What’s the Story

by CC August 21, 2012 9:28 am • Commentary


Concessions are possible for Greece so long as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras shows a willingness to meet the main targets set out in his country’s bailout program, a senior lawmaker with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party said.

CDU budget spokesman in parliament Norbert Barthle said, “Small concessions are feasible provided they are strictly made within the framework of the second aid program.”

Barthle’s comments add to signs of an easing in Germany’s resistance to granting Greece more room as it struggles to meet the terms laid down by its international creditors in a fifth year of recession.

A precedent for program adjustments was made with the first Greek bailout, when the country secured lower interest rates and longer maturities on bilateral loans than those originally set, Norbert Barthle, the Christian Democratic Union’s budget spokesman in parliament, said today in a telephone interview


European stocks were in the black Tuesday, supported by a well-received Spanish debt auction, with hope remaining that the European Central Bank will step in to intervene in markets to help fiscally frail euro-zone countries.

This is despite the central bank’s comments Monday, when it poured cold water on suggestions that it is preparing to set a cap on euro-zone government bond yields.

The benchmark Stoxx 600 index was recently 0.4% higher, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.3%, Germany’s DAX rose 0.5% and France’s CAC 40 was 0.7% higher.


However, top performer of late is Wall Street’s S&P 500. New York’s prime stock barometer on Tuesday is up another 0.3 per cent to 1,423 and on course to register its highest close in in more than four years, having risen for six consecutive weeks.

The summer rally has been predicated on three main factors, though inevitably investors disagree about which carries the greater weight.

First is the improvement in sentiment regarding the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Spanish and Italian bond yields are well below their July highs after ECB president Mario Draghi said he would do “whatever it takes” to support the euro.

Traders have had to deal with conflicting commentary about what form such support will take – and even, from the Bundesbank’s perspective, whether it is desirable in the first place.

But the sight of Madrid’s two-year borrowing costs down from more than 7 per cent last month to 3.48 per cent in the current session is certainly making investors more relaxed about an issue that has been so damaging to global sentiment for such a long time. Spain’s 10-year yield of 6.22 per cent, down 7 basis points on the day, is the lowest in more than two months.


Best Buy Co.’s second-quarter profit slumped 91%, missing expectations and sending shares of the consumer-electronics retailer plunging, a day after the company named a new CEO.

Best Buy also said it doesn’t intend to update its earnings guidance for the year, citing lowered expectations for industrywide sales and the uncertainty associated with several key product launches expected in the second half, and the fact that the company’s new CEO, Hubert Joly, is due to start next month.

The worse-than-expected results sent Best Buy shares down to nine-year lows.


Urban Outfitters Inc.’s (URBN) fiscal second-quarter earnings rose 8.1% as the youth-focused apparel retailer continued to report top-line growth. Shares were up 16% at $36.22 premarket as the results beat expectations.

Cabinet and vanity maker American Woodmark Corp.’s (AMWD) swung to a surprise fiscal first-quarter profit, helped by strong demand from new-construction customers. Shares surged 15% to $20.99 premarket.

Tech Data Corp.’s (TECD) fiscal second-quarter earnings fell 31% as the wholesale distributor of information-technology products saw its sales take a hit from weakening foreign currencies and a change in how certain contracts are reported. Shares slumped 8% to $47.99 premarket.

Nordson Corp.’s (NDSN) fiscal third-quarter earnings rose 18%, with organic volume and backlog rising sharply for the maker of dispensing equipment, though higher expenses continued to pressure margins. Shares jumped 15% premarket to $62.99 as the company predicted stronger-than-expected current-quarter results and beat its already-upbeat third-quarter revenue guidance.

Yellow-page companies Dex One Corp. (DEXO) and SuperMedia Inc. (SPMD) have agreed to merge in an all-stock deal. The yellow pages business, like the newspaper industry, hasn’t benefited from a broader advertising recovery as more consumers and ad dollars migrate to the web, causing an accelerated decline for the industry over the past few years. Shares of Dex One surged 31% to $1.62 in recent premarket trading, while shares of SuperMedia were inactive from a Monday close at $2.58.

Israel-based drug developer Pluristem Therapeutics Inc. (PSTI) said it has renewed a five-year partnership with a German research institution, a collaboration Chief Executive Zami Aberman said has been highly supportive of its product pipeline. Shares jumped 5.5% to $4.22 premarket.

Daktronics Inc.’s (DAKT) fiscal first-quarter earnings jumped a bigger-than-expected 98% as the maker of larger-screen electronic displays saw a 29% rise in orders in the Live Events business, driven by projects across both college and professional facilities. Shares were up 16% to $9.50 premarket.

Ameren Missouri, a subsidiary of Ameren Corp. (AEE), intends to buy back as much as $377 million in senior notes, and also plans to issue new debt, in a refinancing effort.

Church & Dwight Co. (CHD) has agreed to acquire Avid Health Inc. for $650 million in cash as it seeks to benefit from growing sales of gummy vitamins.

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. (DWA) has inked a agreement with News Corp.’s (NWSA, NWS) Twentieth Century Fox for the distribution of its animated movies, ending a period of shopping around as its current arrangement is set to expire.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of customers of major online travel sites and hotel operators accuses the companies, including Expedia Inc. (EXPE) and Marriott International Inc. (MAR), of conspiring to fix prices.

ImmunoCellular Therapeutics Ltd.’s (IMUC) president and chief executive, Manish Singh, has resigned and the company’s chief scientific officer and chairman, John S. Yu, will take on the roles on an interim basis until a permanent successor is selected.

Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL) swung to a second-quarter loss as the Chinese solar-products maker continued to struggle under lower selling prices, along with overdue balances from customers. The company also lowered its shipment guidance for the year.

VirnetX Holding Corp. (VHC) said it will refile its complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission after the ITC terminated an investigation into the company’s allegations that Apple Inc. (AAPL) engaged in unfair-trade practices.