Opening Bell: 2.12.16

Pimco bets on battered banks; AIG avoids wrath of Icahn; Deutsche buys back; Ted Cruz yanks ad featuring porn star; and more.
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Pimco Says No Need to Be Greedy as It Bets on Battered Bank Debt (Bloomberg)
The fund manager, which oversees about $1.4 trillion, believes lenders have strong capital levels and bank notes will ultimately gain on demand from yield-deprived investors, according to Pimco’s global head of corporate bond portfolio management Mark Kiesel. He has been adding to his overweight position in bank securities and favors lenders in the U.S. as well as some firms in Switzerland and the U.K. “The beauty of the market today is that you don’t actually have to be greedy or take a lot of subordination risk,” Kiesel said in an interview on Friday in Sydney. “You can stay relatively safe, stay senior and still get 4 to 5 percent.”

‘Doom Loop’ Fears Cast Pall Over Bank Shares (WSJ)
Weak banks may now drag the economy down further. And with the economy weak and deflation—a damaging spiral of falling wages and prices—looming, central banks that have gone negative will be loath to turn around and raise rates.

Deutsche Bank to Buy Back $5.4 Billion Bonds in Euros, Dollars (Bloomberg)
The bank said in a statement on Friday that it’s “strong liquidity position” allows it to repurchase the senior unsecured securities without any change to its 2016 funding plan. It’s offering to buy 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) of bonds in the single currency and $2 billion of dollar notes.

With Shares Plunging, Deutsche Bank Sets Out to Prove It Can Be Fixed (Dealbook)
Shares in the bank, Germany’s largest, have plunged nearly 40 percent so far this year. The market now effectively values Deutsche at a third of its liquidation value, an astonishing discount that suggests investors do not believe that Mr. Cryan will be able to squeeze solid earnings out of the bank’s businesses. Investors in credit markets have even begun to bet that some of Deutsche Bank’s bonds will not be repaid in full.

Ted Cruz Yanks Ad Featuring Porn Star (NYP)
The God-fearing Republican Texas senator — who has heavily courted the religious right during his run for the White House — produced a 30-second spot featuring actress Amy Lindsay. Lindsay, unbeknownst to him, is a skin-flick veteran who has appeared in such soft-core films as “Deviant Whores,” “Carnal Wishes” and “MILF.” When it found out, the Cruz camp nixed the ad, titled “Conservatives Anonymous.” Lindsay — who said she is deciding between Cruz and Donald Trump — told BuzzFeed that she was under the impression that the campaign knew about her previous work. She said she thought the inclusion of a person with such a diverse background would enhance Cruz’s stuffy image.

AIG strikes deal with Icahn, avoids proxy fight (Reuters)
The agreement with Icahn comes just two days ahead of AIG's deadline for shareholders to submit board candidates. Icahn has been threatening a proxy fight at AIG, the biggest U.S. commercial insurer as he pushes to break it up into three smaller companies. "We continue to believe that smaller and simpler is better," the investor said in a statement on Thursday.

There Are Still a Few Tricks Seen Up Central Bankers' Sleeves (Bloomberg)
“Time and time again policy makers have shown themselves to be bolder and more inventive than asset markets give them credit for,” Stephen Englander, Citigroup Inc.’s New York-based global head of Group-of-10 currency strategy, said in a report to clients late on Thursday. “Pessimism is unwarranted.”

The market has lost its leaders. Expect more pain: BofA (CNBC)
Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Stephen Suttmeier said that the loss of leadership in mega cap stocks will take a dismal toll on the broad market. "Looking at the markets, we've seen this loss of leadership from what have really been the generals," he said. Suttmeier, of course, was referring to the recent deterioration of the high-flying technology and consumer discretionary stocks. "When I look at some of those names I see that they are starting to crack."

