Top US stocks to watch before the bell: Facebook, Pershing Square Tontine and Tesla

Facebook faces investigations in the UK and Europe, Pershing Square Tontine on cusp of striking largest-ever SPAC deal to buy stake in Universal Music, reports suggest Tesla sales in China have collapsed, Disney’s chairman sells shares for $100 million, and Broadcom and Lululemon beat expectations.

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Facebook

Facebook is facing fresh investigations from regulators in Europe and the UK as to whether it misused customer data to gain an unfair advantage over advertisers.

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority is looking if it gained an unfair advantage in online classified ads and online dating. The CMA noted the European Commission had launched its own separate investigation, which is concentrating on Facebook Marketplace, but both will work together on the case.

Facebook Marketplace is used by around 800 million users around the world who buy and sell using the social media platform.

Pershing Square Tontine and Vivendi

Pershing Square Tontine, a blank-cheque SPAC company, is in talks about buying a 10% stake in Universal Music Group for $4 billion.

If completed, the $40 billion valuation could make it the largest-ever company to bought by a SPAC following the similar valuation touted by Asian ride-hailing firm Grab. The stake would be bought from Vivendi, which has already sold equity in the label to Chinese firm Tencent and is preparing to list Universal in Amsterdam later this year.

Bill Ackman, which leads Pershing, said Universal was ‘one of the greatest businesses in the world’ and that the deal ‘meets all of our acquisition criteria and investment principles’.

Tesla

The number of orders made for Tesla cars in China almost halved in May compared to April as consumers become concerned of the increased scrutiny being placed on the vehicles by the Chinese government, according to a report released by The Information, which cites internal data.

It claims that orders fell to around 9,800 in May from over 18,000 the month before. Tesla has not directly responded to the report. China is a huge market for electric cars and accounts for just under one-third of Tesla’s overall sales. Plus, the carmaker makes Model 3s and Model Ys from its new plant in Shanghai.

Reports surfaced last month that Chinese officials had been worried about security issues and banned them from being parked in government compounds.

Disney

Disney chairman Bob Iger has sold off a chunk of his stake in the company for around $98.7 million, regulatory filings revealed on Thursday.

Iger sold 550,570 shares in total. Of that, 537,304 were sold at an average price of $179.2 and the other 13,266 shares were sold at $179.76.

Iger stepped down as chief executive of Disney earlier this year to pave the way for Bob Chapek to take over but continues to direct the company’s creative departments until his contract expires at the end of this year.

Broadcom

Semiconductor firm Broadcom beat expectations and published a better-than-expected outlook when it released quarterly results on Thursday.

Revenue rose to $6.61 billion in the second quarter to May 2 from $5.74 billion the year before, while adjusted EPS of $6.62 increased from $5.14. That beat expectations for revenue of $6.51 billion and EPS of $6.43. Broadcom’s growth was primarily driven by the ramp-up in activity in 5G and cloud-computing markets.

Broadcom said it expects to deliver revenue of around $6.75 billion in the current quarter, ahead of the $6.6 billion forecast by Wall Street. Sales typically ramp-up in the third quarter as Broadcom prepares to help Apple launch its latest hardware in the fall.

Apple

Speaking of Apple, the iPhone maker is reported to be working on a new iPad Pro tablet that can charge wirelessly as well as a revamped iPad Mini to capitalise on the momentum built during the pandemic, which has driven increased demand for tech as people work and play at home.

The report from Bloomberg said the new iPad Mini could come with narrower screen borders or even have its home button removed. The iPad Pro could also come with a glass back.  

Lululemon

Lululemon Athletica on Thursday revealed it beat expectations in the first quarter and upgraded its guidance as it delivers exceptional growth in sales both in-store and online.

Net revenue jumped 88% to $1.2 billion as store sales more than doubled and its direct-to-consumer sales increased 55%. North America sales soared 82% but international sales growth came in even better at 125%. Diluted EPS came in at $1.11 from just $0.22 the year before.

Lululemon is targeting second-quarter revenue of $1.3 billion to $1.33 billion and EPS of $1.05 to $1.10. It also upgraded its guidance for the full year and is now aiming for revenue of $5.82 billion and $5.90 billion and EPS of $6.73 and $6.86.

Pfizer

The coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been approved for use on 12 to 15 year olds in the UK, following similar approvals awarded in the US and the EU.

Although approved, it will be down to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation as to whether it uses the jab as part of its vaccine rollout. Notably, it is already being used on the age group in the US and both France and Germany are expected to start this month.

Cargill

Cargill on Thursday said it plans to build a new $200 million palm oil refinery in Indonesia to help boost supplies of sustainable and verified versions of the commodity.

The plant will help customers primarily in Europe and North America access more sustainable palm oil. Construction has already started and is expected to be finished in late 2022.

Palm oil demand has grown in recent years and Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter, but it has come under fire for its environmental impact, which has driven the need for more sustainable supplies.

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