After a tumultuous week, with headlines ranging from a $5
billion Bank of America (
) investment, Apple (
) CEO Steve Jobs stepping down, and a massive hurricane plaguing
the East Coast, it's
Friday. At 10 a.m. Eastern, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
will take the stage in Jackson Hole, Wyo. to keynote the annual
conference. Stocks have been on a roller coaster ride for the past
several weeks, with "debt," "downgrade," and "default" sending
shock waves through the Street. As a result, many investors have
their hopes pinned on today's event, with rumors swirling that
Bernanke will use his speech to pledge another round of
quantitative easing. However, many analysts have already expressed
doubt that the Fed chairman will be able to promise anything that
can help the current economic situation. Amid this high-anxiety
backdrop, futures on all three major indexes are pointing
In earnings news... Aruba Networks (ARUN - 17.14) reported a
fourth-quarter profit of $68.2 million, or 57 cents per share,
compared to $423,000, or breakeven on a per-share basis, in the
previous year. Excluding items, ARUN's earnings were 17 cents per
share, matching analysts' expectations. Meanwhile, the company
reported revenue of $113.8 million, surpassing analysts'
expectations for revenue of $109.2 million. "Revenue from the
existing customer base remains strong and we are especially
encouraged by our rapid new customer acquisitions," said CEO
Pandora Media (P - 12.47) posted a second-quarter loss of $1.8
million, or 4 cents per share, compared to a profit of $1.6
million, or 4 cents per share, this time last year. Excluding
one-time items, core earnings were 2 cents per share, compared to
analysts' expectations for a per-share loss of 3 cents. Meanwhile,
revenue skyrocketed a year-over-year 117% to $67 million,
surpassing the Street's forecast for sales of $61 million. For the
third quarter, Pandora expects to either break even or report a
loss of 2 cents per share on revenue between $69.5 million to $72.5
million. Analysts, on average, were calling for the company to
break even on a per-share basis, with expected revenue of $69.3
million in the third quarter.
Tiffany & Co. (TIF - 63.11) reported this morning that its
second-quarter profit rose 33% to $90 million, or 69 cents per
share, from $67.7 million, or 53 cents per share, a year earlier.
Meanwhile, revenue jumped 30% to $872.7 million, while adjusted
earnings arrived at 86 cents per share. These results crushed
analysts' estimations for earnings of 70 cents per share on revenue
of $785.6 million. TIF's CEO Michael Kowalski explained that the
jeweler had been able to absorb rising metal and gemstone prices
while improving margins. The CEO also commented that sales growth
in the third quarter is already exceeding the group's expectations.
Looking ahead, TIF upped its full-year forecast to a range of $3.65
to $3.75 a share -- a marked improvement from the previous range of
$3.45 to $3.55 per share, and notably higher than the consensus
forecast for full-year earnings of $3.55 per share. As a result,
shares of the blue box behemoth are up nearly 6% in pre-market
Today's earnings docket will feature reports from Frontline (
) and Madison Square Garden (
). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The economic calendar ends with a bang today, with all eyes
turning to Jackson Hole and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's highly
anticipated speech on "Near- and Long-Term Prospects for the U.S.
Economy." Also slated to hit the Street are the Commerce
Department's revised estimate of second-quarter gross domestic
), and the final Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer
sentiment index for August.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 963,088 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to
739,005 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.77, while the 21-day moving average was 0.81.
The summer 2011 issue of
magazine is now available here.
Asian markets ended mixed today, as traders around the globe
held their breath ahead of a much-anticipated speech from Bernanke.
A last-minute rush of bargain-hunting helped Tokyo-listed equities
notch their first weekly gain in five, while Seoul snapped its own
four-week losing streak. Meanwhile, in China, commodities giant
PetroChina led energy stocks lower after a poorly received earnings
report. By the close, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.9%, China's
Shanghai Composite shed 0.1%, Japan's Nikkei added 0.3%, and South
Korea's Kospi tacked on 0.8%.
Traders in Europe are also on edge, with regional markets
modestly lower at midday. Germany is leading the decline, as
speculation continues to swirl about a potential credit downgrade
for one of the euro zone's leading economies. However, bank stocks
are pointed higher after France, Italy, Spain, and Belgium opted to
extend their respective short-selling bans. At last check, the
German DAX is down 2.8%, the French CAC 40 is off 1.9%, and
London's FTSE 100 is about 1.1% lower.
Currencies and Commodities
The dollar is looking weak this morning, as many analysts have
grown doubtful that Bernanke will, in fact, signal another round of
quantitative easing. At last check, the U.S. dollar index is down
0.3 point, or 0.4%. Meanwhile, oil has more than given up
Thursday's gains, with the October-dated contract down 0.4 point,
or 0.4%. Elsewhere, gold has staged a comeback, as investors flock
to the "safe-haven" asset ahead of today's Fed speech. In
pre-market trading, gold futures have ascended 26 points, or 1.5%,
to hover around $1,789.20 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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