U.S. stocks traded mostly higher today despite a key measure of home builder confidence falling in February. The New York Fed's general business index also showed signs of vulnerability.
Despite the weak economic data which is partially due to weather, the Nasdaq index rose for the eight straight session. The Dow was slowed down by weak earnings report from Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO).
- The Dow lost 0.15 percent, closing at 16,130.40.
- The S&P 500 gained 0.12 percent, closing at 1,840.76.
- The Nasdaq gained 0.68 percent, closing at 4,272.78.
- Gold gained 0.33 percent, trading at $1,322.90 an ounce.
- Oil gained 2.03 percent, trading at $102.16 a barrel.
- Silver gained 2.47 percent, trading at $21.95 an ounce.
News of Note
February Empire State Survey remained in positive territory at +4.5 but below the +8.5 expectation and a previous reading of +12.5.
NAHB Housing Market Index read 46.0, lower than the consensus of 56.0 and a previous reading of 56.0.
Fourth Quarter E-Commerce Retail Sales rose 3.4 percent quarter over quarter to $69.2 billion. The previous reading showed a gain of 3.6 percent.
United Kingdom inflation has fallen below the Bank of England's target of two percent for the first time since November 2009. On a yearly basis, inflation fell to 1.9 percent in January from 2.0 percent in December.
The Bank of Japan has expanded its lending facilities by offering low-interest loans to commercial banks with the hopes that these banks will lend the money to businesses.
Thailand's anti-corruption panel has filed charges against the country's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over rice subsidies. The Prime Minister, if found guilty, faces impeachment.
Equities-Specific News of Note
Analysts at Morgan Stanley maintained an Overweight rating and $49 price target on General Motors (NYSE: GM) with a price target of $49. The analysts noted “GM is highly levered to a cyclical recovery in the North America car market, augmented by an aggressive product revival. The biggest fundamental opportunity for the ‘new GM' is to take risk on the top line (new products and technology) that its predecessor was never able to adequately withstand. The biggest financial opportunity is a delicate balance of capital redeployment (acquisitions and cash return) and defeasance [sic] of the pension fund through improved asset returns and rising discount rates. Additionally, GM shares offer optionality to a US housing recovery, capital redeployment into the Financial Services business and improvement in non-China EM profitability.” Shares gained 1.00 percent, closing at $36.31.
Analysts at Baird maintained an Outperform rating on Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) with a price target raised to $215 from a previous $187. The analysts noted “We believe several upcoming catalysts may drive the stock price higher. We think demand for the Model S will remain strong throughout 2014 in the U.S., Europe, and China. Additionally, Tesla has several significant milestones coming up over the next 18 months including the expansion of production lines, production of the Model X, build out of store fronts and supercharger networks, and continued expansion across Europe and Asia. We believe execution on several of these fronts could drive the stock price higher in the near to intermediate term.” Shares hit new 52 week highs of $206.00 before closing the day at $203.70, up 2.76 percent.
Analysts at Oppenheimer upgraded Lululemon (NASDAQ: LULU) to Outperform from Perform with a price target raised to $63 from a previous $53. The analysts noted that the company is “one of the most controversial stocks in retail, and we believe brand equity remains intact. After self-inflicted 2013, there should be levers to accelerate top- and bottom-line growth, driven by dd sq ft growth, dd growth online, and margin recovery over time. With new management team (CEO Laurent Potdevin in front of Street first time on 3/27, 4/17 Analyst Day; new CPO Tara Poseley), there's a transition story as well. Multiple contracted by 8 points since luon recall, and as comps stabilize with product flow issues rectified, valuation should expand given brand's premium positioning and compelling growth profile.” Shares gained 0.72 percent, closing at $51.42.
Analysts at Raymond James upgraded Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI) to Outperform from Market Perform with a $55 price target. The analysts noted “We are upgrading DRI to Outperform from Market Perform and initiating a 12-month price target of $55. DRI has retraced nearly all of its gain (and is down ~10% YTD) since the first of two current activists emerged in early October (Barrington Capital, over 2% position; Starboard Value filed 5.5% position in late December). More recently, both activists have publicly 1) expressed their concerns regarding management's plan to spin off or sell Red Lobster prior to monetizing its real estate assets, and 2) stated that they may take additional actions if management does not reconsider its plan (Barrington proposed splitting Chairman and CEO roles, Starboard may seek to replace a majority of the company's Board). We believe this increases the probability that a more substantive restructuring event could be announced, which could push the stock back at least toward its recent highs.” Shares gained 1.32 percent, closing at $49.02.
