Opening Bell: 01.18.11

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Citigroup Swings To Fourth Quarter Profit (MarketWatch)
Citi said this morning that it earned a $1.31 billion, or 4 cents a share profit in its fourth quarter, compared to a loss of $7.58 billion, or 33 cents a share a year ago. Total revenues in the fourth quarter were $18.37 billion, compared to $5.41 billion a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet Research had expected Citigroup to earn 8 cents a share in the fourth quarter.

Ex-Banker Gives Data on Taxes to WikiLeaks (NYT)
Rudolf M. Elmer, who ran the Caribbean operations of the Swiss bank Julius Baer for eight years until he was dismissed in 2002, refused to identify any of the individuals or companies, but he told reporters at a news conference that about 40 politicians and “pillars of society” were among them.

Goldman Limits Facebook Offering (WSJ)
The bank slammed the door on U.S. clients hoping to invest in a private offering of shares in Facebook Inc., because it said the intense media spotlight left the deal in danger of violating U.S. securities laws...The change could damage Goldman's ties to some of its most lucrative clients, left empty-handed just as they were deciding whether to invest in Facebook, clients say. Facebook executives were frustrated by the headache of restructuring the deal at the last minute, according to people familiar with the situation.

Goldman Fails to See Hype That Derailed Facebook Sale (Bloomberg)
“You would have thought that this was an issue from the start, they should have realized this up front,” said Peter Hahn, a lecturer in corporate finance at Cass Business School in London. “If I invited my 500 best friends to a party, would it be a secret? And the answer is no.”

Toward A 21st Century Regulatory System (WSJ)
Barack Obama: "...creating a 21st-century regulatory system is about more than which rules to add and which rules to subtract. As the executive order I am signing makes clear, we are seeking more affordable, less intrusive means to achieve the same ends—giving careful consideration to benefits and costs. This means writing rules with more input from experts, businesses and ordinary citizens. It means using disclosure as a tool to inform consumers of their choices, rather than restricting those choices. And it means making sure the government does more of its work online, just like companies are doing."

Schumer Will Push Currency Measure Aimed at China (Bloomberg)
The legislation, which will be officially introduced when the Senate returns from a break next week, would allow domestic manufacturers to seek duties on imports from any country that is found to have a currency that is “fundamentally misaligned.”

Urn Stolen By Ash-Hole (NYP)
A Connecticut man has been charged with stealing a funeral urn containing the ashes of his girlfriend's grandmother. Mark Kzakrzeski, 37, of Southbury, said he threw the ashes and urn -- taken during a fight Friday at the girlfriend's Oxford home -- in the woods, say Connecticut State Police.

Citigroup Gain Masks Flawed Mortgages Sold to Freddie Mac (Bloomberg)
Three years after bad home loans helped trigger the recession and six weeks after the government cashed in the last of its $45 billion Citigroup investment, the New York-based bank is still selling mortgages that violate quality standards, according to an internal Freddie Mac review obtained by Bloomberg.

Steve Jobs's health to overshadow quarterly Apple sales (Reuters)
Apple said on Monday Jobs was taking a medical leave of absence without specifying a return date or detailing his condition.

Santander Chief Is Said to Be Banned From Banking (Dealbook)
Alfredo Sáenz, chief executive of Santander, has been fined, sentenced to a suspended eight-month prison term and banned from banking by the Spanish supreme court, the daily newspaper El Mundo reported on Monday...Without citing sources, El Mundo said Mr. Sáenz, the most important executive at Santander after its chairman, Emilio Botín, had been sentenced for fraud and making false claims while he was president of Banesto in the 1990s.

Fed Officials Signal Growth Pickup Won't Alter Bond Purchases (Bloomberg)
Bernanke said last week that “we see the economy strengthening,” and added, “you’re not going to reduce unemployment at the pace that we’d like it to.” Fed Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said in an interview that while the U.S. outlook has improved, he wants to see more evidence before altering the Fed’s plan to buy $600 billion in Treasuries through June.

The New Starbucks Trenta Cup Is Bigger Than Your Stomach (Gizmodo)
Starbucks will introduce a 916ml Trenta cup. That's more than the average capacity of the human stomach.

