Shale drillers can do little more with any less

November 5, 2015

Apache joined a handful of U.S. companies that have raised production forecasts in recent days, despite sharp reductions in investment. Improved efficiency and lower costs are keeping volumes buoyant. Another big drop in the price of oil, however, would test their resolve.

Merger Monday has a scary Halloween afterglow

November 2, 2015

At least six corporate buyers unmasked acquisitions of $1 bln or more to sustain the freakish pace of M&A. Some of them, including Visa’s, are tricky, while others like Shire’s treat sellers to rich prices. The zombie-like deal march is causing investors to take fright.

Ad kickback scrutiny could embarrass agencies

October 22, 2015

The trade group for brands like P&G and McDonald’s – responsible for $250 bln a year in media spending – has hired investigators to review ad agency practices, including claims that rebates aren’t passed on to clients. The Mad Men are missing the chance to shape their own story.

Clogged IPO exit ramp boxes in buyout barons

October 15, 2015

Blackstone and peers have had a good run taking heavily indebted companies public again. Offerings for Albertsons and Neiman Marcus have been delayed. First Data struggled. Petco and Univision may, too. It bodes poorly for private equity when selling becomes as tough as buying.

TripAdvisor’s Priceline deal leaves rivals in dust

October 14, 2015

The travel review site had plenty of users but its dependence on advertising made it an internet laggard. Sharing business with the hotel-booking powerhouse gives it fee revenue and a shot to become a one-stop tourist site. Peers are quickly receding in the rearview mirror.

Wells and JPMorgan expose BofA’s $7 bln challenge

October 14, 2015

Brian Moynihan’s bank needs to earn that much in extra annual profit for a 10 pct return on equity. Cost cuts to match Wells-type efficiency wouldn’t quite do it. And Jamie Dimon’s outfit has fair returns even on falling revenue. Only a rate hike might get BofA over the line.

VW tests U.S. enforcers’ fairness to foreign firms

September 28, 2015

The German carmaker skidded into a legal system that extracts bigger fines and more guilty pleas from overseas companies than American peers. Differences in the cases may explain the discrepancy. But any prosecutor bias may get as much scrutiny as Volkswagen’s emissions tricks.

Hostile bid makes best TV in U.S. broadcast fight

September 28, 2015

Nexstar wants to buy Media General for $4.1 bln, breaking up the latter’s agreed merger with Meredith. The new offer makes financial sense for Media General owners and would create a local TV player minus the baggage of magazines. The mystery is why Nexstar wasn’t first choice.

Review: A human face for the foreclosure fiasco

By Guest Contributor
September 25, 2015

Seven years on and the financial crisis blame game is still alive and well. In his new film, “99 Homes,” Ramin Bahrani crafts a dramatic narrative that does the best job yet of capturing the complexity of assigning accountability to the collective U.S. housing delusion.

Altice keeps powder dry in $18 bln Cablevision bid

September 17, 2015

Patrick Drahi’s telecoms group is buying its second U.S. cable operator to become the fourth-largest player. The valuation looks high but savings will help. Importantly, Altice isn’t contributing much cash. Possible co-investment with private equity could reduce costs further.