Click here to view email in your browser
 
 
 
 
REFINITIV An LSEG Business
 
 
 
USA EDITION
 
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2021
 

TOP NEWS
• Uber drivers entitled to worker rights, top UK court rules in blow to business model
A group of Uber drivers are entitled to worker rights such as the minimum wage, Britain's Supreme Court ruled in a blow to the ride-hailing service that has ramifications for millions of others in the gig economy.


• Coming bill would allow U.S. news publishers to team up when negotiating with Facebook, Google
Bipartisan members of Congress plan to introduce a bill in coming weeks to make it easier for smaller news organizations to negotiate with Big Tech platforms, said Rep. Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel.

Deere upgrades 2021 earnings outlook on improved equipment demand 
Deere upgraded its fiscal 2021 earnings forecast after profit more than doubled in the first quarter on improved demand for farm and construction machines and a higher adoption rate for its technology offerings.


• As power returns, Texas energy firms slowly emerge from deep freeze
Texas energy firms began to prepare for oil and gas production after days of frozen shutdowns as electric power and water service slowly resumed at darkened oilfields and refineries.

Airlines, renewables companies push Biden to make air travel greener
U.S airlines and renewables companies are lobbying the Biden administration to back a big increase in subsidies for lower-carbon aviation fuel, arguing new incentives are needed to help fight climate change and will also make their recovery from the pandemic much greener, industry trade groups told Reuters.



BEFORE THE BELL
U.S. stock index futures edged higher as investors awaited the monthly U.S. business activity data. European shares mostly rose as data showed euro zone factory activity in February jumped to its highest in three years, while Japan’s Nikkei slipped on profit taking. The dollar slipped after disappointing U.S. jobs data, while gold prices were down. Oil prices dropped on worries that refineries would take more time to resume operations after the big freeze in the U.S. South.


STOCKS TO WATCH
Results

Applied Materials Inc: The chip-gear maker forecast second-quarter revenue above market expectations, as demand for its semiconductor manufacturing tools picked up during a global shortage of semiconductors. The company expects fiscal second-quarter revenue of $5.39 billion, plus or minus $200 million, which would exceed above analysts' expectations of $4.96 billion. The forecast calls for adjusted profits to be $1.44 to $1.56 per share, above estimates of $1.28. On a conference call with investors, Applied Chief Executive Officer Gary Dickerson said the company had pulled together an internal group to target the makers of specialty semiconductors for sectors like the automotive industry. For the fiscal first quarter, Applied's quarterly net sales rose 24% to $5.16 billion, above analysts' average estimate of $4.97 billion. Excluding items, the company earned $1.39 per share in the fiscal first quarter, above Wall Street's estimates of $1.28. 

Deere & Co: The company upgraded its fiscal 2021 earnings forecast after profit more than doubled in the first quarter on improved demand for farm and construction machines and a higher adoption rate for its technology offerings. The company now expects annual net income in the range of $4.6 billion to $5.0 billion, higher than $3.6 billion-$4.0 billion forecast earlier. Earnings for the first quarter came in at $3.87 per share compared with $1.63 per share last year. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv, on average, expected quarterly earnings of $2.14 per share. The company said industry sales of agricultural equipment in the United States and Canada - Deere's biggest combined market - are now expected to grow by 15% to 20% this year, compared with a 5% to 10% growth estimated earlier.

Dropbox Inc: The file hosting service company said it would sublease some of its office spaces as it transitions to a remote working model. "As part of the 'Virtual First' strategy, we will retain a portion of our office space to be used for team collaboration and a portion will be marketed for sublease," Dropbox said. Dropbox posted a bigger loss for the fourth quarter, hit by a one-time impairment charge of nearly $400 million related to its real estate assets. The company's net loss widened to $345.8 million in the quarter, from $6.6 million last year. However, on an adjusted basis, the company earned 28 cents per share, above the average analyst estimate of 24 cents.

Emergent BioSolutions Inc: The company beat fourth-quarter profit expectations, benefiting from manufacturing deals to help produce COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. The company said it has set up a large-scale manufacturing infrastructure, which will help it produce and supply drug substance for the vaccine candidates on time. "We're right online with doing that, timing-wise, as well as capability for both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca," Chief Executive Robert Kramer said on a conference call with analysts. Revenue from the company's contract development and manufacturing (CDMO) unit rose to $199.1 million in the quarter from $25.5 million a year ago. Excluding items, Emergent earned $3.67 per share in the quarter, ahead of the analysts' average estimate of $3.19.

Eni SpA: The Italian energy group fortunes improved in the final quarter of the year on firmer oil prices after "a year like no other" sent full-year profit tumbling. Adjusted net profit in the fourth quarter was 0.66 billion euros, down 88% on the year but beating analyst expectations for a loss of 0.04 billion euros. But for the full year, it reported a loss of 742 million euros compared to a 2.876 billion euro profit in 2019 after what Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi said had been "a year like no other in the history of the energy industry". In the fourth quarter production fell 11% to 1.713 million barrels of oil equivalent per day but the company said full-year production was in line with target.

Grupo Televisa SAB: Mexico's broadcaster reported gains in its fourth quarter net profit, helped by lower sales costs and strong financial income, which offset a decline in revenue. Televisa posted a 52% jump in net profit to 3.7 billion pesos compared with 2.4 billion pesos in the same period in 2019. The company's net sales, however, fell to 27.8 billion pesos, 1.7% lower than in the year-earlier period. The company's financial income for the quarter rose by more than 4.7 billion pesos to reach 6.5 billion pesos, according to a statement filed with the Mexican stock exchange. Sales costs also fell 9.4% in the quarter compared to a year earlier, the company said.

Magna International Inc: The Canadian auto parts maker reported a 67% jump in fourth-quarter profit and forecast full-year revenue above analysts' estimates, driven by a rebound in vehicle sales from pandemic lows. The company expects full-year revenue of $40 billion to $41.6 billion, above analysts' average estimate of $38.41 billion. Net income attributable to Magna rose to $2.45 per share in the quarter, from $1.43 per share, a year earlier. Total sales rose to $10.57 billion from $9.40 billion.

NatWest Group PLC: The bank said it would wind down its Irish arm Ulster Bank, as Chief Executive Alison Rose continues to slash away at the state-owned lender's underperforming parts after it swung to a loss in 2020. The bank will exit Ireland following a strategic review, plans to sell 4 billion euros worth of loans to Allied Irish Banks, and discuss selling some assets to mortgage lender Permanent TSB, NatWest said. Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the banking landscape would be poorer as a result of NatWest's decision. NatWest reported a pre-tax loss of 351 million pounds for the year, better than an average of analyst forecasts of a 418 million pound loss as bad loans came in below expectations. Despite posting a loss, NatWest announced it would pay a dividend of 3 pence per share, after the Bank of England gave lenders the green light to resume investor payouts.

Roku Inc: The video-streaming device maker reported quarterly revenue above market expectations, thanks to an influx of cord-cutting subscribers dropping their cable packages for streaming services. Roku added 14.3 million active accounts in the year, bringing total active accounts to 51.2 million. Total net revenue rose 58% to $649.9 million in the fourth quarter, beating analysts' average estimate of $617.25 million. Excluding items, Roku posted a surprise profit of 49 cents per share, while analysts expected a 5 cents loss. For the first quarter, the company expects total revenue between $478 million and $493 million, while analysts expect it to be $461.89 million.


Moves
Honda Motor Co: The automaker said its chief executive, Takahiro Hachigo, would step down and be replaced by Toshihiro Mibe, its head of research and development, on April 1. Mibe, 59, who has worked with Hachigo to push through structural reforms, has been president of the R&D unit since 2019, following stints in engine development and the drive-train business after joining the company in 1987. "We would consider using external insight or potential alliances among other actions to make decisions without hesitation," Mibe told a news conference at which he called for Honda's "major transformation at great speed". "He has been looking into the future, a direction that Honda should be taking," Hachigo told the conference, attributing Mibe's expertise in environmental technology and energy and his attentiveness to changes as reasons for the choice. Hachigo will remain on the company board, Honda said.

In Other News
• Alphabet Inc: The company’s Google named Marian Croak, one of its few Black executives, to oversee research on responsible artificial intelligence (AI) after weeks of internal anger over its firing of a prominent Black scientist. Google confirmed Croak will manage 10 teams, including a dozen scientists studying the ethical considerations of automated technologies known as AI. Ethical AI co-lead Timnit Gebru said in December that Google abruptly fired her for contesting company orders. Croak, a vice president of engineering who will report to Google AI chief Jeff Dean, told employees in a meeting that she respected Gebru and that what happened to her was unfortunate.

• Alphabet Inc Facebook Inc: Bipartisan members of Congress plan to introduce a bill in coming weeks to make it easier for smaller news organizations to negotiate with Big Tech platforms, said Rep. Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel. Buck, who was named the ranking member this month, told Reuters on Thursday the panel would bring out a series of antitrust bills and the first one in the coming weeks would allow smaller news organizations to negotiate collectively with Facebook and Alphabet's Google. Buck said the expected legislation would be similar to a 2019 bill co-sponsored by panel chair Rep. David Cicilline which would have allowed small publishers to band together to negotiate with big gatekeepers like Facebook and Google without facing antitrust scrutiny. 

