Ultimate Market Recap: GE Happiest Company, Big Job Cuts at BofA

Wall Street Watch: Bank of America Readies to Dump More Employees, JPM and Morgan Stanley Compensation

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is planning to cut around 2,000 positions at the bank, hitting its investment banking, commercial banking and non-U.S. wealth-management units, according to The Wall Street Journal. The targeted list is significant as the highly paid employees assisted Merrill Lynch contribute to a large chunk of Bank of America’s profit in the last few years. The cuts are the latest ones in a plan announced by the bank last year that included the elimination of 30,000 jobs over the next three years in its consumer banking divisions. As of March 31, the bank had 278,700 employees.

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The Proxy-advisory firm ISS has endorsed compensation packages for JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) executives but does want an independent board chairman at JPM, which has been opposed by the bank. The ISS said, with JPM’s “lagging shareholder returns… shareholders could benefit from independent leadership on the board.” From ISS’s opposition to proposed pay packages at Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), it helped shareholders to reject them.

In April, China’s official PMI increased to a 13-month high of 53.3; this is up from March’s 53.1 and higher than last week’s HSBC “flash” PMI report of 49.1. But April’s number did come in lower than 53.5 expectations. April’s figures could suggest China’s economy is on the rebound after a first quarter slowdown.

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On Monday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble continued his stance that the eurozone should keep its austerity measures as a precondition for “sustainable growth.” At a press conference he said, “The first condition is economic and fiscal consolidation. If now we talk about growth, it shouldn’t be understood as a change of direction. That would be a mistake. The focus (on austerity) needs to remain.” But around Germany,  fiscal consensus is unraveling, especially in France, where presidential candidate Francois Hollande is expected to unseat Nicolas Sarkozy.

These are the Happiest Companies for Young Professionals

According to a new study by CareerBliss, the happiest companies for young professionals to have a career at may surprise you. Tech giants such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) did not make the list. “What we see for young professionals is a desire to find a company culture that fits with their personal work-style,” CareerBliss co-founder and CTO Matt Miller told Forbes. “They want a company that values their ideas and provides the growth opportunities and leadership to help shape their career.”

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CareerBliss, which is a leading online career community that provides company reviews by real employees, detailed salary information and local job opportunities, analyzed more than 223,500 employee-generated reviews between March 2011 and March 2012.  The company asked young professionals, defined as employees with less than 10 years of experience in a full-time position, to rate the company they work for on a scale from 1 to 5.

The top 5 happiest companies for young professionals are listed below:

GE Energy (NYSE:GE): This division of General Electric tops the list at number one with a CareerBliss rating of 4.528. GE Energy works on connecting people and ideas everywhere to create advanced technologies for powering a cleaner and more productive world. Shares of General Electric have gained 9.2 percent year-to-date.

Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWN): The company offers apparel, jewelry and accessories for women, men and kids. Nordstrom comes in second place with a CareerBliss rating of 4.441. Shares have gained 12.4 percent year-to-date.

Fluor Corp. (NYSE:FLR): A publicly owned engineering and construction company that has been designing and executing innovative solutions for complex EPCM projects since 1912. Fluor received a CareerBliss rating of 4.419 and shares have increased almost 15 percent year-to-date.

United Space Alliance: A Limited Liability Company equally owned by Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT). Formed in 1996, it consolidates more than 30 heritage contracts that supported the Space Shuttle Program. United Space Alliance received a CareerBliss rating of 4.393. Shares of Boeing and Lockheed Martin have increased 4.7 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN): Founded in 1992, it is a global and integrated biopharmaceutical company that employs more than 57,000 people. The company received a CareerBliss rating of 4.319. Despite the happiness, shares have declined 5 percent year-to-date.

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6 Buzzing Stocks: Pfizer Dips, Bank of America Cutting 2,000 Jobs and P.F. Chang’s Surges 30%

Shares of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) fell .65 percent in early trading. The pharmaceutical giant announced that first-quarter profits fell 19.3 percent to $1.79 billion (24 cents per share), compared to $2.22 billion (28 cents per share) a year earlier.

Office Depot Inc. (NYSE:ODP) shares jumped more than four percent after reporting first-quarter earnings. Before the opening bell, the company said net income came in at $41.3 million (14 cents per share), compared to a net loss of $14.6 million (5 cents per share) a year earlier.

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC) shares edged .25 percent higher. The bank announced it is planning 2,000 job cuts. The WSJ reports, “The reductions are significant because of whom they target: the high-earning employees whose efforts helped Merrill Lynch account for the bulk of Bank of America’s profit since the financial crisis.”

