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

On the rise

Shares of Crescent Point Energy Corp. (CPG-T) saw gains after it raised its quarterly dividend as it increased its production guidance for next year.

The company says it will pay a quarterly dividend of 4.5 cents per share on April 1 to shareholders of record as of March 15, up from its fourth-quarter dividend of three cents.

In addition to increasing its dividend, Crescent Point also plans to spend up to $100 million on share repurchases over the following six months.

The moves came as the company said it expects production next year to be between 133,000 and 137,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, up from its preliminary estimate for the year of 131,000 to 135,000 boepd.

Crescent Point’s capital budget for next year calls for spending between $825 million to $900 million, unchanged from its preliminary 2022 guidance.

Crescent Point chief executive Craig Bryksa says the company has established a disciplined budget for 2022 and expects to generate strong returns and significant excess cash flow for shareholders.

“As a result, we are accelerating our plans to return additional capital to shareholders in the form of another dividend increase and share repurchases,” Mr. Bryksa said in a statement.

“As we continue to strengthen our balance sheet, we expect to further increase our return of capital offering to shareholders in the context of our capital allocation framework.”

Dye & Durham Ltd. (DND-T) gained as it announced it has signed a deal to buy Telus Corp.’s (T-T) financial solutions business for $500-million.

The financial solutions business provides a national payment infrastructure that helps people make payments online.

The business also helps connect Canadian financial institutions with lawyers when doing residential real estate transactions.

Dye & Durham chief executive Matt Proud says the deal is consistent with the company’s growth strategy and adds significant scale within its Canadian business.

The company also says is has closed its previously announced $1.8-billion senior secured credit facility.

It says it used it repay other debt and finance the Telus acquisition, with the remaining amount be used to finance its continued acquisition strategy, among other things.

Teck Resources Ltd. (TECK.B-T) reversed early declines after saying its coal sales in the fourth quarter will be lower than it had earlier estimated due to the heavy rain, flooding and mudslides in B.C. that have disrupted the railways in the province.

The company says it now forecasts its fourth-quarter steelmaking coal sales at 5.2 million to 5.7 million tons, compared with earlier expectations for between 6.4 million and 6.8 million tons, due to the disruptions in rail shipments to terminals in the B.C. Lower Mainland.

Teck, which has diverted shipments to Ridley Terminals in Prince Rupert, B.C., says when rail service is fully restored it will be able to substantially recover the delayed fourth-quarter sales in the first half of 2022.

Steelmaking coal production this year is expected to be between 24.5 million and 25 million tons, compared with previous guidance for nearly 25 million tons.

Teck estimated its 2021 annual adjusted site cash cost of sales to be about $64 to $66 per ton, slightly above its previous guidance for $59 to $64 per ton. Full-year transportation costs for the year are expected to be between $44 and $46 per ton compared with earlier guidance for $42 per ton.

However, the company says the increased costs are more than offset by strong steelmaking coal prices. The average steelmaking coal price for the three months ended Nov. 30 settled at US$371 per ton, up US$168 per ton compared with the three-month average at the end of August.

U.S. retailer Kohl’s Corp. (KSS-N) was higher as hedge fund Engine Capital LP pushed it to consider a sale of the company or separate its e-commerce division to improve its lagging stock price.

Engine Capital, which owns a roughly 1-per-cent stake in Kohl’s, said on Monday that the department store has underperformed the S&P 500 as well as other retailers in recent years.

The New York-based hedge fund also said that Kohl’s should consider a strategic review of the whole company and even a sale to a buyer who can give a meaningful premium, adding it believes there are sponsors that would pay at least US$75 per share.

Engine Capital’s proposal comes at a time when retailers have doubled down on their online businesses following the e-commerce boom during the COVID-19 pandemic that drove people to shop online as they avoided crowds at brick-and-mortar stores.

Earlier in October, activist investor Jana Partners urged Macy’s Inc. (M-N) to sell its digital business, following which the retailer said it was working with consulting firm AlixPartners to review its business structure.

Oil producer ConocoPhillips (COP-N) was up after saying on Monday it expects to return 16 per cent more capital to shareholders compared with 2021, and added a new variable return of cash to its plans.

