Opening Bell: 04.23.14

Judges Consider What Defines Insider Trading (WSJ)
Federal prosecutors were peppered with tough questions Tuesday on the legal underpinnings of their near-perfect record in insider-trading cases, raising the prospect that some convictions could be overturned. In an hourlong hearing in Manhattan, judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit signaled that federal prosecutors may have taken too broad a view of insider trading, saying Wall Street needs more of a “bright line” about what constitutes a crime. At issue is whether a trader, to be guilty of insider trading, must have known a tip was illegally disclosed in exchange for a reward. Prosecutors have argued they need only show that people who used insider information knew it had been disclosed in breach of a fiduciary duty.

Numericable Set to Issue Record Junk Bond (WSJ)
A French cable operator is preparing what could be the largest junk-bond sale in history—a sign of investors’ ravenous appetite for risk in an era of low rates and a mark of the profound shift in bond financing on a continent that had long borrowed heavily from its banks. Bankers working on the deal say Numericable Group SA NUM.FR +3.93% was expected to raise the equivalent of €8.4 billion ($11.6 billion) from the bond sale Wednesday, about €2 billion more than initially planned. The Numericable deal would clobber the current record junk-bond sale, the $6.5 billion issue last year by U.S. telecommunications provider Sprint Corp. So big is the Numericable offering that it was being parceled into several chunks and issued in both dollars and euros. According to a banker working on the deal, the chunks will yield between about 5% and 6.5%.

Flurry of Allergan Trading Preceded Offer (WSJ)
Investors made outsize bets on Allergan Inc. stock in the 10 days during which activist hedge-fund manager William Ackman was privately accumulating a stake in the Botox maker, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Mr. Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP said Monday after the close of trading that it had bought a 9.7% stake in Allergan and had joined with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. to buy Allergan. Mr. Ackman and Valeant unveiled the offer, valued at roughly $46 billion, on Tuesday, and Allergan’s stock surged 15%. Even after stripping out Mr. Ackman’s buying, the volume of stock trading in Allergan during the 10-day period before Monday’s announcement was 86% higher than its average over the previous year, according to the Journal analysis, based on trading data provided by research firm S&P Capital IQ. There is no indication investors were tipped off about Pershing’s and Valeant’s offer. And other traders could have bought based on the higher volume. But such a significant surge in trading suggests that information about the potential buyout bid could have leaked to other investors, analysts said.

Russian bank launches post-Crimea bond (FT)
A Russian bank in the oil-rich region of Tatarstan has become the country’s first lender to issue a dollar-denominated bond since Moscow’s official annexation of Crimea and the subsequent tension with western governments. Tatfondbank, which has branches across Russia, raised $70m on Tuesday through a three-year bond priced to yield 11 per cent for investors. The issue, which was privately placed, was led by Bank of America Merrill Lynch along with two Russian banks, Region Broker Company and Otkritie Capital, part of Nomos Bank. According to bankers the bond issue could indicate a thawing in Russia’s debt capital markets, which have been largely put on hold as global political discord over Ukraine escalates. Nick Darrant, head of emerging markets syndicate at BNP Paribas, said the deal showed an uptick in demand for Russian debt remained in spite of the political risks.

Einhorn Shorting Tech as ‘Cool Kid’ Stocks Show Bubble (Bloomberg, earlier)
“There is a clear consensus that we are witnessing our second tech bubble in 15 years,” the New York-based firm said in a quarterly letter to clients.

Florida Man Catches 800-Pound Shark, Fries It Up (HP)
Joey Polk landed an 805-pound mako shark while fishing off the Florida panhandle last Tuesday. Video of the epic haul captured the moment Polk and his cousins pulled the giant fish ashore — and then took the remains home to eat. The 29-year-old, who lives in Milton, Fla., told WKRG that he’d prefer to keep a low profile, and doesn’t want any unnecessary attention paid to land-based shark fishing…”The funny thing is, as I left the house to go out that night, I kissed my son and said ‘Daddy’s gonna catch up a big, big fish tonight,’ but I didn’t think it would be this big,” Polk said, according to SFGate. Polk said he doesn’t want people to get the impression that gulf waters are teeming with sharks, and he doesn’t want people to go rushing out to the beach to try and land the big fish either. He said it’s all about the sport. According to Polk, the majority of the sharks he pulls in get tagged and released. But after an exhausting, hour-long fight, Polk said that the 11-foot mako shark couldn’t be saved. “We release about 98% of what we catch… we only bring in the ones too injured to swim away,” Polk said, according to SFGate. “We tried to revive the fish and send him back out, but he was too worn out to swim.” The website reports that Polk butchered the shark and cooked it for his community. He said it fed about 250 people.

Goldman Sachs Stands Firm as Banks Exit Commodity Trading (Bloomberg)
“The more banks that exit commodities trading, the less competitive it becomes for the banks which stick with it,” Jeffery Harte, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, said in a phone interview. Goldman Sachs has “the bigger franchise to be a winner. It now has a much bigger piece of a much smaller pie.”

