Stock Market Update & Ratings Roundup for Thursday January 25th

Stock Market Update & Ratings Roundup for Thursday January 25th

Market Overview:

Asia: In Asia, China’s markets surged as policy support revived investor confidence. Japan’s Nikkei erased early losses to end flat.

Europe: European shares fell due to investor caution ahead of the expected pause in interest rate hikes from the European Central Bank. The ECB is likely to resist aggressive policy easing despite recession risks and a rapid slowdown in inflation.

U.S.: U.S. main stock indices remained broadly steady as investors paused after a tech-driven rally on Wall Street. Key economic data is being closely watched in anticipation of the upcoming U.S. policy decision. Microsoft’s stock market value crossed the $3 trillion milestone, making it the world’s second most valuable company after Apple.

Canada: Canada’s main stock index has experienced slight gains following the Bank of Canada’s decision to maintain its policy rate and provide no clear indication of potential interest rate cuts. Investors are awaiting further economic data ahead of a U.S. policy decision next week.

Currency and Commodities: The U.S. dollar exhibited weakness as investors awaited GDP and other data to gauge the future direction of U.S. interest rates. Gold prices rose, and oil prices advanced following data showing a more significant than expected decline in U.S. crude stockpiles.

Corporate News:

Tesla: Tesla’s stock tumbled after CEO Elon Musk warned of slower growth in 2024. Musk mentioned that despite price cuts, sales growth would decelerate at the world’s most valuable automaker.

European Central Bank: The European Central Bank is expected to keep interest rates unchanged at a record high and may push back against investor bets for aggressive policy easing this spring. This decision comes despite recession risks and a rapid slowdown in inflation.

U.S. Economy: The U.S. economy likely grew at its slowest pace in 1.5 years in the fourth quarter. Factors contributing to this include reduced inventory investment by businesses and a slight cooling of consumer spending. However, the growth rate appears sufficient to stave off a recession in 2023.

Microsoft: Microsoft’s stock market value surpassed $3 trillion for the first time, solidifying its position as the world’s second most valuable company.

Maersk: Explosions near Yemen forced two ships operated by Maersk’s U.S. subsidiary, carrying U.S. military supplies, to turn around in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, accompanied by the U.S. Navy.

Givaudan: Swiss fragrance and flavor maker Givaudan reported 2023 core earnings in line with market expectations, citing strong performance in its fragrances business despite a challenging environment.

IAG and Air Europa: EU antitrust regulators expressed concerns about British Airways owner IAG’s bid to buy out Air Europa, stating that it may reduce competition on domestic, short-haul, and long-haul routes, leading to the opening of a full-scale probe into the €400 million deal.

American Airlines: American Airlines forecasted 2024 profit largely above Wall Street expectations, benefiting from strong demand for international travel.

Comcast: Comcast’s quarterly revenue surpassed Wall Street estimates, driven by growth in its streaming and theme parks businesses, offsetting broadband declines.

Boeing: The FAA’s halt to Boeing MAX production expansion is expected to impact airlines and suppliers globally after a panel on an Alaska Airlines Boeing jet experienced a blowout.

Humana: Health insurer Humana warned that its 2025 profit forecast is no longer achievable due to increased medical care costs among older adults, leading to a sharply lower outlook for this year.

Alaska Air Group: Alaska Air Group expects a $150 million profit hit in 2024 due to the more-than-two-week-long grounding of 737 MAX 9 aircraft. It cast doubt on its capacity growth target for the year.

Specific Company Reports:

American Airlines: American Airlines reported lower Q4/23 profit but forecasted 2024 profit above estimates, driven by strong demand for international travel.

Ameriprise Financial: Ameriprise Financial reported a rise in Q4/23 adjusted profit, benefiting from higher fees and assets under management.

Blackstone: Blackstone reported a 4% rise in Q4/23 distributable earnings, with net profit from asset sales increasing 16%.

Comcast: Comcast’s quarterly revenue topped Wall Street estimates, driven by growth in streaming and theme parks businesses.

Crown Castle: Crown Castle beat Wall Street estimates for annual site rental revenue, supported by steady demand for its communications infrastructure.

CSX Corp: CSX Corp reported a 13% drop in Q4/23 profit, impacted by lower revenues from fuel surcharge, intermodal storage, and trucking.

Dow Inc: Dow Inc reported a 10.4% drop in Q4/23 sales as destocking trends persisted amid lower demand for its products across key markets.

IBM: IBM forecasted full-year revenue growth above market estimates, banking on stable demand for its IT software and consultancy services.

Lam Research: Lam Research forecasted Q3/24 revenue above analysts’ estimates, supported by chipmakers’ orders for manufacturing equipment amid rebounding demand.

Nokia Oyj: Nokia expects a demand recovery in the second half of the year after weak sales of 5G equipment, offset by cost control measures.

Northrop Grumman: Northrop Grumman swung to a loss in Q4/23 due to a $1.17 billion charge related to the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation B-21 stealth bomber.

Raymond James Financial: Raymond James Financial reported a rise in Q1/24 adjusted profit, driven by strong performance in its capital markets and asset management businesses.

ServiceNow: ServiceNow raised its annual subscription revenue forecast, expecting to attract new clients for its generative artificial intelligence (AI) products.

Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines expects to take fewer deliveries of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft in 2024 and excluded the MAX 7 model from its fleet plans.

STMicroelectronics: STMicroelectronics forecasted a more than 15% drop in Q1/24 revenue, citing softer automotive demand and declining orders from the industrial sector.

