Satan Slayers

These Valley exorcists want to save your soul.

(Photo credit: Times Publications)

By Shanna Hogan
Times Publications

The elderly white-haired woman writhes in a chair, growling and grunting at the two men restraining her by her arms.

Looming over her, three teenage girls clutch ornate silver crosses in their outstretched fists. Eighteen-year-old Brynne Larson steps close to the afflicted figure and presses a Bible against her forehead.

“Who told you to come here?” Brynne hollers. Continue reading

PepsiCo Not as Good as it Looks

24/7 Wall St.

PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) reported fiscal third-quarter results before markets opened this morning. The food and beverage company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.21 on revenues of $16.65 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.25 on revenues of $17.58 billion. Third-quarter results compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.16 and $16.9 billion in revenues.

On a GAAP basis, EPS for the quarter totaled $1.20, including a $0.05 gain on mark-to-market commodity hedges.

The company reaffirmed full-year revenue and EPS guidance. On a constant currency basis the company expects earnings to fall by approximately 5% from last year’s EPS of $4.40. Taking into account the foreign currency translation effect (a negative 3%), the company is looking at EPS of around $4.05 to $4.06. The consensus estimate calls for EPS of $4.06.

Revenue for the full…

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Mortgage Applications Down, Rates Up Slightly

24/7 Wall St.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications this morning, noting a drop of 4.2% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index compared with last week’s decrease of 1.2%. Unadjusted, the composite index fell by 14%.

Applications for refinancing fell 5% (seasonally adjusted), while seasonally adjusted purchase applications increased by 1% from the previous week. Unadjusted, the purchase index fell 9% compared with the previous week and rose 12% compared with the same week a year ago. This week’s results include an adjustment for the Columbus Day holiday.

The refinancing rate fell slightly to 82% of total applications, down 1% from a week ago. About 96% of the applications were seeking fixed-rate loans, consistent with last week’s reading.

The average contract interest rate for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose slightly from 3.56% to 3.57%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage also fell, from…

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U.S. Embassy in Stockholm evacuated after suspicious envelope found

This Just In

[Updated at 8:35 a.m. ET] The all-clear has now been given and staffers have begun to return to the building, CNN affiliate TV4 said.

[Posted at 7:32 a.m. ET] The U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, was evacuated Wednesday after the discovery of a suspicious envelope with white powder inside, Stockholm police said.

Police are moving the envelope to a secure location for examination, Stockholm police spokesman Albin Navery said.

CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne contributed to this report.

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U.S. Bancorp Posts Record Q3 Profit

24/7 Wall St.

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) reported third-quarter 2012 results before markets opened this morning. The Minneapolis-based bank posted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.74 on revenues of $5.18 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.64 on revenues of $4.74 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.74 and $5.14 billion in revenues.

The company’s chairman and CEO said:

Our third quarter earnings included continued strong mortgage banking activity, which contributed to our growth in fee income, residential real estate loans and loans held for sale. Solid new lending activity outside of mortgage also helped to grow our balance sheet, particularly in commercial loans. … during the third quarter we were able to return 67 percent of our earnings to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks — consistent with our goal of returning…

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24/7 Wall St.

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) has reported earnings of $0.00 per share, or $340 million in net income, after items on revenue of $20.43 billion. Thomson Reuters estimates were -$0.07 per share and $21.89 billion in revenue. We would note that there were some previously announced items that took away $0.28 in EPS and also total revenue on a debit valuation adjustment and fair value option basis was listed as $22.529 billion.

The bank still trades at an incredible discount to its book value and that book value rose in the quarter. Tangible book value per share rose to $13.48 versus $13.22 one quarter ago; the stated book value per share was $20.40 versus $20.16 one quarter ago.

Regulatory capital ratios increased in the quarter. Tier 1 common capital ratio under Basel 1 rose to 11.41% and its Tier 1 common capital ratio under Basel 3 on…

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Even tiny tweets can be big data


Datasift, the UK company that has access to the Twitter firehose analyzes a petabyte of tweets and ships terabytes of insights around the world. And the infrastructure needs to keep up. The company has replaced its older networking gear with Arista switches to support its analytics operation, Datasift CEO and founder Nick Halstead said in a conversation with Derrick Harris at our Structure:Europe 2012.

Check out the rest of our Structure Europe 2012 live coverage here, and a video recording of the session follows below.

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Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades (ADT, ADTN, APOL, C, CSCO, DISCA, EQR, INTC, IBM, IP, MAA, MUR, NWSA, PSX, RYL, SON, S, TWX, TOL, DIS)

24/7 Wall St.

These are some of the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations we have seen from Wall St. research calls this Wednesday.

ADT Corp. (NYSE: ADT) started as Outperform with $45 target at Credit Suisse.

ADTRAN Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTN) raised to Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) cut to Neutral at BofA/ML.

Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) raised to Outperform at CLSA and reiterated as Sell at Argus.

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) cut to Hold at Cantor Fitzgerald.

Discovery Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: DISCA) started as Underperform at Credit Suisse.

Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR) raised to Outperform at Raymond James.

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) maintained Outperform with $32 target at Credit Suisse.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) cut to Neutral at Janney Capital and reiterated Neutral at Credit Suisse.

International Paper…

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Lance Armstrong stepping down from Livestrong charity

This Just In

Editor’s note: Controversial American cyclist Lance Armstrong is stepping down as chairman from his Livestrong cancer charity. The announcement comes a week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said it had uncovered overwhelming evidence of Armstrong’s involvement in a sophisticated doping program. For more information read our full story here.

[Updated at 3:01 p.m. ET] Lance Armstrong is about to lose another sponsorship.

The controversial cyclist will lose his contract with Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of Budweiser, at the end of the year.

 “We have decided not to renew our relationship with Lance Armstrong when our current contract expires at the end of 2012,” Paul Chibe, Vice President of U.S. Marketing, Anheuser-Busch said in astatement. “We will continue to support the Livestrong Foundation and its cycling and running events.”

[Updated at 12:18 p.m. ET] Nike will take Lance Armstrong’s name off their Nike campus fitness center in Beaverton, Oregon, spokeswoman Mary Remuzz…

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Houlihan Clocks Fastest Time in ASU History, Men Finish 21st in Wis.

Sun Devil X-Country teams’ biggest race of season: Team answers call @ Wisconsin Adidas Invitational

By Jeremy Hawkes
Assistant Media Relations Director
(Football, T&F/XC, Wrestling, Water Polo, Olympics)

Oct. 12, 2012

MADISON, Wis. – Shelby Houlihan clocked the fastest 6,000-meter cross country race in school history and the Arizona State University men took 21st overall to earn valuable at-large points as the team finished up competition on Friday at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis.

In her first 6k of the season, Houlihan clocked a time of 19:58 for a 13th-place overall finish in a field of 327 to establish herself as having the fastest time ahead of ASU Olympian Amy Hastings at the top of the school’s all-time performance list. Continue reading

ASU X–Country 2 Face Top Teams in Wis.

The Sun Devil harriers will compete against 19 of the top 30 men’s teams and 20 of the top 30 women’s teams on Friday.

Oct. 10, 2012

TEMPE, ARIZ. – The Arizona State University cross country teams will compete both “A” squads at the same competition this weekend as the men and women take part in the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Friday, Oct. 12 in Madison, Wis.  The meet is essentially a preview of the NCAA Championships with 19 of the top 30 men’s teams in competition alongside 20 of the top 30 women’s teams.  For ASU, this weekend marks an opportunity to earn valuable “at-large” points towards a bid at the NCAA Championships as neither the men nor the women are ranked and could do themselves some favors with a strong finish at the Zimmer Championships Course.  The women’s race is slated to begin at Noon CT while the men will follow at 12:40 p.m. Continue reading

#FirstWorldProblems Tweets, as Read by Poverty-Stricken Hatians


Sometimes the grim reality of life in the First World is just so hard that you have to tweet about it.

“I hate when my house is so big that I need two wireless routers,” one brave Twitter user lamented.

The hashtag #FirstWorldProblems is one of the social media service’s most popular memes; up to five tweets per second are sent describing (it must be said, ironically) the trials and tribulations of life in the developed world.

(MORE: No More #RKOI? ‘Rich Kids of Instagram’ a Security Threat for Billionaires’ Families)

For global advertising firm DDB and WATERisLIFE, a nonprofit that aims to bring clean drinking water to impoverished countries, that sounded like a marketing opportunity.

