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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