Retailers expect to sell 34% more LED Christmas lights than they did in 2007. One retailer says LEDs could represent as much as 65% of its Christmas lighting sales. According to GE, each string of LED lights uses 80% less electricity, and costs less than a dollar per season to operate.
Johnson & Johnson will buy Omrix Biopharmaceuticals, which develops and markets biosurgical and immunotherapy products, for approximately $438 million in a cash tender offer. The closing is conditioned on Israeli antitrust clearance and other customary closing conditions. The $358 million estimated net value of the transaction is based on Omrix’s 17.5 million fully diluted shares outstanding, net of estimated cash on hand at time of closing. “We are delighted to announce this transaction, which combines Omrix’s expertise in developing innovative biological products with ETHICON’s commercialization expertise and global reach. We believe this merger is in the best interest of Omrix’s shareholders, customers and employees,” commented Robert Taub, Omirix’s Founder and CEO. “Omrix and ETHICON have enjoyed a solid partnership for the past five years. As a formally unified entity, our successful distribution and development agreements will evolve into an even more attractive long-term growth strategy. Omrix’s Israeli-based manufacturing and research & development expertise will be strengthened by the long-term stability and integration that this merger will create.”
Roche announced that it will purchase Memory Pharmaceuticals in an all-cash transaction for $50 million. “This price represents a 319% premium to the closing price on 24 November 2008… Memory develops innovative drug candidates for the treatment of debilitating central nervous system (CNS) disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Memory’s nicotinic alpha-7 agonist drug candidates in these disease areas are already in partnered programmes with Roche: R3487 is in phase II clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia; R4996 is in phase I for Alzheimer’s disease. “Acquiring Memory will enable Roche to secure the future development of its promising nicotinic alpha-7 agonists,” said William Burns, CEO Division Roche Pharmaceuticals.
The Citi website outlined details of yesterday’s government relief. “The U.S. Treasury will invest $20 billion in Citi preferred stock under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Citi will issue an incremental $7 billion in preferred stock to the U.S. Treasury and the FDIC as payment for a government guarantee on $306 billion of securities, loans, and commitments backed by residential and commercial real estate and other assets. As a result of the asset guarantee, the $306 billion portfolio will have a new risk weighting of 20%, thus freeing up an additional $16 billion of capital to the company. Citi will issue warrants to the U.S. Treasury and the FDIC for approximately 254 million shares of the company’s common stock at a strike price of $10.61. Citi also has agreed not to pay a quarterly common stock dividend exceeding $0.01 (one cent) per share for three years effective on the next quarterly common stock dividend payment. The program significantly strengthens Citi’s key capital ratios by generating approximately $40 billion of capital benefits as follows:
o $20 billion from the TARP investment.
o $3.5 billion, the portion of the $7 billion of preferred stock fee recognized for capital purposes.
o $16 billion of capital benefits resulting from the asset guarantee.
Walgreens announced that Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and CEO of Hertz Global Holdings, has joined its board of directors. Before joining Hertz in 2006, Mr. Frissora was Chairman and CEO of Tenneco.
The Wall Street Journal has a very good article, entitled Ignore the Stock Market Until February, on the fluctuations of the market, by Mr. Kessler, a former hedge-fund manager, and the author of “How We Got Here” (Collins, 2005).
The Federal Reserve Board announced the creation of the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), a new credit facility, lending up to $200 billion, collateralized by student loans, auto loans, credit card loans, and loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). “The U.S. Treasury Department–under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008–will provide $20 billion of credit protection to the FRBNY in connection with the TALF.”
The Federal Reserve also announced that it will purchase the direct obligations of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks–and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. “Purchases of up to $100 billion in GSE direct obligations under the program will be conducted with the Federal Reserve’s primary dealers through a series of competitive auctions and will begin next week. Purchases of up to $500 billion in MBS will be conducted by asset managers selected via a competitive process with a goal of beginning these purchases before year-end.”
