Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 5:45am

Some of the stocks that may grab investor focus today are:

  • Wall Street expects Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (NASDAQ: WBA) to report quarterly earnings at $1.30 per share on revenue of $29.68 billion before the opening bell. Walgreens shares rose 0.84 percent to $77.74 in after-hours trading.
  • Analysts expect Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) to post quarterly earnings at $1.50 per share on revenue of $5.40 billion after the closing bell. Micron shares rose 0.37 percent to $32.36 in after-hours trading.
  • Pier 1 Imports Inc (NYSE: PIR) reported a narrower-than-expected loss for its first quarter, but revenue missed estimates. Pier 1 shares tumbled 10.78 percent to $4.80 in the after-hours trading session.
  • Before the markets open, Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE: STZ) is projected to report quarterly earnings at $1.98 per share on revenue of $1.96 billion. Constellation shares rose 0.58 percent to $184.75 in after-hours trading.
  • Analysts are expecting Conagra Brands Inc (NYSE: CAG) to have earned $0.38 per share on revenue of $1.86 billion in the latest quarter. Conagra will release earnings before the markets open. Conagra shares gained 0.54 percent to $37.57 in after-hours trading.

Find out what's going on in today's market and bring any questions you have to Benzinga's PreMarket Prep.

  • Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS) agreed to be acquired by Sycamore Partners at $10.25 per share in cash. Staples shares rose 0.91 percent to $10.02 in the after-hours trading session.
  • Analysts expect McCormick & Company, Incorporated (NYSE: MKC) to report quarterly earnings at $0.76 per share on revenue of $1.10 billion before the opening bell. McCormick shares rose 0.40 percent to $99.35 in after-hours trading.
  • After the markets close, Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) is projected to post quarterly earnings at $0.50 per share on revenue of $8.63 billion. Nike shares rose 0.16 percent to $53.44 in after-hours trading.
  • Worthington Industries, Inc. (NYSE: WOR) posted upbeat earnings or its fourth quarter on Wednesday. Worthington shares gained 1.56 percent to $48.10 in the after-hours trading session.
  • Before the opening bell, Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) is estimated to report a quarterly loss at $0.01 per share on revenue of $8.22 billion. Rite Aid shares gained 1.78 percent to $4.00 in after-hours trading.

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 5:26am
  • Data on Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • Data on initial jobless claims for the latest week will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • The Energy Information Administration’s weekly report on natural gas stocks in underground storage is schedule for release at 10:30 a.m. ET.
  • St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank president James Bullard is set to speak in London at 1:00 p.m. ET.
  • Data on farm prices for May will be released at 3:00 p.m. ET.
  • Data on money supply for the recent week will be released at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 5:25am

Companies Reporting Before The Bell

  • Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE: STZ) is estimated to report quarterly earnings at $1.98 per share on revenue of $1.96 billion.
  • Conagra Brands Inc (NYSE: CAG) is expected to report quarterly earnings at $0.38 per share on revenue of $1.86 billion.
  • Greenbrier Companies Inc (NYSE: GBX) is projected to report quarterly earnings at $0.83 per share on revenue of $515.45 million.
  • Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (NASDAQ: WBA) is expected to report quarterly earnings at $1.30 per share on revenue of $29.68 billion.
  • Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) is projected to report a quarterly loss at $0.01 per share on revenue of $8.22 billion.
  • Acuity Brands, Inc. (NYSE: AYI) is estimated to report quarterly earnings at $2.02 per share on revenue of $877.73 million.
  • McCormick & Company, Incorporated (NYSE: MKC) is projected to report quarterly earnings at $0.76 per share on revenue of $1.10 billion.
  • Lindsay Corporation (NYSE: LNN) is expected to report quarterly earnings at $0.95 per share on revenue of $145.44 million.
  • GMS Inc (NYSE: GMS) is projected to report quarterly earnings at $0.46 per share on revenue of $608.44 million.

 

Companies Reporting After The Bell

  • Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) is projected to post quarterly earnings at $1.50 per share on revenue of $5.40 billion.
  • Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) is expected to post quarterly earnings at $0.50 per share on revenue of $8.63 billion.
  • American Outdoor Brands Corp (NASDAQ: AOBC) is estimated to post quarterly earnings at $0.38 per share on revenue of $210.88 million.
  • Franklin Covey Co. (NYSE: FC) is expected to post a quarterly loss at $0.10 per share on revenue of $44.25 million.
  • 8Point3 Energy Partners LP (NASDAQ: CAFD) is projected to post quarterly earnings at $2.05 per share on revenue of $877.73 million.
  • Exfo Inc (NASDAQ: EXFO) is estimated to post quarterly earnings at $0.04 per share on revenue of $61.52 million.

