Investors Shake off Greek Deal and Jobless Claims Numbers

Stocks are trading flat heading into midday trading as investors shrug off reports of a Greek deal and a drop in jobless claims. Reports came in this morning of a possible deal out of Greece. The deal would allow the financially struggling nation to receive a second bailout package.

Closer to home, jobless claims fell 15,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 358,000 according to the Labor Department. This is the second lowest level in almost four years. Many economists had expected claims to go up 3,000. While jobless claims fell, wholesale inventories rose 1% in December. This was higher than the 0.4% gain analysts were expecting.

Earnings season continues to be busy with companies releasing earnings earlier today and a few slated for after the market close.

Pepsico, Inc. (NYSE:PEP) shares took a hit this morning after the company reported better than expected profits, but guidance saw a 5% decline in 2012 earnings. This decline comes as Pepsico increases advertising and manufacturing costs. The company also announced it will be cutting nearly 9,000 jobs in restructuring. PEP is down 3.84% right now at $64.18.

Credit Suisse Group (NYSE:CS) is seeing a sell off today after the bank posted a quarterly loss. The company reported a net loss of $698 million, analysts were expecting a profit of $471 million. This loss comes as the company took $1.07 billion of charges to speed up cost cutting and dumping of risky assets. CS is down 3.33% at $26.72.

Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) is rallying today after announcing better than expected earnings late yesterday. The company also announced a share repurchase program worth $500 million. Also, many different brokerages increased their target prices for Visa. V is up 4.28% at $112.99.

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) is down slightly in midday trading despite posting better than expected results and raising their dividend. CSCO is down 0.08% at $20.4141.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) share are up today as Canaccord Genuity raised their price target from $650 to $665. Apple shares are up nearly $40 a share in the past week.

Investors will be eying Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) and LinkedIn Corporation (NASDAQ:LNKD) as well as other companies after the market close when they report earnings.

Active Stocks At Midday: ZNGA, CX, SD, GMCR, DVAX, ATVI

The market continues to trade mixed in midday trading. A positive jobs report sent stocks slightly higher this morning, but soon retreated after mixed earnings and Ben Bernanke’s remarks. Ben Bernanke told law makers earlier today that the economic recovery is “frustratingly slow.” He also urged law makers not to cut spending in policies that could help strengthen the economy. The Dow is down 18 points, the Nasdaq is up 7 points and the S&P is up 1 point.

Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ:ZNGA) is up 15.19% today at $12.21. ZNGA is continuing its rally over the past week or so as Facebook’s IPO filing is sending numerous companies in that sector up. Zynga’s success is directly tied into Facebook’s success. ZNGA is up on extremely large volume with nearly 40 million shares traded. The stock trades 10 million shares a day on average. The company has a market cap of 8.50 billion.

Cemex, S.A.B. (NYSE:CX) is up 6.75% in midday trading at $7.58. CX has traded 31.8 million shares so far today, more than double its daily average. CX shares are up today after the company announced fourth quarter results. CX saw consolidated net sales increase by 6% in the fourth quarter to $3.7 billion and increased 8 for the full year. The company has a market cap of 7.93 billion.

Sandridge Energy Inc. (NYSE:SD) is down 10.22% today at $7.03. SD has traded 50.1 million shares today, five times its daily average. SD was downgraded today by multiple analysts. Tudor Picering downgraded the stock to hold from accumulate and Howard Weil downgraded to market perform from market outperform. Sandridge also announced the purchase of Dynamic Offshore for $1.27 billion yesterday. The company has a market cap of 2.82 billion.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (NASDAQ:GMCR) is up 22.02% in midday trading at $65.44. GMCR is rallying today after crushing analysts’ estimates for first quarter results. Revenue more than doubled to $1.16 billion and net income rose to $104 million. First quarter adjusted EPS was $0.60 compared to the consensus of $0.36. GMCR has traded 18.2 million shares so far today, well above its daily average of 7.2 million shares. The company has a market cap of 10.12 billion.

Dynavax Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ:DVAX) is up 8.91% today at $4.01. DVAX has traded 7.3 million shares today, more than 5 times its daily average. DVAX shares are up today after it reported on Heplisav Pre-BLA meeting with FDA. The company has a market cap of 513.57 million.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) is down 0.74% in midday trading at $12.08. ATVI has traded 7 million shares so far today and trades 10.6 million shares a day on average. One of Activision’s biggest competitors, Electronic Arts, released their earnings yesterday. EA saw its Star Wars title perform very well with 2 million copies sold. Activision will announce their earnings on February 9. The company has a market cap of 13.80 billion.

IPOs To Dominate This Week, Stocks to Watch: ERTS, BBY, GE, AMZN, MSFT, ATVI

IPOs are set to dominate this week with big names including Zynga, Jive Software and Michael Kors Holdings all going public. Some of these companies could still delay their IPOs this week and some have citing market conditions. It will still be a busy week regardless for these new stocks.

Zynga is set to offer 100 million shares at a price range of $8.50 to $10 and could raise as much as $1 billion. If the company raises $1 billion it would be the largest Internet IPO since Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) in 2004.

