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Copyright: Copyright 2016, MarketWatch, Inc.
 



Government shutdown averted as Senate passes short-term funding bill

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 13:03:12 GMT

The Senate passed a bill late Friday night to fund the government through April 28, acting just shortly before the government was due to partially shut down. The House approved the measure on Thursday and it now goes to President Barack Obama for signature. The funding bill was held up by Democrats' efforts to get a longer extension of miners' health-care benefits. But lawmakers said they wouldn't shut down the government over the issue and vowed to press it next year. The vote was 63-36.

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Senate appears poised to head off midnight government shutdown

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:40:17 GMT

The Senate appeared poised Friday night to vote for a stopgap spending bill that would head off a government shutdown at midnight. The House approved the measure, which funds government operations through April 28, on Thursday. Senators including Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, had sought a longer extension of miners' benefits than is included in the House bill. "We are not going to shut down the government over this issue," said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat. Votes are expected later Friday night.

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Giuliani no longer under consideration for a position in Trump administration

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 21:31:50 GMT

President-elect Donald Trump's transition team said Friday that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had taken himself out of the running for "a position in the new administration." Giuliani was reportedly under consideration for secretary of state. The Wall Street Journal reported, meanwhile, that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson has emerged as the top candidate to lead the State Department.

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Stocks close at records as Dow logs fifth week of gains

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 21:05:26 GMT

Stocks finished at records Friday as consumer sentiment surged and markets continued their Trump-inspired rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Index finished up 142.04 points, or 0.7%, at 19,756.85, for a weekly gain of 3.1%, the blue-chip average's fifth week of consecutive gains. The S&P 500 index gained 13.34 points, or 0.6%, to finish at 2,259.53, led by the health-care and consumer-staples sectors, for a weekly gain of 3.1%. The Nasdaq Composite index closed up 27.14 points, or 0.5%, at 5,444.50, for a weekly gain of 3.6%.

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Oil futures gain for the day, but end lower for the week

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:42:37 GMT

Oil futures settled higher Friday, with major oil producers set to meet this weekend with plans to shore up their recent decision to cut back output. For the week, however, prices lost about 0.4% as some doubts lingered that producers outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will fully support the agreement. January West Texas Intermediate crude rose 66 cents, or 1.3%, to settle at $51.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Gold futures down five weeks in a row

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:12:56 GMT

Gold futures settled Friday at their lowest level since February, posting a weekly loss for a fifth straight week amid expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its meeting next week. February gold lost $10.50, or 0.9%, for the session to settle at $1,161.90 an ounce-the lowest finish since early February, according to FactSet data. For the week, prices declined by roughly 1.1%.

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Baker Hughes reports spike in U.S. oil-rig count

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:17:54 GMT

Data from Baker Hughes Friday revealed that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil climbed by 21 to 498 rigs this week. That's the highest level since January, according to Citi Futures' Tim Evans. The total active U.S. rig count, which includes oil and natural-gas rigs, also jumped by 27 to 624, according to Baker Hughes. "It looks like the OPEC deal, as well as the end of the year, is inspiring the drillers to get cracking," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group. He also pointed out that "some drillers may have to start drilling before the end of the year to keep leases." Prices for oil appeared unfazed by the rig data, with January crude holding onto its gains, trading at $51.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 59 cents, or 1.2%.

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Corn futures pull back further from 5-month high as USDA raises world output forecast

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:01:47 GMT

Corn futures edged lower Friday, falling back further from the five-month high they hit earlier this week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture left its forecast on U.S. corn production unchanged for the 2016/2017 crop year at 386.75 million metric tons and raised its world output projection by more than 9 million metric tons to 1.0397 billion metric tons. "Looks like plenty of grain inventories globally, which is what people will take away from this report," Sal Gilbertie, president and chief investment officer at Teucrium Trading, said about the USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. "There is once again record global demand for grains and nearly all the major crops covered in this report," he said. But "the world has become reliant on record production to meet record demand." March corn was down 0.2% at $3.53 a bushel in Chicago. It settled at over $3.60 a bushel on Tuesday, which was its highest level since mid-July.

