May 01 - Summary: Stocks were little changed as investors digested earnings, changes at the top of Ford and Yum Brands, talk of Sprint working on T-Mobile deal and AT&T talking to DirecTV, and upbeat data. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Earnings, management changes, and merger speculation dominate trading floor chatter. After the bell, LinkedIn posted better than expected sales but guidance was weak... Revenue at Open Table was lower than anticipated but earnings beat... Expedia topped sales and profit expectations. Ahead of that, Exxon Mobil beat forecasts as a harsh winter drained natural gas supplies, which pushed prices higher and pushed money right into Exxon's bank account. MasterCard's quarterly results were boosted by more card usage in Latin America, Asia and Europe but the company is worried about Russia's threat to launch a competing card service. T-Mobile signed up 2.4 million new customers last quarter - that's more than its three rivals combined. But those customers came with a big price tag. The No. 4 mobile service provide posted a $151 million quarterly loss. Investors, however, looking past that. A source says Sprint has been asking banks for cash to launch a $50 billion offer for T-Mobile. Both stocks moved higher on the day. And that's not the only merger speculation. AT&T has approached DirecTV, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ford CEO Alan Mulally is stepping down six months earlier than announced and insider Mark Fields is stepping in. Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford details the list of challenges awaiting Fields: SOUNDBITE: BILL FORD, CHAIRMAN, FORD MOTOR COMPANY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We have a record number of launches in North America alone and we are growing like crazy in China. We are dealing with issues in South America. We've got Europe showing signs of life but still has to continue to come back. There are no shortages of things to work on." And in a surprise announcement, Yum says its CEO David Novak is stepping down at the beginning of next year. Greg Creed, head of Taco Bell will take over the top spot. Signs of economic progress: auto sales continued to rebound in April after a deep freeze earlier this year, factory activity picked up for a third month in a row, and consumer spending roared back in March with its best one-month gain in 4-1/2 years. The only negative: jobless claims rose last week. Wrapping up the day with a look at market reaction: stocks were little changed one-day after the Dow closed at a record. In Europe: London rallied. Markets in Germany and France were closed for May Day.