Monday, March 19, 2007

Morning Market Comment

U.S. stock futures are pointing to a higher open and again the connection points to a weak Japanese Yen. Last night the Yen out of the gate was strong and S&P futures were down almost 5 points, but as the Yen pushed toward resistance at .8700 (.8702 was the high of the night) and then weakened, stock futures rebounded. The experience of higher morning futures since the late February tankage has not always been good: often morning sizzle has led to afternoon fizzle. All eyes again will remain on Yen movement as the day wears on and looming large is this week's Fed meeting and economic data including two batches of housing data.

There are some deals and potential deals boosting sentiment this morning:

Accredited Lenders (LEND) was down about 5%, but now rallying. It has received a delisting notice as it seeks financing and also fights a class action suit. Other subprimes are strong, including Novastar with an early 20% gain, and Freemont chiming in with a 10% premarket rise. H&R Block also poised to rally on an analyst upgrade (noted below).

Rumors persist Apple developing AMD projects. A knife in the back or a helping hand?

An emailer sent me a note about Kronos (KRON) saying there would be a buyout but gave no other information. Oddly enough 1,770 Kronos April 45 calls were accumulated last week; previously there had been 0 open interest on the strike. I have no idea if there's any truth to the communication.

CSX was a big rumored takeover target on Friday. No takever thus far this morning; stock down a half dollar.

Some notable analyst comments...

  • LEER maintains Outoerformn on Amylin (AMLN) says Byetta scrips are rising despite new agents coming to market.
  • Trouble for chips: JPMS says checks suggest CONSENSUS estimates for Q2 and 2007 need to come down in the Semiconductors. JP Morgan thinks AMD, CY, INTC, ONNN likely to have largest cut in estimates, but FCS, TXN, BRCM, ALTR, XLNX will need to be reduced as well.
  • Bank of America resumes coverage of Express Scripts (ESRX) now that the CVS saga is over with a target of $115 and a Buy
  • UBS upgrades BEAS to Buy with a $14 target
  • Juniper (JNPR) downgraded to Strong Sell from Buy at Matrix
  • Pru upgrades Kraft (KFT) to Neutral
  • H&R Block (HRB) upgraded to Overweight at Thomas Weisel, sees overestimatation of problems from Option One, strong tax business.

The big blowup of the day is Atherogenics - another company confessing a failed drug. The stock is down 60% pre-market.

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