley was $1.5 billion, or $0.72 per diluted share, compared with income of $981 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, for the same period a year ago. Results for the current quarter included positive revenue related to changes in Morgan Stanley's debt-related credit spreads and other credit factors (Debt Valuation Adjustment, DVA) of $126 million, compared with negative revenue of $317 million a year ago. Excluding DVA, net revenues for the current quarter were $8.8 billion compared with $8.5 billion a year ago. Income from continuing operations applicable to Morgan Stanley was $1.4 billion, or $0.68 per diluted share, compared with income of $1.2 billion, or $0.60 per diluted share, a year ago.
  • Compensation expense was $4.3 billion compared to $4.2 billion a year ago. Non-compensation expenses were $2.3 billion compared to $2.4 billion a year ago.
Institutional Securities 
  • Reported pre-tax income from continuing operations of $1.4 billion compared with $799 million in the first quarter of last year. Net revenues for the current quarter were $4.6 billion compared with $4.1 billion a year ago. 
  • Advisory revenues of $336 million increased from $251 million a year ago reflecting higher levels of M&A activity. 
  • Equity underwriting revenues of $315 million increased from $283 million a year ago reflecting higher IPO volumes. 
  • Fixed income underwriting revenues of $485 million increased from $411 million a year ago reflecting an increase in loan fees. 
  • Equity sales and trading net revenues of $1.7 billion increased from $1.6 billion a year ago reflecting higher levels of client activity across products and particularly strong performance in prime brokerage.
  • Fixed Income & Commodities sales and trading net revenues of $1.7 billion increased from $1.5 billion a year ago. Results reflect strong performance in commodities and solid results in credit and securitized products, despite lower volumes across most fixed income businesses. 
  • Other sales and trading net losses of $244 million compared with net revenues of $72 million a year ago, primarily reflecting costs related to the Firm's long-term funding.
  • Value-at-Risk (VaR) was $50 million compared with $51 million in 4Q13. 
Wealth Management 
  • Reported pre-tax income from continuing operations of $691 million compared with $597 million in the first quarter of last year. Net revenues for the current quarter were $3.6 billion compared with $3.5 billion a year ago. 
  • Asset management fee revenues of $2.0 billion increased from $1.9 billion a year ago primarily reflecting an increase in fee based assets and positive flows. 
  • Transactional revenues of $1.0 billion decreased from $1.1 billion a year ago primarily reflecting lower closed-end fund and other new issue activity. 
  • Net interest income of $539 million increased from $413 million a year ago on higher deposit and loan balances. 
  • Client assets in fee based accounts of $724 billion increased 17% compared with the prior year quarter. Fee based asset flows for the quarter were $19.0 billion. 
Investment Management
  • Reported pre-tax income from continuing operations of $263 million compared with pre-tax income of $187 million in the first quarter of last year. Net revenues of $740 million increased from $645 million in the prior year. Results primarily reflect higher gains on investments in Merchant Banking and higher results in Traditional Asset Management, partly offset by lower gains on investments in Real Estate Investing. 
  • Assets under management or supervision at March 31, 2014 of $382 billion increased from $341 billion a year ago primarily reflecting market appreciation and positive flows. The business recorded net flows of $6.0 billion in the current quarter. 
Capital
  • Morgan Stanley's Common Equity Tier 1 capital ratio was approximately 14.1% and its Tier 1 capital ratio was approximately 15.6% at March 31, 2014.  At March 31, 2014, book value and tangible book value per common share were $32.38 and $27.41,18 respectively, based on approximately 2.0 billion shares outstanding.

6:51 am National Penn reports Q1 EPS in-line (NPBC) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.17 per share, excluding non-recurring items, in-line with the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate consensus of $0.17. 

The net interest margin for the first quarter of 2014 was 3.44%, compared to 3.51% in the prior quarter which benefitted from the impact of a loan prepayment which improved the prior quarter margin by ~five basis points. Average loans increased $85.8 million or 6.6% on an annualized basis, driven by growth in commercial loans, while loan quality continued to improve in the quarter.

"During the quarter, the strength of our balance sheet allowed us to consummate the repurchase of approximately five percent of our outstanding shares."

6:49 am Taiwan Semi beats by $0.13, reports revs in-line; guides Q2 revs above consensus (TSM) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of NT 1.85 per share, NT 0.13 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.72; revenues rose 11.6% year/year to NT 148.22 bln vs the NT 147.78 bln consensus.

