Morgan Stanley Surpasses Estimates on Record Brokerage Earnings (Bloomberg)
Morgan Stanley, owner of the world’s largest brokerage, reported profit that beat analysts’ estimates as equity-trading revenue increased and earnings from wealth management climbed to a record. Fourth-quarter net income fell to $181 million, or 7 cents a share, from $594 million, or 29 cents, a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Profit was 50 cents a share excluding an accounting charge tied to the firm’s own debt, a tax benefit and legal expenses, beating the 44-cent average estimate of 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
BNY Mellon's fourth-quarter profit shows modest gain (Reuters)
Excluding a one-time item, the world's largest custody bank earned $628 million, or 54 cents a share, compared with $622 million, or 53 cents a share, a year earlier. In the latest quarter, the bank recorded an after-tax loss of $115 million on an equity investment. The latest per-share result matched analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Net income was $513 million, or 44 cents a share.
Portugal Dodges S&P Downgrade But Risk Remains (WSJ)
Credit-rating firm Standard & Poor's said on Friday it decided against downgrading Portugal's rating after conducting a review of the bailed-out state, reflecting what it called "signs of stabilization." The firm said it believes Portugal's coalition government remains committed to austerity measures imposed on it by the terms of European Union and International Monetary Fund's €78 billion ($107 billion) bailout program. Still, it maintained a "negative" outlook on Portugal—a sign that it could still downgrade the country in the coming months. Portugal is rated double-B, two levels below investment grade.
Activist plots snack attack on Oreo maker: source (NYP)
Nelson Peltz, the activist investor who owns a 2.3 percent stake in the maker of Oreos, Fig Newtons and Ritz crackers, is looking to pressure snack food giant Mondelez International CEO Irene Rosenfeld to increase margins and, perhaps, explore selling the company’s coffee business, an industry source said. Peltz, if he decides to make the move before the Jan. 21 deadline, would nominate himself and perhaps a few other candidates to the board, the source added.
Weiner shoots back at jokester’s hot-dog tweet (NYP)
A passer-by said she spotted the disgraced former congressman waiting to buy a hot dog from a street vendor on Thursday — and couldn’t overlook the irony. “I just passed Anthony Weiner on Park Ave South in line for a hot dog,” tweeted Iris Blasi, a k a @IrisBlasi. “There are like 11 hidden jokes in that sentence.” Weiner, whose addiction to social media helped end his political career, quickly responded. “@IrisBlasi actually it was for biryani. Now how many are you down to?” he tweeted back.
Budget Woes Leave Swaps Agency Outgunned by Wall Street (Bloomberg)
Once little-known, the CFTC gained new powers under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to oversee swaps, the financial products that helped fuel the 2008 credit crisis. Continued staff defections and plummeting morale will leave the agency, with a budget of roughly $200 million, outgunned as it polices the $693 trillion worth of derivatives traded by firms like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM), current and former regulators said. “The agency is underfunded and needs significantly more resources,” said Fred Hatfield, a former Democratic CFTC commissioner who is now at Patomak Global Partners, a Washington financial services consulting firm.
IPO Fund Lures Record Money in Best Year Since 1999 (Bloomberg)
The First Trust U.S. IPO Index Fund attracted $165 million in the last three months of 2013, the most for a quarter since it started in 2006, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That brought the total annual inflows to a record $280 million. The Bloomberg IPO Index climbed 64 percent last year, the biggest jump in 14 years, pushed by gains in Twitter and Hilton (HLT) Worldwide Holdings Inc. Facebook Inc. (FB), which began trading in 2012 and has the biggest weighting in the IPO fund, doubled.
CEO Corbat's Cachet Is Diminished as Citi's Latest Results Disappoint (WSJ)
While revenue for the year increased 10% and operating expenses fell 4%, the earnings report also broke the momentum for Mr. Corbat, who had won early plaudits for his low-key style and focus on costs since he took over from Vikram Pandit in October 2012. Mr. Corbat has tried to shrink the bank's historically bloated cost structure. Just a few months after taking over for Mr. Pandit, Mr. Corbat proposed a slate of new, more rigorous ways to track both individual performance and the bank as a whole. He also has sought to bring more accountability and discipline to a bank that was considered by some regulators, politicians and investors as too big to manage. Early on, Mr. Corbat set a target to save about $900 million by the end of 2013. The bank fell short of that target, saying it saved $872 million. Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said on a conference call Thursday that there had been some "expense creep" in the fourth quarter.
Last surviving female Munckin from ‘Wizard of Oz’ dead at 95 (NYDN)
Ruth Robinson Duccini, the last of the original female Munchkins from the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz,” has died. She was 95. With her death, only one actor who played one of the original 124 Munchkins in the movie remains alive. Duccini died of natural causes in Solari Hospice Care Center in Las Vegas on Thursday. Her death was confirmed by Stephen Cox, author of “The Munchkins of Oz.” He says he learned of it from Duccini’s son...The only surviving original Munchkin is Jerry Maren, 93, of Los Angeles, who portrayed a member of the Lollipop Guild.