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July 31, 2014

Report: French company bidding for T-Mobile US

Filed under: Prices, news — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 12:16 pm

NEW YORK • French telecom company Iliad SA has made a bid for T-Mobile US Inc., the country’s fourth-largest cellphone company, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal said Thursday that Iliad is trying to snap up T-Mobile before it’s sold to Sprint Corp., the No. 3 U.S. cellphone carrier. That deal has been rumored for a long time, but has not been announced. Analysts believe U.S. regulators are likely to block the T-Mobile/Sprint pairing due to concerns that it would reduce competition.

Iliad is much smaller than T-Mobile US, and the Journal said it was bidding only $16 billion. T-Mobile US’s market capitalization was $25 billion before the stock shot up 4.3 percent in midday trading, after the paper’s report.

Iliad and T-Mobile US had no immediate comment.

Iliad and T-Mobile US are both industry mavericks. Under CEO John Legere, T-Mobile US has thrown out the standard two-year service contract and introduced new plans that allow for more frequent phone upgrades, a move quickly copied by the larger carriers payday loan lenders. Iliad broke onto the French scene with the Freebox, a unit that combines Internet access, TV and phone service over broadband lines. In 2012, it started offering cellphone service as well.

Iliad has 5.7 million broadband subscribers and 8.6 million wireless subscribers. T-Mobile US has 50.5 million subscribers on its wireless network.

T-Mobile US is controlled by Deutsche Telekom AG of Germany, which owns 67 percent of the stock. A similar portion of Sprint’s stock is owned by Softbank Corp. of Japan.


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July 29, 2014

Stocks turn mixed ahead of economic data

Filed under: Finance, technology — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 3:44 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock-market indexes were mixed in early afternoon trading as investors waited for a batch of key economic reports later this week. Earnings reports and corporate news drove trading in individual stocks. Major indexes in Europe and Asia closed with slight gains.

KEEPING SCORE: As of 12:12 p.m. Eastern time, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down one point to 1,977. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped less than a point to 16,982, while the Nasdaq composite rose nine points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,454. With most of July behind it, the S&P 500 is clinging to positive territory — up 0.8 percent.

ON DECK: On Wednesday, the government will release gross domestic product figures for the April-June quarter. The next day, a report on China’s manufacturing industry will give investors an update on the health of the world’s factory floor. On Friday, the Labor Department releases its monthly look at the job market. Economists estimate that employers hired between 235,000 and 255,000 workers in July.

FROZEN: “The market today looks a little frozen, because it’s going to face some really revealing stuff in the next 72 hours,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management. “It could change the landscape under our feet.”

EARNINGS STILL RISING: This week marks the half-way point for second-quarter earnings, and the overall results look solid. Second-quarter earnings are on track to climb 8.8 percent over the year. At the start of the earnings season, analysts predicted an increase of 6 percent.

TELECOMS LEAD: Telecom companies rose the most among the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500, as traders plowed into a range of telephone and cable stocks, including AT&T and Verizon. The move came after Windstream Holdings announced plans to move some of its network into a trust that won’t pay income tax. Windstream soared 19 percent and Frontier Communications jumped 16 percent to lead the S&P 500.

A DOUBLE: A large sale and a tax benefit helped Merck & Co. more than double its second-quarter profit, easily topping Wall Street’s expectations. The drugmaker also raised its profit forecast for 2014. Its stock climbed 86 cents, or 2 percent, to $58.84.

OOPS: A warning of lower profits from United Parcel Service knocked its stock down in early trading. Early Tuesday, UPS said spending on technology to improve its service during the upcoming holiday season will take a cut out of its full-year earnings. The shipping company also said its second-quarter earnings fell 58 percent, though shipments and sales picked up Payday advance. In early trading, UPS sank $3.56, or 3 percent, to $99.08.

BIG DAY: Nearly a tenth of the big companies in the S&P 500 are turning in second-quarter results Tuesday. The heavyweights include American Express, Pfizer and UPS.

HOW CONFIDENT: A gauge of consumer confidence hit its highest level in nearly seven years. The Conference Board said its index increased for the third straight month in July, partially a result of people surveyed saying that it’s easier to find a job.

HOUSING: House prices in 20 major U.S. cities fell slightly in May, according to the closely watched S&P/Case Shiller index. Economists had forecast a tiny gain over the previous month. Over the past year, however, housing prices have climbed 9.3 percent.

EUROPEAN MARKETS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.6 percent while France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.5 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent.