• Alphabet IncFacebook Inc Twitter Inc: The chief executives of Twitter, Facebook  and Alphabet will testify before a U.S. House panel on March 25 on "misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms." A pair of House Energy and Commerce subcommittees will hold a fully remote joint hearing including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai as Congress considers whether to make changes in legal protections for social media companies. "Whether it be falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine or debunked claims of election fraud, these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone and Representatives Mike Doyle and Jan Schakowsky, the chairs of the two subcommittees, in a joint statement.

Alphabet IncAmazon.com Inc & Facebook Inc: A group representing Amazon.com, Facebook and Alphabet joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others in filing suit to challenge Maryland's first-in-the nation new digital advertising tax. The Chamber, the largest U.S. business group; the Internet Association, which represents dozens of tech companies; the Computer & Communications Industry Association; and NetChoice filed suit in U.S. District Court in Maryland seeking an injunction to block the new tax adopted last week by the state legislature over the veto of Republican Governor Larry Hogan. The suit calls the law "a punitive assault on digital, but not print, advertising. It is illegal in myriad ways and should be declared unlawful and enjoined." Maryland State Senate President Bill Ferguson said in a statement it was "disappointing to see these companies spend millions on high-powered attorneys instead of paying their fair share."

• American Airlines Group IncSouthwest Airlines Co United Airlines Holdings Inc: U.S airlines and renewables companies are lobbying the Biden administration to back a big increase in subsidies for lower-carbon aviation fuel, arguing new incentives are needed to help fight climate change and will also make their recovery from the pandemic much greener, industry trade groups told Reuters. The push reflects the hefty price that U.S. taxpayers may be asked to pay as President Joe Biden seeks to follow through on his plan to both decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2050 and to help battered industries recover from the economic meltdown. Airlines for America (A4A), which represents U.S. airline companies, including United, American Airlines and Southwest, said it has also been in contact with the Biden administration's climate change officials to discuss expanding the sustainable aviation fuel market.

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP: Inter Pipeline said it has launched a review of options, including a possible 'corporate transaction', just a week after it rejected an unsolicited bid from its largest shareholder Brookfield Infrastructure Partners. Brookfield had offered C$16.50 per share for Inter and said it was willing to raise it to as much as C$18.25 if the pipeline operator gave it access to due diligence. While Inter on Thursday did not give any detail on the type of corporate transaction it might consider, it said it continues to look for partner for its C$4 billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex in Alberta province. Separately, Inter posted a 68% jump in fourth-quarter profit, helped by higher volumes and capital fees at its oil sands transportation business. Excluding items, it earned 24 Canadian cents, above expectations of 19 Canadian cents.

Celanese Corp: The Chemicals maker said it is declaring force majeure on deliveries in the Americas and Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA), citing impacts from severe weather conditions in Texas. Celanese said its decision follows unplanned shutdowns and similar notices by its own suppliers and service providers in the Texas Gulf Coast. The chemicals company said sustained below freezing temperatures at the company's and its partners' plants have made Celanese unable to get natural gas, electricity, industrial gas, and other raw materials it needs to operate the facilities.

Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd: The Indian drugmaker said it has begun the process of filing for emergency use authorization of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine in India. If approved, Sputnik V, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya institute and marketed abroad by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), will have the highest efficacy of vaccines currently cleared for emergency use in India. The drugmaker said it would present the safety profile of a mid-stage study and interim data from a late-stage trial, which is expected to be completed by Feb. 21, to the Drugs Controller General of India.

Facebook Inc: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to press ahead with laws to force Facebook to pay news outlets for content, saying he had received support from world leaders after the social media giant blacked out all media. Morrison, who blasted Facebook on its own platform for "unfriending" Australia, said the leaders of Britain, Canada, France and India had shown support. "There is a lot of world interest in what Australia is doing," Morrison told reporters in Sydney. "That is why I invite ... Facebook to constructively engage because they know that what Australia will do here is likely to be followed by many other Western jurisdictions." Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said late on Thursday his country would adopt the Australian approach as it crafts its own legislation in coming months. Separately, Facebook’s WhatsApp said it will go ahead with its controversial privacy policy update but will allow users to read it at "their own pace" and will also display a banner providing additional information.

