Top 10 News Items for 12/03 - 12/07: Apple Slides as Competitors Gain; Nose-Diving Off the 'Cliff'; Facebook Redeemed; Netflix Under Fire

December 7, 2012 4:33 PM EST Send to a Friend
1. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) was the hot topic this week, with the nation finally getting a good look at the man who took over for the late Steve Jobs: Tim Cook. Cook conducted several interviews with the likes of NBC, Bloomberg, and others. In part, he hinted at an Apple TV set, or merger for more content in the streaming content arena.

Other than that, Apple shares have been pressured once again. After two weeks of gains, Apple ended this week lower. It may have been chatter over margin requirement issues, or possibly peers making moves in China with new wireless deals. In any event, it appears to be a buyer's market.

2. House Speaker John Boehner fired more shots earlier this week, saying President Obama & Co should "get serious" about fiscal cliff talks moving forward, though he noted he was hopeful that the two sides will ultimately reach according to avert more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that are expected to take hold at the start of 2013. Click here for the letter.

Throughout the rest of the week, there was more political posturing than action on both sides of the aisle. Given the increase in special dividends and accelerated payments announced recently, most corporations aren't betting on a deal any time soon.

3. Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) got a nod this week as it was added to the Nasdaq 100 index, joining names like Apple, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), and Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO). The move was somewhat expected ahead of its May IPO, but activity following the launch caused some of the chatter to quiet down.

Facebook will replace Infosys Limited (Nasdaq: INFY) on the index.

4. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX), Plains Exploration & Production Company (NYSE: PXP) and McMoRan Exploration Co. (NYSE: MMR) announced today that they have signed definitive merger agreements under which FCX will acquire PXP for approximately $6.9 billion in cash and stock and FCX will acquire MMR for approximately $3.4 billion in cash, or $2.1 billion net of 36 percent of the MMR interests currently owned by FCX and PXP.

Total value of the combined transactions is about $20 billion, inclusive of debt.

Some speculate that the move is a play on moving into energy, with Freeport aiming to be like a "little BHP Billion (NYSE: BHP)," according to reports today.

For more on the deal, click here.

5. The U.S. added more jobs in November than economists expected , with Hurricane Sandy proving to be a non-issue. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 146,000 jobs in November and the unemployment fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent. Economists, on average, were only expecting 85,000 job additions during the month.

October's jobs report was revised down by 33,000 to 138,000 jobs.

For more on the numbers, click here.

6. Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and CEO Reed Hastings disclosed receiving a Wells notice from the SEC over failure to properly disclose what the agency deemed "material information." Hastings made some comments about how many hours customers were watching per month. He said his profile, which is open to the public to follow, is public enough. Hasting noted that he has 200,000 Facebook fans, many of which are reporters and bloggers.

For more on the saga, click here.

7. Citigroup (NYSE: C) said this week it planned on reducing its workforce by 11,000 positions, or roughly 4 percent of the 260,000 people it employs. The move was announced amid "a series of repositioning actions that will further reduce expenses and improve efficiency across the company while maintaining Citi’s unique capabilities to serve clients, especially in the emerging markets."

Pre-tax charges will amount to about $1 billion in Q4 and $100 million next quarter. Citi plans savings of $1.1 billion starting in 2014. For more on the cuts, click here.

8. Pandora Media (NYSE: P) ended the week lower amid strong third-quarter results, as lowered guidance for for fiscal 2013 caused some investor concern. EPS came in 4 cents better than views. Looking to FY13, Pandora lowered its revs expectations from a range of $425 million to $432 million to a new range of $422 million to $425 million. Loss widens from 8 cents to 4 cents per share out to a new range of 12 cents to 9 cents per share. Consensus views call for revs of $429.2 million and a loss of 6 cents per share.

The stock ended the week just over 8 percent lower.

9. T-Mobile USA and Apple reached a deal for the Deutsche Telekom unit to start selling the iPhone in the U.S. The deal will begin in 2013 and at least one analyst thinks that it could add about $3 billion to Apple's top line and $1.15 per share to the bottom. For more color, click here.

10. Racing to beat the impending fiscal cliff, which will return taxes on dividends from 15 percent up to the normal income rate starting in 2013, company's are paying out more to investors now or accelerating quarterly payments. Some of the more notable special dividend announced this week include:
  • Oracle Corp (NASDAQ: ORCL) declared a special dividend of $0.18 per share after accelerating its Q2, Q3, Q4 dividend for fiscal 2013 ahead of the fiscal cliff;
  • PetMed Express, Inc. (Nasdaq: PETS) at $1.00 per share, 8.7 percent yield;
  • Innospec, Inc. (Nasdaq: IOSP) at $2.00 per share, 6.3 percent yield;
  • DISH Network Corp. (Nasdaq: DISH) at $1.00 per share, 2.7 percent yield;
  • Cato Corp. (NYSE: CATO) at $1.00 per share, yield of 3.4 percent;
  • Washington Post Co (NYSE: WPO) of $9.80 per share, yielding 2.6 percent;
  • ProAssurance Corp. (NYSE: PRA) a post-split $2.50 per share, yielding 2.8 percent;
  • Dicks Sporting Goods, Inc. (NYSE: DKS) at $2.00 per share, 3.9 percent;
  • Sirius XM Radio, Inc. (Nasdaq: SIRI) not huge at $0.05 per share, but the company announced a $2 billion buyback as well;
  • McGraw-Hill Cos. (NYSE: MHP) at $2.50 per share, 4.6 percent yield;
  • Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: BAGL) at $4.00 per share with a notable 25.3 percent yield; and
  • Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE) at $0.52 per share and yield of just 0.9 percent.


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