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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Google Earnings Leak Sends Stocks Plunging; EU Leaders Summit; Death at Athens General Strike; Future of Europe; European Markets Up; Dollar Rising; Newsweek Going Digital Only; Digital Delivery; Google Slips

Aired October 18, 2012 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Google shares are suspended after they plunge 10 percent. Surprisingly bad results leaked early.

I'm Max Foster, this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Tonight, Google shares are suspended from trade after an earnings leak sent them into free fall. Google's quarterly results weren't expected until after the closing bell on Wall Street. When investors got their hands on the figures, they didn't like what they saw. You can see here how quickly the shares plunged, falling as much as 10.5 percent at one point.

Google is laying the blame for the leak on RR Donnelley. That's the financial printer, which it says filed its draft earning statement without authorization. RR Donnelley is also being punished on the trading floor. Its shares are more than 2 percent down. We asked RR Donnelley for an interview. They so far have declined to comment.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange. I guess we shouldn't be too distracted about the leak because the main story here is these terrible results.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. It really is, with Google missing on profit and revenue. But the focus really is, at this point, on a little of both, especially the shocker of how earnings were released early and how the stock has traded -- has stopped trading, rather, on the NASDAQ. And when it did stop trading, Google shares were down 9 percent or $68, sitting at $687 a share.

And Google had requested that trading be stopped while they work to finalize the document, and Google is saying that once they finalize the document that they'll go ahead and release their earnings and resume trading on the NASDAQ.

And they're also going to be holding their earnings call as normal, that earnings call expected to happen in about two and a half hours. That would be after the closing bell.

Now, the NASDAQ itself is taking a big hit because of Google shares. NASDAQ is down about a little over 1 percent right now. You have to remember, Google is the third-heaviest weighted share on the index, following Apple and Microsoft. Google is weighted, Max, at about 5.5 percent. Max?

FOSTER: OK, Alison, thank you very much. Well, John Coffee is the director of the Center for Corporate Governance at Columbia Law School. He's been on the legal advisory board for both the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange. He joins us on the line from New York. Thank you for joining us.

You just want to explore how these results may have been released early. It seems like a disaster, considering the results, but how does that sort of thing happen? How does it work?

JOHN COFFEE, COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL (via telephone): Well, I think everyone is very embarrassed, but it appears to be inadvertent. In other words, Donnelley was instructed to e-mail or electronically transfer this result to the SEC for public display, and they did it prematurely.

Now, the SEC essentially enforces anti-fraud rules, and really, this can't violate the law. You are effectively telling the truth prematurely. And that caused noisy, volatile trading. Traders didn't get the opportunity to react overnight and evaluate this information. And it therefore created this very spiky pattern.

But that is the truth that you're getting. It is not a falsehood and, therefore, I don't think there is any legal violation here.

FOSTER: If Google are saying the -- results were released without authorization, is -- and they've got a contract with Donnelley, is there no legal recourse for them in that sense if these -- because the fall is particularly dramatic because it was such a surprise.

COFFEE: They might have a contractual claim, but I doubt that contract says that Donnelley is strictly liable for losses caused to third parties, i.e. investors, because of this premature release. Google itself was going to experience some decline when this information reached the market tomorrow morning, so it's not really damaged that was avoidable.

What happened in the short term was that some investors were surprised, and you may have had a spikier reaction than you would have had normally.

FOSTER: OK, John Coffee, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from Columbia. CNN Money's Paul LaMonica is in New York for us. What have you managed to ascertain from these results, and what's gone so wrong for Google?

PAUL LAMONICA, CNNMONEY.COM: It really is astonishing. Google shares not that long ago hitting an all-time high, a lot of people excited about just how dominant they are globally in search as well as their Android operating system, which has emerged as a viable competitor to Apple.

I think really what it appears has happened here is that the global slowdown in the economy, it does actually impact these hot internet advertising companies, and I think people are going to be worried about Facebook and Yahoo as a result of this, as well.

FOSTER: The amount they're getting for a click is down, I think by around 15 percent. That's quite a dramatic fall, isn't it? But do you think that's a reflection of the global economy, or the fact that Google isn't doing its job as well?

LAMONICA: I think it might be a little bit of both. I do think, though, that it may have more to do with some of the macro concerns right now. We're obviously waiting for Google to give us more color, because they haven't had their conference call yet, and we don't even have any commentary from the company in this earnings report as of yet.

