Archive for 'Markets'

CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced the launch of NYMEX Brent 25-Day (Platts) futures and options contracts to begin trading December 12 with February 2012 being the first listed month. These contracts are listed with, and subject to, the rules and regulations of NYMEX.

“Our new NYMEX Brent 25-Day contracts will offer customers a critical hedging solution to manage their price risk, at a time when the Brent market is undergoing a significant transformation,” said Gary Morsches, Managing Director, Energy Products, CME Group. “Customers have expressed strong interest in a transparently settled Brent futures contract that more closely reflects the hedging needs of the underlying physical Brent market. We’re confident our new contracts are well aligned with the Platts 25-day basis and will provide market participants with transparency and superior convergence against the physical Brent market to enable them to begin managing their price risk today.”

Final settlement of NYMEX Brent 25-Day (Platts) futures and options contracts will be based on the Platts 25-day Brent (BFOE) cash assessment and use the Platts Market on Close (MOC) methodology, which is the industry standard for Brent pricing. Options to be listed will include an average price option and underlying calendar swap, as well as American-style and European-style options. These contracts will be listed for electronic trading on CME Globex, open-outcry and over-the-counter clearing on CME ClearPort.

CME Group will work with Platts on an ongoing basis to maintain contract specifications in close alignment with the Brent (BFOE) cash market, including adopting a revised expiry schedule beginning in March 2015.

The CME Group Energy complex offers the most benchmarks in its asset class, with market participants trading an average daily volume of 1.8 million contracts on CME Globex, CME ClearPort and the trading floor.

As the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, CME Group (www.cmegroup.com) is where the world comes to manage risk.  CME Group exchanges offer the widest range of global benchmark products across all major asset classes, including futures and options based on interest rates, equity indexes, foreign exchange, energy, agricultural commodities, metals, weather and real estate.  CME Group brings buyers and sellers together through its CME Globex® electronic trading platform and its trading facilities in New York and Chicago.  CME Group also operates CME

Clearing, one of the world’s leading central counterparty clearing providers, which offers clearing and settlement services for exchange-traded contracts, as well as for over-the-counter derivatives transactions through CME ClearPort®. These products and services ensure that businesses everywhere can substantially mitigate counterparty credit risk in both listed and over-the-counter derivatives markets.

CME Group is a trademark of CME Group Inc. The Globe Logo, CME, Globex and Chicago Mercantile Exchange are trademarks of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc.  CBOT and the Chicago Board of Trade are trademarks of the Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, Inc.  NYMEX, New York Mercantile Exchange and ClearPort are registered trademarks of New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc.  COMEX is a trademark of Commodity Exchange, Inc.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Further information about CME Group (NASDAQ: CME) and its products can be found at www.cmegroup.com.

CME-G

CONTACT: Media, Damon Leavell, +1-212-299-2547, or Allan Schoenberg, +44.203.379.3830, news@cmegroup.com, www.cmegroup.mediaroom.com, or Investors, John Peschier, +1-312-930-8491

Web Site: http://www.cmegroup.com

Federal Regulators OK New Sovereign Bank Charter

Federal Regulators OK New Sovereign Bank Charter

Federal Regulators OK New Sovereign Bank Charter-Image by afagen via Flickr

Sovereign Bank, a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of Banco Santander, S.A. announced today that it has received formal approval from federal regulators to convert from a savings bank to a national bank. Additionally, Santander Holdings USA, Inc., which directly owns Sovereign Bank, has received approval to become a bank holding company. The respective conversions will take effect in early 2012.

The conversion to a National Bank charter is just one of several major initiatives underway to strengthen Sovereign and Santander’s position in the United States.

The shift to a National Bank provides Sovereign with greater flexibility to meet the financial needs of more clients and customer segments, including in particular, large corporations. To support the Bank’s continued growth, Sovereign has been making significant investments to implement Santander’s state-of-the-art information technology platform.

“We are very pleased to have received approval to convert to a National Bank,” said Jorge Moran, Sovereign Bank President and CEO and Santander U.S. Country Head.  “This is a significant step in our strategic growth plans and will allow us to provide more and better services to our customers and clients.”

About Santander Holdings USA, Sovereign and Banco Santander

Santander Holdings USA, Inc. (SAN.MC, STD.N) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Banco Santander, S.A., and wholly owns Sovereign Bank and Santander Consumer USA. Banco Santander is a retail and commercial bank, headquartered in Spain, with a presence in 10 main markets: Spain, Portugal, Germany, the UK, Poland, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and the U.S. Founded in 1857, Santander more than 100 million customers, 14,709 branches – more than any other international bank – and more than 190,000 employees. For more information on Santander, visit http://www.santander.com.

