Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
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U.S. stock futures are pointed modestly higher in early trading, as investors await the latest round of economic data. In company news, here are some names to watch today:

  • Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) plans to expand its research and engineering presence in China over the next several years, doubling the number of employees to 2,000 by 2018. The American automaker will also earmark $100 million for its research facility in Nanjing and build a new test track to aid in product development. (The Detroit News)

  • International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) factory workers in southeastern China have taken to the picket lines. At issue is the pending $2.3 billion acquisition of Big Blue's x86 computer server business by Lenovo, which the more than 1,000 strike workers fear may result in layoffs (despite company statements to the contrary). (The New York Times)

  • Those shopping for a new smartphone may want to check out the prices at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT). The mammoth retailer will be lowering the price for the Samsung Galaxy S4 ($49, down from $99) and the 16-gigabyte models of the iPhone 5s and 5c (to $119 and $29 from $145 and $45, respectively). Customers need to sign up for a two-year coverage plan from a participating carrier to take advantage of the discount pricing. (CNNMoney)

  • Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) cancelled its analyst and investor meeting -- which was scheduled for March 28 -- electing to instead travel and hold one-on-one meetings with major shareholders and analysts. Some were critical of this move, opining that it demonstrates a desire to keep information from shareholders who have been critical of the company's business decisions. (Chicago Tribune)

  • Also, Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) and Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) issued their quarterly earnings reports. SPLS also announced plans to close up to 225 North American locations by 2015. (Reuters; Chicago Tribune)

  • Finally, a financial report from Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) referencing the avocado supply quickly snowballed into a rumor that the fast-casual chain would be doing away with its guacamole. CMG officials quickly took to Twitter to lay these fears to rest, and in fact said they will try to avoid passing on any increased ingredient costs to customers. (The Washington Post)

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