Salesforce Names Three Directors, Braces for Proxy Fight
Topic of the day
Salesforce Inc. has appointed three new directors, including the finance chief of Mastercard Inc., to its board as a potential proxy fight with activist investor Elliott Management Corp. looms. The business-software maker said that Mastercard CFO Sachin Mehra, ValueAct Capital Chief Executive Mason Morfit and Arnold Donald, the former president and chief executive of Carnival Corp., have been named independent directors, effective March 1. The additions follow a report from The Wall Street Journal that Elliott, which has taken a multibillion-dollar investment in Salesforce, is preparing to nominate its own slate of directors for the company. The activist investor has been in talks with numerous executives in the tech industry and beyond, signaling that a proxy battle could be in the offing, though Elliott could still reach an agreement with the company before that happens, according to people familiar with the matter.
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After swinging between gains and losses for almost the entire duration of the day's session, the Switzerland stock market ended marginally up on Friday. The benchmark SMI ended the session with a gain of 14.74 points or 0.13% at 11,332.30. The index, which moved in a very tight band, touched a low of 11,296.15 and a high of 11,359.46. Geberit gained about 2.6%. Holcim climbed 2.15%, Sonova and Logitech both ended higher by about 1.65%, while Credit Suisse and Richemont advanced 1.2% and about 1.1%, respectively. Swiss Re ended lower by about 1.05%. Givaudan ended 0.8% down, while Zurich Insurance Group and Nestle declined marginally. In the Mid Price Index, SGS drifted down nearly 3%. Straumann Holding shed about 1%, while Clariant, Helvetia and Galenica Sante lost 0.8 to 0.9%. Temenos Group surged more than 3%. Georg Fischer gained nearly 2%, and Swatch Group ended 1.56% up. SIG Combibloc, Belimo Holding, Adecco and Lindt & Spruengli gained 0.8 to 1.2%.
European stocks closed slightly higher on Friday, continued to benefit from recent data showing a stronger than expected U.S. GDP growth. The pan European Stoxx 600 gained 0.26%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 edged up 0.05%, 0.11% and 0.02%, respectively. Switzerland's SMI ended higher by 0.13%. Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain and Sweden ended on a firm note. Belgium and Finland edged up marginally. Portugal and Turkiye ended weak, while Poland settled flat. In the UK market, Sainsbury (J) surged 5.5% after convenience store retailer Bestway Group said it had purchased or agreed to buy a 3.45% stake in the supermarket giant. Persimmon gained about 2.6%, while Auto Trader Group, Unite Group, Segro, Airtel Africa, Ashtead Group and Burberry advanced 1.6 to 2.2%. Rolls-Royce Holdings declined nearly 3%. Antofagasta drifted down 2.2%, while JD Sports Fashion, Flutter Entertainment, Diageo, Rio Tinto, Reckitt Benckiser, Fresnillo and Halma lost 1 to 1.7%. In the German market, Fresenius Medical Care rallied 3.75%. Continental and HeidelbergCement both gained about 2.5%. Adidas, Infineon Technologies, Deutsche Bank, Fresenius, Puma, Deutsche Post, Covestro and Porsche gained 1.1 to 2.2%. Sartorius ended 3.4% down. RWE, Hannover Rueck and Merck lost 1 to 1.6%.
U.S. stocks rose Friday and notched strong weekly gains, boosted by hopes that inflation is moderating. The S&P 500 rose 10.13 points, or 0.2%, to 4070.56. The Nasdaq Composite added 109.30 points, or 0.9%, to 11621.71. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 28.67 points, or 0.1%, to 33978.08. All three major U.S. indexes posted gains for the week. The S&P 500 added 2.5%, while the Dow gained 1.8%. The Nasdaq jumped 4.3%, notching a fourth week of wins that has driven it higher by 11%, the largest such gain since August. The rally builds on a winning streak for stocks that has lasted for much of January, pulling major indexes higher from where they ended 2022 and bringing calm to a market that swung wildly for much of the past year. Data released Thursday showed that U.S. economic growth slowed less than expected in the fourth quarter of 2022 and that the U.S. labor market remains strong. Still, hopes that inflation has peaked, alongside some momentum in the stock market, have drawn many investors in to bet on some of the riskiest corners of the market. Shares of Carvana, for example, jumped $1.27, or almost 20%, to $7.77 on Friday. Carvana is among the most-shorted stocks on Wall Street, according to S3 Partners. Shares of Coinbase added $8.35, or roughly 16%, to $61.37, bringing gains for the year to 73%. Corporate earnings also continued to drive outsize moves. Intel stock sank after the chipmaker reported a larger-than-expected quarterly loss late Thursday. Hasbro, the toy and games company, also fell after it reported lower revenue and became the latest corporation to outline large-scale layoffs. Among companies issuing results early Friday, American Express reported that profit fell for the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, its shares rose 11%, gaining $16.43 to $172.31, after the credit-card company said it plans to boost its quarterly dividend.
While the Chinese core stock exchanges are slightly firmer, some places are more clearly in the red, others show little movement. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.7 per cent with pent-up demand, after no trading there in the entire previous week due to the New Year celebrations.
In U.S. bond markets, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note ticked up to 3.517% while bond prices fell.
CS raises STMicroelectronics target to EUR 65 (58) – Outperform
CS raises LVMH target to EUR 960 (785) – Outperform
Citi lowers Telefonica target to EUR 3.60 (3.80) – Neutral
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