Top US stocks to watch: Alphabet, GameStop and Plug Power

Alphabet comes under the regulatory spotlight again, GameStop capitalises on the surge in its share price, Plug Power misses expectations, Delta Air Lines plans to hire 1,000 new pilots, Europe orders more Moderna vaccines, and Sanderson Farms could be exploring a sale.

USA (1)

Alphabet

Regulators in the European Union have launched a fresh investigation into Alphabet’s Google to consider whether its dominance in the digital advertising market is stifling competition by favouring its own online services over that of rival publishers, advertisers and tech firms.

Separately, YouTube is celebrating a win after Europe’s top court ruled that online platforms are not liable for people uploading unauthorised work without copyright unless they fail to take swift action to remove it. The court said platforms could be liable if they do not make an effort to introduce new measures to prevent copyright infringement.

‘As currently stands, operators of online platforms do not, in principle, themselves make a communication to the public of copyright-protected content illegally posted online by users of those platforms,’ the EU Court of Justice said. ‘However, those operators do make such a communication in breach of copyright where they contribute, beyond merely making those platforms available, to giving access to such content to the public.’

GameStop

GameStop said it has raised $1.12 billion by selling 5 million shares in the ‘at-the-market’ offering as the company capitalises on the surge in its share price to raise funds to fuel its plans to turn the business around and make it fit for the digital age.

GameStop had told investors back in April that it would issue up to a further 5 million shares after it raised $551.7 million by issuing 3.5 million shares that month. GameStop shares are up over 1,000% since the start of the year and have risen over 18% since it completed the last equity raise.  

The news comes one day after GameStop’s new chief executive Matt Furlong, one of a number of Amazon executives recruited in recent months to spearhead its new strategy, formally took his position on the board of directors.

Plug Power

Hydrogen firm Plug Power missed expectations in the first quarter of its new financial year after facing a number of operational challenges that it hopes will abate as the year goes on.

Gross billings rose to $73.7 million from $43.0 million the year before, but that missed the $76.9 million expected by Wall Street. Its pretax loss of $60.7 million was wider than the $37.5 million loss booked the year before and came in much larger than the $44.9 million loss forecast by analysts. It reaffirmed its raised guidance for the full-year.

It was a busy quarter for the company, which raised $2 billion from shareholders and secured a further $1.6 billion from Korean outfit SK Group. It also struck a new partnership with Renault and unveiled plans to build the largest green hydrogen production facility in the US in Western New York, where it will also build the first PEM and electrolyzer Gigafactory.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is preparing to hire over 1,000 pilots by next summer, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

The report said Delta is expecting US leisure travel to return to pre-pandemic levels this month and that business travel continues to recover, paving the way for it to report a pretax profit in the second half of 2021. The note sent to employees by chief of operations John Laughter said it was ‘remarkable’ that Delta Air Lines was aiming to return to profit in June, just 15 months after suffering the biggest crisis to hit the aviation industry in history.

Notably, the news comes just one day after it was reported that American Airlines had to cancel hundreds of flights over the weekend and trim its flight schedule in July by 1% because of a shortage of staff as well as increased maintenance and weather-related problems.

Moderna

The European Commission has exercised an option to buy 150 million further doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine and is working on a new deal to secure supplies for ‘new generation vaccines’ designed to tackle evolving variants of the virus.

The doses will be delivered in 2022 and form part of the 300-dose order outlined in February. President of the European Commission Ursala von der Leyen confirmed the news via a tweet and said the new negotiations would ensure the bloc has the flexibility to secure adapted vaccines to protect people from new variants.

Sanderson Farms

Chicken producer Sanderson Farms is considering selling-up, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal.

The company is thought to be exploring a sale after attracting interest from buyers as a result of rising demand for its products as restaurants reopen. Continental Grain, an agricultural investment firm that owns a smaller chicken processor named Wayne Farms, is thought to be among those interested.

If Continental Grain made a move and was successful, it would create the second largest chicken firm in the country in terms of volumes, only narrowly behind Pilgrim’s Pride.

Pear Therapeutics

Pear Therapeutics is planning to go public by merging with SPAC Thimble Point Acquisition in a deal that will raise $400 million for the business and give it a value of around $1.6 billion.

The company has developed app-based therapy to help people with the likes of insomnia or substance abuse, which it believes has huge potential when combined with traditional pharmaceuticals.

The company is backed by Softbank, which has said prescription digital therapeutics ‘are creating a new category of medicine’.

Quanergy Systems

Quanergy Systems, a developer of self-driving car technology, is preparing to go public by merging with SPAC CITIC Capital Acquisition to raise $278 million and value the business at around $1.4 billion.

The company provides LiDAR systems and 3D perception software and said its CMOS OPA solid state technology used in its LiDAR sensors is ‘poised to transform the automotive and IoT industries by driving down the cost of solutions while enabling powerful levels of automation and insights.’

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

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