Market Brief: August 10, 2020

A daily summary of news, analysis and data shaping the market.
Market Brief
Monday, August 10, 2020
Cyclical Interest. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped Monday, as shares of previously beaten down or lagging cyclical sectors saw renewed investor interest at the expense of highflying tech shares. Investors were also assessing the outlook for coronavirus aid after President Donald Trump signed executive orders over the weekend that would extend a number of measures. The Dow rose around 358 points, or 1.3%, to close around 27,791, while the S&P 500 gained around 9 points, or 0.3%, to finish near 3,360. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell by around 43 points, or 0.4%, to close at about 10,968.
DJIA 27,791.44 357.96
S&P 500 3,360.47 9.19
NASDAQ 10,968.36 -42.63
US 10-Year Note 0.58 0.01
Dollar Index 93.59 0.16
Crude Oil 42.05 0.83
Gold 2,035.40 7.40
Global Dow 3,009.56 16.88
Powered by Dow Jones Research, FactSet, Eurostat, SIX Financial Information.
McDonald’s Sues Former CEO, Alleging Inappropriate Employee Relationships
McDonald’s says it’s suing Stephen Easterbrook, the CEO it ousted last year over an inappropriate relationship with an employee, alleging Monday that he covered up relationships with other employees and destroyed evidence.

Easterbrook, according to a lawsuit, approved a special grant of restricted stock, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, to one of those employees. The company now wants to reclaim hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation paid to Easterbrook on his departure.

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Trump’s Measures Are More Likely to Have a Political Effect Than an Economic Impact
With negotiations in Congress over a new aid package at an impasse, President Donald Trump on Saturday signed four executive orders—including one to extend enhanced unemployment insurance. The orders, however, have big caveats and aren’t a substitute for a fiscal deal.

The executive orders also include deferrals of payroll tax withholdings for certain workers, deferrals of student loan payments, and action to minimize certain evictions. The president’s actions are likely to have more of a political effect—they should increase the urgency for negotiators to reach a broader fiscal deal—than an economic impact.

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Marriott Reports Big Loss Amid “Quite Challenging” Conditions
Marriott International reported a steep second-quarter loss owing to the global pandemic. CEO Arne Sorsenson called overall conditions “quite challenging.” Still, business in China was stronger and the company’s monthly cash burn improved.

Marriott, based in Bethesda, Md., lost 72 cents a share in the quarter, down from earnings of 69 cents a share a year earlier. Revenue totaled nearly $1.5 billion, compared with $5.3 billion in the corresponding quarter last year.

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What Investors Liked—and Didn’t Like—About Berkshire Hathaway’s Second Quarter
Record stock buybacks, big equity sales, a huge cash balance, and a large write-down related to the company’s Precision Castparts unit were the highlights of Berkshire Hathaway’s second-quarter earnings, which were released Saturday morning.

Investors were particularly interested in what CEO Warren Buffett was doing with the company’s large cash balances. With Berkshire shares trading very cheaply relative to book value in May and June, Berkshire bought back a record $5.1 billion of stock in the quarter, up from $1.7 billion in the first quarter and $4.9 billion during all of last year.

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Kodak Stock Plummets as Government Puts Loan on Hold
Investors in the former photography giant Eastman Kodak endured unreal stock market extremes in recent weeks. Now, a government tweet sent Friday evening means wild trading will continue.

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, or DFC, tweeted that a loan due to Kodak appears to be on hold for now. Kodak shares were down 29% to $10.52 a share Monday morning in the aftermath of the DFC bombshell.

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Nikola Announces Order for 2,500 Electric Garbage Trucks
Nikola made news Monday morning, announcing an order for 2,500 battery-powered trucks from waste hauler Republic Services. Investors are pleased. Nikola stock was rocketing Monday, with a gain of more than 21% in midafternoon trading.

Nikola shares fell about 10% after the company reported its first quarter as a publicly traded entity on Aug. 4. Part of the disappointment in the aftermath of the report was the lack of any new details about customers for the company’s battery- and fuel-cell-powered heavy-duty trucks. The Republic announcement is the sort of news investors wanted to hear when earnings were released.

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Regeneron’s Covid-19 Treatment Could Be as Big a Deal as a Vaccine
Biotech Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has a cocktail of antibodies for treating Covid-19. That’s as big a deal as a vaccine, according to Cannacord Genuity analyst John Newman.

Regeneron announced a phase three trial, called REGN-COV2, after positive phase one safety data in July. Now Newman believes initial data from that study could come in late September, ahead of vaccine data.

Many companies, of course, are pursuing a Covid-19 vaccine. But returning the world to normal will take more than an effective vaccine. “REGN-COV2 would provide immediate treatment for active Covid-19, which is critical, since vaccines cannot treat active disease,” wrote Newman in a Monday research report.

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Foot Locker’s Pleasant Surprise: A Second-Quarter Profit
Foot Locker stock rallied on Monday after the retailer said it expects to report a surprise profit for the second quarter.

The athletic footwear and apparel store said early Monday that it plans to report a second-quarter profit of 38 to 42 cents per share. Analysts had forecast a loss of 46 cents per share, according to FactSet. Adjusting for one-time costs related to recent social unrest and restructuring expenses, it expects a quarterly profit of 66 to 70 cents per share.

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Why Apple iPhone Sales Could Take a Huge Hit From a WeChat Ban
Apple could see a 25% to 30% hit to global iPhone sales if the company is forced by the Trump administration to remove WeChat from the App Store, TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo asserts in a research note on Monday.

Last week, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that demanded that all U.S. companies stop conducting business with the communications platform WeChat and its parent company, Tencent Holdings, within 45 days, citing privacy and security concerns.

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Avaya Reports First Quarter of Sales Growth in More Than 10 Years
Avaya Holdings shares spiked on Monday as the communications infrastructure company posted better-than-expected June quarter results—including its first quarter of year-over-year revenue growth in more than a decade.

For its fiscal third quarter ended June 30, Avaya reported revenue of $721 million, up from $717 million a year ago, and above the company’s guidance range of $674 million to $704 million. Adjusted Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) was $187 million, well ahead of guidance at $150 million to $170 million. The company had a profit of 8 cents a share, compared with a loss of $5.70 a share in the quarter a year ago.

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