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A roundup of some of the North American equities making moves in both directions

On the rise

Score Media and Gaming Inc. (SCR-T) and Bragg Gaming Group Inc. (BRAG-T) rose, while FansUnite Entertainment Inc. (FANS-CN) gave back early gains, a day after lawmakers passed a bill to legalize single-event sports betting, sending the legislation to the Senate and bringing the country a step closer to looser gaming laws.

The legislation, known as Bill C-218, aims to amend Criminal Code provisions around gambling on single games of football, hockey and other sports — currently illegal except for horse racing — in a bid to win back customers from offshore sites, U.S. casinos and illegal bookmakers.

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The legislation has garnered renewed enthusiasm from MPs in all four main parties. But the private member’s bill from Conservative MP Kevin Waugh isn’t the first to blaze a trail through the House of Commons before burning out.

Similar NDP legislation zipped through the House with all-party support nearly a decade ago but foundered in the Senate and died when an election was called in 2015.

A second attempt by New Democrat MP Brian Masse also failed after the then-Liberal majority voted down his private member’s bill in concert with Conservatives in 2016.

Third time may be the charm, after the Liberals rolled the dice last November on their own legislation, which they subsequently dropped when Mr. Waugh agreed to incorporate its protections for the horse-racing industry into his bill.

Montreal-based specialty pharmaceutical company Knight Therapeutics Inc. (GUD-T) gained after announcing a definitive agreement to acquire the exclusive rights to manufacture, market and sell Exelon from Novartis International AG in Canada and Latin America.

With the close of the deal, Knight will pay US$168-million in cash and an additional milestone payment of up to US $12-million upon the achievement of certain conditions.

Exelon, which is used for the treatment of mild to moderately severe dementia in people with Alzheimer’s disease. had 2020 revenues of approximately US$47-million in Canada and Latin America.

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Sun Life Financial Inc. (SLF-T) increased after announcing it has signed a deal to buy U.S. company Pinnacle Care International Inc. for $108-million.

PinnacleCare helps people access an initial or second medical opinion to make treatment decisions for complicated diagnoses.

The company is based in Maryland and has more than 170 employees.

Sun Life says PinnacleCare will become part of its U.S. stop-loss and health business.

The insurer says PinnacleCare’s services are currently available to more than two million people and it will look to grow that through its distribution network and employer relationships.

The deal is expected to close later this year, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval.

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Mattel Inc. (MAT-Q) jumped after it reported a record 47-per-cent rise in quarterly sales on Thursday as Americans armed with stimulus checks snapped up Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars in the usually slow post-holiday months.

The toymaker also said it will consider turning its collector brands into non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

NFTs, a type of digital asset that exists on a blockchain, have exploded in popularity this year, with NFT artworks selling for millions of dollars and musicians such as the Kings of Leon rock group embracing them for their latest album.

California-based Mattel on Thursday forecast annual sales to rise 6 per cent to 8 per cent versus prior outlook for a mid-single-digit percentage increase. It also predicted strong sales for the holiday season this year.

“Toys continue to prove their importance to parents as to where they choose to spend their disposable income,” said Chief Executive Officer Ynon Kreiz.

“We are seeing a strong start to the second quarter including the Easter week and we’re planning for another great holiday season.”

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Mattel, which has been benefiting from stuck-at-home parents using toys to keep their kids entertained, posted net sales of US$874.2-million in the first quarter, beating analysts’ average estimate of US$684.2-million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding certain items, Mattel lost 10 US cents per share, smaller than the 35 US cents per share loss analysts had expected.

U.S. oilfield service giant Schlumberger NV (SLB-N) was up after its top boss Olivier Le Peuch said on Friday he expects international activity to ramp-up through the end of this year and beyond, helping the company grow revenue outside North America by double-digits in the second half of the year.

Schlumberger, which has been selling assets in North America to focus more on international markets, is also benefiting from an inflection in global drilling activity.

While international revenue declined 3 per cent, the company said the “seasonal dip” was less pronounced than prior years.

Worldwide, rig count has risen about 11.5 per cent to 1,231 rigs in the quarter to March, according to Baker Hughes data.

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“With the gradual return of oil demand, we anticipate North America activity to level off at production maintenance levels, while international activity is poised to ramp up through year-end 2021 and beyond,” Mr. Le Peuch said in a statement.

Net income, excluding charges & credits, was US$299-million, or 21 US cents per share, for the three months ended March 31, compared with US$309-million, or 22 US cents per share, in the fourth quarter.

On the decline

Aecon Group Inc. (ARE-T) was lower with the release of stronger-than-anticipated first-quarter financial results after the bell on Thursday.

The Toronto-based construction and infrastructure development company reported revenue and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $754-million and $21.8-million, respectively, exceeding the Street’s expectations of $706-million and $12-million.

Calling the results “decent,” Desjardins Securities analyst Benoit Poirier said: “The 2021 outlook for ARE remains solid considering the continued ramp-up of construction activities on a number of projects, the healthy backlog and the strong demand environment for ARE’s services, including recurring revenue programs.

“We remain bullish on ARE as we see multiple catalysts ahead, including large contract wins (ARE is pre-qualified on a number of large project bids that will be awarded through 2021), potential tuck-in acquisitions and/or a transformative acquisition to bolster its position in eastern Canada.”

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Chipmaker Intel Corp. (INTC-Q) slid despite forecasting second-quarter revenue above Wall Street targets on Thursday, betting on demand for its new generation of processors for data centres and PCs as cloud-based services become an integral part of businesses.

The world’s biggest maker of central processors has been aiming to cater to the needs of the modern data centers, where different processors perform specialized tasks and had recently launched a processor dubbed “Ice Lake.”

With its dual-tracked strategy to manufacture, outsource and build its own foundry for chips, Intel aims to revamp its business model, while keeping a strong hold on its manufacturing.

This could tilt the technological balance of power back to the United States and Europe and away from Asia-centric chip manufacturing given tensions with China.

Intel’s strategy could have wide-ranging competitive and political implications in the long term, analysts have said.

The company expects second-quarter revenue of about US$17.8-billion, compared to analysts’ average estimate of US$17.59-billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue from Intel’s higher-margin data center business fell 20 per cent to US$5.6-billion in the first quarter, while analysts on average had expected revenue of US$5.89-billion, according to FactSet.

American Express Co. (AXP-N) was lower despite exceeding quarterly profit estimates on Friday as it released more than US$1-billion worth of funds it had set aside to cover potential coronavirus loan losses.

The outlook for card companies is improving as government stimulus and vaccine rollouts fuel an economic recovery, helping the industry recover from a pandemic-driven slump in non-essential consumer spending last year.

“We view 2021 as a transition year, where we are focused on making investments to rebuild growth momentum in our core business, Chief Executive Officer Stephen Squeri said in a statement.

Consultancy firm McKinsey said in a report last month that overall credit-card spending is recovering, with figures for the last six months matching the pre-pandemic levels recorded a year earlier.

In the first quarter, American Express posted a benefit of US$675-million from the release of US$1.05-billion from its loan-loss reserves. It had built reserves of $1.7 billion a year earlier.

Net income rose to US$2.74 per share from 41 US cents per share a year earlier, beating analysts’ estimates of US$1.61 per share, Refinitiv IBES data showed.

With filrs from staff and wires

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