- SNC-Lavalin will today try to rebut, repudiate and invalidate claims that worse is yet to come from investigations into the global engineering
company's actions abroad. The company's Montreal headquarters were raided by RCMP officers in April in the wake of revelations that some $56 million in
payments had been accounted for incorrectly. While a small sum for a company with revenue in the billions of dollars, at least one analyst concludes
that the payments were likely bribes and that the RCMP raid suggests widening involvement by law enforcement and regulators at home and abroad. Indeed,
the former head of construction for SNC has been arrested in Switzerland, where he is being held on accusations of corrupting a public official, fraud
and money laundering tied to his dealings in North Africa. The company's earnings are due out this morning and its annual general meeting is slated to
kick off at 11:00 a.m. ET, when executives including board chairman Gwynn Morgan face tough questions from shareholders including Jarislowsky Fraser
and Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec. Interim CEO Ian Bourne then faces questions from us at 12:50 p.m.
Watch Canadian bank stocks today after they dominated Bloomberg Markets' second annual ranking of the world's strongest banks. No other
country dominated the list like Canada: CIBC was No. 3, TD Bank was fourth, National Bank of Canada came in fifth and Royal Bank of Canada ranked
sixth. For the ranking, Bloomberg considered only banks with at least $100 billion in assets and weighed and combined five criteria, comparing Tier 1
capital with risk-weighted assets, for example. Banks were also ranked by deadlift, shoulder press and back squat, which is where the Canucks really
came out big; 70s big, in fact. Boasting bushier sideburns and old-school tube socks, the Canadian banks were really the only ones who consistently
squatted to depth, firing the posterior chain and getting the big numbers. "Over the longer term, this should actually help to maintain the strength of
the Canadian banking system and its competitiveness," CIBC CEO Gerry McCaughey told Bloomberg after his final lift. He then roared and crushed a block
of chalk in his fist to powder.
It is a key day for Canadian stock investors as some of the most widely-held companies in the countries report earnings. Manulife crushed earnings expectations in the first quarter as profit rose 22 percent on higher insurance sales and improving global equity
markets. BCE, Canada's biggest telecom company, reported adjusted earnings per share of 75 cents, topping the average estimate of 72 cents a
share. BNN is owned by Bell Media, a unit of BCE.
We are also examining earnings from Jean Coutu -- which is fun to say on air, though not as much fun as "Caisse de depot et placement du
Quebec" -- SXC Health Solutions, Great-West Lifeco, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Aimia (the company formerly known as Aeroplan), Canadian Natural Resources
and Eldorado Gold.
Out of the U.S., we have earnings from General Motors, Kraft Foods, Fluor, Viacom and LinkedIn.
U.S. retailers are reporting same-store sales for April as I type. One comment of note comes from The Gap, which reported a bigger-than-expected
decline in same-store sales but raised its forecast for first-quarter profit to as much as 46 cents a share. The average estimate is 40 cents.
A jump in planned layoffs in April in the U.S. compiled by outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas will help us put Friday's U.S.
Meantime, the European Central Bank left its benchmark rate unchanged and we are waiting to hear from ECB jefe Mario Draghi, who begins taking
questions from the media shortly. Expect him to say that the ECB has done all that it can and all that it will do and the onus of fixing the debt
crisis lies with the European governments.
Every morning Managing Editor Marty Cej writes a "chase note" to BNN's
editorial staff listing the stories and events that will be in the spotlight
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