  • Co issues upside guidance for Q2, sees Q2 revs of NT 180-183 bln vs. NT 171.75 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. Co sees Q2 Gross profit margin is expected to be between 47.5 % and 49.5%. 
  • Gross margin for the quarter was 47.5%, operating margin was 35.4%, and net profit margin was 32.3%. 
  • Shipments of 28-nanometer process technology accounted for 34% of total wafer revenues. 40/45-nanometer accounted for 21% of total wafer revenues. 
  • Advanced technologies, defined as 40/45-nanometers and more advanced technologies, accounted for 55% of total wafer revenues. 
  • "In the first quarter, we saw much stronger demand for our wafers across all segments but more pronounced in mobile related applications, than we had initially predicted in Januar...Driven by better than expected 4Q'13 business, IC companies have turned more positive on their 2014 outlook. Meanwhile, the low level of supply chain inventory has prompted the IC companies to begin restocking inventory actively. Thanks to the better performance and higher yield and reliability of our advanced technologies, we saw a strong rebound of demand for our leading nodes extending beyond the first quarter. Based on our current business outlook and exchange rate assumption of 1 US dollar to 30.10 NT dollars, management expects overall performance for second quarter 2014 to be as follows":

6:46 am S&P futures vs fair value: -7.00. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -28.00. :

6:46 am European Markets : FTSE...6579.58...-4.60...-0.10%.  DAX...9302.10...-15.70...-0.20%.

6:46 am Asian Markets : Nikkei...14417.53...-0.20...0.00.  Hang Seng...227602.24...+64.20...+0.30%.

6:44 am Baker Hughes beats by $0.06, reports revs in-line (BHI) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.84 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.06 better than the Capital IQ Consensus of $0.78; revenues rose 9.6% year/year to $5.73 bln vs the $5.72 bln consensus. 

"This quarter we delivered an increase in profit margins and earnings," said Martin Craighead, Baker Hughes Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Our performance is the result of actions to optimize operational efficiency, along with increasing demand for several innovative new product offerings. "The benefit of these actions can be seen in our North America operations this quarter. On an adjusted basis, this segment delivered 200 basis points of margin improvement, despite a drop in well count caused by poor weather in the Rockies and northeast United States. Outside of North America, our operations experienced the typical seasonal decline in product sales to start the year, along with severe weather conditions in the North Sea and Russia, leading to a 5% sequential drop in revenue for our international business. However, resumption of our activity in Iraq, along with increased demand for high technology services in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific, led to a 6% sequential increase in international adjusted operating profit. "Compared to the same quarter last year, our adjusted earnings per share have increased 29%. Based on this positive performance, and our favorable outlook for our industry, we repurchased $200 million of our shares during the first quarter. "The demand for both innovative and integrated products and services has never been greater. We are continuing to redefine the technical limits for our customers in drilling efficiencies, production optimization, and ultimate recovery. These factors, along with our continued focus on operating efficiency, are driving profitable growth in the company, leading to an increase in our shareholders' returns."

Share repurchases amounted to $200 million or 3.4 million shares for the first quarter of 2014, which results in a remaining amount of $1.45 billion under the current authorization.

6:44 am Fifth Third misses by $0.06 (FITB) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.36 per share, $0.06 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.42. 

  • Pre-provision net revenue (:PPNR) of $507 mln in 1Q14, including $36 mln pre-tax negative valuation adjustment on the Vantiv warrant (versus positive $91 mln in 4Q13) and $51 mln in litigation reserve charges Average loan and lease balances (excluding loans held-for-sale) increased $1.6 bln, or 2 percent, sequentially and increased $3.6 bln, or 4 percent, from the first quarter of 2013. 
  • The net interest margin was 3.22 percent, an increase of 1 bp from the previous quarter due to lower cash balances, the impact of two fewer days in the quarter, and the benefit of the fourth quarter 2013 TruPS redemption partially offset by the effects of loan repricing and debt issuances in the first quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Average loan and lease balances (excluding loans held-for-sale) increased $1.6 bln, or 2 percent, sequentially and increased $3.6 bln, or 4 percent, from the first quarter of 2013.
  • The increase in average loans and leases was primarily driven by growth in the commercial and industrial, commercial construction, and residential mortgage loan portfolios. The growth was partially offset by declines in commercial mortgage and home equity loans. Period end loans and leases (excluding loans held-for-sale) of $89.7 bln increased $1.1 bln, or 1 percent, sequentially and $4.0 bln, or 5 percent, from a year ago.

