Ultimate Market Recap: BofA Making Swift Cuts, Microsoft Security Issues

Wall St. Brief: GM Readies Ally Bid, Bank of America Slashes Staff

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is moving quickly on its staff-reduction program and will cut 16,000 jobs by year’s end leaving it with 260,000 employees, reported the Wall Street Journal. The cuts come from “Project BAC,” which will bring annual savings of $8 billion by 2015. Most layoffs will likely come from BofA’s consumer operations as the bank will look to close 200 branches in addition to the 178 shut down last year.

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BP (NYSE:BP) is negotiating to sell its 50 percent share in TNK-BP to Rosneft for $10-$15 billion in cash and at least 12.5 percent of the latter’s shares, reported Kommersant. To pay for the transaction, some reports have said Rosneft will try to raise $15-$20 billion in debt from foreign and Russian banks. On Tuesday, the two companies met with Vladimir Putin to discuss the deal.

On Wednesday, Nike (NYSE:NKE) said it will repurchase $8 billion worth of class B shares in a four-year program. It will begin doing so after the completion of an existing $5 billion program in 2013’s fiscal quarter two. CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS) also said yesterday it would repurchase up to $6 billion in shares. This comes as CVS’s shares are trading at record highs.

After an investigation following the phone-hacking scandal, British media regulator Ofcom has determined that News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS) affiliate BSkyB (BSYBY.PK) is “fit and proper to hold its broadcast licenses.” But the regulator dissed former Sky Chairman James Murdoch, now News Corp.’s deputy COO, by saying his behavior was “difficult to comprehend and ill-judged,” and that he “repeatedly fell short” of his responsibilities.

GM (NYSE:GM) is getting ready to bid this week for Ally Financial’s auto-lending operations in Europe and Latin America; it isn’t pursuing either Ally’s Canadian operations or its Mexican auto insurer, reported Bloomberg. With an acquisition of the units, it would more than double GM Financial’s assets.

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Apple Accused of Patent Infringement and 4 Hot Stocks Trading Today

Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC): According to The Gibbs & Bruns law firm, which is the law firm that reached a major settlement with Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) regarding allegedly defective mortgage bonds, stated that both Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) were not successful in performing their duties servicing $73 billion in securities, Reuters reports.

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Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. (NYSE:ARE) has announced that Roche Holding Ltd intends to establish its new Translational Clinical Research Center (TCRC) at the Alexandria Center for Life Science, located in New York City. This is to be the mission-critical presence for Roche Pharma Research and Early Development (PRED) in the U.S. The TCRC is located in the center of the East Side Medical Corridor, and the Alexandria Center for Life Science intends to give Roche critical adjacency in New York City to the nine major academic medical centers along with its various continuing clinical trials. An 11-year lease has been signed by Roche, which anticipates the moving of its TCRC team to the nearly 421,000 square foot West Tower of the Alexandria Center for Life Science, predicted to be delivered in 4Q 2013.

Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM): General Motors (NYSE:GM) continues its attempts to catch up to Toyota as far as customer retention goes, according to The Detroit News, noting that GM predicts that for every 1 percent increase in retention there would be a $700 million net revenue gain. Toyota’s loyalty rate is nearly 58 percent, when it is compared to GM’s rate which has not been specified but was suggested as being near the industry average of 52 to 53 percent.

GMAC LLC (NYSE:GOM) prepares to bid during the week for Ally Financial Inc. (ALLY)’s auto-lending arms located in Europe and Latin America, according to three individuals with knowledge of the matter. GM will not pursue an offer for either Ally’s Canadian operations or its Mexican auto insurer. In May, Ally placed its non-U.S. operations for sale to assist in the repayment of a U.S. government bailout. Ally requested that companies submit bids by Sept. 21 after it received nearly 30 indications of interest during July. General Motors Co. owned Ally Financial Inc.’s predecessor, GMAC, until 2006, when the automaker sold 51 percent of it to Cerberus Capital Management LP. An acquisition of the units would double GM Financial’s asset.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): Unwired Planet, Inc. (UPIP) announced the filing of patent infringement complaints against both Apple and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. These suits were filed by Unwired Planet for the protection of its intellectual property licensing business. There are two separate complaints filed in Reno, Nevada, and Unwired Planet charges Apple on both with infringing upon 10 patents, and it alleges that Google infringed upon 10 different patents. The two cases together charge that there has been infringement on a total of 20 patents in relation to smart mobile devices, cloud computing, digital content stores, push notification technologies, and location-based services like mapping and advertising.

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Afternoon Buzzers: Bank of America Cuts 16,000 Jobs, Facebook Slips

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) shares are down over 1 percent this afternoon. The bank is speeding up a cost-cutting plan, which includes cutting 16,000 jobs by the end of the year. The proposed year-end total of the bank’s workforce is 260,000, which would be the lowest figure since 2008.

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) fell more than 8 percent today. The company said net earnings in the second quarter declined to $224.3 million (98 cents per share), compared to $229.4 million (93 cents per share) a year earlier. The decrease in profit breaks a four quarter streak of net income gains for the company.

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Nike (NYSE:NKE) shares are down nearly 1 percent today. The shoe and sportswear giant announced that its board approved a new $8 billion share buyback program that will take place over the next four years. The program will follow Nike’s current $5 billion repurchase plan, which concludes at the end of the second quarter next year. Over the past 10 years, the company has bought back $10 billion of its shares.

