What’s the Story?

by CC March 27, 2012 9:18 am • Commentary


Home prices in the U.S. fell for the fifth month in a row in January to the lowest level since early 2003, a closely followed index showed on Tuesday. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index fell 0.8%. The three-month rolling index includes transactions that took place from November to January. Over the past 12 months, prices have dropped 3.8%. Sixteen of the 20 metropolitan area saw price declines. Only Miami, Phoenix and Washington, DC posted increases.


Tokyo stocks rose Tuesday as a weaker yen and signs of continued loose monetary policy in the U.S. helped exporters such as Canon and Renesas Electronics push the Nikkei Stock Average to its highest closing level since March 10, 2011–the day before a massive earthquake struck Japan’s northeast region.

The Nikkei gained 236.91 points, or 2.4%, to 10,255.15 following the prior session’s 0.1% rise. The index closed at its peak, something of a rarity in recent months.

The Topix index of all the Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section issues added 20.60 points, or 2.4%, to 872.42, with all 33 subindexes ending in positive territory.


European Union must increase its financial firewall to €1 trillion to restore market confidence in the euro zone and prevent the spread of fiscal contagion, the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Angel Gurría, said Tuesday.

Mr. Gurría’s comments came a day after Germany took a big step toward building a bigger financial firewall by dropping its opposition to bringing the Continent’s total bailout capacity to more than €690 billion, or $916 billion. That could help stop the spread of the crisis to major economies like Spain.


Lennar – The homebuilder earned 8 cents a share for its first quarter, four cents above estimates. Revenues also beat consensus, and Lennar reported a 33 percent jump in new orders, as well as improved profit margins.

Walgreen  – The drugstore chain is reporting fiscal second quarter profit of 78 cents per share, one cent above estimates, with revenue also above consensus. Same-store sales did fall by 1.5 percent compared to a year earlier.

Apple  – CEO Tim Cook is in China for talks with government officials, in hopes of clearing several ongoing issues in the Chinese market. The company is also facing accusations in Australia that it misled the public about the 4G capabilities of its new iPad.

Baidu  – The stock could get an Apple-related boost: ZDNet reports the Chinese search engine will be added as an option on the mobile version of Apple’s Safari browser.

Opnext  – The optical components maker will be acquired by rival Oclaro in a $177 million dollar stock swap deal. The deal values Opnext shares at a nearly 74 percent premium to Monday’s closing price.

Ista Pharmaceuticals  – The drugmaker is being acquired by Bausch & Lomb in a $500 million cash deal. That follows a failed attempt by Valeant Pharmaceuticals  to acquire Ista. Bausch struck the deal to enhance its offerings of eye health products.

MAP Pharmaceuticals  – The company has received a “complete response letter” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding its experimental migraine drug Levadex, seeking more information. MAP says, however, the FDA did not ask for additional studies. Allergan  is a partner with MAP on Levadex.

Apollo Management  – The operator of for-profit colleges reported fiscal second-quarter earnings of 58 cents a share, excluding certain items, well above estimates of 37 cents a share. But Apollo also warns that enrollments could drop significantly.

Vasco Data Security  – The stock will replace O’Charley’s  in the S&P SmallCap 600 index as of next Monday, following the acquisition of O’Charley’s by Fidelity National Financial .

Urban Outfitters  – Janney Montgomery Stock increased its price target on the “buy”-rated stock to $36 from $31, following a meeting with management that it says increased its confidence in the retailer’s product cycle.

McCormick & Co.  – The spice maker reported fiscal first-quarter profit of 55 cents a share, two cents above estimates, with revenues also above consensus. The company says its profit is being helped by higher demand from its restaurant customers.