6:40 am KeyCorp beats by $0.02, reports revs in-line (KEY) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.26 per share, $0.02 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.24; revenues fell 1.0% year/year to $1 bln vs the $1.01 bln consensus. 

Compared with Fourth Quarter of 2013 

  • Average loans up 2.1%, driven by a 4.8% growth in commercial, financial and agricultural loans; period ending loans up 1.8%; Compared to prior year- Average loans up 4.0% (5.5% excluding impact of exit portfolios), driven by an 8.9% growth in commercial, financial and agricultural loans; period ending loans up 5.5% 
  • Average deposits down 3.2% due to the expected reduction of escrow deposits in the commercial mortgage servicing business 
  • Net interest income (taxable-equivalent) down $20 million due to lower asset yields as well as fewer days in the quarter 
  • Noninterest income down $18 million, reflecting a decline in corporate-owned life insurance income and lower commercial mortgage special servicing fees 
  • Noninterest expense down $50 million due to a decline of $12 million related to efficiency charges, and lower expenses for marketing, incentive compensation, and salaries
  • Asset quality- 12 basis point improvement in net loan charge-offs to average loans 
  • Capital management- repurchased $141 million of common shares during the first quarter of 2014 and maintaining a top tier capital position with Tier 1 common equity of 11.22%

6:37 am InSteel Industries beats by $0.06, beats on revs (IIIN) : Reports Q2 (Mar) earnings of $0.19 per share, $0.06 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.13; revenues rose 10.3% year/year to $91.4 mln vs the $86.53 mln consensus.

  • Shipments increased 12.8% year-over-year while average selling prices decreased 2.1%. 
  • On a sequential basis, shipments increased 2.0% from the first quarter of fiscal 2014 and average selling prices increased 2.8%. 
Insteel's second-quarter results were favorably impacted by the increase in shipments, which was largely offset by lower spreads between selling prices and raw material costs and higher unit conversion costs relative to the same period a year ago. The previously reported fire that damaged a portion of the Company's Gallatin, Tennessee PC strand manufacturing facility on January 21, 2014 did not have a material impact on the results for the quarter. Capacity utilization for the quarter was 51% compared with 46% in the prior year quarter and 47% in the first quarter of fiscal 2014.  

Outlook/Commentary:

"As we move into the second half of the year, we expect to benefit from the usual seasonal factors, which could be amplified this year by pent-up demand resulting from the unusually severe winter weather we have experienced in many of our markets...We are also seeing continued improvement in private nonresidential construction, our primary demand driver, and a heightened degree of optimism that the slow growth recovery may be gaining momentum. We believe that Insteel is ideally positioned to capitalize on a strengthening market environment through the favorable impact of our ongoing process improvement initiatives together with the ramp up of our world-class manufacturing facilities."  

6:37 am General Electric beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line; 2014 framework unchanged (GE) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.33 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus of $0.32; revenues fell 2.2% year/year to $34.18 bln vs the $34.43 bln consensus. 

  • Industrial sales of $24 billion increased 8% compared to the first quarter of 2013. GECC revenues of $10.5 billion decreased 8% from last year. Industrial segment profits rose 12% to $3.3 billion. Industrial segment margins improved 50 basis points over the prior-year period. Industrial segment revenues grew 8%, with organic growth of 8%. Growth market revenues were up 7% for the quarter, with double-digit growth in five of nine growth regions. Services revenues grew 3%, with double-digit growth in Aviation and Oil & Gas. Equipment revenues grew 12%, on strong new product introductions and solid share positions. The breadth of the GE portfolio was reflected in the quarter as the Company offset market volatility in Appliances, Healthcare, and Mining. 
  • Infrastructure orders for the quarter were $23.7 billion, flat with the year-ago period. GE's backlog of equipment and services at the end of the quarter was $245 billion, with increases in every segment over the year-ago period. 
  • GE Capital earnings were flat, with ENI (excluding cash and equivalents) at $374 billion at quarter-end, down $7 billion from last quarter. General Electric Capital Corporation's (:GECC) estimated Tier 1 common ratio (Basel 1) rose 32 basis points to 11.4%, and net interest margin was strong at 4.9%. During the quarter, GECC paid $500 million in dividends to the parent. 
  • Also during the quarter, GE filed a registration statement with the SEC for the IPO of its North American Retail Finance business, the first step in a planned, staged exit from that business. The Company made good progress in accelerating efforts to achieve its simplification goals. 
  • GE is on track to achieve its goal of $1 billion or more in structural cost-out for the year. Industrial structural costs in the first quarter were down $254 million versus the prior-year period, driven by simplification initiatives and benefits from restructuring investments. 
  • "We're off to a good start to the year, and our 2014 framework remains unchanged. The environment is consistent with our expectations, with a positive bias. The GE team is executing with strong organic growth, consistent margin enhancement, cash growth with disciplined allocation, and a stronger GE Capital. We are on track for our Retail Finance IPO and remain committed to a GE that has 70% of our earnings from the Industrial businesses. GE is in good shape."