RUSSIA WATCH: The market’s cautious gains may be tested later if Western powers go ahead with a new round of sanctions against Russia. On Monday, the White House said the United States and European Union plan to impose more sanctions this week, including penalties targeting key parts of the Russian economy. The EU had previously refrained from stepping up sanctions in the wake of the shooting down of a Malaysian jetliner over a rebel-controlled region of Ukraine, killing 298 people.

ASIA’S DAY: South Korea’s Kospi reached its highest level since August 2011, rising 0.6 percent, boosted by the new finance minister’s recent announcement of economic stimulus and measures to support the housing market. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng finished 0.9 percent higher while China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.2 percent.

ANALYST’S TAKE: William Leys, sales trader at CMC Markets, said investors were cautious before the impending rush of economic news. “Caution is the pre-eminent theme across global markets at the moment, as investors anticipate a spate of key economic data due later in the week, amid a backdrop of persistent geopolitical concerns,” Leys said in a commentary. “With a variety of weighty announcements looming, the stage is set for an action packed end to the week.”

OIL: The price of oil fell, with benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery down $1.07 cents to $100.59 a barrel.


Youkyung Lee contributed to this story from Seoul, South Korea.


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July 27, 2014

Comic-book convention organizers clash over name

Filed under: management, marketing — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 11:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Organizers of two of the biggest comic-book conventions in the country are clashing over their names.

A lawyer for San Diego Comic-Con has issued a cease-and-desist letter to organizers of Utah’s Salt Lake Comic Con demanding them to drop “Comic Con” from the name.

“Attendees, exhibitors and fans seeing use of ‘Comic Con’ in connection with your convention will incorrectly assume that your convention is in some way affiliated with (the San Diego convention),” reads the letter dated Friday.

San Diego holds the nation’s biggest comic-book convention while Salt Lake City hosts the third-biggest one. Organizers say the events feature the best in movies, television shows, gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and comic books. Many attendees dress up as their favorite characters.

The letter further states that San Diego organizers own the trademark for the use of “Comic Con” and are aware of “multiple instances” where individuals believed the two gatherings were affiliated because of the name.

The letter notes a car was used to promote the Salt Lake City convention around the site of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con Internet Payday loans. The car featured the Salt Lake Comic Con name and dates. “Your use (of the car) … is clearly intended to confuse Comic-Con attendees, exhibitors and fans,” the letter states.

The letter calls for a response by Salt Lake City organizers by Aug. 6.

Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Dan Farr called the demand baseless.

“We’re puzzled why Salt Lake Comic Con was apparently singled out amongst the hundreds of Comic Cons around the country and the world,” Farr said in a statement. “We intend to vigorously defend ourselves from this frivolous action.”

San Diego Comic-Con tried and failed to trademark “Comic Con” in 1995, said Bryan Brandenburg, co-founder of the Utah convention.

Salt Lake Comic Con set a record for the biggest turnout for a new comic-book convention last year with an estimated 72,000 people.


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July 26, 2014

Bankrupt Energy Future to auction stake in Oncor

Filed under: Prices, marketing — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 1:36 pm

DALLAS (AP) — Bankrupt power giant Energy Future Holdings terminated its restructuring agreement and announced plans to auction its stake in the profitable power transmission business Oncor Electric Delivery Co., according to a filing Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company and its creditors “believe that the (restructuring agreement) has provided significant benefit,” including obtaining billions of dollars in new financing, the filing said.

In a letter to employees Thursday, Energy Future said it would maintain its approach to reorganizing the company, which centers on a tax-free spinoff of the unprofitable side, including Luminant, the state’s largest power generator, and TXU Energy, the state’s largest electricity retailer.

With cash flows for electricity distribution and production shielded from creditors, the bankruptcy has not yet impacted consumers.

The proposed auction of Oncor, which the company said would take place in the coming weeks, has already generated interest from potential bidders, including Florida-based NextEra Energy and Hunt Consolidated in Dallas.

Hunt hired former Energy Future executive David Campbell as chief executive of its power utility investment arm on Monday, with Hunt spokeswoman Jeanne Phillips saying in a statement that the company is “intent” on acquiring control of Oncor.

Moody’s Investor Services analyst Jairo Chung says Oncor’s prospects for growth are better than the industry average because of its coverage area in Northwest Texas, which is projected to see significant population growth.

The auction proceeds would be allocated among Energy Future’s creditors, Chung said.

Energy Future filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in April in an attempt to halve a $40 billion debt load stemming from a bet that natural gas prices would rise. A glut of U.S. shale production instead brought natural gas prices to record lows, making it difficult for the company to service the debt it took on to buy TXU Corp. in 2007.

