Market Minute: Verizon Bidding to Control Wireless Venture with Vodafone

Verizon Wireless - Getty Images
Getty Images
A battle for Verizon Wireless, and earnings that will move the market today.

The Dow Industrials fell 43 points yesterday, while both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq ended virtually flat.

Verizon (VZ) is reportedly planning a $100 billion bid to take full control of its Verizon Wireless joint venture with the British phone giant Vodafone (VOD). Verizon now owns 55 percent of the wireless company. Reuters says the two sides have already held high-level talks.

This is one of the biggest days of the quarterly earnings season, with Exxon-Mobil (XOM) leading the way. Also out this morning: UPS (UPS), Dow Chemical (DOW), and 3M (MMM).

Chevron (CVX) raised its dividend by 11 percent. It's the 26th straight year the company has boosted its payout. Its earnings are due out tomorrow.

Online gaming company Zynga (ZNGA) posted a surprise profit, but that wasn't good enough to satisfy investors. Its shares are set to slide after the company issued a disappointing forecast for the current quarter.

Intuit (INTU), maker of Turbo Tax, says it endured a tough tax season. As a result, it lowered its forecast for the current quarter and the full year.

Starbucks (SBUX) and Amazon (AMZN) are due to report after the closing bell.

The biotech firm Regeneron (REGN) will be added to the S&P 500 after the close next Tuesday. That usually provides a boost, as mutual funds that track the index are forced to buy.

Microsoft (MSFT) says it will lift the curtain on its next generation Xbox game on May 21st. Both Xbox and Sony's (SNE) Playstation 4 are expected to be on store shelves in time for the holiday season.

And the new Hostess Brands, now owned by Apollo Global (APO) and another investment firm, plans to have Twinkies and Ding Dongs back on market by the middle of summer. The Wall Street Journal reports it will hire non-union workers at its bakeries.

–Produced by Drew Trachtenberg

An Iron Throne for Your Golden Years: Our 'Game of Thrones' Stock Picks
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Market Minute: Verizon Bidding to Control Wireless Venture with Vodafone
Stock: Goldman Sachs (GS)
As the Master of Coin on the Small Council in King's Landing, Petyr is in control of the kingdom's finances. And while the ruling Lannister family has a wealth of gold, the kingdom's expenses are many. So it's no surprise that Petyr would prefer investing in a large investment banking and securities company such as Goldman Sachs. Not only does Goldman Sachs profit from various financial services, but the company seems to always be profitable regardless of what happens in the stock market, housing market, or broader economy.
Stock: Zynga (ZNGA)
Even a child ruling a kingdom needs to blow off steam once in a while. That makes Zynga, a company focused on building social and casual games, the perfect pick for Joffrey Baratheon. Zynga also watched many of its executives leave the company and its stock price plummet, similar to the situation that Joffrey faces in King's Landing as the kingdom unravels. Yet Zynga's stock structure provides its CEO, Mark Pincus, 70 votes per share. That means that as of the end of 2012, Zynga's CEO owned 59 percent of the total voting power. Take that, mere commoner! It's not bad to be the head of Zynga... unless your stock's awful performance costs you a spot on the Forbes billionaire list.
Stock: Yahoo! (YHOO)
The Queen Regent and mother of Joffrey Baratheon, Cersei Lannister would admire a bold female CEO such as Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! Joining Yahoo! less than a year ago, Mayer is determined to turn around the struggling company, and is focused on building Yahoo!'s employees and changing the internal culture. Bold leadership is something that Cersei would identify with, although the two have quite different perspectives on how to get results.
Stock: LinkedIn (LNKD)
Tyrion Lannister is often underestimated by those around him given his size and appearance. But time and again his intellect is what wins the day. Tyrion understands the value of building an intelligence network throughout King's Landing, which is why he would invest in LinkedIn. In the social media realm, LinkedIn is also oftentimes overlooked due to Facebook's much larger user base -- over 1 billion monthly active users, compared to its own roughly 200 million total registered users (not monthly active users). Although Facebook towers over LinkedIn, LinkedIn's revenue per user was 20 times that of Facebook as of this summer.
Stock: Apple (AAPL)
Having lost his father, Eddard Stark, Robb is trying to lead his father's men to the best of his ability. While he lacks experience on the battlefield, his father taught him many lessons in leadership and duty. That's why Apple would catch Robb's interest as an investor. When Tim Cook became CEO of Apple, outsiders wondered whether he was capable of leading the giant tech company. While the company has had its challenges since then (e.g., Apple Maps), its position as one of the most influential tech companies has not been usurped by any of its rivals.
Stock: Caterpillar (CAT)
As a steward of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow must protect the Wall. He knows that winter is coming -- and the Wall might need some fortification. That would make Caterpillar, which focuses on construction and building infrastructure, top on his investing list. Since some of Caterpillar's products are used for snow removal, Jon Snow would also be demonstrating a Peter Lynch mentality of buying what you know.
Stock: Garmin (GRMN)
Living in exile hasn't been easy for Daenerys, as she's never found a true place to call her own. But as she establishes her identity as the Mother of Dragons, she's determined to return to Westeros. As someone seeking direction and a way home, Daenerys would likely buy shares of Garmin for her investing portfolio. The GPS technology company creates navigation products for every mode of transportation, including air and sea. And if she's ever to return to Westeros, one of Garmin's marine products would sure be useful.
Stock: Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A; BRK-B)
As a eunuch, Varys demonstrates his power through a (spider)web of contacts that feed him information. He uses information to gain a personal advantage, creating an insurance policy of sorts. Therefore Varys would be a fan of the insurance model and invest in Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway is a large conglomerate holding company, owning stakes in or even whole companies across many different industries. Similarly, beyond his network of information-sharing contacts, Varys seems to have a hand in structuring deals or alliances across the kingdom.
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