Big Oil Earnings, AT&T's Acquisition Surprise, and Hard-Drivin' Motor Vehicle Sales

Good morning, good lookin'... The three things you need to know on May 2nd are:

May 2, 2014 at 6:00AM
Why waste your money on the Kentucky Derby when you could be betting on Friday morning's April jobs report? Stocks wavered, and the Dow (DJINDICES:^DJI) dipped just 22 points Thursday as investors await the big piece of monthly econ data.

1. AT&T making surprise bid for DirecTV
Like gossip on The Real Housewives of Miami, it's officially leaked that telecom giant AT&T (NYSE:T) approached DirecTV about buying the satellite TV legend. The Wall Street Journal broke the news late Thursday, predicting that the deal would be worth $40 billion -- which wouldn't be too much compared to AT&T's value by market capitalization -- its stock price multiplied by the number of AT&T shares -- of $185 billion.

Matchmaking is all about compatibility according to the eHarmony commercials we always see. And for these two, the numbers are adding up: DirecTV is the second largest U.S. TV operator, with 20 million viewers, while AT&T's landline biz provides service to nearly 6 million Americans. AT&T wants to expand into video, and DirecTV's subscriber count keeps falling -- so why not get together?

The takeaway is that it's all about timing. And this potential acquisition comes just after competitor Comcast snagged Time Warner Cable, which would rival this deal with more than 30 million customers. Should AT&T's bid go through, like Comcast, it will next have to face the Justice Department to determine how it weighs on competition, and whether it will affect your ability to watch Seinfeld reruns.

2. Big Oil stocks gain and lose
Slick timing for two of America's biggest oil companies, ExxonMobi(NYSE:XOM) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP). Both companies reported first-quarter corporate earnings that topped Wall Street's expectations. And Exxon announced it's giving its investors the gift of a nice dividend increase, raising its current dividend from $0.63 to $0.69 per share.

So why is one stock up and one down? Shares of Conoco gained 1% after revenues rose from $14.6 billion to $16 billion during the last year, while Exxon slipped 1% after revenues fell 1.5%, to $106.8 billion, from a year ago. Exxon may produce a whopping 4.1 million barrels of oil a day, but Wall Street's not happy that that sizable amount is less than its 2013 output, because its control of oil fields in Abu Dhabi expired.

The takeaway is that both oil giants are off to a heckuva 2014 (we'll spare you the jokes about both stocks being "on fire"). Natural gas is the cool new kid on the energy block, and its high prices have been kind to Exxon and Conoco's bottom lines. Plus, the price-per-barrel of oil for both companies was up a few dollars to more than $71 per barrel from the same time last year.

3. April Auto Sales send GM up, Ford down
It's almost road trip season, so General Motors (NYSE:GM) shareholders were pumped to see GM vehicles flying off the lots in April. Total sales of cars and trucks were up 7% compared to last April, as consumers shrugged off GM's recall disaster and bought Silverado pickups at a freakish rate. GM stock climbed 1.3% on the news.
Ford's (NYSE:F) sales dropped by 1%, to 210,355 total, in April. Pickup trucks grew for Ford, too. (Like football, Fahrenheit temperatures, and awesome light beer, pickup trucks are wildly popular in the U.S. and no where else in the world.) The stock fell by 1.5% since its Detroit rival GM won the April sales battle by a wide margin. But the big news was in the C-Suite at Dearborn, Michigan...
Ford CEO Alan Mullaly is stepping down on July 1st and passing the guard to Brooklyn born, Rutgers initiated, and Harvard Business School polished Mark Fields. Mullaly is a bit of a god at Ford headquarters for steering the company through the financial crisis without a bailout, and for 19 straight quarters of profits. But he's ready to leave on top. Ford's market value is higher than GM's, even though it makes less than 6 billion cars compared to GM's 9+ billion per year. Farewell, Alan. Ford loves you.

  • The Big April Non-Farm Payrolls Report
  • First-Quarter Earnings Reports: Chevron, CVS
As originally published on

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Jack Kramer has no position in any stocks mentioned. Nick Martell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends DirecTV, Ford, and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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