Opening Bell: 02.02.12

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Facebook Sets Historic IPO (WSJ)
The filing left a few clues that Facebook's founder, 27-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, is worried about how wealth and public scrutiny may change the company's culture. At Facebook's offices, employees went about business as usual Wednesday, said one person, enjoying a lunch of lobster bisque, braised beef, Moroccan couscous and apple, cream and honey galette for dessert, said another. A stack of giveaway posters left in a kitchenette at Facebook headquarters read "Stay Focused & Keep Shipping," according to a photo shared by Facebook employees. Mr. Zuckerberg shared a photo on Facebook of the flyer on his desk.

From Founders to Decorators, Facebook Riches (NYT)
The graffiti artist who took Facebook stock instead of cash for painting the walls of the social network’s first headquarters made a smart bet. The shares owned by the artist, David Choe, are expected to be worth upward of $200 million when Facebook stock trades publicly later this year...In 2005, Mr. Choe was invited to paint murals on the walls of Facebook’s first offices in Palo Alto, Calif., by Sean Parker, then Facebook’s president. As pay, Mr. Parker offered Mr. Choe a choice between cash in the “thousands of dollars,” according to several people who know Mr. Choe, or stock then worth about the same. Mr. Choe, who has said that at the time that he thought the idea of Facebook was “ridiculous and pointless,” nevertheless chose the stock.

With Facebook, Morgan Stanley Wins Bragging Rights (Dealbook)
"In a show of support for their prospective client, bankers from the top three underwriters had set up Facebook accounts."

Wealthy Investors May Shrug at Facebook IPO (Bloomberg)
“It’s kind of the late arrivals who get excited around the time of the IPO,” said Jason Thomas, chief investment officer of Aspiriant, whose clients on average have about $10 million under management with the Los Angeles-based firm. “Our clients remember the tech bubble very well, and are appropriately skeptical of being the last money in.”

Deutsche Bank profits fall as debt crisis bites (AP)
Deutsche Bank said in a statement on Thursday it booked net profit of 186 million euros ($245 million) in the fourth quarter, 76 percent less than in the preceding three months and a drop of 69 percent from the period from October to December in 2010. The figure is worse than expected: analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had been pencilling in fourth-quarter net profit of 572 million euros.

Global Strategists Abandoning Bearish Views (Bloomberg)
Just two weeks after saying that investors should “remain cautious,” Larry Hatheway, the chief economist at UBS AG (UBSN), raised his recommendations on global shares and high-yield bonds in a Jan. 23 note to customers entitled, “Wrong, but not too late.” Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), and Benoit Anne, the global head of emerging-markets strategy at Societe Generale (GLE) SA, said their estimates for developing nations were proven wrong.

Man goes to court for custody of 'kidnapped' dog (NYP)
A Manhattan man has gone to court to regain custody of his kidnapped "son" - his dog Knuckles.
In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Craig Dershowitz says he hasn't seen his precious puggle in months, since ex-girlfriend Sarah Brega "took unilateral control of Knuckles and kidnapped him." He believes Brega has since spirited Knuckles away to California - and he wants a judge to force Brega to bring his "baby boy" back home. "I took the step to file suit because there seemed to be no other recourse. I tried my hardest to appeal to her sense of justice and, in general, her emotions. When that did not work, I had no other choice," said Dershowitz, a 34-year-old art gallery employee. "You say it is an extraordinary step but I think most pet owners would agree with me. Knuckles is my son, my heart – you would fight just as hard to protect your own children." The tattooed artist said he got "Knux" through a family in New Jersey that had a litter of puggles, which are a cross between a pug and a beagle. "I chose the name 'Knuckles' because he was the littlest yet most spirited of the litter. He looked like a scrapper," the Brooklyn native said.

U.S. weighs 30 percent "Buffett Rule" tax on millionaires (Reuters)
The "Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012," introduced by Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, has almost no chance of passage this year as the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has sworn off tax increases...Revenue generated from the tax has yet to be officially calculated, but Whitehouse said it could raise $40 billion to $50 billion a year.

