Top US stocks to watch before the bell: J&J, Pfizer and American Express

US officials consider whether to restart J&J’s vaccine, the EU makes a huge order for Pfizer’s jab, American Express and Honeywell beat forecasts, Intel and Mattel raise expectations, Snap’s app improvements pay off, and Panasonic makes its biggest acquisition in a decade.

USA (1)

Johnson & Johnson

Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet today to discuss whether it is safe to allow the J&J coronavirus vaccine to start to be used again, with reports suggesting officials are keen to give it approval.

J&J’s vaccine was paused over fears surrounding blood clots but a decision on whether it can be used again could be made later today. Notably, the European regulator recently recommended a warning about unusual blood clots in patients with a low platelet count should be added but said the overall benefits outweigh the risks.

Pfizer

The European Union has agreed to buy 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, representing the biggest single deal for any coronavirus jab in the world.

The deal would be big enough to vaccinate the EU’s 450 million-strong population for two years. The bloc recently opened discussions about sourcing vaccines for 2022 and 2023 but did not state the delivery timeframe for the latest deal, which was reported by Reuters.

The additional doses would be on top of the 600 million doses ordered under two previous agreements.

American Express

American Express beat expectations in the first quarter of 2021 after releasing over $1 billion of funds it had set aside to cover potential bad loans during the pandemic, describing 2021 as a ‘transition year’ that it hopes can restore momentum to growth.

The company said net income rose to $2.74 per share from just $0.41 the year before, well ahead of the $1.61 forecast by analysts. That came as the released funds helped offset a 12% fall in revenue.

Honeywell

Honeywell International has raised expectations for this year after beating forecasts in the first quarter as demand for its automation equipment continued to grow.

The company saw sales jump 49% in the first quarter to $2.12 billion, well ahead of the $1.79 billion expected by analysts. Adjusted net income came in at $1.92, also ahead of the $1.80 expected by Wall Street. Bottom-line net income fell to $2.03 per share from $2.21.

Honeywell said it now expects to report full year sales of between $34 billion to $34.8 billion rather than its previous forecast of $33.4 billion to $34.4 billion.

Schlumberger

Schlumberger said it expects activity in the global oil industry will improve throughout 2021 and beyond as earnings came in slightly better than expected in the first quarter.

Adjusted net income of 21 cents in the first three months of the year came in just below the 22 cents reported in the fourth quarter of 2020, but ahead of the 19 cents forecast by analysts. Revenue was down 6% quarter-on-quarter thanks to asset disposals in North America and came in flat when they were excluded.

Schlumberger is expecting slower growth in North America going forward while international activity is expected to increase and drive its recovery over 2021 and 2022.

Intel

Intel upped expectations for the full year as demand for computers and cloud-computing continues to rise during the pandemic, but warned there are challenges to overcome relating to the global shortage in chips.

Intel’s first-quarter revenue of $18.6 billion came in higher than the $17.89 billion expected by analysts while adjusted earnings of $1.39 was ahead of the $1.15 forecast. It warned revenue will fall to around $17.8 billion in the second quarter and EPS will drop to $1.05.

For the full year, Intel now expects to report adjusted revenue of $72.5 billion and profits of $4.60 per share – marginally higher than Wall Street forecasts.

Panasonic

Panasonic has announced it will make its biggest acquisition in almost a decade by purchasing supply chain software maker Blue Yonder for $7.1 billion as it hopes to capitalise on booming demand for digital solutions during the pandemic.

Panasonic already owns a 20% stake in Blue Yonder after spending $797 million last year. The new deal values Blue Yonder at $8.5 billion once its debt is taken into account.

Blue Yonder serves companies like Walmart, Starbucks and Unilever. It will be Panasonic’s largest acquisition since buying Sanyo Electric and Panasonic Electric Works in 2011.

Mattel

Toymaker Mattel said it expects sales to grow faster than previously expected during 2021 after beating forecasts in the first quarter as people continue to buy toys like Barbie and Hot Wheels to keep children entertained whilst stuck at home.

The company said net sales came in at $874.2 million in the first three months of the year, well ahead of the $684.2 million expected by analysts. It was remained in the red with a 10 cent per share loss, but that was much better than the 35 cent loss expected.

Mattel said it now expects annual sales to grow by 6% to 8% in 2021 rather than its previous forecast to deliver mid-single digit percentage growth.

Snap

Snap beat expectations on Thursday when it said daily active users grew by 22% year-on-year in the first quarter to 280 million, slightly more than the 275.3 million forecast by Wall Street.

The social media platform said growth in North America slowed down in the period, but that overall growth was partly thanks to the introduction of a new and improved version of its Snapchat app on Android.

Revenue jumped 66% in the quarter to $770 million and was ahead of the $743 million forecast by analysts.

JPMorgan

JPMorgan said it ‘misjudged’ how its support for a breakaway European Super League would be received by football fans and the wider public after the idea swiftly collapsed.

The bank had agreed to be the sole lender to the new competition and agreed to provide the billions needed to get it off the ground, but it quickly fell apart as most of the 12 clubs involved withdrew after facing a backlash from supporters.

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