Thursday, April 26, 2007

Paperstand (ABN, WMT, HOG, MTB)

The WSJ reports that ABN Amro (ABN) received an unwelcome $98.58bn takeover approach from a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland. But to pull off a deal, the RBS group would need to break up two existing takeover agreements: ABN's pact to be sold to Barclays and ABN's unusual side deal to sell its LaSalle Bank unit to Bank of America (BAC). The RBS group said its proposed offer, which would be paid 70% in cash and 30% with RBS shares, was conditioned on ABN finding a way to keep LaSalle Bank, which has become a flashpoint in the takeover battle.

According to the WSJ, Wal-Mart (WMT), under pressure to boost productivity at its Sam's Club wholesale unit, is cutting a small number of store-mgmt jobs at the operation as part of a rare nationwide job cut. The retailer plans to consolidate about 3K salaried-manager positions at some 580 US Sam's Club stores. It isn't clear how many ppl will lose their jobs. The unit has more than 100K employees world-wide.

Barron’s Online discusses Harley-Davidson (HOG), saying that with demand for its iconic machines looking weak, Harley's stock price may run out of gas. Buyers once had to patiently endure waiting lists to be able to take home the bike of their dreams. But sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles at US dealerships have slowed or fallen for 3 qrtrs. And a jittery economy, weak housing mkt and credit issues could keep buyers out of showrooms. If so, production of new motorcycles in ‘07 could decline for the first time since Harley-Davidson went public in ‘86. "It's a good co with a great brand, but I think the fundamentals have deteriorated and don't see much upside for the stock over the next year," says Greg Badishkanian, of Citigroup. Or as David Carr, of Oak Value Fund adds, "We aren't saying the co is in trouble, but there are better places to invest."

“Inside Scoop” section reports that Richard Garman, director at M&T Bank (MTB), plunked down $2.6m to purchase 23K shares of the co. This was the first purchase by any co exec or director in 3 years. It was also Garman's largest buy in terms of dollar value ever at the co and the largest in share count since ‘94. Ben Silverman, of, says, "Any time we see that long of an interim between purchases it's intriguing." What's particularly notable about this transaction is that not only is Garman a longtime board member (since ‘87), but at age 76, he "is somebody planning not just for his future but for his family's future," Silverman says. "That is a good long-term signal."

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