Icahn on his legacy—planting activist funds (CNBC)
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he aims to help plant activist funds by backing new activist investors. “Activists are so important, and there are bright young guys who need backing for that,” he said in an Interview with CNBC’s David Faber. Activist investors need staying power and a “fairly good bankroll,” he added. When pressed to say how much he’d like to invest in seeding new activist funds, he said, “We have so much cash around…. Even if we invested $1 billion, or $100 million, it would be extremely immaterial.”

With Farm Robotics, the Cows Decide When It’s Milking Time (NYT)
Something strange is happening at farms in upstate New York. The cows are milking themselves. Desperate for reliable labor and buoyed by soaring prices, dairy operations across the state are charging into a brave new world of udder care: robotic milkers, which feed and milk cow after cow without ever touching one with a human hand. Scores of the machines have popped up across New York’s dairy belt and in other states in recent years, changing age-old patterns of daily farm life and reinvigorating the allure of agriculture for a younger, tech-savvy — and manure-averse — generation. “We’re used to computers and stuff, and it’s more in line with that,” said Mike Borden, 29, a seventh-generation dairyman, whose farm upgraded to robots, as others did, when disco-era milking parlors — the big, mechanized turntables that farmers use to milk many cows at once — started showing their age. “And,” Mr. Borden added, “it’s a lot more fun than doing manual labor.” The view is improved as well. “Most milking parlors, you see, you really only see the back end of the cow,” Mr. Borden’s father, Tom, said. “I don’t see that as building up much of a relationship.”

Katy Perry loses to superfan in trivia game about Katy Perry (NYDN)
A superfan named Emily managed to beat Perry in a game of trivia about herself on Monday’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” The 29-year-old “Dark Horse” singer wasn’t quick enough on the draw to beat her fan on questions about her career, ranging from the number of Grammy nominations she’s earned to the “American Idol” star she wrote two songs for. Luckily, the stakes weren’t that high. For winning, Emily got a signed pillow that Perry had slept on. If Perry had won, she would have taken home Emily’s prize scrapbook of Perry’s career.

23 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (23)

  1. Posted by Rebecca M. | April 23, 2014 at 7:10 AM

    4/3/2014?!? Seriously Shaz, go fuck yourself.

  2. Posted by FICC in Bathrobe | April 23, 2014 at 7:36 AM

    Ah…..Opening Bell is a bit early today!

  3. Posted by Kiosk Banker | April 23, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    You fucked up Shazar. Does this feel like a Thursday?

  4. Posted by Moo | April 23, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    Who needs men?

    -Cows

  5. Posted by ShazeBotics | April 23, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Shazar decides when the opening bell is.

  6. Posted by Day 1 | April 23, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    I seem to have stumbled into an alternate dimension where time is moving forward, not backwards. Opposites characteristics of the world compared to the "normal" world are also present, but there is one object that has stayed the same: Shazar's small dick.

  7. Posted by Carl Hiassen | April 23, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    Those Floridians are whacky!

  8. Posted by Guestido | April 23, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    Bess can we get some answers please? is Shazar really this useless? or is it the DB IT hamster? Or did Breaking Media cut funding and now you guys are trying to flip them the finger?

  9. Posted by Milk of the tit | April 23, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Cows? Is Matt back?

  10. Posted by Old School | April 23, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    It's moved to just a show up whenever and do a few post/pastes thing. That's fine.

    I gotta go back to making money anyway.

  11. Posted by Critic | April 23, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    Poetic

  12. Posted by DB IT Hamster | April 23, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    It's the poor craftsman who blames his tools.

  13. Posted by N Wacker Stud | April 23, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    I need to be protected from Shazar's comments. Does this new system work in reverse?

  14. Posted by Putin72 | April 23, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    In Soviet Russia Shazar posts Opening Bell.

  15. Posted by Activist Cow | April 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    Certainly not Carl Icahn. He only backs bright young guys.

    I'd like to start an activist fund that raises hell over his overt sexism. He shouldn't be allowed to own shares in public companies if he so obviously discriminates against women.

    any company he badgers should fire back about his discrimination.

  16. Posted by Rebecca M. | April 23, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Preach on brother.

    -B. 'Honey packet of love' Madoff

  17. Posted by Rebecca M. | April 23, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    "I gotta go back to making money anyway"

    Foreign concept, please explain

    -UBS MD

  18. Posted by Shaz's beard | April 23, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Leave him alone, Shazzy posted this at 7am. I don't even know anyone who gets to work before 8:30.

    -UBS MD

  19. Posted by Quant me maybe... | April 23, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    Would it have been insider trading if we really went back to the beginning of the month and you bought short dated out of the money calls on Valeant?

    >Guy who would like to do that. A lot.

  20. Posted by KingCo | April 23, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    That's kind of like yelling at your tapeworm.

    A satisfying, but ultimately unsuccessful, strategy.

  21. Posted by Activist Critic | April 23, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Priapic

  22. Posted by guest | April 23, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    Dude, you gotta try some of the decaf they're making these days.

  23. Posted by Shazanus | April 23, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    My blanus brings all the boys to the yard….