Here are the stocks making headlines in midday trading:
Nikola — Shares of the electric truck maker plunged more than 9% on increasing concerns about the company's growth. The uproar surrounding a severely critical short-seller report and the resignation of Nikola's founder makes the stock too risky to own, according to Wedbush, which downgraded the stock to underperform on Thursday. The author of the Hindenburg report, Nathan Anderson, told The Wall Street Journal more bad news is coming for Nikola and "the story is definitely not over."
Darden Restaurants — Shares of the restaurant chain rose 8.1% after the parent company of Olive Garden beat earnings expectations for its fiscal first quarter. Darden generated 28 cents in adjusted earnings per share, while analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expected 5 cents. Revenue did miss expectations slightly, however, as the pandemic caused a decline in sales. Darden also reinstated its dividend.
E.W. Scripps – Shares of E.W. Scripps soared more than 7% after the Cincinnati-based TV station said it agreed to buy ION Media for $2.65 billion, a move that would nearly double the company's national footprint. The deal is also backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, which made a $600 million preferred-equity investment in Scripps.
Penn National Gaming – Shares of Penn National Gaming dropped more than 7% after the online gaming company said it would offer 14 million new shares of its common stock. Meanwhile, Macquarie downgraded Penn National on Thursday to neutral from outperform, citing "stretched" valuation.
Goldman Sachs — The bank stock rose 4.8% after UBS upgraded Goldman Sachs to buy from neutral. The firm said in a note that potential volatility around the election, which would boost Goldman's trading revenue, could be a near-term tailwind for the stock.
Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines — Shares of the major U.S. airlines fell on Thursday as investors grappled with a lack of fiscal stimulus and an uptick in Covid-19 cases. Delta Air Lines dipped 1.8% and American Airlines fell 1.3%. United Airlines fell more than 1%. Southwest Airlines and Alaska Air Group dropped 1.8% and 3.2%, respectively.
Jefferies Financial Group – Shares of the financial services firm jumped 6.8% after the company topped analyst expectations during the third quarter. Jefferies reported a profit of $1.07 per share, which was far ahead of the Street forecast for 34 cents. Revenue also exceeded expectations, boosted by record investment banking and asset management revenue.
Rite Aid — The drugstore chain saw its stock fall sharply on Wednesday, losing nearly 18% despite beating expectations for its fiscal second quarter. Investment firm Guggenheim said in a note that the company's second half guidance could "draw scrutiny." Rite Aid's full-year guidance for adjusted earnings ranged from a loss of 67 cents per share to a gain of 9 cents.
Bed Bath & Beyond – Shares of the retailer advanced more than 4% following an upgrade to outperform at Baird. "Retail turnarounds are tricky, but we are intrigued by the potential at BBBY," the firm said. The firm also lifted its price target to $20, which is about 44% above where shares currently trade.
Accenture — Shares of the accounting firm fell 7% after the company's fiscal fourth quarter report showed weaker than expected earnings and revenue, according to consensus Wall Street estimates from FactSet. Adjusted earnings and revenue both declined 2% from the same period last year, with the largest revenue decline coming from Europe.
Carmax — The car dealership stock dropped 11% despite beating Wall Street expectations for earnings and revenue for the company's fiscal second quarter. Carmax did report a lower average selling price for used cars. The stock was still up about 100% from its March lows.
— CNBC's Maggie Fitzgerald, Yun Li and Pippa Stevens contributed to this story.