Ultimate Market Recap: Greece, Italy, and Priceline Earnings

Monday Morning’s Top Stories

A second European Prime Minister is in the news today as unconfirmed reports have Italian (NYSE:EWI) Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi possibly resigning. The Italian media is fueling the rumors and according to Giuliano Ferrara, editor of Il Foglio daily newspaper, “That Silvio Berlusconi is about to step down is now clear to everybody. It’s a matter of hours, some say minutes.”

Berlusconi has denied the rumors while European markets responded with a bounce in the euro.

Investing Insights: Is Europe Warming Up Gold for its Final Act?

Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou agreed to step down over the weekend. Today he will meet with opposition leader Antonis Samaras to discuss the next prime minister and the new Cabinet for a transitional Greek government.

The coalition government’s top priority is to pass the European rescue plan and then oversee the country’s early 2012 elections.

U.K. cellphone retailer Carphone Warehouse PLC will sell a stake in its U.S. joint venture to partner Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE:BBY) for 838 million pounds ($1.34 billion) in cash. The company is also closing the Best Buy UK stores. Carphone will also return 813 million GBP to its shareholders from the proceeds.

Dish Network Corp.(NASDAQ:DISH) reported its third-quarter earnings jumped 30 percent with equipment, merchandise and rental revenues seeing double-dip increases to $362.1 million. The company saw a $319.1 million ($0.71 cents per share) profit, up from $245 million ($0.55 cents) from the previous year. Revenue increased 12 percent to $3.6 billion.

Analysts’ estimates were $0.73 cents per share on $3.65 billion in revenue. The company did lose a net 111,000 subscribers in the quarter and now sits with a 13.9 million customer base as of September 30.

Super Hot Feature: Here’s Why Groupon’s Business Model Looks Eerily Like a Ponzi Scheme.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler has removed himself from the MF Global Holdings Ltd. (NYSE:MF) investigation. The chairman recused himself for a potential conflict of interest due to his previous working relationship with Jon Corzine, MF’s ex-CEO, at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) during the 1990s.

Monday Morning Hot Stocks

Shares of Sysco Corp (NYSE:SYY) are trading .65% lower early Monday morning.  Increased costs for dairy and meat narrowed margins and sales growth.  The company reported a profit of $302.7 million (51 cents per share), compared to $299 million (51 cents per share) last year.

Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) is surging more than 5% after reporting a 30% rise in third quarter earnings.  The company’s former EchoStar Corp. (NASDAQ:SATS) unit reported a loss due to higher operating costs.  Dish has a customer base of nearly 14 million and competes with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Investing Insights: DISH Network Earnings Cheat Sheet: Profits Grow by Double Digits For Fifth Straight Quarter.

Shares of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Disney (NYSE:DIS) are climbing after the two announced a plan to team up to create new family-oriented web pages on Disney.com and YouTube.  The web pages are expected to be launched in 2012.

Force Protection (NASDAQ:FRPT) is surging 30% after General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) agreed to acquire the company for $360 million in cash.  Force Protection shareholders will receive $5.52 per share.  The deal has already been approved by both boards and should be completed by the end of the year.

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is falling nearly 2% at the open after announcing it will buy out its US mobile partner for $1.3 billion, and scrapping plans for a chain of European megastores.  The electronic company continues to scale foreign expansion as it focuses on its US business.  The company competes with Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT).

Investing Insights: Is Europe Warming Up Gold for its Final Act?

Market Recap

Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.71%, S&P +0.63%, Nasdaq +0.34%, Oil +1.85%, Gold +2.37%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) climbed to $96.00 a barrel. Precious metals were also up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbed to $1,797.70 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) climbed 2.60% to settle at $35.31.

Hot Feature: The Euro Mess Brings Out the Best in Gold

Today’s markets were up because:

1) Greece. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and opposition leader Antonis Samaras agreed late Sunday to create a transitional administration to oversee the country’s debt deal with the European Union and then hold early elections. Though the agreement will see Papandreou resign and his government overturned, it looks as if the Greece issue may finally be nearing resolution, as investors now turn their eyes toward Italy. 

2) Italy. With Greece now seemingly on the right track, investors are keenly watching developments in Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is struggling to prove he can implement austerity measures pledged to European Union allies amid reports that the he will likely resign very soon. Though Berlusconi has denied such reports, he faces a vote of confidence Tuesday and many are betting he’s headed out the door as his coalition’s majority continues to deteriorate, with numerous members of his party defecting to the opposition over the last week. Italy must push through 45.5 billion euros in austerity measures, approved by Berlusconi’s government in August, in order to secure European Central Bank purchases of Italian debt. Yields on Italian 10-year bonds soared above 6.65%, nearing the 7% level that drove Greece, Ireland, and Portugal to seek bailouts.

3) Banks. Embattled investment bank Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) managed to stay in positive territory today after disclosing that it had sold a large amount of its European sovereign debt. Shares dropped roughly 18% last week on fears that it could be the next MF Global (NYSE:MF). Despite news that the financial industry lost roughly 650,000 customers and $4.5 billion in deposits to credit unions because of Bank Transfer Day — a grass-roots movement that urged bank customers to close their accounts and instead deposit funds in credit unions on or before November 5 — some of the biggest U.S. banks moved upward today, outperforming the major indices. Though Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) declined, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), and Citigroup (NYSE:C) all tacked on respectable gains.

After Hours Radar Stocks

After closing down nearly 1%, shares of Priceline.com Inc (NASDAQ:PCLN) are climbing more than 2% higher in late trading.  The company reported net income above Wall Street’s expectations for the second quarter.  Net income for the entertainment company rose to $469.5 million ($9.43 per share), compared to $223 million ($4.41 per share) in the same quarter last year. This is a more than twofold rise from the year earlier quarter.  Shares of Expedia Inc (NASDAQ:EXPE) are also higher on the news, while Ctrip.com (NASDAQ:CTRP) closed down about 1.25%.

Investing Insights: Priceline.com Inc. Earnings Cheat Sheet: Profit Up.

American Express (NYSE:AXP) is not seeing a slow down this holiday season.  The credit card company’s latest survey found that US shoppers expected to spend nearly $830 on gifts, compared to $710 last year.  Shares are edging .80% higher in after market activity, while Mastercard (NYSE:MA) and Visa (NYSE:V) remain flat.

Demand Media (NYSE:DMD) came in with less losses than expected. The company reported a loss of $4.1 million (5 cents per share) vs. a loss of $300,000 (64 cents per share) the year earlier. Revenue rose 25% to $81.5 million from the year earlier quarter. Dig Deeper: Demand Media Inc. Earnings Cheat Sheet: Loss Narrows.

CareFusion Corp (NYSE:CFN) is slightly lower after reporting a profit boost in earnings.  Net income for Carefusion Corporation rose to $67 million (30 cents per share), compared to $38 million (17 cents per share) in the same quarter a year earlier. This marks a rise of 76.3% from the year earlier quarter.  Competitors to watch include: Teleflex Incorporated (NYSE:TFX), Cardinal Health, Inc. (NYSE:CAH), and Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK).