“Health insurers are privately warning brokers that premiums for many individuals and small businesses could increase sharply next year because of the health-care overhaul law, with the nation’s biggest firm projecting that rates could more than double for some consumers buying their own plans.
The projections, made in sessions with brokers and agents, provide some of the most concrete evidence yet of how much insurance companies might increase prices when major provisions of the law kick in next year—a subject of rigorous debate.
The projected increases are at odds with what the Obama Administration says consumers should be expecting overall in terms of cost. The Department of Health and Human Services says that the law will “make health-care coverage more affordable and accessible,” pointing to a 2009 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office that says average individual premiums, on an apples-to-apples basis, would be lower.
The gulf between the pricing talk from some insurers and the government projections suggests how complicated the law’s effects will be. Carriers will be filing proposed prices with regulators over the next few months.
Part of the murkiness stems from the role of government subsidies. Federal subsidies under the health law will help lower-income consumers defray costs, but they are generally not included in insurers’ premium projections. Many consumers will be getting more generous plans because of new requirements in the law. The effects of the law will vary widely, and insurers and other analysts agree that some consumers and small businesses will likely see premiums go down….”Comments »
“BP Plc (BP/) will buy back $8 billion of shares from investors after completing the sale of 50 percent of Russian oil producer TNK-BP.
BP’s first buyback since 2008 will return the original amount invested in the venture 10 years ago, the London-based company said in a statement today. The sum is twice as much as Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary signaled last year would be enough to offset earnings per share lost from selling the stake in Russia’s third-largest producer.
The deal to sell out of TNK-BP gives Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley a fresh start in Russia after a fractious 10- year partnership with a group of billionaires. BP shares have slumped since the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the company faces fines after a trial in New Orleans.
“This shows confidence for BP,” said Iain Reid, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in London. “It makes them more shareholder-friendly, but I don’t think they’ll recover their luster until the Macondo trial is over.”
BP rose as much as 2.8 percent and traded at 461 pence as of 8:01 a.m. in London.
After selling its TNK-BP stake to OAO Rosneft (ROSN), BP will become the second-biggest investor in Russia’s largest oil company with a 19.8 percent shareholding. Following the buyback, which will take eight to 12 months to complete, BP will retain $4.5 billion in cash from the deal….”Comments »
“(Reuters) – Google Inc’s Chrome and Android operating systems will remain separate products but could have more overlap, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said, a week after the two came under a single boss.
Google last week said Andy Rubin, the architect of Android – the world’s top-selling mobile operating system – was moving to a still-undefined role while Sundar Pichai, in charge of its Chrome web browser and applications like Google Drive and Gmail, was taking on Rubin’s responsibilities.
Schmidt, Google’s chief executive from 2001 to 2011, is becoming more outspoken on issues involving technology and world affairs, and was in India as part of a multi-country Asian tour to promote Internet access.
After the Indian capital, he is visiting Myanmar, which is seen as the last virgin territory for businesses in Asia.
In January he went to North Korea, saying it was a personal trip to talk about a free and open Internet….”Comments »
“Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), the world’s biggest personal-computer maker, authorized a 10 percent increase in its quarterly dividend, which the company expects to declare in May.
The current dividend, payable on April 3, will remain at 13.2 cents a share, the Palo Alto California-based company said today in a statement. Hewlett-Packard last raised its dividend in 2012, also by 10 percent.
The payout increase comes a day after Chairman Ray Lane and two other board members were re-elected in slim majorities in a referendum that demonstrates growing dismay over the company’s performance and acquisition of Autonomy Corp….”Comments »
“DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling nearly 34,000 Buicks and Cadillacs in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere to fix a problem with the automatic transmissions.
The recall affects Buick LaCrosse full-size cars and Cadillac SRX crossover SUVs from the 2013 model year.
The company says a software problem can cause transmissions to unexpectedly shift into sport mode. That can override any slowing effect from the transmission, increasing the risk of a crash….”Comments »
Suntech said Wednesday that a group of eight Chinese banks filed a petition for insolvency and restructuring of its main operating subsidiary in China in the Wuxi Municipal Intermediate People’s Court in Jiangsu province.
Wuxi Suntech told the court it wouldn’t file an objection to the petition, Suntech said, adding that the court will decide whether to accept the petition in the next few days. If the petition is approved, Suntech will continue to produce solar products to meet customer orders, Suntech added….”Comments »
“JPMorgan Chase has reached a $546 million settlement with the trustee liquidating the failed broker-dealer unit of MF Global, a court filing showed, an amount that will help repay the brokerage’s customers.
