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California Mass Shooting Leaves 14 Victims, 2 Suspects Dead; 17 Wounded

Thu, 03 Dec 2015 12:58 GMT

A mass shooting Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., left at least 14 people dead and at least 17 people wounded, according to police. San Bernardino police, joined by FBI and ATF officials, said at a news conference that suspects entered the Inland Regional Center, a state-run facility for developmentally disabled people, before shooting people in one area of the building. The New York Times reported that Lavinia Johnson, executive director of Inland Regional, said she thought the conference center was being used Wednesday by the County Health Department for a holiday gathering, and that was where the shooting had occurred. The shooters fled the immediate area. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said the two suspects were Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27. The two suspects were killed in a manhunt after they fled the scene in an SUV; hundreds of shots were fired in the chase. A third person was taken into custody, though it was not clear if the person was also a suspect. At least 17 people who were wounded were taken to area hospitals, said Police Chief Burguan. Police also found three explosive devices at the scene. The attackers "came prepared to do what they did, as if they were on a mission," Burguan told reporters during the press conference, adding that the suspects were dressed in "military-style" fatigues holding "long guns," not hand guns. Witnesses initially told the police that as many as three gunmen were seen arriving in a large, black sport utility vehicle, wearing masks and vests, according to the Times. At the same press conference, David Bowditch, Assistant Director in Charge of the Los Angeles FBI field office, said, "We do not know if this is a terrorist incident." The motivation of Farook and Malik has not yet been determined. Farook has been reported to be U.S.-born, though Malik's nationality was unknown. The two appear to have been married and had a six-month-old daughter. Farook appeared to work at the county health center he allegedly attacked. Fears of domestic and international terrorism have driven unpredictable market trading in recent weeks. A lone gunman attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado just last week. Less than three weeks ago, on Nov. 13, three coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris killed 130 people and wounded dozens more. President Obama, in a previously scheduled interview with Norah O'Donnell of CBS News, said, "We have a pattern of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world. There are steps we can take to improve the odds that they don't happen so frequently," including stronger background checks for gun owners, the president said.


Honda Recall Affects 2016 CR-Vs Over Potential Air Bag Issue

Sat, 31 Oct 2015 19:50 GMT

WASHINGTON -- Honda  is recalling some 2016 CR-V SUVs to replace Takata air bags that could rupture in a crash and send metal fragments flying. The recall affects just 515 of the small sport utility vehicles, and Honda says only 30 were sold before dealers were told to stop sales. But it is the latest safety problem with air bags made by Takata Corp., a Japanese supplier. Federal officials said in October that eight people have died and 98 others have been injured by air bag inflators that explode with too much force, sending shrapnel into car occupants. Recalls have covered about 19 million cars made by 12 different car and truck manufacturers. Federal officials have said the recalls are taking too long. American Honda Motor Co. said late Friday that the defect covered by the new recall appears to be different from previous defects, but that it still could result in metal fragments hitting the driver or passengers. A defect in the housing around the air-bag inflator could cause the inflator to rupture, "resulting in serious injury or death," according to the notice posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website. Honda said there have been no reports of injuries. It said the problem was discovered when an air-bag inflator ruptured during an Oct. 10 test at a Takata plant in Mexico. The recall is expected to start Dec. 4. Honda said it offered loaner cars to customers until repairs are done on their cars.  

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Former VW Boss Winterkorn Quits as Head of Holding Company

Sat, 17 Oct 2015 21:18 GMT

BERLIN -- Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive of Volkswagen , is stepping down as head of a holding company that technically controls a majority in the German automaker, weeks after his resignation in the wake of the emissions-rigging scandal. Porsche Automobil Holding SE, via which the Piech and Porsche families own more than 50% of Volkswagen, said in a brief statement Saturday that it "reached an agreement with Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn that he ceases his function as member and chairman of the executive board of Porsche SE by the end of Oct. 31." Winterkorn will be replaced as the holding company's CEO Nov. 1 by Volkswagen's new supervisory board chairman, Hans Dieter Poetsch. Winterkorn's departure as head of the holding company was expected after he quit last month as CEO of the automaker, a few days after news broke of the scandal over software built into diesel engines that disabled emissions controls except when they were being tested. Winterkorn resigned as VW CEO on Sept. 23, saying he was acting in the interests of the company "even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part." He was succeeded in that job by former Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller.  

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CBS's Showtime Looks to 'Homeland' to Propel Streaming Service

Sat, 03 Oct 2015 21:43 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The highly anticipated season premiere of Homeland on Sunday could well be a cliffhanger for Showtime and CBSa executives when it returns to the network in an over-the-top streaming app. The success of the streaming service and its low monthly price vs. traditional monthly cable subscription packages hinges on good content. As the network's most popular show, viewership for the night and the binge run-up to its return could foreshadow the service's success or failure. CBS needs something. The stock is down nearly 40%, compared with its price a year ago. The company's second-quarter earnings were down 24%. Streaming services are the new battleground for viewership. For consumers, monthly fees are a fraction of monthly cable costs and the service allows them to pick and choose programming. For CBS, the $10.99 app provides higher revenue per subscription and provides potential in the 75 million homes that currently don't subscribe to Showtime, which has about 24 million subscriptions in the 100 million-household market. It will also help target the 12 million broadband-only U.S. households. "Every million subs we have for Showtime OTT represents $100 million in new annual revenue, much of which will drop right to the bottom line," Les Moonves, CBS president and chief executive, said in the second-quarter earnings call in August. Showtime's biggest hit returns at 9 p.m. with the usual tummy-twists of CIA operative Carrie Mathison. But it has been 10 months since Homeland Season 4 wrapped up with 6.1 million viewers. The time marks two years in the life of Mathison and nearly a decade in media years as the market continues to shift rapidly. A study by IAB out in April reports that one in three Americans owns a smart TV or device that streams video to television, and 38% of those individuals spend at least 50% of their TV viewing time streaming video to their televisions. "Showtime's new OTT service is one of the company's new digital initiatives that hold great potential for us," said CBS spokesman Dana McClintock. "All of these new services are dependent on great content and clearly Homeland is some of Showtime's best. We see it as a driver of growth as we build subscribers for our new Showtime platform."a Wall Street has high hopes for the service. Deutsche Bank media analyst Bryan Kraft upgraded CBS early in September saying that he expects the new streaming service to be an earnings driver in 2016. "CBS is significantly under-monetizing the pay-TV ecosystem," Kraft wrote in his report. "CBS is best positioned to grow from a shift toward smaller bundles and new entrants," like Apple . Streaming services continue to grow with Netflix , Hulu and Amazon Prime. But HBO's aintroduction of HBO Now this past April was a pressure point for CBS. "Obviously we were affected by HBO's announcement" of HBO Now, Moonves told Variety in June. "They've done very well. Clearly, it's an idea that is accepted." Showtime's $10.99 price undercuts HBO Now, which launched this past April ahead of the return of Game of Thronesaat $14.99. Showtime pegged the streaming service launch ahead of the season premieres of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex.a The platform has been out since July, ahead of Showtime's return of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex. Available only through Apple devices when it launched, the service is now accessible through Apple, Roku, Amazon and Google . Partners offer a 30-day free trial for new subscribers. Consumers can also subscribe to Showtime via Hulu and Sony's PlayStation Vue. Theresa Howard is a former USA Today reporter and trade publication reporter (Brandweek) covering the advertising and marketing business. a a a a a Click to view a price quote on CBS. Click to research the Media industry. [...]

