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Stocks - GM Rises in Premarket; Merck Falls on Spin-Off News

By Geoffrey Smith -- Stocks in focus in premarket trade on Wednesday, 5th February. Please refresh for updates.

9 AM ET: Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE:ICE) stock was up 4.0% and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) stock was down 1.9%, partially retracing moves made on Tuesday on the confirmation that the two had held talks over a potential acquisition by ICE, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange.

ICE (NYSE:ICE) confirmed after the closing bell on Tuesday that it had sought to buy the electronic marketplace, which has struggled to redefine itself after trying to grow beyond its roots as an online auction house.

Earlier this week, activist shareholder Starboard had again pressed it to sell its classified ads business in an effort to unlock value for shareholders.

8:50 AM ET: Ford Motor (NYSE:F) stock fell 8.3% after forecasting that this year’s earnings before interest and taxes would fall, without giving a clear explanation why.

JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Royal Bank of Canada both downgraded their price targets for the stock on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

8:41 AM ET: Snap Inc (NYSE:SNAP) stock fell 7.3% to a three-week low after the parent company of social media network Snapchat said its net loss widened and its revenue fell short of Wall Street expectations in the fourth quarter.

The results showed the company still struggling to lure advertising dollars away from Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), even though daily average users hit 218 million, up some 16% on the year.

Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock was up 0.6%, but underperforming the S&P 500 Futures and Nasdaq 100 futures contracts, after the company reported earnings after the bell that contained both good and bad news.

The good news was that quarterly earnings per share were ahead of forecasts, while the Disney+ streaming service now has 28.6 million subscribers, up from 10 million at launch in November.

The bad news was that Disney expects the closure of its theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong, caused by the coronavirus outbreak, to cost it some $175 million in operating profit in the current quarter.

8:27 AM ET: Spotify (NYSE:SPOT) stock fell 2.8% after the streaming company said it swung to an operating loss in the fourth quarter, despite a better-than-expected 29% rise in premium subscribers, who generate almost all of its revenue.

Revenue was some 2% below forecasts, and the company’s guidance for first-quarter revenue at around $1.81 billion was also some 5% below consensus forecasts, reflecting – among other things – some aggressive discounting to gain new subscribers in the face of increasing competition from the likes of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).

8:15 AM ET: Merck (NYSE:MRK) stock fell 1.5% after the pharma giant said it will spin off its lower-margin businesses into a new company, allowing it to focus on higher-margin, higher-cost drugs. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and GlaxoSmithKline have taken similar steps in recent months.

The future Merck will concentrate on oncology, vaccines, hospital and animal health. It expects annual cost savings of $1.5 billion by 2024 and is targeting an operating margin of over 40%.

The company’s quarterly earnings were broadly in line with expectations.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) stock rose 1.1% after the company said it swung to a net loss of $194 million in the fourth quarter due to a six-week strike that took $2.6 billion of its basic operating profit. Adjusted earnings per share also fell short of expectations at 5 cents rather than the 11c consensus.

GM said it expects adjusted EPS of between $5.75 and $6.25, while cash flow will be between $13 billion and $14.5 billion.

GlaxoSmithKline ADRs (NYSE:GSK) were down 1.0% after the company missed quarterly earnings forecasts by a wide margin. The company also said it expects additional costs from the proposed spin-off of its consumer healthcare unit of between 600 and 700 million pounds ($780-$910 million).

GSK said it expects adjusted earning per share to fall by as much as 4% at constant exchange rates, but said it would likely keep its dividend unchanged at 80 pence a share.

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