Top US stocks to watch: Alphabet, eBay and Sykes

Google’s ad business to be investigated in Europe, Adevinta and eBay clear the final hurdle in their advertising tie-up, Sykes agrees to $2.2 billion takeover, Adobe hails an ‘outstanding quarter’, Manchester Utd’s losses widen, and Twitter’s problems in India escalate.

USA (1)

Alphabet

The European Commission has launched yet another investigation into Alphabet’s Google, this time looking into its digital advertising business that drives the bulk of its revenue and profits.

Unnamed sources told Reuters that the EC is likely to confirm the case later this year. It could be significant considering Google made $147 billion in advertising revenue last year, more than any other company in the world.

eBay

Adevinta has announced that its proposed deal to combine its classified ads business with eBay’s has cleared the final regulatory hurdle after being given the all-clear by officials in Austria.

A deal struck last year will see the Norwegian firm buy eBay’s Classified Group for $2.5 billion in cash and 540 million shares. The deal is roughly valued at around $13 billion. The deal is now expected to be completed around June 25.

The deal will mean eBay will hold around a 44% stake in Adevinta and over one-third of the total voting rights, making it the single-largest shareholder but the second-largest when it comes to voting power.  

Sykes Enterprises

Sykes Enterprises, the customer experience services provider, said it has agreed to be taken over by Sitel Group in a deal that values the company at $2.2 billion.

Sykes said Sitel will purchase the firm for $54 per share, a 31% premium from its closing share price yesterday. The deal is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

Sitel said the rationale for the deal was ‘solid’ and would give it access to ‘a healthy, profitable and financially solid US brand that also has a stellar reputation’.

Adobe

Adobe said on Thursday that it had an ‘outstanding’ quarter as demand for its cloud products continued to gain momentum, delivering all-time high operating cashflow and putting it on course to deliver a record-breaking year.

Revenue rose 23% to $3.84 billion in the second-quarter to the end of June 4. GAAP EPS came in at $2.32 from $2.27, ahead of the guidance provided by Adobe. Non-GAAP EPS of $3.03 grew from $2.45 the year before and came in much higher than the $2.81 forecast by management.

Revenue is expected to come in at around $3.88 billion in the third quarter while GAAP EPS should come in at $2.27 and non-GAAP EPS at $3.00.

Manchester Utd

UK football club Manchester United revealed its losses almost trebled in the first quarter of 2021 as lockdown restrictions weigh on sales at Old Trafford.

Revenue fell 4.4% in the quarter to £118.3 million and adjusted Ebitda dropped 48% to £14.4 million. Its adjusted loss of £21.7 million ballooned from the £7.3 million loss booked the year before.

The football club hopes things can improve after welcoming back supporters last month, albeit only a fraction of its maximum capacity, and said it remains optimistic about fans being able to return to the stadium in larger numbers going forward.

Bristol Myers Squibb

Bristol Myers Squibb has struck a strategic partnership to co-develop an experimental cancer drug alongside Eisai.

The pair will jointly develop an antibody drug conjugate named MORAb-202. Eisai is already analysing the drug in two clinical studies being conducted in the US and Japan. The deal will see them jointly market the drug in Asia, Europe, the US and Canada.

Bristol Myers Squibb will pay $650 million to Eisai as part of the deal and up to a further $2.45 billion in future payments if certain milestones are met.

Twitter

Tensions between Twitter and the Indian government continue to rise after police summoned the social media giant’s top official in the country to be questioned about allegations that it has failed to stop the spread of information that is causing division among Hindu and Muslim communities.

The official police notice was reported by Reuters, which said the case centres on a video that spread thought to show a group of Hindu men attacking an elderly Muslim man. Notably, Twitter is not the only site to be summoned by officials over the incident.

The latest allegations build on accusations by authorities earlier this week that Twitter was failing to adhere to new IT rules introduced in May.

Pilgrim’s Pride

Poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride has agreed to buy Irish firm Kerry Group’s Consumer Foods’ Meats and Meals business in the UK and Ireland for EUR819 million.

The assets being sold-off generated revenue of EUR828 million and a pretax profit of EUR63 million in 2020, ending the period with gross assets worth EUR521 million.

The Meats part of the business produces branded and private label meats and meat-based products in the UK and Ireland, including well-known labels like Richmond, Denny, Galtee, Rollover and Fridge Raiders. The Meals business makes chilled and frozen ready meals, ready-to-cook ranges and home delivery meals for the UK market.

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