People are joking about how the SEC document was so incomplete that one of the lines in it before they got to the numbers was "pending Larry quote," referring to CEO Larry Page. So, we really all are waiting for Google to explain just why the results were as bad as they were.

FOSTER: Paul LaMonica in New York, thank you very much, indeed. We'll come back to you when we get the results of that conference call. It's going to be listened into quite widely, now, I think.

After the break, we'll bring you up-to-date on the EU summit, meanwhile. Plus, anger over austerity in Greece. Police and protesters scuffle as another strike grips the country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: The EU summit in Brussels has begun, and tonight it's not so much what's on the agenda as what's been left off. Leaders including Angela Merkel arrived in Brussels a few hours ago.

German chancellor and French president Francois Hollande held a brief one-on-one meeting before the main talks began. The two are at odds on several issues. There's word tonight from the French side that they agreed on the need for a tight, clear timeframe on the proposed banking union.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): We will talk about banking control. The details have been worked on by the finance ministries. But we will stress again that we have to work very fast and thorough. Secondly, tighter economic political coordination will be discussed, especially in the eurozone. Thirdly, we will discuss fiscal cooperation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Meanwhile in Greece, one person has died at a protest in Athens as tens of thousands of people go on a general strike. Diana Magnay has been in the Greek capital watching things unfold. Diana?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Max. Well, that person's death, we've heard a bit more about it. It was a 65-year-old member of the PAME Communist Union, who apparently fainted during the march to the square earlier today. It is a very hot day. He later died in hospital.

But the unions say very clearly that it was not a result of violence at today's demonstration. But there was, as is generally the case at these strikes, some violence. Let's just take a look at what happened earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CROWDS SHOUTING)

MAGNAY (voice-over): And so it starts. Rocks, bottles hurled at police, the usual suspects amongst the crowd.

MAGNAY (on camera): These are the guys who don't really like us filming, all come prepared with their gas masks and their helmets, like we have.

(CROWDS SHOUTING)

MAGNAY (voice-over): Because up close, you need them. It's the photographers who are right on the front lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, when you're read.

MAGNAY (on camera): Always follows a similar sort of pattern, and it always seems to happen outside of the hotel where all the journalists are. Up in the street in front of the Parliament, the smell of teargas is thick in the air. The police fire stun grenades, these huge, loud bangs. The protesters throwing rocks, anything, really, they can get their hands on at the moment --

(EXPLOSION)

(MAN SHOUTING IN GREEK)

MAGNAY (voice-over): "When at night your brother commits suicide, then you'll remember me!" this man yells at police. He means the unemployment that has led to so many suicides in this country. Angry that the police protect politicians who've let this happen.

MAGNAY (on camera): I haven't seen this before, and I've covered a lot of these demonstrations, but you just get a very dramatic push from one of the side streets, and the protesters just march at police without a care in the world. Well, that's certainly how it looks, stretching out toward the Parliament.

(GUNFIRE)

MAGNAY (voice-over): But they're pushed back, wiping teargas from their eyes. At the odd arrest, the crowds disperse. But like the teargas hanging in the air, the anger stays.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MAGNAY: Anger, Max, not just at the police, at the politicians, at the bureaucrats in Brussels, but at an economic policy which the people here say not only hurts them, but doesn't work. And if you look at the numbers, you can see why. Unemployment here is 25 percent. Youth unemployment 55 percent. The economy is in its fifth year of recession.

And the mood on the street was reflected by an admission by the IMF in their latest world economic outlook when they said that they had underestimated the impact of cost-cutting of all of these costs savings, budget cuts, on recession in countries like Greece and Spain. So, in a way, some official validation for the sentiment on the street, here, Max.

FOSTER: Diana in Athens, thank you very much.

Well, Bob Parker says there will soon be a political shift against austerity. He's the senior advisor at Credit Suisse, and I asked him if it was pressure on politicians at the Brussels summit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB PARKER, SENIOR ADVISOR, CREDIT SUISSE: I think you have to actually ask the question, what are they expected to deliver? I do think that on the fiscal pact, one has to emphasize that very good progress has been made by Italy in dealing with its budget deficit, and its primary budget is now in significant surplus.

In the case of Spain, obviously the recession is very severe and, I think, inevitably under the rules of the fiscal pact, I think some leeway will have to be given to Spain to actually delay the budget deficit targets because if the existing budget deficit targets are imposed too robustly on Spain, the risk is, they get into a debt trap, and the recession gets worse.

I think in the case of Greece, there is a high probability that actually they will be given another year to address their budget deficit targets.

