Stocks were higher to start Tuesday with the Dow adding 110 points, or 0.4%. The S&P 500 gained 0.5%, while the Nasdaq traded 0.7% higher.
Big bank earnings marched on this morning. Goldman Sachs crushed estimates, posting earnings of $12.08 per share, compared to analysts’ expectations of earnings per share of $7.47, on revenue of $11.74 billion on a 40% bump in trading revenue and a 27% jump in investment banking revenues. “We were able to help clients navigate a difficult environment, and, as a result, achieved strong results across the franchise, while advancing our strategic priorities,” said Goldman CEO David Solomon. “We hope this year brings much needed stability and a respite from the pandemic, but we remain ready to handle a wide range of outcomes and are poised to meet the needs of our clients.” Bank of America delivered a beat on fourth-quarter profit but fell short on revenue, reporting profit of $5.47 billion, or $0.59 per share, compared with estimates for $0.55 per share. Revenue fell 10% to $20.2 billion, falling around $500 million short of expectations. And Charles Schwab posted earnings of $0.74 per share on revenue of $4.18 billion, compared to Wall Street expectations for earnings of $0.71 per share on revenue of $4.01 billion.
Today marks President Donald Trump’s last full day in office. As Trump prepares to sign off on a wave of pardons in his last hours, President-elect Joe Biden is planning to take immediate action to turn the page on the Trump era following his inauguration tomorrow. Biden is reportedly planning a 10-day blitz of executive actions on what his administration is calling the “four crises” currently facing the nation: COVID-19, the economic downturn, racial injustice, and climate change. Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement on global warming, kill the Keystone XL pipeline and spending on the border wall, and push for greater adoption of green technology. Also happening today, Biden’s pick for U.S. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, is facing the Senate Finance Committee today for her confirmation hearing. Yellen is expected to say during the hearing that the government must “act big” with its next coronavirus relief package, following Biden’s unveiling last week of a proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package. “Neither the president-elect nor I propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big,” Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, said in her prepared opening statement. “I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who have been struggling for a very long time.”
Office Depot has rejected another takeover attempt by office supply rival Staples. Office Depot parent company ODP Corporation, which also owns OfficeMax and CompuCom, said that it is open to a different kind of deal, however, such as selling its retail and e-commerce businesses to Staples or agreeing to a joint venture. In a letter, ODP Chairman Joseph Vassalluzzo said that a deal that’s not a full takeover “could be executed more efficiently and with far greater certainty and less regulatory risk than your proposal. It would also help maintain competitiveness against nontraditional retailers and optimize ongoing choices for consumers.” Staples, which is owned by Sycamore Partners, has sought to buy ODP Corp two other times, including five years ago when antitrust officials blocked a merger between the two companies. In its latest attempt, Staples offered to buy the company for more than $2 billion, or $40 per share.
General Motors shares are up nearly 10% this morning after news broke that Microsoft has entered into a long-term strategic relationship with GM on its jointly-owned self-driving car startup Cruise LLC. As part of the partnership, Microsoft will join GM, Honda Motor and other institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise, bringing the valuation of Cruise to $30 billion. Microsoft will become the preferred cloud provider for GM and Cruise, and the companies said they will work collaboratively on software and hardware engineering, cloud computing capabilities, manufacturing, and partner ecosystem. “Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement. “As Cruise and GM’s preferred cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream.”
And Peloton shares are down more than 7% today following a downgrade from UBS from Neutral to Sell. UBS argued in a note that with the stock having rallied more than 410% over the last 12 months, the incredible run-up leaves more downside risk for investors from here. “Given recent market activity, we think investors need to be wary of the rising trend of bull market optimism in a handful of businesses that have been either COVID-19 ‘beneficiaries’ and/or have come to the public markets in the last 6-18 months,” UBS analyst Eric Sheridan wrote in the note. Despite that, Sheridan did raise his price target on the stock from $115 to $124, writing that he believes the company has a “long term opportunity to disrupt traditional fitness business models.”
Stocks We’re Watching
Kintara Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: KTRA): Kintara Therapeutics shares are up more than 8% over the last week after the biopharma company announced that it has commenced patient recruitment in the Global Coalition for Adaptive Research (GCAR) registration Phase 2/3 clinical trial for glioblastoma (GBM). “The entire Kintara team is grateful and excited to participate in GCAR’s groundbreaking GBM AGILE study as it offers an extraordinary opportunity to facilitate the advancement of VAL-083’s clinical development in a premier GBM study,” said Saiid Zarrabian, Kintara’s Chief Executive Officer. “This is truly an important milestone for Kintara as we believe the study will generate important insights into the breadth of VAL-083’s potential to address this deadliest form of brain cancer in all patient subtypes, while potentially bringing the program to the doorstep of commercialization.”