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the real Gross Domestic Product decreased at an annual rate of 0.5 % in the third quarter of 2008, having increased in the second quarter by 2.8%. In the advance estimates, the decrease in real GDP was 0.3%. According to the report, “The decrease in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected negative contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), residential fixed investment, and equipment and software that were partly offset by positive contributions from federal government spending, private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential structures, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.”
Sources: The Wall Street Journal and Wall Street Journal online, Bureau of Economic Analysis, The Federal Reserve, Walgreens, Citigroup, Roche, J&J, and GE websites
The Keynote Speech by Muhtar Kent, President and Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola at the InterBev 2008 conference is well-worth reading.
“October 20, 2008 -
It’s been tough for a while. Some of the challenges we’ve been facing have been lingering for more than a decade. Consumer and customer preferences and expectations have shifted dramatically. Regulatory and NGO pressures have intensified. Commodity and energy costs have soared. And now, of course, we find ourselves in the midst of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression. As scary as it sounds — we’ve been in this place before and we prevailed. And we will prevail again. In fact, the mood in America today is very similar to what it was 30 years ago when I graduated from university in England and moved to Atlanta to work for The Coca-Cola Company.
Fuel prices were spiking. A recession was draining our confidence. Across America there was widespread fear that we were losing our global political and economic leadership. Many people feared that a surging Japan would cripple American industry, jobs and the U.S. economy. Even greater numbers of people were worried about their jobs being replaced by technology. But the system didn’t collapse, did it? In fact, America got stronger… much stronger… and that’s because this great nation did what it has always done best — America innovated and reinvented itself. And we can and have to learn from history — that the past is indeed prologue. In the process of innovating and creating a technology and service-driven economy, America replaced 40 million antiquated jobs with 80 million new high-paying and high-skilled jobs between 1980 and 2000. In those two decades, we witnessed a unique creation of new wealth and ideas — all because of innovation. — All because of the entrepreneurial spirit and vitality of a nation that cultivates diverse cultures… and people… and points of view.”
The Conference Board released the U.S. leading index, which decreased 0.8% because of a drop in stock prices, building permits, consumer expectations and the index of supplier deliveries which were not offset by strengthened real money supply and interest rate spread.“ In the past two months, without the very large positive contributions from inflation-adjusted money supply (the largest in seven years), the leading index would have been substantially weaker.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the Consumer Price Index-Urban decreased 1% in October, having been flat in September and August. This was the largest one-month decline since 1947. Without food and energy, the index declined 0.1% to a level 2.2% above October 2007.
AT&T announced it is opening Asia’s first super Internet Data Centre in Singapore. This is an expansion of AT&T’s existing facilities and is part of AT&T’s $1 billion planned global network investment in 2008. Other super IDCs are located in Piscataway, New Jersey; San Diego, California; Annapolis, Maryland and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which will form the regional hubs in the US and Europe.
Coca-Cola announced it will produce Red Tea Pomegranate Passion Fruit beginning in February 2009. The Red Tea is derived from the South African Rooibos (”roy-boss”) plant which is a source of antioxidants, and is naturally caffeine-free and low-calorie.
Edward Nelson has written an interesting essay, entitled, “The Great Recapitalization” available at:
ExxonMobil will begin its exploration of the Black Sea in a joint venture with the Turkish national oil company, Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklığı (TPAO). Exxon will use its expertise in deepwater to explore the Samsun Block, where water depths reach 6,500 feet.
Walgreens will return to Times Square in New York, opening its store at One Times Square, complete with a massive Walgreens billboard 341 feet above the street on three sides of the building. “With more than 1.6 million passers-by and countless media impressions daily, this sign represents a tremendous opportunity to catapult Walgreens brand among the most recognizable icons in the world,” said Walgreens President and COO Greg Wasson.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal and Wall Street Journal online, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Conference Board, St. Louis Federal Reserve, Coca-Cola, Walgreens, Exxon, and AT&T websites.