6:29 am Telecom Italia announced Giuseppe Recchi was appointed Chairman of new BOD (TI) : Co announced that in the ordinary session the Shareholders' Meeting, the co appointed the new Board of Directors, comprised of 13 Directors, who will remain in office for three financial years. Giuseppe Recchi was appointed Chairman of the new Board of Directors.

6:20 am Mattel misses by $0.11, reports revs in-line (MAT) : Reports Q1 (Mar) loss of $0.03 per share, $0.11 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.08; revenues fell 5.0% year/year to $946.2 mln vs the $952.89 mln consensus.
Additional metrics:

  • North American Region gross sales down 2% and International Region gross sales down 7%
  • Worldwide gross sales by core brands: 
    • Barbie (14%)
    • Hot Wheels +2%
    • Fisher-Price (6%) 
    • American Girl +5%
  • Gross margin decreased 330 basis points of net sales; SG&A increased 350 basis points of net sales, including an incremental severance expense of $16 million
  • Operating income of $6.2 million compared to operating income of $65.8 million in the first quarter of 2013

6:19 am Western Refining announced new Delaware Basin pipeline project (WNR) : Co announced an additional pipeline project in the Delaware Basin. Subject to approvals, Western plans to construct a new pipeline originating near Western Refining Logistics, LP's (WNRL) existing Mason Station crude oil gathering facility in Reeves County, Texas terminating at a new crude oil gathering facility at Wink Station in Winkler County, Texas. The pipeline, ~ 40 miles in length, will be capable of receiving and transporting up to 125,000 barrels per day of light crude oil and condensate (> 45 API) for delivery to common carrier pipelines at Wink, Texas and is expected to be in service by mid-2015.

6:18 am Sabre (Nasdaq: SABR) priced downsized 39.2 mln share IPO at $16.00 per share, below the $18-20 expected range (:IPOXX) : The co originally planned to offer 44.7 mln shares.

6:17 am Orbital Sciences misses by $0.02, misses on revs; reaffirms FY14 EPS guidance, revs guidance (ORB) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.23 per share, $0.02 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.25; revenues fell 3.4% year/year to $323.3 mln vs the $345.55 mln consensus.

  • Co reaffirms guidance for FY14, sees EPS of $1.10-1.20 vs. $1.17 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY14 revs of $1.45-1.5 bln vs. $1.47 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 
  • "Orbital's free cash flow in the first quarter of 2014 set a new record for the company, reflecting achievement of important milestones in connection with the completion of our first operational cargo mission to the International Space Station under the company's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA." He continued, "Although first quarter revenues and operating income were lower than expected due to an anomaly on a recently launched communications satellite, the company remains on track with our financial guidance for 2014."

6:13 am DuPont reports EPS in-line, misses on revs; reaffirms FY14 EPS guidance (DD) : Reports Q1 (Mar) operating earnings of $1.58 per share, in-line with the Capital IQ Consensus of $1.58; revenues fell 2.7% year/year to $10.13 bln vs the $10.38 bln consensus, principally due to differences in timing and planted area for Agriculture sales, negative currency impact, and adverse weather conditions in North America. However, volume grew in each of DuPont's industrial related segments and operating margins increased in 6 of 7 segments versus last year's first quarter. Estimate.

Co reaffirms guidance for FY14, sees EPS of $4.20-4.45, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $4.32 Capital IQ Consensus, based on anticipated growth in global industrial market demand. The company also expects it will earn about 70 percent of its full year operating earnings per share in the first half. 

6:13 am UnitedHealth beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line; reaffirms FY14 EPS guidance, revs guidance (UNH) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $1.10 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.09; revenues rose 4.5% year/year to $31.71 bln vs the $32.02 bln consensus.

