Tech shines in tepid stock session
NEW YORK — Technology stocks were the standouts in an otherwise sluggish day of trading on Monday, as investors gear up for the arrival of the heart of earnings reporting season.
Apple, Intel and several chip makers jumped more than 2%, and tech stocks in the S&P 500 climbed 1.2%. But the other 10 sectors that make up the index were evenly split between gainers and losers, and none moved by more than 0.5%.
More action may arrive in the next two weeks, when a tidal wave of earnings reports is on the schedule. Roughly three-fifths of S&P 500 companies are set to update investors on how much profit they made from April through June, and expectations are generally low.
The last couple earnings reporting seasons have been so volatile for stocks that Craig Hodges, portfolio manager at Hodges Funds, said he's recently raised how much cash he's holding in anticipation of bargain-hunting opportunities. Particularly among small stocks that don't get as much attention from Wall Street, Hodges said he's seen steep, overdone drops in price following earnings reports.
"We're sitting on cash right now, knowing that in the next few weeks, there will be a lot of stocks that we like that get hit by 10, 15 or maybe even 20% if they have a miss," he said. "We're not market timers, but after seeing the last two earnings periods, we wished we had a cash balance to take advantage of some of the names that we liked that got hit."
Bayer to sell its Dr. Scholl's unit
BERLIN — German pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer AG says U.S. investment firm Yellow Wood Partners will buy its Dr. Scholl's foot care business for $585 million.
Bayer said Monday that the sale will enable it to "focus on building its core over-the-counter brands." It said that Yellow Wood Partners, based in Boston, will create a stand-alone company and plans to invest in all aspects of the business.
The transaction, which requires approval from competition authorities, is expected to close in the fourth quarter.
Dr. Scholl's, which had sales of $234 million last year, makes insoles, inserts and a variety of foot care and treatment products.
Generics of nerve pain drug OK'd
TRENTON, N.J. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic copies of a popular, pricey pill for nerve pain.
The agency on Monday said it approved nine generic versions of Pfizer Inc.'s Lyrica. It is also used for seizures and fibromyalgia, a condition that causes chronic, widespread pain.
Lyrica, approved in 2004, is Pfizer's second bestseller, with sales last year of $4.6 billion. The heavily advertised drug costs about $460 to $720 per month without insurance, depending on the pharmacy. Prices can vary widely.
Prices for generic versions range from about $140 to $370 per month, according to the drug price comparison site GoodRx .
Common side effects include dizziness, blurred vision and sleepiness. Serious side effects include allergic reactions and life-threatening breathing problems.
Microsoft pays $25M in corruption probe
NEW YORK — Microsoft is paying more than $25 million to settle federal corruption charges involving a bribery scheme in its Hungary office and three other foreign subsidiaries.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says Microsoft will pay about $16.6 million to settle charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act involving its operations in Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Turkey.
The Justice Department says Microsoft will also pay an $8.75 million criminal fine stemming from the Hungarian bid-rigging and bribery scheme, which involved Microsoft licenses sold to government agencies and falsely recorded as discounts.
Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a letter to employees Monday that the conduct was "completely unacceptable" and involved a small number of employees. Smith is also outlining changes the company plans to make to prevent discounts from being used for improper purposes.
TD Ameritrade CEO is stepping down
OMAHA, Neb. — Online brokerage TD Ameritrade is looking for a new CEO.
The company said Monday that current CEO Tim Hockey has decided to leave the firm in February.
Hockey agreed to stay that long to help with the transition after a search for the new chief executive is conducted.
Hockey has led TD Ameritrade since the fall of 2016.
Ohio gets 2 Amazon warehouses
ROSSFORD, Ohio — Amazon says it will open two new distribution centers in Ohio.
The company announced Monday that the two sites in Akron and near Toledo will bring a combined 2,500 full-time jobs.
Each of the two distribution centers will cover more than 700,000-square-feet. Both centers will employ workers to pack and ship small items.
Amazon has five other distribution centers in Ohio that employ about 8,500 workers.
LL Bean to open 1st Canada store
FREEPORT, Maine — L.L. Bean is poised to open its first store in Canada.
The Maine-based retailer announced Thursday that the 13,000-square-foot store will open Aug. 23 in Oakville Place, just outside of Toronto.
The retailer announced last year that it would be looking to open stores in Canada over the next decade. It also launched a Canadian-specific website last month.
The company sees international sales as an important part of its growth.
L.L. Bean already owns 28 stores, a call center and a distribution center in Japan, where it has operated since 1992. But it's doing things differently in Canada, where it partnered with Toronto-based Jaytex Group on the L.L. Bean-branded stores.
Vail Resorts aims to buy 17 ski areas
BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Vail Resorts plans to take over 17 U.S. ski areas ranging from the Northeast to the Midwest by acquiring Peak Resorts for $264 million.
Colorado-based Vail said Monday the ski areas are in Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
The company says the deal is expected to close this fall if regulators and shareholders approve.
The newly acquired resorts would be included in Vail's Epic season pass. Vail says it plans to spend about $15 million over the next two years on improvements at the properties.
The ski areas are near 10 metropolitan areas: Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore; Boston; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; New York; Philadelphia; St. Louis; and Washington.
Vail owns 20 other ski areas in the U.S., Canada and Australia.