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

On the rise

Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI-B-T) rose on Wednesday in the wake of beating analyst expectations and growing its first-quarter revenue and profit as its cable and media businesses saw improvements.

Rogers had $3.49-billion in revenue for the three-month period ended March 31, up 2 per cent from a year ago when it had $3.42-billion.

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Its profit for the quarter was $361-million, up 3 per cent from $352-million during the same period last year. The earnings amounted to 70 cents per share, compared to 68 cents per share a year ago.

After adjusting for various items, Rogers had 77 cents per share in quarterly earnings, up 8 per cent from 71 cents per share during the same period last year.

Analysts had been expecting 66 cents per share in adjusted earnings and $3.35-billion in revenue, according to the consensus estimate from S&P Capital IQ.

Rogers also added 44,000 net new postpaid wireless customers during the quarter, but lost 56,000 prepaid customers. (Postpaid subscribers are those who are billed at the end of the month for the services they used, versus prepaid customers, who pay upfront for wireless services.)

- Alexandra Posadzki

See also: Rogers outage thrusts network reliability into spotlight amid 5G rollout

Canadian private-equity firm Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (BAM.A-T) was flat with the announcement of the acquisition of seven retail parks from Hammerson for 330 million pounds (US$459.33-million), marking the mall operator’s exit from the UK retail parks sector.

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British shopping centres are set to be fully operational by mid-May under phased exit plan from coronavirus restrictions, which have kept shoppers at home and led to widespread retail rent deferrals.

The divestment will help Hammerson shore up its finances after the UK-headquartered company reported a loss of 1.7 billion pounds for 2020 and issued a longer-term debt warning, as the coronavirus crisis knocked the value of its malls.

“Our immediate priority is to strengthen the balance sheet. This latest disposal is a positive step,” Chief Executive Rita-Rose Gagné said.

The transaction represents an 8-per-cent discount to the assets’ book value, as of Dec. 31, and takes the total gross proceeds of the company’s disposals in 2021 to 403 million pounds, Hammerson said.

Canopy Growth Corp. (WEED-T) gained ground after naming Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits as its distribution partner for its U.S. portfolio of CBD-infused beverages.

The Miami-based company will distribute Canopy’ beverages, beginning with its sparkling water brand Quatreau, across seven U.S. states, and expects additional states in the months to come.

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Canopy’s Chief Commercial Officer Julious Grant said “Through this groundbreaking partnership, we will leverage Southern Glazer’s established distribution network to bring our CBD beverage portfolio to retailers and consumers across the U.S. market,. The leadership team at Southern Glazer’s shares our values, priorities, and future-forward view of the category. Together, we are committed to creating an immediate strategic route to market for Canopy’s premium CBD beverages.”

See also: Large cannabis companies are starting to experience growth headwinds because of fickle consumers

Automation tech startup UiPath Inc’s (PATH-N) shares jumped nearly 17 per cent in their U.S. market debut on Wednesday, giving the company a market value of US$34-billion and underscoring investors’ appetite for high-growth stocks.

Its stock opened at US$65.50, compared with the initial public offering (IPO) price of $56 per share.

Backed by the likes of Accel, Dragoneer and Coatue Management, UiPath uses artificial intelligence and low-code tools to help large corporations and government agencies automate repetitive and routine tasks in areas such as accounting and human resources.

The startup priced its offering of 23.9 million shares at US$56 apiece to raise around US$1.34-billion. It will receive proceeds of around US$527-million from the IPO.

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Several richly valued startups, including cryptocurrency exchange operator Coinbase Global and South Korean e-commerce startup Coupang, have already cashed in on the record run in U.S. capital markets this year.


On the decline

Metro Inc. (MRU-T) was narrowly lower as grocery sales continue to surge with the pandemic affecting Canadians’ eating habits.

The Montreal-based retailer reported second-quarter sales of $4.2-billion, up 5.1 per cent compared to the same period last year. Metro’s grocery stores saw 5.5-per-cent growth in same-store sales – a metric that tracks sales growth excluding the impact of store openings and closures during the year.

That sales growth slowed toward the end of the quarter, as Metro’s results began to be compared to the pandemic-related boom in grocery sales that began in early March last year. However, the company is expecting food sales to continue to be elevated compared to before the pandemic began.

The company, which owns grocery banners including Metro, Food Basics and Super C, has also seen a continued rise in demand for online grocery purchases: its e-commerce sales more than tripled compared to last year, rising 240 per cent.

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Metro, which also owns the Jean Coutu and Brunet pharmacy banners, reported that same-store sales at its drugstores were roughly flat. Higher prescription drug sales were offset by lower front-of-store sales, which were affected by restrictions on selling non-essential goods in Quebec and by a milder cold and flu season. Sales growth was also muted by a comparison to the pandemic-related surge in drugstore sales last year.

- Susan Krashinsky Robertson

NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE-N) was lower after it reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, as the world’s largest producer of wind and solar energy benefited from surging demand for renewable power.

