Nissan (NSANY) Boss Arrested in Tokyo

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Monday, November 19, 2018

It’s a truncated trading week with Thanksgiving this Thursday. Of course, this means Black Friday – the traditional day of the year when retailers all across the country change the ink in their ledger books from red to black – also happens this week, which is also a half-day for the markets. Which means we’re looking at just three full days of trading, but with lower assumed volume, as this is also one of the biggest travel weeks of the year, and plenty of traders will be away from their desks.

As such, there’s not much expected regarding economic data this week, either. The usual Thursday Initial Jobless Claims report will be moved to Wednesday, and we do see some updated housing information beginning today, with the Home Builders’ Index for November expected after the opening bell this morning. Tomorrow, ahead of the bell, Housing Starts and Building Permits for October will be released.

Ghosn to Ghost?

The biggest news this morning is the strange and unlikely new headline that Nissan NSANY Chairman Carlos Ghosn – the man largely credited with rescuing the Japanese automaking giant (originally marketed in the U.S. under the “Datsun” moniker) nearly 20 years ago – has been taken into custody by authorities upon landing in Tokyo. The Chairman, who is also CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance which was the organization that had saved Nissan from bankruptcy, has been accused of “numerous and significant” acts of business misconduct.

Reportedly, Ghosn misrepresented Nissan’s financial assets to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, as well as additional “misuse of assets,” presumably for personal gain at the expense of the company and its shareholders. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, a 40-year veteran of the car maker, made a public announcement today about the chain of events thus far, including that the company board will move to oust Ghosn this Thursday.

In recent years, Ghosn has bet big on its electric vehicle (EV), the Nissan Leaf, which has faced serious competition from EV market leader Tesla TSLA , among others. The executive has long carried a dominant presence, as well as something of a hero in Japanese culture, so this news item may come as something as a shock. The company had reported lukewarm results for its 6-month period ending September earlier this month. The stock had carried a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) rating prior to this news report.

The board of Renault, however, sees no conflict with keeping Ghosn in charge of the greater alliance. This makes this situation even more confusing. Expect more developments on this issue throughout this week and perhaps beyond.

Mark Vickery

Senior Editor

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