Microsoft, AMD, BlackBerry, General Electric, Leon Black - 5 Things You Must Know Tuesday

Stock futures move higher following solid earnings reports; Microsoft, AMD, General Electric and 3M report earnings; Leon Black steps down as CEO of private-equity giant Apollo; BlackBerry surges again.
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Here are five things you must know for Tuesday, Jan. 26:

1. -- Stock Futures Move Higher on Solid Earnings

Stock futures moved mostly higher Tuesday following solid earnings reports from Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Report, 3M  (MMM) - Get Report and General Electric  (GE) - Get Report.

Equities had wavered for most of the premarket session on the possibility that a U.S. coronavirus relief package could be delayed. 

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 52 points, S&P 500 futures rose 2 points and Nasdaq futures were down 12 points ahead of earnings reports from some of the biggest tech companies.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday an aid package was unlikely before mid-March. That is when federal unemployment benefits authorized by last $900 billion package will expire.

President Joe Biden said he was open to negotiations on his proposed $1.9 trillion plan to send $1,400 to most Americans and deliver other support for the economy, including funds for vaccine distribution.

A bipartisan group of senators already have voiced opposition to the size of Biden's plan.

The coronavirus pandemic, meanwhile, has killed more than 421,000 in the U.S. and concerns have been growing about the bumpy rollout of vaccines in the country. Biden said he anticipates vaccines will be available to anyone in the U.S. by spring, but to meet that projection vaccine makers will have to sharply increase production.

Stocks finished mixed on Monday amid questions about whether the Biden White House will be able to deliver another round of stimulus. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq, however, did manage to close at record highs.

2. -- Tuesday's Calendar: Microsoft and AMD Earnings, Federal Reserve Meeting

General Electric  (GE) - Get Report reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 8 cents a share, 1 cent below analysts' estimates. Total revenue of $21.93 billion topped forecasts.

Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Report posted stronger-than-expected fourth- quarter earnings and said Tuesday it would provide an update on its vaccine development progress "soon."

"We continue to progress our Covid-19 vaccine candidate and look forward to sharing details from our Phase 3 study soon. Johnson & Johnson was built for times like these, and I am extremely confident in our ability to deliver lasting value and continued innovation in 2021 and for years to come," said CEO Alex Gorsky.

Earnings reports are also expected Tuesday from Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Report, Advanced Micro Devices  (AMD) - Get Report, Starbucks  (SBUX) - Get Report, Verizon  (VZ) - Get Report, Lockheed Martin  (LMT) - Get Report, American Express  (AXP) - Get Report, 3M  (MMM) - Get Report, Xilinx  (XLNX) - Get Report, Raytheon Technologies  (RTX) - Get Report and Texas Instruments  (TXN) - Get Report.

Microsoft, Advanced Micro Devices and Starbucks 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.

The U.S. economic calendar on Tuesday includes the first day of a two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve. The central bank isn't expected to move on interest rates and has signaled it will keep them near zero through 2023.

Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management, said the central bank likely will reiterate its "commitment to prolonged monetary accommodation" at the meeting.

"Uncertainty surrounding the pandemic's near-term course and signs of weakening labor markets suggest recent taper talk by Fed officials is still premature," Heppenstall added, referring to when the Fed might  begin tapering asset purchases.

The calendar also includes the Case-Shiller Home Price Index for November at 9 a.m. ET and Consumer Confidence for January at 10 a.m.

3. -- Leon Black Will Step Down as CEO of Private-Equity Giant Apollo

Leon Black, the founder and CEO of private-equity giant Apollo Global Management  (APO) - Get Report, will step down as chief executive after it was revealed he made larger-than-expected payments to Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier.

Black paid Epstein $158 million in fees for trust- and estate-tax planning in the five years to 2017, far more than was previously known, according to a report from law firm Dechert. 

The review by Dechert found no evidence that Black was involved in the criminal activities of the late Epstein, who was indicted in 2019 on federal sex-trafficking charges involving underage girls. Epstein committed suicide in prison while awaiting child sex charges.

Apollo also never retained Epstein for any services, the report concluded. 

Black wrote in a letter to Apollo's fund investors that he would cede the role of CEO to co-founder Marc Rowan on or before his 70th birthday on July 31, while retaining the role of chairman. 

The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the contents of the report and letter.

Shares of Apollo Global rose 3.86% to $47.65 in after-hours trading on Monday.

4. -- BlackBerry Shares Surge Again

BlackBerry  (BB) - Get Report was jumping more than 11% in premarket trading Tuesday, following the stock's more than 28% gain in the previous session as it received a boost from retail traders and was being heavily mentioned on online message boards such as Reddit.

BlackBerry, the security software and services company, said in a statement that it was unaware of reasons for the stock move.

Shares of BlackBerry rose 11.87% to $20.17 in premarket trading Tuesday. The stock has gained 172% so far in 2021.

BlackBerry Rises Again, Gets Lift From Expanded Baidu Partnership

Analysts at RBC cut the stock to underperform from sector perform, citing valuation and saying there has been no change to the company’s fundamental outlook. Analyst Paul Treiber maintained his price target at $7.50.

BlackBerry has become a favorite on the Reddit message board, much like GameStop  (GME) - Get Report and Express  (EXPR) - Get Report.

What Is Happening to GameStop Stock? Jim Cramer Explains

5. -- Apple Lead Hardware Engineer Shifting to ‘New Project’

Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report said its leading hardware engineer, Dan Riccio, was moving to a new project and will be replaced by John Ternus, currently a vice president of hardware engineering.

Riccio has been with Apple since 1998 and has worked on most of the company’s major products over that time, from the first iMac computers to the latest 5G phones.

Apple didn't specify what project Riccio will lead. But recent speculation has focused on efforts by the company to develop a high-end virtual reality headset, or augmented reality glasses.

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