A team from the two companies traveled to Haiti — the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with an average salary of $100 a year — to create an ad campaign in which Haitians respond…

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Americans win Nobel chemistry prize

This Just In

Two American scientists won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work revealing protein receptors on the surface of cells that tell them what is going on in the human body. The achievements have allowed drug makers to develop medication with fewer side effects.

Over four decades of research by Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka on “G-protein-coupled receptors,” have increased understanding of how cells sense chemicals in the bloodstream, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awarded the prize.

“I’m feeling very, very excited,” Lefkowitz said in a predawn phone call from the United States to the committee in Stockholm, Sweden. The announcement caught him by surprise.

“Did I even have any inkling that it was coming?” he said. “I’d have to say no.”

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Media Digest (10/10/2012) Reuters, WSJ, NYT, FT, Bloomberg

24/7 Wall St.

The BAE merger with EADS faces more trouble from nations and shareholders. (Reuters)

The International Monetary Fund points to the eurozone crisis as the most likely cause of a worldwide slowdown. (Reuters)

The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee will continue to probe Huawei and ZTE over suspicious activity. (Reuters)

Steve Ballmer of Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) says his company will become more like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). (Reuters)

The United States sues Wells Fargo Co. (NYSE: WFC) for issuing government-backed mortgages that defaulted in large numbers. (WSJ)

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) wants an exemption from Volcker rules about risky trading. (WSJ)

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) recalls 7.34 million cars worldwide. (WSJ)

Angela Merkel says she believes Greece can right its finances and remain in the eurozone. (WSJ)

The IMF says Spain and France will not hit budget targets…

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IMF Worries About Europe

24/7 Wall St.

Like nearly every other organization, economist and investor, the International Monetary Fund voiced concern about Europe in its new analysis. According to its Global Financial Stability Report:

Risks to global financial stability have increased and financial markets have been volatile as European policymakers grapple with the ongoing crisis.

The organization did not offer much in the way of helpful solutions, but it did frame the problem better than it has been done in the past.

Faltering market confidence has led to capital flight from countries on the ‘periphery’ to the core of the euro area. This has meant higher borrowing costs and a growing wedge between the economic and financial ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

Capital markets investors and bankers have known about these problems for some time, but the IMF has upped the ante with a public statement from a major organization about the extent of the problem and its immediate…

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Yum! Brands and the U.S.-China Earnings Balance

24/7 Wall St.

Based on its latest earnings, Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) did well in the United States and China, its big growth markets. Or, China is a problem because growth has slowed there. The Yum! Brands results provide another example of why Wall St. has such difficulty dissecting how much China, the U.S. or Europe will or will not hurt corporate earnings.

Yum! Brands issues what may be the most unnecessarily complex financial statements of any large company in America. Buried in the data were numbers that showed that U.S. sales were up 1% and China’s up 22%, but margins in China did not improve while operating profit in the region was up 24% to $374 million. Additionally:

China Division system sales increased 22%, prior to foreign currency translation. Same-store sales increased 6%, overlapping strong prior year same-store sales growth of 19%.

Maybe sales are good, or same-store sales are slowing, or…

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Toyota’s 7.43 Million Car Recall — No Harm, No Foul

24/7 Wall St.

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) recalled 7.43 million vehicles worldwide today for what its said were power window switches that could cause fires. Toyota said that there had been none of these fires as far as it knows. Recalls in 2008 that included 5 million cars with floor mat problems and 2.2 million for accelerator problems probably were much worse. Toyota was slow in admitting the previous problems, which prompted Congress to haul CEO Akia Toyoda to Washington to explain the matter. Toyota’s sales prospects and quality reputation were hurt by, among other things, Toyoda’s poor showing.

