Summary: Stocks posted narrow gains but telecom stocks were weaker after Sprint walked away from its offer to buy T-Mobile; Time Warner tops forecast but slumps on Murdoch exit; Groupon transition slams stock. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street narrowly avoided another down day but buyers were largely absent. Wednesday's gains paled in comparison to the losses suffered the day before. Investors like Mark Eveans of Meritage Portfolio Managment continue to look for bargains. SOUNDBITE: MARK EVEANS, PRESIDENT/CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, MERITAGE PORTFOLIO MANAGMENT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I would say stock market valuations from our perspective are neutral at best, maybe overvalued to some extent based on long-term history. But the truth is that doesn't really drive our investment process. What drives us is finding individual securities that we can bet on that have a significant difference between how we perceive their value and what it ultimately should be in the marketplace." Botched deals - the theme of the day. Sprint is walking away from its $40 a share offer for T-Mobile due to regulatory concerns. As a matter of fact, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler quickly praised the move saying four large wireless service providers is a good thing for the American consumer. But investors had a different take. Sprint shares tumbled to a one-year low; not even the appointment of a new CEO soothed worries about Sprint's ability to fight off the competition. Shares of majority owner Softbank lost 3-1/2 percent in Japanese trade. T-Mobile was down more than eight percent and parent Deutsche Telekom lost nearly three percent in Germany. Like a kingdom defending its turf in its HBO hit "Game of Thrones", Time Warner beat profit forecasts and boosted a stock buyback after beating back an $80 billion offer from Rupert Murdoch and Twenty-First Century Fox. But investors doubt Time Warner's go-it-alone prospects, making the stock the second worst performer in the S&P 500. The worse performer - Walgreen - after deciding it will not take advantage of an international tax loophole. Looking at earnings... Groupon - slashing its full-year profit forecast as it tries to transition from a daily deals website into a bigger retail player. The stock slumped more than 12 percent. Rising sales and profits at Chrysler overlooked by worries some Fiat shareholders may try to block a merger of the two automakers. Shares of Fiat tumbling to its lowest close of the year on the Italian stock exchange. Staying in Europe, another financial swing by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He's ordered a ban on agricultural imports from the West for at a least year. This is in retaliation for sanctions imposed by the West. As for the markets: stocks down in Germany, France and the U.K.