Walmart, Tilray, Tesla, GameStop Hearing - 5 Things You Must Know Thursday

Stock futures fall as bond yields steady; Walmart and Roku report earnings; Tilray's sales beat estimates; a House hearing will examine the mania surrounding the trading of GameStop.
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Here are five things you must know for Thursday, Feb. 18:

1. -- Stock Futures Decline as Bond Yields Steady

Stock futures declined Thursday as bond yields steadied though concerns that rising rates could push inflation higher have been weighing on Wall Street.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 99 points, S&P 500 futures were down 15 points and Nasdaq futures declined 97 points.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was steady at 1.291%, near its highest level in a year. While the rise in yields has raised worries about higher inflation it also has signaled that investors continue to bet on a U.S. economic recovery.

The Federal Reserve, in minutes from the central bank's meeting in late January, said the coronavirus pandemic still poses considerable risks to the economy and that "the stance for policy would need to remain accommodative until those goals were achieved." The Fed added it would be “some time” before conditions were met for it to begin scaling back on its purchase of $120 billion of bonds per month.

The Dow posted a record close for a second day in mixed trading Wednesday as U.S. retail sales and producer prices surged in January and bond yields traded at their highest levels in a year.

Energy prices rose again Thursday, with Brent crude nearing $65 a barrel, as a deep freeze in Texas has taken out almost 40% of U.S. crude production, according to Bloomberg.

2. -- Thursday's Calendar: Walmart and Roku Earnings, Jobless Claims

Walmart's  (WMT) - Get Report fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.39 a share came in 12 cents below Wall Street expectations and the stock was down 4.9% in premarket trading Thursday.

Earnings are also expected Thursday from Applied Materials  (AMAT) - Get Report, Roku  (ROKU) - Get Report, Arista Networks  (ANET) - Get Report, Hormel Foods  (HRL) - Get Report, Newmont  (NEM) - Get Report, Dropbox  (DBX) - Get Report, Marriott International  (MAR) - Get Report and ViacomCBS  (VIACA) - Get Report.

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The U.S. economic calendar for Thursday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, Housing Starts and Permits for January at 8:30 a.m., the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index for February at 8:30 a.m., Import and Export Prices for January at 8:30 a.m. and Oil Inventories for the week ended Feb. 12 at 11 a.m.

3. -- Tilray's Fourth-Quarter Sales Jump 21%

Tilray  (TLRY) - Get Report was rising in premarket trading Thursday after the Canadian cannabis company's fourth-quarter sales beat analysts' estimates.

Tilray reported sales of $56.6 million in the period, up 21% from a year earlier and higher than analysts' forecasts of $56 million.

The company posted a loss of 2 cents a share, narrower than estimates that called for a loss of 14 cents.

Adjusted Ebitda in the fourth quarter was $2.25 million, a reversal from a year-earlier loss of $35.3 million.

The company said it expects its blockbuster merger with fellow pot company Aphria  (APHA) - Get Report to close in the second quarter this year and achieve over C$100 million ($78.7 million) in anticipated pre-tax synergies. 

"These results required hard work and dedication and I sincerely appreciate everything the Tilray team has done to transform our business during 2020," Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy said in a statement. "We now look forward to the beginning of the next chapter in our corporate journey."

The stock was up 1.52% in premarket trading to $31.99. It has risen 282% year to date.

4. -- GameStop Hearing: What to Expect

GameStop  (GME) - Get Report was up slightly in premarket trading Thursday ahead of a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee that will focus on the recent trading frenzy surrounding the stock of the video game retailer and other heavily shorted stocks.

Appearing before the House committee at 12 p.m. ET will be several players in the episode, such as the chiefs of Reddit, Robinhood, Citadel Securities and Melvin Capital. 

Retail investor Keith Gill, known online as Roaring Kitty (and another profane Reddit screen name), also will be questioned. Gill, who made millions from his bet on GameStop, was a leader in driving the mania around the stock.

"I did not belong to any groups trying to create movements in the stock price," Gill said in a statement ahead of the hearing. "I never had a financial relationship with any hedge fund. I had no information about GameStop except what was public. I did not know any people inside the company, and I never spoke to any insider."

GameStop Investor, 'Roaring Kitty' on Reddit, Is Sued Over Trading

The hearing is titled, “Game Stopped? Who wins and losses when short sellers, social media and retail investors collide.”

The hearing will be held “to examine the recent activity around GameStop stock and other impacted stocks with a focus on short selling, online trading platforms, gamification and their systemic impact on our capital markets and retail investors,” said a statement from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the committee.

Hedge funds likely will be a target during the meeting. Waters, in a press release issued last month, wrote that "[h]edge funds have a long history of predatory conduct and that conduct is entirely indefensible. Private funds preying on the pension funds of hard working Americans must be stopped."

What Jim Cramer Wants to See From GameStop Hearings

5. -- Tesla Reduces Prices on Base Model 3 and Model Y

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report has reduced the price of its base models of the Model 3 sedan and Model Y sports utility vehicle, but also boosted the prices of their performance variants.

Tesla lowered the price of the Model 3 Standard Range Plus to $36,990 from $37,990, and reduced the price of the Model Y Standard Range Plus to $39,990 from $41,900, according to the company's website.

The Model 3 Standard Range Plus would cost just more than $35,000 with California’s $1,500 clean fuel reward, according to Teslarati. If considering a potential $7,000 tax credit planned by the Biden administration, the Model 3 Standard Range Plus effectively would cost below $30,000. 

The cost for the performance variant of Tesla's Model 3 was increased to $55,990 from $54,990 and the Model Y to $60,990 from $59,990.