Coronavirus, Warren Buffett, Intuit and Credit Karma, Pepsi - 5 Things You Must Know Monday

Stock futures slide as the coronavirus has been found in more than two dozen countries; Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway posts quarterly earnings of $29.2 billion; Intuit reportedly is close to buying Credit Karma.
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Here are five things you must know for Monday, Feb. 24:

1. -- Stock Futures Sink as Coronavirus Cases Spread Outside Asia 

Stock futures fell sharply Monday as investors reacted to the global spread of the coronavirus, which now has been found in more than two dozen countries.

Italy has confirmed 150 cases of the virus, with officials verifying at least three deaths in Europe's third-largest economy. Iran has said as many as eight people have died, while the number of coronavirus cases in South Korea has jumped to just under 800, the most outside China.

Confirmed cases in China, where the outbreak began last year, numbered 77,150, with 2,592 deaths, according to China's National Health Commission.

Chinese President Xi Jinping admitted Sunday the virus will "inevitably have a relatively big impact on the economy and society," and the  International Monetary Fund warned global economic growth could be reduced by 0.1% from the virus outbreak.

The spread of the virus to nations in Europe and central Asia -which have no clear travel or epidemiological links to China - has triggered a notable flight to safety in trading Monday and out of equities.

Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 804 points, S&P 500 futures sank 89.55 points and Nasdaq futures slid 303 points.

2. -- HP Inc., Palo Alto Networks and Shack Shack Report Earnings

Earnings reports are expected Monday from HP Inc.  (HPQ) - Get Report, Palo Alto Networks  (PANW) - Get Report, Shake Shack  (SHAK) - Get Report, Hertz  (HTZ) - Get Report, Intuit  (INTU) - Get Report, Kratos Defense & Security  (KTOS) - Get Report and Dine Brands Global  (DIN) - Get Report.

Reports later in the week are expected from Home Depot  (HD) - Get Report, Lowe's  (LOW) - Get Report, Macy's  (M) - Get Report, Virgin Galactic  (SPCE) , Salesforce.com  (CRM) - Get Report, Square  (SQ) - Get Report, TJX Cos.  (TJX) - Get Report and Best Buy  (BBY) - Get Report.

Home Depot and Salesforce are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells HD and CRM? Learn more now.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Monday includes the Chicago Fed National Activity Index for January at 8:30 a.m. ET.

3. -- Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Posts Earnings of $29.2 Billion

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway  (BRK.A) - Get Report   (BRK.B) - Get Report swung to a profit in the fourth quarter vs. a year-earlier loss as well as cash on hand that remains at near-record levels as the conglomerate’s collective investments continued to churn out positive returns.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company posted earnings in the quarter of $29.2 billion, or $17,909 per Class A share, a reversal from a loss of $25.4 billion, or $15,467 a share, the year before. The year-ago results were dragged down largely by an unexpected write-down at Kraft Heinz KHC, of which Berkshire is a significant shareholder.

Cash on hand, meantime, totaled $128 billion as of Dec. 31, the company said, slightly down from $128.2 billion at the end of the third quarter but still near a record high.

“The opportunities to make major acquisitions possessing our required attributes are rare,” Buffett said in his widely anticipated letter to shareholders that was released Saturday.

Berkshire posted operating earnings of $4.4 billion, down from $5.7 billion a year earlier, due to weaker results in insurance underwriting and some of the company’s smaller operating businesses. Berkshire’s portfolio consists of multitudes of "value" companies that Buffett, his 96-year-old business partner Charlie Munger and their team have amassed over the years.

4. -- Intuit Is Close to Buying Credit Karma for $7 Billion

Intuit  (INTU) - Get Report is nearing a deal to buy personal-finance portal Credit Karma for about $7 billion in cash and stock, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, could announce a deal to buy privately held Credit Karma by Monday, the people said. 

Credit Karma was valued at roughly $4 billion in a private share sale about two years ago, the Journal noted.

The deal would be Intuit's largest acquisition by far in its 37-year history and it would move the bookkeeping software company into consumer finance.

5. -- PepsiCo Buys Chinese Snack Brand Be & Cheery

PepsiCo  (PEP) - Get Report reached an agreement to acquire Be & Cheery, a Chinese snack brand, for $705 million.

The acquisition of the unit of Haoxiangni Health Food, Pepsi said, was an "important step in the company’s goal to become China’s leading consumer-centric food and beverage company."

“Be & Cheery adds direct-to-consumer capability, positioning us to capitalize on continued growth in e-commerce, and a local brand that is able to stretch across a broad portfolio of products, through both online and offline channels,” said Ram Krishnan, CEO of PepsiCo Greater China, in a statement.

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