What’s the Story?

by CC May 24, 2012 8:22 am • Commentary


PMI data from Germany, Europe’s largest economy, showed its manufacturing sector contracted at a far greater pace than was expected, and its service sector saw minimal growth. In neighboring France, both sectors contracted faster than predicted by most economists.

German business sentiment also dropped for the first time in seven months in May, the Ifo think tank said, missing even the most conservative forecasts, in a sign that Europe’s largest economy is vulnerable to euro zone turmoil despite holding up well until now.

Germany’s economy has powered ahead of its peers after recovering swiftly from the 2008/09 financial crisis and has consistently brushed off debt worries plaguing peripheral euro zone countries and spreading through the bloc.

It grew 0.5 percent in the first quarter, data confirmed on Thursday, but a drop in inventories gave a warning signal for growth in the coming quarters, reflecting weakening new orders.


European Union leaders met in Brussels yesterday and gave EU President Herman Van Rompuy the job of sketching out “building blocks” for a more integrated euro region by the next summit on June 28-29.

Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the group of European finance ministers, said he didn’t ask the 17 members of the currency union to prepare contingency plans for the possibility of Greece leaving the euro.

Instead, the heads of the EU’s main institutions were given the task of drawing up proposals for closer fiscal co-ordination in time for another summit next month, including plans that could include a path towards a Europe-wide deposit guarantee scheme and, in the longer term, commonly-backed eurozone bonds.

Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, cautioned that even the June plan would be limited to “building blocks” and “working methods” towards economic integration and not specific proposals towards a banking union or mutualising eurozone debt.


European officials are stepping up contingency planning for a possible Greek exit from the euro zone, even as Europe’s leaders struggled to overcome differences on how to resolve the currency bloc’s crisis at a summit meeting here. Emerging from Wednesday night’s informal European Union summit, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said most leaders had backed issuing common debt, or euro-zone bonds, to help support troubled members.


HSBC’s Flash China PMI, the earliest indicator of China’s industrial sector, retreated to 48.7 in May from a final reading of 49.3 in April. It marked the seventh straight month that the index has been below 50.

The figures signal that the sluggish economic conditions of the first quarter are set to continue throughout the first half of the year in China’s longest slowdown since the global financial crisis.


Tiffany [TIF  61.80    0.36  (+0.59%)   ]– The luxury goods retailer reported quarterly profit of $0.64 per share, excluding certain items, five cents below estimates. It also cut its full-year outlook on declining sales growth expectations.

Facebook [FB  32.00    1.00  (+3.23%)   ] – Lawsuits and controversy over its initial public offering pile up. Two congressional panels are investigating the offering, and various sources say Facebook is listening to proposals from the New York Stock Exchange about switching its listing from the Nasdaq.

Hewlett-Packard [HPQ  21.08    -0.70  (-3.21%)   ] – Hewlett-Packard reported fiscal second-quarter profit of $0.98 per share, seven cents above estimates. It issued a third-quarter outlook below forecasts, but its full-year outlook is above analysts’ estimates. As expected, HP detailed its restructuring plans, saying 27,000 employees will be laid off.

Pandora Media [P  10.33    0.35  (+3.51%)   ] – Pandora Media reported a first-quarter loss of $0.09 per share, smaller than the $0.18 loss that analysts had been forecasting. The online music streaming service’s revenues exceeded estimates, and Pandora also raised its full-year guidance as it attracts more customers.

Synopsys [SNPS  28.20    0.16  (+0.57%)   ] – The maker of computer chip design software is increasing its full-year earnings guidance to $2.03 to $2.07 per share, up from its prior forecast of $1.97 to $2.03 a share. Current analysts’ estimates stand at $2.03 a share. Synopsys credits strong demand by its customers and a smooth integration of Magma Design automation, which it acquired earlier this year.

PVH [PVH  77.37    -0.18  (-0.23%)   ] – The clothing maker reported first-quarter profit of $1.30 per share, excluding certain items, four cents above estimates, accompanied by an upbeat forecast. PVH says the results were driven by strong demand for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger apparel.

Chesapeake Energy [CHK  15.09    0.17  (+1.14%)   ] – The energy producer is defending its board and current directors in a letter to shareholders, saying it has made significant changes to compensation practices for both executives and outside directors. The letter came in response to issues raised by New York City Comptroller John Liu.

Johnson & Johnson [JNJ  62.66    -0.86  (-1.35%)   ] – A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel has advised against approval of Johnson & Johnson’s blood thinning drug Xarelto for use in treating blood clots.

Research In Motion [RIMM  11.09    0.03  (+0.27%)   ] – Executive Patrick Spence has left the beleaguered BlackBerry maker, the latest to depart. Spence was the company’s London-based head of global sales.

Mastercard [MA  417.09    3.65  (+0.88%)   ] – A European court has ruled against the company’s challenge to an European Union ban on cross border credit-card fees. Mastercard plans to appeal that ruling.

Costco Wholesale [COST  83.31    0.21  (+0.25%)   ] – The warehouse retailer is reporting fiscal third quarter profit of $0.88 per share, one cent above estimates, with same-store sales rising 5 percent compared to a year earlier.

NetApp [NTAP  32.86    -0.44  (-1.32%)   ] – NetApp beat estimates with fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $0.66 per share, compared to estimates of $0.63 a share. However, the data storage company’s current quarter guidance of $0.34 to $0.39 per share is well below analysts’ estimates of $0.59 a share.