G-20 Members Launch New Grouping to Empower Women

Mon, 07 Sep 2015 15:42 GMT

ANKARA, Turkey -- The world's 20 leading economies have launched a new grouping aimed at boosting the role of women in global economic growth. The W-20 - a grouping of female leaders - was launched on Sunday in the Turkish capital Ankara, where finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 were meeting for talks on the global economy. The group aims to work toward empowering women and ensuring their participation in economic growth. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said women's participation was paramount to economic growth and said one of the best indicators for the prosperity of a country was the smile on the face of its women. Davutoglu said: "If the women are smiling ... you can be sure that their country is happy."In her keynote address at the G-20 meeting, the managing director of the International Money Fund, Christine Lagarde, highlighted the importance of women in the global economy."We know that empowering women boosts economic growth," Lagaarde said. "For example, we have estimates that, if the number of female workers were to increase to the same level as the number of men, GDP in the United States would expand by 5 percent, by 9 percent in Japan, and by 27 percent in India. "These estimates, while of course tentative, are significant and large enough to be taken seriously. This applies particularly to countries where potential growth is declining as the population is aging."  


Federal Reserve's Vice Chairman Keeps Open Possibility of September Rate Increase

Sat, 29 Aug 2015 17:45 GMT

By Martin CrutsingerWASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer left the door open Saturday for a Fed rate increase in September, saying the factors that have been keeping inflation below the central bank's target level have likely begun to fade. Fischer said there's "good reason to believe that inflation will move higher as the forces holding down inflation dissipate further." Some effects of a stronger dollar and a plunge in oil prices have already started to diminish, he said. The vice chairman's remarks came in a highly anticipated speech at an annual conference of Fed officials in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Investors have been trying to determine whether the Fed might still be on course to raise rates after its Sept. 16-17 meeting given recent market turbulence, which had raised doubts. With Fed Chair Janet Yellen having decided to skip this year's Jackson Hole meeting, Fischer is commanding top attention at the high-profile event, with his words parsed for any signal about the Fed's timetable for raising rates. Both in his speech Saturday and in an interview Friday with CNBC, Fischer made clear that the most recent economic data and the direction of financial markets over the next two weeks would help determine whether the Fed raises rates next month. In the CNBC interview, Fischer acknowledged that before the recent market volatility, "there was a pretty strong case" for a rate increase at the Sept. 16-17 meeting, though it wasn't conclusive. Now, the issue is hazier because the Fed needs to assess the economic impact of events in China and on Wall Street. Fischer and Yellen have sought tried to reassure investors that when the Fed begins to raise rates, it plans to do so very gradually. The Fed's key rate has been at a range of zero to a quarter-point since 2008, helping keep borrowing rates low throughout the economy. A government report Friday showed that the Fed's preferred measure of inflation is up just 1.2% over the past 12 months. It has been below 2% for the past three years. Other Fed officials who have spoken since the market turmoil hit with force have hinted at a delay in a rate increase. But they haven't ruled out an increase in September. William Dudley, president of the New York Federal Reserve, helped ignite a Wall Street rally this week when he told reporters that the case for raising rates in September was "less compelling to me" that it had been a few weeks ago, before sudden fears about China's economy upset global markets. But Dudley added that the notion of a rate increase "could become more compelling by the time of the meeting as we get additional information" about the economy. Officials who want to raise rates can point to a consistently solid U.S. economy. The government estimated Thursday that the economy grew at a healthy 3.7% annual rate in the April-June quarter. And the unemployment rate is at a seven-year low of 5.3%. But others worry that the economy remains vulnerable to shocks, such as a major slowdown in China. They also point to the still-lower-than-optimal inflation, depressed by a strengthening dollar and shrunken oil prices. The debate isn't confined to the Fed' s boardroom. This week, two prominent Harvard economists -- Martin Feldstein and Lawrence Summers --wrote dueling opinion pieces. Feldstein wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the market turmoil argued for the Fed to move without delay. Summers, in the Financial Times, urged delay saying a rate increase now "risks tipping some part of the financial system into crisis, with unpredictable and dangerous results."   [...]

Indonesia Rescuers Head to Mountains in Missing Plane Search

Sun, 16 Aug 2015 22:38 GMT

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- An airliner carrying 54 people went missing Sunday during a short flight in bad weather in Indonesia's mountainous easternmost province of Papua, and rescuers were heading to an area where villagers reported seeing a plane crash into a mountain, officials said. The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Papua's provincial capital, Jayapura, to the Papua city of Oksibil when it lost contact with Oksibil's airport, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata. There was no indication that the pilot had made a distress call, he said. The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on the scheduled 42-minute journey, Barata said. Five children, including two infants, were among the passengers. Local media reports said all the passengers are Indonesians. The airline did not immediately release a passenger manifest. Oksibil, which is about 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land, said Susanto, the head of Papua's search and rescue agency. Residents of Okbape village in Papua's Bintang district told local police that they saw a plane flying low before crashing into a mountain, said Susanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. He said about 150 rescuers were heading to the remote area, which is known for its dense forest and steep cliffs, and would begin searching for the plane early Monday. Okbape is about 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of Oksibil. At a news conference Sunday night at the transport ministry in Jakarta, officials said they would not have any details on the villagers' report until rescuers reach the area. "We are now working closely with the National Search and Rescue Agency to find the plane," said Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan. A plane was sent Sunday to look for the missing airliner, but the search was suspended due to darkness and limited visibility and will resume Monday morning, Susanto said. Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed there in the past have never been found. Dudi Sudibyo, an aviation analyst, said that Papua is a particularly dangerous place to fly because of its mountainous terrain and rapidly changing weather patterns. "I can say that a pilot who is capable of flying there will be able to fly an aircraft in any part of the world," he said. European plane maker ATR said in a statement late Sunday that it "acknowledges the reported loss of contact" with the Trigana flight "and is standing by to support the relevant aviation authorities." An ATR spokesman would not comment further. ATR, based in Toulouse, France, is a leading maker of regional planes with 90 seats or less. Indonesia has had its share of airline woes in recent years. The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia's most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety. From 2007 to 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns. Last December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it ran into stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, to Singapore. That disaster was one of five suffered by Asian carriers in a 12-month span, including Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which went missing in March 2014 with 239 people aboard during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Trigana Air Service, which commenced operations in 1991, had 22 aircraft as of December 2013 and flies to 21 destinations in Indonesia.   [...]

Disney Expanding 'Star Wars' Presence at Its Parks

Sun, 16 Aug 2015 00:23 GMT

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Chief executive Bob Iger says "Star Wars" is getting its own themed land at Disney parks. Iger announced at Disney's D23 Fan Expo on Saturday that the 14-acre attraction will be built at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. It represents the largest parks expansion ever. Iger says the "Star Wars" land will be "every bit as thrilling as the films" and will include attractions and entertainment in an area populated by aliens and droids. There will also be a Cantina and the chance to take control of the Millennium Falcon. Disney parks have previously had only the Star Tours ride as their "Star Wars"-themed attraction. More comprehensive park integration has been expected since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012.  

