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09/19/2014 03:31 AM
By Wall Street Breakfast:

Economy
Scotland has chosen to stay in the U.K., with the tally coming in at around 6:30 a.m. local time, showing 55% of voters rejecting independence and 45% favoring it. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, said he was "delighted" at the result and added that it was time for the U.K. to come together and move forward. Sterling is flat vs. the dollar at $1.6395. FTSE +0.8%.

Japanese stocks soared to a seven-year high this morning following the yen's sharp drop on Scotland's independence and the announcement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pension reform plans. The Nikkei climbed 1.6% to 16,321.17, its highest closing level since 2007. The Topix rose 1.1% to 1,331.91, while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 1.2% to 12,085.85.

Stocks
Alibaba has priced shares at $68 a piece, at the high end of its $66-$68 range, raising $21.8B and shattering records as the largest U.S. IPO in history. The sale places Alibaba (BABA) in the ranks of the most valuable Internet companies with a market capitalization of $168B, 20x FY14 (ended March '14) sales and 45x FY14 earnings.

Thousands are lining up all over the world for Apple's (AAPL) new release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The record demand for the bigger-screen smartphones has already outstripped supply, with preorders selling out last week. The two went on sale today in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, before rolling out in France, Germany, Puerto Rico, Canada and the U.S.

Despite cancelling the launch of its homegrown Tizen operating system already twice this year, a company exec now says Samsung ([[SSNLF]], [[SSNGY]]) will attempt the release again in November. With the new OS, Samsung is looking to lessen its reliance on Google's ([[GOOG]], [[GOOGL]]) Android, which currently powers the vast majority of the mobile devices sold by the South Korean giant.

Vivendi has signed a final agreement to sell its Brazilian wireline carrier GVT to Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) in a deal worth around ⁈7.2B (9.3B) in cash and shares. Vivendi (VIVHY) will also receive a 7.4% stake in Telefonica Brasil (NYSE:VIV), at a stock market value of ⁈2B, and a 5.7% stake in Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI), valued at ⁈1B as of Sept. 18.

Home Depot discloses that information on 56M payments cards was put at risk in a five month cyber-attack on its payment terminals. The breach tops the attack at Target (TGT) last winter, which affected 40M credit and debit cards. Home Depot (HD) says the data was compromised through advanced malware which entered the company's systems in April.

TransCanada CEO Russ Girling has announced that the cost of building the Keystone XL pipeline will likely double from the current $5.4B estimate by the time the U.S. government completes its review of the project. The CEO's comments come after TransCanada (TRP) told state regulators that the cost to build the South Dakota portion of the pipeline has more than doubled in the last four years due to pipe maintenance, labor agreements and inflation.

Exxon Mobil has halted drilling at the Universitetskaya-1 well off Russia's remote northern coast, in what would be the first tangible evidence that sanctions are slowing energy investment in the country. U.S. sanctions gave American companies until Sept. 26 to stop all restricted drilling and testing services, which means Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Seadrill's (SDRL) North Atlantic Drilling (NADL) unit would be under the gun to finish or temporarily seal the $700M well they are developing with Rosneft (RNFTF).

Citigroup urged a U.S. appeals court yesterday to reverse Judge Thomas Griesa's ruling which blocks payments on $8.4B of Argentina's bonds until the country settles with holdout creditors. Despite the bank's lawyer's pleas of "a serious and imminent hazard," the three-judge panel seemed unmoved. By Sept. 30, Citigroup (C) must choose between defying a New York court order or face regulatory and criminal sanctions from Argentina should it not process the upcoming $5M payment.

SAP is paying $129/share, or an enterprise value of $8.3B, to acquire top cloud travel/expense management software vendor Concur Technologies (CNQR), representing a 20% premium to Concur's Thursday close. SAP (SAP) plans to use a ⁈7B credit facility to finance the deal, which is expected to close in Q4 2014 or Q1 2015.

Arkema has made a ⁈1.7B ($2.2B) offer for Total's adhesives business Bostik, which follows last week's reports that the French oil major was looking to sell the business. Arkema (ARKAF) itself was spun out of Total in 2006. In recent years Total (TOT) has announced its plans to sell between $15B-$20B of non-oil-producing assets and others with falling profitability by 2015, as part of a program to improve its cash flow and profitability.

After announcing its plans for cutting 14% of its 125K employees in July, Microsoft has laid off 2.1K workers and closed down a Silicon Valley research lab focused on distributed computing R&D. While its Nokia phone unit is set to see the brunt of the company's job cuts, Microsoft (MSFT) has already confirmed the closure of its Xbox content studio ops, and is reportedly planning to lay off Windows test engineers as it moves to a faster release cycle.

Along with a FQ1 earnings miss, Oracle has announced that Larry Ellison is resigning as CEO after leading the company for more than 35 years. President Mark Hurd and CFO Safra Catz will act as co-CEOs going forward. Ellison will take over the role of chairman from Jeff Henley, who has held it for 10 years, and has also been named Chief Technology Officer. Oracle (ORCL) has also added $13B to its buyback plan.

Hyatt Hotels says it will sell 38 select service hotels under its Hyatt Place and Hyatt House brands to a company organized by Lone Star Funds. Valued at about $590M, Hyatt's (H) deal is expected to be completed in November.

A day after General Mills said it would begin $100M in new cost reductions due to slow sales, the company announced the closing of two manufacturing plants in California and Massachusetts, eliminating nearly 600 jobs. General Mills' (GIS) move to consolidate food manufacturing and eliminate unused production capacity comes after the company's Q3 results which included a 5% drop in U.S. retail sales, a 9% drop for cereal, and a 25% plunge in total profit.

Vitamin Shoppe is on the M&A radar with Reuters reporting a group of shareholders are pushing the company to look to sell itself to a private equity firm or larger rival GNC Holdings (GNC). Vitamin Shoppe (VSI) is the latest retailer to be targeted by activist investors, after shares have fallen over 16% so far this year, and Chief Executive Tony Truesdale's plans to retire in June 2015.


Top Ideas
Cinedigm Corp. (CIDM) - new article by Sabra Capital Partners »
HC2 Holdings (HCHC) +11.8% since Sep. 3 Whopper Investments article »
HealthStream (HSTM) -23.5% since Jan. 15 Terry Lally article »

SA PRO subscribers get an early look at Top Ideas and access to the SA PRO research library. Learn about SA PRO »

Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan +1.6% to 16321. Hong Kong +0.6% to 24306. China +0.6% to 2329. India -0.1% to 27090.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.8%. Paris +0.3%. Frankfurt +0.7%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.4%. S&P +0.3%. Nasdaq +0.4%. Crude -0.3% to $92.82. Gold -0.3% to $1223.60.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.63%

Today's economic calendar:
10:00 Atlanta Fed's Business Inflation Expectations
10:00 Leading Indicators

See full real-time earnings coverage »

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