Business briefing

The daily business briefing: October 27, 2017

Tech giants smash expectations and lift stocks, CVS reportedly makes a $66 billion bid for Aetna, and more

1

Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft blast past Wall Street's expectations

Technology giants Amazon, Google-parent Alphabet, and Microsoft released quarterly earnings reports Thursday that crushed Wall Street's expectations, sending their shares up in late trading. As a group, they made $2.2 billion more in profit than they did in the same quarter of 2016. Alphabet led the way, with $1.1 billion more profit and $9.5 billion more revenue than a year ago. Its net income of $9.57 per share smashed analysts' average estimate of $8.31 per share. Amazon's stock made the biggest jump late Thursday, rising by 7.6 percent, after its revenue rose by $11 billion to a record $43.7 billion. The tech giants' gains lifted U.S. stock futures early Friday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq-100 jumping by 0.4 percent to lead the way.

2

CVS makes $66 billion bid to buy Aetna

Pharmacy chain CVS Health Corp. has offered to by Aetna, the nation's third largest health insurer, in a deal that would be worth more than $66 billion, people familiar with the matter said Thursday. Aetna shares shot up by more than 11 percent on the news, while CVS shares dropped by three percent. A merger would give CVS greater leverage to negotiate lower prices from drug makers. A deal could face tough scrutiny from antitrust regulators, however, because it would link one of the nation's biggest pharmacy benefits companies with one of its leading health insurers, potentially affecting health plans nationwide.

3

Twitter stops taking ads from Russia's RT and Sputnik news outlets

Twitter announced Thursday that it would stop accepting advertising from accounts owned by Russian state-sponsored news agencies RT and Sputnik. "This decision was based on the retrospective work we've been doing around the 2016 U.S. election and the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government," Twitter wrote in its statement. Twitter also said it would donate the nearly $2 million it earned from advertising from RT "to support external research into the use of Twitter in civic engagement and elections." In September, The New York Times reported that Twitter might have been used even more extensively than Facebook during the Russian meddling campaign.

4

Harvey Weinstein sues his own former company for documents

Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein on Thursday sued the studio he co-founded, The Weinstein Co., for his emails, personnel file, and other documents he can use to defend himself against a flood of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations. More than 50 women have accused Weinstein of harassment, rape, and other sexual misconduct. The company's board fired Weinstein on Oct. 8 after The New York Times exposed decades of allegations against Weinstein, who owns 23 percent of the film and TV company. Weinstein's attorneys said the email account "will contain information exonerating him, and therefore the company."

5

Drug company founder arrested for alleged opioid conspiracy

Authorities arrested one of Arizona's richest men, Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor, on Thursday, charging him with marketing a powerful opioid using bribes and fraud. Kapoor, 74, is accused of illegal distribution of a fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients. The medication, Subsys, contains a narcotic that is 80 times more powerful than morphine. Prosecutors say Kapoor and several other former high-ranking Insys executives conspired to bribe doctors to write "large numbers of prescriptions for the patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer," and to "mislead and defraud" health insurance companies that were reluctant to approve payments for non-cancer patients. The arrest came on the same day President Trump declared a national opioid epidemic to be a public health emergency.

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