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Report: Documents Reveal Details behind AT&T-NSA Partnership

Sat, 15 Aug 2015 23:35 GMT

WASHINGTON -- Under a decades-old program with the government, telecom giant AT&T  led the way in 2003 on a new collection capability that the National Security Agency said amounted to a "'live' presence on the global net" and would forward 400 billion Internet metadata records in one of its first months of operation, The New York Times reported Saturday. The Fairview program was forwarding more than 1 million emails a day to the NSA's headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., the newspaper reported. Meanwhile, the separate Stormbrew program, linked to Verizon  and the former company MCI, was still gearing up to use the new technology, which appeared to process foreign-to-foreign traffic. In 2011, AT&T began handing over 1.1 billion domestic cellphone calling records a day to the NSA after "a push to get this flow operational prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11," according to an internal agency newsletter cited by The Times. Intelligence officials have told reporters in the past that, for technical reasons, the effort consisted mostly of landline phone records, the newspaper reported. The NSA spent $188.9 million on the Fairview program, twice the amount spent on Stormbrew, its second-largest corporate program, the newspaper reported. Such details from the decades-long partnership between the government and AT&T emerged from NSA documents provided by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden, the Times reported in a story posted Saturday on its website. The Times and ProPublica jointly reviewed the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, the newspaper reported, the documents show that the government's relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as "highly collaborative," while another lauded the company's "extreme willingness to help," the newspaper reported. The documents show that AT&T's cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to The Times. AT&T has given the NSA access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. It also has provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at U.N. headquarters, a customer of AT&T, The Times reported. While NSA spying on U.N. diplomats had been previously reported, the newspaper said Saturday that neither the court order nor AT&T's involvement had been disclosed. The documents also reveal that AT&T installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, The Times reported, far more than similarly sized competitor Verizon. AT&T engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the NSA, the newspaper reported. The NSA, AT&T and Verizon declined to discuss the findings from the files, according to The Times. It is not clear if the programs still operate in the same way today, the newspaper reported. One of the documents provided by Snowden reminds NSA officials to be polite when visiting AT&T facilities, The Times reported, and notes, "This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship."   Click to view a price quote on T. Click to research the Telecommunications industry. [...]

Verizon Strike Possible as Contract Deadline Looms

Sat, 01 Aug 2015 15:54 GMT

WASHINGTON -- Verizon workers in nine states could walk off the job as soon as early Sunday if union negotiators don't reach an agreement over benefits with the wireless carrier. A contract covering 39,000 Verizon workers represented by two unions expires at the end of Saturday. Last week the Communication Workers of America announced that 86 percent of Verizon workers covered by the contract voted to strike in a recent poll, if a new agreement isn't reached. The contract covers employees in nine states from Massachusetts to Virginia who work for Verizon's wireline business, which provides fixed-line phone services and FiOS Internet service. The unions say the telecom giant is demanding that workers sharply increase their health care contributions and make concessions on pensions. Verizon said in a statement Friday it was "preparing for all scenarios" ahead of the contract's expiration. The company said it had seen little progress toward a new agreement after seven weeks of negotiations and called the union's proposals "unrealistic and out-of-touch in today's marketplace." The contract also affects wireline workers in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. About 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike in August 2011 for about two weeks.  

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Government Says Fiat Chrysler Must Offer to Buy Back 500,000 Pickups

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 02:25 GMT

DETROIT -- Fiat Chrysler must offer to buy back from customers more than 500,000 Ram pickup trucks and other vehicles in the biggest such action in U.S. history as part of a costly deal with safety regulators to settle legal problems in about two-dozen recalls.   The Italian-American automaker also faces a record civil fine of up to $105 million. In addition, owners of more than a million older Jeeps with vulnerable rear-mounted gas tanks will be able to trade them in or be paid by Chrysler to have the vehicles repaired.   The settlement is the latest sign that auto safety regulators are taking a more aggressive approach toward companies that fail to disclose defects or don't properly conduct a recall.   The Ram pickups, which are the company's top-selling vehicle, have defective steering parts that can cause drivers to lose control. Some previous repairs have been unsuccessful, so Fiat Chrysler agreed to the buyback, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Owners also have the option of getting them repaired, the agency said in documents released Sunday.   The older Jeeps have fuel tanks located behind the rear axle, with little to shield them in a rear crash. They can rupture and spill gasoline, causing a fire. At least 75 people have died in crash-related fires, although Fiat Chrysler maintains they are as safe as comparable vehicles from the same era.   Both the Jeep and Ram measures are part of a larger settlement between the government and the automaker over allegations of misconduct in 23 recalls covering more than 11 million vehicles. Besides the civil penalty, which was reported Saturday by The Associated Press, Fiat Chrysler agreed to an independent recall monitor and strict federal oversight. It's another step in NHTSA's effort to right itself after being criticized for lapses in some highly-publicized safety recalls. "Today's action holds Fiat Chrysler accountable for its past failures, pushes them to get unsafe vehicles repaired or off the roads and takes concrete steps to keep Americans safer going forward," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the statement. In a separate statement, Fiat Chrysler said it accepted the consequences of the agreement "with renewed resolve to improve our handling of recalls and re-establish the trust our customers place in us." NHTSA has been involved in vehicle buybacks in the past, but never one of this size. A buyback usually happens when a problem is so serious that it can't be fixed and the vehicles need to be removed from service. Under the agreement, Fiat Chrysler has to buy back the Ram trucks for the purchase price, minus depreciation. It's unclear just how many Rams the automaker will have to repurchase, but the cash outlay could be substantial. According to Kelly Blue Book, a 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 - one of the smaller, less-expensive trucks involved in the recalls - could fetch $20,000 in a dealer trade-in, assuming the truck has 60,000 miles on it and is in "good" condition. At that rate, if Chrysler had to buy back even a quarter of the trucks at issue, it could spend $2.5 billion. Fiat Chrysler said more than 60% of the trucks already have been fixed, and the company is allowed to repair and resell the trucks it buys back. The Jeep trade-ins will add to the tab, and the total could strain the parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. The company posted a first-quarter net profit of $101 million and had more than $20 billion in cash and securities on March 31. The consent order that Fiat Chrysler agreed to requires it to notify owners who are eligible for buybacks and other incentives. Mode[...]

Greece Invites IMF to Join Bailout Talks

Sat, 25 Jul 2015 13:57 GMT

By Menelaos Hadjicostis and Nicholas PaphitisATHENS, Greece -- Greece invited the International Monetary Fund on Friday to participate in its negotiations with European creditors over a vital third bailout -- talks that are expected to start next week after a few days' delay and must conclude before Greece faces another big repayment Aug. 20. Negotiators are now expected to arrive in Athens over the weekend with talks probably starting Monday, Greek officials said. In a statement Friday evening, the IMF confirmed it had received Greece's request for a new IMF loan and said it would work to arrange talks with Greece and its European creditors. Athens is looking to secure yet another bailout -- the third since its finances imploded in 2009 -- worth 85 billion euros ($93 billion) over three years. Without the money, the country faces imminent bankruptcy and a probable exit from the shared euro currency. The letter to the IMF, signed by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, formally requests a new bailout from the fund. That is in accordance with the preliminary third bailout agreement Greece struck with its European partners on July 12, which called for IMF financing and monitoring for Greece from March 2016 -- when current IMF financing ends. The letter said Athens believes it will take "several quarters" before the Greek economy faces up to its challenges "and returns to a vigorous and sustainable path to growth with fairness and social inclusion." "We look forward to continued cooperation with the Fund," it added. Greek government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said the final third bailout agreement will be brought to Greece's parliament for approval on Aug. 18. "Clearly, the negotiations will be constant until then," she said Friday. Greece has a debt repayment of around 3.2 billion euros ($3.5 billion) to the European Central Bank on Aug. 20. Greece's five-year financial crisis took a dramatic turn for the worse this summer, after talks between its radical left-led government elected in January and the country's creditors nearly collapsed amid sharp disagreements over the reforms required in return for the rescue loans. The new bailout was only possible after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made a sharp U-turn from years of vehemently opposing further cutbacks. Since its first bailout in 2010, Greece's economy has shrunk by a quarter, while unemployment has rocketed to record peacetime highs and incomes have shrunk an average of 40 percent. Much of the pain has been attributed to the income cuts and tax hikes demanded by creditors. It's unclear to what extent IMF participation complicates the latest bailout talks. The fund has been critical of many of the demands insisted upon by Greece's European creditors but it also says Greece needs deep, meaningful debt relief -- something that Germany and other European nations are dead set against. Gerovasili said the IMF position on Greece's crippling debt load -- the highest in the 19-country eurozone -- "is clearly something we agree with." But she added the fund "is tougher in negotiations, with harsher terms, and is not very agreeable to us as a negotiator." Gerovasili dismissed reports that security concerns delayed the talks Friday, blaming "technical issues" instead. "Greece is a safe country," Gerovasili said. "Both sides are trying to expedite the start of talks." The final hurdle Greece had to clear before talks could restart came early Thursday when Greek lawmakers approved creditor-demanded judicial and banking reforms. A week earlier, parliament approved new laws introducing steep sales tax increases. In spite of a revolt from his own Syriza party, Tsip[...]

