Thursday, June 14, 2007

Paperstand (DISH, SNE, EQY)

The WSJ reprots that Detroit's Big Three, facing their worst crisis in decades, are seeking unprecedented concessions from the UAW in a bid to narrow what they say is a $30-an-hour labor-cost disadvantage against Asian rivals like Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC). The unusually tough stance by GM (GM), Ford (F) and DaimlerChrysler’s (DCX) Chrysler Group marks their latest attempt to stanch heavy losses in their N-American auto operations. However, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger has argued his workers shouldn't bear the entire cost of Detroit's restructuring.

According to the WSJ, a hedge fund managed by Bear Sterns (BSC) is scrambling to sell large amounts of mortgage securities, a setback for a Wall St. firm known for its savvy debt-mkt trading. The fund makes bets on bonds backed by mortgages, many of which are subprime. Faced with losses on its investments, the fund, called High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund, together with a sister fund, is trying to sell about $4bn in mortgage-backed bonds to raise cash. The sales represent a sliver of the $7trln residential-mortgage-backed bond mkt, but it is still a large amount to be sold at one time and a potentially troubling sign for the broader mortgage-backed bond market.

The WSJ reports that Liberty Media and EchoStar Comm. (DISH) are preparing a surprising joint offer for Intelsat, which is accepting final bids for its auction today. The pairing represents a bold cooperation between EchoStar and Liberty, which is slated to take control of competing DirecTV (DTV) in the coming mo’s. Intelsat is expected to draw bids of $4.5bn to more than $5.5bn.

According to the WSJ, MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates has put its surveillance and space businesses on the block. Yet, while the assets are attractive b/c they fit with the Pentagon's new directives for developing smaller, nimbler satellites, potential buyers are balking at the roughly $1bn asking price. Four large US defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Raytheon (RTN), have expressed interest and engaged in preliminary acquisition discussions. At this point, they have opted against making a formal bid after concluding the asking price was too high. The other 2 co’s that kicked the tires are Northrop (NOC) and Alliant Techsystems (ATK).

Barron’s Online highlights Sony (SNE), saying that it may be time to take profits. Technical signs are indicating a top in Japan's equity mkt, which could hurt Sony's local shares listed on the Tokyo SE. Sony CEO Howard Stringer has admirably handled the task of fixing Sony's TV business. He now faces the more daunting challenge of making the co's gambles on new gadgets pay off. Stringer must catch up to Microsoft in videogame consoles and related software, a business that can bring Sony a very rich 12% operating profit margin in good years. And he must establish Sony's Blu-ray as the dominant HD DVD format to position the audio and video business for a profitable future. Those goals are achievable, but to succeed Stringer may have to push the co into deeper losses in its games business in the near term, not a pretty sight for investors addicted to rising profit ests at Sony. Last week, Stringer disclosed that he sold about 130K shares of Sony's ordinary shares, or about 9.3% of his holdings. "Sony remains a great hope story, as it always has been," says Pelham Smithers, of Pali Research.

“Inside Scoop” section reports that the founder and Chmn of Equity One (EQY) has gone on a buying spree for shares of the REIT. Chaim Katzman spent $1.3m buying 50K shares. Michael Painchaud, of Market Profile Theorems, says that his firm's rating on Equity One's insider sentiment has been picking up since last Dec.

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