Stocks are making a solid move higher at mid-day as investors
focus on upbeat earnings and sales ahead of the holiday weekend
while keeping a wary eye on unrest in the Middle East, a meeting of
the Group of 20 in Paris and another monetary policy move by China
in an effort to reduce excess liquidity there.
China's central bank boosted its bank reserve-requirement ratio
by half a percentage point. The action marks the second time this
year China has sought to curb inflation in that country by removing
liquidity in the market.
Corporate earnings after the market closed yesterday and before
the bell this morning are providing some lift. Both SunPower (
) and Brocade Communications (
) earnings drove shares in those companies higher. Meanwhile,
Campbell Soup (
) results tugged that company's shares lower.
U.S. markets and the government will be closed Monday for the
President's Day holiday.
In company news:
Shares of Novartis AG (
) are down after the drug maker said today that Rasilamlo, its drug
for high blood pressure, gained a positive opinion from the
Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (
), part of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The drug, which is
marketed in the U.S. as Tekamlo, is a combination pill for
hypertension intended for patients whose blood pressure cannot be
controlled by the single drugs alone, Reuters reported.
Shares of Apple (AAPL) are down after Bloomberg reported that
the US Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are
looking into whether the media subscription service started by the
company violates antitrust laws. Citing two people familiar with
the matter, the reports says the agencies have yet to decide
whether to go forward with a formal investigation.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) has granted Chairman and CEO
Jamie Dimon stock and options worth $17 million, according to news
outlets, citing a late-Thursday SEC filing. The filing said JPM
granted Dimon 251,415 restricted stock units; half vest in January
2013 and the rest the following year. Based on the stock's closing
price Wednesday, the day the units were granted, the award is worth
Novavax (NVAX) posted the final safety and immunogenicity
results from its 2009 H1N1 virus-like particle (VLP) pandemic
influenza vaccine clinical trial in Mexico. According to the
company, the trial had indicated that NVAX's H1N1 VLP vaccine was
well-tolerated and generated strong immunogenicity at all dose
levels. 85% of patients with no pre-existing immunology had shown
protective titers, which indicates that the VLP vaccine will be
important in addressing future influenza pandemics.
IBM is selling its 4.3% stake in Lenovo Group, according to a
term sheet reported by Dow Jones Newswires and other outlets. With
the sale, IBM is exiting its investment in China's biggest personal
Ford Motor Co. (F) announced today that it will form a
joint-venture with Russian auto maker Sollers to distribute cars in
Russia. Both companies disclosed a memorandum of understanding to
create a Russian joint-venture called Ford Sollers. Each will have
equal stakes. It is expected to start operations by the end of
2011. The announcement followed an earlier joint news release from
Sollers and Fiat announcing the cancellation of their potential
partnership. Sollers and Fiat had signed a memorandum of
understanding to produce 5000,000 vehicles in Russia.
Intel (INTC) CEO Paul Otellini will be named to an expert panel
advising President Barack Obama on jobs, Reuters reported. The
President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness already includes
General Electric's (GE) Jeffrey Immelt, who will lead the board.
Other members will be named in the coming weeks.
Shares of ConocoPhillips (COP) are higher as the company begins
work on some of its facilities. The oil major reportedly confirmed
that work has started at the Ponca City refinery in Oklahoma,
Bloomberg reported. Also, the refiner has started to shut a fluid
catalytic cracker for maintenance at its Sweeny refinery in Texas
yesterday afternoon. That work is expected to last until March 3.
ConocoPhillips shares are also benefitting from higher crude prices
as unrest in the Middle East continues.
Micron (MU) is down despite theStreet.com's Jim Cramer saying
late Thursday he is choosing MU as his speculative stock of the
year. He notes the company is deeply levered to Apple because of
its flash business and also has a bottom in its DRAM business,
according to SeekingAlpha.
Cumulus Media (CMLS) confirmed it has entered into an
exclusivity agreement to negotiate a merger agreement with Citadel
Broadcasting, operator of the Citadel Media business, under which
CMLS would acquire all of the outstanding common stock and warrants
of Citadel at a price of $37.00 per share.
In earnings news:
--Yingli Green Energy Hold. Co. Ltd. (YGE) is up nearly 3% at
mid-day. The company posted 2010 Q4 earnings of $0.57, ahead of
Street estimates. Revenue was $616.1 million, well ahead of the
Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate of $546 million.
--Campbell Soup Co. (
) reports Q2 EPS of $0.71 compared to $0.74 a year earlier, in line
with the Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate. Sales of $2.13
billion is down from $2.15 billion a year earlier. The Street was
at $2.15 billion.
--Lincoln Electric (LECO) says Q4 sales were $564.3 million,
above the Thomson Reuters mean for $516.35 million. Adjusted EPS
were $0.90, a dime more than estimates.
--Amerigroup (AGP) says Q4 net income was $1.59 per share, above
the Thomson Reuters mean for $1.12. Sales were $1.502235 billion,
versus forecasts for $1.52 billion.
--Rosetta Stone (RST) says it expects Q4 sales of approximately
$74.2 million and non-GAAP EPS of $0.27. The Thomson Reuters mean
is for sales of $77.24 million and EPS of $0.31.
--SunPower is higher after it reported late Thursday Q4 non-GAAP
EPS of $1.36 on revenue of $937.1 million. The Street view is $1.05
per share on revenue of $931.40 million. Separately, shares got
upgraded this morning to Buy from Hold, with a $22 price target, at
) is higher after beating Q1 expectations late Thursday and
receiving an analyst upgrade this morning. It reported Q1 non-GAAP
EPS of $0.12 compared to $0.10 a year earlier and better than the
Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate for $0.10. Revenue of $546
million is up from $539 million a year earlier. The Street looked
for $543 million. Wunderlich reportedly boosted its rating on the
issue to Buy from Hold and hiked its price target to $8 from $6 per
Commodities are higher. April gold contracts are up $5, or
0.33%, to $1,389 an ounce while March crude oil contacts are up
1.3%, or $1.12, at $87.42 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.41% to
$36.57 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is flat at
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.29% to
$135.43. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.56% to $59.36.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 2.9% to $31.93.