Trader Talk

Monday Mergers: Continental (No) Wrigley (Yes)

European bourses are advancing again today; the FTSE, like the Dow, finally broke through to its highest levels since January; same with France's CAC 40. The Euro is down slightly, even though German consumer confidence rose to the highest since Oct '07.


1) Continental surprised a lot of people by abandoning merger talks with United.

Potential winners:

a) AMR  , since a Continental/United would have been bad for AMR.

b) US Air   , since it makes a deal with United more likely.

Potential losers:

a) United  . Continental was their best merger partner. Credit Suisse was even more blunt: they believe UAL's standalone plan "is not viable." Now they’re down to talking to US Air.

Not clear if this is good or bad for the Delta/Northwest merger; it might be good, since one less merger happening makes government approval more likely.

From what I've heard, demand for summer travel seems to be quite strong, though there are worries about the fall.

2) Wrigley agreed to a merger with Mars for about $23 billion, $80 a share in cash (closed at $62.45 Friday). Hershey's also up 6 percent pre-open.

3) Tracinda announcing a tender offer for 20 million sharesof Ford (less than 1 percent of shares outstanding) at $8.50 a share. That's a roughly 13 percent premium. Kerkorian already owns a 4.7 percent position in the company. Ford's stock rose 0.7 percent last week on better than expected earnings. Ford up 8 percent pre-open.

4) Now that's inflation: Tyson reported a loss of 2 cents (gain of 1 cent expected); chicken segment had losses due to higher grain costs. How much higher? For the year, they expect to pay an additional $600 million for corn and soybean meal. Throw in cooking oil increases and a few other costs, and increases will approach $1 b.

Rebate checks are finally going out, but with gasoline near $3.50 a gallon, it's not clear how much impact it's going to have.

Questions?  Comments?