Futures are higher as we move within an hour of the opening bell. The impending climb comes on the heels of healthy gains yesterday. The markets kicked-off the new quarter with the Dow gaining more than .4% of a percent and the NASDAQ gaining nearly 1%. One thing that could drive markets today is the release of June auto sales. Yahoo! Finance Senior Columnist Mike Santoli has more in the video above.
Shares of Zynga (ZNGA) are climbing again this morning on news of a shake-up. The stock has been up 7% in early trading, adding to a 10% climb yesterday. Founder and CEO Mark Pincus says he will pass the baton next week to Don Mattrick. He's the current head of Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox division. Shares of Zynga have dropped 70% since the company went public in December 2011. Just yesterday it was revealed that Zynga has been surpassed by king.com the maker of "Candy Crush Saga" as the top game company on Facebook (FB). Pincus will remain Zynga's chairman and chief product officer.
Bob Iger will remain the big cheese at the mouse house longer than expected. Disney (DIS) has extended Iger's tenure fifteen months, meaning he'll still be CEO and chairman through June 30, 2016. Disney has delivered a total shareholder return of 193% since Iger took the helm in 2005. That compares to 54% for the S&P 500. Don't be surprised however if you see negative ink on the company in the coming days. Insiders say Disney's latest summer movie "The Lone Ranger" is poised to bomb at the box office.
A bidding war may be about to break out for Onyx (ONXX). The biotech pharma company has put itself up for sale following an unsolicited offer from Amgen (AMGN). Now Reuters quotes two sources who say Pfizer (PFE) and Novartis (NVS) are likely to submit offers for the company. Shares of Onyx jumped 51% yesterday to $131. That's an all-time high and well over Amgen's offer which was for $120.
STOCKS TO WATCH
First up is Constellation Brands (STZ) which just reported quarterly earnings at 7:30am. The company missed estimates, posting 38-cents a share when consensus was for 41-cents. Revenue was also slightly short of expectations at $673 million. The company is calling this a transitional quarter because it just completed its acquisition of Grupo Modelo's beer business from Anheuser Busch. Among other things that includes the Corona portfolio of brands. Prior to this morning's slide, shares of Constellation Brands are up 41% year-to-date. They briefly tanked back in February when the company was negotiating the right to sell Modelo brands in the U.S.
Next up is Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN), which has been down 21% in early trading. The FDA has placed the company's experimental hepatitis-C drug on clinical hold because of safety concerns. Testing has shown that when the medication is taken along with a popular HIV drug it can cause an elevation in liver enzymes. Prior to the plunge which began after-hours yesterday, the stock was up 26% over the last year, largely on speculation it could be a takeover target-- something which may be less likely now.
Another big loser this morning is plastics supplier A. Schulman (SHLM), which has been down more than 13%. The company posted adjusted earnings of 50-cents a share when it reported after yesterday's closing bell. Estimates had been for 65-cents. Revenue was also below the consensus. Moreover, the numbers were down significantly from a year ago due to declining sales in Europe. Prior to the drop we're seeing now, shares of A Schulman were up more than 40% over the past year, although they were down 6% in 2013.
Finally there's Nielsen (NLSN), the ratings company, which has been trading as much as 6% higher. Nielsen is going to replace Sprint (S) in the S&P 500 next Monday. That's because now that Sprint is being bought out by Japan's Softbank it will no longer meet the criteria to be included in the index. Prior to the rise we're seeing at this hour, shares of Nielsen have been up about 7% this year.
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