And I think the theme, actually, coming out of the summit, and this is what I think does concern a number of investors, is do we have too much austerity, and what's the growth agenda? Where are we going to see growth over the next 12 months in the eurozone?

FOSTER: As an economist, you're quite rational about this, dare I say?

PARKER: Right.

FOSTER: Politicians have got different agendas when they're going in. They've got their own parliaments to worry about. This tension between France and Germany, how concerned are you that that's going to block any progress?

PARKER: Well, I think there are a number of points of tension. I wouldn't actually say it's necessarily just between Germany and France, I would actually say it's between Northern Europe, which essentially are the creditor countries, and Southern Europe, which are the debtor countries.

And one point of major contention is the issue of banking supervision and banking union. I do think that that will probably be delayed for some years. I would be very surprised if there is a real decision on centralizing banking supervision. I think a number of countries do not want to have their banks supervised by the European Central Bank, and Germany certainly is in that camp.

I think the second question is obviously pan-Europe, eurozone, bank insurance. Should the creditor countries, such as Germany, provide a fund to provide bank insurance for banks that might fail in the debtor countries? And there, I think there is extreme reluctance at this stage to actually go ahead with that plan.

So, if there are expectations that there's going to be a banking union pact, I can -- I would be very confident that those expectations would be disappointed.

FOSTER: And finally, on the Spanish bailout, everyone seems to be assuming right now that it's going to happen.

PARKER: Well, certainly the markets are assuming that.

FOSTER: And what's the model of a bailout without admitting a bailout that would keep the markets happy? If politicians don't want to come out and say we're bailing them out, is there an alternative model you'd be satisfied with?

PARKER: Well, we can play with words, here, but the deal from the European Central Bank, under its OMT program, is that Spain would basically go to the ECB and to the bailout fund, the ESM, and ask -- subject to various conditions, and we don't know what those conditions would be -- for the ECB and the ESM to come in and buy Spanish bonds.

So, you could actually, if you want to play the semantics, say this is not a bailout, all the ECB are doing is buying the --

FOSTER: But the funds are there.

PARKER: But the funds are there, and Mr. Draghi's been very clear. The funds are there without limit, in principle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, what's the impact of austerity on Europe as a whole, and is it the only way out of recession. Tonight on "Connect the World," we'll hear from all sides on this issue. That's at 9:00 in London, 10:00 in Berlin, midnight in Abu Dhabi, here on CNN.

Here in London, Barclay's shares fell 1.5 percent this Thursday. The bank says it has set aside an extra $1.3 billion to cover compensation claims over missold loan insurance. That brings its total provision to $3.2 billion. Barclay's says it's received more claims than it had expected.

Most of Europe's main stock indices rose for a fourth straight session this Thursday as commodity shares rallied. Zurich's SMI snapped its winning streak, pulled lower by falling luxury-centered stocks. Nokia shares closed 1 percent higher, they gained more than 8 percent earlier in the session as the company revealed it had lost less money in the third quarter than expected.

Now, China has been a hot topic on the campaign trail in the United States, in particular whether the superpower is keeping its currency at artificially low levels. Barack Obama has stopped short of labeling China a currency manipulator, something Mitt Romney says he would do on his first day in office if he was elected.

The yuan is also now -- also known as the renminbi, and tonight's Currency Conundrum is this: why does the currency have two names? A, one is in Mandarin, the other Cantonese? B, "renminbi" is the currency's official name, "yuan" is a unit of it? And C, one is for external trade, the other internal? We'll have the answer for you later in the program.

The dollar is rising against the -- most of the major currencies. It's strongest against the euro, despite favorable demand at a Spanish bond sale today. The US currency is almost unchanged against the pound and the yen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK0

FOSTER: A reminder of the main story we're following for you this hour. Tonight, Google shares are suspended from trade after an earnings leak sent them into free fall. Google's quarterly results weren't expected until after the closing bell on Wall Street.

When investors got their hands on the figures, they didn't like what they saw. You can see here how quickly the shares plunged, falling as much as 10.5 percent, actually, at one point. Maggie Lake is investigating what happened and will join us at half past the hour.

Now, stop the presses. The iconic magazine "Newsweek" is going out of print. We can read all about it in our mockup magazine, here. Isn't this clever? John Sanders the result -- the producer of this.

The final paper-and-ink issue of the 79-year-old publication will come out on the 31st of December this year. After that -- the magazine will live in computers, tablets, and e-readers through digital subscriptions only.

