Opening Bell: 01.19.11

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Goldman Sachs's Earnings Drop 52%, Matching Estimates (Bloomberg)
Fourth-quarter net income fell to $2.39 billion, or $3.79 a share, in the three months ended Dec. 31, from $4.95 billion, or $8.20, a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Estimates of 22 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg averaged $3.79 per share, and ranged from $3 to $4.31.

Facebook Flop Riles Goldman Clients (WSJ)
"They pushed me hard to get here and invest, and then they pull the rug out from under me," said one wealthy Goldman client in the U.S. who was planning to invest $2 million in the social-networking site. His adviser at Goldman called Sunday night to explain that the Wall Street firm would offer Facebook shares only to non-U.S. clients. Goldman worried that the media spotlight surrounding the private offering might violate U.S. securities laws and expose the firm to legal action. "The whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth," the Goldman client said.

Wells, US Bancorp profit up as credit improves (Reuters)
US Bancorp posted a 61 percent jump in net income as the regional bank released $25 million in loan loss reserves. The move was the first by the company since the financial crisis began in 2008. The bank's earnings per share of 49 cents beat analysts' estimates by 3 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Wells Fargo posted a 21 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit, helped by double-digit revenue growth in multiple business units. The bank said earnings rose to $3.4 billion, or 61 cents a share, meeting analysts' expectations.

Moody's Cuts Tunisia Amid Upheaval (WSJ)
The Tunisian government's rating was cut to Baa2 from Baa3, Moody's said. "The current uncertainties about the economic and political consequences of the collapse of Tunisia's previous political regime are the main drivers for the decision to downgrade the government's bond ratings by one notch and assign a negative outlook," said Aurelien Mali, Moody's lead sovereign analyst for Tunisia.

Citigroup To Name New President (WSJ)
John Havens is now president and chief operating officer.

Ballmer, Blankfein Invited by Obama to Hu Discussion on Business in China (Bloomberg)
The CEO summit on the White House grounds, coming between a formal welcoming ceremony and a dinner in Hu’s honor, is part of the economic focus President Barack Obama is putting on the first formal state visit by a Chinese leader in more 13 years. Also invited to the meeting were Westinghouse Electric Corp. CEO Aris Candris; former Sybase Inc. chief executive John Chen; Coca-Cola Co. chief executive Muhtar Kent; DuPont Co. CEO Ellen J. Kullman; Greg Page, CEO of Cargill Inc.; John Thornton, chairman of HSBC Holdings Plc’s North American division; David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of Carlyle Group; Paul Otellini, Intel Corp. CEO; and Dow Chemical Co. CEO Andrew Liveris.

Drug Smuggling Pigeons Caught By Police (WNI)
The bird was caught as it attempted to fly into a jail in the city of Bucaramanga in Columbia, complete with 45g stash of marijuana and cocaine on its back.

Germany Said to Study Possible Greek Restructuring (CNBC)
"They have started to consider the unthinkable," said a source. "They are looking at a contingency plan preparing for Greek restructuring. "It is not something they want but something they recognize," he said."They would be unprepared for the impact on their own bank balance sheets. They have started to see what the Greek constitution says."

Ex-Swiss Banker Linked to WikiLeaks Goes on Trial (Reuters)
Elmer, 55, among the first to use WikiLeaks to publish private bank documents, said he took his information to the website after Swiss authorities failed to act on it. "The ethics of business leadership on both sides of the Atlantic have disappointed me," he said, adding that he wanted to expose illegal offshore activity in the Cayman Islands.

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