Sam Bankman-Fried and his co-conspirators made more than 300 illegal political donations in the United States, according to a new indictment against the FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder unsealed on Thursday in Manhattan federal court.
The donations, totaling tens of millions of dollars, were unlawful because they were attributed to a “straw donor” or made using corporate funds, often allowing Bankman-Fried to evade contribution limits on individual contributions to candidates, prosecutors said.
Overall, the new indictment contains four fraud charges and eight conspiracy charges.
Bankman-Fried was previously hit with eight counts of fraud, money laundering and other charges over the collapse of the now-bankrupt exchange. He has pleaded not guilty in those cases.
Prosecutors say Bankman-Fried used the stolen customer funds to plug losses at Alameda Research, his hedge fund. Alameda’s former chief executive, Caroline Ellison, and a former FTX executive, Gary Wang, have both pleaded guilty to fraud charges and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
Nvidia shares soar
Nvidia shares are on pace for largest percent increase since March 24, 2020, when it rose 17.16%.
The chipmaker’s forecast for the 1Q of $6.5 billion was stronger-than-expected as the company benefits from a rebound in gaming.
“Gaming is recovering from the post-pandemic downturn, with gamers enthusiastically embracing the new Ada architecture GPUs with AI neural rendering,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA.
Online home goods retailer Wayfair misses Wall Street profit estimates
Wayfair Inc. on Thursday reported a loss of $351 million in its fourth quarter.
On a per-share basis, the Boston-based company said it had a loss of $3.26. Losses, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to $1.71 per share.
The results fell short of Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of $1.63 per share.
The online home goods retailer posted revenue of $3.1 billion in the period, which topped Street forecasts. Eleven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $3.06 billion.
For the year, the company reported a loss of $1.33 billion, or $12.54 per share. Revenue was reported as $12.22 billion.
Data center provider Iron Mountain tops Wall Street forecasts
Iron Mountain Inc.
Iron Mountain Inc. on Thursday reported a key measure of profitability in its fourth quarter. The results surpassed Wall Street expectations.
The real estate investment trust, based in Boston, said it had funds from operations of $286.8 million, or 98 cents per share, in the period.
The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for funds from operations of 94 cents per share.
Funds from operations is a closely watched measure in the REIT industry. It takes net income and adds back items such as depreciation and amortization.
The company said it had net income of $122.4 million, or 42 cents per share.
Iron Mountain posted revenue of $1.28 billion in the period, which fell short of Street forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $1.3 billion.
For the year, the company reported funds from operations of $1.11 billion. Revenue was reported as $5.1 billion.
Iron Mountain expects full-year funds from operations in the range of $3.91 to $4 per share, with revenue in the range of $5.5 billion to $5.6 billion.
Electric-truck maker Lordstown pauses production, deliveries
Lordstown Motors Corp will temporarily stop production and deliveries of its pickup truck Endurance, of which it has only made 31 units for sale, the electric-vehicle maker said, citing performance and quality issues with some components.
The company also said it would voluntarily recall 19 vehicles delivered to customers or being used internally.
Lordstown had set a target to deliver 50 vehicles in 2022 and more in 2023 out of the planned first batch of 500 units when commercial production started in September.
The company did not make it clear when it would resume production and deliveries.
Investor Foxconn, which also manufactures the Endurance trucks, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Domino’s Pizza misses sales estimates as demand wavers amid driver shortage
Domino’s Pizza Inc missed quarterly sales estimates on Thursday, in a sign that price hikes were eating into demand for its pizzas and chicken wings amidst decades-high inflation.
The world’s largest pizza chain, like other fast food companies, has raised prices of its menu items over the past year as it wrestles with elevated costs of transportation, labor and raw materials, a move analysts say could weigh on orders.
Even with Domino’s recent promotional offers, such as the 50% discounts on its pizzas for a limited time, its U.S. same-store sales climbed just 0.9% in the fourth quarter, missing expectations for a 3.69% rise in Refinitiv IBES data.
The Michigan-based company has also been facing acute staffing shortages, especially of delivery drivers at its U.S. stores, which has lengthened delivery times and further dented sales.
Prolonged weakness in its U.S. delivery business, coupled with broader economic pressures, also prompted Domino’s to trim its expectations for global retail sales growth, excluding foreign currency impact, to between 4% and 8% over a two- to three-year period. It had previously expected growth of 6% to 10%.
Total revenue rose to $1.39 billion in the three months ended Jan. 1 from $1.34 billion a year earlier, below estimate of $1.44 billion.
U.S. stocks rally as precious metals slip
The U.S. stock indexes are up on Thursday after a volatile session yesterday.
The Dow Jones Industrial, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are all in positive territory, with the blue-chip index looking to gain back some of it recent losses.
Dow stocks like Nike, Boeing and American Express are all in the green in early trading.
In commodities, oil is up approximately 2.64% to $75.90 a barrel after Wednesday’s big slip as gold sheds roughly 0.40% to $1,834.10 an ounce.
Meanwhile, silver is also down, falling around 0.54% to $21.55 an ounce.
Pandemic-favorite Etsy beats revenue estimates on demand for bags, gifts
Etsy Inc on Wednesday beat estimates for quarterly revenue on steady demand for bags, party products and personalized gifts on its online marketplace, sending the company’s shares up more than 5% in extended trading.
The company, a platform for sellers of handmade or vintage items, has remained popular with cost-conscious consumers after a pandemic-led spurt in growth when people shopped for cloth masks and craft supplies.
Net revenue in the quarter ended Dec. 31 jumped 12.6% to $807.2 million for Etsy, compared with analysts’ expectation of $751.8 million, according to Refinitiv.