The online version will have a single global edition. Some of its contents will appear on a sister publication, the dailybeast.com. "Newsweek" says it's reached a tipping point at which digital has become the best, most efficient way of reaching its readers.

Now, the figures don't necessarily back that up. Here are the subscription numbers for the last 12 months, 1.2 million print copies, just over 26,000 digital subscriptions.

The editor, Tina Brown, says the decision to drop the print issue isn't about the quality of "Newsweek's" brand or its journalism. She says it's all about the challenges facing the economics of print and publishing and distribution.

The "Financial Times" is one of the first papers to introduce a subscription pay wall for its online content. A lot of work goes into making those pink pages, and earlier this year, we found out exactly how they do it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN DICKSON, DEPUTY EDITOR, "FINANCIAL TIMES": This morning's output, I thought we did well on the UK economic story.

CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, MARKETS EDITOR, "FINANCIAL TIMES": We're starting the year first 300 up 0.1 percent, numbering 24 percent higher.

LIONEL BARBER, EDITOR, "FINANCIAL TIMES": The first key meeting of the day is the morning news conference, where set the editorial priorities, what are the top stories?

ADAMS: I know this is why, is Richard Mill will be asking where the Spanish and the Kenyan banks now spent their last losses --

BARBER: You're dealing with a very international group of journalists who are acute and sensitive to what is going around in all corners of the world. And the other special thing is that they're making decisions not just for the print newspaper, but in real time for FT.com.

ROBERT SHIRMSLEY, MANAGING EDITOR, FT.COM: We're gearing up, ready for the sentencing of Charles Taylor, who we're waiting for the verdict from the Hague. He'd be the first world leader to be found guilty of war crimes if he is found guilty.

Well, there's a couple of people who are dedicated solely to getting our content onto the website as fast as we can, improving it, embellishing it, and also running our live blogs, updating the stories throughout the day.

JOHN AGLIONBY, SENIOR NEWS EDITOR, FT.COM: What we've prepared in advance is the bottom part of the story, which is providing the background and comment from people. We've got two different versions of the top part ready, so in case he's acquitted or in case he's convicted, we should be able to have all systems go extremely quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just hit the button on that.

BARBER: Journalists have to have a sense of urgency because they've got to meet deadlines, and then FT.com is the news now. But I make a very clear rule, which I think my colleagues respect, which is it is more important to be right than first.

JOHN RIDDING, CEO, "FINANCIAL TIMES": We've seen a lot of progress with our digital content strategy, really driving FT journalism through the iPads, other tablet devices, mobile, and in particular, the sort of web app, which we launched last year.

Our experience is that people are prepared to pay for quality journalism. We're now approaching 300,000 digital subscribers.

BARBER: The "Financial Times" runs business news stories between 350, 400, maximum 450 words for a news story. So, all our writers have to be able to distill information and put it in context.

When I see good writing, that counts an awful amount. It requires an awful lot of work and crafting. I still get a huge thrill after more than 30 years in journalism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To achieve 100,000 copies -- over 100,000 copies a night in one print size is a phenomenal achievement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Next, Google shares are halted as results leaked early. We'll take a look at what went wrong after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Welcome back. I'm Max Foster, these are the main news headlines this hour.

Google shares have been suspended from trade on the NASDAQ. The company requested the stop after its earnings were accidentally published ahead of schedule. Google's third quarter profits sharply missed expectations, and shares fell as much as 10.5 percent before trading was halted.

A 65-year-old man has died after fainting during protests in the Greek capital. There were scattered clashes in Athens as workers across Greece staged a general strike. Police say around 30,000 people were on the streets, with other protests taking place across the country.

In Norway, a remarkable sight: Colombian government representatives sharing a stage with FARC rebels. The two sides formally opened peace talks today. There's disagreement, though, already. The government is refusing FARC's call for a cease-fire until the talks succeed.

Twitter is blocking its German users from viewing content from a neo- Nazi account. The social networking site says it's censoring the group because it's illegal in Germany. Twitter's new policy allows it to shut down any accounts at the request of local authorities. Twitter users outside Germany can still view the group's postings.

Let's go straight to New York and this fascinating Google story unfolding over there. Maggie, we'll talk about the results, which are awful, in just a moment, but what have you managed to work out about what went wrong with this release?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Google gaffe, Max. Well, it seems that Google has released a statement saying that its financial printer, RR Donnelley, a company that many of us have never heard of -- they used to print phone books, they do a lot of financial prospectives, all those sort of big things during mergers, that maybe you even get in the mail as investors that we tend not to read.

