Top US stocks to watch before the bell: GameStop, Apple and Amazon

GameStop to hire its biggest shareholder as chairman, Apple argues it has plenty of competition in the video games market, Amazon faces a crucial vote on unionisation in Alabama, Tesla scouts India for showroom sites, and CureVac hopes its vaccine can get EU approval by June.

USA (1)

GameStop

GameStop has said it plans to appoint billionaire Ryan Cohen, its single largest shareholder, as its chairman following its annual general meeting on June 9.

The announcement came as part of a wider management shake-up as it also prepares to welcome Larry Cheng, co-founder of investment firm Volition Capital, and Yang Xu, the senior vice president of global finance at Kraft Heinz, to its board.

GameStop also said it intends to pay all its directors in stock going forward and that all compensation will be cut by 28% from last year.

Apple

Apple has argued it has plenty of competition in the video game market to defend itself against allegations from Fortnite-maker Epic Games that it holds a monopoly.

The pair are locked in a legal battle after Epic sued Apple last year and accused the iPhone maker of anticompetitive practices by controlling what software its 1 billion-plus users have access to and using this to charge commissions to developers that they can’t get around. Apple’s latest filing on Thursday denied those allegations and claimed there are plenty of other companies vying for transactions in the video game market, including game console makers Microsoft and Nintendo, and that there are ways for users to pay developers directly for their software through the use of tools like virtual tokens.

Amazon

A ballot of Amazon workers in Alabama is being closely watched as it could lead to the company’s first US facility being unionised.

Around 5,800 workers at its facility in Bessemer in Alabama are able to vote on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). If the ballot passes, then it could become the first Amazon site to be unionised in the country. The RWDSU said the turnout was around 55% of the workers, or 3,200 of them, as votes start to be counted today.

Tesla

Tesla is reported to be searching for sites to open three showrooms in India as it prepares to enter the country by importing its Model 3 sedan as early as mid-2021 in hopes of attracting the country’s richer population.

Reuters said the electric carmaker is scouting for prospective sites in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru and has hired a former executive of Invest India, charged with promoting investment into the country, to help make a smooth entry after registering its business in January.

Separate reports from Reuters said Tesla has also complained that it is still waiting for final approval of its new plant in Germany after submitting its application over 16 months ago.

Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission has asked a federal court to dismiss Facebook’s application for lawsuits aimed at breaking the social media giant up to be thrown out.

The FTC and a number of US states have argued Facebook should be broken up because it bought Instagram and Whatsapp to swallow up potential rivals and enforce a monopoly. Facebook argues the ‘relentless criticism’ of the business is related to matters ‘entirely unrelated to antitrust concerns’ and has asked for the cases to be thrown out.

CureVac

CureVac said it expects to secure European approval for its coronavirus vaccine before the end of June.

The company’s chief executive Franz-Werner Haas said it was close to recruiting the people needed for its Phase 3 clinical trial and that it expects to secure approval in Europe soon after due to the need for more vaccines to meet demand. He said the data needed to be given the green light should be ready by the end of April or early May, paving the way for approval to be awarded before the end of the second quarter.

CureVac has already started producing its vaccine despite the fact it is yet to be approved, meaning it should be able to supply significant amounts in quick fashion. The EU has pre-ordered 225 million doses and has an option to buy another 180 million.

Eli Lilly

An arthritis drug developed by Eli Lilly and Incyte has failed to meet its goal in a late-stage study, casting doubt over its effectiveness.

Baricitinib, a rheumatoid arthritis drug, had already been given emergency approval in the US to be used in combination with another drug named remdesvir to help treat coronavirus patients that were struggling to breathe on their own.

Earnings calendar: Constellation Brands, ConAgra Brands and Fast Retailing

Today’s earnings calendar is light. Alcoholic drinks giant Constellation Brands is due to release fourth quarter results, ConAgra Brands will release third quarter results and Fast Retailing will publish results for the second quarter of its financial year.

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