Opening Bell: 1.28.15

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Shake Shack now expects IPO to be priced higher at $17-$19 a share (Reuters)
Burger chain Shake Shack Inc (SHAK.N) now expects its initial public offering to be priced at $17-$19 per share, up from $14-$16 expected earlier, valuing the company at up to $674.5 million. The offering of 5 million Class A shares is expected to raise about $95 million, Shake Shack said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday. The company, which grew out of a hot dog stand in New York's Madison Square Park, is known for its Shackburgers, flat-top hot dogs and eponymous milkshakes and has developed a cult following since it was founded by restaurateur Daniel Meyer in 2001.

iPhone 6 sales boost Apple profits to stratospheric levels (NYP)
Apple disclosed Tuesday that it sold a mind-blowing 74.5 million iPhones during its holiday quarter, as shoppers snatched up the sleek new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models that boasted faster processors and thinner bodies with bigger screens. The popularity of the new models goosed the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant’s earnings to $18 billion — by some measures the biggest quarterly profit ever to be reported by a publicly traded company — as revenue climbed 29 percent to $74.6 billion. Apple ended the quarter with a whopping $178 billion in cash on its balance sheet — a figure that exceeds the market value of any number of corporate giants including Walt Disney, AT&T and Bank of America. ‘This volume is hard to comprehend,” CEO Tim Cook told analysts on a conference call. On average, Wall Street expected that 66.5 million iPhones would be sold. Doing the math, Cook noted that, for every day of the quarter ended Dec. 27, Apple sold about 34,000 iPhones per hour.

Robbers Crash Into Wells Fargo Museum to Steal Gold Nuggets (Dealbook)
Three masked robbers smashed a stolen sport utility vehicle into the entrance of Wells Fargo’s corporate museum in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district on Tuesday, then held a security guard at gunpoint and made off with gold nuggets from a display case, the San Francisco police said. The police are investigating the bold and apparently well-coordinated robbery early Tuesday at the Wells Fargo History Museum, which is on the street level of the bank’s corporate headquarters. The three robbers abandoned the S.U.V. and fled in a sedan that the police said was either parked nearby or could have been driven by a fourth person who was waiting with a getaway car. While the police say their preliminary estimates of the nuggets’ value is about $10,000, the gold has sentimental value to the bank, which takes its history seriously.

Fed seen remaining patient with rates amid global turmoil (Reuters)
The Fed's first two-day policy meeting of the year concludes on Wednesday, and policymakers will likely restate their "patient" approach to raising rates, while also voicing faith that the economy will continue improving.

‘Sex theme park’ with giant penis rides to open in Taiwan (Metro)
A sex theme park where tourists can ride astride gigantic stone penises with realistic scrotums is under construction in Taiwan. The park will be called ‘Romantic Boulevard’, and will include an outdoor garden filled with erotic sculptures of mammoth phalluses, as well as statues of people and animals making love...The park will also include a ‘scenic area’ for wedding photos (hopefully not right next to the giant penises), and is to be based on South Korea’s popular Jeju Park. ‘We want people to fall in love with Taiwan, as well as fall in love while in Taiwan,’ said Shih Chao-hui, the deputy director of the local tourist office. Shih claims that 200,000 visitors have already come to marvel at the giant dongs, and hopes to build a hotel into the park ‘just in case visitors want to turn their feelings into actions’.

Hedge Funds, Private Equity Win Big at TARP Auctions (WSJ)
A government program to rid itself of TARP investments in small banks has proved a boon to hedge funds, private-equity and other private investors, according to a new watchdog report. As the Treasury Department looks to exit from its taxpayer-backed investments in these lenders, private investors like hedge funds and others have stepped in and scooped up about 70% of the shares auctioned by the U.S. government. Other buyers included banks, institutional investors and brokers buying shares on behalf of other entities.

Swiss to Compensate Workers Hurt by Franc (WSJ)
The Swiss government said it will compensate employees forced to work fewer hours at companies hit by the sharp appreciation of the Swiss franc, marking the first domestic political action aimed at cushioning the impact of recent currency moves. The Swiss Department of Economic Affairs announced a policy Tuesday that will allow Swiss companies hit by the strengthening franc to claim compensation from Switzerland’s unemployment insurance authority for staff with reduced working hours. The move is intended to give businesses more flexibility to adjust to weakened demand for their goods, and to help them avoid laying off workers.

Do You Know The Significance Of This Day In History? (DB)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHARLIE GASPARINO.