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General Electric hikes up dividend by 4.3%

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:34:34 GMT

General Electric Co. said Friday that it raised its quarterly dividend by 4.3% to 24 cents a share from 23 cents a share. The new dividend will be payable Jan. 25 to shareholders of record on Dec. 27. At the current stock price of $31.59, up 0.2%, the new annual dividend rate implies a dividend yield of 3.10%, compared with the aggregate dividend yield for the Dow Jones Industrial Average of 2.34%. "We have a disciplined capital allocation strategy with a plan to return approximately $30 billion of cash to shareholders this year," said Chief Executive Jeff Immelt. "This dividend increase is in line with our multi-year capital allocation framework to have a dividend payout ratio of 45-50% and then grow the dividend in line with earnings." The stock has gained 1.4% year to date, while the Dow has climbed 12.9%.

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Fox strikes preliminary deal to buy rest of Sky for £10.75 a share

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:32:44 GMT

Shares of Sky PLC soared 31% in afternoon trade in London after 21st Century Fox Inc. reached a preliminary deal to buy the rest of Sky that it doesn't already own. Fox is Sky's largest shareholder with a 39% stake, according to FactSet data. Fox has offered to pay £10.75 a share in cash, which represents a 36% premium to the closing price on Dec. 8, the last business day before the statement. Sky said offer terms remain under discussion "and there can be no certainty that an offer will be made by 21st Century Fox, nor as to the terms of any such offer." News Corp, which owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of MarketWatch and the Wall Street Journal, and 21st Century Fox were part of the same company until 2013.

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U.S. stocks open in record territory, set to rise for 5th straight day

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:31:47 GMT

U.S. stocks opened in record territory on Friday, putting them on track to rise for a fifth straight day as investors brace for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for the first time in a year at at next week's meeting. Market-based indicators are pricing in a nearly 100% chance of a hike. The S&P 500 index gained 4 points, or 0.2%, to 2,249, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 15 points, or 0.1%, to 19,629. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 23 points, or 0.4%, to 5,441. Five of the most widely watched U.S. stock benchmarks closed at record highs on Thursday for the first time in 18 years. Crude oil prices rose, with U.S. futures trading above $51 a barrel, helping to bolster energy and materials shares. Shares of Coca-Cola Co. rose more than 1% after the company announced that Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent will leave the company, effective May 1.

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Stillwater's stock soars in active trade after buyout deal with Sibanye Gold

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:21:10 GMT

Shares of Stillwater Mining Co. soared 19% in active premarket trade Friday, after the platinum miner agreed to be acquired by Sibanye Gold Ltd. in a deal valued at about $2.2 billion. Under terms of the deal, Sibanye will pay $18 in cash for each Stillwater share outstanding, which represents a 23% premium to Thursday's closing price. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017. Trading volume in Stillwater's stock spiked to 4.1 million shares ahead of the open, already more than double the full-day average, and enough to make it the most actively traded in the premarket. Sibanye shares plunged 16% in premarket trade. Year to date, Stillwater shares have soared 71%, while Sibanye's stock has climbed 37%, the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF has surged 56% and the S&P 500 has gained 9.9%.

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Royal Caribbean to set sail for Cuba in April 2017

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:14:45 GMT

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said Friday that its cruise ship Empress of the Seas will make its first visit to Cuba during a five-night trip leaving Miami on Apr. 19, 2017. Thereafter, the ship will head to Havana during a seven-night trip on April 30, and during a five-night trip on May 20. Tampa will be the ship's home port for the summer season for four- and five-night trips that include port calls in Cuba. Royal Caribbean shares are up 0.3% in premarket trading, but down 15.3% for the year so far. The S&P 500 index is up nearly 10% for 2016 to date.