Eli Lilly's Solanezumab is the Alzheimer's Drug Equivalent of the Internet Dress

Wed, 22 Jul 2015 11:00 GMT

WASHINGTON, D.C. (TheStreet) -- Remember the dress that took over the Internet last winter? To some people, the dress was most definitely blue and black, others insisted the dress was white and gold. People saw different colors in the dress based on their perceptions of the image and how their brains processed that information. Eli Lilly's  solanezumab is the Alzheimer's drug equivalent of the Internet dress. New data disclosed Wednesday has some people seeing hope that solanezumab, if used early enough, can slow the declines in cognition, memory and function that are the terrible hallmarks of Alzheimer's. Others looking at the same solanezumab data see not much of anything. The drug appears to be safe, but it's not benefiting Alzheimer's patients in a meaningful way. The new, contentious solanezumab data come from from Lilly's EXPEDITION-EXT study, to be presented Wednesday afternoon at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Washington, D.C. Lilly announced the sola data in a press announcement ahead of the presentation. The full study results were also published in the medical journal Alzheimer's & Dementia. Must Read: 13 Volatile Stocks to Buy Right Now if You Are a Risk Taker Lilly shares closed Tuesday down 2.5% to $85.72, ahead of Wednesday's data. However, shares of the pharmaceutical giant are up 24% this year, due in large part to investor excitement about the Alzheimer's program and high expectations for positive solaneuzumab (sola, for short) study results. In an extended analysis of two large but negative clinical trials, Lilly scientists conclude that mild Alzheimer's patients who start treatment with sola early lose cognition and function at a slower rate than similar patients who start taking the drug later. The inability of "delayed-start" sola patients to catch up to early sola starters suggests the drug is having a positive, modifying effect on Alzheimer's, Lilly says. Using a delayed-start trial design to assess the potential for a drug to slow disease progression has been tried before, but the sola results are the first time it's been used successfully with Alzheimer's patients, says Hong Liu-Seifert, the Lilly scientist who led the EXPEDITION-EXT study. "The results support the potential benefit of starting treatment with solanezumab earlier rather than later in disease progression, and suggest there is persistence of treatment effect after the delayed-start patients are given the drug," said Dr. Paul Aisen, director of the Alzheimer's Therapeutics Research Institute at the University of Southern California, in a statement. But not all Alzheimer's experts share Lilly and Aisen's optimistic view of the sola delayed-start data. An Alzheimer's doctor at the AAIC conference, who asked not be named because he didn't want to criticize colleagues publicly, views the small differences in measurements of cognition and function between early- and delayed-start sola patients to be clinically meaningless. He also believes Lilly leaned heavily on extensive "modeling" of the raw data and unproven but generous statistical methods to reach its positive conclusions. "What we're seeing here is not a disease modifying effect," he says. In the EXPEDITION-EXT study, mild Alzheimer's patients who received sola in the failed EXPEDITION 1 and 2 studies for 18 months continued on the drug for another two years. The mild patients treated originally with placebo crossed over to treatment with sola, also for two years. Would the treatment benefit in cognition and function seen in sola-treated patients compared to placebo patients persist even after all patients were taking the drug? Lilly says yes.[...]

Horizon Goes Hostile With $3B Takeout Offer for Depomed

Tue, 07 Jul 2015 11:29 GMT

DUBLIN, Ireland (TheStreet) -- Horizon Pharmaceuticals , the Irish drug company, has gone public with a $3 billion offer to acquire fellow drug maker Depomed after efforts to negotiate a takeover privately were rebuffed. Under terms of the all-stock deal, Horizon proposes to acquire Depomed for $29.95 per share, or a 42% premium to the closing price of Depomed on July 6. The deal, if closed, would be accretive immediately to Horizon's earnings, the company said. "Despite our repeated attempts beginning in March to engage Depomed's management and board of directors in friendly and confidential discussions, Depomed's management and board have refused to engage in discussions with us and rejected our proposal," said Horizon CEO Tim Walbert, in a statement. Depomed has not commented on the hostile takeover bid. Horizon's acquisition of Depomed would create a combined company with 13 approved drugs, nearly doubling Horizon's current portfolio. Projected 2015 net sales and adjusted earnings of the combined companies would be $950 million and $350 million, respectively, Horizon said. Like other specialty pharmaceutical makers headquartered in tax-friendly countries, Horizon is buying growth. Over the past two years, Horizon has acquired four companies, most recently Hyperion Therapeutics in March. Must Read: The Biotech Bubble Debate: Solid Science vs. Sky-High Valuations

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Parliament Approves Referendum; Greece's Future in Balance

Sun, 28 Jun 2015 04:18 GMT

By Raf Casert and Elena Becatoros   ATHENS, Greece -- Greece's parliament voted early Sunday in favor of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' motion to hold a July 5 referendum on creditor proposals for reforms in exchange for loans, with the country's future in the eurozone looking increasingly shaky. Tsipras' surprise call stunned Greece's international debt negotiators, and the country took a big step closer to falling out of the euro currency union after fellow eurozone member states refused to extend its bailout program past its expiry date on Tuesday, leaving Greece on the brink of financial chaos. In the streets of Greece, worried people queued outside banks for cash from dawn to dusk after Tsipras' announcement in the early hours of Saturday, after billions of euros had already been emptied in the preceding weeks. Greece has a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) debt due to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday and its bailout program expires the same day, after which it is unclear how the country might survive financially. The referendum is set for next Sunday with the question on whether to accept proposed reforms needed to get bailout loans from other eurozone countries and the IMF. The government is advocating a rejection of the proposals. The radical left-wing leader accused the creditors of using blackmail and ultimatums against his proud but struggling people. European officials and all Greek opposition parties except the extremist far-right Golden Dawn party called his move for a vote a foolish and rash gambit that effectively ended negotiations to keep Greece financially afloat. The sudden move comes after five months of stalemated negotiations, with Tsipras accusing creditors of trying to strong-arm his country into taking harsh austerity measures he says would hammer an economy already on its knees after months of creditor-demanded spending cuts and tax hikes. "They didn't ask us to agree, they asked us to surrender our political dignity," Tsipras said in a tumultuous and nearly 13-hour parliamentary session that cumulated in a vote just before 3 a.m. Sunday. Out of parliament's 300 lawmakers, 178 voted in favor and 120 against, with two people absent. He insisted the Greek side had "exhausted every limit" of concessions so there could be an agreement, adding that "perhaps some saw that as a weakness." The referendum move further crumbled already strained relations between Greece and its European partners. Tsipras said the Greek people would vote against a deal next Sunday. "This no will also be a big yes, a big yes to the decision of the Greek government to reject an ultimatum that insults the Greek people." Tsipras dismissed harsh criticism from other European countries on his decision. "The referendum will take place as scheduled, next Sunday, whether our partners want it or not," he said. Eurozone finance ministers earlier rejected Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis' request for a one-month extension to the bailout program, with Varoufakis then leaving the meeting. "It's a sad day for Europe, but we will overcome it," he said. The other 18 finance ministers then huddled without him to assess how to minimize the damage from the Greek crisis on their currency. "Our institutions are and will be prepared to take any action if needed," said top eurozone official Jeroen Dijsselbloem of fears that financial turbulence might extend to the rest of the currency bloc. Fellow ministers spoke candidly about the risks of a Greek exit from the euro in a way that would have been inconceivable onl[...]