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 5:06am

Benzinga's newsdesk monitors options activity to notice unusual patterns. These large volume (and often out of the money) trades were initially published intraday in Benzinga Professional . These trades were placed during Wednesday’s regular session.

  • Mosaic Co (NYSE: MOS) Sep 20.0 Puts Sweep: 10000 @ Above Ask! $0.41: 10k traded vs 11k OI: Earnings 8/1 Before Open (est) $22.74 Ref
  • J C Penney Company Inc (NYSE: JCP) Aug 5.0 Puts Sweep: 1072 @ ASK $0.57: 9895 traded vs 34k OI: Earnings 8/11 Before Open (est) $4.91 Ref
  • Fitbit Inc (NYSE: FIT) Jan18 10.0 Puts: 2000 @ ASK $4.85: 2000 traded vs 6404 OI: Earnings 8/1 After Close (est) $5.31 Ref
  • Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) Aug 4 Put; 2846 @Bid @$0.90; Ref = $3.82
  • BofI Holding, Inc. (NASDAQ: BOFI) Jul 25.0 Puts Sweep: 539 @ ASK $2.05: 1111 traded vs 3610 OI: Earnings 8/1 After Close (est) $23.47 Ref

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 5:06am

Benzinga's newsdesk monitors options activity to notice unusual patterns. These large volume (and often out of the money) trades were initially published intraday in Benzinga Professional . These trades were placed during Wednesday's regular session.

  • Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE: CLF) Jul 8.0 Calls Sweep: 3655 @ ASK $0.15: 4925 traded vs 19k OI: Earnings 7/27 Before Open (est) $6.96 Ref
  • TechnipFMC plc (NYSE: FTI) Jan18 31.0 Calls: 6000 @ ASK $1.10: 6000 traded vs 0 OI: Earnings 7/26 After Close $27.23 Ref
  • Chicago Bridge & Iron Company N.V. (NYSE: CBI) Jul 21 $22.5 Calls Above Ask!: 8550 @ $0.801 vs 1672 OI; Ref=$19.5603
  • Steel Dynamics, Inc. (NASDAQ: STLD) Nov 34.0 Calls: 1500 @ ASK $3.30: 3000 traded vs 187 OI: Earnings 7/18 After Close (est) $34.36 Ref
  • Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) Jun 30th 56.0 Calls: 3090 @ ASK $0.55: 4428 traded vs 3264 OI: Earnings Today After Close $53.42 Ref
  • NRG Energy Inc (NYSE: NRG) Jul 18.0 Calls Sweep: 1353 @ ASK $0.45: 2361 traded vs 12k OI
  • AmTrust Financial Services Inc (NASDAQ: AFSI) Jul 15.0 Calls Sweep: 905 @ ASK $0.85: 906 traded vs 7881 OI: Earnings 8/2 After Close (est) $15.18 Ref

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 6:06pm
Public Domain

The Federal Reserve released the results of its annual Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review, commonly know as the stress test on U.S. banks.

The report is from the Fed’s second round of stress testing this year. The first round’s results were announced on June 22.

Wednesday’s test results were divided into two portions, qualitative and quantitative. The tests are used to assess whether the banks are able to maintain sufficient levels of capital under severe situations similar to those of the Great Recession.

The tests further take into account the banks’ plans to distribute capital to investors, and determines whether or not they are capable of weighing the risk those plans carry.

All banks with $50 billion or more in assets are tested, but the most rigorous portions of the stress test are only applied to banks with assets valued at over $250 billion.

For the third year in a row, all 34 banks were deemed capable of handling a severe recession, and for the first time ever every bank’s capital distribution plans were given the stamp of approval.

Banks Respond To The Results

Benzinga Pro provided its subscribers with real-time coverage of the banks’ capital distribution announcements following the results.

This feed contains announcements from the 28 banks that had reported as of 5:45 p.m. ET.

