5 Things to Know Before the Stock Market Opens

Feb 28, 2024

News of the day for February 28, 2024

Published February 28, 2024

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Artificial Intelligence forays by tech firms will again be in focus today as enterprise software companies Salesforce (CRM) and Snowflake (SNOW) report earnings after the closing bell. Beyond Meat (BYND) is soaring after reporting better-than-expected revenue and announcing cost-cutting plans, while eBay’s (EBAY) shares are gaining on its results and an expanded buyback plan. Chinese real estate giant Country Garden is facing pressure to liquidate and Apple (AAPL) is ditching its electric vehicles project. Here’s what investors need to know today.

1. Salesforce Expected to Post Record Revenue as AI Lifts Data Cloud Business

Salesforce (CRM) is expected to report after the closing bell that it swung back to profitability in its fourth quarter after posting a loss a year earlier, as expansion in its artificial intelligence offerings lifts its data cloud business. Analysts expect the business software firm to report quarterly net income of $1.26 billion and a 10% gain in revenue to an all-time high of $9.2 billion, although that would mark its slowest revenue growth since going public in 2004. Its comments on AI will be in focus, as will those of Snowflake (SNOW), which also reports after the market close. Snowflake’s platform stores, organizes and analyzes data across many cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services.

2. EBay Rises on Q4 Results, $2B Buyback Plan

Shares of eBay (EBAY) rose nearly 5% early Wednesday after the online marketplace platform posted fourth-quarter results that beat forecasts and also announced a plan to buy back an additional $2 billion in stocks. For the quarter, which covered the holiday season, eBay reported a 2% gain in revenue at $2.6 billion, with earnings per share at $1.07 a share in the quarter—beating analysts’ expectations and above its own $1-to-$1.05 a share guidance range.

3. Beyond Meat Soars After Revenue Beat, Cost-Cut Announcement

Beyond Meat (BYND) shares were more than 60% higher in pre-market trading Wednesday after the plant-based meat firm announced revenue figures that topped expectations and said it would cut costs. CEO Ethan Brown said the company is taking steps “to steeply reduce operating expense and cash use.” The fourth-quarter loss of $2.40 per share was much steeper than analysts had forecast, though revenue of $73.7 million—despite being 7.8% lower than a year earlier—beat Wall Street expectations. The company projects 2024 revenue of between $315 million and $340 million, with the top end slightly higher than analysts’ consensus view. Short-sellers facing a squeeze may also be inflating the gains as share prices surged.

4. Another Chinese Real Estate Firm Under Pressure

China’s biggest private property developer Country Garden is facing more pressure to settle its debt crisis with offshore investors, after a creditor asked a court in Hong Kong to liquidate the firm. Country Garden, which defaulted on its overseas debt in October, said it will oppose the petition. Last month, rival real estate giant China Evergrande became one of the biggest casualties of the country’s property crisis after it was ordered to liquidate by a Hong Kong court. China’s real estate firms have been struggling with a downturn in recent years after the government began to try to rein in the industry’s soaring debt levels.

5. Apple Ditches EV Project in Pivot to AI 

Apple (AAPL) is reportedly canceling its decade-long effort to build an electric car, calling time on one of the most ambitious projects in its history. The iPhone maker made the disclosure internally Tuesday, surprising the nearly 2,000 employees working on the project, Bloomberg reported. Many employees in the car project will be shifted to the artificial intelligence division, the report said.

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