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The Wall Street Journal 14 October, 2021 - 06:00am

Stocks Jump, Oil Surges, Earnings on Tap, Squid Game Enthralls - 5 Things You Must Know

TheStreet 14 October, 2021 - 01:10pm

U.S. equity futures powered higher Thursday, while the dollar eased and Treasury yields fell, as investors appeared to shrug-off accelerating inflation signals, as well as a hawkish Federal Reserve, ahead of a busy slate of bank and bluechip earnings.

A record high reading for factory gate inflation in China September, which followed surprisingly solid export data the previous day, suggests price pressure will ripple through the global supply chain over the coming months. 

Alongside yesterday's faster-than-expected reading for September inflation in the United States, which returned to a 13-year high, and minutes detailing the Fed's aim of tapering the pace of its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases later this year, and investors now how a much-clearer picture of both the macroeconomic backdrop and the central bank's likely reaction.

Still, with a series of big ticket earnings expected before the start of trading Thursday -- including Dow components UnitedHealth Group  (UNH) - Get UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Report and Walgreens Boots  (WBA) - Get Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc Report, as well as Citigroup  (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report, Morgan Stanley  (MS) - Get Morgan Stanley (MS) Report and Wells Fargo WFC -- and a key reading of September retail sales slated for tomorrow, stocks are looking at a solid start to the Thursday session.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 190 point opening bell gain ahead while the broader S&P 500 is priced for a 28 point move to the upside. Nasdaq Composite futures, meanwhile, are set for a 185 point gain as benchmark 10-year note yields eased to 1.533% in overnight trading and Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report posts a 0.8% rebound in pre-market trading. 

Global oil prices moved back towards the highest levels in seven years Thursday, adding to inflationary pressures in major economies around the world, as the International Energy Agency warned that power crises in Europe and Asia would boost crude demand through the end of the year.

 "Record coal and gas prices as well as rolling blackouts are prompting the power sector and energy-intensive industries to turn to oil to keep the lights on and operations humming," the Paris-based group said in its monthly energy market report. 

"Higher energy prices are also adding to inflationary pressures that, along with power outages, could lead to lower industrial activity and a slowdown in the economic recovery." the report added.

WTI futures for November delivery $1.03 higher from last night's close to start the session at $81.47 per barrel ahead of Energy Department stockpile data at 10:30 am Eastern time, while Brent contracts for December, the global pricing benchmark, were up $1.09 at $84.27 per barrel.

The National Institutes of Health published a study late Wednesday that showed patients who first received COVID vaccine shot from Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Report  had a better immune response from boosters made by Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report or Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report

If the FDA concludes that mixing vaccine doses is both safe and more-effective in generating immune responses, it could opt to approve Moderna's request while seeking more information from Johnson & Johnson.

Johnson & Johnson shares were marked 0.56% higher in pre-market trading Thursday to indicate an opening bell price of $160.09. Moderna shares, meanwhile, jumped 2.4% to $329.30 each.

 Citigroup C and Bank of America  (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report highlight a busy earnings slate Thursday, with Dow components UnitedHealth and Walgreens Boots added to the mix.

JPMorgan  (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Report set the tone for the banking sector yesterday with a stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings report built on a surge in deal-making fees, while Delta Air Lines disappointed with a warning that rising fuel costs will trim current-quarter profits.

Wells Fargo  (WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report, Morgan Stanley  (MS) - Get Morgan Stanley (MS) Report and US Bancorp  (USB) - Get U.S. Bancorp Report are also expected to report before the opening bell

Collective S&P 500 profits are expected to rise 29.6% from last year to around $413.8 billion, according to forecasts from Refinitiv,. The energy sector is expected to lead gains over Q3, with profits rising by nearly 1500% from last year to around $20.5 billion.

Rising input costs, a tight labor market and weakening consumer demand are likely to hit profit forecasts across all sectors, however, leading to a weaker-than-expected series of outlooks from bluechip comapnies over the coming weeks, with the overall earnings growth rate slowing to around 22.2% over the fourth quarter

Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) Report said late Wednesday that 'Squid Game', a hyper-violent dystopian survival drama made by producers in Korea, has had the streaming group's most successful debut.

'Squid Game' has drawn 111 million viewers over its first month, Netflix said, passing the previous record of 82 million set by the U.K.-made Regency era drama Bridgerton.

