Plus, Gap just lost its CEO, the market is bullish on Disney, and two video game makers crush their earnings reports.
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Stocks fell Friday morning with the Dow dropping 60 points, or 0.2%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell 0.2%.
China’s announcement from yesterday that it and the U.S. had mutually agreed to roll back tariffs as part of the phase one trade deal was put in doubt this morning President Donald Trump told reporters that the U.S. hasn’t agreed to the rollback. Trump said that while China would like a partial reversal of tariffs on $500 billion worth of Chinese goods imposed during the trade war, he won’t fully eliminate them. While the White House declined to comment on Trump’s remarks, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Thursday, “If there’s a phase one trade deal, there are going to be tariff agreements and concessions.”
Gold looks likely to clinch its biggest weekly drop in two years as hopes for a trade breakthrough have dampened safe haven plays. As the market has moved away from risk-off assets, Silver has taken a dive as well, and Treasury yields have tumbled the most since this past summer and defensive stocks have sunk as well.
Gap Inc shares are down nearly -7% this morning following the unexpected departure of CEO Art Peck, announced yesterday. Peck’s departure now puts the company’s plans to spin off its Old Navy brand in question, especially as the brand has struggled recently. The separation into two companies was announced in February and had been scheduled to be completed next year. “We have to think this new development will make the original timeline of the planned Old Navy separation extremely difficult,” said Evercore ISI analyst Omar Saad. “An already skeptical market is going to have a hard time embracing [a] fundamentally challenged Gap/Banana Republic combination without a leader and clearly articulated turnaround plan.”
Disney shares have jumped 3.6% so far this morning following the company’s fiscal fourth quarter release after the bell yesterday as the Street anticipates the imminent arrival of the Disney+ streaming service. “The market tis sensing big things are brewing in the quarters ahead,” said Michael Nathanson, founding partner at MoffettNathanson. “As we have vividly seen at Netflix, when moving in the right direction, momentum in subscriber growth makes those metrics investors’ sol focus.” Disney+ will launch next week with hundreds of classic Disney movies and series, as well as new series like the hotly-anticipated The Mandalorian, a series set in the Star Wars universe, and 10 new movies exclusive to the service over the next year. Nathanson expects Disney+ to have about 8 million subscribers worldwide by the end of this year, and 18 million by the end of Disney’s fiscal 2020.
Also on the earnings front, video game maker Activision Blizzard beat expectations by $0.09 per share, reporting quarterly profit of $0.32 per share on revenue of $1.21 billion. Activision said that World of Warcraft: Classic drove the biggest quarterly growth in subscriptions in the franchise’s history, while Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s reach and net bookings from in-game items like loot boxes also performed far better than the game’s predecessor. “Recent launches have enabled significant growth in the size of our audiences for our Call of Duty and World of Warcraft franchises,” said CEO Bobby Kotick in the earnings release. “With a strong content pipeline and momentum in mobile, esports and advertising, we are confident we will remain a leader in connecting and engaging the world through epic entertainment.” Take Two Interactive also delivered its fiscal second quarter figures, reporting earnings of $1.69 per share and a 74% year-over-year gain in revenue of $857.8 million up from $492.7 million in the same period last year. “We delivered strong Net Bookings, cash flow and earnings growth, fueled by the performance of NBA 2K, Borderlands 3, Grand Theft Auto Online and Grand Theft Auto V, and Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online,” said Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick in a news release.
Stocks We’re Watching
E.L.F. Beauty (NYSE: ELF): Shares of this cosmetics company are up nearly 3% this week after it raised its guidance for fiscal 2020 in its final Q2 report. The company reported net income of $6.4 million, or $0.13 per share, compared to net income of $3.9 million, or $0.08 per share, in the same period last year. “E.L.F. remains the most productive brand on a dollar-per-foot basis at both Walmart and Target, with growing productivity at Ulta, the company’s third-largest customer,” D.A. Davidson analysts led by Linda Bolton Weiser wrote in a note. D.A. Davidson rates the stock a Buy with a $24.50 price target – 44% higher than the current price.