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Merck will pay $625 million and royalties to settle Keytruda patent litigation with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharma

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 21:16:39 GMT

Merck & Co. Inc. will pay $625 million and royalties to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. to settle patent litigation over Merck's cancer drug Keytruda, the companies said Friday afternoon. As part of the settlement all patent litigation will be dismissed, and the companies have granted certain patent rights to each other. Merck will pay royalties on global Keytruda sales of 6.5% between 2017 and the end of 2023 and 2.5% between 2024 and 2026, with the royalties being split 75/25 between Bristol-Myers and Ono. Merck said the $625 million payment would be recorded in its fourth-quarter and full-year 2016 results, but excluded from its non-GAAP results. In their lawsuit against Merck, Bristol-Myers and Ono, which made cancer drug Opdivo, said its Keytruda sales infringed on various of its global patents. Bristol-Myers shares slumped 2.2% over the last three months, compared with a 1.0% rise in Merck shares and a 6.1% rise in the S&P 500 .

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U.S. stocks close higher as Trump takes office

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 21:03:20 GMT

U.S. stocks closed higher Friday after coming off intraday highs as Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the U.S. In his inauguration speech, the new president reiterated his protectionist stance but did not offer details on how he would go about pursuing his agenda. The S&P 500 rose 7 points, or 0.3%, to close at 2,271 for a weekly decline of 0.2%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 92 points, or 0.5%, to finish at 19,824, falling 0.3% for the week. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 15 points, or 0.3%, to close at 5,555, down shed 0.3% on the week.

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Moody's cuts Sears' credit ratings further into junk territory on weak sales

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 20:20:18 GMT

Moody's Investors Service on Friday downgraded ratings on Sears Holdings to Caa2 from Caa1, sending the credit further into speculative, or "junk" territory. The action reflects the retailer's steadily deteriorating performance after it said holiday same-store sales fell 12% to 13% from the year-earlier period. "Although Sears has been able to fund its continued cash shortfalls through planned asset monetization, and additional financings, a meaningful business turnaround in fiscal 2017 is critical given the continued reduction of its asset base", Moody's Vice President, Christina Boni said in a statement. "We expect operating cash flow to approach a disappointing loss of $1.5 billion for fiscal 2016." Sear's most active bonds, the 6.625% notes due October 2018 were trading at 93 cents on the dollar, according to MarketAxess.

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J. Christopher Giancarlo named acting CFTC chairman

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 20:12:30 GMT

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the federal agency that oversees the commodity futures, options and swaps industry, named J. Christopher Giancarlo acting chairman on Friday. Giancarlo succeeds Timothy Massad, a Democrat, who was appointed by former President Obama in June 2014 and resigned in early January. Giancarlo, a Republican, joined the CFTC as a commissioner in June 2014.

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AutoZone to hire 12,000 part-time and full-time workers through April

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 20:03:47 GMT

AutoZone Inc. said Friday that it will hire more than 12,000 part-tme and full-time workers through April. The most hiring will occur in New York City, Oakland, CA, Cincinnati and Columbus, OH, New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas and Pittsburgh. The company will hire across a number of positions, including sales representatives and store managers. Applications must be submitted online at autozone.com/careers. AutoZone shares are nearly flat in Friday trading, and are up nearly 8% for the last year. The S&P 500 index is up 22% for the past 12 months.

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Oil futures settle 2% higher, scores slight gain for the week

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 19:50:29 GMT

Oil futures settled higher on Friday, supported by declines in crude output among major producers. Data released Friday from Baker Hughes, however, showed a sharp weekly rise of 29 rigs actively drilling for oil, prompting prices to pare some of their earlier gains. February West Texas Intermediate crude rose $1.05, or 2%, to settle at $52.42 a barrel. The contract, which expired at the settlement, gained 0.1% for the week. March WTI crude , the new front-month contract, added $1.10, or 2.1%, to $53.22.

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Gold futures gain 0.7% for the week

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 19:01:30 GMT

Gold futures climbed Friday as weakness in the U.S. dollar and uncertainty surrounding Donald Trump's presidency helped to lift prices by roughly 0.7% for the week. February gold rose $3.40, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,204.90 an ounce.

