Opening Bell: 10.16.13

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Buffett Defends Dimon, Says Regulators Take Ton of Flesh (Bloomberg)
“If a cop follows you for 500 miles (800 kilometers), you’re going to get a ticket,” Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said today in an interview on CNBC. “And believe me, you’ve had a lot of cops that have been following a long time, and they’re going to write some tickets.” Banks rely on so many licenses that the threat of criminal charges can undermine their business, Buffett said. The billionaire served as interim chairman and CEO of Salomon Inc. in 1991 and 1992 as the company sought to recover from involvement in a Treasury debt auction scandal. “A large financial institution just can’t take that,” he said. “You are in a terrible negotiating position, and I’ve been in that position. If they want to take a pound of flesh, they can take a pound of flesh. But if they want to take a ton of flesh, they can take that, too.”

Twitter Revenue More Than Doubles in Third Quarter Before IPO (Bloomberg)
The San Francisco-based company said in a filing yesterday that its revenue was $168.6 million in the period, up from $82.3 million a year ago. Its net loss expanded to $64.6 million from $21.6 million. Twitter also said it will list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

Judge Refuses To Toss Herbalife Suit (NYP)
Herbalife will have to face charges brought by a former distributor who claims the controversial peddler of protein shakes is a pyramid scheme, a judge ruled. Los Angeles federal Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell refused to toss out a suit filed by Dana Bostick, a failed Herbalife distributor in California who sued the company. The Oct. 11 ruling was made public on Tuesday. The case, which seeks class-action status, is the first to go to court since Herbalife came under attack from hedge-fund activist Bill Ackman, who claims Herbalife is a pyramid scheme that transfers wealth from the vast majority of those at the bottom to those at the top. He has a $1 billion short bet on the company.

Lower East Side drug lord who charmed neighborhood with barbecues, trips to Great Adventure busted by undercover cop (NYDN)
Authorities took down a lower East Side drug lord who acted like the "Mayor of Avenue D" and reigned for at least a decade — all while charming the neighborhood by hosting barbecues and field trips to Six Flags for kids, prosecutors said Tuesday. Accused crack-cocaine kingpin Dwayne (Dubbs) Mitchell, 35, was slapped with a host of serious felonies including multiple counts of large-scale drug sales, money laundering and conspiracy in an indictment unsealed in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday. He kept himself protected for years, partly by playing it cool with his neighbors. "He'll throw block parties, give money away. He took neighborhood kids to Great Adventure. ... He uses his control in different ways," a law enforcement source said. Mitchell, who faces up to 20 years on the top count, also met with his supplier, Sabed Rahman, 29, of Queens, to make felony level drug buys at a Manhattan Starbucks. They often swapped crack cocaine for cash in the bathroom at the coffee chain's E. 32nd St. and Second Ave. location.

BlackRock profit rises, boosted by asset growth (Reuters)
BlackRock, the world's largest money manager, said on Wednesday its third-quarter profit rose 15 percent, boosted by strong investor demand for the company's iShares and retail business. The New York-based asset manager on Wednesday reported net income of $730 million, or $4.21 per share, up from $642 million, or $3.65 per share, a year earlier. Excluding certain items such as compensation expense, earnings were $3.88 a share, in line with the analysts' average forecast, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Roughly 80 percent of the $25.3 billion investors poured into long-term funds went into the company's iShares business, which had $20.3 billion of net inflows during the quarter.

Goldman Must Turn Over Female Employee Complaints in Suit (Bloomberg)
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis in Manhattan ruled yesterday that all complaints “conceivably related” to discrimination against women in the investment banking, securities, investment management and merchant banking divisions at Goldman Sachs must be shared with the attorneys, including the names of those who complained.

Buffett: Time to pay up, ResCap (NYP)
Warren Buffett locked horns again on Tuesday with ResCap, the bankrupt mortgage lender — pressing his case for a 100 percent recovery. Buffett, as part of a group of secured junior bondholders, wants $2.23 billion in principal plus some $300 million in interest to cover the 18 months Residential Capital has been in Chapter 11. ResCap is offering, as part of its plan of reorganization, no interest payout and a $387 million discount on principal. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns more than 40 percent of the bonds and therefore controls the committee. After failing to reach a settlement earlier in the case, Buffett’s bondholders squared off Tuesday against ResCap — and practically all other creditors — in Manhattan Bankruptcy Court at the start of a two-week trial. If Judge Martin Glenn rules against Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha may not go quietly.

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Opening Bell: 2.5.16

ICE chief calls IEX plan ‘un-American’; Citi says run for your life re: oil; Lawyer says Shkreli's 'imbecile' Tweet was 'unfortunate'; Man named 'Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop' Arrested; and more.

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.