Moody's Sees Negative Ratings Trend for Asian Firms (Reuters)
Defaults by Asian companies are likely to rise this year as the economic environment deteriorates and credit becomes tighter with European lenders reducing their exposure to the region, ratings agency Moody's Investors Service said on Thursday. "Asian sectors most vulnerable to adverse policy tightening, cyclicality, and excess capacity include Chinese property developers, as well as the refining and marketing, technology and semiconductor sectors," Moody's said in a report. "Weakening or volatile domestic currencies will likewise increase cost pressures for importers in countries such as India and Korea," the U.S. ratings agency added.

Insiders: No DOJ case vs. Goldman (NYP)
Nearly nine months after the Justice Department launched a probe into whether the Wall Street firm misled clients and lied to lawmakers, executives are increasingly optimistic that the bank will avoid criminal charges and focus on what it does best: minting money. The DOJ investigation into Goldman was spurred by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who, in a scathing report in April, accused Goldman executives of unloading subprime loans on unsuspecting clients and misleading Congress during testimony in 2010.

TSE Glitch Casts Shadow Over Osaka Takeover (Bloomberg)
The Tokyo Stock Exchange suffered its biggest disruption in six years as a computer glitch forced the halt of trading in 241 securities, prompting concern about system reliability amid the bourse’s bid for its Osaka rival. Trading in the affected securities, which included shares of Sony Corp. (6758) and Hitachi Ltd. (6501), resumed at 12:30 p.m. local time, about 4 1/2 hours after the bourse said the error was detected.

Treasure Hunter Says He Found $3B WWII Wreck (AP)
A treasure hunter said Wednesday he has located the wreck of a British merchant ship that was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Cape Cod during World War II while carrying what he claims was a load of platinum bars now worth more than $3 billion...Treasure hunter Greg Brooks said he and his crew identified it via the hull number using an underwater camera, and he hopes to begin raising the treasure later this month or in early March with the help of a remotely operated underwater vessel. "I'm going to get it, one way or another, even if I have to lift the ship out of the water," Brooks said.