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Baker Hughes data show sharp rise in U.S. oil-rig count

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 18:13:19 GMT

Data from Baker Hughes Friday revealed that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil jumped higher by 29 to 551 rigs this week. The oil rig count had edged lower last week, but rose in each of the 10 previous weeks. The total active U.S. rig count, which includes oil and natural-gas rigs, also rose by 35 to 694, according to Baker Hughes. February West Texas Intermediate crude was up $1.02, or 2%, at $52.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange from Thursday's settlement. It traded below the $52.59 it traded at before the rig data.

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Mexican peso rallies after Trump speech

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 18:06:10 GMT

The Mexican peso rallied after President Trump's inauguration speech didn't specifically mention Mexico. The country was a frequent target of criticism by Trump, who had pledged to build a wall along the U.S. southern border. The peso, which fell about 20% over the past 12 months, rose 1.3% on Friday, with the dollar buying 21.66 compared with 21.56 late Thursday in New York. That was the largest one-day move since Nov. 15. The peso is still on track to post weekly declines against the dollar.

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U.S. stocks maintain gains after Trump's inauguration speech

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:26:14 GMT

U.S. stocks maintained modest gains shortly after President Donald Trump delivered his inaugural speech, reiterating his campaign slogan to "Make America Great Again". The S&P 500 was up 6 points, or 0.3%, at 2,270. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 16 points, or 0.3% to 5,556. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 67 points or 0.4%, to 19,798. The U.S. dollar briefly weakened but was unchanged after the speech. The ICE dollar index was at 101.00

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One of President Obama's final acts was codifying an entrepreneurship program

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:25:21 GMT

One of President Obama's final acts before Donald Trump was inaugurated Friday was to sign a bill into law to make sure his Presidential Innovations Fellows Program, which pulls technology entrepreneurs into government to work on specific issues, sticks around. The program was started by the White House in 2012 and partners those in technology with lawmakers and federal agencies to work on issues such as saving lives, creating jobs and supporting entrepreneurship within the government, according to the press release. In the program, fellows serve for six months to 24 months. A similar bill was introduced by the House and Senate last year, but did not make it to the President by the end of the legislative session.

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GE and IBM earnings reports have something unusual in common

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:01:32 GMT

General Electric Co. and International Business Machines Corp. have something in common that makes them rare among companies that report quarterly results: both companies' financial statements list diluted earnings per share above basic EPS, and they have for years. Of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average , Walt Disney Co. is the only other company that reports EPS in that way. Basic EPS is calculated using the weighted-average number of common shares outstanding for the period, while diluted EPS takes into account all dilutive potential common shares, such as exercised options. Therefore, diluted EPS tends to be less than basic EPS. While it's not wrong to report diluted first, it's usual, like listing most-recent results to the right of year-ago results. An unknowing investor might at first glance think EPS is a bit larger than the actual bottomline number. "We present EPS in a way that we think is most representative of the company for investors," a GE spokesperson told MarketWatch. IBM was not immediately available for comment. GE's stock fell 1.9% in midday trade Friday, after reporting fourth-quarter revenue that missed expectations, while IBM's stock gained 1.6% after reporting better-than-expected results. GE shares have rallied 9.3% over the past 12 months, while IBM shares have run up 39% and the Dow has climbed 26%.

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Lower-priced 365 by Whole Foods Market heading to Brooklyn

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:45:29 GMT

Whole Foods Market Inc. said Friday that the first New York City 365 by Whole Foods store, the lower-priced version of the grocery brand, will be in Brooklyn. The opening date has yet to be determined, but it will be located in the borough's Cultural District. The first Whole Foods store opened in Brooklyn in 2013, and a new Whole Foods Market, the 11th in New York City, will open in Midtown Manhattan on Jan. 28. The first three 365 stores opened in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles, Bellevue, WA, and Lake Oswego, OR in 2016. Whole Foods says it has 23 365 store leases in development with the next one planned for Cedar Park, TX in April 2017. Whole Foods shares are nearly flat in Friday trading, and are up nearly 5% for the last year. The S&P 500 index is up 22.3% for the past 12 months.

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BlackRock names former UK Chancellor George Osborne as part-time adviser

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:43:04 GMT

BlackRock Inc. , the world's biggest asset manager, on Friday named former UK Chancellor George Osborne as a part-time senior adviser in a research division that focuses on economic and political events. Osborne is still a member of the UK parliament. BlackRock shares were slightly higher in midday trade, and are up 30% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 22%.