  • Co reaffirms guidance for FY14, sees EPS of $5.40-5.60 vs. $5.59 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY14 revs of $128-129 mln vs. $129.59 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 
  • The consolidated medical care ratio decreased 20 basis points year-over-year to 82.5 percent in the first quarter of 2014. 
  • The care ratio benefitted 100 basis points in first quarter from billing ACA fees, with this impact expected to increase slightly over the course of 2014 as these tax billings continue. The underlying ACA fees increase operating costs and the income tax rate, as the majority of the fees are not tax deductible. 
  • Medical reserves developed favorably by $220 mln, compared to $280 mln in the first quarter of 2013. The first quarter 2014 operating cost ratio of 16.4 percent increased 120 basis points year-over-year, driven by approximately 140 basis points in ACA reinsurance fees and nondeductible health insurance taxes. 
  • UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual served 1.8 mln more people year-over-year, driven by growth in services to the TRICARE program. First quarter 2014 revenues of $11 bln decreased $103 mln year-over-year due to the decrease in people served with risk-based products. 
  • As expected, earnings from operations decreased year-over-year due to the effects of the ACA and Medicare sequestration and a lower overall level of reserve development compared to the prior year period. These factors combined to pressure operating margins by 140 basis points year-over-year.

6:11 am Clarification: Schlumberger beats by $0.01; reported adj EPS of $1.21 vs $1.20 consensus (SLB) : The clarification uses the adjusted EPS number. Prior post has been amended reflecting this

6:07 am Schlumberger beats by $0.01, misses on revs (SLB) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $1.21 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.20; revenues rose 6.3% year/year to $11.24 bln vs the $11.45 bln consensus.
Oilfield Services 

  • First-quarter revenue of $11.24 billion decreased 6% sequentially, but increased 6% year-on-year. International Area revenue of $7.48 billion grew $322 million, or 5% year-on-year, while North America Area revenue of $3.68 billion increased $394 million, or 12% year-on-year. 
  • The strong year-end product, software and multiclient sales experienced in the fourth quarter of 2013 accounted for almost half of the sequential decline in revenue. 
  • The rest of the sequential decline was due to seasonal weather-related activity slowdowns in Russia and China; the completion of marine seismic surveys in Brazil, Norway, Malaysia and in the Caspian Sea; and contract and operational delays in Brazil and Mexico. However, these sequential effects were partly offset by strong pressure pumping activity in US Land and Canada, which was partially muted by severe winter weather. 
  • North America Area revenue of $3.68 billion increased 12%. Although land activity was temporarily disrupted by severe winter weather, overall robust results were driven by increased service intensity, market share gains, and new technology uptake in a pressure pumping market where pricing remained competitive. Land revenue also grew from the expanding artificial lift business. North America offshore declined marginally due to operational delays and extended workover activity. 
  • International revenue increased 5% led by the Middle East & Asia Area with revenue of $2.84 billion growing 19%, mainly from strong activity in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and by robust drilling activity and technology uptake in Southeast Asia and deepwater Australia. Europe/CIS/Africa Area revenue of $2.88 billion increased 1%, led by the Central West Africa GeoMarket on strong development and exploration activity and by Norway from market share gains in drilling services. Russia and Central Asia region revenue increased slightly as growing activity in the Arctic and the Caspian Sea was offset by activity disruption from the severe winter weather and the impact of the weaker Russian ruble. 
Reservoir Characterization Group 
  • First-quarter revenue of $2.85 billion decreased 14% sequentially, but grew 2% year-on-year. Sequential declines were primarily due to lower WesternGeco multiclient and SIS software sales following their strong year-end highs. Year-on-year revenue growth was led by Wireline and Testing Services driven by offshore exploration, and by SIS on increased software sales across all International Areas. 
  • WesternGeco, however, declined on lower marine vessel fleet utilization and reduced multiclient sales. 
Production Group 
  • First-quarter revenue of $4.12 billion decreased 2% sequentially, and grew 10% year-on-year. 
  • The sequential decline was primarily due to lower Completions and Artificial Lift product sales following their strong year-end highs. 
  • Well Services pressure pumping technologies were higher due to increased service intensity in US land despite severe winter disruption and contract rollover pricing. Revenue in Well Services was also higher due to peak winter activity in Western Canada. 

6:07 am BB&T Corp misses by $0.01, reports revs in-line (BBT) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.69 per share, $0.01 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.70; revenues fell 6.7% year/year to $2.29 bln vs the $2.31 bln consensus. 