Analysts at Piper Jaffray upgraded Tempur Sealy International (NYSE: TPX) to Overweight from Neutral with a price target raised to $56 from a previous $50. The analysts noted “We are upgrading shares of TPX from Neutral to Overweight and increasing our price target from $50 to $56 based on the following: (1) Tempur International (Int'l) sales (led by Europe) recently turned positive and appear poised to accelerate in 2014; (2) Tempur's new product line refresh appears to be its best launch in several years and should drive sales improvement in 2H; and (3) TPX North America (NA) sales likely to improve once weather conditions become warmer across the U.S. Based on the contribution margin dynamics for both Tempur Int'l and Tempur NA, and our anticipated sales acceleration in each, we are increasing our 2014 and 2015 to $2.81 and $3.50, respectively.” Shares gained 1.52 percent, closing at $48.86.
Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC) has agreed to sell part of its Chinese assets to Brightoil for $1.075 billion. Shares gained 2.35 percent, closing at $83.46.
In a letter to the board of Jos. A. Bank (NASDAQ: JOSB), Eminance Capital accused the retailer's management of undertaking a “desperate” bid to save their own jobs by acquiring Eddie Bauer instead of negotiating with Men's Wearhouse. (NYSE: MW) The hedge fund is threatening to wage a proxy fight to remove the company's CEO and Chairman from position of powers. Shares of Jos. A. Bank lost 1.67 percent, closing at $54.20 while Men's Wearhouse gained 0.77 percent, closing at $44.41.
Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD) and McKesson (NYSE: MCK) expanded an agreement to distribute drugs together. Under the agreement, Rite Aid stores will see more generic drugs. Financial terms were not disclosed. Shares of Rite Aid hit new 52 week highs of $6.35 before closing the day at $6.27, up 5.91 percent. McKesson also hit new 52 week highs of $178.99, before closing the day at $177.53, up 1.10 percent.
General Mills (NYSE: GIS) reaffirmed its guidance for full year fiscal 2014 and expects its EPS to be $2.87 to $2.90. Shares lost 0.42 percent, closing at $49.68.
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Total (NYSE: TOT) said that it plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars on exploration drilling in South Africa. The company already holds a 50 percent share in a permit to explore the southern coast and is in talks with the government to acquire a second permit. Shares lost 0.07 percent, closing at $60.99.
Alcoa (NYSE: AA) said that it will close an aluminum smelter and two mills in Australia because they “are no longer competitive and are not financially sustainable today or into the future.” By doing so, the company said that it expects restricting chargers of $0.22 to $0.25 a share, the majority of which will occur in the first quarter. Shares gained 0.26 percent, closing at $11.40.
According to Bloomberg, China is planning to tighten regulations on direct-selling companies such as Nu Skin (NYSE: NUS) and Herbalife (NYSE: HLF). Despite this news, shares of Nu Skin gained 4.80 percent, closing at $80.09 while Herbalife gained 3.99 percent, closing at $69.04.
Sony (NYSE: SNE) reported that it has sold more than 5.3 million PlayStation 4 consoles in the period ending February 8. Previous forecasts and estimates had the sales number pegged at five million units. Shares gained 1.70 percent, closing at $17.35.
Various news sources reported of a secret meeting held last year between Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk and high ranking executives at Apple. (NASDAQ: AAPL) Little detail is public of what the meeting was about, with some investors speculating of a buyout scenario, or at the very least some sort of collaboration between the two companies. Shares of Tesla hit new 52 week highs of $206.00 before closing the day at $203.70, up 2.76 percent while Apple gained 0.34 percent, closing at $545.86.
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3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) announced that it has printed a “hybrid Exoskeleton suit” in collaboration with Ekso Bionics (NASDAQ: EKSO) which has allowed a woman (Amanda Boxtel) paralyzed from the waist down to walk. Under the collaboration, Ekso provided the suit's mechanical actuators and controls while 3D Systems printed its “more fluid components” and the company's designers “3D scanning to digitize the contours of Amanda's thighs, shins and spine and create a personalized [3D] base to inform the shape of the required assemblies." Boxtel was quoted as saying “After years of dreaming about it, I am deeply grateful and thrilled to be making history by walking tall in the first ever 3D printed Ekso-Suit, made specifically for me. This project represents the triumph of human creativity and technology that converged to restore my authentic functionality in a stunningly beautiful, fashionable and organic design.” Shares of 3D Systems gained 4.29 percent, closing at $77.00 while Ekso gained 5.26 percent, closing at $3.00.
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King Digital Entertainment, the maker of the extremely popular Candy Crush app, has filled for a $500 million IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. Additionally, Spotify is heavily speculated to setting itself up for an IPO in the not too distant future.
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Mondelez International (NASDAQ: MDLZ) said that it expects profits to grow at a double-digit pace as margins come in line with its peers. The company said that "with an unrivaled portfolio of iconic brands, leading share positions in all of our key categories and an advantaged geographic footprint, we have the best set of assets in our industry." The company sees the snacking market as a $1.2 trillion global market. Shares gained 0.21 percent, closing at $34.19.