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Avon Products Inc. (NYSE:AVP) shares dropped 3.4 percent before the opening bell. The company announced that first-quarter net income fell 81.5 percent to $26.5 million (60 cents per share), compared to $143.6 million (33 cents per share) a year earlier.

Shares of Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:SHLD) gained 8 percent early Tuesday. The company estimated that its first-quarter earnings from continuing operations will come in at $1.46 to $1.84 per share, compared to expectations of a $1.69 loss. The increase includes about $235 million of after-tax gains from sales of specific U.S. and Canadian stores.

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. (NASDAQ:PFCB) shares surged 30 percent in pre-market trading. Private investment firm Centerbridge Partners plans to purchase the restaurant company and take it private in a cash deal valued at $1.1 billion. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the third-quarter.

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Phillips 66, P.F. Chang’s, Domino’s, PLX Tech, Emerson Attract Traders May 1st

Phillips 66 Common Stock “When Issued” (NYSE:PSX): Phillips 66 announces debut as independent downstream energy company. Shares of Phillips 66 Common Stock “When Issued” are trading 0.76% lower today.

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (NASDAQ:PFCB): P.F. Chang’s China Bistro announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Centerbridge Partners in a transaction valued at approximately $1.1B, which will result in P.F. Chang’s becoming a private company. Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been approved by the Company’s Board of Directors, Centerbridge will acquire all of the outstanding shares of P.F. Chang’s common stock for $51.50 per share in cash. This represents a premium of approximately 30% over the average closing share price of P.F. Chang’s common stock for the 30 days ended April 30, 2012. Under the terms of the agreement, it is anticipated that Centerbridge will commence a tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of the Company no later than May 15, 2012. The transaction is conditioned upon, among other things, satisfaction of the minimum tender condition of approximately 83% of the Company’s common shares, the receipt of the Federal Trade Commission’s approval and other customary closing conditions. Shares of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro are trading 29.58% higher today.

Domino’s Pizza, Inc. (NYSE:DPZ): Says has fixed pricing on approximately 35%-40% of expected purchases in 2012. Shares of Domino’s Pizza, Inc. are trading 9.02% lower today.

PLX Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLXT): Integrated Device Technology (NASDAQ:IDTI) and PLX Technology (NASDAQ:PLXT) announced last night that they have signed a definitive agreement pursuant to which IDT will acquire PLX. Under the terms of the agreement, unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, IDT will acquire all of the outstanding shares of PLX common stock pursuant to an exchange offer, followed by a second step merger. In the acquisition, PLX stockholders will receive $3.50 in cash and 0.525 shares of IDT common stock for each PLX common share outstanding. Based on IDT’s closing stock price on April 27, the transaction is valued at approximately $7.00 per PLX share and results in a total transaction value of approximately $330M. IDT anticipates it will achieve total run-rate cost synergies, excluding transaction related charges, in excess of $35M by FY14. IDT currently projects the transaction to be accretive to non-GAAP earnings by Q3 of 2013 with more significant accretion by FY14. The companies expect that the proposed transaction will close as early as IDT’s Q1, which is the second quarter of calendar 2012. PLX may solicit superior proposals from third parties for a “go shop” period of 30 calendar days continuing through May 30. Shares of PLX Technology, Inc. are trading 66.33% higher today.

Emerson Electric Co. (NYSE:EMR): Sees FY12 reported sales growth 2%-4%, consensus $25.11B. Sees Fy12 operating cash flow $3.4B-$3.5B, CapEx $700M, tax rate 32%. Sees FY operating profit margin 17.5%-17.8%. Sees underlyling sales and orders growth rates reduced to 3%-5%. Second quarter results continue to support the expectation that Emerson will generate record sales, profitability, and earnings in 2012. Recovery of HVAC, telecommunications, and information technology end markets remains likely, but improvement is occurring at a slower pace than previously expected. Shares of Emerson Electric Co. are trading 5.5% lower today.

ConocoPhillips, Pep Boys, Imperial Sugar, AGCO, Monster Generate Investing Demand May 1st

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP): Phillips 66 announces debut as independent downstream energy company. Shares of ConocoPhillips are trading 21.92% lower today.

The Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack (NYSE:PBY): On April 26, 2012, Gores requested that Pep Boys delay mailing this proxy statement by 30 days. In response, Pep Boys offered to extend the period of time within which the closing of the Merger is required to occur following Pep Boys’ notice to Parent that all conditions to the Merger have been satisfied from five business days to 15 business days. In turn, Gores rejected this counterproposal and reiterated its request to delay the mailing of the proxy statement by 30 days. In addition, Gores stated its belief that this proxy statement is no longer accurate and required the following language be included:”On April 26, 2012, Parent notified Pep Boys that, based on the serious deterioration in the Pep Boys business, Parent believes the Proxy Statement is no longer accurate and that the meeting should be delayed 30 days to allow Parent to determine the cause and extent of the significant downturn. Among other things, Parent believes that: (i) in light of this downturn, the projections provided to the board are no longer accurate, and (ii) Pep Boys may have experienced a material adverse effect or may have violated covenants contained in the Merger Agreement.” Shares of The Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack are trading 24.45% lower today.

Imperial Sugar Company (NASDAQ:IPSU): Imperial Sugar Company and Louis Dreyfus Commodities LLC announced a definitive agreement under which a subsidiary of Louis Dreyfus Commodities LLC will acquire Imperial Sugar through a cash tender offer and second step merger at $6.35 per share. The $6.35 per share represents a 57% premium to Imperial Sugar’s closing stock price on April 30, 2012, the last trading day prior to today’s announcement, and a 50% premium to Imperial Sugar’s trailing 30-day volume weighted average stock price. The proposed transaction has been unanimously approved by Imperial Sugar’s board of directors, who have agreed to recommend that Imperial Sugar’s common shareholders tender their shares in the offer. The all-cash transaction represents a value of approximately $203M, including the assumption of debt and pension liabilities. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Louis Dreyfus Commodities LLC will commence a cash tender offer no later than May 11, 2012. The closing of the transaction is expected to occur during the second calendar quarter of 2012, and is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Shares of Imperial Sugar Company are trading 56.3% higher today.

AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO): AGCO sees FY12 revenue $10.2B-$10.5B, consensus $9.91B. “Gross margin improvement is expected to be partially offset by increased engineering and market expansion expenditures. Global industry sales are expected to grow modestly in 2012 compared to 2011. Growth is expected in Western and Eastern Europe and market conditions are projected to remain strong in North America and South America.” Shares of AGCO Corporation are trading 7.67% higher today.

Monster Beverage Corp (NASDAQ:MNST): The Coca-Cola Company issued the following statement regarding media reports related to Monster Beverage Corporation: Coca-Cola has a distribution relationship with Monster in many markets, including the United States. Therefore, we are always in contact with Monster to maximize the value of our commercial arrangements. At this time, we are not in discussions to acquire the Monster Beverage Corporation. We continue to review the best ways to maximize the value of our relationship. Shares of Monster Beverage Corp are trading 2.28% higher today.

6 Late Stocks Hitting Radars: Einhorn Shakes Up Herbalife, Broadcom Falls 1% and Motorola Reports Q1 Loss

After closing nearly 20 percent lower on Tuesday, shares of Herbalife Ltd (NYSE:HLF) edged slightly higher after issuing a statement in regards to David Einhorn’s conference call questioning. Herbalife said, “Mr. Einhorn’s questions raised no new subjects or concerns. They were elementary questions usually asked by investors new to our industry. These are issues that have been thoroughly addressed before.”

Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ:BRCM) shares dropped 1 percent in late trading. The company reported a 61.4 percent decline in first-quarter earnings to $88 million, compared to $228 million a year earlier.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHK) shares continue to bounce up and down during the company’s recent CEO troubles. Shares closed 6.29 percent higher during regular trading, but fell more than 6 percent in extended trading. On Tuesday, Aubrey McClendon agreed to step aside as chairman of the natural gas company.

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Shares of CBS Corp. (NYSE:CBS) jumped almost 3 percent higher after the closing bell. The mass media company reported first-quarter net income of $363 million (54 cents per share), compared to $202 million (29 cents per share) a year earlier. “As great as these last few years have been, this quarter tops it all,” said Sumner Redstone, Executive Chairman, CBS Corporation. “What’s most exciting is that we are poised to benefit from all of the strategic actions we’ve taken – and continue to take – for a long, long time.”

Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. (NYSE:MMI) shares edged .34 percent higher, despite reporting a loss for the first-quarter. The company reported an adjusted net loss of 3 cents per share, but beat the mean analyst estimate of a loss of 18 cents per share. “The introduction of RAZR MAXX marked another successful addition to the Motorola product family and contributed to our growth in smartphones. Our Home business delivered another solid quarter highlighted by improvement in year-over-year profitability,” said Sanjay Jha, chairman and chief executive officer, Motorola Mobility.

Bankrate Inc. (NYSE:RATE) shares fell 11.4 percent in late Tuesday trading. The company reported an adjusted net income of 18 cents per share for the first-quarter, falling short of the mean estimate of 19 cents per share. Revenue increased 26.2 percent to $125 million from a year earlier.

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