They inadvertently released a draft version of the results. So, we're going to want to make sure all those numbers match up later, but they released this draft version, some of it actually sort of saying "insert quote here."

And clearly, some people noticed it was out, because the stock did start to react. But as soon as Google was made aware of it, they requested that the stock be halted. Of course, you know there are fair disclosure rules, which mean all investors need to get that kind of financial information at the same time, Max. So, big, big mistake on the part of this financial printing company.

FOSTER: Yes, we saw the results plunge, because it was a surprise, but really the story here is the results themselves, a complete surprise.

LAKE: It was a surprise. It was a really big miss on both profits and revenue. And remember, Google is the kind of company with trading at the level it is, that if not priced for perfection, certainly has very high expectations. It's widely held.

Now I want to say there's a reason companies don't release results in the middle of a heated trading day with technology playing the role that it does, because there is some momentum involved. So once we see these numbers, already people are starting to say -- some analysts are saying, you know, it isn't maybe the disaster that the headlines suggest, because if you look at net income, it is down 20 percent.

But clearly it is weaker and there are some questions, really surrounding two things, Max. Some of the weakness seems to be tied to Motorola mobility. You'll remember that Google bought that handset maker for about $12 billion. They bought it for the patents; they got a handset maker with it.

What are they planning to do there? It is a money-losing unit; they've been trying to turn it around. Investors were already wanting more clarity, more guidance on this aspect of the business after this, if that's where the weakness is concentrated. You're going to bet they want some specific details if it's starting to hurt the bottom line that much.

And the other thing is advertising. We've seen a shift from advertising really moving from the PC world onto the mobility -- those mobile platforms and how is that translating? Is that affecting the bottom line? That's another area people likely to drill in on on the call, Max.

FOSTER: In terms of when trading will resume, sources are telling us during regular market hours, you're better versed at this sort of language than me, does that mean it's going to happen today? Or (inaudible)?

(CROSSTALK)

LAKE: That means stand by. I mean, we think that it will happen before the close of trade. They'd probably like to, although we do have this sort of news coming out. They are going to hold their earnings call at the time it was originally scheduled for, which is 4:30 Eastern time.

So it's unclear right now, Max, whether it's going to be able to open. You would think, given about, you know, an hour and a half left of the trading day, they'd want us to get that back open, allow people to execute trades, especially if they were caught hanging when they halted. It gets their sort of feeling of normalcy (ph) back before the call.

But what's interesting, Max, is everyone, if you weren't planning to get on that call before, you certainly are now. We'll want to look to see whether Larry Page is there.

Already people having fun with it in this sort of vacuum while the stock is halted. A parody Twitter set up by @PendingLarry, Larry Page hasn't been seen a lot in public; was not on the last conference call. Some concern swirling about his health actually lately.

So the fake Larry is now talking, saying, "Somehow I'll find a way to blame today's early release on Apple Maps. To be fair, we released earnings yesterday on Google Plus."

So everyone having a little bit of fun as we wait. Clearly, though, Google want to give a full explanation of this and drill down on some of those weaker points, Max.

FOSTER: Has it happened before?

LAKE: Max, this sort of stuff does happen from time to time. The embarrassing thing for -- well, really, for the financial printing company -- by the way, their stock also fell sharply before it was also halted -- but for Google, you know, they're supposed to be the smartest guys in the room, the best of the tech world, that for something to sort of in a draft version get out on the Web, it's embarrassing nonetheless.

So you can imagine, there are going to be some pretty serious conversations about the way this has happened. But, yes, it has happened before. Again, companies don't like it to happen in momentum-driven trade, right in the middle of the day before people have a chance to really sort of get the full picture, look at underneath those headline numbers and get a sense of what's happened with the core business, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Maggie, thank you very much indeed. We'll keep across this as the -- those shares are relisted or they start trading again, at least.

Eurostar says the Eurozone is picking up (inaudible) chief executive tells us recovery is just around the corner.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER (voice-over): Let's go to the answer to today's "Currency Conundrum," why does China's currency have two names? You may have asked it yourself. The answer, though, is B, renminbi is the official name. It means the people's currency. Yuan is the name of a unit of the renminbi, like a dollar. The terms are used interchangeably.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Now Eurostar says the London Olympics were good for morale, but did nothing to boost its bottom line. Passenger numbers rose just 4 percent whilst the Games were on, but revenue fell for the summer as a whole as business travelers steered clear of the city.

