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What the Glencore Xstrata Deal Means for the Global Mining Industry
The Glencore Xstrata deal, an all-share merger creating a $90 billion global mining industry powerhouse, would be the sector's biggest and could trigger the busiest year for M&A activity.
The companies announced the deal today (Tuesday) following Glencore's offer last week. Glencore would pay $41 billion for the rest of Xstrata's shares (Glencore already has a 34% stake).
Glencore International is the world's largest publicly traded commodities supplier, and Xstrata is the world's fourth-largest metals and mining company. A Glencore Xstrata deal would create a company rivaling global mining industry leaders BHP Billiton Ltd (NYSE ADR: BHP) and Rio Tinto Plc (NYSE ADR: RIO).
"Glencore being such a dominant trader and marketer of commodities, and Xstrata being such a strong operator of difficult assets, I think it creates enormous value," Prasad Patkar from Platypus Asset Management Ltd. told Bloomberg News. "On one end you have great mining expertise, on the other you've got great marketing expertise. Two and two together should make five."
The new combined entity would be more diversified than other global commodities players, with copper and coal being its biggest earnings drivers. It would be the world's biggest coal exporter for power plants and the top integrated zinc producer.
The new mining industry giant also will go on the hunt for smaller businesses, and encourage other powerful players to do the same.
Jim Grant and the GOP Joining Forces to Bring Back the Gold Standard
With two GOP presidential candidates saying they'd add legendary Wall Street pundit Jim Grant to their administrations, bringing back the gold standard clearly has moved up on the Republican agenda.
Ron Paul, for whom returning to the gold standard has been a decades-long crusade, has said he would name Grant chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. In his case, that would be a compromise – Paul has often called for the Fed to be abolished altogether.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich has promised to appoint Jim Grant to head a commission to study the possibility of going back to the gold standard.
Grant, who publishes Grant's Interest Rate Observer, is a well-known gold bug and critic of the Fed.
His ideas have attracted increasing favor in a party that blames the Fed's easy money policy for the country's economic problems.
Grant calls the current system of fiat currency an "anachronism" and questioned the "command and control, top-down system of having a handful of people at the Fed dictate interest rates."
He's worried that the Fed's quantitative easing policies have created a bubble in Treasury bonds.
And make no mistake: If a Republican president gives him the opportunity, Grant already has a plan, starting with making a public case for the gold standard.
"I would then lay out a timeline for the conversion to a constitutional dollar, a dollar as envisaged by the Founding Fathers," Grant told MarketWatch.
Grant said he believes a dollar should be fixed "like a foot, or a pound."
Such a policy would arrest the steep decline in value the dollar has suffered since the United States abandoned the gold standard in 1971 – a point Paul often raises on the campaign trail.
"Since 1971, since we lost our link to gold, the dollar has lost 85%," Paul recently told NPR. "So if you were a saver and wanted to take care of your kid's education, even if you made a little interest, you're going to lose money."
Middle-class worries like that have helped make a return to the gold standard a major issue in the 2012 Republican primary battle.
The other two remaining GOP contenders, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, are believed to be against a return to the gold standard, though both refrain from talking about it.
Of course, Republican proponents of the gold standard may not need Paul or Gingrich to win the nomination to move the issue forward.
Buy, Sell or Hold: When to Buy Shares of Facebook
You might have heard….
The recent registration of the company's IPO documents means it won't be long until Facebook shares begin trading freely.
But will Facebook shares make you rich beyond your wildest dreams like mural painter David Choe?
Or would you be better off watching from the sidelines before you buy shares of the social media giant?
The Details behind the Facebook IPO
Here's what I've learned from Facebook's S-1.
Some of the data points buried in the IPO document are eye-opening, to say the least.
Chief among those are Facebook's assertion that 6% to 7% of the entire world population logs in every day. More importantly, they stay logged in for a significant amount of time.
However, what will happen in the future to drive the stock's share price after it's brought to market is buried deeper in the details.
It's these details that make Facebook's IPO a hold if you already own shares, but also a "wait to buy" if you are like most people and want to own them.
In a nutshell, what I've learned is the banks are bringing Facebook to market fully priced.
My opinion is the bankers have gotten greedy and decided to push the valuation numbers above the levels that I believe are sustainable.
The company is being valued at $75 billion – $100 billion dollars at launch. This would make it one of the most valuable companies in the world, yet its actual revenue, let alone profitability, is at a more mundane level.
Currently, Facebook is reporting about $4 billion in revenue and profits of $1 billion.
That means if Facebook prices in at the top of its estimated range ($100 billion), based on current disclosures it would have a 100-to-1 price to earnings (P/E) ratio.
In other words, it's only going to take about 100 years for Facebook to eventually earn what it may price at. Compared to other blockbuster stocks, that's quite rich.
By comparison, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has $100 billion in cash and a P/E ratio of 11 while Google's P/E is 20.
That's why it's time to "Hold" Facebook (**) or wait to buy it until insiders get a chance to sell their shares and bring the price down to levels common people can realistically afford to purchase.
The Keystone Delay Won't Stop These Canadian Oil Sands Stocks
I'm not a knee-jerk hater of the Obama administration.
But the President's decision to reject the Keystone pipeline was one of his worst.
Aside from creating jobs, the pipeline would have decisively swung U.S. energy supplies more toward domestic sources and those of our friendly neighbor Canada.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) Ready to Rebound After Oil Spill Losses
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) reported after market close today (Monday) a fourth-quarter profit loss, due to a $4 billion pay out made last quarter related to the BP PlC (NYSE ADR: BP) oil spill in 2010.
