What’s the Story?

by CC September 21, 2012 9:10 am • Commentary


Markets are back on a bullish tack. After a brief wobble on Thursday, on resurgent fretting about global economic growth, investors have returned to drawing succour from recent pledges of supportive action from high profile central banks.

The FTSE All-World equity index is up 0.4 per cent as the FTSE Eurofirst 300 sports a gain of 0.3 per cent and with US futures suggesting Wall Street will add 0.3 per cent later in the day. Trading in stocks has been a bit twitchy at times as the quarterly rash of futures and options expiries causes a jiggling of some positions.

Sentiment towards selected technology stocks in Asia was seen positively affected by the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5, contributing to a gain of 0.9 per cent for the FTSE Asia Pacific index. China’s Shanghai Composite has moved up 0.1 per cent from a 3-year trough, but has still shed 4.6 per cent this week.

So-called risk assets are generally firmer, with copper leading commodities higher with a gain of 0.8 per cent to $3.80 a pound; Brent crude rising 48 cents to $110.51 a barrel; and growth-sensitive currencies feeling chipper, the Australian dollar climbing 0.6 per cent to $1.0501.

The corollary is pressure on supposed havens. The dollar index is down 0.1 per cent and US Treasuries are attracting sellers, nudging 10-year yields up 2 basis points to 1.79 per cent.

Gold is up $7 to $1,774 an ounce, within several bucks of its highest mark since the end of February.


Apple added 0.7 percent to $703.29. The company may not be able to keep up with demand as customers lined up in Sydney, Tokyo, Paris and New York to pick up the latest model of its best-selling product. Deutsche Bank increased its price forecast for the shares of the world’s biggest company to $850 from $775.

Google rose 0.7 percent to $732.95 and Amazon.com (AMZN) increased 0.5 percent to $262. Deutsche Bank gave the shares of both companies a buy rating.

The owner of the world’s largest search engine will sustain its revenue growth as sales from display advertising, mobile devices, YouTube and other areas accelerate, according to the brokerage.

The world’s biggest Internet retailer will continue to gain market share at a rapid pace, according to Deutsche Bank.

“Amazon is the only large-cap company in our coverage universe that has a manageable path to increase revenue 10-fold over the next decade,” the analysts wrote in a note.

Research In Motion slipped 2.2 percent to $6.75. Some BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa lost e- mail and Internet access, wireless carrier Vodafone Group Plc said. The disruptions, disclosed earlier today, have since been resolved, Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM said in an e-mailed statement.


Apple Inc.’s move to replace Google Inc.’s mapping software with its own on its mobile devices sparked a world-wide consumer backlash, marking a rare strategic blunder by a company more accustomed to rave reviews from users.

As Apple prepped its stores for the first sales of the iPhone 5 on Friday, the company faced vociferous complaints from consumers over the mapping application it released this week, which replaces the Google maps that have been part of the iPhone since the device’s initial 2007 release.

Business Insider

It’s pretty clear by now that Apple bit off more than it could chew, booting Google Maps from the latest version of its iPhone and iPad operating system.

Apple’s replacement app is buggy. It’s giving people poor directions, and the maps themselves look downright strange.

Apple has already issued a statement asking users for patience.

You could have seen this coming.

In June, we talked to a pair of Googlers involved in its mapping product, and they said that  Google has 1,100 full time employees and 6,000 contractors working on its mapping products. Those 7,000 people do all sorts of granular work.

What do these 7,000 people do? Our source says they are “street view drivers, people flying planes,  people drawing maps, people correcting listings, and people building new products.”

Apple is reportedly hiring developers to improve its Maps product.

Seems like it’s going to take a lot more than that.


Darden Restaurants [DRI  54.72        ]– The parent of Olive Garden earned $0.85 per share for its fiscal first quarter, one cent ahead of estimates. The company says it’s confident of solid sales and earnings growth for the fiscal year.

KB Home [KBH  13.11        ] – The home builder earned $0.04 per share for the third quarter, versus an expected $0.16 loss. Profit margins, orders, deliveries, and prices all improved from a year earlier.

Vivus [VVUS  23.72        ] – The drugmaker said it expects European regulators to rule against its application for approval of its weight loss treatment Qsiva. If this happens, it will either appeal or resubmit its applications, the company said.

Kraft Foods [KFT  41.60        ] – Today is Kraft’s last trading day in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It will be replaced after the close today by UnitedHealth Group [UNH  54.94  —  UNCH    ].

Oracle [ORCL  32.26        ] – Oracle earned $0.53 per share for its fiscal first quarter, matching Wall Street estimates. Revenue fell short of analysts’ estimates, but Oracle said the results are masking the strength of its overall business due to currency-related issues.

Qualcomm [QCOM  64.35        ] – The chipmaker may benefit from the revelation that the Apple iPhone 5 uses some of its chips, according to repair firm iFixit. The phone also contains chips from Avago Technologies [AVGO  33.75        ] and Skyworks Solutions [SWKS  24.0292        ]. (Read More: Apple’s $199 iPhone 5 Costs $207 to Make.)

Knight Capital Group [KCG  2.57        ] – Knight Capital has given Chief Financial Officer Steven Bisgay the additional title of chief operating officer, naming him to oversee operations, risk, and technology. Managing Director Brian Strauss becomes chief risk officer, reporting to Bisgay, and the company will name a chief technology officer, as well.

Texas Instruments [TXN  28.85        ] – Texas Instruments is raising its quarterly dividend to $0.21 from $0.17, an increase of 24 percent. That brings the yield on the chipmaker’s shares to 2.9 percent, based on Thursday’s closing price.

Marsh & McLennan [MMC  34.37  —  UNCH    ] – The insurance company said CEO Brian Duperreault will retire at the end of the year, to be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Daniel Glaser.

McDonald’s [MCD  93.15        ] – McDonald’s has raised its dividend by 10 percent to $0.77 per share from $0.70. It will be payable on Dec. 17 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Dec. 3.

Electronic Arts [EA  13.48        ] – The launch of EA’s “NHL13” videogame was a record-setting one: Sales rose 9 percent from last year’s version, which set the prior record. The news comes as the National Hockey League is in the midst of a player lockout and has canceled all its September preseason games.

Amgen [AMGN  82.30        ] – The biotech firm has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to use its Prolia to treat bone mass loss in men with osteoporosis. Previously, Prolia had approval for use in treating post-menopausal women with osteoporosis.

Michael Kors [KORS  52.49        ] – Kors has raised its fiscal second-quarter profit forecast, thanks to strong global sales. It now expects to earn $0.38 to $0.40 per share, up from its earlier projection of $0.33 to $0.35. Analysts had been expecting second-quarter earnings of $0.36 a share.

Charles Schwab [SCHW  13.44        ], E*Trade Financial [ETFC  9.2205        ] – Evercore Partners has downgraded both brokerage stocks to “underweight” from “equal-weight.” The firm said E*Trade’s deleveraging will weigh on its earnings, while noting that Schwab’s current valuation is not supported by its outlook.

MasterCard [MA  454.18        ] – Citi has upgraded the stock to “buy” from “neutral,” saying the credit card issuer can continue to deliver 20 percent earnings growth on a long-term basis.

Altria [MO  33.61        ] – Citi has upgraded the tobacco producer’s stock to “buy” from “neutral.”