Greece's Future in Balance as Creditors Reject Aid Extension

Sat, 27 Jun 2015 20:02 GMT

By Derek Gatopoulos and Demetris NellasBRUSSELS -- Greece's place in the euro currency bloc looked increasingly shaky on Saturday after eurozone nations rejected a month-long extension to its bailout program and the prime minister called for a risky popular vote on the country's financial future. Worried Greeks queued outside banks for cash amid the uncertainty, while eurozone finance ministers decided to hold a meeting without Greece to assess how to keep the euro currency union stable in the face of heightened risks that Greece could drop out. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras shocked Greece's creditors late Friday when he called for a referendum in a week on whether to accept the reforms that the rescue lenders want in return for more financial aid. The country's bailout program ends Tuesday and without an extension or more loans from creditors, Greece is likely to be in arrears on a debt payment due the same day. Its banks face the risk of collapse. The Greek government's call for the people to vote against a proposed bailout deal from international creditors on July 5 angered many of its eurozone partners. "We must conclude that, however regretful, that the program will expire on Tuesday night," said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the top eurozone official. "That is the latest date that we could have reached an agreement."  He added: "The Greek authorities have asked for a month extension. But in that month there can be no disbursements. How does the Greek government think that it will survive and deal with its problems in that period? I do not know." France's finance minister, Michel Sapin, stressed that a deal was still possible and that he was ready to act as a go-between among Greece and the creditors after relations neared a breaking point. Now much will depend on whether the European Central Bank will continue to prop up Greek banks even after the country's bailout program expires. It would be under huge pressure to stop using eurozone taxpayer money to keep alive the banks if there is no prospect for a deal. In that case, the banks would likely collapse and the Greek government would have to support them itself. Penniless, the government would have to revert to printing a new currency, effectively drawing the country out of the euro union. The governing council of the ECB will meet "in due course" to assess the situation. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis insisted that Athens and lenders still had time to improve the deal -- and avoid a negative outcome to the referendum. "There is no reason why we can't have a deal by Tuesday. If the deal is acceptable we will recommend a positive vote," he said. "It's a sad day for Europe but we will overcome it," Varourfakis said upon leaving while his counterparts continued talks. The sides are haggling over the reforms the country needs to make in exchange for more financial aid but have managed to only increase uncertainty over the country's future. Greece has a debt due on Tuesday and its bailout program expires the same day, after which it is unclear whether its banks would be able to avoid collapse, an event that could be the precursor to Greece leaving the euro. The Greek Parliament is debating and will vote at midnight Saturday on the government's request for a referendum. Across Athens, people started flocking to cash machines shortly after Tsipras announced the referendum around 1 a.m. local time. The queues grew the next day, though the number of people and the availability of cash varied widely. The Bank of Greece assured in a statement that the[...]

TheStreet is Hiring a Banking and/or Finance Reporter to Work in New York City

Tue, 09 Jun 2015 14:56 GMT

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- TheStreet, Inc., an award-winning financial media company recently named on Folio:'s list of Top Places to Work in Media, is seeking reporters who will be responsible for researching, reporting and writing stories covering major U.S. corporations. TheStreet expects applicants to be versed in multimedia, including the use of Web video, graphics and photos and to be comfortable with social media. This is a fast-paced and innovative environment, often with multiple competing deadlines, so the ability to diligently multitask is an invaluable skill. Other responsibilities include: Observe, analyze and track news sources impacting the financial services industry. Provide real-time coverage and produce multiple daily market updates. Identify, recommend and develop stories surrounding the latest news regarding the banking industry, federal policy and market trends. Land interviews with top executives and to ask questions that break news. Produce weekly and monthly enterprise stories. Implement digital journalistic strategies to enhance reports and engage audience interests. Identify and develop relationships with new information sources. Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a relevant field Three to five years writing for a financial news outlet or related experience Excellent writing and analytic skills Ability to meet constant deadlines Knowledge of financial markets Supportive attitude and the ability to function well in a team environment To apply: Please send your resume, writing samples and salary requirements with "FNW-TST" in the subject line to Read More:TheStreet Is Hiring Technology Reporters to Work in San FranciscoTheStreet Is Hiring a Digital Journalist for its Speed Desk in New York City

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Deutsche Bank Co-CEOs to Step Down, John Cryan to Take Over

Sun, 07 Jun 2015 21:14 GMT

BERLIN -- Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen will step down early as co-CEOs of Deutsche Bank , which has struggled with legal issues and disappointing profits. They will be replaced by John Cryan, a British member of the company's supervisory board who has worked for Switzerland's UBS in the past, the bank said Sunday. Must Read: Warren Buffet's Top 10 Stock Buys Jain and Fitschen became joint chief executives of Germany's biggest bank in 2012, succeeding Josef Ackermann, and had contracts running through March 2017. Deutsche Bank AG said that Jain, 52, and Fitschen, 66, had decided "to step down early from their roles." It said that Jain will step down June 30 but has been asked to remain with the company as a consultant until January. The bank's supervisory board asked Fitschen to stay in his job until the next annual general meeting in May 2016 "to ensure a smooth transition." Cryan, 54, will become co-CEO in July and take sole control when Fitschen leaves. He has sat on Deutsche Bank's supervisory board, the German equivalent of a board of directors, since 2013. Cryan was president for Europe at the Singaporean investment company Temasek from 2012 until last year. He was previously chief financial officer of the Swiss bank UBS AG. Jain and Fitschen have sought to move the bank past lawsuits and legal issues that in some cases dated back years and stressed the need for the bank to change its culture. Still, those issues have continued to cast the bank in an unflattering light. In April, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $2.5 billion to authorities in the United States and Britain to settle allegations its traders rigged important market interest-rate benchmarks used to determine rates on a variety of debt. Unrelatedly, Fitschen and two predecessors went on trial that month on charges of attempted fraud for allegedly colluding to deceive judges in a long-running legal battle with a now-deceased media mogul, Leo Kirch. Fitschen and the other defendants have denied any wrongdoing. Deutsche Bank also recently announced a reorganization that will involve spinning off its Postbank branches in Germany, closing offices in some countries and eliminating less-profitable business at its investment banking division. With that strategy in place, "which puts the bank's future on a strong track, it is right for the bank and for me to have new leadership at this time," Jain said in a statement. Jain has been with Deutsche Bank for 20 years and headed its investment banking unit before becoming co-CEO. Supervisory board chairman Paul Achleitner said "without his efforts, our bank today would not have achieved or sustained its global leadership." He said the co-CEOs' decision to depart early "demonstrates impressively their attitude of putting the bank's interests ahead of their own." Achleitner added that Cryan "knows the bank well, and we are convinced that he is the right person at the right time." Must Read: Build a Billionaire Portfolio With These 20 Stocks Click to view a price quote on DB. Click to research the Banking industry. [...]

