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

On the rise

Amid heightened enthusiasm for the prospects of its luxeptinib cancer treatment, Toronto-based Aptose Biosciences Inc. (APS-T) soared in the wake of in-line quarterly results after the bell on Tuesday.

“During 2020, Aptose executed on our three clinical trials which are now all well under way: two studies with our cluster selective kinase inhibitor luxeptinib (CG-806) and one with our MYC repressor APTO-253,” said President and CEO William Rice. “Dose escalation continues in each of these trials, and we and our investigators are encouraged by indicators of luxeptinib’s anti-cancer activity and safety profile. With APTO-253, we are observing consistent MYC repression, an indicator of activity that suggests future potential for broad oncology application. We look forward to providing the next complete data update at the 2021 EHA Virtual Congress.”

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The biotech firm also announced the resignation of CFO Gregory Chow, who is joining a private company.

Alithya Group Inc. (ALYA-T) jumped with the premarket announcement of the acquisition of R3D Conseil, a private Quebec firm that specializes in digital solutions.

This deal includes annual minimum volume commitments totaling approximately $600-million in combined revenues during the initial 10-year term commercial agreements with Quebecor and Beneva, two of R3D’s indirect principal shareholders.

Quebecor and Beneva will become minority shareholders in the Montreal-based company following the transaction. Each will hold 11.9-per-cent stakes.

Bally’s Corp. (BALY-N) rose on news it has agreed to a takeover by British gambling operator Gamesys for 1,850 pence per share in cash.

Shares in Gamesys jumped as much as 19% to an all-time high of 1,956 pence, above Bally’s offer of 1,850 apiece in cash.

The deal, if completed, would enable the UK-listed betting firm to benefit largely from Bally’s land-based and online platform in the U.S.

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American gambling firms in recent months have been tapping the expertise of their British peers as sports betting has taken off in the United States during the coronavirus crisis, with Caesars Entertainment agreeing last September to buy William Hill in a 2.9 billion-pound deal.

As a part of the possible combination, Bally’s also proposed to make a share alternative available to Gamesys shareholders of 1,655 pence each for those who wished to remain shareholders in the larger group.

On the decline

Boyd Group Services Inc. (BYD-T) rose in the wake of the release of in-line fourth-quarter results, driven by same-store sales growth south of the border.

Before the bell, the Winnipeg-based company reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $78-million, matching the Street’s forecast.

Desjardins Securities analyst David Newman said: “BYD exited 2020 with more than $1-billion in dry powder. We believe the company is back on track with acquisitions, starting with 16 locations added post-4Q, including seven intake centres. BYD’s total location count is now 741 (610 in the US and 131 in Canada).”

Tesla Inc. (TSLA-Q) was flat after chief Elon Musk announced customers can now buy its electric vehicles with bitcoin, marking a significant step forward for the cryptocurrency’s use in commerce.

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“You can now buy a Tesla with bitcoin,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter, adding that the option would be available outside the United States later this year.

The electric-car maker said last month it bought US$1.5-billion worth of bitcoin and would soon accept it as a form of payment for cars, in a large stride toward mainstream acceptance that sent bitcoin soaring to a record high of nearly $62,000.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest digital currency, rose more than 4 per cent after Mr. Musk’s tweet and was last trading at US$56,429.

In a research note, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said: “In a nutshell, Tesla accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for its products/cars is a potential game changing move for the use of Bitcoin from a transactional perspective. While many on the Street have discussed the prospects of this move for Tesla since being announced last month along with its $1.5 billion purchase of Bitcoin (we expect more purchases over the coming months) this morning’s news formalizes the strategy of Musk and Tesla diving into the deep end of the pool of bitcoin and crypto from a transactional perspective.”

Intel Corp. (INTC-Q) declined in the wake of announcing a US$20-billion plan to expand its advanced chip manufacturing capacity, even as Taiwan’s economy minister sought to downplay the impact.

Intel said on Tuesday it will build two factories in Arizona and open its plants to outside customers, directly challenging the two other companies in the world that can make the most advanced chips - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

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Shares in TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer with clients including Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc, fell as much on Wednesday morning.

TSMC announced plans last May to build a US$12-billion factory in Arizona, in an apparent win by the then-Trump administration in its push to wrestle global tech supply chains back from China.

Shares of Reddit-favourite GameStop Corp. (GME-N) fell on Wednesday, after the videogame retailer said it could cash in on a meteoric rise in share price to fund its e-commerce expansion.

GameStop has surged nearly 900 per cent so far this year and at the peak of the trading frenzy they had touched US$483 a piece. The shares fell after the company skipped a question and answer session after reporting quarterly results.

The company reported a ninth straight decline in quarterly sales and said it will close more retail stores and exit unprofitable businesses, underscoring Wall Street concerns about its business fundamentals.

Wedbush analysts downgraded the stock to “underperform” from “neutral”, saying the short squeeze has boosted the share price to levels that are completely disconnected from the fundamentals of business.

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“Our downgrade is not a reflection of our opinion of company management, which remains very high; rather, it appears that the ‘real’ value of GameStop shares vastly exceeds the ‘fundamental’ value,” Wedbush analysts said in a research note.

With files from staff and wires

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