NextEra is among the biggest beneficiaries of a global transition to clean energy from fossil fuels and briefly overtook oil behemoth Exxon Mobil Corp in market value last year to become the largest U.S. energy company.

The company said in a statement its clean energy business, Nextera Resources, added about 1,750 megawatts of contracted renewables and storage to its backlog in the quarter.

The unit has added about 503 megawatts of new solar projects and 916 megawatts of new wind projects to its backlog since NextEra released fourth-quarter results in January.

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Its Florida-focused electric utility’s average customers rose by 71,400 in the first quarter, with the company saying that it expected 40 per cent of the energy produced across the unit to be from zero-emission sources by 2030.

NextEra stood pat on its earnings forecast for 2021 and long-term financial expectations, targeting adjusted earnings per share of US$2.40 to US$2.54 this year and a 6-per-cent to 8-per-cent growth in the next two years.

Halliburton Co. (HAL-N) slid after it reported a 6-per-cent rise in first-quarter adjusted profit from the previous three months, as a rebound in oil prices from pandemic lows fueled drilling activity and demand for oilfield services.

Higher oil prices during the quarter boosted drilling, completion and production, which led to the rebound in demand for oilfield equipment and services from 2020 lows.

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

“The first quarter marked an activity inflection for the international markets, while North America continued to stage a healthy recovery,” Chief Executive Office Jeff Miller said.

“I expect international activity growth to accelerate, and the early positive momentum in North America gives me confidence in the activity cadence for the rest of the year.”

Adjusted net income attributable to company rose to US$170-million, or 19 US cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from the US$160-million, or 18 US cents per share, in the fourth quarter.

Total revenue rose 6.6 per cent to US$3.45-billion from the fourth quarter. Analysts’ on average had estimated revenue of US$3.36-billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Netflix Inc. (NFLX-Q) said slower production of TV shows and movies during the pandemic hurt subscriber growth in the first quarter, sending shares of the world’s largest streaming service down.

Roughly 3.98 million people signed up for Netflix from January through March, below the 6.25 million average projection of analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Netflix estimated it will add just 1 million new streaming customers in the second quarter. Analysts had expected a forecast of nearly 4.8 million.

Shares of Netflix sunk as much as 11 per cent in after-hours trading to $489.28, wiping $25 billion off the company’s market capitalization. Its stock has risen 27 per cent over the past 12 months compared with a 63-per-cent increase in the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index.

Netflix said it did not believe competition changed materially in the quarter or impacted its new sign-ups “as the over-forecast was across all of our regions.”

The company projected membership growth would accelerate in the second half of the year when it releases new seasons of You, Money Heist, and The Witcher and action movie Red Notice, among other titles.

A year ago, Netflix added a record 15.8 million customers as the pandemic forced people around the world to stay home. The company said on Tuesday the pandemic hindered filming new shows.

See also: Company earnings are rebounding, but anything short of perfect could be trouble

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ-N) was flat after saying on Wednesday it lost more wireless subscribers than expected during the first quarter as it battled intense competition from T-Mobile US Inc and AT&T Inc to attract customers.

As the 5G technology gains traction, customers have been exploring competitive options from the big three telecoms carriers, which are making big investments to upgrade their networks.

Verizon lost 178,000 wireless phone subscribers in the first quarter, more than 121,700 subscriber loss estimated by FactSet.

Total operating revenue rose about 4 per cent to US$32.9-billion, compared with analysts’ estimates of US$32.46-billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

In February, Verizon, AT&T (T-N) and T-Mobile (TMUS-Q) won US$78-billion in bids in the government’s auction of C-Band spectrum, which is seen as the most likely short-term source of available spectrum for next-generation 5G networks.

To finance the purchase, Verizon raised US$12-billion in the fourth quarter and more than US$31-billion in March this year, the wireless carrier said.

Oilfield equipment and services provider Baker Hughes Co. (BKR-N) was down after Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Simonelli reiterated he is “cautiously optimistic” about oil demand recovering this year from the coronavirus blow, echoing a view he shared on the company’s last earnings call.

The company reported a 40-per-cent fall in first-quarter adjusted profit, compared to the fourth, as the pandemic’s hit on fuel demand lingers, weighing on demand for oilfield equipment and services lower.

“We expect spending and activity levels to gain momentum through the year as the macro environment improves, likely setting up the industry for stronger growth in 2022,” Mr. Simonelli said in a statement.

Even though oil prices have recovered from the lows hit last year, producers across the globe are vowing spending restraint and pledging to hold production flat, hitting business prospects for companies like Baker Hughes and rivals Schlumberger and Halliburton.

Baker Hughes said its adjusted operating income fell to US$270-million in the three months ended March 31, from US$462-million in the fourth quarter.

It also posted a net loss attributable to the company of US$452-million, compared with a US$653-million profit in the fourth quarter, attributing it to an unrealized loss on its investment in, a software company.

With files from staff and wires

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