McCarthy's 'Spy' Tops With $30 Million; 'Entourage' Lags

Sun, 07 Jun 2015 20:55 GMT

NEW YORK -- Melissa McCarthy left the guys of "Entourage" in the dust, landing her first No. 1 box-office debut as a leading lady with an estimated $30 million weekend for the espionage comedy "Spy." The result added to the string of successes for McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig, who first united on the 2011 hit "Bridesmaids." While "Spy" fell short of the $39.1 million debut of their 2013 comedy "The Heat," with Sandra Bullock, and came in a tad lower than some predicted, it was good enough to win a weekend lacking blockbuster punch but crowded with action, horror and the resurrected HBO series. Must Read: 5 Stocks the Biggest Hedge Funds Bought Last Quarter "It sets the table for a fantastic long run," said Chris Aronson, head of distribution for 20th Century Fox  . The R-rated, action-heavy "Spy," made for about $65 million, will depend on word-of-mouth and its generally glowing reviews to propel it further in the coming weeks. The film, in which McCarthy plays a desk-bound CIA officer sent into a James Bond-like European caper, has already made $56.5 million overseas. Last week's top film, "San Andreas," the disaster movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, slid to second place with $26.4 million. "Insidious: Chapter 3" opened with an estimated $23 million, a strong debut for the low-budget horror prequel from Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions. But Time Warner's  HBO's "Entourage," made for about $30 million, failed to compete with those releases. The film, released about four years after the series concluded, made $10.4 million over the weekend and has brought in a five-day total of $17.8 million since opening Wednesday. Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., said advance tracking for the film had been soft and that comparisons to "Sex in the City" -- another post-finale HBO adaptation - weren't accurate. That 2008 release opened with $57 million. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak said that while the individual results for the weekend likely meant profitability for their distributors, the marketplace is suffering from a lack of momentum after a string of lackluster weekends, particularly a weak Memorial Day holiday when Disney's "Tomorrowland" opened flatly. "This is our third down weekend in a row. It takes some wind out of our sails," Dergarabedian said. "We need a hit like 'Jurassic World' and we needed it yesterday." Comcast Universal's "Jurassic World" opens Friday with expectations of a $100 million-plus opening. In a medium-sized release, the acclaimed Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions drama "Love & Mercy," which stars Paul Dano and John Cusack as Brian Wilson, opened with $2.2 million on 483 screens. Must Read: Strange Investments Buffett, Soros and Other Billionaires Made Last Quarter Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday. 1. "Spy," $30 million ($25.6 million international). 2. "San Andreas," $26.4 million ($97.8 million international). 3. "Insidious: Chapter 3," $23 million ($14.3 million international). 4. "Entourage," $10.4 million ($3 million interna[...]

BlackBerry announces layoffs

Sat, 23 May 2015 20:44 GMT

TORONTO -- BlackBerry says it is laying off an unspecified number of employees globally as it makes changes to the operations responsible for making its smartphones. The company, based in Waterloo, Ontario, said in a statement Saturday that the job cuts will affect people who make the hardware, software and applications for its phones, including such devices as the BlackBerry Bold, Classic and Passport. BlackBerry refused to say how many jobs were being cut, but said it's looking to reduce the size of its device operations and make it profitable again. BlackBerry had about 7,000 global employees as of 2014. About half worked in Canada. BlackBerry began to turn a small profit last year, but its overall revenues continue to decline. At the peak of its success, the company had about 20,000 international employees.  

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As Cuba Trade Normalization Nears, Florida Farmers Fears Grow

Thu, 30 Apr 2015 14:57 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As relations thaw, Cuba and the U.S. are set to become major trading partners for agricultural goods and that's making nearly everyone with any stake in the matter very happy -- except Florida farmers.  "With a similar climate and much of the same crop diversity as Florida, but lacking the sanitary and phytosanitary programs and resources necessary to suppress plant pest and disease, Cuba is a fertile breeding ground for any number of harmful exotic pests and disease that would pose a threat to Florida's natural resources, environment and agriculture industry," said Adam H. Putnam's, Commissioner of Florida Agriculture and Consumer Service. Must Read: Warren Buffett's 7 Secrets to Dividend Investing For Putnam, and those he represents, any relaxation in the restriction of trade and commerce could have a disproportionately negative effect on the state of Florida its $120 billion agriculture industry. Others in Putnam's camp bring up a variety of concerns. Florida is a "sentinel state for foreign pests, invasive species, and new diseases and infrastructure for detection and treatment of pests and disease is reportedly underdeveloped in Cuba," said Janell Hendren, National Affairs Coordinator of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. "The USDA needs to conduct a thorough evaluation of the risk to U.S. farms, and, as with other countries, Cuba should be held to the same standard as domestic producers regarding food safety and production methods." Florida farmers are also concerned about the unfair market competition they would face from government-controlled agricultural business. Cuba's subsidized citrus, avocado and sugar production could adversely affect growers in Florida. "If the grain exporters want to sell their products to Cuba, we certainly won't object, but we have concerns allowing imports," said Hendren. On the flip side, Gene Hall, a spokesperson for the Texas Farm Bureau, who has been to Cuba twice, thinks that the farmers of his state could benefit greatly with better economic relations with the island nation of 11 million. "Cuban officials showed interest in Texan rice and other agricultural products of our state," he said. "They have to buy rice from Vietnam and other nations from the South East Asia. Those countries cannot compete with the quality of our products. Besides, we are closer." Despite the relaxation of the ban on export of agricultural and other food items under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, U.S. government agencies still are prohibited from providing export assistance or any form of credit or guarantees for export to Cuba. All this is likely to change, or at least be tweaked. Less than a month after President Obama's December 17 announcement of policy changes that explore a new approach in relations with Cuba, the Treasury Department's Office of Control of Foreign Assets published several amendments to Cuban Assets Control Regulation to create a more effective and less restrictive system of payments requirement for the sales of agricultural products to Cuba. Much farm trade requires heavy financing of the kind Cuban farmers and those who exported to Cuba had difficulty getting in the past. Removing this obstacle could help spur agricultural trade growth.  "If the embargo is removed, we could be poised to become a major trading partner with Cuba," said Michael Sc[...]

First-Quarter Sales of Bristol-Myers' Cancer Immunotherapy Drug Miss Street Forecast

Tue, 28 Apr 2015 12:11 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Bristol-Myers Squibb sales in the first quarter rose year over year but the performance of its most important cancer immunotherapy drug Opdivo failed to meet Street expectations. Opdivo is Bristol's checkpoint inhibitor drug approved for the treatment of melanoma and lung cancer. Sales in the first quarter totaled $40 million, missing the Street's consensus target of $50 million. Overall sales in the March quarter were $4 billion, a 6% increase from one year ago and higher than consensus. Sales of Yervoy, Bristol's other cancer immunotherapy, increased 20% to $325 million in the first quarter. Earlier Tuesday, Merck reported better-than-expected $83 million in first-quarter sales of its competing checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda. On an adjusted basis, Bristol reported earnings of 71 cents in the first quarter compared to adjusted earnings of 46 cents per share one year ago -- a 54% increase. Including all charges, Bristol's earnings rose 27% to 71 cents per share. Bristol raised the lower end of its 2015 earnings guidance to a range of $1.60 to $1.70 per share, which is still a touch below current consensus estimate of $1.71 per share. Bristol shares were up just under 2% to $66.29 in pre-market trading.