As part of a settlement reached with James Giddens, the trustee who is tasked with liquidating MF Global Inc, JPMorgan will pay $100 million that will be made available for distribution to former MF Global customers.
JPMorgan will also return more than $29 million of the brokerage’s funds held by the bank, while releasing claims on$417 million that was previously returned to Giddens.
“The settlement agreement resolves claims by the trustee and customer representatives against JPMorgan that would otherwise result in years of costly litigation between the parties with an uncertain outcome,” Giddens said in the filing….”Comments »
If the details about this deal are true, it could be a game-changer for the enterprise cloud market.
That’s because Amazon Web Services will help the CIA build a “private cloud” filled with technologies like big data, reports Konkel, citing unnamed sources.
The CIA is pretty closed-lipped about its business, as spies are apt to be. This is no exception. It won’t confirm the deal or comment on it, so details are sketchy. But the contract is expected to be for a “private” cloud, which is not what AWS is known for.
AWS is the largest “public” cloud provider. In general, the term “private cloud” means using cloud computing technologies in a company’s own data center. Public clouds are in hosted facilities, where the hardware is shared with many users. Sharing the hardware saves money.
Amazon hasn’t been very interested private clouds. Years ago, it even argued against them. If companies want private clouds based on Amazon’s tech, they often go to startups like Eucalyptus Systems….”
“John Riccitiello was ousted as chief executive officer of video-game maker Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), a casualty of shrinking sales as the industry gears up for new consoles no one is sure shoppers want.
Chairman Larry Probst, 63, who ran Electronic Arts until 2007, becomes executive chairman and will lead management as the board seeks a new CEO, according to a statement yesterday. The Redwood City, California-based company, the second-largest U.S. game publisher, rose as much as 7.9 percent after saying Riccitiello, 53, will leave at the end of this month.
“He lasted a pretty long time given that the company hasn’t really performed that well,” said Edward Woo, an analyst at Ascendiant Capital Markets in Irvine, California. “The fact that their stock is up on the news goes to show investors weren’t that big a fan.”
Sales have fallen in three of the past four quarters Bloomberg data show, and the company said yesterday that fourth- quarter results will miss its previous forecast, which had already beenlowered in January….”Comments »
“Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA) agreed to buy 175 Boeing Co. (BA) 737 jets worth $15.6 billion at list price to offer discount flights in markets vacated by full-service rivals and said it may opt to add 200 more by the end of the year.
Ryanair will initially take the existing 737-800 version of the single-aisle aircraft, and is evaluating the re-engined Max model for the follow-on requirement, Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier said today in a statement.
Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary last placed a major order in 2005 and has been contemplating a new deal for more than three years with deliveries from Boeing having ended in December. The carrier got a heavy discount on the last purchase and the new accord has similar terms, he said in an interview.
“We needed this order to fill the gaps left by the likes of Iberia in Spain and SAS in Scandinavia as the network airlines concentrate on long-haul and feeder services,” the CEO said by telephone. “We could be looking at 100 or 200 more when we decide on the Max, depending on how much the market opens up.”
Ryanair rose as much as 1.9 percent and was trading 1.7 percent higher at 5.90 euros as of 10:15 a.m. in Dublin, where the company is based. The stock has advanced 25 percent in 2013.
“As expected, Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP) failed to make a required $541 million bond repayment scheduled for last Friday. The company claimed last week to have reached forbearance agreements with about 60% of its foreign bondholders, who agreed to give the struggling solar panel maker an additional two months to either pay or renegotiate.
The failure to make Friday’s payment is a default and a bankruptcy filing is a distinct possibility. Bondholders who did not agree to any forbearance are reported to be demanding that the trustee file an involuntary bankruptcy notice. If such a filing should occur, the bankruptcy could be either a Chapter 7 liquidation or a Chapter 11 reorganization. …”Comments »
“MasterCard Inc. (MA), which is under pressure from France to cut card payment fees, said European consumers are increasingly using credit and debit cards for purchases, dismissing the region’s sovereign debt crisis.
“Our business in Europe has been growing really well,” Ann Cairns, president of international markets at the company, said in an interview in Dubai. “The sovereign debt issue isn’t affectingconsumer confidence in the way that it might.”