Anadarko, the largest U.S. independent oil and gas company by market value, reported a $358 million, or 72 cents per share, loss for the quarter. Revenue rose 42.7% to $3.84 billion from the year earlier quarter.
Excluding the spill-related payout and other items, Anadarko earned 85 cents a share. Wall Street expected the company to book earnings of 60 cents a share, more than doubling the 29 cents earned in 2010's last quarter.
Now with its legal battles behind it, the company is ready to take off as higher oil prices and a recent discovery drive future earnings.
China Will Keep Driving Yum Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) to New Highs
Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) today (Monday) reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat The Street, highlighting the impact a strong emerging market presence can have on soaring profits.
The quick-service restaurant business that owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut chains saw quarterly profit rise 34% to 75 cents a share. Revenue for the quarter climbed 15% to $4.11 billion.
Yum's results beat Wall Street's expectations of 74 cents a share and a 13.1% revenue increase to $4.03 billion.
The yearly earnings per share increase of 14% marked the tenth consecutive year of EPS growth of 13% or more. Monday's earnings report shook off speculation that slowing Chinese growth could hurt Yum in 2011.
In fact, its outlook is as bright as ever.
Yum Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM): Feeding China
Strong sales in China – Yum's major revenue driver – offset the struggling U.S. business. While full-year same-store sales fell 1% in the United States, same-store sales rose 19% in China.
China's quick-service restaurant industry is expected to grow around 15% this year – almost double China's gross domestic product (GDP) growth, which is only expected to jump 8.4%. The growth outlook means other restaurants will try to cut into Yum's market share and appeal to the country's growing middle class.
"KFC and McDonald's are growing outlet numbers, but so are domestic and foreign chains plus independents," Paul French, Mintel's chief China analyst, told Reuters. "The pie is bigger, but the number of players wanting and getting a slice of it are bigger too. A rising tide does not necessarily raise all boats."
Still, Yum's strong position in the region has readied it to beat competitors. Yum was one of the first U.S. quick-service restaurant businesses to successfully profit in China. It opened its first fried-chicken outlet in the region in 1987 and now has more than 4,200 total restaurants, compared to McDonald's Corp.'s (NYSE: MCD) 1,400 stores.
Yum! Brands expects China to lead the company to 10% total sales growth in 2012.
Emerging markets contributed to 50% of Yum's operating profit in 2011, and should account for a bigger portion this year. Yum! Brands plans to open another 600 new stores in China alone, after opening a record 656 in 2011.
Now Yum is diversifying its market presence. It announced Jan. 6 that shareholders of China's leading hot pot chain, Little Sheep Group Ltd., approved a takeover by Yum. Little Sheep operates about 3,000 restaurants in China, with annual revenue of $315 million.
- Are Federal Reserve Presidents Gaming the System?
Bankers Committed Fraud to Get Bigger Bonuses
In case you didn't catch the article titled "Guilty Pleas Hit the 'Mark'" in the Wall Street Journal, I'm here to make sure you don't miss it.
This is too good.
Three former employees of Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE: CS) were charged with conspiracy to falsify books and records and wire fraud. They were accused of mismarking prices on bonds in their trading books by soliciting trumped-up prices for their withering securities from friends in the business.
By posting higher "marks" for their bonds in late 2007, they earned big year-end bonuses.
What a shock!
What's not a shock is that, after a bang-up 2007, Credit Suisse had to take a $2.85 billion write-down in the first quarter of 2008. No one knows how much of that loss was attributable to the three co-conspirators who were fired over their "wrongdoing."
Two of the three accused pled guilty. Also not shocking is the reason David Higgs – one who pled guilty – gave for his actions. He said he did it "to remain in good favor" with bosses, who determined his bonus and who profited handsomely themselves from his profitable trading and inventory marks.
As for Salmaan Siddiqui, the other trader who pleaded guilty? His attorney Ira Sorkin, the former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement chief, said of his client: "What he did was the result of his boss and his boss' boss directing him to do it."
You know what else is shocking?
The Hunt for Higher Yield: Investors Pour into Emerging Market Debt
The never-ending hunt for higher yield is leading investors to bet record amounts on emerging market debt.
In just the first two weeks of 2012, governments of undeveloped economies from Asia to Africa sold more than $30.6 billion in dollar-denominated bonds according to Bloomberg News.
That's up from roughly $19.9 billion in the same period last year and the most since 1999, when Bloomberg began collecting data.
Typically, investors shun emerging market bonds during times of uncertainty in favor of "safer" assets like gold and U.S. Treasuries.
But that has started to change.
The Big Move Into Emerging Market Debt
In fact, investor demand is overwhelming supplies as orders have outstripped the amount of bonds being sold.
During a recent auction, the Philippines received $12.5 billion of orders for $1.5 billion of 25-year bonds, pushing the yield down to a record-low 5%. Indonesia sold 30-year bonds at a record-low yield of 5.375% and Colombia sold $1.5 billion of 29-year bonds at 4.964%.
Analysts say the debt crisis in Europe, along with record low yields on U.S Treasuries, has investors on the hunt.
They are now buying the debt of undeveloped nations like Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil, even though credit-rating firms rank them as more risky than their European counterparts
"What we're seeing is a re-evaluation of sovereign-credit risk, increasingly being driven more by fundamentals than by classifications," Eric Stein, a portfolio manager at Eaton Vance Corp. (NYSE: EV) told The Wall Street Journal.
According to the J.P. Morgan Emerging Markets Bond Index, investment-grade sovereign emerging-market bonds are yielding an average of 4.7%.
By contrast, Italian 30-year debt yields 7%, while Spanish 30-year debt yields 6.1%.
One reason emerging market bonds are attracting interest is…