Opening Bell: 04.16.10

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Bank of America Reports 25% Profit Drop (MW)
First-quarter net income was $3.2 billion, or 28 cents a share, versus $4.2 billion, or 44 cents a share, a year earlier, Bank of America said. Revenue at the bank fell 11% year-on-year to $32 billion, driven by what it said were the absence of credit-related gains on Merrill Lynch-structured notes that it had enjoyed last year, as well lower mortgage-banking volume and income. First-quarter provision for credit losses was $9.8 billion, down from $13.4 billion in the first quarter of 2009. But despite the drop, the results outpaced analyst estimates. Bank of America was expected to make 9 cents a share, according to the average estimate of analysts surveyed by FactSet Research.

Geithner Won't Call For Derivatives Ban (WSJ)
Mr. Geithner, in a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D., Ark.), said new financial rules must create restrictions on how over-the-counter derivatives are traded "in order to curb abuses that were at the very center of the financial crisis." But he notably stopped short of endorsing a proposal from Ms. Lincoln to force large banks to spin off derivatives trading businesses entirely.

Goldman Director To Step Down (WSJ)
Rajat Guptatold Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in March he wouldn't stand for re-election as a director, after receiving notice from prosecutors that they were reviewing recorded conversations between him and Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam, people close to the matter say.

NY Democrats Antagonizing Their Backers On Wall Street (Reuters)
"Schumer is a bit of an anathema because sometimes he's with us and sometimes he's against us," said one financial industry lobbyist who declined to be identified in order to preserve friendly relations with New York politicians.

Goldman Real Estate Fund Lost 98 Cents on the Dollar (FT)
Whitehall Street International, Goldman Sachs’ international real estate investment fund, has lost almost all of its $1.8 billion of equity following soured property investments in the U.S., Germany and Japan, according to the fund’s estimates.

Arrested in Shoeshine Arsons, and Back Out Shining Shoes (NYT)
The gentlest-looking person on an otherwise sharp-elbowed stretch of 42nd Street on Thursday seemed to be a short, sweet-faced man of 71 years, hunched over a little wooden shoeshine box. The man, John Swain, wore a cardboard sign around his neck, with the words “Shoe Shine” stenciled in black lettering. There he was, fresh from his arrest the day before on charges of burning down a nearby shoeshine stand — twice. There he was, back out there offering shines for $4 apiece. “Yep, that’s me,” Mr. Swain said when showed a photograph of himself in the morning newspaper, along with an article saying he was accused of setting fire to a three-seat stand near Bryant Park on March 22, and then torching a replacement stand on April 6.

2 Charged in International Tax Evasion Scheme Said to Involve HSBC (NYT)
The property developers — Mauricio Cohen Assor and his son, Leon Cohen-Levy — were taken into custody in New York, a day after they were jointly charged in a criminal complaint filed in Federal District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., court papers show.

Jay-Z clubs Papi with suit (NYP)
J hit David Ortiz with a $5 million-plus suit yesterday, claiming the Boston slugger apparently liked Jay-Z's 40/40 Club so much, he decided to open his own. The Manhattan federal court filing accuses Ortiz and his sister, Albania Ortiz, of trademark infringement, unjust enrichment and "false designation of sponsorship" in connection with the "Forty Forty" nightclub they opened in the Dominican Republic last year. The suit also charges them with "cybersquatting" for running a Spanish-language Web site at www.fortyforty.net.

Lehman Wins OK To Create Asset Management Company (Reuters)
"I've never seen anything quite like this," U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Peck said at a court hearing.

Ash-Cloud Flight Disruptions Intensify in Europe, Will Extend Into Weekend (Bloomberg)
As many as 15,000 flights may be lost in the region today, or about half the usual timetable, according to Brian Flynn, operations chief at Eurocontrol, which oversees the region’s flight paths. That’s up from 8,000 cancellations yesterday.