Insurance companies are looking for ways to receive money from the Fed’s bailout program. First, they have to become federally regulated, which for some insurance companies, means buying a bank. For example, Lincoln National agreed to buy a small savings-and-loan institution in Goodland, Ind. and The Hartford hopes to purchase Federal Trust Corp., in Sanford, Fla.
Federal bailout money could enable insurance companies to buy parts of AIG currently on the block, in turn enabling AIG to repay its debt to the Fed. Also, insurance companies are the largest holders of corporate debt, holding $1.3 trillion in corporate bonds. A default in the insurance industry would have significant repercussions.
The government released the Producer Price Index statistics. The Producer Price Index for Finished Goods fell 2.8% in October, mostly due to the drop in oil prices. Prices for goods other than foods and energy rose 0.4 % for the second consecutive month. Crude petroleum prices fell 26% after a 9% decline in September. Prices for Irish potatoes dropped 41.8% following a 258.7% increase in September. Slaughtered chickens jumped 7% in October.
According to the company, “CBS.com leads all other TV Network Web sites in unique monthly viewers (6.1MM), video streams (44.4MM) and minutes streamed (143 MM)…CBS.com also experienced double digit growth in unique viewers month over month (16%) and year over year (60%), and triple digit growth in streams over last year (107%).
ExxonMobil Chemical received approval from the FDA for its product, Vistamaxx to be used as a food wrap. “Food packaging applications can benefit from Vistamaxx resins’ outstanding film sealing performance stemming from broad compatibility, very low seal initiation temperature and high hot-tack.”
GE Aviation announced that it will provide Airbus with “trailing edge sub assemblies” which basically are the parts that hold the wings together. GE will manufacture the parts at its facility in Hamble, England and be produced in Suzhou China.
HP reported fourth quarter revenues of $33.6 billion, up 19% from last year, or 16% when adjusted for the effects of currency. The growth was largely due to the acquisition of EDS. But excluding the impact of the EDS acquisition, HP revenue grew 5% from last year’s fourth quarter or 2% when adjusted for the effects of currency. “HP delivered another solid quarter as it continues to benefit from its global reach, diverse customer base, broad portfolio and numerous cost initiatives,” said Mark Hurd, HP chairman and chief executive officer.
ITW reported an operating revenue increase of 8.8% for the three months ended October 31, due mainly to acquisitions and currency translation.
Medtronic announced financial results for its second quarter of fiscal year 2009, which ended Oct. 24, 2008. Revenue increased year over year by 14%, or $3.570 billion. Net earnings in the second quarter were $571 million, a decrease of 14%. The company expensed a litigation charge of $176 million.
Spectra Energy reported that net income increased 26% to $296 million in the quarter year over year. “I am extremely pleased with the results we continue to deliver for our shareholders. This was another quarter of solid performance from all of our businesses. We are essentially complete with our 2008 expansion projects and will realize returns on this capital at the upper end of our expectations,” said Fred J. Fowler, president and chief executive officer, Spectra Energy Corp. “Our balance sheet and almost $1.7 billion inavailable liquidity are real advantages for us during this volatile time in the financial markets, allowing us to feel confident about our ability to progress with our capital expansion program.”
Citibank announced 25,000 new job cuts, reducing staff by 20% since last December. The main cuts may hit Citibank’s investment bank.
Following the example of Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, UBS announced that Chairman Peter Kurer and the top 12 managers will forgo 2008 bonuses. Next year’s bonuses will be tied to the bank’s performance and will be held in escrow.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal and Wall Street Journal online, Bureau of Labor Statistics, UBS, Citigroup, GE, Medtronic, Spectra Energy, HP, ITW, ExxonMobil, and CBS websites.