Don’t Sneeze: Office Etiquette for Flu Season (WSJ)
Rosemarie Lopena was nervous after her boss, Maria Vizzi, said she was returning to work after four days out recently with the flu. Ms. Lopena, office manager at New York City-based Indoor Environmental Solutions Inc., put a sanitary face mask on Ms. Vizzi’s desk nearby. “It was a joke, but it was also serious, because I was really scared,” she says...Most people feel comfortable speaking up about the flu at the office. Some 57% of working adults would be willing to tell a sick colleague to go home, and 36% might say, “I’d rather not shake your hand,” according to a 2014 survey of 493 working adults by NSF International, a public health and safety organization in Ann Arbor, Mich. Some 11% worry about getting sick but suffer in silence.

Big Oil Faces Time Of Reckoning (WSJ)
In the coming days, the world’s biggest publicly traded oil companies will report fourth-quarter earnings, offering the best look yet at the bite lower crude prices have taken out of Big Oil. For BP PLC, lower oil prices are just one headwind. A federal trial now under way in New Orleans could levy penalties of as much as $13.7 billion for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, BP owns nearly 20% of Russian producer OAO Rosneft . Kremlin-controlled Rosneft faces Western sanctions on exporting certain oil-development technology to Russia. Rosneft is also struggling with the falling ruble and weaker oil prices. BP, which has sold more than $40 billion in assets to pay cleanup and legal costs from the Gulf spill, is also trying to rein in costs that are higher than those of some competitors.

Handcuffed Woman Steals Police Car: Cops (AP)
A Pennsylvania woman has been ordered to stand trial on charges she stole a police cruiser and led officers on a chase of at least 80 mph — while her hands were cuffed behind her. Center Township police say 27-year-old Roxanne Rimer was arrested after stealing earrings from a Kohl's store Jan. 14. They say officers handcuffed Rimer and put her in the back seat of the cruiser. Police say they believe she then squeezed through an opening in the partition that wasn't latched and crawled into the front seat before zooming off. Police say she led officers on a nearly 10-mile chase before she smashed into a hillside and jumped out of the car, still handcuffed.

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Opening Bell: 2.6.15

RadioShack brought to its knees by "a series of missed financial targets and strategic confusion that handed power to bare-knuckled lenders"; Rich Brazilians are getting the fuck out; Swiss National Banc still curbing that franc; Jobs report did pretty okay for itself; "You need to focus again on the attractive benefits of our funds and stop this nonsense that there are no products available – because if there are no products, go home, get a new job!"; Marijuana Lovahs; AND MORE.

Opening Bell: 5.27.15

Greece not getting money any time soon; RBS will (probably) pay another $4.5 billion fine; FIFA arrests; Hank Greenberg; Activists v. Tech; "NYPD boss spent $60K on dance studio for cops"; and more.

Opening Bell: 2.23.15

Morgan Stanley FBI informant fired; Greece reform; iCar; Tech sexual harassment trial; Guy who ate 6 lbs of bacon in 5 minutes felt fine; AND MORE.

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Opening Bell: 10.28.16

Wall Street is desperate for coders; Tilton lawyers suggest accountant was more than business partner; Ohio man pleads guilty to autoerotic encounter with parked red van; and more.

