Asian Markets Strong
Asian markets are all up 1 to 2 percent, with China up 2.5 percent (biggest gain in two months), most Arab bourses are down fractionally (Egypt still has not reopened).
1) MGM down 2.5 percent pre-open, reported a loss of $0.22 (excluding $0.07 reduction in income tax benefit), in line with expectations. CEO Jim Murren said "We are encouraged in early 2011 by the level of buseinss activity we are seeing" not that the forward booking pace was ahead of last year.
2) Fairholme Capital Management's Bruce Berkowitz & Charles Fernandez have abruptly resigned from St. Joe's board of directors. Although Fairholme has a 30 percent stake in the company, the two executives cited disagreements with fellow board members for their decision to leave. Shares of St. Joe are down 4 percent on the news.
3) Three times isn't quite the charm. Already downgraded by two other firms earlier this month, Wal-Mart was cut to neutral at JPMorgan today. The analyst says the stock lacks any catalyst "on the horizon" and warns that Wal-Mart's same-store sales struggles could remain a long-term problem over "multiple years." Also not helping, the discounter's "inadequate" response to niche grocer and dollar store competitors.
Wal-Mart has significantly underperformed other retailers over the past year. Shares of the Dow component have risen 4% compared to a 31 percent jump in the S&P Retail Index .
4) The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a bankruptcy filing from Borders Group is imminent, likely happening today or tomorrow. As part of its restructuring plan, the books and media retailer is expected to close 200 of its 674 stores.
5) And I want to rename Yankee Stadium "NYSE Field." There was widespread amusement over the weekend when Senator Charles Schumer of New York said he might support the merger proposed between NYSE Euronext and the Deutsche Borse...providing the word "NYSE" is first in the company name. All the worry about loss of an iconic brand goes down to...naming rights.
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