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Merck Sales of New Cancer Immunotherapy Top Street Estimates

Tue, 28 Apr 2015 11:51 GMT

KENILWORTH, NJ (TheStreet) -- Merck's new cancer immunotherapy Keytruda posted $83 million in sales during the first quarter, better than expected, although total revenue and drug sales decreased from one year ago. Keytruda is Merck's checkpoint inhibitor approved last September for advanced melanoma. First quarter sales rose 40% sequentially from $50 million in the fourth quarter. Last week, Merck submitted new data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seeking to expand Keytruda's label to cover the treatment of patients with advanced non-small lung cancer patients. Another FDA filing to expand Keytruda use in newly diagnosed melanoma patients will be submitted mid year, the company said. Bristol-Myers Squibb reported Tuesday that first-quarter sales of its competing checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo were $40 million, less than the Street expected.Merck shares were up 5% to $59.74 in pre-market trading. Overall, total sales in the first quarter were $9.4 million, down 8% year over year but higher than the Street consensus estimate of $9 billion. Merck attributed lower sales in the March quarter to the negative impact of foreign currency exchange and the divestiture of consumer products. Merck pharmaceutical sales totaled $8.3 billion in the first quarter, a decrease of 2% year over year. Excluding the negative effect of foreign exchange, pharmaceutical sales would have risen 5% in the quarter. Sales of the diabetes drugs Januvia and Janumet rose 4% year over year to $1.4 billion. On Monday night, Merck announced that an important heart-safety study of Januvia achieved its main goal. Remicade, Merck's rheumatoid arthritis drug, reported sales of $501 million, down 17% year over year, largely due to the loss of patent protection and the launch of a biosimilar copy of the drug in Europe. On an adjusted basis, Merck reported first quarter earnings per share of 85 cents, topping the Street consensus of 74 cents per share but down from the year-ago quarter when the company reported adjusted earnings of 88 cents per share. Including all charges, Merck earned 33 cents per share in the first quarter, down from GAAP earnings of 57 cents per share in the first quarter 2014. Merck adjusted 2015 adjusted earnings guidance to a range of $3.35 to $3.48 per share versus current consensus estimate of $3.37 per share. The company's 2015 revenue guidance of $38.3 to $39.8 billion brackets current consensus of $39.3 billion. Click to view a price quote on MRK. Click to research the Drugs industry. [...]

Raytheon's $1.57 Billion Websense Deal Marks Risky Commercial Foray

Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:22 GMT

NEW YORK ( The Deal) -- Raytheon Co.'s  high-priced plan to build out its private-sector cybersecurity business figures to either rewrite conventional wisdom or reinforce it. Regardless of the risks, it is a path other defense firms are considering, meaning more deals similar to what Raytheon is attempting could be on the horizon. There's no substitute for a trading floor to get great ideas, so Jim Cramer created a better one at Real Money, where he blogs three times each day and interacts with 20+ traders. Read him today. Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon said April 20 it would invest $1.57 billion in cash for an 80.3% stake in a new joint venture combining its in-house cybersecurity assets with Websense Inc., based in Austin, Texas. Websense, taken private by Vista Equity Partners LLC two years ago for just $907 million, will broaden Raytheon's exposure to non-government customers and give it a substantial presence in the business of keeping corporate data secure.Though there are plenty of examples of successfully mixing defense and commercial -- Boeing Co. and its massive commercial aerospace business to name one -- a perception remains in the market that vendors to the Pentagon struggle when venturing outside of the Washington, D.C., Beltway. Tech-focused companies have been particularly treacherous for defense firms, as it is hard to blend an entrepreneurial culture with the straight-laced world of defense contracting.Indeed Boeing is seemingly traveling in the opposite direction as Raytheon, selling some corporate-facing cyber assets to Symantec Corp. in January for undisclosed terms. Company officials said Boeing decided to divest after concluding the business opportunity had not materialized as executives had once hoped.Sounding a word of caution on the Websense deal, Fitch Ratings noted Tuesday that "most defense contractors have not been successful in diversifying into commercial markets over the past several decades."Still, defense companies have telegraphed for years now that they see tech as a potential area for growth. Lockheed Martin Corp. CEO Marillyn A. Hewson noted back in 2013 the massive amount of research and development her company does in areas like cybersecurity, arguing that research could be of great value to non-government customers too. Lockheed as far back as 2005 was rumored to be exploring what would have been a company-reshaping acquisition of Computer Sciences Corp. . Last year, Lockheed bought Industrial Defender, a provider of cybersecurity for the energy and chemicals industry, for undisclosed terms, a hint that the company is at least dabbling in commercial areas even if not yet as aggressive as Raytheon.Raytheon, according to people familiar with the situation, believes that by buying Websense's commercial expertise and sales staff, it will get a leg up selling to the corporate world. The company hopes that by keeping the enterprise at arm's length via the joint venture, potential culture clashes can be avoided.And a defense banker notes that, unlike in years past, the Pentagon has begun to actively encourage contractors to in some cases think commercial, removing some barriers to commercial purchases and increasingly seeking to buy cheaper, off-the-shelf technology and products for military uses instead of going through the costly process of developing new ones.Further there is a belief in the in[...]

Banks Will Profit From Cuba's Removal From Terrorism Watch

Fri, 17 Apr 2015 20:02 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Banks will be keeping a close eye on U.S. Congress over the next 42 days. If the legislative body fails to act, it could open up a $68 billion economy to levels of financing it has never seen. We're talking about Cuba, of course. For almost five decades, the island nation of 11 million has been excluded from the international credit markets, and its access to financing from international banks and institutions has been limited -- mostly due to being on the U.S. government's list of state sponsors of terrorism. Must Read: Warren Buffett's 7 Secrets to Dividend Investing Earlier this week, President Obama recommended that Cuba be removed from the list. This follow's the State Department's recommendation a week prior. Congress has 45 days from the day of the President's announcement to block the move. If Congress does nothing, Cuba will leave Syria, Iran and Sudan as the three remaining members of the list.  The initial benefits of leaving this list will mostly be in the banking sector. Most banks won't do business with states on the list for fear of reprisal from the U.S. Treasury Department. Countries on the list face "miscellaneous financial and other restrictions," according to the State Department Web site. That vague threat has been enough to keep most banks away from Cuba. As Alex Sanchez, president and CEO of the Florida Banking Association told TheStreet last month in reference to this issue, "Capital does not go where there is risk." Once Cuba is off the list, banks and other financial institutions will have flexibility to open accounts and establish limited banking relationships and credit card processing activities with Cuban counterparts, according to the changes and updates of rules in the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department. OFAC is in charge of administering and enforcing economic and trade sanctions against countries and organizations that engage in activities that threaten the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States. Bankers at large national banks who didn't want to have their names or employers identified for fear of Treasury Department reprisal said they were excited at the opportunity to enter the market and are eager to be the first ones to establish normal banking infrastructure in the country. Two of these banks are already considering plans to bring refurbished ATM machines to Cuba. Tourists don't like to travel with cash and the banks are eager to be the first to provide in Cuba the kinds of financial services they expect when they travel anywhere else.  Businesses, too, could use the services of banks in Cuba.  "Businesses depend on a banking system that conforms to international rules," says Milton V. Vescovacci, head of international business practices and the Cuba sub practice at GrayRobinson, a law and consulting firm based in Miami. "With the further relaxation of the OFAC regulations that exist now, trade will be financeable and people will be able to buy things with credit from institutions based in in the U.S." Of course, perhaps the largest beneficiary of having access to capital markets would be Cubans themselves and the Cuban government.  Currently, large development projects are often financed by China, Russia, Venezuela and others. The Mariel [...]