FirstEnergy Corp: Activist investor Carl Icahn is looking to buy a stake in FirstEnergy, the energy distributor said in a regulatory filing. He intends to acquire a stake worth between $184 million and $920 million, the Ohio-based company said, citing a letter from Icahn dated Feb. 16. The power utility said it does not know if the billionaire investor or his affiliates have already bought shares or derivatives of the company. Icahn Capital did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Ford Motor Co: The automaker is recalling 153,000 older trucks that may have had obsolete Takata air bag modules installed in collision and theft repairs after the Takata recall was completed, the automaker said. The company identified 144,340 U.S. 2004-06 Ford Ranger trucks and about 8,800 in Canada that could have obsolete Takata parts. Ford said it could not locate 45 inflators that could have been installed and was recalling all of the vehicles "at the request of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration" (NHTSA). Ford also said it was separately recalling a group of 1,100 vehicles from the 2004-2011 model years that may also have had obsolete Takata service parts.

Harmony Gold Mining Company Ltd: The South African miner flagged a rise in interim earnings of as much as 219%, driven by higher gold prices, greater output and foreign exchange gains. Headline earnings per share for the six months ended December 2020 are expected to come within a range of 761 cents to 795 cents, or between 205% and 219%, a surge from 249 cents in the corresponding period a year ago. The company said it also recorded a gain on bargain purchase of between 1 billion rand and 1.2 billion rand on its acquisition of Mponeng - the world's deepest mine - and related operations from AngloGold Ashanti. Half-year net profit is likely to be between 5.7 billion rand and 5.9 billion rand, Harmony Gold said, with the company's interim results due on Feb. 23.


• HSBC Holdings Plc: A British judge blocked the release of internal HSBC documents relating to U.S. fraud allegations against Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou. Meng is facing charges of bank fraud in the United States for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei's business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to violate U.S. sanctions. The judge's written judgment declined Meng's application and ordered her team to pay legal costs of 80,000 pounds. An HSBC spokeswoman said: "This application for disclosure in the UK was without merit and we are pleased that the High Court agreed with our position."

KKR & Co Inc: Chinese community grocery shopping app Xingsheng Youxuan has raised about $2 billion in a new funding round that values the company at $6 billion prior to the fresh capital injection, three people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Private equity firms KKR, FountainVest Partners and Primavera Capital Group are among investors in this round, two sources said. Internet and gaming giant Tencent Holdings, which is an early backer of Xingsheng Youxuan, also invested in this round, one of them said. The fundraising, signed just before the Lunar New Year, was led by Sequoia Capital China. 

Loral Space & Communications Inc: Quebec's provincial government has signed a preliminary agreement to invest C$400 million in Telesat's low earth orbit (LEO) telecommunications satellite network, the parties said. Telesat is owned by Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications, but it plans to merge Telesat Canada with Loral to become a public entity on the Nasdaq this summer. Under a memorandum of understanding, Quebec's investment "will consist of C$200 million in preferred equity as well as a C$200 million loan," the parties said. The deal is expected to be finalized "in coming months," they added. Telesat said Canada's space technology company MDA would manufacture phased array antennas for those satellites, but did not give a value for the contract.

Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc: U.S. property insurers are bracing for claims for damage from collapsing roofs, bursting pipes and lost business as Texas takes stock of its losses from a winter storm that has crippled its electrical grid. Insurers' losses could stretch into billions of dollars, said Moody's analyst Jasper Cooper. Insurers in Texas, the second-largest property insurance market among U.S. states, are used to grappling with historic storms, such as Hurricane Harvey in 2017. But this winter storm is unique because of its grip across the state. It crippled the electric grid and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power for four days. Commercial property claims are starting to trickle in at insurance broker Marsh, said Lori Freedman, Central Texas Claim Advisory Leader in Austin.

Mosaic Co & Nutrien Ltd: Global sales of potash fertilizer look to hit record highs this year, helped by a spike in crop prices, but cautious North American producers are keeping a lid on supplies. Canada's Nutrien and U.S.-based Mosaic have benefited as crop prices climbed to multi-year highs, helped by strong Chinese demand. "We believe there is a cyclical recovery in agriculture underway," Nutrien Chief Executive Chuck Magro said on a conference call. Global potash demand this year looks to reach a record-high 68 million to 70 million tonnes, Nutrien, the world's largest producer by capacity, said. Still, Mosaic has no plans to restart its idled Colonsay, Saskatchewan mine, CEO Joc O'Rourke said.