Boeing and Air New Zealand will test the first biofuel-propelled airplane on Dec. 3. The biofuel is called jatropha, crude oil that is converted to biofuel using proprietary UOP fuel processing technology. According to the website, “Jatropha, which can be grown in a broad range of conditions, produces seeds that contain inedible lipid oil that is extracted and used to produce fuel. Each seed produces 30 to 40 percent of its mass in oil. Plant oil used to create the fuel for the Air New Zealand flight was sourced from nonarable lands in India and Southeastern Africa (Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania)…During processing, hydrogen is added to remove oxygen from the biomass, resulting in a bio-derived jet fuel that can be used as a petroleum replacement for commercial aviation.” Boeing’s Commercial Airplane’s Managing Director of Environmental Strategy, Billy Glover, said, “The processing technology exists today, and based on results we’ve seen, it’s highly encouraging that this fuel not only met but exceeded three key criteria for the next generation of jet fuel: higher than expected jet fuel yields, very low freeze point and good energy density,” Glover explained. “That tells us we’re on the right path to certification and commercial availability.”
UPS has a new scanner and paperless printing device, developed with HP, which should eliminate about 1,338 tons of paper annually. “As a package enters a UPS center for sorting, a UPS employee uses the HP device to scan the shipping label. The device obtains the proper sorting information from a UPS database via a WiFi network inside the facility, then prints those instructions directly onto the package using a specially formulated, fast-drying HP ink. Employees can take the HP printing device to packages rather than having to bring packages to the device. It replaces and simplifies the current fixed solution, which includes a large thermal printer, PC, monitor and scanner.”
The Saudi Arabian Oil Company and ConocoPhillips are stalling the construction to a 400,000 barrel-per-day export refinery at the Yanbu Industrial City, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia due to the economic environment. Bids that were to be submitted next month will be re-bid in the second quarter of 2009.
GE Oil & Gas has been awarded a contract to provide gas turbines for the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery Expansion Project, planned to be the largest refinery in the United States and one of the top 10 in the world. This will mark the first U.S. installation of these generators in the U.S. The refinery’s coastal location is susceptible to hurricanes and this gas turbine should provide a reliable source of energy while reducing pollution during the combustion process.
Johnson and Johnson announced that its broad-spectrum antibiotic, Zevtera, was approved Swissmedic ( the Swiss equivalent to the FDA) to treat tissue infections,
including diabetic foot infections.
Merck’s product, Garadsil, was shown very effective in treating HPV virus in men according to the European Research Organization on Genital Infection and Neoplasia International Multidisciplinary Conference.
UBS’s CEO of UBS Global Wealth Management and Business Banking and a member of the Group Executive Board, Raoul Weil, has been indicted by a Federal grand jury sitting in the Southern District of Florida in connection with the ongoing investigation of UBS’s US cross-border business by the United States Department of Justice. Marten Hoekstra, currently Deputy CEO of Global Wealth Management & Business Banking and Head of Wealth Management US, will assume Mr. Weil’s duties.
The Board of Directors of Citigroup called today’s Wall Street Journal article stating that the company was looking for a new chairman “completely erroneous.”
Here is an interesting table of loan delinquencies and charge offs dating back to 1985.
Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its mass layoff numbers for the third quarter of 2008. There were 1,330 mass layoff events that resulted in the separation of 218,158 workers. Most of the layoffs were in the construction or manufacturing, especially transportation equipment, sectors. This was the largest number of layoffs since the third quarter of 2001. The number of workers terminated because of bankruptcies
nearly doubled over the year to 12,156. The national unemployment rate averaged 6.0 percent, up from 4.7 percent a year earlier.
The Department of Commerce, announced today that total September exports of $155.4 billion and imports of $211.9 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $56.5 billion, down from$59.1 billion in August, revised.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal and Wall Street Journal online, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Federal Reserve, U.S. Census Bureau, and Bureau of Labor Statistics, Merck, UBS, Citigroup, Johnson and Johnson, GE, ConocoPhillips, UPS and Boeing websites.
Yesterday, the Swiss government announced new capital requirements for UBS and Credit Suisse, and new guarantees for depositors. According to the new standards, leverage ratios must be well above 4% (pending approval by the parliament’s vote in December). Both UBS and Credit Suisse do not expect to be required to increase capital to meet the new standards. Guarantees on client deposits will increase to 100,000 Swiss francs ($86,040), from 30,000 francs.
