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Tech, Media & Telecom Roundup: Market Talk

12 May 2018 8:20 am

The latest Market Talks covering Technology, Media and Telecom. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires at 4:20 ET, 12:20 ET and 16:50 ET.

2224 GMT [Dow Jones] S&P Global Ratings is keeping its view on Symantec Corp. (SYMC) despite uncertainty over an internal probe into unspecified financial matters. The firm said it may revise its ratings on the company--BB-plus, just into so-called junk territory--as more information becomes available. The cybersecurity company hasn't said much other than the investigation, in the hands of the board's audit committee, was sparked by concerns raised by a former employee. The company's stock, which had been already underperforming the market, was the worst performer in the S&P 500 on Friday, losing more than one-third of its value to close at $19.52. ( maria.armental@wsj.com; @mjarmental)

2109 GMT - CWA's executive board authorized about 14,000 AT&T workers to strike if their demands for a new contract aren't met, turning the screws on a company struggling to explain a $600,000 contract it signed with Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who's under federal investigation. The union seized on that bad PR, slamming AT&T for paying "six-figure sums to a shady consultant," while holding out on workers. The contract covering workers mostly in the Midwest lapsed in April, though CWA says it hasn't picked a date to strike. That said, its leverage just grew. (andrew.fitzgerald@wsj.com; @drewfitzgerald)

2053 GMT - The IPC stock index rose for the second day in a row, closing up 0.4% at 46,729 points with beverages and retail company Femsa shares up 1.6% and telecom heavyweight America Movil up 0.8%. The peso was quoted in Mexico City around 19.40 to the dollar compared with 19.2365 Thursday. In economic news, Mexico's March industrial production was flat, which was better than expected thanks to manufacturing gains, while in Washington, Mexican, US and Canadian trade ministers met without announcing any Nafta agreements, saying talks are continuing as a US congressional deadline for a quick deal approaches. (anthony.harrup@wsj.com)

1655 GMT - Symantec shares are having their worst day in 17 years--down 35%--after saying last night it's undergoing an internal investigation that could trigger earnings restatements. Analysts are puzzled about its weak FY19 guidance, while its fiscal 4Q results beat expectations. Piper Jaffray calls it "surprisingly weak," leaving it with little confidence in management forecasts. Oppenheimer calls it "disappointing coming in a period characterized by elevated corporate security spending." Both cut the cybersecurity company to neutral. Symantec had missed earnings expectations the previous two quarters, selling off 8% following the F2Q report. (patrick.sheridan@wsj.com)

1622 GMT - Belgium's leading index closed flat on Friday, with the Bel-20 finishing at 3884.40. Most shares on the index closed modestly higher with Sofina up 1.1% at EUR147.60 and Telenet closing 0.5% higher at EUR49.86. However weighing on the index was Cofinimmo, which closed down 1.3% at EUR106.60 and UCB which ended the session at EUR63.00, down 0.4%. (Laurence.Norman@wsj.com)

1542 GMT - London shares gain in late trading as rising metal prices boost miners. The FTSE 100 Index lifts 0.3% to 7724.55 as the price of copper benefits from another slip in London Metal Exchange inventories on Thursday, with stocks having been drawn down by almost 17% since the start of May, ING says. Randgold Resources Ltd is the sector's top riser, up 3.8%, while Anglo American PLC gains 3.3%. Broadcaster ITV builds on Thursday's gains, up 7.3% after reporting a 5% rise in total external first-quarter revenue. (philip.waller@wsj.com)

1502 GMT - Vodafone's full-year results on May 15 should show that this isn't the time and share-price level to be bearish on the European mobile-phone operator, says Numis Securities. Numis says regulatory cuts to mobile prices are now immaterial in regards to sales prospects in Europe--which represent about 63% of group value--and Vodafone keeps growing well in fixed line. "Also, unlike voice, mobile data requires operators to have network scale and balance-sheet strength, but some Vodafone rivals lack these," the brokerage says. Investors are also likely to focus on how Vodafone's 2018/19 guidance compares with consensus. Shares gain 0.1%. (philip.waller@wsj.com)

1433 GMT - The world's largest beer maker Anheuser-Busch InBev partnered with a Palo Alto crypto startup called Civic to develop a prototype of a crypto beer-vending machine, which will be used at a conference. Any attendee will be able to walk up to the machine with their Civic app, where they can verify whether they are of legal age and buy a beer. The prototype is yet another Californian product meant to introduce blockchain to the masses. "The industry needs practical ways of bringing crypto technology to a more mainstream audience, and create use cases that are so easy to understand for a regular individual," says Civic's Titus Capilnean. Earlier, three college students in San Francisco started an ice-cream delivery service called Block and Jerry's that will run only on the Lightning Network, which allows bitcoin transactions to be sent without the normal wait times. (olga.cotaga@wsj.com; @OlgaCotaga)

1428 GMT - The latest change at the top of GameStop will further corrode investor confidence in the retail company, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter tells the WSJ. CEO Michael K. Mauler's resignation Friday, after three months in the job, comes at a time when GameStop is struggling to capitalize on its move into the mobile-phone and services market. Earlier this year, the company fired its chief operating officer and its executive vice president of strategic business and brand development without cause. GameStop says Mauler resigned for personal reasons without providing further detail. "Investors like stability and continuity and GameStop is anything but," Pachter says. "This one is a shocker and disruptive and it will cause investor concern." GameStop shares off 3.5%. (Sarah.needleman@wsj.com; @saraheneedleman)

1421 GMT - Spirit Airlines plans to have wifi installed on most of its fleet by next summer, and will use dynamic pricing to flex the cost based on the route and demand. Spirit President Ted Christie says wifi fees will be included in its targeted $55 in ancillary fees from each passenger. (doug.cameron@wsj.com; @dougcameron)

1401 GMT - Pilgrim's Pride has been talking for a few quarters about its investments in automated meat processing systems, and CEO Bill Lovette says the Colorado company's robots are nearing their debut on the slaughterhouse floor. Pilgrim's has been testing "proprietary technology" and plans an initial launch of its "robotic solutions" in the latter part of the third quarter, Lovette says. Automated meat processing systems will help Pilgrim's deal with hard-to-find human labor, he says -- a growing problem for meat companies -- and help with some repetitive-motion tasks that are hard on employees. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

1345 GMT - Deutsche Telekom remains in a transitional phase both in Germany and in the U.S. despite posting first-quarter results which were "broadly in line with consensus," Citi says. The bank says the telecommunications company is likely to start investing heavily in deploying optic-fiber networks to living and working spaces in its domestic market. Citi also cites the uncertainty around the U.S. merger of Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile subsidiary and Sprint as a concern. It points out that despite posting overall positive numbers in 1Q, the company didn't change its free-cash-flow guidance due to higher costs in relation to the deal. Shares trade 0.6% lower at EUR14.23. (marc.navarro@dowjones.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 12, 2018 04:20 ET (08:20 GMT)

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