U.S. stock futures were slightly softer on Tuesday as mounting coronavirus cases and concerns over potential barriers to Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package weighed on investors.
Dow futures were down 0.12%, S&P futures were 0.25% weaker and Nasdaq futures were trading 0.37% lower.
Nokia was most actively traded before the open, with almost eight million shares changing hands, and was up around 4.5% at the time of writing. Nokia shares jumped 15% yesterday after Swedish analyst firm, SEB, raised its price target to $4.60 from $4.25.
Exela Tech was the top gainer in pre-market trading and looked set to open 180% higher than its close on Monday, followed by Vertex Energy (+55%) and Koss Corp. (+52%).
Meanwhile, pre-market top losers were Repro Med Systems (-18%), Rada Electronic Industries (-11%) and Seelos Therapeutics (-10%).
In COVID-related news, Moderna (MRNA) closed 12% higher on Monday after announcing that its COVID-19 vaccine should be efficacious against variants of the coronavirus that first emerged in the UK and South Africa. CEO of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, confirmed that the current two-dose jabs of 100 micrograms is expected to show efficacy against the emerging variants. She stressed the importance of being proactive as the virus evolves and is encouraged by the results of the new data.
In earnings news, shares of Kimberly-Clark (KMB) rose over 3 % yesterday after the company beat analysts’ expectations, with fourth quarter earnings coming in at $1.69 per share compared to forecasts of $1.62. Sales for the fourth quarter grew 6% year-on-year to $4.84 billion compared to analysts’ expectations of $4.73. The company raised its dividend by 6.5% and announced a new $5 billion share buyback scheme.
Meanwhile, Crane (CR) was 2.6% lower in pre-market trading after reporting disappointing fourth quarter results. EPS of $1 missed analysts’ expectations of $1.10, with the result representing a 37% decline year-on-year. Revenues also came in lower than expected at $726 million compared to analysts’ forecasts of $736 million. The company expects 2021 to see a recovery based on improving trends seen towards the end of 2020.
Boot Barn (BOOT) was down almost 3% in pre-market trading after reporting lower-than-expected third quarter results. Adjusted EPS came in 22% higher than a year ago at $0.99 but missed analysts’ expectations by a penny. Net quarterly sales of $302.3 million missed forecasts of $303.3 million but still represented an increase of 6.5% year-over-year.
In M&A news, F5 Networks (FFIV) completed the acquisition of distributed cloud services company, Volterra, for a total consideration of $500 million, with $60 million deferred. F5 raised its 2021 and 2022 sales outlook earlier this month and now expects CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of between 7% and 8%, revised upward from 6% to 7%. The company is committed to a $1 billion share repurchase program over the next two years.
Shares of Apollo Global Management (APO) were almost 5% higher before the opening bell after announcing that billionaire CEO Leon Black will step down from his position by July 31, but will remain on as Apollo’s chairman. Black will be replaced by Apollo’s co-founder, Marc Rowan. The announcement coincides with the release of an independent review that exonerates Black from any criminal activities linked to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. According to the findings of the review, “Apollo never retained Epstein for any services and Epstein never invested in any Apollo-managed funds.”
Today sees some big names reporting earnings with JNJ, VZ and AXP reporting before the bell, while MSFT, SBUX and TXN will report their earnings after the market closes.