Microsoft, Coronavirus, Donald Trump, Gilead, Beyond Meat - 5 Things You Must Know Thursday

Wall Street is on pace for its worst week since the global financial crisis in 2008 as coronavirus infections accelerate; investors aren't convinced of the Trump administration's response to the outbreak; Microsoft will miss financial targets because of the coronavirus outbreak.
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Here are five things you must know for Thursday, Feb. 27:

1. -- Stock Futures Lower as Virus Infections Accelerate

Stock futures declined sharply Thursday, putting Wall Street on pace for its worst week since the global financial crisis in 2008, as coronavirus infections accelerated and health officials confirmed that a California man contracted the disease despite having no travel links or contacts with those afflicted by the virus.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the risk to Americans was "very, very low,"  and he placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of his administration's response to the growing global health crisis. Investors, however, weren't convinced and continue to seek out safe-haven assets such as gold and U.S. Treasury bonds.

Jeffrey Halley, senior Asia Pacific market analyst at Oanda, said neither Trump's comments about the virus and his administration's response to controlling its potential spread "inspired an already shaky North American market.”

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 82,000, and new infections outside of China, where the virus originated, have exceeded those within the country. Johns Hopkins University puts deaths from the virus at 2,804, including at least 50 outside of China. 

Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 358 points, S&P 500 futures were down 39.95 points and Nasdaq futures tumbled 128.50 points.

2.-- Microsoft Issues a Coronavirus Sales Warning

Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Report was the latest tech company to signal that it will miss financial targets because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The company warned investors that it will fall short of previously issued fiscal third-quarter sales guidance of between $10.75 billion and $11.15 billion for its "more personal computing" segment, which includes Windows OEM and Surface. Microsoft said it still expects intelligent cloud revenue of $11.85 to $12.05 billion in the three-month period.

The stock declined 3.8% to $163.70 in premarket trading.

"Although we see strong Windows demand in line with our expectations, the supply chain is returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated at the time of our Q2 earnings call," the company said. "As a result, for the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, we do not expect to meet our More Personal Computing segment guidance as Windows OEM and Surface are more negatively impacted than previously anticipated.

The original guidance range, which Microsoft issued on Jan. 29, already was wider than usual because the public health crisis was underway. 

Days ago, Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report warned that the health crisis would result in lower revenue for the current quarter.

Microsoft and Apple are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stocks? Learn more now.

3. -- Gilead Begins Phase 3 Studies for Coronavirus Drug

Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Report was rising 6.88% to $79.84 in premarket trading after the drugmaker said it will soon begin two Phase 3 studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of remdesivir in adults diagnosed with Covid-19, the name for the new coronavirus.

Gilead said the studies, to begin in March, will enroll about 1,000 patients at medical centers primarily in Asian and other countries with high numbers of diagnosed coronavirus cases. The company said the studies follow the Food and Drug Administration's rapid review and acceptance of Gilead's investigational new drug filing for remdesivir.

The World Health Organization said earlier this week that Gilead's drug may be the "only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy" in treating the rapidly spreading disease.

Remdesivir is an investigational antiviral that hasn't yet been approved anywhere globally for any use.

4. -- Beyond Meat, Best Buy and Baidu Report Earnings

Best Buy  (BBY) - Get Report reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $2.90 a share, beating analysts' estimates of $2.75. Revenue of $15.2 billion also topped forecasts.

Earnings reports are expected Thursday from Beyond Meat  (BYND) - Get Report, Baidu  (BIDU) - Get Report, VMWare  (VMW) - Get Report, Dell Technologies  (DELL) - Get Report, Workday  (WDAY) - Get Report, Monster Beverage  (MNST) - Get Report, Mylan  (MYL) - Get Report, Occidental Petroleum  (OXY) - Get Report, Autodesk  (ADSK) - Get Report, Keurig Dr Pepper  (KDP) - Get Report and J.C. Penney  (JCP) - Get Report.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes the second estimate of fourth-quarter Gross Domestic Product in the United States at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect the U.S. economy to have grown 2.1% in the fourth quarter, no change from the first estimate.

The calendar also includes Durable Goods Orders for January at 8:30 a.m. and weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.

5. -- Square Surges on Earnings Beat

Payments company Square  (SQ) - Get Report posted better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and issued an upbeat forecast.

Shares of Square were rising 7.78% to $82.55 in premarket trading Thursday.

Adjusted earnings in the period were 23 cents a share, 2 cents higher than analysts' estimates. Revenue in the quarter was $1.31 billion, higher than year-earlier revenue of $933 million and above analysts' expectations of $1.19 billion.

Square said it expects first-quarter adjusted profit of 16 cents to 18 cents a share and fiscal-year earnings of 90 cents to 94 cents a share.

“Our guidance for the full year of 2020 reflects strong revenue and gross profit growth,” said CEO Jack Dorsey and Chief Financial Officer Amrita Ahuja said in a statement.