The Bearded Lady And Lobster Boy: A Valentine's Day Love Story (HP)
She is best known as a bearded lady. He calls himself "Lobster Boy," because of his claw-like hands. Together, they're just another happy couple getting ready to celebrate Valentine's Day. They just happen to have fallen in love while working at the Venice Beach Freakshow in Los Angeles. "There is someone for everyone. It is just knowing when you find them," Grady Stiles III, 39, told The Huffington Post. He and Jessa Olmstead had known each other for years, but the love affair has heated up in recent months, as they began working more closely together at one of America's premiere sideshows. They enjoy watching movies together, eating sushi or just cuddling.

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Opening Bell: 4.25.16

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Opening Bell: 03.12.13

Apple To Announce Plans For Cash Hoard (WSJ) Apple will outline what it plans to do with a growing pile of cash by next month, according to Howard Ward, chief investment officer at Gamco Investors Inc. Apple, which has been grappling with investor criticism over the handling of its $137.1 billion in cash and investments, will add $42 billion in earnings to that sum in 2013, Ward said. Greenlight Capital Inc.’s David Einhorn has been urging Cupertino, California-based Apple to issue high-yielding preferred shares to spread the funds among investors. Investors are also urging Apple to consider a higher dividend payout. “We’re going to get an announcement from the company as to how they intend to reallocate some of their cash,” Ward said in an interview today on Bloomberg Radio’s “Surveillance” with Tom Keene. “They will put a floor under their stock at a higher price than it is today.” AIG shareholders win class-action status in lawsuit versus U.S. (Reuters) Two groups of American International Group shareholders won class-action status from a federal judge on Monday in a $25 billion lawsuit by former Chief Executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg over alleged losses caused by the U.S. government's bailout of the insurer. U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler also appointed Greenberg's lawyer, David Boies, of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, as lead counsel for the classes. Greenberg's Starr International Co, once AIG's largest shareholder with a 12 percent stake, sued the United States in 2011 over what eventually became a $182.3 billion bailout for the New York-based insurer. It said that by taking a 79.9 percent AIG stake and then conducting a reverse stock split without letting existing shareholders vote, the government conducted an illegal taking that violated the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Citing Boies' estimate that "tens of thousands" of shareholders might be affected, Wheeler said "class certification is by far the most efficient method of adjudicating these claims." Both Sides Of SEC Nominee Face Heat (WSJ) In one version, Ms. White is a no-holds-barred crime fighter known for stretching the law to jail mob bosses and international terrorists. In another, Ms. White is a friend of Wall Street who worked for the past decade for the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where she represented giant banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase. Blackstone: We're Betting Big On Residential Real Estate (CNBC) "Blackstone is now the largest owner of individual houses in the United States," Schwarzman told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Monday, pointing to his company's $3 billion portfolio of residential real estate. But given the nascent recovery in the housing market, they're not buying and selling them quickly but rather renting them out. "It's a good business for us. It's a new thing, but it's also good for America," he said. Icahn Gets Confidential Look At Feds Books (Reuters) Dell Inc has agreed to give Carl Icahn a closer look at its books, less than a week after the activist investor joined a growing chorus of opposition to founder Michael Dell's plan to take the world's No. 3 personal computer maker private...A source with knowledge of the situation said Icahn's and Dell's confidentiality agreement does not have a contractual "standstill" obligation - meaning he is not obligated to stop trading stock in the company. But the activist investor would not be able to trade the stock while he is privy to non-public information in any case, the source added. Phoenix society gives gator happier life with prosthesis (AZC) The alligator is Mr. Stubbs, who is part science project, part human endeavor, and much more. He’s also half-gator, half-rubber. The 11-year-old crocodilian now sports a 3-foot-long prosthetic tail, attached firmly with nylon straps. It replaces the original, which was bitten off more than eight years ago. As far as anyone at the Phoenix Herpetological Society knows, Mr. Stubbs is the first alligator to tolerate, if not sport, a prosthesis. It will take months, however, before Mr. Stubbs learns how to properly