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FinTech Acquisition Corp. prices offering to raise $153 million

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:55:32 GMT

FinTech Acquisition Corp. , a blank-check company, priced its initial public offering at $10 per share to raise $153 million. The company will offer 15.3 million units. Each unit is made up of one share of common stock and one-half of one warrant. FinTech Acquisition Corp. plans to list on the Nasdaq Capital Market, which is typically for small-cap companies, under the symbol "FNTEU" and start trading Friday.

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Alphabet initiated with $1,030 stock target at Pacific Crest

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:35:33 GMT

Alphabet Inc. was initiated with an overweight rating and $1,030 stock price target Friday at Pacific Crest Securities. Analyst Andy Hargreaves said Alphabet's current valuation underestimates the sustainability of Google's search and YouTube businesses. He believes YouTube could launch a multichannel video programming service in 2017. Shares of Alphabet rose 0.5% to $828.03 in premarket trade. They've risen 0.3% in the past three months and 15% in the past year. The S&P 500 , meanwhile, is up 6% in the past three months and 22% in the past year. The average rating on the stock is the equivalent to buy, while the average price target is $960.59, according to a survey of roughly 30 analysts surveyed by FactSet.

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U.S. stocks open higher as Trump inauguration approaches

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:32:04 GMT

U.S. stocks opened higher Friday as investors largely avoided big bets ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration as the nation's 45th president. The main indexes were on track to end the week with modest losses, however. The S&P 500 opened up 8 points, or 0.3%, at 2,271. The Nasdaq Composite began the session up 21 points, or 0.4% higher, at 5,562. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 76 points, or 0.4%, to 19,809 at the open.

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Keane Group prices IPO at high end of range, expected to trade Friday

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:30:48 GMT

Keane Group Inc. , an oil-field services company, priced its initial public offering at the high end of its range Thursday night. Keane priced its offering at $19 a share and will be selling 15.7 million shares, while its selling stockholder, Cerberus Capital Management LP, will be selling 11.06 million shares. Keane will not receive proceeds from the shares sold by the stockholder. Shares are expected to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange Friday under the symbol "FRAC."

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'Call of Duty' helps lead video game industry to $30.4 bln year in revenue

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:28:35 GMT

The U.S. video game industry generated $30.4 billion in revenue in 2016, according to new data from the Entertainment Software Association and NPD Group. Sales include everything from hardware, software, peripherals and in-game purchases and 2016's gross is just above the $30.2 billion generated in 2015. Consumer spending on console platforms, such as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Corp.'s XBox One, was driven by Activision Blizzard Inc.'s "Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare," Electronic Arts Inc.'s "Battlefield 1" and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.'s "NBA 2K17." NPD Group pointed out the Pokemon craze that re-upped in 2016 with the Pokemon Go mobile game and release of Pokemon Sun and Moon, which garnered the highest launch month consumer spend in the history of the franchise, according to a news release. "Growth in entertainment software consumer spend was seen across the mobile, PC, virtual reality, subscription, portable and digital console segments," NPD Group industry analyst Mat Piscatella said in a statement. "Consumers have more options to purchase and enjoy entertainment software than ever before, while developers have more and easier ways to delivering that content. No matter the delivery platform, entertainment software has never been more engaging, diverse or accessible."

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Grayscale Investments files to list its bitcoin trust on NYSE

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:41:47 GMT

Grayscale Investments has filed to list its Bitcoin Investment Trust on the New York Stock Exchange in a $500 million initial public offering, according to documents submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday. Shares of the trust, which presently trades over the counter, have been trading at a premium to the bitcoin price. The trust, which back in 2013 and exclusively invests in bitcoin, is one of the only options available to institutional investors wishing to gain exposure to the currency. The Bank of New York Mellon will serve as the transfer agent for shares of the fund, and Xapo Inc., a bitcoin wallet and vault company, will serve as custodian of the trust's bitcoins. The application comes as the SEC is mulling whether to approve two proposed bitcoin exchange-traded funds. If approved, they would be the first ETFs exclusively focused on bitcoin.