  • Net interest margin was 3.52%, down four basis points compared with last quarter due to an increase in the investment portfolio to comply with new liquidity rules.
  • First quarter earnings produced an annualized return on average assets of 1.29% and an annualized return on average common shareholders' equity of 9.87%. 
  • The return on average tangible common equity for the first quarter was 15.81%. 
  • The provision for credit losses, excluding covered loans, for the first quarter was $67 million, a decrease of $4 million compared to the prior quarter, which reflects continued improvement in credit quality. 
  • Average loans held for investment for the first quarter of 2014 increased $266 million, or an annualized 0.9%, compared to the prior quarter. 
  • Excluding covered loans, net charge-offs for the first quarter totaled $156 million, an increase of $15 million Average loans held for investment for the first quarter of 2014 increased $266 million, or an annualized 0.9%, compared to the prior quarter. This increase was driven by growth in the commercial and industrial, CRE -- income producing properties and sales finance loan portfolios of $334 million, $262 million and $166 million, respectively. compared to the prior quarter. 
  • Residential Mortgage Banking net income was $63 million in the first quarter, an increase of $14 million from the prior quarter. 
  • The allocated provision for loan and lease losses decreased $38 million driven by improved credit trends. 
  • "Our results for the first quarter were solid in light of normal seasonality. Insurance revenues were very strong for the quarter, credit results continued to improve and expenses were down $53 million compared with last quarter, reflecting improving expense control...Commercial loan growth was strong, particularly commercial real estate lending for income producing properties. Consistent with industry trends, mortgage banking income declined as originations were down from last year's record levels."

6:06 am Weibo (Nasdaq: WB) prices downsized 16.8 mln ADS IPO at $17.00 per ADS, at low end of the $17-19 expected range (:IPOXX) : The co originally planned to offer 20 mln ADSs.

6:03 am Post to acquire Michael Foods for $2.45 bln; transaction is expected to be accretive to Post's earnings per share prior to giving effect to purchase accounting adjustments and one-time transaction expenses (POST) : Co announced it has agreed to acquire MFI Holding from affiliates of GS Capital Partners, affiliates of Thomas H. Lee Partners and other owners.

  • Under the terms of the agreement, Post will acquire Michael Foods for $2.45 bln on a cash-free, debt-free basis, subject to working capital and other adjustments. In addition, Post will make a payment of $50 mln on the first anniversary of the closing date, which payment is intended to represent the parties' estimate of the value of certain tax benefits that Michael Foods is expected to realize from payments to be made by or on its behalf in connection with the acquisition. 
  • The addition of Michael Foods will increase Post's long-term revenue, EBITDA and earnings per share growth potential. The transaction is expected to be accretive to Post's earnings per share prior to giving effect to purchase accounting adjustments and one-time transaction expenses. Post management expects to recognize ~ $10 mln in synergies resulting from benefits of scale. 
  • Concurrent with the signing of the agreement, Post obtained financing commitments under which various lenders have committed to provide up to $1.765 bln in credit facilities, including a committed bridge loan of up to $340 mln. Committed facilities, together with cash on hand, are sufficient to fund the purchase price. Co intends to replace a portion of the committed financing with the sale of ~ $500 mln of additional equity or equity linked capital. Co also intends to amend its existing revolving credit facility. Post expects to fund its pending acquisition of the PowerBar and Musashi brands with cash on hand or a draw under the amended revolving credit facility.

6:01 am Magellan Petroleum receives the final AUD $5 mln payment contemplated by the Share Sale and Purchase Deed entered into with Central Petroleum for the sale of the co's onshore Australia assets (MPET) : In total, the co has now received from Central AUD $20 million in cash and 39.5 million newly issued shares of Central stock, equivalent to an ~ 11% ownership interest.

6:00 am Total S.A. discovers oil in deep offshore Ivory Coast (TOT) : Total and its joint venture partners have made the final investment decision to develop the ultra-deep offshore Kaombo project in Angola. With a production capacity of 230,000 barrels per day, Kaombo will develop estimated reserves of 650 million barrels. Following an intensive optimization exercise, the project's capital expenditure to reach full capacity was reduced by 4 billion dollars to 16 billion dollars, with an expected start-up in 2017.