Opening Bell: 03.02.11

Financial Crisis Amnesia (WSJ) Tim Geithner: "My wife occasionally looks up from the newspaper with bewilderment while reading another story about people in the financial world or their lobbyists complaining about Wall Street reform or claiming they didn't need the Troubled Asset Relief Program. She reminds me of the panicked calls she answered for me at home late at night or early in the morning in 2008 from the then-giants of our financial system. We cannot afford to forget the lessons of the crisis and the damage it caused to millions of Americans. Amnesia is what causes financial crises. These reforms are worth fighting to preserve." IMF Says Threat Of Sharp Global Slowdown Has Eased (Reuters) So that's nice. Life as Libor Traders Knew It Seen as Abusive by Investigators (Bloomberg) Regulators probing the alleged manipulation of global interest rates are focusing on what traders involved in setting the benchmark say were routine discussions condoned by their superiors...“A few hundred people, mostly based in one city and sitting in close proximity to each other, set an index rate for trillions of dollars of securities with little or no oversight,” said Mark Sunshine, chief executive officer and chairman of Veritas Financial Partners, a Florida-based firm that provides loans to businesses and real estate companies. “That cannot continue. The mechanism itself, the oversight and the penalties if violated, are woefully inadequate.” Twitter's Slow Road To IPO (WSJ) In just six years Twitter Inc. has become the world's digital soapbox, amassing more than 100 million monthly users—from everyday people to Lady Gaga to Middle East protesters—who use the service to spread pithy updates and breaking news. Yet despite the service's growing influence on society and culture, the business behind it still has a ways to go until it's ready for an initial public offering. To understand why, travel to Cincinnati, where last June Twitter planted a staffer blocks from Procter & Gamble Co.'s headquarters and assigned him a critical task: Teach the country's biggest advertiser to use Twitter and buy its ads. But when P&G spent $150 million to promote the launch last month of a Tide laundry detergent, the company bought magazine pages, billboard spots and television commercials during the Academy Awards—and no Twitter ads. "All [P&G] brands are asking questions about what to do with Twitter and how to leverage it; nobody really had a clear, lean answer," said the staffer, J.B. Kropp. US Seeks Dismissal Of Lawsuit On AIG Takeover (Reuters) In November, Hank Greenberg's company, Starr International Co, sued the U.S. government for $25 billion, calling the 2008 federal takeover of the insurer unconstitutional. Starr sued the government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., which handles lawsuits seeking money from the government. It brought that lawsuit on behalf of itself and other AIG shareholders...In a filing with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the government said although Starr may disagree with the terms to which AIG agreed, any loss resulting from that agreement should be borne by AIG and its shareholders, and not the public. Obama Back On Wall Street (Politico Morning Money) Obama raised just north of $5 million for his re-election campaign and the DNC at four events in NYC last night including a swank dinner ($35,800 per person, $71,600 per couple) at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen on East 18th Street. The dinner, the first Wall Street-heavy event since Obama doubled down on his proposed bank tax, was hosted by a handful of the President’s stalwart industry supporters including Robert Wolf, Blair Effron, Mark Gallogly, Marc Lasry and Orin Kramer. Sex Work Among Medical Students On the Rise? (ABC) Sex work among medical students is on the rise, claims a new editorial, published in the journal Student BMJ. The UK-based publication noted that students are likely seeking extreme measures to deal with their financial hardship. One in 10 students knows of another who participated in prostitution to pay their medical student loans, according to the editorial. "Mounting evidence suggests that more university students are engaging in prostitution as a means to pay increasing tuition fees, growing debts, and high living costs," Jodi Dixon, the author of the editorial, wrote. "With escalating debts, students in the United Kingdom may view prostitution as an easy way to get rich quick." Greek Swaps Headed Back to ISDA Committee (Bloomberg) Holders of credit-default swaps on Greek bonds shouldn’t tear up their contracts after yesterday’s ruling against a payout. The International Swaps & Derivatives Association said the swaps hadn’t been triggered by the European Central Bank’s exchange of Greek bonds for new securities exempt from losses taken by private investors. The group will now probably be asked to determine whether collective action clauses, or CACS, being used by Greece to impel investors to participate in a wider exchange of bonds that would trigger the swaps. Madoff moneyman Merkin near $400M AG deal (NYP) After a bitter three-year legal battle, Ezra Merkin, the Manhattan moneyman who funneled more than $2 billion to convicted Ponzi king Bernie Madoff, is nearing a settlement with the New York attorney general that could have him shell out as much as $400 million. Sources said the settlement with AG Eric Schneiderman would recover the bulk of the $470 million in fees the notorious middleman pocketed from investing his clients’ cash with Madoff. Game Changer For Zynga: No Facebook (WSJ) The San Francisco-based company, whose offerings have long been associated with Facebook as well as apps for mobile devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPhone, said a "beta," or prerelease version of what it calls the Zynga Platform, will initially allow customers to play five of its popular titles—"CityVille," "Hidden Chronicles," "Zynga Poker," "CastleVille" and "Words With Friends"—from its website. Zynga said more of its games will become available on the website over time. Cops Ticket Woman For Resting Injured Leg On Seat In Deserted Subway Train (Gothamist) Brooklyn resident Kate Wilson was riding the D train home to Sunset Park around 1 a.m. one morning in February when several police officers entered her subway car at 36th street. The subway car was mostly empty, with plenty of empty seats, and Wilson was resting her right leg—which she had injured in a race that day—on a corner of one seat. What followed was an absurd yet all too familiar encounter with overzealous, quota-filling transit cops and ended with a $50 summons.