Chesapeake fourth quarter profit tops Street, shares rise

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., Thu Feb 21, 2013 — Chesapeake Energy Corp. reported fourth-quarter profit that topped Wall Street estimates on Thursday, helped by lower-than-expected expenses and more profitable oil production.

Shares of Chesapeake rose nearly 2 percent to $20.60 before the start of regular trading.

The earnings report came a day after Chesapeake said an internal investigation of the financial dealings of its outgoing chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, found no “intentional” wrongdoing.

McClendon is stepping down in April following a tumultuous year during which the company faced a liquidity crunch and a governance crisis. Now Chesapeake’s board and big shareholders are working to rein in spending, pay down debt and increase production of more profitable oil.

McClendon, who founded the company in 1989, was not quoted in the earnings release as he typically is.

Phil Weiss, an analyst with Argus Research, said expenses in a number of areas came in below his projections while cash flow was higher than he anticipated.

Fiat CEO: plan to buy Chrysler shares

NEW YORK, Fri Dec 14, 2012 — Italian carmaker Fiat SpA fully intends to acquire the 41.5 percent of Chrysler Group shares that it does not now own, but wrangling over the price could continue for a while, Fiat-Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne said on Friday.

Fiat is in arbitration proceedings with the owner of the shares, a United Auto Workers trust fund that pays medical benefits to retired workers. The trust fund acquired the shares during the U.S. government-sponsored bankruptcy and bailout of Chrysler in 2009, when Fiat gained an ownership stake and management control of the U.S. automaker.

“We’ve always taken the position that we would have to pay them, but the question is price,” said Marchionne, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the Council for the United States and Italy, an international-relations group. The current arbitration proceedings, he added, are “part of the dance.”

Pandora shares down 14 percent on reports of rival Apple service

OAKLAND, Calif., Fri Sep 7, 2012 – Shares of Pandora Media Inc. fell 14 percent in premarket trading on Friday following media reports that Apple Inc. was in talks to license music for a radio service like the one Pandora operates.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that Apple wants to license music for a custom-radio service that would work on its hardware, such as the iPhone, iPads and Mac computers, in a bid to expand its dominance in online music. Apple’s iTunes is the largest music retailer.

Apple’s service would likely be a preinstalled “app” on Apple devices, the New York Times reported.

Pandora shares were down $1.77 in premarket trading from their closing price on Thursday of $10.80

Apple initiated talks for a license with record companies only recently, the Journal reported, and it could be months before a service is launched.

An Apple representative did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Like Pandora, which competes against Clear Channel, Sirius XM Radio and Spotify, Apple’s service would intersperse music with ads, the Journal reported.

Last week, Pandora reported better-than expected quarterly results on higher advertising revenue as more people listened to music on their mobile devices, and the company raised its full-year revenue outlook.

Best Buy cuts outlook, suspends buybacks

RICHFIELD, Minn., Tue Aug 21, 2012 – Best Buy Co. cut its fiscal-year profit outlook on Tuesday, citing lower expectations for industrywide sales and uncertainty about key product introductions, and the consumer electronics retailer suspended its share buybacks for the year.

Shares of Best Buy, which does not expect to further update its earnings outlook for the year, fell nearly 9 percent.

Best Buy also reported a decline in same-store sales – its eighth in the last nine quarters. That highlights the tough task ahead for new CEO Hubert Joly as he tries to engineer a turnaround at the world’s largest consumer electronics chain.

Sales at stores open at least 14 months fell 3.2 percent in the second quarter ended on August 4, including a 1.6 percent decline at the U.S. unit and an 8.2 percent drop internationally.

Net earnings fell to $12 million, or 4 cents a share, in the quarter from $150 million, or 39 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items, Best Buy earned 20 cents a share.

Shares of Best Buy fell 8.9 percent to $16.55 in premarket trading.

Joly was named Best Buy’s chief executive on Monday. The company is a bellwether for the consumer electronics industry.

Facebook shares drop 4 percent, hit another low

SAN FRANCISCO, Fri Aug 17, 2012 – Facebook Inc. shares sank as much 4.3 percent on Friday to set a new low, a day after early investors got the green light to sell for the first time.

More than 270 million shares owned by the early investors became available for trade on Thursday after a 3-month curb on sales ended. That’s more than one-half the 421 million shares sold in its initial public offering on May 18.

Facebook hit a low of $19.01 Friday morning and were down almost exactly 50 percent from the $38 offering price at its May IPO. At midday, the stock had eased to $19.15, off 3.5 percent.

Nearly 62 million shares of Facebook traded hands in the first two hours of trading on Friday.

More than 1.4 billion additional shares held by early investors and Facebook employees are set to become available for trading by year’s end, adding further pressure on shares of the once high-flyer.

Facebook, the world’s No. 1 Internet social network founded by Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard University dorm room, became the only U.S. company to debut with a market value of more than $100 billion.

But investors have grown disillusioned with Facebook’s inability to articulate a plan to reverse slowing revenue growth.