Pfizer Inc: President Joe Biden heads to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to visit the Pfizer’s manufacturing plant that is churning out COVID-19 vaccines, as state and local governments across the country clamor for more. Biden is due to tour Pfizer's largest manufacturing site and its only facility in the United States making the COVID-19 vaccine at a time when less than 15% of the U.S. population is vaccinated. The United States has rolled out ambitious vaccination programs in recent weeks that include large sites capable of putting shots into thousands of arms daily, as well as hospitals and pharmacies. But officials are begging for more doses. Pfizer is under contract to supply the United States with 300 million doses of the two-dose vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech SE


Uber Technologies Inc: A group of Uber drivers are entitled to worker rights such as the minimum wage, Britain's Supreme Court ruled in a blow to the ride-hailing service that has ramifications for millions of others in the gig economy. In a case led by two former Uber drivers, a London employment tribunal ruled in 2016 that they were due entitlements that also included paid holidays and rest breaks. "The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses Uber's appeal," judge George Leggatt said. "The legislation is intended to give certain protections to vulnerable individuals who have little or no say over their pay and working conditions." "We respect the Court's decision which focused on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016," said the company's Northern and Eastern Europe boss Jamie Heywood.


ANALYSIS
Robinhood CEO's U.S. lawmaker grilling spotlights broker's hidden risks
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev told a congressional hearing that his decision to curb buying in some stocks such as GameStop during a period of extreme volatility was unavoidable, but industry experts said it only underscored the risks the popular trading app was willing to accept to expand its market share.



ANALYSTS' RECOMMENDATION
Roku Inc: JPMorgan raises target price to $525 from $475, following the company's higher-than-expected revenue in the fourth quarter and robust revenue forecast for the coming quarter.

Walmart Inc:  Raymond James cuts target price to $155 from $165, citing the company's lower near-term EPS estimates due to its higher wage investments. 

Waste Management Inc: JPMorgan raises target price to $119 from $117, stating the company's volume growth and higher EBITDA estimates for 2021. 

Wix.Com Ltd: Oppenheimer raises price target to $340 from $300, citing the company's continued e-commerce strength and higher revenue estimates.



ECONOMIC EVENTS (All timings in U.S. Eastern Time)
0945 Markit Composite Flash PMI for Feb: Prior 58.7
0945 Markit Manufacturing PMI Flash for Feb: Expected 58.5; Prior 59.2
0945 Markit Services PMI Flash for Feb: Expected 57.6; Prior 58.3
1000 Existing home sales for Jan: Expected 6.61 mln; Prior 6.76 mln
1000 Existing home sales percentage change for Jan: Expected -1.5%; Prior 0.7%



COMPANIES REPORTING RESULTS
No major S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report.


CORPORATE EVENTS (All timings in U.S. Eastern Time)
0830 TripAdvisor Inc: Q4 earnings conference call
0830 MSA Safety Inc: Q4 earnings conference call
0900 DTE Energy Co: Q4 earnings conference call
0900 Aptargroup Inc: Q4 earnings conference call
0900 Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc: Q4 earnings conference call
0900 ITT Inc: Q4 earnings conference call
1000 Deere & Co: Q1 earnings conference call
1000 Ameren Corp: Q4 earnings conference call
1000 VICI Properties Inc: Q4 earnings conference call
1100 Host Hotels & Resorts Inc: Q4 earnings conference call
1100 Copart Inc: Q2 earnings conference call
1300 Alliant Energy Corp: Q4 earnings conference call



EX-DIVIDENDS
Assurant Inc: Amount $0.66
Atmos Energy Corp: Amount $0.62
CNA Financial Corp: Amount $0.38
CNA Financial Corp: Amount $0.75
Equifax Inc: Amount $0.39           
KKR & Co Inc: Amount $0.13
Louisiana-Pacific Corp: Amount $0.16
Phillips 66: Amount $0.90
Primerica Inc: Amount $0.47
Timken Co: Amount $0.29
United Parcel Service Inc: Amount $1.02



(All analysts' estimates are according to I/B/E/S Refinitiv data.)


PICTURE OF THE DAY

 

Children play in the snow during a snow storm in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the Manhattan borough of New York City, February 18. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
 
 
 
 
 
© 2021 Refinitiv. All rights reserved.
Refinitiv
3‌‌ Times Square, New York, NY 10036

Please visit: Refinitiv for more information.

privacy statement | update email preferences | unsubscribe

This email was sent to renato.l.capelj@gmail.com

This e-mail is for the sole use of the intended recipient and contains information that may be privileged and/or confidential. If you are not an intended recipient, please notify the sender by return e-mail and delete this e-mail and any attachments. Certain required legal entity disclosures can be accessed on our website.  
 
REFINITIV™