Sovereign Bank is a financial institution with principal markets in the northeastern United States. Sovereign has more than 700 branches, nearly 2,300 ATMs, and approximately 8,000 team members. For more information on Sovereign Bank, visit http://www.sovereignbank.com or call 877-SOV-BANK.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information

Santander Holdings USA, Inc., Banco Santander, S.A. and Sovereign Bank caution that this press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements concerning our future business development and the impact of Sovereign Bank’s charter conversion. While these forward-looking statements represent our judgment and future expectations concerning the development of our business, a number of risks, uncertainties and other important factors could cause actual developments to differ materially from our expectations. These factors include, but are not limited to: (1) general market, macro-economic, governmental and regulatory trends; (2) movements in local and international securities markets, currency exchange rates, and interest rates; (3) competitive pressures; (4) technological developments; and (5) changes in the financial position or credit worthiness of our customers, obligors and counterparties. The risk factors and other key factors indicated in our past and future filings and reports, including those with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, could adversely affect the development of our business. Other unknown or unpredictable factors could cause actual developments to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. The information contained in this presentation is subject to, and must be read in conjunction with, all other publicly available information. Any person at any time acquiring securities must do so only on the basis of such person’s own judgment as to the merits or the suitability of the securities for its purpose and only on such information as is contained in such public information having taken all such professional or other advice as it considers necessary or appropriate in the circumstances and not in reliance on the information contained in the presentation.

CONTACT: Bryan Hurst, Office: +1-617-346-7438, Mobile: +1-857-207-2086, bhurst@sovereignbank.com

Web Site: http://www.sovereignbank.com

Mortgage Availability Remains a Real Concern: NAR

Mortgage Availability Remains a Real Concern: NAR

Mortgage Availability Remains a Real Concern: NAR-Image via Wikipedia

Realtors® stand ready to protect and defend opportunities for homeownership, and many of them have gathered here at the 2011 REALTORS® Conference & Expo to prepare for the challenges ahead.

During the opening session today at this week’s meetings, National Association of Realtors® President Ron Phipps outlined obstacles and opportunities facing the real estate industry.

“For the first time in generations, the American dream of homeownership is being threatened,” said Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “We need to keep housing first on the nation’s public policy agenda, because housing and home ownership issues affect all Americans.”

NAR is actively advocating public policies that promote responsible, sustainable homeownership. Those include ensuring affordable, accessible financing; supporting tax policies that encourage homeownership; and helping more people stay in their homes or avoid foreclosure through streamlined short sales.

As Realtors® convene in California this week, conforming loan limits is one top-of-mind issue. On October 1, Congress allowed those limits to revert from 125 percent of the local area median home price to 115 percent of the local median home price. As a result, home buyers and sellers in 669 counties across 42 states and the District of Columbia have been affected. The lower limits mean that fewer people will have access to mortgage loans, and the loans that are available will be more expensive.

“Mortgage availability remains a real concern since the private market has yet to return,” said Phipps. “While the housing market is still in recovery, we firmly believe that lower loan limits will only further restrict liquidity in mortgage markets.”

NAR has urged Congress to reinstate the higher loan limits temporarily, and more than 200 members of Congress currently support efforts to reinstate these limits.

Session attendees also heard about the results of last month’s New Solutions for America’s Housing Crisis forum. The forum was hosted by the Progressive Policy Institute and Economic Policies for the 21st Century and brought together policy leaders, industry representatives, members of Congress, thought leaders and the media.

From this forum, NAR has endorsed a five-point housing solutions plan to help reenergize housing markets and spur the economic recovery.

“Many of the solutions that came out of this forum evolved from ideas that Realtors® have been advocating for several years,” said Phipps. “Realtors® and the families we work with, day in and day out, know that homeownership matters, and now, with our combined and continued efforts, we’re going to make sure that policymakers understand that, too.”

This year’s Realtors® Conference & Expo is expected to draw approximately 18,000 Realtors® and guests. More than 400 exhibitors are expected to participate in the Expo, which showcases the latest real estate products and innovations across various fields, including technology, data communications and financial programs and services.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Some Simple Ideas to Make Stock Investing Profitable

Anti-bank feeling has resulted in the public looking to take more responsibility for investing their own money.