The Federal Reserve Board announced yesterday that it will change “formulas used to determine the interest rates paid to depository institutions on required reserve balances and excess reserve balances. Previously, the rate on required reserve balances had been set at the average target federal funds rate established by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) over a reserves maintenance period minus 10 basis points. The rate on excess balances had been set as the lowest federal funds rate target in effect during a reserve maintenance period minus 35 basis points. Under the new formulas, the rate on required reserve balances will be set equal to the average target federal funds rate over the reserve maintenance period. The rate on excess balances will be set equal to the lowest FOMC target rate in effect during the reserve maintenance period. These changes will become effective for the maintenance periods beginning Thursday, November 6.
The Board judged that these changes would help foster trading in the funds market at rates closer to the FOMC’s target federal funds rate.”
Wells Fargo announced a proposed public offering of $10 billion of common stock.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics posted third quarter 2008 productivity growth numbers. The non-farm business sector grew 1.1% which was smaller than the first and second quarter of the year.
ADP’s National Employment Report shows a decrease of 157,000 jobs from September to October 2008. “This month’s employment loss was driven by the goods-producing sector which declined 126,000 during October, its twenty-third consecutive monthly decline. The manufacturing sector marked its twenty-sixth consecutive monthly decline, losing 85,000 jobs. These losses were compounded by an employment decline in the service-providing sector of the economy which fell by 31,000, the first loss in the service-providing sector recorded by the ADP Report since November of 2002.”
AT&T will purchase Wayport a provider of managed Wi-Fi for $275 million in cash, giving AT&T 20,000 more hotspots in key areas such as Wyndham, Marriott Vacation Club, and Four Seasons hotels, and McDonald’s restaurants. ‘”We’re seeing exponential growth of Wi-Fi-enabled devices — such as smartphones — combined with a continued dependency on 24/7, anytime, anywhere Internet access across business and consumer market segments,” said John Stankey, president and CEO, AT&T Operations. Nearly 300 million Wi-Fi-enabled devices were shipped in 2007. Nearly 1 billion are predicted by 2012.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal and Wall Street Journal online, Federal Reserve, U.S. Census Bureau, and Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wells Fargo, AT&T, and ADP websites.
The link below is a USAToday interactive timeline of history and the economy.
The Census Bureau announced that manufactured goods decreased by 2.5% in September. (It dropped by 4.3% in August). Excluding transportation, new orders would have fallen 3.7%.
Boeing released an interesting forecast of air cargo traffic which predicted that the world’s GDP will average about 3% during the next twenty years.
“Our research tells us that long-term economic growth, freighter fleet renewal and moderating jet fuel prices will stimulate air cargo traffic growth,” said Randy Tinseth, vice president, Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “These positive prospects will prevail despite the industry’s concerns about our current economic challenges.”
GE Energy Financial Services announced it has formed a partnership with TriTex Energy to acquire proved oil and gas reserves in southeastern New Mexico for $31 million. ‘GE Energy Financial Services has invested more than $360 million in proved oil and gas reserves in five transactions this year, an annual record for the business. GE Energy Financial Services is investing $30 million as the 98 percent limited partner. “GE was able to close this transaction in one of the most difficult banking and commodities markets imaginable. Their financial and technical strengths make them a great partner,” said Don Ritter, President of TriTex Energy.’
A spokesman for General Electric Co said that the company does not expect its subsidiary, GE Capital to participate in the Treasury’s bail out plan, but “If it were offered, we would evaluate it.” The Wall Street Journal had reported Tuesday that the U.S. Treasury was considering investing funds in a wide range of companies, including GE Capital and CIT Group.
The Federal Reserve indicated that daily commercial paper issuance has fallen since early last week. “Total commercial paper issuance on Monday was $159.9 billion — down from $169 billion last Friday, $181 billion last Thursday, and $214 billion last Wednesday.”