5:38 am Sony PS4 sales surpass 7 mln units (SNE) : Co announced that the PlayStation computer entertainment system has cumulatively sold through more than 7.0 million units 1 globally as of April 6, 2014, demonstrating the rapid growth of the PS4 platform.

4:14 am SAP AG misses by EUR0.03, misses on revs (SAP) : Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of EUR0.56 per share, EUR0.03 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of EUR0.59; revenues rose 2.7% year/year to EUR3.7 bln vs the EUR3.82 bln consensus.

  • Non-IFRS Cloud Subscriptions and Support Revenue Increased 38% at Constant Currencies (32% at Actual Currencies) 
  • Strong Cloud Billings Growth: Non-IFRS Calculated Cloud Billings Increased 36% at Constant Currencies; Annual Cloud Revenue Run Rate Approaching EUR1.1 bln 
  • SSRS Revenue Growth Ahead of Annual Outlook Growth Range: 
    • Non-IFRS Software and Software-Related Service Revenue Increased 9% at Constant Currencies (4% at Actual Currencies to EUR3.06 bln Impacted by Strong Currency Headwinds) 
BUSINESS OUTLOOK 2014
The Company reiterates the outlook for the full-year 2014, which remains unchanged from the outlook provided on January 21, 2014:
  • The Company expects full year 2014 non-IFRS cloud subscriptions and support revenue to be in a range of EUR950-1,000 mln at constant currencies (2013: EUR757 mln). The upper end of this range represents a growth rate of 32% which is similar to the respective 2013 growth rate after adjusting for acquisitions. 
  • The Company expects full year 2014 non-IFRS software and software-related service revenue to increase by 6-8% at constant currencies (2013: EUR14.03 bln). 
  • The Company expects full-year 2014 non-IFRS operating profit to be in a range of EUR5.8-6.0 bln at constant currencies (2013: EUR5.51 bln). 

4:01 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • MasterCard (MA) announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Pinpoint, a provider of loyalty and rewards services to financial institutions across the Asia Pacific region. This acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014. Terms were not disclosed
  • Ford (F) unit Lincoln announce the official launch of its autos in China

3:05 am Sportsmans Warehouse (Nasdaq: SPWH) prices 12.5 mln share IPO (4.17 mln by affiliates of Seidler Equity Partners III) at $9.50 per share, below the expected range of $13-15 per share (:IPOXX) :  

2:42 am Triangle Petroleum misses by $0.02, reports revs in-line (TPLM) : Reports Q4 (Jan) earnings of $0.11 per share, $0.02 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.13; revenues rose 257.7% year/year to $85.5 mln vs the $85.64 mln consensus. 

  • Increased volumes in fiscal year 2014 to 1,929 Mboe (+295% y/y, 5,286 Boepd) as compared to 488 Mboe (1,334 Boepd) in fiscal year 2013 
  • Increased total estimated net proved reserves to 40,314 Mboe at fiscal year-end 2014, a 175% increase over fiscal year-end 2013 total estimated net proved reserves, with an associated increase in SEC PV-10 to ~$678 million (+201% y/y) 

2:23 am Canadian Natrl Res announces discovered presence of light Oil/Hydrocarbons Offshore Cote d'Ivoire (CNQ) : Co announces that the Saphir-1XB well has encountered an accumulation of light oil in the deepwater frontier exploration play in Block CI-514 offshore Cote d'Ivoire. 

  • The well was drilled by a semi-submersible rig in a water depth of 2,300 meters and reached a total depth of 4,655 meters. The well encountered a series of thick sands of approximately 350 meters, containing a hydrocarbon column of approximately 40 meters of light oil with 34 degree API gravity. 
  • The well was plugged and the data gathered will now be evaluated to determine the extent of the accumulation and the forward plan for appraisal. 

2:21 am Royal Dutch Shell announces Malaysia deep-water gas discovery (RDS.A) : Co announces an exploration discovery offshore Malaysia. The successful 'Rosmari-1' well is located 135 kilometres offshore in Block SK318, and was drilled to a total depth of 2,123 metres. The well encountered more than 450 metres of gas column. With further exploration planned, the finding is a positive indicator of the gas potential in an area of strategic interest for Shell. 

2:19 am Cash Store Financial obtains court approval of DIP financing and appoints CRO to replace special committee (CSFSF) : Co announces the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has granted an amended Order with respect to the Company's application for creditor protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. 