A new website has come up with a simple but novel way to help the regular Joe invest his own money and avoid the advisory services of financial institutions that are perceived to have let the public down.

Shared Sense is based on the theory of famed investor and mentor to the man on the street: Peter Lynch. The site takes his ideas of  “invest in what you know and that the best stock tip is in front of you in the mall” and goes a step further.  It allows people to share these observations on a worldwide basis and so helping people gather market research through group thinking.

It uses the wisdom of the crowd to get people’s views on what is selling or not.  Put simply, people can give an opinion on what brands are hot or not in their area. The information is gathered worldwide and the site gives back the total view on what people see as popular or not.

As increasing or decreasing sales is generally the most important investment criteria, members can use the information as part of their investment decisions.

The site editors take this information and add their experience to it. They analyze the other important factors including financials, margins and outlook and give full stock tips to members.

The site is not another stock price prediction site but focuses on identifying brand popularity to give regular investors an edge. The themes of the site are honesty and humor – the idea being to strip stock picking of all the overly fancy jargon and replace it with raw honesty. The top predictors are invited to join to the site as full authors.

Ned Goodwin, Shared Sense founder says: “Why can’t stock picking and investment be based on a co-operative system where people help each other by sharing information on buying trends? This is a practical way of occupying Wall Street — taking the power of investment decision back to the people. People helping themselves to get an investment edge.  As Peter Lynch said, if you’re buying the product it might be worthwhile buying the stock. We’re saying if you know we’re all buying the product it’s definitely worthwhile buying the stock.”

http://www.Sharedsense.com

CONTACT: Eddie Goodwin, +1-617-331-6999, Eddie@sharedsense.com

Web Site: http://www.sharedsense.com

ING Prime Rate Trust (Trust), a diversified closed-end management investment company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: PPR), has announced today its intention to redeem the remaining portion of its outstanding auction-rate preferred shares (ARPS). The Trust’s Board of Trustees has approved a redemption that will be paid primarily by drawing on leverage available under the Trust’s credit facilities. The redemption would provide liquidity at par for the holders of the remaining ARPS.

The Trust expects to redeem approximately $25 million of the ARPS currently outstanding, approximately 100% by series, subject to satisfying the notice and other requirements that apply to ARPS redemptions. Upon completion of such notice and other requirements, the Trust will issue a formal redemption notice to the paying agent and record holders. The Trust expects to issue a formal redemption notice by the third week of November and anticipates that the redemption of the $25 million of ARPS will be completed by mid- to late December 2011.

In December 2009, the Trust announced its intention to redeem up to $100 million of the $225 million ARPS then outstanding, through a series of four quarterly periodic redemptions of up to $25 million each.  In September 2010, the Trust’s Board of Trustees approved the continuation of the program for quarterly redemptions of the outstanding ARPS of the Trust in amounts of up to $25 million each quarter subject to management’s discretion to modify or cancel the program at any time. The amount and timing of subsequent redemptions of ARPS will be at the discretion of the Trust’s Board of Trustees and management, subject to market conditions and investment considerations.

The Depository Trust Company (DTC) will determine how partial series redemptions will be allocated among each participant broker-dealer account. Each participant broker-dealer, as nominee for its customers who are beneficial owners of the ARPS (street name shareholders), in turn will determine how redeemed shares are to be allocated among its customers. The procedures used by broker-dealers to allocate redeemed shares among beneficial owners may differ from each other as well as from the procedures used by DTC.

SHAREHOLDER INQUIRIES: ING Funds Shareholder Services at (800) 992-0180

Certain statements made on behalf of the Trust in this release may be considered forward-looking statements. The Trust’s actual future results may differ significantly from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements due to numerous factors, including but not limited to a decline in value in markets in general or the Trust’s investments specifically. Neither the Trust nor ING undertakes any responsibility to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statement.

ING Investment Management (ING IM) is a leading U.S.-based active asset management firm. As of September 30, 2011, ING IM manages approximately $163 billion for both institutions and individual investors. ING IM has the experience and resources to invest responsibly across asset classes, geographies and investment styles. Through our global asset management network, we provide clients with access to domestic, regional and global investment solutions.