Jive Software is offering 11.7 million shares between $8 to $10. The company is expected to begin trading on Tuesday.

Michael Kors Holding is a fashion design company and will offer about 42 million shares at a price range of $17 to $19.

Other companies going public this week include energy companies and tech companies.

Zynga’s IPO is likely to overshadow all the other IPOs and will see lots of investor attention on Monday.

Other stocks to watch on Monday include Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS), Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY), General Electric (NYSE:GE), Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI)

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) closed Friday up 2.33% at $21.99. EA’s Battlefield 3 came in third for the November 2011 NPD Sales Numbers. Battlefield 3 sold at least 1.26 million copies last month. The company also unveiled the newest Command and Conquer game at Spike’s Videogame Awards Show over the weekend. Electronic Arts Inc. has a market cap of 7.29 billion.

Best Buy Co., Ltd. (NYSE:BBY) finished Friday up 2.52% at $28.11. BBY trades 6.02 million shares a day on average. Best Buy is set to release their earnings in pre-market on Tuesday. Analysts expect Best Buy to report revenue of $12.1 billion. The company has a market cap of 10.18 billion.

General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) closed Friday up 3.25% at $16.84. GE traded 85.74 million shares on Friday, 23 million more shares than the company trades on average. GE will be holding an investor outlook meeting on Tuesday. General Electric has a market cap of 177.79 billion., Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) closed Friday up 1.34% at $193.03. AMZN trades 6.53 million shares a day on average. AMZN closed last week down from a high of $198 a share. Amazon has a market cap of 87.78 billion.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) finished Friday up 1.18% at $25.70. MSFT trades 51.05 million shares a day on average. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was the highlight for November’s NPD numbers as the video game console sold 1.7 million units. Xbox 360 sales were up 23% year over year in November. The Xbox 360 also held four of the top 10 selling console games including: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Battlefield 3. Microsoft has a market cap of 216.19 billion.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) closed Friday up 2.60% at $12.24. ATVI trades 13.05 million shares a day on average. Activision sold 9 million copies of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 last month. The company has a market cap of 14.01 billion.

Stocks Slightly Lower Despite Positive Retail Data (BAC, C, INTC, ATVI, F)

The markets are lower today as the euro zone continues to dominate the minds of investors. Not even positive retail data can get the market positive in midday trading. Retail sales rose in October by 0.5%. This follows the 1.1% increase in September. Consumers spent more money online as internet companies and mail-order catalogs saw sales rise 1.5%. This is the biggest increase since the beginning of the year.

Europe continues to be the main driving force in the markets today. There was a bit of good news from the region though today. The euro zone grew by 0.2% in the third quarter with Germany’s GDP rising the most at 0.5%. Fears of a recession are affecting European leaders ability to contain the debt crisis. Many economists are criticizing policy makers for implementing more austerity measures on already struggling governments. They argue this will only deepen the debt for these countries.

As of noon, the markets are trading slightly down with the Dow down 35 points, the Nasdaq unchanged and the S&P down 2 points. Gold is also down slightly while Oil is up at 98.57.

Let’s take a look at the most traded stocks as of 12:00 EST today.

Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) is up 0.66% at $6.09 today. BAC has traded 117 million shares so far today. The stock usually trades 293 million shares a day. BAC has been in a downtrend this month and was trading at around $7 a few weeks ago. BAC is currently trading below both its 50 day EMA (moving average) and 200 day EMA. The company has a current market cap of 61.93 million.

Citigroup, Inc (NYSE:C) is down 2.5% today at $27.66. C has traded 31.8 million shares so far today and is looking to finish the day around its daily average of 55.8 million shares. Citi has dipped 4 of its last 5 trading sessions and has fallen about $4 in that period. The company has a current market cap of 81.25 billion.

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) is up 2% today at $25.12. INTC has traded 25.4 million shares with about 4 hours left in the trading day. The stock usually trades 63.1 million shares daily. Intel is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Intel 4004, the world’s commercially available microprocessor. The company has a current market cap of 127.71 billion.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) is trading down $0.58 at $12.22, a loss of 4.53%. Shares of ATVI are down today after Vivendi SA said it sold 35 million shares of ATVI. Following this sale, Vivendi’s stake in Activision sits at around 60%. ATVI has traded 19.3 million shares, already double its daily average of 9 million shares. The company has a current market cap of 14.06 billion.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) is down 1.27% at $10.88 in midday trading. F is trading below average volume today with 19 million shares traded, well below its daily average of 65 million shares. Ford has been trading relatively flat after hitting a high in October of around $12.50. The company has a current market cap of 41.35 billion.

Investors Watch Activision Blizzard as Call of Duty Releases and WoW Subscribers Slip

Activision Blizzard (ATVI) Beats 3Q Estimates

Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI), the world’s largest video game publisher reported its third quarter results posting third-quarter sales, excluding changes in deferred revenue, fell 27% to $627 million from $857 million a year earlier. On that basis, analysts predicted $554.1 million, the average of 18 estimates. Total revenue gained 1.2% to $754 million, the company said.