A crucial part of the restructuring is a $7 billion tax liability. When Energy Future took over TXU Corp., the new stakeholders were spared having to pay the federal tax bill on the acquisition. However, the terms of the deal stipulated that if the company split up, the bill would come due.

According to the Energy Future filing, stakeholders still hope to reach a restructuring framework that will allow them to shed some of their assets without having to pay that tax.


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July 24, 2014

Caterpillar 2Q profit rises, revenue declines

Filed under: Finance, management — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 10:44 pm

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Caterpillar’s second-quarter net income rose 4.1 percent even as revenue slipped.

The construction equipment company’s adjusted profit topped Wall Street’s view, but revenue fell short. It also boosted its full-year earnings forecast.

Caterpillar — which also makes power systems that include large electrical generators and locomotive engines — earned $999 million, or $1.57 per share, in the quarter. A year earlier it earned $960 million, or $1.45 per share.

Removing restructuring costs, earnings were $1.69 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted $1.51 per share.

Revenue for the Peoria, Illinois, company dropped 3.2 percent to $14.15 billion from $14.62 billion. Wall Street expected $14.45 billion in revenue.

Caterpillar Inc.’s stock fell $1.97, or 1.8 percent, to $106.41 in premarket trading Thursday about an hour ahead of the market open.

The company dealt with softer sales in its resource industries segment, as there was lower demand for mining equipment.

Sales fell in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region. This was somewhat offset by higher sales in North America. Sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa were basically flat.

Looking ahead, Caterpillar now anticipates a 2014 adjusted profit of $6.20 per share, up from a previous outlook of $6.10 per share. Analysts foresee $6.18 per share.

The company also narrowed its revenue guidance for the year. Caterpillar now expects revenue in a range of $54 billion to $56 billion. Previously it predicted revenue between $53.2 billion and $58.8 billion.

Wall Street is calling for $56.16 billion in revenue.

Caterpillar plans to buy back about $2.5 billion shares in the third quarter. The stock repurchase is part of a $10 billion buyback program approved by its board in the first quarter. Caterpillar repurchased about $1.7 billion shares in the first quarter.


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July 23, 2014

U.S. Said Poised to Label MetLife as Systemically Important - Bloomberg

Filed under: Business, Loans — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 2:08 am

U.S. regulators are poised to label MetLife Inc. (MET) a potential threat to the financial system, subjecting the insurer to oversight by the Federal Reserve, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

A decision by the Financial Stability Oversight Council may come as early as July 31, when the panel is tentatively planning to meet, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn

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July 21, 2014

Illinois BCBS members offered Divvy membership discounts

Filed under: Prices, marketing — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 4:48 pm

Three months into Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois’s sponsorship of Chicago’s bike share program, Divvy, the health insurance provider will begin offering Divvy membership discounts.

The annual price of a Divvy membership, which allows people to check out bicycles at about 300 locations around the city for unlimited rides up to 30 minutes long, is $75. The BCBS discount, starting Aug. 1, will be $65, the company announced Monday.

In a press release, BCBS officials said the discount is meant to incentivize healthy, active behavior among members pay day advance.

The deal will run until Oct. 31, according to the release, and can be claimed by members at Blue365deals.com/BCBSIL. After logging in, the instructions say, members “Click ‘Browse Deals’ and select ‘Fitness,’ then follow the steps to sign up.”


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July 20, 2014

Analysis: Putin

Filed under: Finance, marketing — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 3:44 am

WASHINGTON—“The world’s biggest crime site,” as one of the OSCE monitors described the sickening aftermath in eastern Ukraine on Friday, doesn’t have Vladimir Putin’s name on it.

Not in so many words. Not yet.

That may take a while, given the treatment of the first international visitors to wade through the billion-piece remains Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

A tightly controlled peek of a tiny patch of the ruination that spans more than 10 square kilometres is all they got — all under the twitchy, pugnacious watch of the ramshackle Russian rebels.

Whither the black boxes that now have been spirited away, the heavily armed separatists could not say. The first-look team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was unable even to establish who among the heavily armed men was in charge before they were summarily frog-marched offsite, just 45 minutes into what they were assured would be unfettered access.


The investigation

The flight

That’s the way Putin’s proxies roll, as those of us who’ve tramped through the unravelling end of Ukraine have argued before. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of chaotic, nihilistic, nativist ineptitude. It’s weaponized. It’s propagandized. It’s scary.

