Wall Street Brief: Bank of America Fee Chatter, Greece Bailout Closer
Greece is getting closer to receiving its second bailout package as European leaders and finance ministers will meet over the next two days to finalize details. The group, gathering in Brussels, will also talk about proposals for long-term growth but a decision on whether or not to increase the euro-zone rescue fund will not be part of the conversation.
Don’t Miss: Fannie Mae Wants Another Bailout.
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is again planning to raise fees on customers with checking accounts. Unless they begin banking online, they will either be hit with a monthly fee, asked to purchase additional products or keep certain balances, reported The Wall Street Journal.
The proposal by the bank comes as the banking industry faces a number of challenges. Competitors, such as J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) are also rolling out new plans to increase fee revenue or nudge customers to transact additional business with them.
Two Chinese manufacturing surveys showed slight improvements in February but data showed increasing input prices and declining new orders–a warning of additional economic weakening. The February Purchasing Managers’ Index increased to 51.0 on a 100-point scale, from January’s 50.5 number, as reported the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing. The rival PMI reading by HSBC came in at 49.6, a rise from January’s 48.8. A reading higher than 50 divides an expansion from a contraction.
CVR Energy (NYSE:CVI) recommended its shareholders say no to Carl Icahn’s $30 per share tender offer from his hostile bid because it undervalues the company and appears “opportunistic.” According to Reuters, the company said in a statement that the offer is “inadequate” and doesn’t consider the best interests of either CVR or it shareholders. In February, billionaire Ichan, CVR’s largest shareholder with his 14.54 percent position, said the company needed to be sold as its stock price did not adequately reflect its high profit margins.
8 Early Buzzing Stocks: TJX Jumps 2%, While Gap Surges More Than 4% on Same-Store Sales
Shares of TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE:TJX) jumped more than 2 percent in morning trading. The retailer reported that same-store sales in February increased 9 percent, compared to 7 percent estimates. Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST) also climbed higher on strong same-store sales.
Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) shares bounced 1 percent before the opening bell. The world’s largest retailer increased its annual dividend 9 percent to $1.59 per share. Shares of Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) also increased.
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Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS) and Macy’s Inc. (NYSE:M) both reported more than a 4 percent increase in same-store sales for February. As a result, shares of Gap surged more than 9 percent, while Macy’s shares increased .75 percent.
Finisar Corp. (NASDAQ:FNSR) shares dropped more than 8 percent after reporting quarterly results. Net income for the company fell 52.7 percent to $8.9 million (9 cents per share), compared to $18.8 million (22 cents per share) a year earlier.
PetSmart Inc. (NASDAQ:PETM) shares fell 1.8 percent early Thursday. The company recently reported a 13 percent increase in fourth quarter earnings, but margins declined. The company earned a profit of $102 million (91 cents per share), compared to $90.3 million (77 cents per share) a year earlier.
Investor Insight: Is Domino’s Pizza a Tech Play for Investors?
Market Recap: Stocks Gain on Upbeat Data
Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.22%, S&P +0.62%, Nasdaq +0.74%, Oil +1.76%, Gold +0.33%.
On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $108.95 a barrel. Precious metals were down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,716.90 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 2.53% to settle at $35.52.
Hot Feature: Gold and Silver Bounce Higher After Sharp Pullback
Today’s markets were up because:
1) Jobs. New claims for unemployment benefits continued to decline last week, holding close to four-year lows, according to a Labor Department report on Thursday. The jobless data, paired with upbeat reports on personal income and spending, led to an early morning rally.
2) Manufacturing. Markets dipped after an index of U.S. manufacturing activity came in weaker than expected. U.S. manufacturing has been one of the few bright spots in the global economy, but growth cooled in February. However, stocks ultimately pared losses, as the report still signaled expansion in the sector, and the day’s other economic indicators were consistent with better economic growth.
Bank of America, Sprint, Sotheby’s Hot Equity Movers March 1st
Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC): When Bank of America let Fannie Mae (FNMA) know it would fight demands that it should repurchase mortgage loans that have soured, the next move may be that Fannie seeks more taxpayer funds, reports the Wall Street Journal. Shares of Bank of America Corporation are trading 1.38% higher today.