With an emphasis on active management, our investment mission is to find unrecognized value ahead of consensus. To this end, our portfolio management teams seek original insights on markets and securities and a vision of investment potential that differs from the consensus view. We apply our proprietary research and analytics, portfolio diagnostics and risk management to the development of investment solutions in pursuit of our clients’ objectives. We believe this is best achieved by structuring our investment platforms as entrepreneurial, skills-based strategy teams united by shared resources.

ING Investment Management is committed to investing responsibly and delivering client-oriented investment solutions and advisory services across asset classes, geographies and styles. We serve a variety of institutional clients, including public, corporate and union retirement plans, endowments and foundations, and insurance companies, as well as individual investors via intermediary distribution partners such as banks, broker/dealers and independent financial advisers.

CONTACT: Dana Ripley, dana.ripley@us.ing.com, +1-770-980-4865

Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B) Pulls Out of NYSE

Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B) Pulls Out of NYSE

Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B) Pulls Out of NYSE-Image via Wikipedia

Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B) today announced the transfer of its stock exchange listing to The NASDAQ Global Select Market from The New York Stock Exchange.

The company said that the voluntary transfer to The NASDAQ Global Select Market, an exchange of The NASDAQ OMX Group Inc. (Nasdaq: NDAQ), will be more cost effective, while continuing to provide Viacom shareholders with strong execution and liquidity.  Viacom’s Class A common stock will trade on NASDAQ under the symbol “VIA” and its Class B common stock will trade under the symbol “VIAB” beginning December 1, 2011.

About Viacom

Viacom is home to the world’s premier entertainment brands that connect with audiences through compelling content across television, motion picture, online and mobile platforms in more than 160 countries and territories. With approximately 160 media networks reaching approximately 700 million global subscribers, Viacom’s leading brands include MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, BET, CENTRIC, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., TeenNick, Nicktoons, Nick at Nite, COMEDY CENTRAL, TV Land, Spike TV and Tr3s. Paramount Pictures, America’s oldest film studio and creator of many of the most beloved motion pictures, continues today as a major global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment. Viacom operates a large portfolio of branded digital media experiences, including many of the world’s most popular properties for entertainment, community and casual online gaming.

For more information about Viacom and its businesses, visit www.viacom.com.

Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains both historical and forward-looking statements. All statements that are not statements of historical fact are, or may be deemed to be, forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current expectations concerning future results, objectives, plans and goals, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that are difficult to predict and which may cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ. These risks, uncertainties and other factors include, among others: the public acceptance of the Company’s programs, motion pictures and other entertainment content on the various platforms on which they are distributed; technological developments and their effect in the Company’s markets and on consumer behavior; competition for audiences and distribution; the impact of piracy; economic conditions generally, and in advertising and retail markets in particular; fluctuations in the Company’s results due to the timing, mix and availability of the Company’s motion pictures; changes in the Federal communications laws and regulations; other domestic and global economic, business, competitive and/or regulatory factors affecting the Company’s businesses generally; and other factors described in the Company’s news releases and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its 2011 Annual Report on Form 10-K and reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K. The forward-looking statements included in this document are made only as of the date of this document, and the Company does not have any obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances. Reconciliations for any non-GAAP financial information contained in this news release are included in this news release or available on the Company’s website at www.viacom.com .

CONTACT: Carl Folta, Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications, +1-212-258-6352, carl.folta@viacom.com, or Investors: James Bombassei, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations, +1-212-258-6377, james.bombassei@viacom.com

Web Site: http://www.viacom.com

Bank of America Lawsuit Nearing Deadline

Only 10 days remain before the Nov. 22, 2011, lead plaintiff deadline in a case filed against Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) (“BAC”) alleging the bank misled investors regarding a $10 billion claim by American International Group (NYSE: AIG).

According to the lawsuit, BAC, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Countrywide Financial sold $28 billion in mortgage-backed securities to AIG. After analyzing data from hundreds of thousands of loans, in Jan. 2011 AIG allegedly informed BAC that it felt the risk of the securities had been misrepresented and was prepared to sue the banking giant for more than $10 billion.

AIG finally filed a lawsuit against BAC on Aug. 8, 2011, following months of reported negotiations. On the news, BAC shares fell sharply, losing 20 percent of their value.

Investors with losses over $500,000 who purchased Bank of America common stock during the class period, from Feb. 25, 2011, to Aug. 5, 2011, are encouraged to contact Partner Reed R. Kathrein, who is leading Hagens Berman’s investigation. Reed R. Kathrein can be reached at (510) 725-3000 or via email at BACSecurities@hbsslaw.com.