It been easy for most people to compartmentalize these months of ragged ambiguity since the protesters on Kyiv’s Maidan square turned the country upside down, sparking Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the shadowy interventions that followed.

Russia versus Ukraine; a European thing; not good, but not quite total war, right? And not at all in our North American faces, either.

And now the world has been yanked from the sky, shattered flat upon Putin’s monster. Or by Putin’s monster, as the preponderance of circumstantial evidence suggests.

Among the connecting dots, damning Ukrainian cellphone intercepts — still to be verified, yet already causing shock waves — quoting Russian military intelligence and their on-the-ground mercenaries discussing the before and after of deploying the Buk-M surface-to-air missile system. (Before: “We have Buk, we will be shooting them down to hell.”) Later, footage of the suspect Buk-M unit was filmed and posted to YouTube, being spirited away by rebels, with two of its four missiles spent.

Watch here:

And here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4HJmev5xg0

Other dots included the scrubbed post from a site that routinely shares messages from Col. Igor Strelkov, self-appointed defence minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, hailing the “bird drop” of what rebels initially thought was a Ukrainian AN-26 military transport plane. Attempts to erase the dot from the web failed miserably, thanks to a crowd-sourced world that now captures everything for posterity.

With or without flight recorder data, the shifting stories from the Russian rebel camp appear to be vectoring toward collapse. Among the varying explanations Friday, Strelkov appears to have floated a twisted, conspiratorial trial balloon Friday suggesting the MH17 victims may have boarded the plane dead.

“A significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh,” Strelkov, also known as Igor Girkin, was quoted as saying by the pro-rebel Russkaya Vesna news site paydayloans.

Strelkov is implying a vast Western setup, straining all credulity. Left unspoken is the inference, “Yes, we did it. We took the bait.”

The word terrorism began flying the moment MH17 stopped. But if the most plausible pieces of preliminary evidence ultimately add up, nobody on the ground meant to bring the world down upon it. Blundering incompetence — colossal, breathtakingly reckless, historic incompetence — involving men equipped with a weapon far greater than themselves, is the more believable scenario.

But all these dots, if that is how they add up, become stains. A stain that will adhere forever to Vladimir Putin.

Those conclusions weren’t anywhere near President Barack Obama’s tongue Friday, as he stepped forward to demand an immediate ceasefire and unimpeded access to the crash site.

As Russian chess master Garry Kasparov, long a thorn in Putin’s side, tweeted, “Now we come to the part where cautious politicians make bland statements hinting politely at a terrible truth everyone already knows.”

But the far larger question is what does Putin do with this stain? Does he own it – and let it live forever on his Wikipedia entry as his own personal Lockerbie? The early signs suggest not, given that Russian state TV on Friday began editing Wikipedia to blame Ukraine for the crash.

A number of Putinologists are suggesting even Putin himself may not have the answer, given the unpredictable nature of what has been unleashed in Ukraine.

“Putin-the-man is greatly at odds with Putin-the-myth, who is a fierce and forceful titan shaping the world in the name of Russia’s greater destiny,” wrote Mark Galeotti of ReadRussia.com.

“In fact, the real Putin is clearly a cautious, in some ways even paradoxically timid figure in his aggressions,” acting only when the odds are on his side. Thus, said Galeotti, the paradox of Ukraine is “that what Putin creates, he then fears.”

Anne Applebaum, writing in the Washington Post, framed a moment of truth in which we are about to “learn something interesting about the Russian president.

“So far there is no sign of shock or shame in Russia. But in truth, this tragedy offers Vladimir Putin an opportunity to get out of the messy disaster he created in eastern Ukraine,” wrote Applebaum.

“He has the perfect excuse to denounce the separatist movement and to cut its supplies. If he refuses, then we know that he remains profoundly dedicated to the chaos and nihilism he created to Donetsk. We can assume he intends to perpetuate it elsewhere. And if we are not prepared to fight it, we should be braced for it to spread.”

David Remnick of the New Yorker offered a starkly contrasting scenario, based in part on insights from former Putin insider Gleb Pavlovsky, suggesting overheated Russian public opinion now may be beyond the president’s control.

“The audience is warmed up and ready to go; it is wound up and waiting for more and more conflict,” Remnick quoted Pavlovsky as saying.


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July 18, 2014

US drugmaker AbbVie has reached a cash-stock agreement to buy British counterpart Shire

Filed under: Prices, money — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 7:24 am

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (AP) — US drugmaker AbbVie has reached a cash-stock agreement to buy British counterpart Shire.


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