Shares of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) are down 1.8 percent after posting a 6.5 percent gain yesterday. The social media company is set to receive more exposure. The new iOS 6 update from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was released yesterday and it integrates Facebook in the operating system more than ever, especially with photo sharing. Facebook is also found in the new OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.2 update, which was also released on Wednesday.

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Facebook to Charge for FB Offers and 4 Hot Stocks Sizzling Now

Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN) has gained an $8.7 million modification to a previously awarded production contract under which it is to provide the U.S. Navy with Joint Tactical Terminal Senior (JTT-Sr) radios that are supposed to be compatible with the new Common Interactive Broadcast (NYSE:CIB) waveform they contain the most recent security, hardware, and software improvements. The radios receive and broadcast near real-time threat data from a variety of national and tactical sensors to joint service host platforms. The information, disseminated over Integrated Broadcast Service (IBS) networks, delivers surveillance reports and tracking to support theater-based tactical situational awareness necessities, and they provide critical ballistic missile defense support for cuing target acquisition systems and broadcasting missile detection warnings.

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Questcor Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:QCOR): Option players displayed an increasing preference for Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (QCOR – 30.66) puts in recently, per data at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (NASDAQ:CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). In the latest 10 sessions, traders have bought to open 1.95 puts for every call on QCOR, this shows a rise over the stock’s 50-day put/call volume ratio of 0.87. Furthermore, the shorter-term ratio ranks higher than 91 percent of similar readings that were taken during the past year, indicating that puts were bought to open over calls at a near annual-high clip.

Facebook (NYSE:FB) Offers will not be free for long. Recently, the company has been searching for a new way to increase its revenue via charging merchants to run deals on its site. The company launched Facebook Offers last year as a free service allowing businesses to send promotions directly to user news feeds. The service, competition to Groupon and other similar offerings, lets a company’s Facebook fans redeem vouchers for discounts. Today, Reuters has reported that Facebook will make merchants spend a minimum of $5 on related ads for the promotion of each offer to a targeted audience. The report stated that the cost would vary due to the size of a company’s Facebook pages.

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), which is the third largest cellphone provider in America, has had an ongoing struggleto retain subscribers over the past 5 years. In hopes of regaining profits and subscribers, the company is upgrading to a faster 4G nationwide network and looking for a boost when the iPhone 5 hits stores tomorrow.  Sprint is the only network continuing its offer of unlimited data plans for iPhones, and JD Power and Associates recently ranked it first in customer satisfaction.

Piedmont Natural Gas Company Inc. (NYSE:PNY): Upon the completion of the Pipe Cut in 13.03 seconds, the 4 person team Mass Destruction from Piedmont Natural Gas (North Carolina) set a world record. However, the record did not last long since a mere thirty minutes later, Explosive Limit from Colorado Springs Utilities (Colorado) broke the record with a 12.89 second pipe cut. Additionally, Piedmont Natural Gas’ (North Carolina) team, Ignition Source, set a world record for the 2 person Hand Dig, at 18.45 seconds.

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Skullcandy on the Decline and 4 Hot Stocks Making Waves

Skullcandy Inc (NASDAQ:SKUL) recently dropped to a new low of $11.79 per share, and has a sharp downward momentum currently. The big issue surfaced on September 14th, when Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) dropped the company’s price target from $21 to $15 and gave it an “equal weight” recommendation. Shares fell more than 16 percent, which adds to previous losses and mounting short interest. Forbes claims that Morgan Stanley analyst Jay Sole cited a few indicators that the company’s sales would be threatened in the near future due to competition and reduced average sales costs. He also mentioned his beliefs that Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) new “earpods” would crush Skullcandy’s sales.

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Neuralstem, Inc. (NYSE:CUR) announced today that it is closing a registered direct offering of 7,000,000 shares of its common stock, which are being offered at $1.00 per share. This offering’s gross proceeds were $7,000,000, prior to its deduction of the placement agent fees and other estimated offering expenses payable by Neuralstem.

Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD): More prescriptions are being filled and sales are rising have assisted Rite Aid Corp. in reporting a narrower fiscal Q2 loss. On Thursday, the company also stated that generic drug introductions and reimbursement rate pressure have forced it to reduce its fiscal 2013 revenue forecast. Also, Rite Aid has reduced the range of its expected loss.

Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (NYSE:ANR) decided to realign its operations considering the changing global scenario for coal demand. The move’s intention is to reduce operating costs and to strengthen its position in the global metallurgical coal market. This decision validates the announcement it made by the beginning of the year. The streamlining of operation should reduce annual coal production by as much as 16 million tons. 40 percent of the reduction is to come from its high-cost mines in the east, 50 percent from the Powder River Basin, and 10 percent from the decline in quality metallurgical coal production. The company will curtail production to match its sales volumes and to avoid a piling up of coal inventory.

Microsoft (NYSE:MSFT) issued a one-click security workaround for Internet Explorer as a stopgap measure until the company is able to release a full security update for its Web browser. The new “Fix it” solution should assist in protecting Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8, and 9 users from a recently revealed memory corruption issue that numerous security experts have seen in active use. These issues could allow hackers to gain remote access to your system with the same user privileges as you, which includes the ability to install or remove programs, modify files, and create new user accounts.

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