Today's Primer

Today's Primer Post


A day after chalking up its worst day of 2013, U.S. stocks are coming off one of their best days of the new year. The major averages enter the new day having made up most, if not all, of Monday's losses, with stock index futures pointing to a higher open this morning.

There are no government economic reports out today to influence the markets, though we will get the usual Wednesday morning reports on mortgage applications from the Mortgage Bankers Association (7 a.m. New York time) and oil and gasoline inventories from the Energy Department (10:30 a.m.).

Time Warner (TWX) is among the companies set to issue quarterly earnings this morning, along with CVS Caremark (CVS), Cummins (CMI), Coventry Health Care (CVH), Marathon Oil (MRO), and Wyndham Worldwide (WYN). After today's closing bell, we'll get the latest numbers from News Corp. (NWSA), Visa (V), Allstate (ALL), and Akamai Technologies (AKAM), among others.

Dow component Walt Disney (DIS) leads our stocks to watch, as it reports fiscal first quarter profit of $0.79 per share, excluding certain items, three cents above estimates. It also saw its interactive segment turn a profit for the first time since it started breaking out those results separately. Profit, however, was down from a year ago, due in part to increasing costs for rights to televise sporting events.

Another Dow component, 3M (MMM), has increased its quarterly dividend by 8 percent to 63-1/2 cents per share, and also announced a $7.5 billion stock buyback program.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is the subject of conflicting rumors on a possible breakup of the company. Quartz reports that the computer maker is studying that option, but AllThingsD reports that the company is not actively studying any such plan. HP has no official comment.

Virgin Media (VMED) will be acquired by Liberty Global (LBTYA) for $23.3 billion in stock and cash. That amounts to a value of $47.87 per share for Virgin Media shareholders, a 24% premium over Tuesday's close.

Biogen Idec (BIIB) will take over full control of the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri from partner Elan (ELN). Biogen will pay Elan $3.25 billion plus future royalties.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) earned $1.95 for its fourth quarter, a penny below estimates, with revenues essentially in line. Higher costs for food ingredients pushed profit margins lower, as has been the case for many restaurant chains.

Panera Bread (PNRA) earned $1.75 per share for the fourth quarter, a penny above estimates, and also issued a current quarter outlook that was largely ahead of current consensus. Panera has not reported a decline in year-over-year profit since the beginning of 2008.

Aflac (AFL) reported fourth quarter profit of $1.48 per share, excluding certain items, matching Street estimates, but revenues came in light. However, the insurer's Japan operations, where it gets its largest revenue stream, continued to grow.

Zynga (ZNGA) reported a profit of $0.01 per share for the fourth quarter, surprising analysts who had expected a loss of $0.03 per share. Revenues were also much higher than analysts had projected, but the online game developer does see a wider than expected loss for the current quarter.

Shutterfly (SFLY) earned $1.40 per share for the fourth quarter, 39 cents above estimates, with revenues swamping estimates as well. The online photo sharing service enjoyed strong demand during the holiday season, especially in its commercial printing division.

Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) earned $0.67 per share for its fiscal third quarter, 13 cents above estimates, with revenues scoring a strong beat as well. The videogame developer's results were helped by a record-breaking release for its NBA 2k13 game.

Expedia (EXPE) earned $0.63 per share for the fourth quarter, excluding certain items, two cents below estimates. Revenue, however, was above consensus on stronger bookings for hotel and airline reservations. The online travel site also expects adjusted earnings to rise this year, although its marketing spending will be higher as well.

Harley-Davidson (HOG) has raised its quarterly dividend by 36 percent to $0.21 per share from the previous 15-1/2 cents.

Apple (AAPL) will lose its iPhone trademark in Brazil, according to a source quoted by Reuters. Brazilian consumer electronics maker Gradiente Electronica had registered the name in 2000. A final decision will be issued next week.