Isa Soares spoke to CEO Nicolas Petrovic and asked him whether he was disappointed with those results.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLAS PETROVIC, CEO, EUROSTAR: The Olympics did -- went very well for us. We had a terrific winter. We had very good results and it was (inaudible) fair. We carried a lot of teams from the continent through the French (inaudible) went very well.

What we didn't expect so much was that in July, the tourists didn't come to London because they feel the chaos of the -- of the -- of the transport and the business market also closed down very early in July. And so the July numbers were not so good, I have to say. But overall, it's the third quarter and we were very pleased with the numbers, actually.

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But what those passenger numbers, those business travelers, has that got to do with the economic crisis? Or is that more because of the Olympics and the Paralympics, people wanted to avoid the capital?

PETROVIC: I think it was a lot of the latter. I think the business market, too, there were all these people saying, don't come to London; don't travel in London. Avoid it. That's what the companies did. They all shunned London. So what we've seen since September is that the numbers are coming back.

Actually, there is a big bounce back. And in October, it shows, especially on the business market, actually growing for the first time in a long time.

SOARES: So, in a way, you're seeing a recovery in terms of European crisis. Is that the case?

PETROVIC: What we've seen in the last quarter so far is that there's a real pickup, especially on the business market, which had been very affected by the Eurozone crisis. And it has been going down for a year, stabilizing, but not very good. And then we see since September and October a real picture. That, I think, is due to the fact that the Eurozone crisis seems to have settled down.

It's not resolved, but there is the sense, it's not a sense of crisis any longer. It's more like, oh, it's all going very well. So businesses are coming back and trying to make deals and so the activity seems to pick up a little bit.

SOARES: But you've also invested heavily in the new fleet.

PETROVIC: Yes.

SOARES: Tell us about it, not just the fleet, but also the overhaul. Let's start with the overhaul. How much of that is just a bit of paint?

PETROVIC: Oh, no, it's a big overhaul. So you see the train, which is actually behind me at the moment, (inaudible) to be -- to go to all of them to a workshop, where there are hundreds of (inaudible) going to literally jump on it and dismantle completely the train.

They're going to take off everything, including the paint, starting with that maybe, but also the seat interiors, actually the engines as well. We are going to be completely renewed. So it's a big overhaul. And at the end of that, we'll have a nearly brand new train. And (inaudible) we're having some new trains, completely new trains built in Germany by Siemens (ph) and those will come online in 2014-15.

SOARES: Looking ahead to next year, what do you expect? I mean, you've got the new overhaul, lots of excitement and practically new trains. How are you seeing economic picture going into next year?

PETROVIC: (Inaudible) for us is not to get too down about the economic picture. What we're doing is really seeing new commercial innovation to the market. And that brings new people. And this (inaudible) we've been growing year on year anyway. So next year, I see (inaudible) people growing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: (Inaudible) Eurostar (inaudible) to Isa.

Now from the rails to the runway now with checking in on earnings from Southwest Airlines. The largest low-cost carrier in the U.S. is reporting a return to profit for the third quarter. Earnings came in at $16 million, rebounding from a loss of $140 million a year ago. This despite rising fuel costs and higher operating expenses.

Earlier today, CNN spoke with CEO Gary Kelly, who emphasized the need to keep costs down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY KELLY, CEO, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: (Inaudible) record traffic in the third quarter, even with some of the revenue weakness we saw was really more on the fair side. But the demand is there, if we can keep our costs low and keep our fares low.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: In other earnings news, the nation's sixth largest investment bank, Morgan Stanley, is reporting better than expected earnings of $561 million or 28 cents a share. That's 4 cents a share better than analysts expected. Increased demand for corporate bonds helped boost the bank's revenue, but weak merger and acquisition activities weighed on results.

Let's find out what the weather has in store for you. The Mediterranean, Jenny, the place to be.

JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Definitely, Max. Certainly some of the best weather in Europe right now. We've had that high pressure building (inaudible) the last day or so, and it's going to stay fairly firmly positioned across those central regions.

Well, it does mean is (inaudible) a buffer for all this weather coming in from the west and really just directing it up towards the north. So no real reprieve, I'm afraid, across the west and the northwest still more rain, some of it rather heavy at times.

You can just see the circulation here around the area of low pressure, which is actually so just to the south of Ireland. And of course, that rain continuing across into western Europe, some very heavy amounts of rain coming into western France in the last few hours.