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Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon Endo-Surgery to acquire medical device maker Megadyne Medical Products

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:39:24 GMT

Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon Endo-Surgery said early Friday it has acquired privately-held medical device maker Megadyne Medical Products Inc. The company did not detail the deal's financial terms. Megadyne makes electrosurgical tools used in operating rooms, and will complement Ethicon's advanced energy devices, the company said. Electrosurgical devices are used in nearly four out of every five surgeries, according to Ethicon. Johnson & Johnson shares have slumped 0.6% over the last three months, compared with a 5.7% rise in the S&P 500 .

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Netflix is properly valued until company's execution in new markets is proven

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:32:33 GMT

As it stands, Netflix Inc. is properly valued, according to analysts at Citi. The global streaming company had one of its best quarters to date on Wednesday, reaching an intraday high after posting domestic and international subscriber gains that were better than expected. Lead Citi analyst Mark May raised his 12-month price target on the stock to $145 from $120, which is nearly 5% above Thursday's closing price, but he maintained his neutral rating. "While we are positive on Netflix's long-term positioning and the growth of OTT video, we believe shares are pricing in the company's opportunities both in the U.S. and internationally," May wrote in a note to clients. For further outperformance, investors would need to ascribe "far more value" to the new international markets where Netflix has launched, where execution in unproven, according to May. Netflix shares are up more than 28% in the trailing 12-month period, outperforming the S&P 500 Index , which is up nearly 22% during the same time frame.

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AIG enters reinsurance agreement with Berkshire Hathaway unit

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:23:18 GMT

American International Group Inc. said Friday it has entered an adverse development reinsurance agreement with a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. . The agreement, which allows the insured party to shift the timing of losses that have already occurred, as well as ones incurred but not yet reported, to the insurer in return for a premium, covers 80% of AIG's U.S. commercial long-tail exposures for 2015 and before, including the biggest part of AIG's casualty exposures during that period. AIG will pay a premium of $9.8 billion by June 30, with interest set at 4% a year from Jan. 1, 2016 to date of payment. Berkshire unit National Indemnity Company is assuming 80% of the net losses and net allocated loss adjustment costs on the subject reserves in excess of the first $25 billion. The unit's overall limit of liability is $20 billion. AIG is currently completing its fourth-quarter reserve review and will publish it with its year-end earnings. The company is expecting a material prior year adverse development charge for the fourth quarter. AIG shares were not yet active premarket, but have gained 20% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained about 21%.

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Ford to record $3 billion loss for remeasurement of pension, OPEB plans

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:21:46 GMT

Ford Motor Co. disclosed Friday that it will record a pre-tax $3 billion loss in 2016 related to remeasurement of its pensions plans and other postretirement benefit (OPEB) plans, as lower discount rates offset asset gains. Of the total, $900 million of the loss is associated with its U.S. pension plans, $1.9 billion is with pension plans outside of the U.S and $200 million is with OPEB plans globally. Including the remeasurement loss, the auto maker expects its the underfunded status of its pension plans to increase to $8.9 billion a year-end 2016 from $8.2 billion in 2015, and of its OPEB plans to rise to $5.9 billion from $5.7 billion. Ford said the loss will cut its 2016 after-tax net income by about $2 billion, but it still expects to meet its guidance of $10.2 billion in adjusted pre-tax profit. The stock, which was unchanged in premarket trade, has gained 4.5% over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 has rallied 22%.

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Visa stock upgraded to outperform at Wedbush as mobile payments becomes a catalyst

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:02:45 GMT

Visa Inc. stock on Friday was upgraded to outperform from neutral by Wedbush analyst Moshe Katri, citing the payments company's attractive business model, growth prospects and outlook for increasing shareholder returns. Katri, in a note to clients, points to a host of growth/scale catalysts, including the displacement of cash and checks by electronic payments, incremental revenue opportunities from European regulations and hyper-growth in mobile payments. Katri points out in his note that according to eMarketer retail mobile commerce accounted for $88.5 billion of retail sales in 2015. That's 1.9% of total retails and 26% of electronic commerce sales. "By 2017, mobile commerce sales are expected to reach $151 billion, more than one-third of ecommerce sales," Katri wrote. "Importantly, we believe this trend could lead to improving economics for the networks, as [card not present transactions] typically call for higher interchrge fees." Katri also bumped his 12-month price target to $96 from $77. Shares of Visa have gained more than 15% in the trailing 12-month period, while the S&P 500 Index is up nearly 22% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up more than 25% in the same time.