The lawsuit centers around claims that BAC failed to fully disclose the risks of a pending legal battle with AIG.

Individuals with direct non-public information that may help advance the investigation are encouraged to contact the firm. The SEC recently finalized new rules as part of its implementation of the whistleblower provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Bill. The new rules protect whistleblowers from employer retaliation and allow the SEC to reward those who provide information leading to a successful enforcement with up to 30 percent of the recovery.

Investors can also learn more about this investigation at www.hbsslaw.com/BACsecurities.

About Hagens Berman

Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is an investor-rights class-action law firm with offices in 10 cities. The National Law Journal has rated Hagens Berman as one of the top plaintiffs’ firms in the country five times. More information about the firm is available at www.hbsslaw.com, and the firm’s securities law blog is at www.meaningfuldisclosure.com.

Media Contact: Mark Firmani, Firmani + Associates Inc., 206.443.9357 or mark@firmani.com

Web Site: http://www.hbsslaw.com

 

OfficeMax (NYSE: OMX) Readies for Holidays with Amazon Kindle Products

OfficeMaxIncorporated (NYSE: OMX), a leader in office supplies, technology and services, is pleased to offer Amazon’snewest Kindles in its stores nationwide.  New products joining the Kindles already sold at OfficeMax stores include the $79 Kindle, which is now available in stores, and the Kindle Fire for $199, which will be available after November 15.  Arriving to OfficeMax later in November are the Kindle Touch, starting at $99, and the Kindle Touch 3G, starting at $149.  These new Amazon products can be viewed at OfficeMax.com. and sold in OfficeMax retail stores.  OfficeMax also provides a wide variety of Kindle accessories.

“OfficeMax is very pleased to bring Amazon’s exciting new Kindle family to our customers,” said Igor Anshakov, VP of Merchandising for OfficeMax.  “Customers are already very excited about the new Amazon products, and we expect these Kindles to be very popular this holiday season.”

The new generation Kindle is the lightest most compact Kindle ever, featuring the same 6-inch screen and advanced electronic ink display that reads like real paper even in bright sunlight – all for just $79. Kindle Touch is a new addition to the Kindle family with a touch screen that makes it easier to turn pages, search, shop and take notes – all with the same advanced electronic ink display.

Kindle Touch 3G is the top-of-the-line e-reader offering the same new design and features of Kindle Touch, with the added convenience of free 3G. Kindle Fire is the Kindle for movies, TV shows, music, books, magazines, apps, games and web browsing with content, free storage in the Amazon Cloud, Whispersync, Amazon Silk (Amazon’s new revolutionary cloud-accelerated web browser), vibrant color touch screen and powerful dual-core processor.

Amazon’s latest Kindles are among the many new technology products available at OfficeMax. Customers can now enjoy a broader range of technology products and supplies at OfficeMax including laptop, desktop, netbook, and all-in-one computers from trusted brands including HP®, Sony®, Acer®, Toshiba® and more.

About OfficeMax
OfficeMax Incorporated (NYSE: OMX) is a leader in both business-to-business office products solutions and retail office products.  The OfficeMax mission is simple.  We help our customers do their best work.  The company provides office supplies and paper, in-store print and document services through OfficeMax ImPress®, technology products and solutions, and furniture to businesses and individual consumers.  OfficeMax customers are served by approximately 30,000 associates through direct sales, catalogs, e-commerce and nearly 1,000 stores.  Since 2007, OfficeMax Goodworks programs have served communities and schools, contributing more than $14 million in grants and supplies to support teachers and classrooms. To find the nearest OfficeMax, call 1-877-OFFICEMAX.  For more information, visit www.officemax.com.

All trademarks, service marks and trade names of OfficeMax Incorporated used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of OfficeMax Incorporated. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

OfficeMax Media Contact
Nicole Miller
630.864.6069

Web Site: http://www.officemax.com

Zacks Makes Washington Post as Bull of the Day

Zacks Makes Washington Post as Bull of the Day

Zacks Makes Washington Post as Bull of the Day-Image via Wikipedia

Zacks Equity Research highlights The Washington Post Co. (NYSE: WPO) as the Bull of the Day and Avon Products, Inc. (NYSE: AVP) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Toyota Motors (NYSE: TM), Priceline (Nasdaq: PCLN) and WMS Industries (NYSE: WMS).

Full analysis of all these stocks is available at http://at.zacks.com/?id=2678.

