What’s the Story?

by CC May 8, 2012 9:07 am • Commentary


The euro weakened for a seventh day against the dollar as Greek politicians struggled to form a new government after elections on the weekend raised the prospect of the country withdrawing from the currency bloc.

The 17-nation euro extended its longest run of declines against the greenback since September 2008 as German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected government stimulus as the way to spur economic growth, setting up a clash with French president-elect Francois Hollande. The pound dropped against the dollar as a report showed U.K. house prices fell in April. Australia’s dollar declined after the trade deficit widened.


France’s incoming socialist president opposes austerity. Greece’s two main political parties have lost overwhelming support. And a renegotiation of the Greek bailout deal — which just sounds like a disaster – has become a real possibility. Germany is dead-set against such a situation, which may create another standstill that could rattle global markets.

All of this means the prospect of Greece leaving the eurozone is more than just a pipe dream. Economists at Citigroup, for instance, peg the probability of such an event as high as 75%.


In its latest employment contract with CEO Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake Energy Corp gave him permission to trade commodities for himself after he already had begun doing so.

Giving the CEO explicit license to play the markets represented an extraordinary incentive that enhanced one of corporate America’s most generous compensation plans and reinforced the unique treatment afforded to McClendon by Chesapeake.

Oil and gas producers say they typically prohibit such trading by executives because of the potential for conflicts of interest. Indeed, Reuters found that McClendon, 52, was granted greater leeway to participate in external ventures than were his top lieutenants.


Fossil [FOSL  125.77        ]– The maker of fashion accessories earned $0.93 per share for the first quarter, one cent above estimates, but revenues of about $590 million came in short of the $618 million consensus. It’s also cutting its full-year outlook on weaker-than-expected European sales.

Wendy’s [WEN  4.87        ] – The restaurant operator earned one cent per share for its latest quarter, excluding certain items, two cents below estimates. The results were hurt by slower-than-expected increases in same-store sales.

McDonald’s [MCD  95.51        ] – The fast-food giant’s global same-store sales rose 3.3 percent in April, compared to estimates of 4.2 percent. Comp sales were below estimates in all world regions with the exception of Europe, which saw an increase of 3.5 percent versus estimates of 3.2 percent.

Discovery Communications [DISCA  54.08        ] – The cable channel operator earned $0.57 per share for its latest quarter, three cents below estimates. Losses at the Oprah Winfrey Network were a key factor in pushing the company’s earnings below consensus. However, Discovery did raise its full year revenue forecast.

OfficeMax [OMX  4.40        ] – The office products retailer earned $0.23 per share for the first quarter, excluding certain items, versus estimates of $0.16. The company’s bottom line was boosted by cost cutting, with sales up just 0.5 percent.

American International Group [AIG  31.84        ] – The U.S. Treasury’s latest sales of AIG stock have reduced its stake in the insurer to 61 percent, while the Government Accountability Office says taxpayers could see at $15.1 billion profit on the AIG bailout.

Electronic Arts [EA  15.13        ] – The nation’s biggest maker of video games did beat estimates by a penny with earnings of $0.17 per share for its fourth quarter, but the stock is being hit by a softer than expected current quarter forecast.

Wynn Resorts [WYNN  125.19        ] – The company fell short for the first quarter, reporting profit of $1.33 per share versus estimates of $1.41. The casino operator did see a sizable jump in revenue from Macau, but Wynn kept a smaller portion of revenue from its Las Vegas table games during the quarter.

Rackspace Hosting [RAX  57.80        ] – Rackspace earned $0.17 per share for its first quarter, a penny below estimates. The provider of data hosting services saw its bottom line impacted by a rise in expenses, as the company expanded its workforce and its data centers.

Dendreon [DNDN  11.69        ] – Sales of the drugmaker’s Provenge prostate cancer vaccine rose 6.5 percent in the first quarter over the prior quarter, and the company predicted low single-digit growth for the second quarter. Analysts are concerned over the level of sales growth and that profit margins for the company’s only approved product aren’t high enough.

Churchill Downs [CHDN  58.95  —  UNCH    ] – The home of the Kentucky Derby earned $0.08 per share for the first quarter, versus analyst forecasts for a loss of $0.11. The race track operator says 20 percent revenue growth in its online business segment was responsible for much of its growth over the prior year.

Pitney Bowes [PBI  16.79  —  UNCH    ] – The company reported first-quarter profit of $0.52 per share, excluding certain items, two cents above estimates. It’s also raising its 2012 forecast to $2.22 to $2.42 per share from its prior guidance of $2.05 to $2.25 per share. The document services company continues to report falling revenue, but tax benefits are helping its bottom line.

Yahoo [YHOO  15.35        ] – CEO Scott Thompson has apologized to employees for controversy surrounding his resume, while Yahoo’s board met late Monday afternoon to discuss the growing controversy.

Sprint Nextel [S  2.41        ] – The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan plans to vote against the re-election of Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse to the Sprint board, saying it’s doing so because of poor linkages between performance and pay. The pension plan holds an approximately four percent stake in Sprint.