What's Important in the Financial World (11/20/2012)


Twinkies Hoarders Disappointed

Some Americans hoarded all the Hostess Twinkies they could find once the company announced plans for a liquidation that would destroy 18,000 jobs. Now, the liquidation has been put on hold, and the collectors of Twinkies may find that their prizes are hardly prizes at all. The Bakery Workers union and Hostess have agreed to mediation. That may not solve the problem of a liquidation, but it opens the door to a solution. Alternatively, there are rumors that a private equity buyer may want to take control of Hostess. In the meantime, hoarders who have bought dozens of packages of Twinkies, or hundreds in some cases, will not have a series of collectibles if the worker versus Hostess problem is solved. What might have been rare coins will only be pennies. The owners of the cakes, which are rich in sugar and nothing that is healthy, will be left to eat them, throw them out or find creative alternatives. Among those is to save them a year or two while they harden and then can be used as bricks.

Greece Gets No Satisfaction

After months of wrangling, disagreement and partial compromise, Greece does not have the money it needs to avoid default. The Greek government claims it has gone along with all the austerity requests of the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. The IMF and ECB recently went head to head on how long Greece should have to gain partial control of its finances. Creditors continue to fight as they worry they will be asked to take more write-downs, on top of those they took less than six months ago. Reuters reports:

Euro zone finance ministers are likely to give tentative approval for the next tranche of loans to Greece on Tuesday although the money is unlikely to be disbursed before December and a deal on debt reduction may also require further talks.

Officials familiar with preparations for the finance ministers' meeting expect a "political endorsement in principle" on unfreezing loans to Athens, after Greece completed almost all the reforms that were required of it in exchange for funding.

The final go-ahead from the ministers is likely to come only once the remaining few Greek reforms are in place and once there is agreement in the euro zone on how to reduce the country's huge debt and secure extra financing while it is being done.

Tiger Takes a Piece of Groupon

An SEC filing shows that Tiger Global has taken a 65 million share position (9.9%) in Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN). That certainly will press its shares higher, at least temporarily. Tiger is one of the oldest and most well-known hedge funds in America. Plenty of analysts will believe that Tiger has made a good bet as Groupon shares trade at $3, down from a 52-week high of almost $26. Tiger may have called a bottom because it would take almost no positive news to reverse the sell-off. But the majority opinion will be that Tiger has wasted its money. Groupon has too many competitors, both privately held ones and public companies like Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and bricks-and-mortar giants such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT). Groupon only needs one more bad quarter to press its shares toward $2.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: AMZN, featured, GRPN, WMT