The Purchase, New York-based company said it’s benefiting from strong consumer spending in the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Germany and Eastern Europe. At the same time, consumers are also turning away from cash in favor of plastic.
Mastercard is expanding even as Europe’s crisis enters unprecedented territory after the region’s finance ministers agreed March 16 to a tax on Cypriot bank deposits. Officials unveiled a 10 billion-euro ($13 billion) rescue plan for the country, the fifth since the debt crisis broke out in 2009.
Gross dollar volume in Europe, or the value of transactions processed by MasterCard, climbed 9.3 percent to $1.1 trillion on a local currency basis last year, according to the company’s annual statement. Mastercard expects an 11 percent to 14 percent net revenue compound annual growth rate this year, Cairns said, without giving more detail on its expectations for Europe.
Europe’s 17-nation economy will follow last year’s 0.6 percent contraction by shrinking 0.3 percent in 2013, the first back-to-back decline since the euro’s debut in 1999, according to forecasts from the European Commission.
“Our business isn’t just credit cards,” said Cairns, who manages all markets and customer-related activities outside the U.S. “We’re consumer payments and despite sovereign debt, consumer payments continue to grow in the economy.”
Global consumer expenditure is increasing 5 percent to 6 percent, “so there is a natural growth curve,” she said. “Only 15 percent of the world’s consumer payments are electronic, 85 percent are still cash and paper so there’s a big circle which is growing outwards.”
Mastercard net income beat analyst expectations in the fourth quarter, rising 18 percent to $605 million. The company was rated new “Hold” at BNP Paribas Equity Research by equity analyst Arvind Ramnani today. The 12-month target price is $560.00 per share. Shares closed down 1.5 percent at $519.37 on March 15 in New York. They have gained 5.7 percent this year….”Comments »
“Airbus SAS won an order from Indonesia’s PT Lion Mentari Airlines for 234 planes worth $24 billion at list price, giving the European planemaker entry into a market that competitor Boeing Co. (BA) has long dominated.
The order, announced at a ceremony this morning at the French presidential palace in Paris, includes current-generation A320s as well as planes from the newer A320neo series. Customers typically buy planes at discounts.
The Indonesian carrier needs more aircraft as it adds flights in a region where air travel is expected to grow more than 6.4 percent annually through 2031. Lion Air, which flies to more than 36 destinations within Indonesia and overseas, is establishing a low-cost carrier in Malaysia to challenge AirAsia Bhd. (AIRA), Airbus’s biggest A320 customer.
“We’ve always wanted to be a big player in Indonesia, a country of 17,000 islands and 240 million people,” John Leahy, chief salesman of Airbus, said in a telephone interview as the order was announced. “Boeing’s been dominant there for a long time and I think it’s important that in using planes like the A320neo we’re able to break into that market.”
The Asian airline had already signed a record order with Boeing for 230 additional 737s in February last year. That deal was worth $22.4 billion at list prices. The purchase, which also included 150 options, was Boeing’s biggest in dollar value and plane numbers at the time.
“STMicroelectronics NV (STM) and Ericsson AB (ERICB) agreed to split up their unprofitable ST-Ericsson chip venture after failing to find a buyer for the business, cutting about 1,600 jobs as they divide the assets.
Ericsson said today it plans to assume about 1,800 of the venture’s 4,350 employees and contractors in countries including Sweden and Germany, and will continue developing ST-Ericsson’s modem technology. STMicroelectronics will take on the venture’s existing products and 950 employees, mainly in France and in Italy, and incur costs of as much as $450 million.
STMicroelectronics and Ericsson are winding down the 50-50 partnership, which designs chips used in mobile phones, after a three-month search for a buyer failed to produce results. The partnership has accumulated $2.7 billion in net losses since it started in 2009 as it struggled to introduce higher-powered chipsets and platforms while the low-end handset business at customer Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) shrank.
“In 2009 the situation was different, we started with a great base of European customers,” STMicroelectronics Chief Executive Officer Carlo Bozotti said on a conference call. “Unfortunately this customer base has changed.”
Ericsson fell 1.4 percent to 84.25 kronor at 10:30 a.m. in Stockholm. It had advanced 31 percent this year before today. STMicroelectronics, which had gained 9.6 percent this year, climbed 3 percent to 6.06 euros in Paris. The stock lost 4.4 percent on March 12 after Bloomberg reported that ST-Ericsson failed to find a buyer….”Comments »