8 Coolest Alternative-Fuel Vehicles at the New York Auto Show

Fri, 03 Apr 2015 16:08 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Even in times of cheap gas, car manufacturers are betting that efficiency will be a major draw for consumers. The New York Auto Show highlighted the newest models of hybrid, electric, plug-in hybrids -- a mash-up of the two -- and futuristic fuel cell vehicles, which create pure water as a byproduct of making the engine run. Plug in hybrids balance the cost savings and eco-consciousness of an electric vehicle with the convenience and range of a traditional internal combustion engine. Drivers can run the electric engine only for short trips; when the juice runs out, the gas engine turns on. Electric ranges vary by model. "The sweet spot is between 12 and 50 miles," says Anton Wahlman, an analyst who covers the automotive industry. "That takes care of ... perhaps 50% or more of trips will not involve a cold engine start."  Fuel cell vehicles, while offering a glimpse of a clean transportation future, aren't yet as practical as other fuel efficient vehicles because of lack of fueling infrastructure. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are only 12 public hydrogen fueling stations in the country -- and eight of them are in southern California. Still, the future looks bright for alternative fuel vehicles. Here are eight of the most exciting ones at this year's New York Auto Show. Hyundai Tuscon Fuel Cell The Hyundai Tuscson Fuel Cell SUV runs on hydrogen and doesn't emit any CO2 gas -- the byproduct of running it is pure water. While the car doesn't have the acceleration of a traditional internal combustion vehicle, going from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 12.5 seconds, it will get you pretty far, going 265 miles on a single tank of 12.4 pounds of hydrogen. The SUV is currently only available for lease, and only in southern California, where there is sufficient fueling infrastructure to make the vehicle practical. Buyers can lease the car for 36 months for $499 a month after a $2,999 down payment. The payments include all maintenance and fuel costs. Photo Credit: Matt Glueckert Photo Credit: Matt Glueckert Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid The 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid sedan gets an estimated 44 miles per gallon with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder hybrid engine. Additionally, the car runs on "all-electric" mode with a 22-mile range and can be recharged via standard electrical outlet. The car will become available in late 2015 and will retail for $21,975. Must Read: 10 Best Affordable and Attractive Cars at the New York Auto Show Photo Credit: Porsche  Porsche Cayenne Plug-in Hybrid Unlike other hybrid vehicles, the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid packs a punch. It goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds and puts out 416 horsepower at 5500 rpm. It can hit a top speed at 151 miles per hour. Currently, the company doesn't have fuel consumption estimates. The vehicle will retail for $77,200. Photo Credit: Matt Glueckert Mercedes-Benz GLE550e Mercedes-Benz  GLE550e plug-in pairs a 329 horsepower V-6 engine with an electric motor. It also has an all-electric mode that can take drivers about 18 miles before a recharge is needed. The SUV will go on sale this September. Pricing isn't yet available. Photo Credit: Matt Glueckert Must Read:11 Safe High-Yield Dividend Stocks for Times of Volatility and Uncert[...]

The Best and Worst S&P 500 Performers, With Buy and Sell Recommendations

Fri, 03 Apr 2015 14:19 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The S&P 500 ended a wild quarter more or less where it started, up 0.44%.  That said, not all of the stocks in the index were so lucky. Many finished significantly off their 2014 closes. TheStreet paired these stocks with TheStreet Ratings, our proprietary ratings tool, to give you an idea of now that these companies have shed stock price whether they're a good buy going forward:  10 Worst Stocks in the S&P 500 in the First Quarter 10 Worst Technology Stocks in the S&P 500 in the First Quarter 10 Worst Pharmaceutical and Health Care Stocks in the S&P 500 in the First Quarter 10 Worst Financial Services Stocks in the S&P 500 in the First Quarter That said, not all companies did poorly. Some did incredibly well, rising significantly in the quarter. TheStreet also paired these stocks with TheStreet Ratings to let you know whether their incredible runs are likely to continue:  10 Best Stocks in the S&P 500 in the First Quarter 10 Best Technology Stocks in the S&P 500 in the First Quarter 10 Best Pharmaceutical and Health Care Stocks in the S&P 500 in the First Quarter 10 Best Financial Services Stocks in the S&P 500 in the First Quarter


Pace of US hiring weakens with just 126K jobs added in March

Fri, 03 Apr 2015 13:13 GMT

By Josh Boak WASHINGTON -- The weakening U.S. economy spilled into the job market in March as employers added only 126,000 jobs, the fewest since December 2013, snapping a streak of 12 consecutive months of gains above 200,000. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate remained at 5.5%. Economic growth has been hammered this year by harsh winter weather, factory slowdowns and lackluster construction activity. The manufacturing, construction and government sectors each shed workers, while hiring at restaurants plunged from February. In addition to reporting the sluggish hiring in March, the government revised down its estimate of job gains in February and January by a combined 69,000. Wage growth in March remained modest. Average hourly wages rose 7 cents to $24.86 an hour. Past job growth, along with cheaper gasoline, has yet to significantly increase consumer spending. A continued deceleration in hiring could delay the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates in midyear. The Fed signaled last month that it would be cautious in raising rates from record lows. The Fed has yet to rule out a June rate increase. But many analysts expect the first increase no earlier than September. In part, that's because Fed officials have revised down the range of unemployment they view as consistent with a healthy economy to 5% to 5.2% from 5.2% to 5.5% previously. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen has stressed that even when the Fed begins raising rates, it will do so very gradually. A Fed rate increase would point to stable growth. But the economy has weakened in the first two months of 2015, in part because of the tough winter. The Atlanta Federal Reserve estimates that growth was flat during the first three months of 2015. JPMorgan Chase says that growth is tracking at an annualized rate of 0.6%. Those forecasts are significantly below the annual growth rate of 2.2% in the final three months of 2014 and a rate of more than 4% in the middle of last year. Factory orders have been mixed, having dropped sharply in January before ticking up modestly in February. Cheaper oil has led energy companies to halt orders for pipelines and equipment, hurting manufacturers. At the same time, the strengthening dollar has made American-made goods costlier abroad, thereby cutting into exports. This year's job growth has yet to ignite a larger boom in consumer spending. Average hourly wages have risen a tepid 2% in the past 12 months. McDonald's, Wal-Mart, the Gap and other major employers have announced raises for their lowest-paid employees. But those pay raises are staggered and unlikely to fuel faster wage growth. The economy has disproportionately added low-paying jobs in the retail and restaurant sectors since the recovery from the Great Recession began nearly six years ago. Adding jobs in the lowest-paid industries can suppress average hourly wages, even when employers are rewarding cashiers, waiters and sales clerks with pay bumps. Yet evidence of a strong spring rebound might hinge on hiring by retailers and restaurants, noted Tara Sinclair, a George Washington University professor and chief economist at Indeed, the job-posting web site. Continued hiring by retailers and restaurants would suggest that employers anticipate solid demand from customers, who might fina[...]

Cadillac's CT6 Is Flagship of Luxury Brand's $12 Billion Makeover

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 21:28 GMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Cadillac's new CT6 sedan, introduced this week at the New York International Auto Show, takes the 113-year-old brand back into the market where people expect it to be, said the luxury vehicle-maker's president, Johan de Nysschen. "The CT6 is the new flagship," de Nysschen said in an interview before the show, which opens to the public on Friday at the Javits Center. "It's positioned above where the existing lineup ends." Must Read: 10 New Stocks Billionaire David Einhorn Loves The car is one of eight all-new vehicles Cadillac will launch by the end of the decade as part of a $12 billion upgrade. With dimensions similar to BMW's short-wheelbase 7-Series, it features four- and six-cylinder engine options and high-pressure aluminum castings for a quieter ride, the General Motors brand has said. The CT6 will sell for around $65,000, Bloomberg News reported. "Cadillac, for many years, its history has been very U.S.-centric," de Nysschen noted. "Part of our mission now as we expand our global footprint is to set up particularly China as a second volume hub for the brand. It's the world's fastest-growing market and now the world's largest luxury market, and it stands to reason that we'd be there." Indeed, China led Cadillac's 5% sales-volume growth in 2014, with 47% gains, the company said in a January statement. The number of total vehicles sold there, 73,500, still lagged behind the 170,750 sold in the U.S. The luxury brand ranks fourth in its market in China, and "we're only just starting our local production of vehicles," de Nysschen said. The CT6 will also be built there, he added, and "we have great optimism for the prospects of the brand in that important market. Production on the CT6 will begin in November, and the first cars should hit showrooms in December. In overall sales, Cadillac has been forced to "adopt a little bit of a wait-and-see attitude" in Russia amid political and economic uncertainty, de Nysschen said. The U.S. dollar's strong performance against the euro has had virtually no effect because Europe is a minor market for Cadillac, he said. The region, combined with Russia, accounted for less than 1% of the brand's 2014 sales volumes, or about 1,600 cars. Must Read: 10 Stocks George Soros Is Buying Click to view a price quote on GM. Click to research the Automotive industry. [...]