Activision’s reported third-quarter net income almost tripled to $148 million, or 13 cents a share,. Excluding some items, profit of 7 cents exceeded the 2-cent average of 19 analysts’ projections compiled by Bloomberg.

For the year, profit excluding some items will be 85 cents a share, compared with 77 cents predicted by Activision in August and the 79-cent average estimate of 20 analysts.

One piece of bad news from the earnings results is the drop in World of Warcraft subscribers. The company reports current subscriptions at 10.3 million, a drop of 10% since May.
Robert Kotick, Chief Executive Officer, Activision Blizzard, said, “Today, we launched Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare 3™, which is perhaps the most anticipated video game in history and Call of Duty Elite, our new online service that makes playing together easier and more fun than ever before. Call of Duty Elite is a truly new form of entertainment combining Facebook-like social networking features and online television shows, offering the most accessible way to play Call of Duty games with other people.”

Kotick continued, “We continue to strengthen our position as the worldwide leader in interactive entertainment and the broadening of our audiences is confirmation that games are becoming as important as film and television as a mass-market form of entertainment. Our record nine-month results were driven the by the continued strength of our online-enabled franchises. Based on our third-quarter performance, stronger than expected consumer response to our new entertainment property, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures™, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, we are raising our full-year financial outlook and expect once again to deliver record operating margins and the highest earnings per share in our company’s history.”

Kotick added, “As we focus on 2012, we have a strong product pipeline which features a minimum of two highly-anticipated new titles from Blizzard Entertainment, including Diablo® III, and a new Call of Duty game from Activision Publishing. As a result, we expect to deliver another year of profitable growth. I believe our unyielding commitment to excellence and our creative talent around the globe will continue to position Activision Blizzard as the leader in interactive entertainment.”

Shares of Activision were trading at 13.24, down 5.38% at 11:14 am ET on Wednesday.

Competitors to Watch: Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO), THQ Inc. (NASDAQ:THQI), Ubisoft Entertainment SA (EPA:UBI) and Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS)

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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Rise Along With Japan and Australia

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in December rose 0.4 percent to 1,263 at 6:42 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures gained 59 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,066.

All eyes are on Italy this morning waiting on a budget vote as the European’s third largest economy attempts to keep there debt problems in check. Investors worldwide have moved from worries about Greece to Italy now. Italian bond yields spiked this week, a sign that Europe’s debt crisis is far from over. Unlike Greece, Portugal or Ireland, all of which received financial rescue money, Italy has too much debt to be rescued by its European neighbors.

The euro shed 0.1% to $1.3762 , down from $1.3773 late in New York and well off a 2-month high of $1.4248 hit on Oct. 27.

The S&P 500 is trading over twelve times the estimated earnings of its companies, below the average multiple of 14 over the past five years, Bloomberg News data shows. The S&P 500 slid 2.5% last week, snapping a four-week rally, as Greece’s reluctance to accept another bailout and the failure of global leaders to agree on boosting the International Monetary Fund’s resources threatened Europe’s efforts to halt its debt crisis.

The S&P 500 companies reporting results since mid-October shows more than 72% of them topped estimates for earnings.

Japanese stock futures and Australian shares rose after the European Central Bank’s Juergen Stark predicted the region’s debt crisis will be controlled within two years and as Greece moved closer to naming a premier of a unity government.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average expiring in December closed at 8,785 in Chicago yesterday compared with 8,760 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,770 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index was little changed in Wellington.

Crude oil for December delivery rose $1.26 to $95.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. This is the highest settlement price since July 29.

Stocks to watch include Honeywell (NYSE:HON) which gained 0.4% to $54.15 in Germany after Citigroup Inc. upgraded the shares to “buy” from “neutral.” Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) and Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM) release earnings today.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. (ATVI) Gears Up for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Release

On Tuesday, Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) is set to release Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which many analysts expect to be the biggest entertainment launch this year and maybe ever. Activision has already announced that pre-orders for the newest Call of Duty have “significantly exceeded” pre-orders for their previous installment, Call of Duty: Black Ops. Call of Duty: Black Ops sold 5.6 million copies on its first day of release. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 should exceed those numbers.

Bobby Kotcick, CEO of Activision, believes strongly in their new social service launching beside the game called Call of Duty Elite. “We believe that Call of Duty Elite, which was built for Modern Warfare 3 and is expected to launch with the game on November 8, should redefine social connectivity for multiplayer gaming,” he said during their previous earnings report.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. is set to release earnings on Tuesday and analysts expect EPS of $0.02 and $558 million in revenue. Earnings for their next quarter will be significantly higher with the release of their flagship title Call of Duty.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) closed the day Friday up 1.35% AT $13.56. ATVI traded above average volume with 9.71 million shares. The company has a current market cap of 15.50 billion.

Activision’s main competitor is Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS). Electronic Arts released their flag ship title, Battlefield 3, in mid-October and the game has seen critical and customer acclaim. Electronic Arts announced they have shipped over 10 million copies of Battlefield 3 and sold 5 million in the first week alone.

Activision is expected to sell more than 5 million copies of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, but it will be interesting to see if Battlefield 3 cuts into the Call of Duty player base any.

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