And then Portugal and Spain, you have some good rain in the last 24 hours, 67 millimeters, 47 millimeters, remember just how severe the drought is across much of the Iberian Peninsula. So that should help some way. I can't really say there's a temperature problem with the rain in Ireland, 44 millimeters again in the last few hours there.

So it's going to stay wet, I'm afraid, as well. We're going to still see that area of low pressure across the northwest. And another system is going to bring some very heavy rain into areas of eastern Spain and southern France.

But as I say, still across the central and eastern regions, we've got high pressure in control. So you can see here the temperature trend is actually sort of a bit of a warming trend over the next couple of days, pushing up in particular through much of Germany, even across into Poland, temperatures close to average across the northwest.

But this is what I mean about this high pressure. So there's the high pressure and just steering all of these systems and all of that rain, of course, out towards the west and the north. But this is the heavy rain, the sun coming in, pushing actually through north Africa and across into (inaudible) southern areas, eastern areas of Spain and southern areas of France. Some delays at the airport (inaudible) into Friday.

Could be fairly lengthy; you've got some blustery winds at some areas as well, for example, Barcelona, Marseilles, could have some delays because of that. Temperatures a little bit cooling, London at 14 but still nice and warm in Paris, 22 and 20 Celsius in Berlin because of that area of high pressure.

Now talking about cold and warm, it's certainly cooling off across much of China the last few hours have seen some very, very strong cold fronts sweep across. And this is what it's done. Look at these pictures of the snow.

Now this is obviously the interior and northern areas of China, but of course, causing the usual problems on the road, particularly in that cold air. But when the sun comes out, everybody is really -- seems to be enjoying it, (inaudible) little children which, Max, I don't think we're just about to get to them.

But then (inaudible) there we go. Oh, you just saw that then, little children enjoying the snow. More on the way coming across from the interior, Max.

FOSTER: Jenny, thank you very much indeed. Appreciate that. That is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Thank you for watching. I'm Max Foster in London. MARKETPLACE EUROPE is for you next.

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RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: From Barcelona in Spain, this is MARKETPLACE EUROPE. I'm Richard Quest. Spain is in a terrible economic mess. That much we know. But now regions like this are questioning whether it's worth being part of the whole country.

So on this week's program, independence for Catalonia.

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QUEST (voice-over): Coming up, the taxing question: would breaking ties with Madrid to go it alone benefit businesses in Catalonia?

And back from bankruptcy, the beer from Barcelona that's brewing up to take home the multinationals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that you can perform very well in the -- in the mid of the crisis if you have an idea and if you have a path.

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QUEST: This is the government headquarters here in Catalonia, one of Spain's most prosperous -- and these days most indebted -- regions. The economic crisis in the country has reignited the debate over Catalonia's independence. It's an argument which ultimately could change the way people do business here.

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QUEST (voice-over): A sea of red and yellow, Catalan flags brought the streets of Barcelona to a standstill, people frustrated over what they see as central government bleeding this region dry, outraged that their tax money is being used to prop up poorer parts of Spain.

Opinion polls suggest half of Catalonia's 7.5 million population is in favor of independence.

VICTOR GRIFOLS, CEO, GRIFOLS: The relations between Catalonia and Spain will never be as they were just one month ago. Something changed 11 -- September 11, our national day, when 1,500,000 people went to the streets in Barcelona. This is something. I mean, you cannot ignore. Something happened here.

QUEST (voice-over): It's impossible to ignore such deeply held views. But the boss of this Barcelona-based health care group stops short of seeking full independence.

GRIFOLS: If they ask me for a federal system, to create a federal state or something like this, I will vote yes.

QUEST: Ah.

GRIFOLS: Yes. But I'm not full independence. I mean, independence means make me clear to have a country with our own army, our own diplomatic service, our -- I mean, this I don't see. That's why I would vote no. However, if Catalonia can be converted like California, which is a state, federal state belonging to the U.S., I would vote yes.

QUEST (voice-over): Catalonia represents a fifth of the Spanish economy. It might be the richest region, but it also carries the heaviest debt burden, 42 billion euros. And it's already had to go cap in hand to Madrid for money from the bailout fund. It's seeking 5 billion euros.

Santa and Cole saw its business for urban furniture and lighting disappear when the crisis hit in 2008. It's slowly rebuilding, refocusing on overseas markets, which now accounts for two-thirds of sales. Javier wants change. He doesn't want independence.

JAVIER NIETO SANTA, PRESIDENT, SANTA AND COLE: I don't see any good reason to think that this kind of independence, it will benefit business. This is clear. All these things began with fiscal -- new fiscal agreement between Catalonia and Spain, which is much needed. And this is true.