Winners of Note
Investors woke up to news reports that Actavis (NYSE: ACT) has agreed to acquire Forest Laboratories (NYSE: FRX) for $25 billion in cash and stock . Investors will receive $26.04 in cash and 0.3306 Actavis shares for each share of Forest Laboratories common stock. "With this strategic combination, we create an innovative new model in specialty pharmaceuticals leadership, with size and scale, a balanced offering of strong brands and generics, a focus on strategic, lower-risk drug development, and - most important - the ability to drive sustainable organic growth," said Paul Bisaro, Chairman and CEO of Actavis in a company press release. “Bolstered by one of the deepest and most diversified product portfolios in the industry with an exceptionally strong pipeline, this transaction creates a powerful engine for generating long-term, double-digit revenue and earnings growth.” Bisaro will maintain his CEO title of the new firm and Forest's CEO will join the board of directors. Three board members from Forest will also join the newly formed company in a similar role. Shares of Actavis hit new 52 week highs of $208.75 before closing the day at $201.41, up 4.97 percent. Forest Laboratories was the true winner as shares hit new 52 week highs of $93.50 before closing the day at $91.04, up 27.52 percent.
Prana Biotechnology (NASDAQ: PRAN) reported that its PBT2 treatment for Huntington disease has successfully met its primary endpoints of safety and tolerability in a Phase II study which involved 109 patients. PBT2 statistically improved executive function of only some Huntington's patients who received a 250 mg dose. The drug failed to bring about significant improvements in other secondary efficacy measures such as motor, functional and behavioral assessments. Dr Rudy Tanzi, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Prana's Chief Scientific Advisor, commented that “the observation of significant improvement in executive function with PBT2 in this clinical trial for Huntington disease and the previously reported Alzheimer's trial, suggests a common mechanism for neurodegeneration in these diseases based on metal interactions. In my opinion, these findings significantly elevate the potential for PBT2 as an effective therapy for both Huntington disease and Alzheimer's disease." Shares surged 39.31 percent, closing at $10.10.
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GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQ: GTAT) acquired exclusive rights from Kyma Technologies for its plasma vapor deposition process technology. Kyma's PVD deposits a high-quality layer of aluminum nitride on wafers before gallium nitride deposition. GT plans to market the technology as it will help LED manufacturers by providing a higher throughput and lower cost solution to produce gallium nitride templates. Shares hit new 52 week highs of $12.74 before closing the day at $12.64, up 8.31 percent.
David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital disclosed that it has established a 4.2 million share stake in Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ: TTWO), or about a 3.4 percent stake. Shares hit new 52 week highs of $20.42 before closing the day at $20.40, up 6.75 percent.
Decliners of Note
Dresser-Rand (NYSE: DRC) warned that its 2013 earnings will come in below expectations due to a restructured tariff regime in Spain that will cause it to suspend operations at six plants in the country. The Spanish government published a draft bill which would reduce tariffs by 37 percent retroactive as of July 2013. If passed, the company said it would be required to reduce its operating income by around $25 million due to the tariff reductions and up to $50 million due to asset impairments. Shares hit new 52 week lows of $51.46 before closing the day at $54.10, down 7.84 percent.
This morning, Wolverine World Wide (NYSE: WWW) reported its fourth quarter results. The company announced an EPS of $0.22, beating the consensus estimate of $0.20. Revenue of $740.8 million missed the consensus estimate of $743.93 million. Revenue for the Lifestyle Group division rose 25.9 percent to $265.3 million, helping the company's gross margin rate rising 50 bps to 37.2 percent in the quarter. The company issued guidance and expects its fiscal 2014 EPS to be $1.57 to $1.67, below the consensus estimate of $1.67. The company sees its full year 2014 revenue to be $2.775 billion to $2.85 billion versus the consensus estimate of $2.84 billion. Shares lost 9.17 percent, closing at $25.45.
Earnings of Note
This morning, Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) reported its fourth quarter results. The company announced an EPS of $0.95, missing the consensus estimate of $1.00. Revenue of $6.15 billion missed the consensus estimate of $6.32 billion. Net profit rose 58 percent to $688 million as the company achieved lower costs through synergies created from a 2012 merger with Progress Energy. The company said that its full year fiscal 2014 EPS will be $4.45 to $4.60 versus a consensus of $4.57. Shares gained 0.07 percent, closing at $71.50.
This morning, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) reported its fourth quarter results. The company announced an EPS of $0.46, in-line with the consensus estimate. Revenue of $3.5 billion missed the consensus estimate of $3.58 billion. Global volume rose one percent during the quarter but North American volume fell one percent despite solid growth in its Powerade brand. To make up for soft volume, the company said it could save $1 billion by 2016 through cost saving initiatives, with some of the savings being directed to marketing. For 2014, the company noted that currency fluctuations could account for a seven percent headwind on operating income. The company offered little commentary regarding its recent partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters only stating that they are “excited.” Shares lost 3.75 percent, closing at $37.47.
Quote of the Day
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." –Chinese Proverb
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