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Synergy Pharmaceuticals surges 16% in pre-market trade on positive late-stage clinical trial results

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:10:11 GMT

Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. surged 15.9% in pre-market trade Friday after the company said that its treatment for irritable bowel syndrome with constipation had positive phase 3 trial results. The drug, plecanatide, met the trial's primary endpoint at two different dose levels, with diarrhea being the most common adverse event in a small percentage of patients. Results from another phase 3 trial are expected later this month, and Synergy plans to file with the FDA for IBS-C in the first quarter of 2017, the company said. The drug "may represent an important new treatment option for the millions of patients currently suffering with IBS-C," said Synergy Chief Executive Officer Gary Jacob. Shares of Synergy were valued at $5.54 per share at Thursday's close. The company's stock had dropped 2.3% year-to-date, compared with a 9.9% rise in the S&P 500 .

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Marriott Vacation to boost dividend 17%

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:09:40 GMT

Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp. said Friday that it will raise its quarterly dividend by 17% to 35 cents a share from 30 cents a share. The vacation ownership company's new dividend will be payable Jan. 4, 2017 to shareholders of record on Dec. 22. Based on Thursday's stock closing price of $86.42, new annual dividend rate of $1.40 a share implies a dividend yield of 1.62%, compared with the aggregate S&P 500 dividend yield of 2.07%, according to FactSet. "The over 15 percent increase in our dividend reflects our continued commitment to return capital to shareholders through a balanced approach of quarterly dividends and opportunistically buying back shares," said Chief Executive Stephen Weisz. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has soared 52% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 9.9%.

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Coca-Cola CEO Kent to step down in May

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:58:29 GMT

Coca-Cola Co. said Friday that Chief Operating Officer James Quincey will succeed Muhtar Kent as chief executive, effective May 1, 2017. Kent will continue as chairman of the board. Quincey will stand for election as a board director at the shareowners meeting in April. Quincey, who has held a number of positions at Coca-Cola since joining in 1996, has been COO since August 2015. Coca-Cola shares are up 1% in premarket trading, but down 4% for the past year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 12.1% for the last 12 months.

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Superconductor Technologies stock plunges after stock offering prices at deep discount

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:58:16 GMT

Shares of Superconductor Technologies Inc. plummeted 31% in premarket trade Friday, after the maker of superconducting wires announced a public stock offering that would essentially triple its shares outstanding. The company said it raised $10.2 million as it priced the stock offering at $1.50 a share, implying a sale of 6.8 million shares. The company had about 3.1 million shares outstanding as of Oct. 1, according to the company's third-quarter report. The pricing represented a 26% discount to Thursday's closing price of $2.02. The company said that with each share of common stock sold, it included one five-year warrant to buy one share of stock at $2.00. The company plans to use the proceeds from the offering for working capital and general corporate purposes. The stock had tumbled 36% year to date through Thursday, while the S&P 500 has gained 9.9%.

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Axis Capital unveils $1 billion share buyback program, raises quarterly dividend by 8%

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:35:13 GMT

Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. said Friday it's board has approved a share buyback program of up to $1 billion. The new authorization will replace the existing one, which has $264.9 million available. The company is also raising its quarterly dividend by 8% to 38 cents a share. The new dividend will be payable Jan. 17 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 30. Shares were not yet active in premarket trade, but are up 12% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 10%.

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Coty raises dividend, moves to quarterly payout schedule

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:11:12 GMT

Coty Inc. said Friday that it was increasing its dividend payout by 82%, as the fragrance, hair and cosmetics products seller moves to a quarterly payout schedule. The first quarterly dividend of 12.5 cents a share will be payable Dec. 28 to shareholders of record on Dec. 19. Based on Thursday's closing price of $19.07 for Coty's stock, the expected annual dividend of 50 cents a share implies a dividend yield of 2.62%, compared with the aggregate S&P 500 dividend yield of 2.07%, according to FactSet. "The increase in our dividend, and the transition of the timing to a quarterly payout schedule, enhances the company's ability to return cash to shareholders throughout the year," said Chief Financial Officer Patrice de Talhouet. The stock, which slipped 0.4% in premarket trade, has plunged 26% year to date through Thursday, while the S&P 500 has gained 9.9%.