Opening Bell: 04.10.13

Trading Case Embroils KPMG (WSJ) Scott London, the partner in charge of audits of Herbalife Ltd. and Skechers USA Inc. until KPMG fired him last week, told The Wall Street Journal Tuesday that "I regret my actions in leaking nonpublic data to a third party." Mr. London said his leaks "started a few years back," adding that KPMG bore "no responsibility" for his actions. "What I have done was wrong and against everything" he believed in, said Mr. London, who was based in Los Angeles for the accounting firm...Neither KPMG nor Mr. London named the recipient of Mr. London's tips. The recipient isn't associated with a hedge fund or other professional investor, said one person familiar with the matter. Obama Proposes $3.77 Trillion Budget to Revive Debt Talks (Bloomberg) Obama’s budget for fiscal 2014 proposes $50 billion for roads, bridges and other public works, $1 billion to spur manufacturing innovation and $1 billion for an initiative to revamp higher education, according to administration officials who briefed reporters and asked to not be identified. It renews his request to raise $580 billion in revenue by limiting deductions and closing loopholes for top earners. Obama again seeks adoption of the Buffett rule, named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, to impose a 30 percent minimum tax on households with more than $1 million in annual income. The administration projects the deficit for fiscal 2014 would be $744 billion, or 4.4 percent of the economy. That would mark the first budget shortfall of less than $1 trillion since Obama took office. Soros Tells Germany It Should Leave The Euro (CNBC) "The financial problem is that Germany is imposing the wrong policies on the euro zone. Austerity doesn't work. You can't shrink the debt burden by shrinking the budget deficit," Soros, the founder and chairman of Soros Fund Management,said during a speech in Germany's financial center of Frankfurt on Tuesday. Ackman Expected To Stick With JCPenney (NYP) The New York hedge-fund tycoon is expected to stay put as JCPenney’s biggest investor, with a nearly 18 percent stake, and back the retailer’s scramble to repair the damage done by ousted CEO Ron Johnson, sources told The Post. That’s despite the fact that it was Ackman who installed Johnson at the helm of the company 17 months ago with an ambitious but doomed plan to overhaul the aging department-store chain. “The priority right now is stabilizing the company and finding a permanent CEO,” according to an insider close to the situation, adding that Ackman appeared to be playing a key role in the process. Blackstone Solicits Partners For Dell Bid (WSJ) Blackstone Group LP is talking to several technology companies about potentially joining its bid to take computer maker Dell private, people familiar with the matter said. Any technology firm that joins the private-equity giant's potential bid for Dell would likely be involved in the company's strategic direction as well as having a financial role, the people said. Blackstone has discussed a number of scenarios with prospective partners, including an equity stake, debt financing or a combination of the two, one of the people said. City officials say they're powerless to stop Time Square's growing hoard of costume-wearing hustlers (NYP) The city used to tell the furry fiends where they could set up. But a court decision last year ruled the characters could not be treated like vendors because they are entertainers who work for tips. “Our ability to treat these characters as vendors was eliminated,” said city lawyer Gabriel Taussig. “And, absent of vending laws, there is no other law that comes close to dealing with where they can be located.” The most recent trouble came when Osvaldo Quiroz-Lopez, who was dressed as Cookie Monster, got into a tussle with the toddler son of Bollywood star Parmita Katkar after the mom said she didn’t have the money to tip for a picture. His bust followed a slew of similar cases, including a man dressed as Super Mario who was accused of groping a woman and an Elmo who went on an anti-Semitic rant. Some Fed Members Fear Monetary Policy Effects (CNBC) Minutes from the most recent Fed meeting suggest that members have grown increasingly concerned that things could get messy if it continues its policies too far into the future. Among those concerns are instability to the financial system, a sudden rise in interest rates and inflation. Bill Gross Raises Holdings of Treasuries to Highest Since July (Bloomberg) Gross raised the holdings of Treasuries held in his $289 billion flagship fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. to 33 percent of assets last month, the highest level since July. JPM On A Whale Of A Roll (NYP) Jamie Dimon is hoping another solid performance from his sprawling bank can finally sink the London Whale. JPMorgan Chase will kick off bank earnings as it nears the anniversary of the embarrassing trading scandal, which Dimon famously dismissed back on April 13 of last year as a “tempest in a teapot.” The bank is expected to benefit from the continuing stabilization of the US economy that could allow it to release capital reserves again — a move that will have the effect of helping boost its overall earnings. Barclays analyst Jason Goldberg estimates that JPMorgan will report earnings of $1.33 a share — 6 cents less than consensus estimates of $1.39 a share. Some analysts believe that the bank will beat the consensus by a few cents after buying back shares and hiking its dividend to 38 cents. Soup heist ends with Tamarac turnpike arrest (Sun Sentinel) A Florida Highway Patrol trooper tracking the rig's GPS signal arrested the driver for the alleged soup heist on Florida's Turnpike in Tamarac about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Eusebio Diaz Acosta, 51, of Orlando, was charged with two counts of grand theft — one for the tractor trailer and one for the cargo, with a combined value of $350,000. "These are very unusual facts," Broward County Judge John "Jay" Hurley said as he read from Acosta's arrest report Monday morning. "The court has seen many things stolen. … This is the first time the court's ever seen $75,000 worth of soup stolen."