Oil and gas companies have either raised their dividends or announced share buybacks, underscoring the energy industry’s focus on shareholder returns over spending, even as crude price witness a jump of about 38 per cent this year.

The company is initiating a three-tier capital return program that will consist of an ordinary dividend tier, a share repurchase tier, and a newly authorized quarterly variable return of cash tier.

It expects return of capital to shareholders in 2022 of about US$7-billion.

ConocoPhillips also projected its capital expenditure to be around US$7.2-billion in 2022, lower than the 2021 forecast of around US$8-billion it had provided in September.

For 2022, the company expects annual average production of 1.8 million barrels oil equivalent per day (boed), representing low single-digit percentage underlying growth versus pro forma 2021.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA-N) rose in the wake of saying on Monday it was reorganizing its international and domestic e-commerce businesses and would appoint a new chief financial officer.

The changes come as Alibaba faces headwinds on multiple fronts, including increased competition, a slowing economy and a regulatory crackdown.

Alibaba said it would form two new units to house its main e-commerce businesses - international digital commerce and China digital commerce, in a bid to become more agile and accelerate growth.

The international digital commerce unit will house Alibaba’s overseas consumer-facing and wholesale businesses, and include AliExpress, and Lazada. The unit will be headed by Jiang Fan, whose past roles include president of the Taobao and Tmall marketplaces.

Alibaba will house its domestic commerce businesses in the China digital commerce unit which be led by Trudy Dai, a founding member of Alibaba, it said.

The company’s deputy chief financial officer, Toby Xu, will succeed Maggie Wu as the company’s chief financial officer from April, it said, describing his appointment as part of the company’s leadership succession plan.

On the decline

Tesla Inc. (TSLA-Q) was down on news the U.S. securities regulator has opened an investigation into a whistleblower complaint that the company failed to properly notify its shareholders and the public of fire risks associated with solar panel system defects over several years.

The probe raises regulatory pressure on the world’s most valuable automaker, which already faces a federal safety probe into accidents involving its driver assistant systems. Concerns about fires from Tesla solar systems have been published previously, but this is the first report of investigation by the securities regulator.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed the Tesla probe in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Steven Henkes, a former Tesla field quality manager, who filed a whistleblower complaint on the solar systems in 2019 and asked the agency for information about the report.

“We have confirmed with Division of Enforcement staff that the investigation from which you seek records is still active and ongoing,” the SEC said in a Sept. 24 response to Mr. Henkes, declining his request to provide its records. The SEC official said the letter should not be taken as an indication by the agency that violations of law had occurred. Reuters was able to confirm the response.

Mr. Henkes, a former Toyota Motor quality division manager, was fired from Tesla in August 2020 and he sued Tesla claiming the dismissal was in retaliation for raising safety concerns. Tesla did not respond to Reuters’ emailed questions, while the SEC declined to comment.

In the SEC complaint, Mr. Henkes said Tesla and SolarCity, which it acquired in 2016, did not disclose its “liability and exposure to property damage, risk of injury of users, fire etc to shareholders” prior and after the acquisition.

Tesla also failed to notify its customers that defective electrical connectors could lead to fires, according to the complaint.

Lucid Group Inc. (LCID-Q) has received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seeking documents related to an investigation on its blank-check deal, the Luxury electric-car maker said on Monday, sending its shares down.

“The investigation appears to concern the business combination between the Company (Churchill Capital Corp. IV) and Atieva Inc and certain projections and statements,” the company said in a regulatory filing.

The deal, which was completed earlier this year, was with veteran dealmaker Michael Klein’s blank-cheque acquisition firm.

It was one of the biggest in a string of deals with Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) that included electric vehicle makers such as Nikola Corp and Fisker Inc.

Founded in 2007 as Atieva Inc by former Tesla executive Bernard Tse and entrepreneur Sam Weng, Lucid plans to achieve production target of 20,000 vehicles in 2022 and 50,000 in 2023.

It was funded initially by Chinese and Silicon Valley venture investors, with additional funding from backers like state-owned Chinese auto maker BAIC Motor and Chinese technology company LeEco.

With files from staff and wires

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