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Charter jumps 5% premarket after fund manager picks stock as key call

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:10:37 GMT

Shares of Charter Communications Inc. jumped 5% in thin premarket trade on Friday after a top European hedge fund manager recommended buying the stock. Chris Hohn, founder of TCI Fund Management, said Charter shares could double or triple in coming years as the company continues to grow "its top-line strongly through subscriber growth and pricing." Hohn was speaking at the Sohn conference in London on Thursday. The TCI manager also said Charter is likely to buy back 35% of its shares in coming years at higher prices than where they are today.

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Cheniere Energy ends talks to acquire Cheniere Energy Partners LP

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:08:43 GMT

Cheniere Energy Inc. said Friday it has ended talks to acquire Cheniere Energy Partners LP Holdings LLC after failing to reach agreement with the board and a specially created conflicts committee. Talks had stretched over six weeks, during which time Cheniere Energy raised its offer to 0.54 shares for each share of Cheniere Energy Partners owned from an original offer of 0.50 shares. "Cheniere has determined that no acceptable definitive agreement can be reached with the conflicts committee at this time," the company said in a statement. Neither stock was active in premarket trade.

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Eli Lilly to pay AstraZeneca $30 million as part of a collaboration on an Alzheimer's treatment

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 12:12:54 GMT

Eli Lilly & Co. and AstraZeneca PLC announced Friday an agreement to develop a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease that is currently in Phase 1 trials. As part of the agreement, Lilly will make a $30 million upfront payment to AstraZeneca. Lilly will record a 2 cents-a-share charge to earnings in the fourth quarter as a result of the payment. The agreement builds on a current collaboration related to a potential treatment currently in Phase 3 trials. "We are pleased to be expanding our alliance with AstraZeneca to further build our pipeline of potential medicines and diagnostic agents," said Jan Lundberg, president of Lilly Research Laboratories. AstraZeneca's stock climbed 1.4% in premarket trade, while Lilly shares were still inactive. AstraZeneca's stock has tumbled 23% year to date through Thursday, while Lilly shares have dropped 20%, the SPDR Health Care Select Sector ETF has shed 5.6% and the S&P 500 has gained 9.9%.

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Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca to co-develop Alzheimer's Disease treatment

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 12:08:27 GMT

Eli Lilly & Co. and AstraZeneca Plc said Friday they have entered an agreement to jointly develop an Alzheimer's Disease treatment. The companies will work together on MEDI1814, an antibody selective for amyloid-beta 42, which is currently in Phase 1 trials. As part of the agreement, Eli Lilly will make an upfront payment of $30 million to AstraZeneca. Eli Lilly will book a pretax charge of $30 million in the fourth quarter, equal to an after-tax charge of 2 cents a share. Eli Lilly shares were not yet active premarket. AstraZeneca ADRs were up 1.4%, but are down 26% in the year so far, while the S&P 500 has gained about 10%.

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Vail Resorts loss widens more than expected

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 12:03:04 GMT

Vail Resorts Inc. reported a wider-than-expected fiscal first-quarter loss and revenue that missed forecasts, but raised its full-year outlook for a measure of cash flow. Losses for the quarter to Oct. 31 widened to $62.6 million, or $1.70 a share, from $59.6 million, or $1.63 a share, in the same period a year ago. The FactSet consensus for losses per share was $1.57. Revenue rose to $178.3 million from $174.6 million, but below the FactSet consensus of $183.5 million, as misses in lodging and real estate sales offset a beat in mountain sales. The company now expects fiscal 2017 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $567 million to $597 million, up from previous guidance of $482 million to $518 million. "Our first fiscal quarter historically operates at a loss given that our North American mountain resorts are not open for ski operations during the period," said Chief Executive Rob Katz. "Lodging bookings for the rest of the season are trending slightly ahead of last year at our U.S. resorts. Based on historical averages, less than 50% of the bookings for the winter season have been made by this time." The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has climbed 26% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 9.9%.