"The strong second half content slate – highlighted by Squid Game – has reinvigorated the stock and near-term subscriber optimism," said BMO Capital Markets analyst Daniel Salmon ahead of next week's third quarter earnings. "We think risk/reward tilts to the upside still, but we are moving the stock a notch down our pecking order (of FAANG stocks) owing to stock price performance."  

Netflix shares were marked 0.7% higher in pre-market trading Thursday to indicate an opening bell price of $634.06 each. 

Xbox Series X|S has cleared 100k in Japan and is on track to beat Xbox One | VGC

Fox Business 14 October, 2021 - 10:16am

According to the latest Famitsu sales data, Xbox Series S sold 2,920 units and Xbox Series X sold 527 units during the week ended October 10.

This brings the combined lifetime total sales to 102,591 (64,284 for Series X and 38,307 for Series S).

In comparison, it took Microsoft’s previous console 220 weeks (4.5 years) to reach the 100,000 sales milestone by November 2018, according to data collated by Game Data Library.

However, in context Series X|S is still tiny compared to the other platforms on the market and PlayStation 5 is already well ahead at some 1.2m units sold. However, given Xbox’s historically poor market performance in Japan, it’s a more positive start in a country where Xbox has typically struggled.

Microsoft has made renewed efforts in Japan with its most recent console launch. Xbox Series X and S launched day-and-date with other territories last November (compared to a year later with its previous console) and Phil Spencer has said it intends to better cater to Japanese players this console generation.

In the months after it launched Xbox Game Pass for both console and PC in Japan last April, saw more player activity than in any time in its history in Japan, Spencer has previously claimed.

The exec has openly expressed a desire to acquire an Asian game developer, “in particular a Japanese studio”, on multiple occasions.

Last year it was claimed Xbox is continuing discussions with Japanese game developers ‘big and small’ as it continues its search for studio acquisitions in the country.

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Walgreens Boots Alliance Makes Majority Investment in CareCentrix

Yahoo Finance 14 October, 2021 - 10:15am

The investment advances Walgreens capabilities in post-acute and home care, in support of its launch today of Walgreens Health, the company’s customer-centric, technology-enabled care model powered by a nationally scaled, locally delivered healthcare platform.

Walgreens Health will create a better experience for consumers, improve health outcomes and lower costs by leveraging Walgreens strengths and assets, including trusted consumer relationships and community presence, national scale, care teams and partnerships with payors and providers across the country.

“In support of the launch of Walgreens Health, we continue to make strategic investments in pharmacy and healthcare solutions that can improve care coordination and health outcomes, while lowering overall costs,” said Roz Brewer, CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance. “CareCentrix’s suite of home care solutions will advance our capabilities in this important segment for healthcare delivery, to help address the needs of people living with complex or chronic conditions in the home.”

Post-acute care, specifically care that is delivered in the home, represents one of the fastest growing opportunities in healthcare. Caring for patients from the hospital to the home represents more than $75 billion in annual healthcare costs for payers, providers, and patients, and that total is growing rapidly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has made it clear that providing care in the home and community is the future of not only post-acute care, but healthcare more broadly. Indeed, the home is the last undeveloped frontier in American healthcare and critical to reversing spiraling costs and middling health outcomes,” said John Driscoll, CEO of CareCentrix. “Together, Walgreens and CareCentrix will be able to partner with a wide range of payers to help care for patients from the hospital to the home in a more personalized, engaged, and effective way.”

CareCentrix offers the suite of services needed, on an integrated basis, to support emerging home care models, including care transitions, home nursing, durable medical equipment, home infusion, and in-home palliative care. Success is driven through a relentless focus on operational excellence, a national home provider network, and enabled by HomeBridge, a machine learning, proprietary analytics-driven care coordination platform that develops hyper-personalized care plans. By managing the journey to the home and care in the home and providing personalized care, CareCentrix helps patients avoid unnecessary care, stay engaged in their care, and enjoy better health outcomes.

“CareCentrix is transforming the post-acute journey from hospital to home to support value-based care, lower costs, and improve outcomes and member experience. We are excited about the opportunity before us to build industry leading, home-focused care solutions,” said Laizer Kornwasser, President and Chief Operating Officer of CareCentrix.