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Facebook has strong growth ahead with video, commerce, Pacific Crest analysts say

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:58:54 GMT

Shares of Facebook Inc. were up less than 1% in premarket trade Friday after Pacific Crest analysts resumed coverage of the stock at overweight and a $150 price target. Because of Facebook's wide consumer base and applications for business, the analysts say it should have growth opportunities with its video, off-platform advertising and commerce businesses. Facebook is well-positioned as more consumers shift to mobile screens, the analysts say, and it should increase the company's pricing power as more businesses use the platform to reach mobile consumers. Though there are risks of a slowdown in user engagement and in decelerating ad load, the analysts say they already appear to be priced into the stock. Shares of Facebook have lost 2% in the past three months, compared to the S&P 500's gain of 6%.

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AT&T to record $1 billion charge after lowering discount rates for pension obligations

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:52:32 GMT

AT&T Inc. disclosed Friday that it expects to record a $1 billion fourth-quarter non-cash charge following a remeasurement of its pension and postemployment benefit plans. The telecom giant said a $3 billion loss was generated after it lowered on Dec. 31 the assumed discount rates for pension obligations to 4.4% from 4.6% and for postretirement obligations to 4.3% from 4.5%. The loss was largely offset by gains related to a "better than assumed claims experience," higher-than-expected asset returns and changes in demographics, mortality and other assumptions. Separately, the company said it plans to report in its fourth-quarter results more than 900,000 branded net subscriber adds, with more than 1.2 million wireless net adds in Mexico. The stock, which was unchanged in premarket trade, has run up 21% over the past 12 months while the S&P 500 has climbed 22%.

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Bristol-Myers Squibb stock sinks 7.2% after it says it won't pursue accelerated approval for lung cancer combination treatment

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:48:12 GMT

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. shares sunk 7.2% in pre-market trade Friday after the company said it wouldn't try for accelerated approval in first-line lung cancer for its combination of Opdivo and Yervoy. The company said the decision was made "based on a review of the data available at this time," and said it would say no more "in order to protect the integrity of ongoing registrational studies." Leerink analyst Seamus Fernandez said the development was a "clear setback for BMY," especially given a fall approval by rival drugmaker Merck in first-line lung cancer. The combination of Opdivo and Yervoy is seen by many as Bristol's best approach to lung cancer, and the company has four clinical trials underway. "Regardless of the data used to inform this update, it is obvious that it did not meet the threshold for a filing and BMY confirmed to us that MRK's surprise filing did not influence this decision," Fernandez said. Bristol shares have risen 10.2% over the last three months, compared with a 5.7% rise in the S&P 500 .

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Twitter faces core business challenges, acquisition unlikely, Pacific Crest analysts say

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:43:17 GMT

Shares of Twitter Inc. were up 1% in premarket trade Friday after Pacific Crest analysts resumed coverage of the stock at sector weight and a price target of $14. The analysts say Twitter continues to have core business challenges such as a difficult to use platform and that there does not seem to be a simple solution to this "which suggests further stagnation is likely." The analysts say Twitter's focus on video could renew growth and focus on the real-time strengths of the platform, but Twitter would be up against a lot of competition. An acquisition of Twitter is unlikely in the near-term, they say, due to recent executive departures and a suggestion of an internal turnaround. Shares of Twitter have fallen 1% in the past three months, compared to the S&P 500's gain of 6%.

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Procter & Gamble shares rise on second-quarter earnings beat

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:28:55 GMT

Procter & Gamble shares rose 1.9% in pre-market trade Friday after the consumer goods company beat second-quarter expectations. Earnings for the latest quarter rose to $7.9 billion, or $2.88 per share, from $3.2 billion, or $1.12 per share. Adjusted earnings per share were $1.08, compared with the FactSet consensus of $1.06. Revenue declined to $16.86 billion from $16.92 billion, compared with the FactSet consensus of $16.94 billion. The company said it expects headwinds of foreign exchange and minor brand divestitures to reduce sales growth by two to three percentage points in 2017, and estimated its all-in sales to align with the 2016 fiscal year. It expects reported EPS to increase 48% to 50% compared with an EPS of $3.69 in 2016. Procter & Gamble shares have declined 0.3% over the last three months, compared with a 5.7% rise in the S&P 500 .

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