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

The Washington Post Co. (NYSE: WPO) top and bottom lines surpassed Zacks’ expectations in the third quarter of 2011. The quarterly earnings of $5.27 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.85. Total revenue of $1,032.6 million also came ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,005 million.

The Kaplan Education division has undertaken a restructuring plan to lower its costs structure in the near future. Further, Kaplan International remains promising, registering growth of 25% during the quarter. Washington Post’s Cable division is also performing well, reflecting sustained improvement in Internet and telephone service revenues.

We have a long-term Outperform recommendation on the stock. Our target price of $374.00, 17.9X 2011 EPS, reflects this view.

Bear of the Day:

We have downgraded our long-term recommendation on Avon Products, Inc. (NYSE: AVP) to Underperform following the weak quarterly performance in the third quarter of 2011. The quarterly earnings of $0.38 per share fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.46 and dipped 7.3% from the year-ago quarter battered by increased product costs.

The North American market continues to be sluggish in the ongoing fiscal 2011. Moreover, the company’s initiatives to change the product mix and reposition the business in the U.S. market will require significant expenditure to support increased advertising and promotional activities, which may dent its margins.

Furthermore, Avon is a highly leveraged company, limiting its financial flexibility to drive future growth. Additionally, the company faces stiff competition from other well established players and has significant exposure to foreign currency translations.

Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

Europe Issue Not Going Away

With the third quarter reporting season largely over and nothing major on the domestic economic calendar, stock market movements today will effectively reflect developments on the European front. The focus remains on Italy, where a routine budget vote in parliament has the potential to morph into a confidence vote on the government of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The market is rooting for Mr. Berlusconi’s departure, but he appears in no mood to quit on his own.

By its sheer size, Italy is a big deal. Ever since the start of the Euro-zone debt crisis, the market has been apprehensive of contagion spreading from the peripheral and much smaller economies of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal to the Euro-zone core of Italy and Spain. Those fears are threatening to come to fruition now as the market loses confidence in the Italian government’s ability to manage the country’s finances. This lack of confidence is showing up in yields on Italian government bonds, which have moved to a Euro-era high of above 6.5% and are inching towards the critical 7% level — beyond which lies bailout territory.

A simple answer to rising Italian bond yields would have been for the European Central Bank (ECB) to come up with its version of the U.S. Fed’s quantitative easing program, where the central bank purchases a boatload of treasury bonds to keep yields (or interest rates) in check. The ECB has been making some purchases, but the recent uptrend in Italian bond yields shows that its effort is far from effective. German reluctance to go this route has been a major hurdle.

The Euro-zone had provided for increasing the firepower of the rescue fund (the EFSF), but many critical details of that plan still need to be worked out. The initial hope of attracting contribution from China and other cash-rich emerging economies to that end has also not panned out.

The bottom line is that the Euro-zone debt story refuses to go away. Last week it was about Greece and now it is about Italy. The departure of the Berlusconi government will likely improve market confidence and bring down bond yields. But if the incoming government — assuming there is a change of political control — fails to come up with a viable long-term plan, then the respite will likely prove short-lived.

On the earnings front, we have results from Toyota Motors (NYSE: TM), whose operations have been hit hard by natural disasters — first by the Japanese Tsunami and now by floods in Thailand. The auto giant’s global vehicle sales for the six month period ending September 30th were down more than 18% from the year-earlier level.

In other earnings reports, Priceline (Nasdaq: PCLN) came out with solid EPS and revenue beats after the close on Monday. WMS Industries (NYSE: WMS), the maker of slot machines, came short of expectations.

Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to http://at.zacks.com/?id=2649.

About the Bull and Bear of the Day

Every day, the analysts at Zacks Equity Research select two stocks that are likely to outperform (Bull) or underperform (Bear) the markets over the next 3-6 months.

About the Analyst Blog

Updated throughout every trading day, the Analyst Blog provides analysis from Zacks Equity Research about the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous analyst coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Zacks “Profit from the Pros” e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today by visiting http://at.zacks.com/?id=7158.

About Zacks

Zacks.com is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978 by Leonard Zacks. As a PhD from MIT Len knew he could find patterns in stock market data that would lead to superior investment results. Amongst his many accomplishments was the formation of his proprietary stock picking system; the Zacks Rank, which continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros. In short, it’s your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros at http://at.zacks.com/?id=4582.

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Disclaimer: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors should always research companies and securities before making any investments. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security.