The new 7.43 million recall could be seen as overly cautious by Toyota. But as it was burned in 2008, the car maker may have learned that it is better to handle potential mechanical problems as quickly as possible. The latest action involves cars and light trucks made between July 2005 and May 2010. Among these are the…

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What’s Important in the Financial World (10/10/2012)

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Ballmer and Microsoft’s Future

Much of the recent discussion about Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has centered around the cut in CEO Steve Ballmer’s bonus, which to some extent was due to ongoing losses in the company’s online operations. A bit less prominent in the news are Ballmer’s comments in the annual report of the world’s largest software company:

There’s a remarkable amount of opportunity ahead for Microsoft in both the next year and the next decade. As we enter this new era, there are several distinct areas of technology that we are focused on driving forward — all of which start to show up in the devices and services launching this year. Leading the industry in these areas over the long term will translate to sustained growth well into the future. These focus areas include:

  • Developing new form factors that have increasingly natural ways to use them including touch, gestures…

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Wall St. Compensation Back in the Spotlight

24/7 Wall St.

The office of New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released its annual report on the state of Wall St. The focus of the report, at least according to the press, was this information:

The average salary (including bonuses) paid to securities industry employees in New York City fell sharply in 2009, but rose by 16 percent in 2010 and by another 0.5 percent in 2011 to reach $362,950. This was a higher average than before the financial crisis and was the highest average among New York City’s major industries. The disparity between the average salary in the securities industry and the rest of New York City’s private sector narrowed slightly but it remains wide at 5.3 times greater than the rest of the private sector ($67,900).

The data will reopen the argument about why investment professionals should be compensated more than teachers, firemen, the police or, for that matter, any…

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Pizza Hut Wants You to Ask the Presidential Candidates about Their Favorite Pizza Toppings


Other than a cameo made by a certainSesame Street character, the first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama was refreshingly light on late-night comedy laugh lines and heavy on wonkish tax policy stances. But beware: the day after the next debate we might just be talking about pizza topping preferences.

That, at least, appears to be the hope of the marketing folks at Pizza Hut. In a Tuesday press release and video ad, the company announced that it’ll give a lifetime’s supply of pizza to any debate attendee willing to do thefollowing:

[Ask] either of the participants the age-old burning question – Sausage or Pepperoni? – during the live telecast town hall format presidential debate on Oct. 16 at Hofstra University.

If you go through with the stunt, as USA Todaynotes, you’ll actually just be getting a $520 Pizza Hut gift card every year for…

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Mortgage Applications Declined Slightly Last Week

24/7 Wall St.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications this morning, noting a drop of 1.2% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index compared with last week’s increase of 16.6%. Applications for refinancing fell 2% (seasonally adjusted), while seasonally adjusted purchase applications increased by 2% from the previous week. Unadjusted, the purchase index rose 3% compared with the previous week and rose 12% compared with the same week a year ago.

The refinancing rate fell slightly from last week’s record highs, but refinancings still accounted for 83% of total applications, flat with a week ago. About 96.1% of the applications were seeking fixed-rate loans.

The average contract interest rate for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose slightly from 3.53% to 3.56%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage also fell, from 3.82% to 3.74%. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage decreased from 2.90%…

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ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Comm. Sept. Newsletter

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ASU Wraps Up Competition @ Grand Canyon Invite

(Oct. 6, 2012)
Walker paces the ASU men with a second-place finish @ the
Estrella Mountain Regional Park on Saturday.

BUCKEYE, Ariz. – The Arizona State University cross country teams competed at the Grand Canyon Invitational in Buckeye, Ariz., on Saturday with the men taking third and the women finishing fourth.

Josh Walker had what may have been the best race of his collegiate career, finishing second overall, covering the 8,000-meter course as Estrella Mountain Regional Park in 24:58.6 and finishing as the top finisher for the Sun Devils. Continue reading

ASU Women’s XC Takes 10th @ Notre Dame Invite

(Sept. 28, 2012)
Sophomore Shelby Houlihan paced the team for the second consecutive race, finishing 13th overall.

By ASU Athletics
Press Release 

2012 Notre Dame Invite Results Get Acrobat Reader

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Arizona State women’s track and field team ran its complete ‘A’ team for the first time this season to the tune of a 10th-place finish at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind.

Sophomore Shelby Houlihan followed up her season-opening victory at the George Kyte Classic with a 13th-place run at the Notre Dame Golf Course on Friday, clocking an impressive time of 16:58 over the 5,000-meter course.

Houlihan was just 13 seconds out of third with the finish and continued her streak of pacing the ASU women at every event she has competed in as a Sun Devil. Continue reading