Sprint (NYSE:S): Sprint’s CEO acknowledged that rising subsidies on Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone are a big issue, as retail prices lag behind the payouts, but the company’s VP of product reiterated that the carrier needs the iPhone to prevent customer defection and believes the balance will work out in Sprint’s favor in the long term, according to Light Reading, referencing comments from both executives at the Mobile World Congress.
Sothebys (NYSE:BID): The company said, “This decrease is largely attributable to a decline in auction and related revenues which totaled $274.9 million, $35.6 million, or 11%, lower than the prior period. This is primarily due to an $85.2 million, or 5%, decline in net auction sales over the period resulting from a $171.0 million, or 46%, decrease in single-owner sales during the quarter, as well as a significant decrease in auction commission margin. The decline in auction revenues is partially offset by a decrease in salaries and related costs, attributable to a lower level of incentive compensation expense in the quarter. Shares of Sothebys are trading 9.25% lower today.
Finisar, Kroger, Pegasystems, HiSoft, Babcock & Wilcox Hot Equities Mar 1st
Finisar Corporation (NASDAQ:FNSR): Citigroup believes Finisar’s underlying fundamentals are improving, but admits the process is slow, following the company’s Q3 results. The firm maintains a Buy rating on the stock with a $23.50 price target and views Cisco’s acquisition of Lightwire as something that bears watching, not panic. Shares of Finisar Corporation are trading 3.93% lower today.
The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR): Kroger anticipates identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, of approximately 3.0% to 3.5%. This includes the expected negative effect on sales from prescription drugs coming off patent. Sees FY12 CapEx $1.9B-$2.2B. Shares of The Kroger Co. are trading 2.9% higher today.
Pegasystems Inc. (NASDAQ:PEGA): Similar to last year, we expect 2012 will be back-end loaded, and therefore, revenue for the first half of 2012 is estimated to be about 45% of annual guidance.” Shares of Pegasystems Inc. are trading 27.56% higher today.
HiSoft Technology Internatnl Ltd (NASDAQ:HSFT): Cowen said HiSoft Technology continues to execute well as it handled many of the issues that impacted its earnings last year. The firm said they expect the company to benefit from secular growth in China’s ITS offshore outsourcing sector and has successfully weathered the impact of wage inflation. Shares are Outperform rated. Shares of HiSoft Technology Internatnl Ltd are trading 18.36% higher today.
Babcock & Wilcox Co (NYSE:BWC): Reported Q4 revenue $800.8M, consensus $769.19M. Shares of Babcock & Wilcox Co are trading 5.75% higher today.
6 Stocks Hitting Radars: Shutterfly Surges on Kodak Deal, Foot Locker Shares Get Kicked 3% Lower
Shares of Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) edged slightly higher in late market trading. The company announced it received an order from Kazakhstan for three fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliners and four extended-range 767s. The deal is valued at $1.3 billion.
Shutterfly Inc. (NASDAQ:SFLY) shares surged more than 14 percent in extended trading. The online photo company plans to purchase Kodak’s online photo sharing platform for $23.8 million. The deal will transfer customer accounts and images in the U.S. and Canada from Kodak Gallery to Shutterfly.
Ascena Retail Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ASNA) shares jumped 8.3 percent after reporting impressive second quarter results. Net income for the company was $63.7 million (81 cents per share), compared to $42.5 million (52 cents per share) a year earlier.
Despite beating estimates, Foot Locker Inc. (NYSE:FL) shares dropped 3.15 percent after the closing bell. The company reported earnings per share of 55 cents for the fourth quarter, 4 cents better than estimates. Revenues also increased 7.9 percent to $1.5 billion, compared to $1.39 billion a year earlier.
The Wendy’s Company (NYSE:WEN) shares bounced 1 percent higher after reporting a profit of $4 million for the fourth quarter. “Customer feedback on the 10 Image Activation restaurants we remodeled during 2011 has been very positive, and sales growth has exceeded our expectations,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Emil Brolick. “Based on these results, we are targeting a return on this remodeling investment of approximately 15 percent and intend to use our balance sheet and cash flow to fund the program. As we validate these returns, we will also begin to work with our franchisees to develop financing sources for this re-imaging program.”
After closing almost 10 percent higher during regular market hours, Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ:ZNGA) shares continued to climb higher in late trading. On Thursday, the company announced a new platform where users will be able to play games through its website, as opposed to logging onto Facebook.
Investor Insight: Is Domino’s Pizza a Tech Play for Investors?
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