But independence is a new territory. There is no plans there. You will have a lot of motives to be very set against Madrid and Spain, and Spain, unfortunately.

QUEST (voice-over): Nearby, in a Barcelona back street, this entrepreneur has been in business for just two years. Relief from the crippling burden of taxes would sway her independence vote.

MONTSE MUNOZ, FOUNDER, TUCUXI: Reduce the taxes to the half. If that means independence, I'm independent. I mean, it just -- reduce the taxes. We just can breathe. We can expand. We can go --

QUEST: Are you in favor of independence?

MUNOZ: Only for economical reasons, yes.

QUEST: You believe that Catalonia need to have something to get itself -- to improve its economic situation?

MUNOZ: Yes. If we are able to manage our tax by ourselves, then the region will grow much faster. But if we have to pay for the other regions, then we have been paying for many, many years now, and it doesn't change. It just goes up and up. So it just -- we are a little bit tired.

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QUEST (voice-over): The debt crisis in Spain has exposed deep fault lines in the country's financing of the regions. The Spanish parliament has voted to block Catalonia from holding a referendum on independence. But with regional elections, now being called for next month, this debate is only just beginning.

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QUEST: The next question, are Catalonia's independence and the economic crisis. In just a moment, a taste of the local brew. We visit the beer company here that came back from the dead.

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QUEST: Welcome back to MARKETPLACE EUROPE in Barcelona. With many businesses wondering what lies ahead, this is one company that literally came back from the dead. And what's more, the Moritz Brewery of Barcelona is looking to its past for its future.

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QUEST (voice-over): Rooted in this region since the mid-1800s, the Moritz Brewery oozes its Catalonian heritage. After 120 years of fermenting and bottling, the taps were turned off. The business went bankrupt.

When the doors closed in 1978, Moritz was the second largest beer brand in Catalonia. Now it's fighting back. It was relaunched in 2004. The brew is flowing again in a market saturated by powerful multinational brands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the (inaudible), it's impossible to relaunch a beer brand because beer brands nowadays in Spain and even in Europe are an issue of a great companies and with investments. We are in the depth (ph) of a huge crisis. But I think that there is space, there is room for new companies to -- and the old companies to perform in this atmosphere.

QUEST (voice-over): It's here in the renovated old cellars, in the heart of Barcelona, that Moritz is fermenting its future, a campaign to put the brand firmly on the brewing map.

QUEST: This is your microbrewery, an example here in Barcelona, but of course, it's a much bigger operation, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. This is only a, as we have said, a microbrewery. So we are repositioning in the small scale. We are doing in an industrial scale. So the recipe is the same. The product is the same.

But the way of how we produce it is completely different. And this is just to show to the people how we do that. It's important because all the (inaudible) we done here, we sell it in the -- in the tapas bar every day.

QUEST: If opening a restaurant as big as this in the teeth of the recession was risky, some would say foolish, for Moritz there was little choice. They have to use the brewery, the food and the brand to reinforce each other as the beer from Barcelona.

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QUEST (voice-over): Most of the 10 million liters of beer that Moritz produces each year stays in Catalonia. Exports currently account for only 10 percent of sales. So this tapas bar is one part of the campaign to raise the brand awareness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barcelona, it's a city that there is a lot of tourists coming here every day. And tapas, it's very famous all around the world. And what we are doing here, it's a huge campaign. But without costing any money to us, that this is a trick (ph).

You want to be in this market, you have to do the things differently. As you can imagine, the investment in terms of TV advertisement and (inaudible) campaigns are huge. We are not able to do that.

We are not able nowadays, even less in 2004, to make this kind of investment. But what we can do, it's what we are doing, because it is our communication platform, our menu (ph) platform. We have more than 3,000 visitors every day in our facilities.

QUEST: So you opened a year ago -- oh, dear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

QUEST: Oh, dearie me. Terrible time to open a restaurant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Everybody says me and says to us, you are sure what you are doing? I think that you can perform very well in the -- in the mid of the crisis if you have an idea and if you have a path, if you have a clear positioning. And this is exactly what we have done. And we have showed to the people, to the people of Barcelona and to the people of Catalonia that you can perform (inaudible).

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QUEST: Whatever modern methods they have, you can't beat an old- fashioned bottling machine, lovingly restored. And that's MARKETPLACE EUROPE for this week. I'm Richard Quest in Barcelona. Whatever market you're in, I hope it's profitable. And I'll see you next week.

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