  • Bank Of America (NYSE: BAC) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.075/Share To $0.12/Share, Announces $12B Share Buyback
  • Citi (NYSE: C) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.16/Share To $0.32/Share, Announces $15.6B Share Buyback
  • JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) Reports No Objection On '17 Capital Plan, Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.50/Share To $0.56/Share, Announces $19.4B Share Buyback
  • State Street (NYSE: STT) Issues Release Highlighting Fed Did Not Object To Co.'s Capital Plan For Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.38 To $0.42/Share, $1.4B Buyback Plan
  • Territorial Bancorp (NASDAQ: TBNK) Declares $0.10/Share Special Mid-Year Cash Dividend
  • Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) Announces Received No Objection For '17 Capital Plan Which Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.38 To $0.39/Share, $11.5B In Buybacks
  • Ally Financial (NYSE: ALLY) Reports Non-Objection On '17 Capital Plan, Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.08 To $0.12/Share, $760M Buyback Plan
  • Fifth Third (NASDAQ: FITB) Reports No Objection From Fed On Capital Plan Which Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.14 To $0.16/Share, $1.161B In Buybacks
  • Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) Reports No Objection On '17 Capital Plan Which Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.20 To $0.25/Share, $5B In Buybacks
  • Capital One (NYSE: COF) Reports CCAR Capital Plan Received Conditional Non-Objection, Sees $1.85B In Buybacks, Qtr. Dividend Maintained At $0.40/Share
  • US Bancorp (NYSE: USB) Receives No Objection For '17 Capital Plan, Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.28 To $0.30/Share, $2.6 In Buybacks
  • American Express (NYSE: AXP) To Increase Qtr. Dividend From $0.32/Share To $0.35/Share, Buyback $4.4B Common Stock
  • BB&T (NYSE: BBT) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.30/Share To $0.33/Share, Buyback $1.88B Common Stock
  • Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE: BK) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.19/Share To $0.24/Share, Announces $3.1B Share Buyback
  • Regions Financial (NYSE: RF) Reports No Objection From Fed On '17 Capital Plan, Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.07 To $0.09/Share, $1.47B In Buybacks
  • KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.095/Share To $0.105/Share, Announces $800M Share Buyback
  • Citizens Financial (NYSE: CFG) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.14/Share To $0.18/Share, Announces $850M Share Buyback
  • CIT Group (NYSE: CIT) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.15/Share To $0.16/Share, Announces $225M Share Buyback
  • PNC Financial (NYSE: PNC) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.55/Share To $0.75/Share, Announces $2.7B Share Buyback
  • Zoons Bancorp (NASDAQ: ZION) Reports No Objection On '17 Capital Plan, Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.08 To $0.12/Share In Q3'17, To $0.16 In Q4'17, To $0.20 In Q1'18, To $0.24 In Q2'18, $465M In Buybacks
  • SunTrust Banks (NYSE: STI) Reports No Objection To '17 Capital Plan, Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.26 To $0.40/Share, $1.32B In Buybacks
  • Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (NYSE: BBVA) Announces $200M In Dividends Planned Following Fed Reserve Stress Test
  • Northern Trust (NASDAQ: NTRS) Reports No Objection On '17 Capital Plan, Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.38 To $0.42/Share, $750M In Buybacks
  • Comerica (NYSE: CMA) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.26/Share To $0.30/Share, Announces $605M Share Buyback
  • M&T Bank (NYSE: MTB) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.75/Share To $0.80/Share, Announces $900M Share Buyback
  • Huntington Bancshares (NASDAQ: HBAN) Reports No Objection For '17 Capital Plan, Includes Increase In Qtr. Dividend From $0.08 To $0.11/Share, $308M In Buybacks
  • Santander Consumer USA (NYSE: SC) Reports Q4 Dividend $0.03/Share, $0.05/Share Dividend In Q1 and Q2 2018
  • Discover Financial (NYSE: DFS) Raises Qtr. Dividend From $0.30/Share To $0.35/Share, Announces $2.23B Share Buyback

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 6:00pm
Public Domain

Following chatter of an Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) partnership, Nutanix Inc (NASDAQ: NTNX) confirmed a strategic alliance with Google Cloud to collaborate on an expanding Internet of Things (IoT) and to merge the companies’ cloud environments for enterprise applications.

The cloud integration will be available in the first quarter of 2018, and Nutanix will unveil its edge-processing IoT platform, TensorFlow, for Google-based applications at Wednesday’s Nutanix .NEXT conference.

“With this strategic alliance with Nutanix, Google is addressing one of the most pressing technology challenges faced by enterprises – the ability to manage hybrid cloud applications without sacrificing security or scalability,” Nan Boden, head of Google Cloud’s Global Technology Partners, said in a press release. “Partners like Nutanix are essential for us to build a thriving ecosystem and help enterprises innovate faster."

The cloud platforms will converge for joint customers, who can then manage cloud-based and traditional enterprise apps on a single service.

The program applies for container-based apps using Nutanix’s existing Enterprise Cloud operating system, Google Container Engine, Kubernetes and Acropolis Container Services.

It will also integrate two new Nutanix products, providing one-click hybrid application management between Google Cloud and Nutanix Calm, as well as extension of datacenter environments between Google Cloud and Nutanix Xi.

At least one joint client sees potential in the partnership.

“Nutanix and Google are poised to disrupt traditional IT and cloud computing," Ashok Belani, executive vice president of technology at Schlumberger Limited. (NYSE: SLB), said in the Nutanix release. "We've leveraged both solutions for our private and public cloud services, to drive innovation in the Oil & Gas industry.”

