Today we are watching…
1. Altria (#altria)
Already a “sin stock” on Wall Street, this tobacco giant had nothing to lose on a $12.8 billion investment in Juul (except $12.8 billion!). Following the hip e-cigarette start-up’s implosion last year following a bout of customer deaths, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a probe into how Altria didn’t see this coming, and didn’t forewarn investors. The company is arguing how on Earth it could have predicted such a thing, and investors are arguing that a costly guilty verdict will only hit their shares with a double-whammy. Juul is facing enough lawsuits of its own. Best to stand back and let this one play out!
2. John Deere (#deere)
Shares in this tractor maker were sliding worryingly before a better-than-expected earnings announcement came to the rescue. Last year was torrid. Trade tariffs on agricultural goods and a long stint of bad weather destroyed both farmers’ and investors’ yields. This year, lower production costs and broader industry stabilization have lifted profitability, potentially sparking a rebound in the share price. Analysts have spotted early signs that investors could be driven to a defensive stock like John Deere by the coronavirus. The company’s resumed big investments in machinery, so it’s one to watch!