Tesla: Tesla expects to start production of its next-generation electric vehicle at its Texas factory in the second half of 2025. Elon Musk warned of a sharp slowdown in sales growth in 2024.

United Rentals: United Rentals posted a 6.25% rise in Q4/23 profit, driven by robust demand for industrial tools.

Valero Energy: Valero Energy reported a fall in quarterly profit, impacted by weaker fuel prices and a decline in refining margins.

W R Berkley: W R Berkley reported a rise in Q4/23 profit, supported by higher premiums and a surge in investment income.

Apple: Apple’s smartphone shipments in China shrank 2.1% in Q4/23, reflecting intensifying competition from local rivals, particularly Huawei.

Aurora Innovation Inc:

  • Aurora Innovation, a leading autonomous vehicle technology company, underwent a 3% workforce reduction as part of a restructuring for enhanced efficiency.
  • Headquartered in Pittsburgh, the company, with 1,700 employees by the end of 2022, focuses on self-driving truck technology.
  • Notable partnerships with Continental AG and Volvo underscore Aurora’s importance in the autonomous vehicle sector.
  • The company aims to deploy autonomous trucks on public roads later in the year.

BHP Group Ltd:

  • BHP Group, an Australian mining giant, adjusted freight routes due to Red Sea disruptions, with some shipments diverted to the Cape of Good Hope.
  • Emphasizing that the majority of its shipments don’t use the Red Sea route, BHP took precautionary measures to ensure business continuity.

Boeing Co, Alaska Air Group Inc & United Airlines Holdings Inc:

  • The aerospace industry faces disruptions after a panel blowout on an Alaska Airlines Boeing jet led the FAA to freeze 737 MAX production rate increases.
  • Alaska and United Airlines are set to resume MAX 9 flights post-inspections, but potential delays in deliveries and challenges for suppliers are anticipated.
  • Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun’s meeting with lawmakers provided no clarity on the incident, prompting calls for congressional oversight.

Bristol Myers Squibb Co, Gilead Lifesciences Inc, Johnson & Johnson, Legend Biotech Corp, Novartis AG & 2Seventy Bio Inc:

  • The U.S. FDA investigates 22 cases of T-cell cancers linked to CAR-T cell therapies, prompting a request for a serious warning on therapy labels.
  • Secondary malignancies, including T-cell lymphomas, have been reported with five CAR-T products from Bristol Myers Squibb, J&J, Novartis, and Gilead.
  • The FDA review may lead to evolving regulatory measures for CAR-T therapies.

Eversource Energy:

  • Orsted agrees to acquire Eversource Energy’s 50% stake in the Sunrise Wind offshore wind farm, subject to approval and a contract with NYSERDA.
  • If approved, the 924 MW wind farm is expected to contribute significantly to New York’s renewable energy goals by 2026.

Ford Motor Co:

  • Ford recalls 2.24 million older Explorer SUVs globally due to concerns about trim retention clips, with potential risks of trim detachment.
  • Anticipates a pre-tax remeasurement loss of about $1.7 billion related to pension and post-retirement benefits in Q4 results.

Liquidia Corp:

  • The U.S. FDA is reviewing Liquidia’s drug for treating pulmonary hypertension associated with interstitial lung disease (PH-ILD).
  • The drug, tentatively approved in 2021 for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), awaits FDA decision on potential expansion.

Meta Platforms Inc:

  • Meta enhances safeguards for teen users on Instagram and Messenger, restricting direct messages to followers and implementing parental approval for certain settings.

Paramount Global:

  • Skydance Media’s CEO, David Ellison, makes a preliminary offer to acquire National Amusements, aiming to take control of Paramount Global and discussing a merger with Skydance Media.

Schlumberger NV:

  • Schlumberger recovers $560 million of the $1.015 billion owed by Pemex through a credit default swap, reflecting efforts to manage accounts receivable.

TotalEnergies SE:

  • New Jersey’s regulator approves two offshore wind projects (1,342 MW and 2,400 MW) backed by Invenergy and TotalEnergies, supporting the state’s clean energy goals.

Walt Disney Co:

  • Zee Entertainment informs Disney it won’t proceed with a $1.4 billion deal for cricket TV rights, citing financial constraints after the collapse of the Zee-Sony merger.

Top Analysts Ratings:

B2Gold Corp:
CIBC cuts the target price to $3.6 from $4.2.
The adjustment reflects a moderated production outlook for the company’s Fekola mine.

Thomson Reuters Corp:
National Bank of Canada raises the target price to C$201 from C$180.
Optimism is driven by expectations that the company’s GenAI-related revenue will gain traction in the second half of 2024 and beyond.

Abbott Laboratories:
Evercore ISI raises the target price to $120 from $118.
The adjustment follows Abbott Laboratories’ report of a fourth-quarter profit that met expectations.

AT&T Inc:
TD Cowen raises the target price to $21 from $20.
The decision is influenced by AT&T’s in-line free cash flow guidance for 2024.

IBM Corp:
Evercore ISI raises the target price to $215 from $200.
The adjustment is based on IBM’s better-than-expected revenue growth in the fourth quarter.

Lam Research Corp:
Wells Fargo raises the target price to $800 from $785.
The positive change is attributed to Lam Research Corp’s solid free cash flow and growth in the December quarter.

Tesla Inc:
Wells Fargo cuts the target price to $220 from $223.
The decision is a response to Tesla Inc’s fourth-quarter earnings missing consensus expectations.

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