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

On the rise

Great Canadian Gaming Corp. (GC-T) was higher after the Globe and Mail reported CI Financial Corp. does not support a $2.1-billion takeover bid and will vote against the deal, putting the proposed private-equity buyout in limbo one week before its scheduled shareholder vote.

CI is a major shareholder of Great Canadian with a 14.1-per-cent stake and in a statement late Wednesday the money manager said it is “not supportive of the proposed plan of arrangement” between private-equity giant Apollo Global Management Inc. and Great Canadian.

Moderna Inc. (MRNA-Q) rose with the expectation a panel of outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will endorse emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine during a meeting on Thursday.

The panel vote on whether the vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks is likely to come some time after 3 pm ET, with an FDA authorization expected as soon as Friday.

This is the same committee of expert advisers that last week backed the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE, clearing the way for the FDA emergency use authorization (EUA) a day later.

That vaccine is being distributed throughout the country. A massive inoculation program began at U.S. hospitals on Monday.

The Moderna vaccine uses similar messenger RNA technology but with less onerous cold storage requirements than the Pfizer/BioNTech shot, making it a better option for remote and rural areas. Both vaccines were about 95 per cent effective in preventing illness in pivotal clinical trials.

Magna Intermational Inc. (MG-T) was up after electric-car maker Fisker Inc. said on Thursday that it would initially manufacture its Ocean SUV in Europe, finalizing a deal signed with the Canadian auto supplier in October.

The agreement marks Magna’s first entry into contract manufacturing for an electric-vehicle (EV) startup.

As part of the deal, Magna will receive warrants to purchase a stake of up to 6 per cent in the electric-car maker, Fisker told Reuters in October.

Magna’s stake in Fisker is subject to achieving three engineering and production milestones through the planned start of production of the model in November 2022.

Fisker’s Ocean SUV will have a starting price of US$37,499.

Boston Pizza Royalties Income Fund (BPF-UN-T) rose with the announcement of a special distribution of 20 cents per unit.

“The special distribution is a departure from BPF.UN’s historical distribution practices and is not expected to become a regular practice in future years,” said Acumen Capital analyst Nick Corcoran in a research note.

He added: “We continue to believe that the network is well positioned to weather the storm, and that the distribution has been set at a sustainable level.”

Consulting and outsourcing services provider Accenture Plc (ACN-N) jumped in the wake of raising its full-year sales forecast and beat quarterly revenue estimates on Thursday, as an extended work-from-home period boosted its digital, cloud and security services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to expedite their move to the cloud, benefiting large IT consulting firms such as Accenture, which serves across industries including health and financial services.

The company forecast fiscal year 2021 revenue growth between 4 per cent and 6 per cent, above its previous estimate of growth between 2 per cent and 5 per cent.

Accenture expects second-quarter revenue to be between US$11.55-billion and US$11.95-billion, above Wall Street estimates of US$11.35-billion.

Total revenue rose to US$11.76-billion in the first quarter ended Nov. 30 from US$11.36-billion a year earlier, beating analysts’ estimate of US$11.36-billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

General Mills Inc. (GIS-N) was up after it beat second-quarter profit estimates on Thursday, boosted by sales of its pet foods and baking products, and said it expects the demand trend to continue at the same levels it has seen over the past few months.

“Third-quarter demand trends are expected to be generally consistent with recent months, due to ongoing virus concerns in many markets around the world,” the company said, adding that this would lead it to post another strong quarter of sales and profit growth.

The Minneapolis-based company expects third-quarter organic sales to be up roughly 7 per cent, similar to growth it witnessed in the second quarter. A spike in at-home cooking boosted sales of many products including Betty Crocker cake mixes and Old El Paso sauces in North America in the latest reported quarter.

People also spent more on their pets, driving sales in General Mills’ pet segment up 18 per cent in the quarter, in part due to increased distribution and media investments around brands such as BLUE.

Asian and Latin American markets were also robust, the company said, with organic net sales growing 10 per cent on the back of strong demand of its Wanchai Ferry dumplings in China and Häagen-Dazs retail ice cream. In Latin America, Yoki meals and Kitano seasonings were top-performing brands.

Excluding items, General Mills earned US$1.06 per share, beating analysts’ expectation of 97 US cents.

The company also said it expects full-year fiscal 2021 adjusted operating margins to be in line or better than year-ago levels.

Homebuilder Lennar Corp. (LEN-N) beat quarterly profit and revenue estimates, as it reined in construction costs and benefited from a strong U.S. housing market.

Lennar’s shares rose after the company’s first-quarter home delivery forecast also beat Wall Street estimates.

While the COVID-19 health crisis has wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, the housing market got a boost from record low mortgage rates and demand for suburban housing as city dwellers look for spacious homes away from overcrowded spaces.

“The confluence of Millennials starting families and creating households of their own, along with the pro-housing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has materially strengthened demand,” executive chairman Stuart Miller said.

The company forecast first-quarter delivery of 12,200 to 12,500 homes, above analysts’ estimates of 11,592, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue fell to US$6.83-billion in the fourth quarter ended Nov. 30, from US$6.97-billion a year earlier. Analysts were expecting revenue of US$6.65-billion.

Net earnings attributable to the company rose to US$882.8-million, or US$2.82 per share, from US$674.3-million, or $2.13 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts had expected earnings of US$2.37 per share.

Maryland-based MacroGenics Inc. (MGNX-Q) trimmed early gains after the drug developer said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its drug Margenza in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of an advanced type of breast cancer in patients who failed two or more prior therapies.

The cancer drug developer said it was expecting to launch the drug, the first to be approved from its pipeline, in March.

The approval is based on results of a late-stage study, which showed that a combination of Margenza and chemotherapy caused significant reduction in the risk of disease progression or death compared with Roche Holding AG’s Herceptin plus chemotherapy, the company said.

The label for Margenza carries a boxed warning, FDA’s harshest, flagging the risk of embryo-fetal harm when used during pregnancy.

The FDA also warns of risk for left ventricular dysfunction, a condition which can lead to heart failure.

On the decline

Google parent company Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL-Q, GOOG-Q) was down after dozens of U.S. states filed an anti-trust lawsuit on Thursday, alleging that the search giant has an illegal monopoly over the online search market that hurts consumers and advertisers.

The lawsuit, announced by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. by states represented by bipartisan attorneys general. The lawsuit was joined by the attorneys general of 34 other states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.

“Consumers are denied the benefits of competition, including the possibility of higher quality services and better privacy protections. Advertisers are harmed through lower quality and higher prices that are, in turn, passed along to consumers,” Mr. Weiser said in press release.

The lawsuit was joined by the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Sylogist Ltd. (SYZ-X), a Calgary-based IT service management company, was narrowly lower after its fourth-quarter 2020 results, released before the bell, fell short of the Street’s forecast.

In a research note, Acumen Capital equity analyst Jim Byrne said: “While the Q4 results were below our expectations, we believe most investors should look past these financials as SYZ embarks on its path to higher growth in 2021 and beyond with new CEO Bill Wood at the helm. Mr. Wood joined the company just over a month ago, long after the end of Q4 in September.”

With files from staff and wires

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