Brent Slava contributed reporting.

Related Links:

Amazon Hopes Cloud Investments Will Stave Off Competition From Microsoft, Google

Why Oracle Expects 2018 To Be The Cloud Sales ‘Tipping Point’


Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 5:47pm

On CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report", Jon Najarian said that options traders were buying the August 65/70 call spread in XPO Logistics Inc (NYSE: XPO) on Wednesday. He sees more room on the upside in the name and he decided to follow the trade. He is planning to hold the position for a month.

Pete Najarian noticed bullish options activity in United States Steel Corporation (NYSE: X). Around 8,000 contracts of the July 34 calls were traded in the first half of the session on Wednesday. Pete Najarian is bullish on the name and he decided to buy the calls.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 5:28pm

Axon Enterprise Inc (NASDAQ: AAXN) and Digital Ally, Inc. (NASDAQ: DGLY) are nearly four years into an ongoing patent dispute, and ambiguity over continued litigation is meant to be settled with rulings from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The district court judge overseeing the case had issued a stay and vacated future trial dates as Axon awaited the USPTO’s decisions on four filed petitions. The judgments ultimately impact the validity of Digital Ally's claims and could result in dismissal.

So far, Axon has received responses for only two petitions, a company spokesperson said Wednesday.

"One petition was granted and the other was rejected, so the IPR [Inter Partes Review] challenge for the '292 patent is proceeding with the petition granted, and we believe we can prevail on this petition to invalidate Digital Ally's patent," Steve Tuttle, VP of strategic communication, told Benzinga.

The 292 patent was the original point of dispute. Digital Ally filed claims for 452 shortly after.

"Even though one petition was granted and one denied, the bottom line is that only one is necessary to invalidate the entire 292 patent," Tuttle said in an email. "It was granted on ALL challenged claims."

The PTAB deadline on 452 patent claim 10 IPR petition is July 11, 2017, Tuttle said. The final one won’t be ruled on until August, which relates to Claim 1 of the 452 patent.

"If the PTAB invalidates the patents based on the IPRs, the litigation is over," Tuttle said. "Because the one IRP institution on the 292 patent was granted on ALL claims, the denial of the other petition on the same patent is irrelevant."

The Phazzer Story

Axon is engaged in a similar legal battle with PhaZZer Electronics, Inc. and recently celebrated favorable rulings. The firm anticipates continued success going forward.

"This is Phazzer's second attempt to invalidate Axon’s patent and avoid infringement liability through reexamination proceedings in the USPTO," a spokesperson said. "Phazzer's first attempt failed when the patent office reconfirmed the patent’s validity in mid-March 2017 with only a slight modification to one of four independent claims. Phazzer’s second reexam effort citing second tier prior art will fare no better."

Taylor Cox contributed reporting.

Related Links:

Analyst Sees ‘Limited Impact’ On Digital Ally From Axon’s Free Body Cam Promotion

Analyst: Body-Cam Patent Suit Win Would Be A Big Deal For Digital Ally, Not So Much For Taser


Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 5:01pm
Public Domain

If you don’t know what a block trade is or have never used block trades as part of your trading strategy, you may be missing out on some profitable opportunities.

On Thursday, June 29 at 5:00 p.m. ET, Benzinga Pro will be hosting its latest installment in a series of 30-minute educational webinars instructing traders on how to get that critical edge over the rest of the market. In this week’s webinar, Benzinga Sr. Newsdesk Analyst Brent Slava will be discussing how traders can interpret and use block trades.

Benzinga Pro issues real-time news alerts for subscribers every time the newsdesk spots unusual trading activity, but traders have to know what to do and they have to act fast.

"Block trades are a great way to gauge near-term intraday interest in a stock," Slava says. "While it can be hard to determine if a block trade will be positive or negative for investors of a stock, the fact of a block trade can at the least show traders' attention on a name."

What Is A Block Trade?

Block trades are single, large trade orders, typically placed by institutional investors. Single trades of Nasdaq- and NYSE-listed stocks that are at least 10,000 shares are typically considered to qualify as block trades. Since only institutional and extremely wealthy investors can afford to make trades this size, block trades are typically seen as “smart money” trades.

For example, back in May, Spirit Realty Capital Inc (NEW) (NYSE: SRC) shares tanked more than 24 percent to as low as $6.48 after a disappointing first-quarter earnings report. However, Benzinga Pro reported a series of block trades of at least 450,000 shares each the following morning starting at a price of $6.90.

The buying triggered a three-day rebound from $6.90 to $7.56, represented a 9.5 percent gain for traders that quickly identified the first block trade as a buying opportunity. Of course, they first had to know what to look for and how to play it.

Traders interested in learning more about the potential of block trades can register for Thursday’s webinar here.