Related

Opening Bell: 01.31.13

Deutsche Bank Swings To A $2.9 Billion Loss (WSJ) In the fourth quarter alone, the bank took €2.9 billion in charges, €1 billion of which was for "litigation-related charges." Mr. Jain said the charges "relate to developments in regulatory investigations and adverse court rulings which you are all familiar with," but didn't elaborate further. Deutsche Bank is currently embroiled in a number of legal disputes on both sides of the Atlantic, including the decade-long legal battle in the 2002 bankruptcy of Germany's Kirch Media Group. It is also among the banks that are under official investigation for allegedly rigging interbank benchmark rates, including the London Interbank Offered Rate. The rest of the quarter's charges were mainly related to losses from businesses bought before 2003, such as Bankers Trust and Scudder in the U.S., and impairments related to its investment in the Cosmopolitan Resort in Las Vegas and Maher Terminals in North America, which it put into an internal bad bank. The quarter's net loss of €2.17 billion compares with a profit of €147 million a year earlier. For the full year, net profit was €611 million, down from €4.13 billion. Deutsche Bank Beats Capital Goal as Jain Shrugs Off Loss (Bloomberg) “We’ve galvanized Deutsche Bank around the achievement of our capital targets,” Jain, 50, said on a conference call with analysts. The loss “reflects a number of decisions we took to position Deutsche Bank,” he said. Barclays, RBS May Pay Billions Over Improper Derivatives Sales (Bloomberg) The lenders, including Lloyds Banking Group Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc, have set aside around 740 million pounds to cover the claims. Analysts say the total charges for the industry may be much higher than that after the Financial Services Authority said it found “serious failings” in reviews of product sales. SAC And Elan Blasted By Investor Who Lost Nest Egg (NYP) Ronald Weiland realized he’d made a bad bet in 2008, when he lost his $1 million nest egg trading shares of drug company Elan. What he didn’t know then was that the cards were stacked against him. Weiland now believes that he and other investors were played by Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors when the hedge fund giant — acting on information from a former trader accused of insider trading — abruptly dumped its huge long position in Elan and Wyeth and started shorting both stocks. “They had information that I didn’t have access to,” said Weiland, a 53-year-old former consultant for Arthur Andersen. “It’s totally a matter of seeing very wealthy people being able to game the system.” The big trading swing that netted $276 million for SAC and led to the arrest of former trader Mathew Martoma has also landed the firm in hot water. Elan investors have filed at least two lawsuits against SAC, accusing the firm of costing them millions, and several class-action law firms are looking to tee up more. US Targeting Tax Evasion (WSJ) On Monday, a federal judge in New York approved an Internal Revenue Service summons demanding still more records from UBS. According to court filings, the government now is focusing on U.S. taxpayers with accounts at smaller Swiss banks that didn't have U.S. branches but served customers through a UBS account in Stamford, Conn. Interactive Map: What NYC Neighborhoods Have The Most Public Drinking Complaints? (Gothamist) Greenpoint, Williamsburg, the Lower East Side, Hamilton Heights, East Harlem and Washington Heights are the worst offenders—on the other hand, almost no one is getting in trouble in Midtown, the Financial District, Red Hook, Dumbo, and the Upper East and West Sides. Since we already know there can be a a historical correlation between public drinking and public urinating (and sometimes only the urinating part is public), we decided to look at public urination complaints too...Some conclusions from this comparison: Midtown East and Chelsea have way more urination complaints than drinking ones. Union Square, Greenpoint and Randalls Island are also urinary offenders. It seems like nobody on Staten Island cares about people urinating on their lawns, and same goes for anywhere west of East Flushing. Blackstone Swings To Fourth Quarter Profit (WSJ) As of the quarter's end, total assets under management reached a record $210.22 billion, up 26% from the year earlier, as all of Blackstone's investment businesses continued to see net inflows and carrying-value appreciation...Blackstone posted a profit of $106.4 million, or 19 cents a unit, compared with a year-earlier loss of $22.7 million, or five cents a unit. On the basis of so-called economic net income, the firm reported a profit of 59 cents a unit, versus a profit of 42 cents a unit a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters recently expected a per-share profit of 47 cents. Ackman Ahead In Herbalife Bet (NYP) Ackman has scored a gross profit of about $260 million on his $1 billion short bet against the nutritional supplements company, based on an estimated 20 million shares shorted at an average price of $50. Loeb, who bought 8.9 million shares at an average price of $32, is up $44.5 million. Ackman has widened his lead considerably. Just two weeks ago, his gross gain stood closer to $120 million while Loeb had made an estimated $108 million. Threats Cloud Euro's Flight (WSJ) The euro, once on death's door, is on a monthslong tear, rising Wednesday to its highest level since November 2011. But even some investors who helped propel the currency above $1.3560 Wednesday say it can't fly much further. Europe's economy is still in the doldrums, they say, and a stronger euro could make the situation worse. And with central banks elsewhere racing to push down their own currencies, boosting the relative value of the euro, the European Central Bank eventually could be compelled to join them. Jobless Claims in U.S. Rose 38,000 Last Week to 368,000 (Bloomberg) Economists forecast 350,000 filings, according to the Bloomberg survey median. The increase followed a combined 45,000 drop in the prior two weeks. Guy Inadvertently Posts Public YouTube Video Inviting His Fiancée’s Best Friend Over for a Threeway (Gawker) We've all been there. You're super excited after getting the go ahead from your fiancée Cynthia to invite her best friend Zoey over for a threeway, so you hastily record a video introducing yourself to Zoey and letting her know that you're totally open to having a threeway this week, next week, the week after that, whenever, anytime, today, or maybe tomorrow, whenever possible, and you're just really excited to show her things that she's never seen and do things that were never done before in a threeway. Then you hastily upload the video to your public YouTube account that 300 people are subscribed to, and await your threeway.