To Buy Bonds or Not to Buy: Fed Hawks, Doves Air Views (WSJ)
The presidents of the Dallas, Richmond and Philadelphia Federal Reserve banks, long skeptics of the wisdom of the bond buying, said this week that they would like to see the purchases scaled back immediately. And San Francisco Fed President John Williams, who has been enthusiastic about the merits of the program, said Thursday that he is still prepared to reduce the size of the purchases "as early as this summer." The president of the Boston Fed, meanwhile, suggested that there is a case that the Fed should be doing even more to boost the economy.
Dell Profit Missing Estimates Boosts CEO’s Buyout Plan (Bloomberg)
Profit excluding some items fell to 21 cents a share for the period that ended May 3, from 43 cents a year earlier, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell said in a statement yesterday. Analysts on average had projected 35 cents, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue (DELL) declined 2.4 percent to $14.1 billion, beating analysts’ average $13.5 billion projection. The plunge in profit lends credence to a plan by Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell and Silver Lake Management LLC to take the company private in a $24.4 billion leveraged buyout. ... “The Icahn solution gets less attractive, and the bird in the hand looks better than the one in the bush,” said Chris Whitmore, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG in San Francisco, who has a hold rating for the shares.
How Elliott and Hess Settled a Bitter Proxy Battle (DealBook)
[T]he company began announcing steps intended to raise its stock price, including selling its gas stations, raising its dividend and announcing a stock buyback. It also replaced the slate of directors up for re-election this year — including Mr. Kean and Mr. Nunn — with a group that includes John Krenicki Jr., a former vice chairman of General Electric. Later, the company agreed to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive, both currently held by Mr. Hess, the son of the founder. (The board on Thursday named Mark Williams, one of its new directors, as nonexecutive chairman.) And the Hess family agreed to support a proposal in which directors would be re-elected every year, rather than every three years.
Day Traders Steer Tesla Higher (WSJ)
The whipsaw trading can complicate longer-term investors' efforts to assess companies' prospects and create volatility that draws the ire of corporate managers. ... Such traders in recent years have targeted the shares issued by companies including Netflix, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Priceline.com. In 2010, Chipotle Mexican Grill hit the radar screen of day traders. Its share price quadrupled over the next two years while trading volume nearly doubled. At its peak, the stock was trading at 47 times projected future earnings, according to FactSet, more than double that of McDonald's Corp. and Taco Bell operator Yum Brands Inc.
Hedge Fund Billionaire William Ackman, Investor Group in Contract to Buy a New York Penthouse for Over $90 Million (WSJ)
Mr. Ackman does not plan to move in, a person familiar with the plans said, and the group views the penthouse as an investment.
For Sale: A Video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Smoking Crack Cocaine (Gawker)
Rob Ford, Toronto's conservative mayor, is a wild lunatic given to making bizarre racist pronouncements and randomly slapping refrigerator magnets on cars. One reason for this is that he smokes crack cocaine. I know this because I watched him do it, on a videotape. He was fucking hiiiiigh. It's for sale if you've got six figures.
US farmland prices rise despite weak grain market (FT)
Agricultural land values increased 15 per cent on last year during the first quarter in a district that includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said on Thursday. The region’s farmland values have trebled in the past decade. Whether the market is overheating has become a feverishly discussed question among land shoppers from farmers to pension funds
Regulators Target Exchanges As They Ready Record Fine (WSJ)
In a sign of the more aggressive regulatory approach, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been putting the finishing touches on a settlement with Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. over the handling of the Facebook Inc. public offering, according to people involved in the private negotiations. Nasdaq is expected to pay a penalty of about $10 million, the people say. That would be the biggest fine levied by the SEC against an exchange, and just its second such fine ever.
Japan buys into US shale gas boom (FT)
In the latest step toward internationalising the US shale gas boom, the developer of a $10bn LNG export facility in Louisiana has agreed to sell half its stake in the project to a group of Japanese and French companies. Japan’s Mitsui & Co, Mitsubishi Corp and Nippon Yusen, together with GDF Suez of France, had previously signed on as buyers of the liquefied natural gas that is to be shipped from the planned Cameron LNG facility starting in 2017.
After Google, Amazon to be grilled on UK tax presence (Reuters)
Over the past six years, Amazon has paid around $9 million in income tax on over $23 billion of sales to British clients, because it says it operates a single European business out of Luxembourg, rather than a multinational structure of independent subsidiaries in different countries, and should therefore pay tax in Luxembourg. However, Reuters has uncovered evidence from the company's own statements, job advertisements, statements from three suppliers and five former employees, as well as the profiles of over 140 staff on networking website LinkedIn, which suggests the UK unit has a high degree of autonomy, with local managers deciding on many aspects of its business.
McDonald’s Seen Overhauling U.S. Menu From 145 Choices (Bloomberg)
“It’s gotten to the point where the operation has kind of broken down and that’s all a symptom of the complication of the menu,” said Richard Adams, a San Diego-based restaurant franchisee consultant and former McDonald’s store owner. “They can’t make the food fast enough.” In October, some McDonald’s franchisees received an e-mail from a regional representative proposing “core menu changes” based on information from customer complaints. Teams had been formed to address menu size and understand “what’s getting in the way of quality and service,” according to the e-mail. Seven menu items were identified for potential removal. So far Fruit & Walnut salads, Chicken Selects and Angus burgers have been eliminated.
Court rules NYPD should have cut circumcised cop (NYDN)
Owen Hopper had contended he shouldn’t have been fired from the NYPD because the woman who said he’d exposed himself and made “vulgar remarks” to her wasn’t credible. Hopper noted that she’d described her flasher’s penis as uncircumcised — and Hopper said he’s been circumcised since childhood.