Attempting to extend yesterday's
trek into the black
, U.S. stock futures are trading slightly higher ahead of the bell,
riding the optimistic-yet-cautious tone out of the euro zone. There
is mounting hope that Greek officials will soon be able to secure
multi-agency bailout funds
and strike a deal to avoid
a disorderly default
. Back home, Wall Street seemed little moved by Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke's meeting with
the Senate Budget Committee
yesterday, as his tenor was anything but upbeat. Bernanke
reiterated sentiment from last week's testimony to the
House Budget Committee
, and warned that the federal deficit "will become unsustainable
within 15 or 20 years at the most." With no major economic reports
on the agenda for today, traders will wade through another round of
corporate earnings reports while awaiting any new developments out
of Europe. Against this backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
(DJIA) and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) are looking to continue their
new multi-year highs
Thanks to increased attendance and spending at its theme parks,
as well as higher fees paid to its ESPN cable network, Walt Disney
Company (DIS - 40.98) posted a fiscal first-quarter profit of $1.46
billion, or 80 cents per share, up 12% from a year-ago profit of
$1.3 billion, or 68 cents per share. Meanwhile, revenue inched up
0.6% to $10.78 billion. The results were mixed, as DIS' bottom line
edged past analysts' expectations for 71 cents per share, while its
revenue failed to meet the Street's view of $11.18 billion. At last
check, DIS is headed for a fractional slide out of the gate.
Meanwhile, Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG - 19.12) said
its fourth-quarter profit plummeted 79% to $127 million, or 24
cents per share, from last year's profit of $619 million, or $1.24
per share. On an adjusted basis, HIG's earnings dropped to 69 cents
from $1.06 per share. Revenue slipped 4.9% to $5.64 billion.
Results for the insurance and financial firm were mixed, as Wall
Street was looking for per-share earnings of 59 cents on $5.76
billion in sales. In pre-market trading, HIG is up roughly 1%.
Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD - 70.19) banked a fourth-quarter profit
of $13.6 million, or 73 cents per share, up 34% from $10.2 million,
or 55 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Meanwhile, revenue
rose by 34.5% to $220.5 million, as same-store sales increased
8.9%. The results surpassed analysts' expectations for a profit of
67 cents per share on revenue of $210.5 million. BWLD is readying
for a 15% surge to open the day.
Early this morning, Sprint Nextel (S - 2.45) said it swallowed a
fourth-quarter loss of $1.3 billion, or 43 cents per share -- wider
than its year-ago deficit of $929 million, or 31 cents per share.
Revenue for the quarter increased 5.1% to $8.72 billion, but the
company's bottom line was impacted by asset impairments and
severance charges. Analysts were looking for a slimmer loss of 37
cents per share on just $8.69 billion in revenue. Sprint gained 1.6
million new customers during the quarter, with iPhone users making
up a healthy proportion of the converts. The stock is up 4% in
Finally, CVS Caremark (CVS - 43.08) unveiled fourth-quarter
earnings of $1.06 billion, or 81 cents per share, up 3.7% from
$1.03 billion, or 75 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.
Excluding items, per-share profit rose to 89 cents from 79 cents.
Revenue increased 15% to $28.3 billion. The Rhode Island-based
company's results were mixed, as Wall Street was expecting earnings
of 89 cents per share on $28.12 billion in revenue. Looking ahead,
CVS projected an adjusted current-quarter profit of 61 cents to 63
cents per share, while analysts are anticipating earnings of 61
cents per share. The pharmacy healthcare provider also upped its
forecast for full-year adjusted earnings to a range of $3.18 to
$3.28 per share, from its previous guidance for $3.15 to $3.25 per
share. Analysts, on average, are looking for a full-year profit of
$3.25 per share. CVS is poised to start trading with a 2.2%
Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Cisco
), Visa (
), Whole Foods Market (
), Groupon (
), Level 3 Communications (
), hhgregg (HGG), Moody's (MCO), Ralph Lauren (RL), Time Warner
Inc. (TWX), Akamai Technologies (AKAM), News Corp. (NWSA), and
Prudential Financial (PRU). Keep your browser at
for more news as it breaks.
The regularly scheduled crude inventories report will hit the
Street today, while Thursday features weekly data on jobless
claims, along with the government's wholesale inventories report.
Finally, Friday wraps up with the December trade balance, January's
Treasury budget, and the most recent Thomson Reuters/University of
Michigan consumer sentiment index. Furthermore, Bernanke will once
again step up to the podium, with the central banker slated to
speak at the NAHB International Builders Show.
Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange
(CBOE) saw 1,406,477 call contracts traded on Tuesday, compared to
798,440 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio
arrived at 0.57, while the 21-day moving average was 0.59.
Stocks in Asia ended firmly higher, following suit with Wall
Street's positive finish on Tuesday. Negotiations between Greek
leaders are slated to continue today, and hopes are high that the
country will approve the necessary austerity measures to secure
another tranche of aid from bailout officials. In equity news,
Toyota Motor provided a halo lift for its fellow auto stocks after
hiking its full-year profit guidance, while rumors of a possible
tie-up among Panasonic, Fujitsu, and Renesas Electronics propelled
chip makers higher. By the close, China's Shanghai Composite
rallied 2.4% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.5%, while Japan's
Nikkei and South Korea's Kospi tacked on 1.1% apiece.
Bulls have also taken the reins in Europe, with banks among the
top gainers. Traders are pricing in some optimism over a potential
resolution to the Greek debt standoff, and sentiment was also
lifted by upbeat earnings from Commerzbank's Polish unit. At last
look, the German DAX is up 0.8% and the French CAC 40 has climbed
0.5%, while London's FTSE 100 is modestly higher.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback is trading modestly lower this morning, with the
U.S. dollar index down fractionally at last look. Elsewhere, crude
futures have moved higher, with the front-month contract up 87
cents, or 0.9%. Meanwhile, gold futures are
hovering just below breakeven
, with the malleable metal last seen 70 cents, or 0.04%, lower at
$1,747.70 an ounce.
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