CareCentrix manages care for 19 million members through approximately 7,400 provider locations, and empowers more people to live, heal, and age at home. By partnering with health plans and health systems, CareCentrix has reduced total cost of care for members by 20 percent, including a greater than 11 percent reduction in emergency department usage and a 23 percent reduction in skilled nursing costs.

This investment gives Walgreens Boots Alliance majority ownership of CareCentrix, investing $330 million for 55 percent of the company at an $800 million valuation, net of debt, with the option to acquire the remaining equity interests in the future. Following the completion of the investment, CareCentrix will continue to operate as an independent company under its current executive leadership.

The transaction is subject to the receipt of required regulatory clearances and approvals and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close by the end of WBA’s second quarter of FY2022.

Citi acted as financial advisor for CareCentrix, Inc., and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP acted as lead legal advisor.

WBA has a presence in more than 9 countries, employs more than 315,000 people and has more than 13,000 stores in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

WBA’s purpose is to inspire more joyful lives through better health. The company is proud of its contributions to healthy communities, a healthy planet, an inclusive workplace and a sustainable marketplace. WBA is a Participant of the United Nations Global Compact and adheres to its principles-based approach to responsible business.

More company information is available at www.walgreensbootsalliance.com.

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The firm said it was ‘ideally placed to seize new opportunities’ in the next financial year.

Domino's, a company seemingly tailormade for a pandemic, has not been spared from a phenomenon plaguing almost every employer this summer: A severe shortage of workers. The world's largest pizza chain has been a star on Wall Street this year with revenues soaring as millions sheltered at home and ordered a lot of pizza. Investors sent company shares to heights previously unseen over the summer.

Walgreens said it surpassed its Covid-19 vaccination goal by providing 13.5 million vaccinations in the quarter and 34.6 million in fiscal 2021.

Walgreens Boots Alliance was rising Thursday after reporting stronger-than-expected earnings and announcing major investments in the primary care sector. The second-largest drugstore chain by stores reported adjusted earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter of $1.17 a share, beating the FactSet consensus estimate of $1.02. The company reported revenue of $34.4 billion, above the consensus estimate of $33.3 billion.

Domino's Pizza Inc. stock fell 4.7% in Thursday premarket trading after the pizza delivery chain reported third-quarter revenue that missed the Street. Net income totaled $120.4 million, or $3.24 per share, up from $99.1 million, or $2.49 per share last year. Revenue totaled $997.99 million, up from $967.7 million. The FactSet consensus was for EPS of $3.11 and revenue of $1.03 billion. U.S. same-store sales fell 1.9% while international same-store sales rose 8.8%. The FactSet consensus was for

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(Reuters) -Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc said on Thursday it would take majority stakes in two smaller health care providers for about $5.5 billion, as the second largest U.S. pharmacy chain shifts focus beyond its drugstores. Shares in Walgreens rose nearly 7% to $50.44 in afternoon trading after it reported fourth-quarter results that beat estimates, helped by easing pandemic-related restrictions and COVID-19 vaccine administrations at its stores. The company said it would make a $5.2 billion investment in VillageMD, raising its stake https://reut.rs/3AGlbg2 in the primary care provider to 63%.

I don't buy a lot of stocks. But with so many amazing businesses trading on the public markets, there are a lot that I want to buy. Many factors need to come together for me to press the buy button: the right allocation of paying myself first, an emergency fund, and funds available for investing.

Moderna stock popped Thursday as a Food and Drug Administration panel of experts met to discuss the merits of its Covid booster shot.

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Walgreens was such a believer in the blood testing startup and the profits it promised that the drug store chain invested $140 million overall in Theranos, but only $40 million in return for equity in the company, its former CFO said at Elizabeth Holmes' trial.

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Another day, another government official warning that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could cause big, big problems. In a speech Wednesday, a senior member of the U.K. central bank likened the rapid growth of crypto assets to the subprime mortgage-backed security market before its meltdown in 2008, which was the catalyst for the 2008-09 financial crisis. Jon Cunliffe, a deputy governor of the Bank of England in charge of financial stability, said that crypto technologies offer the prospect of “radical improvements” in finance, but that their current applications are now a financial stability concern.

If you want to build life-changing wealth, the stock market can be a great place to realize that dream. Since 1957, the S&P 500 has produced an annualized return of roughly 10.4% (including dividends).

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