The Court and the Cash Store Financial board of directors have also authorized the Company and its subsidiaries to enter into a debtor-in-possession (:DIP) financing agreement pursuant to which $8.5 million will be available to the Company to enable the Company and its affiliates to continue operations during the CCAA proceedings, with an option, subject to Court approval, to increase the amount of such DIP financing up to a total of $20.5 million. The Company has entered into a DIP financing agreement on the approved terms. 

Cash Store Financial further announced today that the special committee of the Company's board of directors has appointed Mr. William Aziz, President of Blue Tree Advisors Inc., as Chief Restructuring Officer of the Company

2:17 am Tianyin Pharma: JCM updates on Azithromycin API Export (TPI) : Co provides update regarding the recent progress of the Jiangchuan Macrolide Facility. JCM has developed a new line of Azithromycin API products that support steady monthly export orders to South Asia.

Following a series of tests on quality, purity, intermediates contents, stereochemistry, stability in comparison with the international standards of Azi API, JCM has received monthly orders for manufacturing one of the major intermediates of Azi, Azithromycin amine at a competitive international price which varies from month to month according to the market demands and the foreign exchange rate. The monthly orders starting April this year for Azi Amine were estimated at 5-8 tons per month. TPI will provide updates on the development of the Azi Amine export on a quarterly base.

2:09 am Samson Oil & Gas announces equity placement (SSN) : Co announces it has placed 65 mln ordinary shares to investors in Australia and 11,255,541 ADSs (representing 225,110,820 ordinary shares) to investors based in the United States to raise gross proceeds of A$5,802,217.

  • The placement was completed at $0.02 per ordinary share (~$0.375 per ADS), and includes options, or warrants, to purchase an additional 3 shares for each 10 shares subscribed for, at an exercise price of A$0.033 (~$0.61 per ADS). The options/warrants will expire on 30 April 2018. 

2:06 am Samson Oil & Gas provides weekly operations update (SSN) : Co announces it previously advised the sale of the Rennerfelt #1-13H and Rennerfelt #2-13H wells has been completed providing capital to participate in the more profitable Matilda Bay wells.

COMMENTARY 

  • The sale of the two Rennerfeldt wells has been completed netting Samson a total of $200,000 which will be used to help fund the remaining wells in the North Stockyard project. 
  • Frontier rig 24 has completed drilling the Matilda Bay #1 and #2 wells. The production liner has been run in the Matilda Bay #2 well and the production liner is presently being run in the Matilda Bay #1 well. It is anticipated that these two wells will be fracture stimulated in May or June depending on equipment availability. 
  • After drilling the Matilda Bay #1 well, Frontier rig 24 will move to the Three Forks North Pad to begin batch drilling the first of four Three Forks wells. The four Three Forks wells are the Ironbank 4-14 and 5-14 wells and the Bootleg 4-14 and 5-14 wells. These wells are all similar in design and will have lateral lengths between 7,211 and 7,405 feet long as shown in the table above. The current plan is to then move to the Three Forks South Pad to begin drilling the final four Three Forks wells. 

1:56 am Athlon Energy prices $650 mln of 6.00% Senior Notes and upsized public offering of common stock at $40 per share (ATHL) : Co announces pricing of its underwritten public offering of 12,875,000 shares of common stock at $40.00 per share. The offering was upsized to 12,875,000 shares from the original offering size of 11,000,000 shares. 

1:55 am Endeavour Intl announces settlement of SM Energy (SM) litigation (END) : Co announces that a settlement has been reached with SM Energy regarding litigation filed against Endeavour Operating Corporation in December 2011.

In accordance with the settlement agreement, Endeavour will pay SM Energy $5 million and issue a note for $4.5 million. The note will be paid in three graduated payments beginning in twelve months. Endeavour has also agreed to issue warrants valued at $3.75 million (~2.13 million shares with a strike price of $5.29.) The total settlement expense to be recorded will be $19.25 million, which includes deposits of $6 million paid prior to the execution of the agreements.

1:49 am Yamana Gold announces commitments for a 2 year $750 mln term facility (AUY) : Co announces it has received commitments for a two year $750 mln senior unsecured term facility. The facility is for corporate and working capital purposes, including the Osisko Mining acquisition, and is available for draw down provided that the Osisko transaction closes prior to July 31, 2014. This is in addition to the Company's revolving credit facility which was previously increased to $1.0 billion. The revolving credit facility also maintains a $250 million accordian option. The terms and covenants of the term facility are substantively the same as the existing revolving credit facility, which matures March 31, 2019. 

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