DuPont drives wedge between shareholders and Peltz

February 6, 2015

Adding two turnaround vets to the $70 bln chemical giant’s board may make shareholders think twice about voting a rival slate from Nelson Peltz’s Trian. DuPont says the activist nixed an offer to add one of his picks because he wanted the spot. He may just have been outplayed.

Rob Cox: When CEOs are worth more as former CEOs

February 5, 2015

Investors this week applauded the abrupt exits of bosses at Ally and Petrobras, whose market value surged by $8 bln. Ousters at McDonald’s recently and Microsoft in 2013 earned similar welcomes. The common thread seems to be relief after a CEO becomes entrenched and inflexible.

Pfizer’s generics injection lifts mood for breakup

February 5, 2015

The pharmaceutical giant’s $15 billion purchase of Hospira gives it a shot at reversing a history of value-destroying acquisitions. The injectable drug maker’s strength in non-branded medications should fortify Pfizer’s generics unit – and clear the way for spinning it off.

Small print debases $41 bln U.S. spectrum sale

February 3, 2015

The biggest bandwidth auction in years raised about twice as much as expected for Uncle Sam. But a 25 pct “small business” discount claimed by Dish Network is helping the $33 bln pay-TV company add to its unused stockpile and outbid rival operators that badly need capacity.

Shareholders give Exxon the benefit of the doubt

February 2, 2015

The oil major is keeping mum on spending plans even as rivals cut back. And it only beat Q4 estimates thanks to tax and legal breaks. Unlike Chevron, though, Exxon is still buying back stock, if less than before. Such relative resilience appeals to investors, but might not last.

Facebook investment largesse manageable – for now

January 29, 2015

Boss Mark Zuckerberg splashed out so much on new projects that his firm’s Q4 operating margin fell by a third. But the social network’s top line grew 49 pct thanks to more users and mobile income. That’s a reasonable dynamic, assuming Zuckerberg is picking the right ventures.

Say “ni hao” to Jack Ma’s Amazon-style volatility

January 29, 2015

Alibaba’s boss, like the U.S. group’s Jeff Bezos, has built online retail dominance. But there are downsides. Unpredictable earnings are Exhibit A. The Chinese group also has fickle regulators. It may not be the last time investors suffer nearly $40 bln of losses in two days.

Greek banks will have to live hand to mouth

January 26, 2015

After Syriza’s victory comes a long haggle over debt reduction for Athens. While this drags on, liquidity-short Greek banks have to rely on uncertain funding signed off by the ECB. The struggle to survive will delay dealing with another headache: their mountains of bad debt.

More Wall Street CEO cash is hint for shareholders

January 23, 2015

JPMorgan is paying a portion of Jamie Dimon’s bonus in hard money for the first time since 2011. Goldman is boosting Lloyd Blankfein’s cash. Meanwhile, stock gains are slowing. Bank bosses still get most of their comp in shares. But the switch may suggest equity has less to offer.

RBC’s foray south a pricey bet that two’s a charm

January 22, 2015

The Canadian bank is paying $5.4 bln for U.S. lender City National, a 26 pct premium that planned cost cuts don’t justify. The so-called banker to Hollywood stars is growing well. But RBC’s last venture into American retail banking was a mess. It needs to prove it can do better.