The Financial Times reports that JPMorgan Chase is eliminating its proprietary trading desk to reduce its in-house hedge funds. “JPMorgan’s move, announced in an internal memorandum distributed to staff on Monday, is a sign of financial groups’ reluctance to use their own capital on large trading bets amid uncertain and volatile market conditions.”
Sources: The Wall Street Journal and Wall Street Journal online, Business Week, Forbes, Financial Times, USAToday, GE, Boeing, U.S. Census Bureau, and Bureau of Economic Analysis websites.
Here is a list of banks planning on participating in the bailout plan. Banks have until November 14th to express interest in participating.
PepsiCo announced that it will invest $1 billion in China over the next four years expanding existing manufacturing plants and local research and development facilities. The company directly employs 22,000 people and indirectly, through its bottlers, 150,000 other people in China.
The ISM Report was released today by Supply Management. It reported that prices and new orders were dropping and employment and inventory were contracting. “The PMI indicates a significantly faster rate of decline in manufacturing when comparing October to September. It appears that manufacturing is experiencing significant demand destruction as a result of recent events, with members indicating challenges associated with the financial crisis, interruptions from the Gulf hurricane, and the lagging impact from higher oil prices. This is the lowest level for the PMI since September 1982 when it registered 38.8 percent. In this report, we see inflationary pressures dissolving as the Prices Index fell to 37 percent, the lowest since December 2001 when it registered 33.2 percent. Export orders also contracted for the first time following 70 months of growth.”
Interestingly, the survey asked manufacturers if they had been affected by the financial turmoil. These numbers put some quantifiers into the credit squeeze: “Of those who responded to this set of questions, 52.9 percent indicated that they (or their suppliers) have been affected by the recent financial market turmoil. Of those who have been affected, 44.6 percent indicated that they have seen a decrease in the availability of credit; 40.8 percent have seen an increase in the cost of credit; 24.7 percent have experienced difficulty in initiating or renewing a bank credit line; and 78.6 percent have reduced spending and/or hiring.” It’s worth checking this link to view charts on historical numbers.
Auto makers that have seen sales fall since the beginning of the year (Toyota’s October sales are down 28%, GM’s are down 45%, Chrysler’s are down 35%, and Ford’s are down 30%) are offering some appealing incentives. Toyota is offering zero percent financing, GM is offering up to $7,250 off, Chrysler is offering up to $6,000 off and Ford will discount pickup trucks.
The following Wall Street Journal article, entitled “No Place to Hide” by Leslie Scism and Daisy Maxey gives a good perspective on mutual funds. It explains, “The average return for diversified U.S.-stock funds is a negative 34.7% for the first 10 months, which suggests 2008 is shaping up to be the worst year for mutual-fund investors in the nearly 50 years for which Lipper has such data. By comparison, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is down 32.8% so far this year and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is off 28.2%; the figures all include reinvested dividends… The biggest pure stock fund on the list, American Funds Growth Fund of America, which invests in traditional “growth” areas, such as technology and health care, and in “value”-oriented, dividend-paying stocks, is down 35% so far this year. The allocation funds are off by 24% to 30% since the start of the year. These were sideswiped by steeply falling prices of corporate, mortgage-backed and other types of bonds as investors fled to the relative safety of U.S. Treasuries. The average taxable U.S. bond fund has lost 9.8% so far this year, according to Lipper…Already, some investors have been taking money out of their mutual funds. A net $49 billion left stock and bond mutual funds, excluding money-market funds, in September alone, and more severe outflows were expected during October, according to Morningstar… Some people have been putting their cash into the safest of instruments, including bank certificates of deposit and bond funds that invest in government securities. Investors also recently have begun to put more money into money-market funds — despite a scare in September when giant Reserve Primary Fund became only the second money-market mutual fund in U.S. history to “break the buck,” meaning its per-share value fell below the time-honored $1 a share….
Sources: Wall Street Journal, PepsiCo, and ISM websites