Top US stocks to watch before the bell: Coca-Cola, GameStop and Harley Davidson

Coca-Cola and Harley Davidson beat expectations, GameStop begins searching for a new CEO, Peloton falls foul of the safety regulator, Coinbase CEO cashes in after IPO, and a potentially crucial court case starts against US drugmakers over the opioid crisis.

USA (1)

Coca-Cola Co

Coca-Cola reported stronger than expected growth during the first quarter of 2021 as it benefited from the gradual reopening of the US economy, with more people visiting restaurants, cinemas and other leisure sites.

The soft drinks giant said net revenue in the quarter rose to $9.02 billion from $8.60 billion the year before, beating analyst expectations for $8.63 billion. Net income fell to $2.25 billion from $2.78 billion, or to 52 cents from 64 cents on a per share basis.

Notably, the company also unveiled plans to spin-off and list Coca-Cola Beverages Africa.

GameStop

GameStop chief executive George Sherman will step down before the end of July as part of a wider shake-up aimed at turning the bricks-and-mortar retailer into a company fit for the digital age.

It follows on from a number of senior executives leaving the company in recent weeks, including its chief financial officer and chief customer officer, since Ryan Cohen, the founder and former CEO of online pet food store Chewy, joined the board in January.

The search for his replacement is underway, with candidates from the gaming, ecommerce and technology sectors being considered.

Harley Davidson

Iconic motorcycle firm Harley Davidson raised its guidance for this year after reporting strong growth in the first quarter, driven by demand for its touring bikes.

The company said first-quarter revenue jumped 10% to $1.42 billion from around $1.30 billion the year before, while net income more than trebled to $259 million from $70 million.

Harley Davidson said it expects revenue from its motorcycles business to grow by 30% to 35% in 2021, faster than its previous goal of 20% to 25%. That comes after the business initiated a turnaround plan in February to deliver low double-digit earnings growth through to 2025.

Peloton

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission warned over the weekend that Peloton’s treadmill Tread+ could be dangerous after reports of small children and pets being injured beneath the machines.

The commission said the treadmill ‘poses serious risks to children for abrasions, fractures, and death’ and told consumers to stop using the product immediately. Peloton said it was troubled by the findings and said they were inaccurate and misleading.

Microsoft

Microsoft has agreed to invest $1 billion into Malaysia over the next five years as part of a new public-private partnership, according to the country’s prime minister.

The partnership aims to drive investment into the likes of hyper-scale data centres and the infrastructure needed t provide cloud computing services, and comes after Malaysia conditionally approved a list of firms including Microsoft, Amazon and Google to build and manage infrastructure in the country.

It will be the biggest investment made by Microsoft into Malaysia and will form part of a wider investment from other foreign and local firms worth a total of around $12 billion.

J&J, Teva, Endo and AbbVie

A crucial lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Endo International and AbbVie will begin later today as several states look to impose $50 billion worth of penalties against the four drugmakers over their alleged role in fuelling the opioid crisis in the US.

A number of states claim the companies used deceptive marketing techniques and downplayed the addictiveness of their painkillers, contributing to the 500,000-plus deaths related to opioid addiction in the US between 1999 and 2019. The companies deny the allegations, but J&J is among a group of companies that have offered to settle all claims in return for $26 billion, but this has not been finalised.

Coinbase

The chief executive of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Brian Armstrong cashed-in around $292 million by selling shares in the company during its first day of trading earlier this month.

Armstrong sold 749,999 shares in three batches at prices ranging from $381 to $410. Around $5 billion worth of shares were sold by investors in total during the first day of trading.

Citigroup

Citigroup plans to expand its investment banking operations in China and will shortly apply to establish local businesses that will be able to underwrite, sell and trade futures by the end of July, according to Reuters.

The bank said last week that it was withdrawing from its consumer banking operations in 13 markets, including in China. The expansion to the investment banking arm is expected to be fuelled by hopes it can challenge domestic rivals in China and capitalise on huge opportunities in areas like Chinese IPOs.

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs has invested around $69 million, or £50 million, into UK online bank Starling.

The US bank invested the sums as part of a wider financing round that valued Starling at £1.1 billion. Starling said Goldman Sachs brings valuable insight as it looks to expand its lending in the UK and Europe and looks to grow further through mergers and acquisitions.

Manchester United and Juventus

Publicly-traded football stocks like Manchester United and Juventus will be on the move today following reports the two clubs plus another 10 top European clubs intend to join a breakaway Super League.

The new league would be closed off to all clubs apart from Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham from the UK, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atheltico Madrid from Spain and AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus from Italy.

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