The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was clinging to a small gain Tuesday afternoon, up 0.12% at 12:30 p.m. EST. The coronavirus outbreak that originated in China surpassed 1,000 deaths and 40,000 cases, and the global economic impact remains unclear. However, the market seems to be largely shaking off that uncertainty.
Both Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) were in the news, with the FTC announcing a review of the acquisition activity of large tech companies. Nike (NYSE:NKE) stock was also moving after competitor Under Armour (NYSE:UAA) reported lackluster results.
Apple, Microsoft under FTC scrutiny
Big tech companies are already being probed for possible antitrust violations. On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had issued special orders to five large technology companies related to acquisition activity. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook will be required to provide information about past acquisitions not reported to the antitrust agencies under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.
Shares of Apple were up 0.15% by midday, while Microsoft stock was down about 1%.
The FTC said these orders will help the agency deepen its understanding of acquisition activity and determine whether large tech companies are making anti-competitive acquisitions. The focus is on acquisitions of small competitors or would-be competitors that wouldn't need to be reported to the antitrust agencies.
"This initiative will enable the Commission to take a closer look at acquisitions in this important sector, and also to evaluate whether the federal agencies are getting adequate notice of transactions that might harm competition. This will help us continue to keep tech markets open and competitive, for the benefit of consumers," said FTC Chairman Joe Simons.
Apple isn't known for making large acquisitions, but the company has struck plenty of small deals. Apple CEO Tim Cook said last year that the company makes an acquisition every few weeks on average. Microsoft hasn't been so shy about plowing billions into acquisitions. Notably, the company paid $26.2 billion for LinkedIn in 2016 and $7.5 billion for GitHub in 2018.
It's certainly not a stretch to say that at least some acquisitions by large tech companies were primarily aimed at eliminating competition. What the FTC concludes from its review, and what the agency does in response, is anyone's guess.
Nike down after Under Armour disaster
Shares of Nike took a small hit on Tuesday after competitor Under Armour reported disappointing results. Under Armour missed analyst estimates for revenue, and it issued weak guidance thanks in part to the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Nike stock was down 0.4% by early afternoon, while shares of Under Armour had tumbled 19%.
Under Armour reported fourth-quarter revenue of $1.4 billion and a net loss of $0.03 per share. Revenue was up 4% year over year and $30 million short of analyst expectations, while EPS was in-line with estimates once one-time costs were backed out.
The big problem was with Under Armour's guidance. The company expects revenue in 2020 to be down a low single-digit percentage, with a mid-to-high single-digit decline in North America. The company is expecting a $50 million to $60 million sales hit due to the coronavirus outbreak in the first quarter alone, although some company-specific issues are at play as well.
Nike may end up missing its guidance for its fiscal third quarter, joining Under Armour in the disappointing results club. The company announced earlier this month that it had closed about half of its stores in China due to the outbreak, with those closures not factoring into its initial outlook. Depending on how long those stores remain closed, and how demand rebounds after the stores are reopened, Nike could feel a negative impact for multiple quarters.
While Under Armour is certainly dealing with its own set of issues unrelated to the outbreak, the company's weak guidance isn't good news for Nike.