Sprint Is Surging Higher After Judge Approves Merger With T-Mobile

Plus, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank is “closely monitoring” the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, and Under Armour shares are sinking after athletic apparel maker said it expects low-single digit sales growth this year. 

Stocks were higher to start Tuesday with the Dow gaining 61 points, or 0.2%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq added 0.4%, leading both indexes to new intraday records.

Sprint shares have soared 72% this morning after news broke that a U.S. District judge had approved the $26 billion merger between it and T-Mobile. The ruling clears one of the last hurdles in the years-long courtship between the nation’s 3rd and 4th largest carriers, though the deal still can’t close until the California Public Utilities Commission approves the transaction. Attorneys general from New York, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington D.C. originally brought the lawsuit to block the deal, arguing that the combination of Sprint and T-Mobile would limit competition among wireless carriers resulting in higher prices for consumers. Sprint and T-Mobile have argued, however, that their merger would help them better compete against top players AT&T and Verizon, and would help advance their efforts to build a nationwide 5G network.  

China’s National Health Commission said that the death toll from the coronavirus had risen to 1,016 people, and there are now 42,638 confirmed cases worldwide. While the number of new confirmed cases was its lowest since January, driving up optimism around efforts to contain the virus, UBS analysts warned in a note that it is still too early to assume that the outbreak has peaked. “It may take until end February, after people returning from the [Lunar New Year] holidays have gone through the two-week virus incubation period, before a more affirmative assessment can be made,” wrote UBS analyst Tao Wang in the note. “With holidays being extended and many areas facing transport and travel restrictions, production will be delayed and supply chain disruption will likely occur,” Wang added. Meanwhile, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that while most of the cases of the coronavirus are concentrated within China, “this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in his semiannual testimony before Congress this morning that the Fed is “closely monitoring” the coronavirus, its impact on China, and how the effects the outbreak could have on global economic growth. Despite the threat from the virus, Powell said that the U.S. economy appears “resilient” against global headwinds, and is well positioned after a series of rate cuts in 2019. “As long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with this outlook, the current stance of monetary policy will likely remain appropriate,” Powell said, while also cautioning that the current global “low interest rate environment may limit the ability of central bans to reduce policy interest rates enough to support the economy during a downturn.” MUFG Union Bank chief financial economist Chris Rupkey said in reaction to Powell’s testimony, “Interest rates aren’t going up under his watch without more inflation and that is music to the stock market’s ears.”

Under Armour shares are down more than -18% at the time of writing after the athletic wear maker said it expects sales to drop in 2020 as it faces heightened competition from Nike and Lululemon. Under Armour said it expects sales to drop down to a low-single digit percentage in fiscal 2020 with overall sales to be up just 4.2% for the year. The company also reported a net diluted loss of $0.03 per share, including a $23 million one-time tax expense and a $39 million impairment charge, two costs that had a $0.13 per share negative impact on earnings. Revenue also fell short of expectations, with the company reporting Q4 sales grew 4% to $1.4 billion, compared to forecasts for growth of 6% to $1.5 billion. Under Armour also said in its earnings call that it expects to take a hit from shipping delays and supply issues from the deadly coronavirus outbreak. “We think it’s reasonable to expect industry-wide delays in terms of delivery around the world – including potentially missed shipment[s] and service windows, and the need for increased air freight and additional measures at ports that could create unforeseen congestion,” said UAA CEO Patrik Frisk on a call with analysts.

Hasbro shares gained nearly 7% at the open following its Q4 earnings release. Net income climbed to $267.3 million, or $2.01 per share, up significantly from the net income of $8.8 million, or $0.07 per share, in the same quarter the year prior. The toymaker said strong sales of its “Star Wars” and “Frozen 2” toys helped to boost holiday sales, with revenue from entertainment franchises rising nearly 50% to $408.5 million in the fourth quarter, proving that Hasbro’s partnership with Disney continues to be a lucrative one. Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner said the company’s partnership with Disney—it owns the master toy license for Disney’s Marvel and Star Wars franchises, as well as Disney’s collection of princesses including Frozen—has been “very successful” and said that Disney’s “The Rise of Skywalker” and “The Mandalorian” were big drivers of sales for the toymaker, adding that “We’re incredibly excited that ‘The Mandalorian’ season two will come to Disney+ this fall.”

Stocks We’re Watching

vTv Therapeutics (NASDAQ: VTVT): Shares of this clinical-stage biotech skyrocketed as much as 101% yesterday after it announced positive results from its Part 2 Phase 2 clinical trial, Simplici-T1, evaluating TP399 as oral adjunctive therapy to insulin in adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D). “Roughly 1.5 million people in the US are living with type 1 diabetes and the burdensome, around the clock disease management it requires to avoid life-threatening complications. These patients and their families are demanding new treatment options that offer simple, predictable diabetes management to improve HbA1c and time in range. Consistent with FDA guidance, a 0.3% improvement in HbA1c is considered clinically meaningful, and coupled with the well-controlled population of patients and favorable safety data from our clinical trials to date, this provides a strong basis for moving this potential first-in-class program forward,” said Steve Holcombe, President and CEO of vTv Therapeutics. “We intend to engage with the FDA as soon as possible to plan an efficient development pathway for TTP399 and hope to initiate a registration trial this year.”

Restaurant Brands International (NYSE: QSR): Shares of the Popeyes Fried Chicken and Burger King parent gained nearly 4% yesterday after the conglomerate reported an earnings beat. The company delivered adjusted earnings per share of $0.75 on $1.48 billion in revenue, compared to estimates for earnings per share of $0.73 on revenue of $1.46 billion. While Stifel analyst Chris O’Cull said “the quality of the ‘beat’ was fairly low… with the [earnings-per-share] upside primarily due to income from equity method investments,” he did also note that Popeye’s new fried chicken sandwich was a huge hit with same-restaurant sales jumping 34% in the quarter and with “roughly 50% of the total tickets during the quarter [containing] a purchase of the chicken sandwich.”

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