What’s the Story?

by CC April 11, 2012 9:08 am • Commentary


Stock index futures bounced back on Wednesday after five days of losses on the S&P 500 that brought the benchmark index down more than 4 percent.

Tuesday marked the largest daily percentage decline on the S&P in four months, and investors will evaluate if the slide presents an opportunity for those who missed the market gains in the first three months of the year.


European stock markets recovered some of their poise after the worst one-day drop in more than a month, as Spanish and Italian bond yields fell once more and policymakers sought to calm financial markets.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 index gained 0.6 per cent by late morning in London, after shedding 2.5 per cent on Tuesday. The gauge has now given up most of the first quarter’s rally.

Italian and Spanish stocks led the tentative recovery, gaining 1.8 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively. The FTSE 100 edged up 0.3 per cent, but Germany’s Dax rallied 0.8 per cent and France’s CAC gained 0.6 per cent. US futures indicate the S&P 500 will also recover later on Wednesday.


The cost of goods imported into the U.S. charged ahead in March, posting the largest gain in nearly a year, as petroleum prices jumped.

U.S. import prices climbed by 1.3% from the month before, Labor Department said Wednesday. It was the largest monthly gain since April 2011.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a 0.9% monthly increase.

Oil products drove the gains. Petroleum import costs rose by 4.3% in March, also the largest since last April. Petroleum prices were 9.6% higher than a year ago.

Petroleum costs rose 0.4% in February, a sharp downward revision from the previously reported 1.8% jump. As a result, overall import prices fell 0.1% in February, compared to an initial reading of up 0.4%.

Excluding petroleum, import prices were up 0.3% in March; year over year, those prices were up just 1.4%.


Alcoa reported a surprise first-quarter profit on gains in its midstream and downstream businesses, though its earnings fell 69% from a year earlier as aluminum prices continued to decline. Shares still rose 5.5% to $9.83 premarket as results topped the consensus forecast.

Nokia Corp.’s (NOK) American depositary shares slumped 13% to $4.37 premarket after the company cut its devices and services first-quarter outlook citing competitive industry dynamics, particularly sales in mobile phones and smart devices.

Travelzoo Inc. (TZOO) is planning to sell itself, Reuters reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. The New York-based Internet company, which provides travel deals on flights, hotels, vacation packages and cruises, is in the process of hiring a financial adviser, a move that comes after it received takeover interest from private equity firms and trade buyers, according to the report. Shares surged 30% to $27.37 premarket.

Mattress Firm Holding Corp. (MFRM) swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter profit as same-store sales surged and the retailer posted a sizeable tax benefit. Shares shot up 20% to $44.79 premarket.

Titan Machinery Inc.’s (TITN) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings jumped a higher-than-expected 72% on strong agricultural equipment sales and an improving construction market. Shares rose 20% to $32.90 premarket.

OPNET Technologies Inc. (OPNT) said its fiscal fourth-quarter revenue will miss its expectations due to last-minute purchasing delays. The software company’s shares slid 8.1% to $24.45 premarket.

Threshold Pharmaceuticals Inc. (THLD) said it has earned a $20 million milestone payment from Merck KGaA for achieving positive results in a Phase 2 clinical trial of its investigational drug candidate to treat pancreatic cancer when used along with chemotherapy. Threshold said it plans to continue its collaboration with Merck KGaA. Shares added 6.6% to $6.77 premarket.

QR Energy LP (QRE), a limited partnership formed by affiliates of Quantum Resources Funds to own and acquire oil and natural-gas properties, will offer about 6.2 million units to raise funds to pay down debt, while Quantum Resources Funds will also offer 11.3 million of the company’s units, exiting its roughly 39.5% ownership stake. QR units slid 3.1% to $18.51 premarket.

L&L Energy Inc. (LLEN) said it has signed a long-term sales contract with Guodian Yongfu Power Generation Co. Under the agreement L&L will provide 20,000 tons of thermal coal per month over the next eight months to Yongfu Power, and the contract can be extended. The agreement is expected to generate approximately $19 million in revenue. Shares of L&L jumped 17% to $2.67 premarket.

Adtran Inc.’s (ADTN) first-quarter profit fell 62% after delayed orders hurt its broadband access revenue.

Circuit maker Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) said its fourth-quarter results will miss its prior expectations, citing a slow service provider market and weakness in the overall wire line market.

Moody’s Investors Service placed certain ratings on the Puerto Rican subsidiaries of Banco Santander SA (STD, SAN.MC), Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA, BBVA.MC) and Banco Popular Inc. (BPOP) on review for possible downgrade, saying the island’s ongoing recession is having adverse effects on the financial institutions and prospects are weak for a sustainable recovery in the coming years.

Chevron Corp. (CVX) told investors Tuesday that it expects its first quarter earnings to be higher than in the preceding quarter, thanks to higher crude prices and improved refining margins.

Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) said it will post a loss in its fiscal fourth-quarter and issued a much weaker-than-expected view of core earnings after the information-technology company failed to reach an immediate agreement with a major customer..

Healthcare Services Group Inc.’s (HCSG) first-quarter earnings rose 10% as the nursing-home housekeeping and food-service provider posted stronger revenue.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it will weigh its options after an Arkansas jury ruled against the Johnson & Johnson Inc. (JNJ) unit in a lawsuit over its antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

JDA Software Inc. (JDAS) said it will restate results going back to 2008 after an ongoing review of its accounting policies found problems with the way the company recorded some license revenue. The company also said the relevant independent auditor’s reports should no longer be relied upon.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (KKD) said President and Chief Operating Officer Kenneth A. May has left the company for personal reasons, ending his tenure at the bakery chain after less than five months on the job.

LDK Solar Co. (LDK) said it is delaying the release of its fourth-quarter results because it needs more time to finalize certain provisions.

NeurogesX Inc. (NGSX) said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration accepted its request for a meeting to discuss continued clinical studies of its product candidate for neuropathic pain.

Owens-Illinois Inc. (OI) forecast first-quarter earnings growth of more than 35%, which the glass-container maker said was mostly due to stronger-than-expected production rates.

Panera Bread Co.’s (PNRA) board named Thomas Patrick Kelly as its interim chief financial officer as the bakery-cafe chain said it anticipates the search for a permanent CFO will take four to six months.

Procera Networks Inc. (PKT) said it will offer 3.5 million shares and also plans to use proceeds for working capital and general corporate purposes, including potential acquisitions.

Standard Microsystems Corp. (SMSC) swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter loss on stock-based-compensation, restructuring and other charges, while weak demand continued to hurt sales.

TearLab Corp. (TEAR) said it will offer an undisclosed number of shares to raise money for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Tyco International Ltd. (TYC) said Nalco executive Kathryn Mikells will become the chief financial officer of security business ADT Corp., which will be spun off later this year.

Moody’s Investors Service lowered its outlook on Unisys Corp.’s (UIS) credit status to stable from positive, pointing to the information-technology company’s large pension funding obligations.