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Opening Bell: 05.15.12

In Facebook IPO, Frenzy, Skepticism (WSJ) Michael Belanger, a lawyer from Oklahoma City, invests his personal money in the stock market. But he will be skipping Facebook's IPO because he thinks its valuation is totally "out of whack." Scott Schermerhorn, chief investment officer of investment-management firm Granite Investment Advisors, says the hype around Facebook's IPO is going to keep his firm away. "It's a cult stock," he says. Little of that skepticism is weighing on three investors, tracked by The Wall Street Journal since Facebook announced in February that it would go public. Jim Supple was driving with his daughter Jade last autumn, when she turned to him and said, "Daddy, can I buy some of the Facebook company?" Mr. Supple, 47, had been teaching Jade about investing in the stock market for years. He started putting money for her in stocks like eBay and Disney when she was a baby. But the request still took him aback. "How do you know about buying Facebook?" he asked. "I saw in the news that they were going to be selling parts of the company," she responded. "Can we buy some?" Since then, Mr. Supple has been trying to find a way to take $25,000 he has saved for her college fund and purchase Facebook stock. "She doesn't need this money for another eight years," says Mr. Supple. "If it goes the Google route, I'll be in good shape." JPMorgan Said To Weigh Bonus Clawbacks After Loss (Bloomberg) The lender can cancel stock awards or demand they be repaid if an employee “engages in conduct that causes material financial or reputational harm,” JPMorgan said in its annual proxy statement. The company will claw back pay if it’s appropriate, said one of the executives, who asked not to be identified because no decisions have been made. The incident, which led to Drew’s retirement yesterday, may test JPMorgan’s claw-back policy amid mounting investor criticism over Wall Street pay practices and as regulators investigate the trades. JPMorgan Moves To Protect Dimon (WSJ) The board backs Mr. Dimon and the way he quickly admitted and sought to fix the bank's mistakes, according to this person. "We made errors, and we are going to take care of it," Mr. Dimon told fellow directors during a conference call last week, the person said. "This was bad thinking. This was stupid." Euro Chiefs May Offer Leniency to Greece (Bloomberg) Calling talk of a Greek pullout from the euro “nonsense” and “propaganda,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said only a “fully functioning” Greek government would be entitled to tinker with the conditions attached to 240 billion euros ($308 billion) of rescue aid. Man Spends $60,000 In Custody Battle Over Dog Knuckles (CBS) Dershowitz, 34, said he considers Knuckles to be his son, and that although he’s gone through his life savings, he said it’s worth it. In papers filed earlier this year in Manhattan state Supreme Court, Dershowitz said ex-girlfriend Sarah Brega “kidnapped” Knuckles after they broke up. Brega said Dershowitz gave her the puggle pup — half pug, half beagle. Dershowitz started the website Rescue Knux to raise money for the custody fight. For $250, contributors can play fetch with Knuckles. For $10,000, Legends of Graffiti will do a giant, personalized mural. Dershowitz made an emotional video plea and posted the following on his site: I know it might sound funny and I understand that. If it wasn’t so painful, I would be laughing too (I mean, c’mon – dognapp – really?) but this is very serious to me and I miss him a lot. Enough that I have gone into debt to retrieve him and enough that I am on here asking for your help. I need the money to keep fighting the court battle. She comes from a wealthy family that is backing her. I don’t. She keeps filing crazy, frivolous motions just knowing that I can’t afford to respond even after the judge has ruled in my favor. The courts gave me custody already but, sadly, the system is too complex and expensive to make anything that simple and easy. I need help bringing my boy home…where he belongs…for good.” Dick Bove: No Reason to Break Up Big Banks (CNBC) JPMorgan’s much ballyhooed $2 billion loss is no reason to ramp up regulations, noted bank analyst Dick Bove said Monday. “I don’t think there’s any reason to break up the big banks,” he told CNBC. “Particularly if a bank can earn $18 billion a year and $22 billion the next year, why in heaven’s name would you say it can’t be run?” Sanders Sees Conflict With Dimon on New York Fed Board (Bloomberg) Senator Bernard Sanders said he sees a conflict with JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon serving on the board of directors at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, JPMorgan’s regulator. “It is an obvious conflict of interest,” Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said today in an e-mail response to a question from Bloomberg News. “This is a clear example of the fox guarding the henhouse.” Chesapeake Loan Jars Bond Investors (WSJ) "This loan was priced very attractively" for lenders, said Sabur Moini, manager of a $2.5 billion high-yield-bond portfolio at Payden & Rygel, adding that turmoil in Chesapeake's bonds was largely "self-inflicted." Investor confidence was shaken by the loan, he said, but it has also been dented by other factors, including controversy over CEO Aubrey McClendon's pledging his stakes in company wells as collateral to secure loans with companies that do business with Chesapeake. Rajat Gupta Opposes U.S. Request to Limit Defense at Trial (Bloomberg) Prosecutors had sought to bar Gupta from speculating before the jury about the government’s motives in bringing the case. They also said evidence of Gupta’s past charitable contributions and the purported damage the case has had on his reputation aren’t relevant. “The government attempts to hamstring the defense,” Gupta’s lawyers said in a court filing today. “Mr. Gupta’s charitable activities are a large component of his background and a critical element of who he is as a person.” Cops bust man smuggling cocaine at JFK (NYP) A drug smuggler packed his stash of cocaine inside sticks of deodorant, ink markers and hundreds of buttons — only to be busted by alert customs officers at JFK Airport who noticed a strong odor coming from his suitcase, authorities said today...The items with cocaine hidden inside included 16 markers, 17 sticks of Dove and Odorex deodorant, 24 bottles of nail polish, and about 684 buttons.

