Thursday, April 19, 2018
What to watch today
On the calendar on Thursday, investors will have earnings to react to, though fewer major headline names will report than in recent days, with results from Blackstone (BX), Bank of New York Mellon (BK), Philip Morris (PM), Quest Diagnostics (DGX), and E-Trade (ETFC) expected to be headliners.
And on the economic data side investors will get the weekly report on initial jobless claims as well as the Philadelphia Fed’s latest reading on manufacturing activity in its region.
Amazon Prime has over 100M members: After declining for years to disclose how many people pay for Amazon Prime, Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos revealed on Wednesday in his annual letter to shareholders that over 100 million people globally have joined Amazon’s membership club. “In 2017 Amazon shipped more than five billion items with Prime worldwide, and more new members joined Prime than in any previous year – both worldwide and in the U.S. Members in the U.S. now receive unlimited free two-day shipping on over 100 million different items.” [Yahoo Finance]
P&G to buy German Merck’s consumer health unit for $4.2B: Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) will acquire the consumer health business of Merck (MRK) KGaA for about 3.4 billion euros ($4.2 billion), giving it vitamin brands such as Seven Seas and greater exposure to Latin American and Asian markets. P&G, whose stable of brands include Pampers diapers, Gillette razors and Vicks cough and cold products, said on Thursday that the acquisition had been agreed and would enable it to expand its portfolio of consumer health care products. Merck’s unit also includes vitamin brands such as Femibion, Neurobion and Nasivin. [Reuters]
Unilever and Nestle woo investors with cash: Unilever (UL), Nestle SA and other consumer giants are wooing investors with cash rewards as they lose the pricing power that’s historically driven sales growth and predators circle the industry. Unilever, the maker of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, said Thursday that it plans a 6 billion-euro ($7.4 billion) share buyback, while distiller Pernod Ricard SA will boost its dividend. The moves come as Nestle, Unilever and rival Procter & Gamble Co. find it ever harder to raise prices, with consumers seeking online bargains from Amazon.com Inc. and doing more of their shopping at discount grocers. [Bloomberg]
Fox chose Disney over Comcast on regulatory, stock fears: Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOX), which agreed in December to sell most of its assets to Walt Disney Co. (DIS) for $52.4 billion, had previously rejected a bid from Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) over concerns about the regulatory risks and its stock value, a regulatory filing on Wednesday showed. [Reuters]
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