Top US stocks to watch before the bell: Apple, Deere and Applied Materials

Apple’s boss prepares to defend the App Store in court, Deere & Co and Applied Materials both see sales explode, Tesla ups its prices, South Korea approves Moderna’s jab, Pfizer grapples with India over protection, McDonalds gets sued, and Uber and Lyft face new regulations in California.

USA (1)

Apple

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook will defend the company’s App Store later today as part of trial that accuses the iPhone maker of abusing its monopoly in the market.

The CEO is expected to speak for around two hours in what will be some of the most extensive public remarks about the store that underpins its booming service business. A number of companies spanning Spotify to Fortnite-maker Epic Games and a number of US politicians have levelled accusations that it tries to suppress competition using its position in the market.

Deere & Co

Deere & Co upped expectations for the rest of the year after profits soared during the second quarter thanks to a boom in demand for farm machinery and construction equipment as the economy reopens.

The company said revenue was up 30% to $12.0 billion and that net income jumped to $1.79 billion from just $666 million the year before. Combining its results from the first quarter, first-half revenue was up 25% and net income almost trebled.

Deere said it is now expecting to report annual earnings of $5.3 billion to $5.7 billion rather than its previous target range of $4.6 billion to $5.0 billion. However, it did also warn that there are pressures in the supply chain that will intensify this year, but said it is working with suppliers to ensure it can continue to source key parts and components.

Applied Materials

Applied Materials reported a surge in revenue and record earnings in the second quarter of its financial year, prompting it to raise expectations.

The company said revenue jumped 41% in the quarter to $5.58 billion, ahead of the $5.4 billion forecast by analysts, while adjusted EPS soared 83% to hit a record of $1.63. Applied Materials said its semiconductor business drove growth and that it expects to outperform the wider market going forward.

Applied Materials said it expects to book net sales of $5.72 billion to $6.12 billion in the third quarter with EPS of between $1.70 to $1.82. Analysts had expected the company to target third-quarter revenue of $5.58 billion.

Tesla

Tesla has raised the price of variants of its Model 3 and Model Y cars.

The company’s cheapest Model 3 Standard Range Plus has risen to $39,990 on Friday whilst the Model 3 Long Range AWD was upped to $48,990. The price of the Model Y Long Range AWD has risen to $51,990. All of them have gone up in price by around $500.

Separately, reports suggest that some Chinese officials have been told not to park their Tesla cars in government compounds due to concerns that security could be compromised by the car’s cameras.

Moderna

South Korea has given the green light to Moderna’s coronavirus jab as it looks to speed-up its vaccination programme.

The Moderna vaccine is now the fourth to be approved in the country following AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Moderna has already agreed to supply 40 million doses to South Korea, but no firm timeline for delivery has been announced.

Separate reports suggest Moderna is also considering manufacturing its jab in Japan.

Pfizer

Pfizer is in a dispute with India’s government as it struggles to secure legal protection against any possible claims that could arise in the future due to its coronavirus vaccine.

Countries including the US and the UK have said Pfizer will be immune from being pursued for compensation due to any side-affects of its jab, but India is so far refusing to grant Pfizer or any other company the same protection.

Uber and Lyft

Regulators in California have confirmed it they plan to introduce rules that will require the vast majority of trips taken via ride-hailing firms like Uber and Lyft will need to be in electric vehicles.

The proposals suggest 90% of all trips be made in electric vehicles by 2030 and the the California Air Resources Board voted unanimously in favour of them.

Uber and Lyft have agreed with the ambitions but wants more financial support from the taxpayer to help with the cost of transitioning its drivers to electric from traditional vehicles. Notably, both companies have said they intend to go electric by 2030, but the new ruling from California is a first in the US and could set a precedent for other states.

McDonalds

Two companies are suing McDonalds for $10 billion and accusing the company of racial discrimination for not using black-owned media outlets for its advertising.

The case has been filed in Los Angeles and says McDonalds has violated laws by ‘racial animus and racial stereotyping’ when allocating where it spends its marketing budget. It alleges that the company spent less than $5 million of a $1.6 billion budget with black-owned media outlets when 40% of its customers are black.

The case is spearheaded by Byron Allen, who claims McDonalds refuses to advertise with his business that owns the Weather Channel. He started proceedings on the same day that McDonalds announced it would spend more on advertising with platforms owned by black-owned outlets.

Alcoa

Alcoa is working with Australian government agencies to develop a new process to make refining of alumina more environmentally-friendly with the help of a new AUD11.3 million grant.

Alcoa is aiming to develop a technology named mechanical vapour compression that uses renewable energy to power compressors that can turn waste vapour into steam. Alcoa says it could improve efficiency, cut costs and reduce emissions.

Refining alumina in Australia causes around 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and the government is backing the project to help make the industry greener.

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