China boosts railway budget to keep growth on track. China has reportedly increased its 2010-2015 budget for railway spending by 500B yuan (81.48B) to 3.3T yuan as the government looks to accelerate construction as part of a bid to prevent GDP growth from slowing too much. In addition, the State Council has approved tax breaks for small firms and a cut in export fees. "It's a small stimulus" that will have a limited impact on demand, says Bank of America's Lu Ting.
Top Stock News
Visa swings back to profit. Visa (V) swung to a profit of $1.23B in FQ3 from a loss of $1.84B a year earlier, when the credit-card company took a $4.1B litigation provision. EPS of $1.88 beat by $0.07, while revenue rose 16% and also topped forecasts. Visa has been benefiting from the improving economy, with payment volumes rising 13% to $1.1T and transaction volume 14% to 15B. Shares rose 2% pre-market.
Unilever's profit rises despite tough conditions. Unilever's (UL) H2 net profit rose 13% to €2.7B and sales edged up 0.4% to €25.5B, helped by product innovations such as compressed deodorants and a spray version of its Vaseline brand, and despite a tougher economy and increasing competition. "Growth is slowing in emerging markets, as macro-economic headwinds influence consumer behavior," Unilever said. "Developed markets remain sluggish with little sign of any recovery in North America or Europe." Shares were -2.2% pre-market.
Orange net profit plunges 38%, to pay massive tax bill. Orange's (ORAN) H1 net profit slumped 38% to €1.07B and revenue dropped 9.9% to €20.60B as the telecom carrier suffered from a severe price war in France. Orange, formerly known as France Telecom, has been ordered to pay French tax authorities €1.95B at the end of this month and a further €190M in September in a case related to the restructuring of a holding company in 2005. Shares were -4.5% at midday in Paris.
Amazon, Starbucks earnings seen rising. Amazon (AMZN) and Starbucks (SBUX) are among the big beasts in today's thick jungle of earnings reports. Analysts estimate that Amazon's Q2 EPS rose to $0.05 from $0.01 while revenue jumped 22.6% to $15.73B; Starbucks' FQ3 EPS is seen rising to $0.53 from $0.43 and and its revenue is forecast to have climbed 12.5% to $3.72B.
GSK to pay $229M to settle Avandia claims. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), enmeshed in bribery allegations in China, has got rid of a headache in the U.S. by agreeing to pay $229M to settle lawsuits with eight states that accused the company of the deceptive marketing of its diabetes treatment Avandia. The deal adds to a $90M settlement with 37 other states and the District of Columbia over Avandia, not to mention a $3B agreement with Federal authorities over the drug and other pharmaceuticals.
Top Economic & Other News
Either Yellen or Summers will lead Fed - report. The race to replace Ben Bernanke as Fed chief looks increasingly to be down to Janet Yellen and Larry Summers, the WSJ reports. The speculation appears to mark a big catch-up for Summers, as Yellen had been thought of as the lone front-runner for months. Summers has been a member of the Obama administration, so provides a comfort level, while Yellen is a key Fed insider.