Related

Opening Bell: 05.08.12

When Facebook Met Wall Street (WSJ) On Monday, investors piled into the hotel to hear what Mr. Zuckerberg and his lieutenants had to say about the offering. At one point, the line, leading to a second-floor ballroom where the meeting was scheduled to be held at 11:45 a.m., stretched down to the first floor and spilled out of the hotel for nearly half a city block. At least one investor waiting in line said he didn't expect anything to be revealed that wasn't already in Facebook's securities filings. Rather, he was there to take in the show, and lunch (which was Cobb salad and grilled chicken). A 30-minute video about Facebook, which had been widely distributed before Monday, led the lunch, according to attendees. The next part of the presentation was briefly delayed by Mr. Zuckerberg's absence. The CEO was in the bathroom, explained Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman to attendees. (Mr. Ebersman wore a navy suit.) Yahoo CEO Apologizes in Memo, Board Meets (Reuters, earlier) Yahoo Inc's board convened on Monday afternoon to discuss the mounting upset surrounding Chief Executive Scott Thompson, who has apologized to employees after being accused last week by activist investor Daniel Loeb of padding his resume, a source with knowledge of the matter said..."I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you," Thompson wrote in his first extended memo to employees since the disclosures emerged on May 3. "We have all been working very hard to move the company forward and this has had the opposite effect. For that, I take full responsibility, and I want to apologize to you." Billion-Dollar Traders Quit Wall Street For Hedge Funds (Bloomberg) Wall Street’s biggest banks have lost almost two dozen of their most-profitable credit traders in the past 13 months as regulators limit the kind of risk-taking that amplified the housing crisis four years ago. As banks slash or defer pay and reduce the amount they’re willing to wager, the traders are seeing better opportunities at hedge funds and investment firms that seek to profit in markets lenders are retreating from. Wall Street Banks Depressed In Secular Shift (Bloomberg) To Kevin Conn, who has been analyzing bank stocks for 15 years, the investment climate for Wall Street’s biggest firms has entered the realm of science fiction. “It’s like that Ray Bradbury short story where it rains for months in a row,” said Conn, who works for Massachusetts Financial Services Co., referring to “The Long Rain,” published in 1950. “It’s one of these terrifically depressing short stories where the weather just never changes.” Spain To Spend Billions On Bank Rescue (FT) Spain is planning a state bail-out of Bankia, the country’s third biggest bank by assets, in a move likely to involve the injection of billions of euros of public money into the troubled lender. In an abrupt reversal of policy, the Spanish government, which had previously insisted that no additional state money would be needed to clean up the country’s banking sector, confirmed that an intervention was being prepared. OWS Mom Snubs Plea (NYP) Occupy Wall Street protester Stacey Hessler, 39, arrested in November for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, yesterday refused an offer to have her charges dismissed and will instead face a trial...Hessler had originally planned to accept the judge’s offer of an adjournment contemplating dismissal, which erases the charge if the defendant stays out of trouble for six months, but later changed her mind, her attorney said. SEC Orders Probe Of Watchdog Office (WSJ) The Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered an independent inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct by current and former staff working for its office of the inspector general, according to a person familiar with the matter. The complaint includes allegations that the misconduct compromised certain investigations of the SEC, according to the person familiar with the situation. Apollo's Profit More Than Doubles (WSJ) For the first quarter, Apollo reported a profit of $98 million, or 66 cents a share, up from a year-earlier profit of $38.2 million, or 33 cents a share. Economic net income rose to $1.10 from 99 cents a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected 78 cents a share...Total revenue rose 12% to $776.7 million, far better than the $547 million expected by analysts. Bank of America Offers Principal Reductions to 200,000 Homeowners (CNBC) “If people get these things and toss them, they won’t be eligible,” says Ron Sturzenegger, the Bank of America executive charged with providing solutions to borrowers in need of mortgage assistance. But the offer is real, and eligible borrowers could get as much as $150,000 knocked off the balance of their mortgages. It is all part of the $25 billion settlement reached this year between federal and state agencies and the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers over fraudulent foreclosure document processing (so-called “robo-signing”). No Repeating Slowdown Seen by U.S. With Banks to Housing (Bloomberg) Rising auto sales, improving bank credit and stabilization of housing are among the signs the economy is more resilient now than it was around the same time in 2010 and 2011, according to Marisa Di Natale, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “From where we sit right now, we think the economy looks fundamentally stronger,” Di Natale said. “Surveys of business and consumer confidence are better, the labor market data looks a lot better than it did last year, even some of the housing data looks better.” Ex-Tyco CFO: Gimme the $ I didn’t steal! (Reuters) Former Tyco International Chief Financial Officer Mark Swartz, who is serving a prison sentence for looting the company, has sued for $60 million in retirement and other money he says he is owed. The lawsuit, which was made public yesterday, accuses Tyco of breach of contract and unjust enrichment for not paying him some $48 million from an executive retirement agreement, $9 million in reimbursement for New York taxes, and other money. Winner Of Mexican Presidential Debate? Julia Orayen (AP) Who won Mexico's presidential debate? According to the media and Twitter frenzy, at least, the victor wasn't any candidate but a curvaceous model in a tight gown who puzzled millions by appearing on stage for less than 30 seconds during the showdown. Julia Orayen has posed nude for Playboy and appeared barely dressed in other media, but she made her mark on Mexican minds Sunday night by carrying an urn filled with bits of paper determining the order that candidates would speak. She wore a tight, white dress with a wide, tear-drop cutout that revealed her ample decolletage. The image was splashed across newspaper front pages and websites by Monday. "The best was the girl in white with the cleavage at the beginning," tweeted former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda, who is also a New York University professor...Alfredo Figueroa, director of the Federal Electoral Institute responsible for organizing the debate, blamed the incident on a production associate hired by the institute to help with the debate. The institute later issued an apology to Mexican citizens and the candidates for the woman's dress.