Media Contact
Zacks Investment Research
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support@zacks.com
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Web Site: http://www.zacks.com

Deals involving smart mobility and business analytics came on strong in 3Q11, driving two deals each with values above US$10b — the first time two deals of that size occurred in the same quarter since 1Q 2000. Hundreds more transactions were driven by cloud computing, information security, social networking, online and mobile games, health care IT and internet and mobile video. Many deals combined two or more of these trends.

Growth in the aggregate value of private equity (PE) transactions drove the overall sequential increase in value. PE aggregate value increased 82% sequentially to US$14.6b in 3Q11 and increased 86% YOY. PE firms contributed 6 of the 11 3Q11 deals valued above US$1b. Of note, the big-ticket PE deals in the third quarter occurred across a broad spectrum of technologies targeting different industries, including health care, financial services and education.

As they did in 2Q11, big-ticket deals dominated in 3Q11, with the top 11 deals totaling US$40.1b in value, or 71% of all disclosed in the quarter. Average values per deal also climbed – 14% over the previous quarter and 26% YOY – to US$221m, the highest level in 11 years.

Joe Steger, Global Technology Transaction Advisory Services Leader at Ernst & Young, says:

“In the face of market volatility and macroeconomic uncertainties that are dampening other industries, the megatrends driving global technology M&A so far have continued to push deal values higher. The increase in values is due primarily to the period of hyper-innovation that technology companies are experiencing. Technology companies have been delivering rapid waves of innovation around smart mobility, cloud computing, business intelligence/analytics, social networking, information security and other new technologies. Remaining competitive and transforming that innovation into economically actionable products and services often requires significant M&A activity.”

“Big data” looms large

One focus of technology M&A in 3Q11 was “big data.” As Steger explains, “Business systems, mobile applications, social networking platforms and smart metering systems are generating an ever-increasing mass of data that is getting harder to analyze as it grows exponentially in size. Companies are struggling with what has come to be known as the ‘big data’ problem. Technologies that help companies make sense of it all can provide important customer information and insights.”

There were roughly two dozen deals in this business intelligence/analytics category in the third quarter, including one of the deals above US$10b. The growth in business intelligence/analytics deals appears to be extending into the fourth quarter as well.

Top trends include integration

Cloud computing, smart mobility, information security and social networking continue to dominate deal-driving trends. There were multiple 3Q deals involving security technologies together with cloud, mobile or both. “As time passes, we’re also seeing technologies related to these technology trends integrate with each other – and with just about everything else,” Steger says.

Deal volume ticks down – again

Deal volume dipped 2% for the second consecutive quarter, to 759 deals in 3Q11. “This year’s deal volume plateau comes after a string of eight consecutive quarters without a volume decline from 1Q09 to 1Q11,” Steger says. To put it in context, published reports indicate that 3Q11 deal volume for all industries declined far more – by about 9%, compared with the 2% technology decline. Deal volume level has remained in a range between 700 and 800 deals in each of the last five quarters (beginning with 3Q10). This may be the technology industry’s near-term naturally sustainable level, according to the report.

Cross-border slowdown

Cross-border deals declined 11% each in volume and value in 3Q11, compared with 2Q11. This quarter represented one of the occasional pauses in a generally upward trend that has seen cross-border deals increasing as a percentage of the volume and value of all deals since 2009.

Outlook clouded by global trends

While global technology M&A provided a counterpoint to the global macroeconomic malaise prevalent in the third quarter, the question remains whether such robust values can be maintained in the face of uncertainty and extreme equity market volatility. “Although macroeconomic volatility makes it hard to predict whether M&A transactions will continue to grow or take a pause in the short term, the multiple disruptive technology megatrends occurring now and driven by smart mobility, cloud computing and social networking, make long-term M&A growth a relatively safe bet,” says Steger.

About the report

Global Technology M&A Update, July-September 2011 is based on Ernst & Young’s analysis of FactSet Mergerstat data for July through September 2011. FactSet Mergerstat data was last accessed for this second quarter report on 6 October 2011. Deal activity and valuations may fluctuate slightly based on the date that the FactSet Mergerstat database is accessed. Only disclosed value deals are used in all value analysis.  Full report is available at www.ey.com.

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CONTACT: Tehira Taylor, Ernst & Young Global Media Relations, +44 (0)20 7980 0703, tehira.taylor@uk.ey.com; or Hannah James, Fleishman-Hillard, +1-212-453-2104, Hannah.james@fleishman.com

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