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PPG Industries unveils latest restructuring, targeting $125 million in annual savings

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 12:00:05 GMT

Paint maker PPG Industries Inc. said Friday its board has approved another restructuring that aims to save $125 million a year. The cuts will be focused on end-use markets that are currently weakest and will seek to reduceg operating and admin costs. "Because of continued slow overall growth in global demand, we are taking decisive action to adjust our cost structure," Chief Executive Michael H. McGarry said in a statement. PPG expects to book pretax charges of $190 million to $200 million, or 53 cents to 58 cents a share, in the fourth quarter. Shares were not yet active in premarket trade, but are up 0.6% in the year so far, underperforming the S&P 500 , which has gained about 10%.

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It's official: Microsoft finalizes $26.2 billion LinkedIn purchase

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 00:11:07 GMT

Microsoft Corp. announced Thursday it had finalized its $26.2 billion purchase of Linkedin Corp. , the largest acquisition in the tech giant's history. The deal was first announced in June. In a blog post on LinkedIn, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced plans to integrate the workplace social network into Microsoft's products, including notifications within Windows and enabling resumes written in Word to be updated to users' LinkedIn profiles. In a separate LinkedIn blog post, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, who will continue to lead the company, praised the merger, and told employees that day-to-day operations "would essentially remain unchanged."

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Tinder CEO steps aside in parent Match Group shake-up

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 23:00:03 GMT

Match Group Inc. Chairman and CEO Greg Blatt will become Tinder CEO as well, the dating company said late Thursday. Tinder's co-founder and current CEO, Sean Rad, was tapped to lead Swipe Ventures, which will "seek to expand Tinder's footprint through acquisitions, development of new businesses and investments in new and existing businesses," the Los Angeles-based company said in a statement. Match Group's brands include online dating sites Match and OkCupid, among others, and it also operates test preparation and tutoring company The Princeton Review. Shares of Match were flat in late trading after ending the regular session up 1%. Rad was ousted as Tinder CEO in 2015 following a sexual harassment lawsuit, but returned to the helm in August 2015. Shortly before Match's IPO in November 2015, he gave a controversial interview to a British tabloid about his dating life.

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Delisted crude-oil play ETNs get replacements from Citigroup

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 22:50:18 GMT

Credit Suisse's Velocityshares 3x Long Crude ETN and VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude ETN were delisted at the close of markets Thursday, but Citigroup plans to launch two exchange-traded notes for betting on oil prices on Friday. The Velocityshares ETNs gained popularity with young traders as a way to play the gyrations in the price of crude oil over the past year. While UWTI closed up 5.9% on Thursday, it was also down 38% for the year. The DWTI finished Thursday down 5.5%, and was down 75% year to date. The new Citigroup notes will go by the same names but be listed under the tickers "UWT" and "DWT" respectively.

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Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq, Russell 200, transports just did something they haven't done in more than 18 years

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 22:03:13 GMT

Five major stock-index benchmarks finished at records on the same day--something that hasn't happened in more than 18 years, according to Dow Jones data. On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.3% at 19,614.81. It was the 13th record for the blue-chip gauge. The S&P 500 index gained 0.2% to end at a record 2,246.19 and the Nasdaq Composite Index wrapped up 0.4% higher at a record 5,417.36, marking its first record since Nov. 29 and joining the other two stock gauges which finished at all-time highs Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Transportation Average also extended its climb to new heights, ending at a fresh record of 9,421.08, while the Russell 2000 index , a gauge of small-capitalization stocks, also closed at a record of 1,386.37. It was the first time all five of those benchmarks scored a record close since March 16, 1998. Equities have been a record-setting run on the back of the belief that President-elect Donald Trump will implement pro-business policies and boost the economy.

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Duluth Holdings shares drop as outlook cut

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:37:19 GMT

Duluth Holdings Inc. shares fell in the extended session Thursday after the outerwear and apparel maker reduced its full-year forecast below Wall Street expectations because of warmer weather impacting sales. Duluth shares dropped 16% to $31.25 after hours. The company said it expects 2016 earnings of 52 cents to 60 cents a share on revenue of $360 million to $370 million. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast earnings of 70 cents a share on revenue of $380.1 million. For the third quarter, Duluth reported earnings of a penny a share on revenue of $67 million, while analysts had expected a penny a share on revenue of $69.2 million.

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