STRONG AUTO SALES - GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS/Forbes — Micheline Maynard: “March was a strong month for auto sales, and there was even more good news for some of the auto companies: transaction prices are going through the roof. General Motors , Chrysler, Nissan and Hyundai posted record transaction prices in March, according to TrueCar.com. Transaction prices are the actual price a consumer pays for a vehicle, after trade-ins, incentives and any other deals are taken into account. Overall, the industry is just shy of its record transaction price, achieved in November. Consumers paid $30,091 on average for a vehicle in March (that includes cars, trucks, minivans, sport utilities — everything). While high transaction prices are great news for the car companies, it’s not good news for consumers, especially on the vehicles that are in the greatest demand.”
AVON CUT CEO'S PAY BY 23% IN 2011/WSJ — Joann Lublin: “Avon Products cut the compensation for outgoing Chief Executive Andrea Jung by 23 percent in 2011, denying her a bonus or salary increase due to slower than expected results. In a regulatory filing Tuesday, Avon said Ms. Jung saw total compensation of $10.1 million in 2011, down from $13.2 million the year before. Other top executives were also denied merit raises or bonuses.”
FDA FINDS NEW BATCH OF COUNTERFEIT AVASTIN/WSJ — Jonathan Rockoff & Christopher Weaver: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found a new batch of counterfeit Avastin circulating in the U.S., this supply apparently distributed by a different network from one connected to an earlier fake lot of the cancer drug. The fakes were packaged in boxes labeled as Altuzan, the brand name for Avastin in Turkey, the FDA said in a posting on its website that warned doctors and hospitals to avoid using the unapproved products. Lab tests confirmed that the fakes lacked the key ingredient in Avastin, the FDA said.”
FACEBOOK LAUNCHES PATENT COUNTERATTACK AGAINST YAHOO/REUTERS: “Facebook mounted its own legal offensive against Yahoo on Tuesday by accusing Yahoo of infringing 10 of Facebook's patents, according to a court filing. The counterclaim from Facebook, filed in a San Francisco federal court, comes after Yahoo sued Facebook for patent infringement last month. A Yahoo spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.”
SANDISK DROPS 7% IN AFTER-HOURS TRADING AFTER LOWERING 1Q REVENUE OUTLOOK ON SOFT DEMAND/AP: "SanDisk's shares plunged in after-hours trading Tuesday after the memory chip maker lowered its first-quarter revenue expectations because of weaker demand and prices. The company, based in Milpitas, Calif., expects revenue of $1.2 billion in the first quarter. That's down from prior guidance of $1.30 billion to $1.35 billion. It's also below analysts' expectations of $1.34 billion, according to FactSet."
GROUPON STOCK CLOSES AT LOWEST LEVEL SINCE IPO/AP: "Groupon's stock has closed at its lowest level ever amid growing scrutiny over its business just five months after it went public. Shares of Groupon closed at $15.02 on Tuesday. That's the lowest since the company went public in November, when its initial public offering of stock priced at $20 a share."
YAHOO’S LAYOFFS EXPECTED TOMORROW MORNING OF UP TO 2,000 WILL ONLY BE THE FIRST MOVE OF A LARGER PURGE TO COME/All Things D — Kara Swisher: "According to sources close to the situation, Yahoo’s massive round of layoffs which is likely to impact up to 2,000 employees — is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that will hit the storied Silicon Valley Internet giant in the company over the months to come. Sources said Yahoo is currently planning to announce the cuts in staff in the early morning, just as the markets open. That could change, sources said, to Thursday, but the cuts will definitely occur within the next two days."
A WHOPPER OF A WEEK FOR BURGER KING: FIRST A NEW MENU, NOW A DEAL WHICH WILL MAKE IT A PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANY AGAIN/AP — Paul Sakuma: "The hamburger chain, which is revamping its menu in an attempt to revive its struggling business, says it will list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange. The company says its international growth plans will benefit from better visibility as a public company. Burger King was taken private in 2010 by investment firm 3G Capital. In a deal announced late Tuesday, 3G Capital is selling a 29 percent stake in Miami-based Burger King Worldwide Holdings for $1.4 billion in cash to Justice Holdings, a U.K.-based investment vehicle. Justice's shares will then suspend trading on the London Stock Exchange. The company will emerge as Burger King Worldwide and its shares will be traded on the NYSE."
Last Call Quiz answer: Burger King was founded in Jacksonville, FL in 1953, as Insta-Burger King. It was renamed in 1955.
ABC HAS COURIC, BUT NBC GETS A RATINGS WIN/NY Times — Brian Stelter: "On the first of five days of an epic morning television duel, the normally top-rated “Today” show on NBC stayed on top. “Good Morning America” on ABC, its longtime rival, remained in second place, silencing at least a little bit of the media buzz about the week, which features the former “Today” co-host Katie Couric filling in on “G.M.A.” According to Nielsen overnight numbers that came out Tuesday afternoon, “Today” had an average of 4.9 million viewers on Monday, 496,000 more than “G.M.A.” had. Among the 25- to 54-year-old viewers that advertisers (and thus networks) favor, the gap between the two shows was 482,000. That’s a surprisingly strong performance for “Today,” since “G.M.A.” has routinely come within 250,000 viewers in recent days."
MADONNA STRATEGY PAYS OFF: SCORES 8TH #1 ALBUM WITH MDNA AFTER BUNDLING ALBUM WITH TICKET SALES/Forbes — Roger Friedman: "Madonna‘s “MDNA” album is the number 1 album in the country this week. But in fact, Lionel Richie, with nearly 200,000 copies of his “Tuskegee” album sold-his best debut in 20 years or more — could post a valid complaint. It turns out that a hefty number of “MDNA” albums weren’t sold the usual way. Madonna’s label, Interscope, and Live Nation , which owns Ticketmaster, bundled the album with her ticket sales. For every ticket sold online to Madonna’s upcoming shows, purchasers automatically receive a copy of “MDNA.” They get a link to a free purchase on iTunes, or they can send in their mailing address for a physical CD. It doesn’t matter if the concert ticket is $52 or $350. It’s a smart marketing move for Interscope. It unnaturally inflates sales, and uses “MDNA” for what albums have become — souvenirs, or loss leaders.
Before the bell: Monsanto, MSC Industrial Direct
After the bell: Bed Bath & Beyond, Harry Winston Diamond, PriceSmart
7:30am ET: March Challenger Job Report
8:15am ET: March ADP
10:00am ET: March ISM manufacturing
Barry Sternlicht, Starwood Capital Group Chairman (6:30am)
David Bonderman, Texas Pacific Group Principal (7:00am)
Eddie Lampert, Sears Holdings Chairman of the Board, ESL Partners Founder (7:00am)
Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder (7:30am)
Carlos Ghosn, Nissan Motor CEO (9:30am)
Bill Gross, PIMCO Founder (10:30am)
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report Chairman (5:00pm)
Governor Nikki Haley, R-SC (7:00pm)
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