use the tail. For now, handlers are happy with smaller milestones. “The fact he doesn’t try to bite it (the tail) is a good sign,” said Russ Johnson, president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society. “Learning how to use it is going to take a lot of training.” The months-long project was overseen by someone well-versed in anatomy. Marc Jacofsky is executive vice president of research and development at the CORE Institute in Phoenix, which specializes in orthopedic care — for humans. While visiting the Herpetological Society, Jacofsky was asked if it would be possible to make an artificial tail for Mr. Stubbs. “I looked and saw there was enough there that we could probably do something that wouldn’t involve surgery,” Jacofsky said. “I also liked the idea because it would improve his life. Our motto at the CORE Institute is ‘Keep life in motion,’ and this certainly fit in with that. I was on board.” Jacofsky estimated the project has cost the Core Institute about $6,000 in donated labor and materials. Mr. Stubbs had been a project since shortly after arriving at the center in May 2005. The then-3-year-old gator was one of 32 confiscated from the back of a truck pulled over near Casa Grande, Johnson said. Officers called in the Arizona Game and Fish Department as soon as the cargo made its presence known. “Scared the heck out of the officer,” Johnson said. “No one expects to find alligators when you look into the back of a truck.” Greece Faces 150,000 Job-Cut Hurdle to Aid Payment (Bloomberg) Greece is locked in talks with international creditors in Athens about shrinking the government workforce by enough to keep bailout payments flowing. Identifying redundant positions and putting in place a system that will lead to mandatory exits for about 150,000 civil servants by 2015 is a so-called milestone that will determine whether the country gets a 2.8 billion-euro ($3.6 billion) aid instalment due this month. More than a week of talks on that has so far failed to clinch an agreement. Failed Sale Of Gleacher Is A Warning For Directors (WSJ) The Dell drama is still unfolding, but for a cautionary tale of how boards, even when they may be well-intentioned, can harm investors of a takeover target, take Gleacher. Shares in the small investment bank have lost more than 60% in the past year as the prospects for a deal evaporated, business dwindled and star traders left. Ironically for a firm that bears the name of Eric Gleacher, who made his name advising on big deals in the 1980s, the company failed to sell itself. At least as some critics see it, its independent directors are to blame. SEC Says Illinois Hid Pension Troubles (WSJ) For years, Illinois officials misled investors and shortchanged the state pension system, leaving future generations of taxpayers to foot the bill, U.S. securities regulators allege. The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday charged Illinois with securities fraud, marking only the second time the agency has filed civil-fraud charges against a state. Bernanke Provokes Mystery Over Fed Stimulus Exit (Bloomberg) When Ben S. Bernanke asserted last month that the Federal Reserve doesn’t ever have to sell assets, he raised questions about how the central bank can withdraw its record monetary stimulus without stoking inflation. The Fed may decide to hold the bonds on its balance sheet to maturity as part of a review of the exit strategy Bernanke expects will be done “sometime soon,” he told lawmakers in Washington on Feb. 27. This would help address concerns that dumping assets on the market will lead to a rapid rise in borrowing costs. It also allows the Fed to avoid realizing losses on its bond holdings as interest rates climb. Man shot in buttocks at Calle Ocho Festival unaware he was wounded (Miami Herald) The shooting occurred around 4:30 p.m. as the man walked along Southwest Eighth Street and 11th Avenue, part of the throng of revelers who gather annually at the street festival in Little Havana. It’s unclear if something sparked the violence between the two men, or if the shooting was unprovoked. At first the victim did not realize he had been shot and kept strolling along the festival route. “He discovered later that he was bleeding and then passed out,” said Miami police spokesman Sgt. Freddie Cruz. The victim, who was hit in the left buttocks, was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he is in stable condition and expected to recover.

Opening Bell: 1.26.16

Ackman regrets not cutting Valeant, Canadian Pacific; Deutsche Bank, RBS earnings will be bleak; AIG tells Icahn to mind his own biz; 112-year-old woman smokes 30 cigarettes a day; and more.

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Opening Bell: 5.11.17

Tax reform is headed the way of the Comey; hedge fund traders probed for fibbing about bonds; porn star vs sharks, round two; and more.

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Opening Bell: 9.2.16

Carl Icahn's son wants a promotion; Banks vs stress tests; Pamela Anderson, rabbi pen op-ed saying porn is "for losers"; and more.