Stock surges

S&P 500 News: AMD Stock Surges, Disney Loses Billions, Another CEO Change for Ford – Motley Fool

Analyst upgrade for AMD, Disney’s worst quarter ever, and another change in leadership at Ford is coming.

Jason Hall

The S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^SPX) had one of its calmest days in weeks on Aug. 4, closing up 12 points, or 0.36%, in the middle of one of the busiest earnings weeks for the quarter. On the whole, it was a good day for investors, with about 300 of the 505 stocks in the index moving higher today. 

Today’s biggest S&P 500 movers were fertilizer giant Mosaic (NYSE:MOS), up 13.6% following blowout earnings, and semiconductor giant Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD), with shares gaining 9.5% following an analyst upgrade.

Other big news for major index components include the announcement from Ford (NYSE:F) that CEO Jim Hackett will retire at the end of September, with CFO Jim Farley tapped to take the head job at the Blue Oval. Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) released its fiscal third-quarter results after the bell today, reporting a massive 42% revenue decline and a $4.7 billion loss. 

Technician holding semiconductor.

Image source: Getty Images.

AMD gets an upgrade

Wall Street is paying more attention to the semiconductor company, particularly its big lead over Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) in microprocessors. Today’s share price surge came after Jefferies analyst Mark Lipacis upgraded his price target, citing its huge lead in 7nm CPUs and its partnership with Taiwan Semiconductor that could allow it to take significant market share from Intel over the next several years. 

Lipacis moved his target price from $86 to $95 and thinks AMD could get to 50% market share within five years as Intel struggles to make up lost ground. 

Fertile ground for Mosaic

The fertilizer giant reported second-quarter earnings, sending shares up sharply after reporting a profit of $0.11 per share when analysts were expecting a small loss. It wasn’t just a profitable second quarter that has investors excited today: Mosaic management set expectations that the rest of the year would be strong, citing food security as being a major priority in every geography where it does business.

Simply put, food is not a discretionary expense, and Mosaic management expects its business to prove resilient and necessary even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh on the global economy. 

Ford getting third CEO in four years

When Jim Hackett replaced Mark Fields in 2017, investors were hopeful he would be able to successfully accelerate Ford’s shift to the future of transportation and return to the days of profitable growth that have evaded the company since Alan Mulally retired in 2014. After just over three years in the driver’s seat, Hackett’s run as CEO is set to end on Oct. 1, with, at best, mixed results. 

Hackett came in with the explicit goal of accelerating Ford’s development of electric and autonomous vehicles and making the company more nimble and profitable. He’s achieved the former, but the latter has, so far, evaded the company. Longtime Ford and former Toyota executive Jim Farley has been tapped as Hackett’s replacement. Farley has been at Ford since 2007 and was named CFO earlier this year in a move that was expected to be at least partly an audition for the top job down the road. 

Disney loses billions; stock goes up after hours

In the “quarterly earnings, low expectations” edition, Disney managed to beat expectations in its fiscal third quarter. On the top and bottom lines, investors expected revenues to fall sharply, so the 42% decline wasn’t a shock. Theme park revenue fell 85%, while studio entertainment — mainly movie theater ticket sales — fell 55%. 

As to the massive $4.7 billion GAAP loss Disney reported, $5 billion in restructuring and impairment charges made the actual operating results look much worse than they actually were. The company still managed to generate $1.2 billion in operating cash and $454 million in free cash flow in the quarter.

As a result of these better-than-expected results (expectations, remember?) along with the announcement that it now has over 100 million subscribers to over-the-top streaming services, shares were up about 4% in after-hours trading.

Earnings upcoming

In addition to Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) and T-Mobile US (NASDAQ:TMUS), which are set to report on Aug. 6CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) report quarterly results tomorrow, Aug. 5, making this a pretty busy week on the healthcare front. 

Global travel giant Booking Holdings (NASDAQ:BKNG) also reports this week. The company is scheduled to announce its second-quarter results after the market closes on Aug. 6. Check back here for a closer look at each company’s earnings from our experts, soon after they report. 

Jason Hall owns shares of Ford and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Bristol Myers Squibb, Jefferies Financial Group Inc., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recom

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Hong Kong demand for VPNs surges on heels of China’s plan for national security laws – CNBC

People wearing face masks, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, commute on a train in Hong Kong on April 4, 2020.

Dale De La Rey | AFP | Getty Images

Demand for virtual private networks in Hong Kong surged more than six-fold last Thursday as Beijing proposed tough new national security laws for the financial hub, reflecting concerns over internet privacy, according to a VPN provider.

Atlas VPN said installations of the tool that helps people bypass web restrictions surged again on Friday, up more than three-fold from the previous day, while search interest in the keyword term “VPN” rocketed 1,680% on May 21 from a day earlier.

Search interest in the word “VPN” hit a record high on Friday, it added, citing data from Google Trends.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and is governed under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees it a high degree of autonomy not seen in mainland China, including freedom of expression.

The former British colony also enjoys unrestricted internet access, unlike on the mainland where the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter are blocked.

Beijing’s plans to directly enact national security legislation sent a chill through financial markets and drew a swift rebuke from foreign governments, international human rights and privacy groups, who fear it could lead to increased surveillance and censorship.

Hong Kong police said they arrested more than 180 people on Sunday, when authorities fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse anti-government protests over the planned security legislation.

“If Hong Kong falls under the same digital restrictions as Chinese citizens in the near future, then we can expect an even higher interest in VPN services,” said aid Rachel Welsh, Chief Operating Officer of Atlas VPN.

The security legislation aims to tackle secession, subversion and terrorist activities and could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in Kong, one of the world’s leading financial hubs.

Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials have sought to reassure investors their interests would not be harmed and said the laws would only target a minority of “troublemakers” who had posed “imminent danger” to China’s national security.

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