What’s the Story?

by CC March 30, 2012 9:21 am • Commentary


Consumer spending increased by the most in seven months in February as households shook off a rise in gasoline prices, suggesting the economy may not have slowed as much this quarter as economists had thought.

The Commerce Department said on Friday consumer spending rose 0.8 percent as spending on long lasting goods, like automobiles, rose sharply. January’s spending was revised up to 0.4 percent from a previously reported 0.2 percent gain.


Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Friday to raise their financial firewall to prevent a new flare-up of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, but it was unclear if markets and Europe’s G20 partners would see the boost as sufficient.

The 17-nation currency area agreed to combine its two rescue funds to make 500 billion euros of new funds available in case of emergency until mid-2013, on top of 200 billion euros already committed to bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal.


Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM, RIM.T) reported a $125 million loss in its fiscal fourth quarter and announced a series of high-level departures, including former chief executive Jim Balsillie’s resignation from the board. The struggling smartphone company’s new chief executive also said it is exploring strategic options, including a potential sale. Shares were up 1.5% to $13.93 in premarket trading.

Shares of ImmunoGen jumped after drug partner Roche Holding AG (ROG.VX) reported positive results from a late-stage study of its experimental breast cancer drug T-DM1, paving the way to file the potential blockbuster drug for regulatory approval in Europe and the U.S. later this year. Shares were up 11% to $15.30 in recent premarket trade.

Finish Line reported a 22% jump in fourth-quarter earnings, yet shares slumped as the athletic outfitter’s forecast for the year ahead fell short of expectations. Analysts had been bullish about Finish Line’s future prospects as they touted an expected focus on licensed apparel, product launches tied to the Summer Olympics and the growth of a specialty-running chain that the company bought last year. Shares were down 7.3% to $23.50 premarket.

Xyratex’s fiscal first-quarter earnings surged on improved margins and lower input costs, but the storage-systems provider posted weaker revenue on supply problems. Shares slumped 13% to $15.50 premarket as the company forecast mostly lower second-quarter results.

Threshold Pharmaceuticals Inc. (THLD) reported that the Food and Drug Administration has granted an orphan drug designation to its investigational drug candidate for the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma. The designation is given to drugs intended to treat extremely rare diseases or disorders or those where the company is unlikely to recover the costs of developing and marketing the drug. Shares were up 4.3% to $8.78 premarket.

A U.S. district court found the formulation patent for AstraZeneca PLC’s (AZN, AZN.LN) top-selling antipsychotic drug Seroquel XR was valid, the pharmaceutical company said Thursday, offering it ammunition in its fight against generic versions of the drug.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (COG) and Williams Partners LP (WPZ) said they are investigating damage at a Pennsylvania natural-gas compressor after a flash fire hit the structure.

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. (DNKN) said a boosted offering of 26.4 million shares from major stockholders priced at a 1.9% discount to its Thursday close.

Google Inc. (GOOG) will sell co-branded tablets directly to consumers through an online store like rivals Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.

Nobility Homes Inc. (NOBH) said Nasdaq warned the company it was in noncompliance with the exchange’s listing rules, because Nobility failed to file two quarterly reports and its latest annual report.

Quicksilver Resources Inc. (KWK) named controller John C. Regan as its new chief financial officer, replacing current CFO Philip Cook who plans to resign next month after the company files its 2011 annual report.

Tibco Software Inc.’s (TIBX) fiscal first-quarter profit rose 29% as new contracts continued to grow revenue in the company’s main services-and-maintenance business.

Williams Cos.’s (WMB) public offering of 26 million shares priced even with Thursday’s close of $30.59. The company late Thursday said it was selling stock to help fund Williams Partners L.P.’s (WPZ) $2.5 billion acquisition of Caiman Eastern Midstream LLC.