Opening Bell: 05.02.12

UBS Earnings Helped By Wealth-Management Focus, Risk-Cutting (WSJ) UBS's first-quarter earnings showed that the Swiss bank's strategy of shifting its focus to managing assets for wealthy clients and reducing risk is starting to pay off, demonstrating that it is putting behind it a troubled past marked by huge investment bank losses during the financial crisis, a bruising battle with U.S. tax authorities and a trading scandal last year. Worries about the global economy are likely to prevent clients from investing much in the second quarter, but "we believe our wealth-management businesses as a whole will continue to attract net new money, as our clients recognize our efforts and continue to entrust us with their assets... We have the utmost confidence in our firm's future," UBS said in a statement. The bank's wealth-management units recorded a rise in pretax profit during the quarter and attracted CHF10.9 billion ($12.1 billion) in new assets from clients. UBS also managed to shed more risky assets during the quarter, raised new capital and is on track to meet its target of saving CHF2 billion in costs annually...Reported results for the bank as a whole were less pleasing because an accounting loss on UBS's own debt led to a 54% drop in net profit. Excluding this charge, which was higher than forecast, earnings beat analysts' estimates and contributed to the rise in UBS's shares. The Zurich-based bank said net profit fell to 827 million Swiss francs in the quarter ended March 31 from CHF1.81 billion a year earlier. Revenue fell 22% to CHF6.53 billion from CHF8.34 billion, while operating expenses declined 15% to CHF5.22 billion. Wealthy Americans Queue To Give Up Their Passports (Bloomberg) Rich Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship rose sevenfold since UBS AG (UBSN) whistle-blower Bradley Birkenfeld triggered a crackdown on tax evasion four years ago. About 1,780 expatriates gave up their nationality at U.S. embassies last year, up from 235 in 2008, according to Andy Sundberg, secretary of Geneva’s Overseas American Academy, citing figures from the government’s Federal Register. The embassy in Bern, the Swiss capital, redeployed staff to clear a backlog as Americans queued to relinquish their passports. The Big Doubt Over Facebook's IPO (WSJ) "The question with Facebook and many of the social media sites is, 'What are we getting for our dollars?'" said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing at Kia Motors Corp.'s North American division. The automaker has advertised on Facebook since 2009 and plans to increase its ad spending on the site. While building brand awareness on a site with 900 million users is valuable, Mr. Sprague said he's unclear if "a consumer sees my ad, and does that ultimately lead to a new vehicle sale?" The concerns from Kia and other advertisers underscore the difficulties of measuring results of nascent-forms of social-media advertising. Madness In Spain Lingers As Ireland Chases Recovery (Bloomberg) “Ireland faced up to its problems faster than others and we expect growth there rather soon,” said Cinzia Alcidi, an analyst at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels. “In Spain, there was kind of a denial of the scale of the problem and it may be faced with many years of significant challenges before full recovery takes place.” Euro-Zone Economic Woes Deepen (WSJ) The euro-zone economy contracted by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of last year, and most recent data suggest it did so again in the first quarter of this year. Many economists regard two quarters of contraction as indicating an economy is in recession. Carlyle's big-name IPO may not generate big gains (NYP) Like debt asset manager Oaktree Capital Group, which declined on its first day of trading earlier this month, Carlyle warns that its first priority is to the interests of its fund investors, and it could make decisions that would reduce revenue in the short-term, such as limiting the assets under management that it oversees or reducing management fees. Did May Day Save Occupy Wall Street? (TDB) For some protesters, the lack of one or two key demands and a stronger organizational structure made the day less effective than it could have been. “I think they have to state their demands along with their actions,” said Anton Alen, a student at Hunter College, adding that he thinks Occupy Wall Street has been clear on many things it would like to see changed. Alen said that the idea of trying to occupy another space Tuesday night was in the right spirit but needed to be thought out better. “I don’t think it can be so spontaneous and still be effective,” Alen said. Sofia Gallisa of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, disagreed. “This isn’t about specific demands,” she said. “It’s never been about specific demands.” Occupy Wall Street has changed the kind of discussions Americans are having about inequality, she said, particularly around issues of class. Peter Schiff: US Treasurys Are ‘Junk,’ Dollar Headed for Collapse (CNBC) “As far as I am concerned, U.S. Treasurys are junk bonds,” Schiff said on CNBC Asia’s “Squawk Box.” “And the only reason that the U.S. government can pay the interest on the debt, and I say ‘pay’ in quotes because we never pay our bills. We borrow the money so we pretend to pay, but the only reason we can do it is because the Fed has got interest rates so artificially low.” Greenspan Says U.S. Stocks ‘Very Cheap,’ Likely to Rise (Bloomberg) “There is no place for earnings to grow except into stock prices,” Greenspan said yesterday. Treasury: No Decision On Floating-Rate Notes (WSJ) "Treasury is in the process of analyzing the feedback, and we continue to study the benefits and optimal terms of a Treasury [floating rate note]," Under Secretary for Domestic Finance Mary Miller said in a statement. Mr. Met is rated number 1 in Major League Baseball (NYDN) The longtime Flushing favorite was chosen as the nation’s No. 1 sports mascot based on his likeability, familiarity and several other factors. Even better, in a reversal of recent on-field fortunes, Mr. Met landed the top spot over NL East rival the Phillie Phanatic.