Still, GMS, a key industry metric, fell 4% to $4 billion in the reported quarter from a year earlier as spending on non-essential items slowed under the threat of a recession. For the current quarter ending March, Etsy expects GMS to be in the range of $2.95 billion to $3.15 billion.
The company forecast revenue between $600 million and $640 million for the January-March period, compared with analysts’ expectation of $621.6 million.
The U.S. economy grew an estimated 2.7% in the 4Q based on the latest advance revision from the Department of Commerce.
Third Point’s Loeb plans proxy contest at Bath & Body Works
Billionaire investor Daniel Loeb told retailer Bath & Body Works on Wednesday that his hedge fund Third Point plans to launch a board challenge and said the company’s addition of new directors does not address his concerns about governance, capital allocation and executive pay.
“As fiduciaries, we have no choice but to put forth qualified director candidates and give our fellow shareholders the opportunity to elect directors who can hold the stewards of their capital responsible for the decisions they make,” Third Point founder Daniel Loeb wrote in a letter to the company’s board.
Bath & Body Works said in a statement late on Wednesday, “The Board strongly disagrees with the views expressed in Third Point’s letter.” However, it said it would review and consider Third Point’s proposed board nominations.
The company also said the additions of Lucy Brady and Steve Voskui to its board earlier this month were a product of the board’s engagement with Third Point.
The board considered the hedge fund’s feedback that the company would benefit from additional financial and capital allocation expertise, Bath & Body Works said, adding that it was unfortunate that Third Point has announced its intent to pursue a costly public proxy fight.
Target’s new push
Target is making a $100 million push into something known as “sortation” centers. Here’s why…
Moderna sticks to $5B sales view for COVID shot despite strong Q4
Moderna Inc reaffirmed annual sales forecast of $5 billion for its COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday despite its fourth-quarter sales exceeding estimates, on expectations of lower demand for the shots in the fourth year of the pandemic.
Sales of the vaccine, Moderna’s sole commercial product, were expected to fall sharply this year from $18.4 billion in 2022 as most people globally have received their shots and boosters, while governments and other agencies cut purchases.
The sales forecast implies a “possible EPS net loss” this year compared to the huge profit its COVID vaccines drove during its peak, Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said in a note.
However, there is a potential for positive cash flow this year if Moderna is able to get more advanced purchase agreements for its COVID shots, Yee said.
Moderna expects additional sales from markets including the United States, Europe and Japan.
Dollar General 2023 profit forecast underwhelms after storm-hit quarter
Dollar General Corp on Thursday forecast full-year profit
well below expectations after cutting its earnings estimate for the all-important holiday quarter on heavy discounts, higher costs and inventory damage due to winter storm Elliott.
Analysts on average were expecting a 10.6% increase, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
With U.S. consumer prices, rental housing and food costs still rising, retailers are increasingly becoming more cautious about their outlooks for the year.
Dollar General said same-store sales increased 5.7% in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 3, compared with its prior forecast of a 6% to 7% growth.
The company expects earnings per share to be between $2.91 and $2.96, compared with earlier expectation of $3.15 to $3.30.
Alibaba beats quarterly revenue estimates as COVID curbs ease
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue on Thursday, as the Chinese e-commerce giant benefited from the country easing COVID-19 curbs.
The company has weathered a weak economy in China, which only last December lifted its zero-COVID policy after three years.
Revenue rose 2% to 247.76 billion yuan ($35.92 billion) for its fiscal third quarter to Dec. 31, compared with a Refinitiv consensus estimate of 245.18 billion yuan drawn from 23 analysts.
China’s total retail sales contracted 1.8% in December, while its economy grew 3% in the full year 2022, one of its worst growth rates in nearly half a century.
Net income attributable to ordinary shareholders rose 69% to 46.82 billion yuan from 27.69 billion a year earlier.
‘’Alibaba is starting to turn a corner as consumer confidence slowly returns after China’s onerous zero-Covid crackdown, but it’s going to take time before its powering on all cylinders again,” said Susannah Streeter, head of Money and Markets, Hargreaves Lansdown.
“Demand was still suppressed in January and February as Covid spread and the New Year celebrations also disrupted sales. But now that cases have subsided, consumer sentiment has risen and the desire to spend is snapping back, which combined with a readiness of online merchants to deal with demand bodes well for Alibaba’s continued recovery.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
Rolls Royce touches 13-month high on strategic review announcement
Britain’s Rolls-Royce beat expectations with a 57% rise in underlying operating profit to 652 million pounds ($787 million) for 2022 on Thursday, helped by a better performance in Civil Aerospace and Power Systems.
Its shares jumped 20% to a 13-month high of 129.5 pence.
The market responded positively to the announcement of a strategic review by new CEO Tufan Erginbilgic and the signs of recovery, as the company eclipsed its own forecast of “modestly positive” 2022 cash flow with a result of 505 million pounds ($607 million).
Erginbilgic, a former BP executive, said his review would be completed in the second half of the year.
“Describing a business as a ‘burning platform’ just days into his tenure suggested the need to put out some fires and that was very much what Rolls-Royce CEO Tufan Erginbilgic outlined alongside annual results,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
“As firefighting exercises go, targeting seven areas of improvement at the outset is some going and it’s clearly got investors excited. Erginbiligic has taken advantage of the leeway offered with a new broom and swept away the annual dividend despite profit proving more resilient than feared in 2022.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
Ohio’s toxic train derailment
Norfolk Southern Corp.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will tour the site of Norfolk Southern’s train derailment that has spilled toxic chemicals into the area threatening the health of residents and the local economy
. While the rail operator has vowed to pay for the cleanup, the cost to the company is not what you might expect.
Fidelity’s retirement report
Fidelity, which manages over $10 trillion in assets, is out with its retirement update and while 401(k)s and IRAs have taken a hit there are some encouraging signs on the horizon.