Chesapeake swears off big spending, shares jump

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., Tue Aug 7, 2012 – Chesapeake Energy Corp said on Tuesday it plans to stop spending heavily on oil and gas properties next year in a strategic shift from land acquisition to resource development, helping to boost the U.S. company’s shares by over 10 percent.

Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon has spent heavily to amass more than 15 million acres (6 million hectares) in oil and gas basins around the United States, leaving the company awash in debt and unable to fund its operations without bringing in deep-pocketed partners or selling properties.

Big investors including Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management’s Mason Hawkins have pressured McClendon to reduce spending and sell assets to bridge an estimated $10 billion funding gap for this year.

Chesapeake is pledging to lower spending and focus on producing higher-priced oil and natural gas liquids from basins it considers key, while it sheds up to $14 billion in assets this year and up to $5 billion in 2013.

In addition, the company will cut its capital budget by $6 billion next year, McClendon said. Its 2012 capex is estimated at $13 billion.

Best Buy founder offers to buy shares for $24-$26 each

RICHFIELD, Minn., Mon Aug 6, 2012 – Best Buy Co. Inc. founder and former Chairman Richard Schulze on Monday offered to buy the shares he does not already own in the electronics retailer for $24 to $26 each.

Schulze, who owns 20.1 percent in Best Buy and is its largest shareholder, said he has held talks with top private equity firms. His offer would value the firm at between $8.16 billion and $8.84 billion.

The offer would represent a premium of between 36 percent and 47 percent over Best Buy shares’ closing price on Friday of $17.64.

Best Buy shares up; former chairman said to be recruiting executives

RICHFIELD, Minn., Mon Jul 30, 2012 – Shares of Best Buy Co. Inc. rose 2.5 percent on Monday after a published report that founder and former Chairman Richard Schulze has been recruiting executives to lead the electronics retailer if he succeeds in a bid to take the company private. Bloomberg Businessweek reported on Monday that the executives Schulze is trying to recruit include a former Best Buy CEO, Brad Anderson.
Schulze has been working with banks, including Credit Suisse, to explore a potential private takeover of the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer, sources have told Reuters.
Schulze resigned from the company’s board in June and said he was exploring options for his ownership stake. He lost the chairmanship after a probe by a board committee found he had failed to tell the board about allegations of personal misconduct by then-CEO Brian Dunn.
A representative for Schulze declined to comment on the Bloomberg Businessweek story. A representative for Best Buy could not be reached for comment.
Best Buy shares were up 45 cents at $18.21 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Best Buy has lost business due to the tendency of consumers to use its stores as a “showroom” to try out electronic products that they then purchase for less money elsewhere, often from online retailers such as Amazon.com.
The company has been closing stores, cutting jobs and trying out a new store format to try to improve its business.

Adobe shares fall on cut in forecast after weak Europe outlook

Adobe shares fall on cut in forecast

SAN JOSE, Calif., Wed Jun 20, 2012 – Shares of Adobe Systems Inc. fell more than 7 percent in early trading after the Photoshop software maker cut its full-year revenue outlook on weakness in Europe, and a shift to a subscription model slows growth.

The company said on Tuesday it expects third-quarter sales at its unit that produces the Creative Suite design software to decline from second-quarter levels.

Analysts say the company’s shift to subscriptions from a licensing model might reduce the revenue upswing it usually sees after the launch of a software upgrade.

Adobe launched its Creative Suite 6 – which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash and Dreamweaver – and the Web-based Creative Cloud product in the second quarter.

“The problem with this strategy is that it will take Adobe around four years to generate the same level of revenues from a single subscriber that it would have earned through the sale of a single perpetual license,” Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund wrote in a note.

Investors brace for Facebook debut on Wall Street

MENLO PARK, Calif., Fri May 18, 2012 – Investors are bracing for Facebook’s Wall Street debut on Friday after the world’s No.1 online social network raised about $16 billion in one of the biggest initial public offerings in U.S. history.

Valued at $104 billion, Facebook is larger than Starbucks Corp and Hewlett-Packard combined, sparking intense speculation on how much higher its valuation will rise once shares start trading.

“A 15 to 20 percent pop is in the realm of possibility,” said Tim Loughran, a finance professor at the University of Notre Dame. “Given they already moved their IPO range up and increased the size, that’s bullish to begin with.”

Facebook priced its offering at $38 a share on Thursday, but the price could be higher when shares begin trading under the FB symbol on the Nasdaq at around 11 a.m. Eastern Time.

Some expect shares could rise 30 percent or more on Friday, despite ongoing concerns about Facebook’s long-term money-making potential. An average of Morningstar analyst estimates puts the closing price for Facebook shares tomorrow at $50.

The IPO, expected to mint more than a thousand paper millionaires at the company, has received wall-to-wall media coverage and sparked hopes of a boom in sales of everything from San Francisco Bay Area real estate to automobiles.

Facebook employees marked the event with an all-night “hackathon” at the company’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters starting on Thursday evening, a tradition in which programmers work on side projects that sometimes turn into mainstream offerings.