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Check out the companies making headlines before the bell:
Bank of America – The bank reported quarterly profit of 62 cents per share, 3 cents a share above estimates, with revenue also above forecasts. The bank’s results were helped by improved loan growth and deposits, among other factors.
WPP Group – WPP founder and Chief Executive Officer Martin Sorrell has stepped down. Two of the ad agency’s executives, Mark Read and Andrew Scott, will take on Sorrell’s duties while the company searches for a new CEO. Sorrell resigned amid a board investigation of misconduct allegations, saying the situation was disrupting WPP.
Icahn Enterprises – Icahn is selling its Tropicana Entertainment subsidiary for $1.85 billion. Tropicana’s real estate goes to Gaming and Leisure Properties, which leases real estate to casino operators, while Tropicana’s gaming and operations will be acquired by Eldorado Resorts.
McDonald’s – Stephens downgraded the restaurant chain to “equal-weight” from “overweight,” saying recent comparable store sales increases were driven by a number of successful initiatives coming together at once and that it doesn’t expect the same performance to be repeated.
General Electric – GE will take a $4.2 billion first-quarter charge, following an earnings restatement that cuts 2016 and 2017 profit by a total of 30 cents per share. The restatement is in line with prior guidance and is related to updated accounting standards.
Starbucks — CEO Kevin Johnson has apologized for an incident in Philadelphia last week which saw two African-American men arrested at a Starbucks store. The incident sparked allegations of racial profiling, and Johnson promised a thorough investigation of the incident.
Costco – The warehouse retailer was upgraded to “outperform” from “market perform” by Wells Fargo, which pointed to its expectation of increasing comparable sales, improving membership trends, and a special dividend it thinks will come sooner than most expect.
Goldman Sachs – The investment bank bought personal finance app Clarity Money, as it continues its push into retailer banking. The deal will increase Goldman’s retail banking customer base fourfold.
Temper Sealy – The mattress retailer was downgraded to “sell” from “hold” at Loop Capital, which cited disappointing checks with vendors and customers.
Ford Motor – Ford plans to operate a large-scale driverless car network by 2021, according to a report in the Financial Times.
J.M. Smucker – The food company’s stock was downgraded to “underperform” from “neutral” by Credit Suisse, saying it is in the right high-growth business in coffee and pet food, but with the wrong brands.
Shire – Shire struck a deal to sell its cancer drug business to French drugmaker Servier for $2.4 billion. The deal comes amid takeover interest surrounding the British drug company from Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical.
Blueprint Medicines – The drugmaker announced positive results from a study of its experimental treatment for lung, thyroid, and other cancers.
Kraft Heinz – Credit Suisse issued a two-notch downgraded on the food producer shares, to “underperform” from “outperform.” Credit Suisse is also cutting earnings estimates, saying organic growth is not the company’s strong suit and that it will struggle to keep sales and earnings from falling.
Xerox – Xerox’s largest shareholder, billionaire Darwin Deason, filed a lawsuit alleging that CEO Jeff Jacobson was told by the board to stop talks with Japan’s Fujifilm but instead raced to strike a deal. The lawsuit said the board had been considering firing Jacobson, prompting him to try to make a deal that would leave him in charge. Xerox chairman Robert Keegan disputed the claim, saying Jacobson was fully authorized to negotiate with Fujifilm.
Kinder Morgan – The pipeline company’s Canadian unit is in talks with the Canadian government and the province of Alberta about possible financial aid to restart a planned pipeline project.
Equifax — Proxy adviser ISS recommended shareholders vote against the re-election of five Equifax directors who were on the credit reporting agency’s audit and technology committee’s when the massive 2017 data breach occurred.
Caesars Entertainment – The casino operator will open its first non-gambling destinations in Dubai, partnering with a local development company to operate two Caesars-branded resorts.
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