Two battling billionaires are waiting with bated breath. We're talking Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn both with a giant stake in Herbalife (HLF) which reports earnings today. The company is expected to post $1.07 a share, up from 88-cents last year on revenues of about $1.1 billion. A refresher here: Ackman attacked the company's business model calling it a pyramid scheme. Then Icahn objected and took a large stake. Just last week two Icahn allies were added to the board.
If you're not a fan of JP Morgan (JPM) you might say another rat has left the ship in the wake of the whale. Co-Chief Operating Officer Frank Bisignano is leaving the company to become CEO of First Data Corp. He had had been sharing the role with Matt Zames who will now handle the COO job himself, and be positioned to eventually succeed Jamie Dimon. Bisignano is the ninth JP Morgan executive to exit Dimon's operating committee since last year when the London Whale trading scandal became public.
There's word this morning of a big buy from Bayer. The company has agreed to purchase Conceptus (CPTS), which makes birth control devices. The offer comes in at more than a-billion dollars with Bayer paying $31 a share for the company. Conceptus closed just south of $26 a share on Friday, so Bayer is offering about a 20% premium on the stock.
New media is going old school. AOL (AOL) has struck a deal to run programming from its news site, The Huffington Post, on AXS TV. That's Mark Cuban's satellite network which until recently was known as HD Net. The programming, known as "HuffPost Live" drew almost 3-million unique viewers online in March, and is available in 40-million homes.
First this morning is the property and casualty insurer Loews (L). The diversified holding company controlled by the Tisch familiy saw first quarter profit slide 15% from a year ago, due to write downs on a natural gas investment and weaker performance of its investment portfolio. Excluding items profits were down 34%. Loew's insurance business also saw improved underwriting results, but they were offset by higher catastrophe losses. The stock hit its 52-week high last Thursday but has slightly underperformed the market this year, up 7%.
Next up is Hertz (HTZ), which reports earnings after the closing bell. Analysts are looking for 17-cents a share, up from 5-cents a year ago on revenue that's expected to exceed $2-billion. Hertz has benefitted from consolidation in the car rental industry, and at this point it's the largest player and has just two major competitors. It also expects an increase in business from the improving economy. The stock jumped 2.5% on Friday setting a new 52-week high. It's up 44-% since the start of the year.
Now Baidu (BIDU), which dropped nearly 8% on Friday. The Chinese search giant came out with earnings that showed growth slowing. Baidu also faces increased costs as it pursues a push to buy-up mobile apps. Shares of Baidu are now down 18% year to date. They've actually dropped 36% over the last year.
Finally, Sears Hometown and Outlet (SHOS) which posts earnings today. This company was spun-off from Sears last November. It has about 950-stores nationwide. They sell things like home appliances, hardware, and lawn equipment. The stock was up more than 3.5% on Friday, meaning that shares are now 44% above their IPO price.