Texas Roadhouse stock up 7% after Q4 beat, dividend hike

Iraq bans border crossings by Iranians amid coronavirus fears

CAIRO (Reuters) – Iraq banned border crossings by Iranian nationals for three days from Thursday amid fears of the coronavirus, Iraq’s state news agency said on Thursday.

The decision came after Iraqi Airways suspended flights to Iran.

Two Iranians who tested positive on Wednesday for the disease have died, while three tested positive on Thursday, taking the total number of confirmed cases in Iran to five, the Iranian health ministry said.

German court tosses injunction, allows Tesla to clear trees for factory near Berlin

BERLIN — A German court on Thursday overturned an injunction that has halted Tesla Inc.’s preliminary work to prepare to build its first European plant on the outskirts of Berlin, defeating a move by local environmentalists to stop Tesla from clearing a patch of forest.

The decision by the Berlin Brandenburg Administrative Court means Tesla TSLA, -1.96%  will be allowed to clear trees on the site before the end of the month, which is when environmental law would prohibit cutting down the trees during nesting and mating season for local wildlife.

A delay would have made it difficult for Tesla to keep an ambitious schedule to begin producing cars at the plant by summer 2021.

The court’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.

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First Solar stock down 11% after surprise quartely loss, sales miss

First Solar Inc. FSLR, +3.40% shares fell more than 11% in the extended session Thursday after the solar-power company swung to a surprise quarterly loss and reported sales below expectations. First Solar said it lost $59 million, or 56 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, versus a profit of $52 million, or 49 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Sales rose to $1.4 billion from $691 million a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected First Solar to report a profit of $2.75 a share on sales of $1.7 billion. In a separate statement, First Solar guided for sales between $2.7 billion and $2.9 billion for 2020, with per-share profit between $3.25 and $3.75. The analysts surveyed by FactSet expect EPS of $3.64 on sales of $3.36 billion for the year.

European Economics Preview: Germany GDP Data Due

Quarterly national accounts from Germany and euro area are due on Friday, headlining a busy day for the European economic news.

At 2.00 am ET, Destatis is scheduled to issue Germany’s fourth quarter GDP data. The largest euro area economy is forecast to grow 0.1 percent sequentially, the same pace as seen in the third quarter.

At 2.30 am ET, producer and import price figures are due from Switzerland.

At 3.00 am ET, consumer prices and GDP from the Czech Republic are due. The Czech economy is expected to grow 1.9 percent on year in the fourth quarter, slower than the 2.5 percent reported in the preceding period.

In the meantime, final January inflation data is due from Spain.

At 4.00 am ET, Italy’s Istat publishes foreign trade data for December. Consumer prices and GDP figures are due from Poland. The economy is expected to shrink 0.1 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter.

At 5.00 am ET, Eurostat releases Eurozone flash GDP estimate and foreign trade figures. The economy is forecast to grow 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, in line with previous estimate.

Economists forecast the euro area trade surplus to fall marginally to EUR 19 billion in December from EUR 19.2 billion in November.

First Solar Posts Q4 Loss On Litigation Expense; Stock Plunges

First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) reported a fourth quarter loss per share of $0.56, compared to profit of $0.49, previous year. Litigation loss recorded as expense was $363 million.

Fourth-quarter net sales were $1.4 billion, compared to $691.24 million, prior year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected revenue of $1.75 billion for the quarter.

Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar, said: “With ongoing improvements in throughput and efficiency across our fleet, strong demand for Series 6, and our pipeline of contracted shipments as far out as 2023, we are well positioned for the future.”

Shares of First Solar, Inc. were down 15% after hours.

ProAssurance To Buy NORCAL Group

ProAssurance Corp. (PRA) Thursday said it has agreed to buy NORCAL Group in a $450 million deal.

The combination of these companies is expected to create the nation’s third largest specialty writer of liability insurance for healthcare professionals and facilities. The companies are targeting to close the transaction by the end of 2020, subject to required approvals.

ProAssurance also reported fourth-quarter loss of $59.4 million or $1.10 per share, compared to $24.5 million or $0.46 per share last year.

Adjusted loss for the quarter was $1.27. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimated loss of $1.56 per share for the quarter.

Gross premiums written for the quarter was $200.8 million, down from $211.7 million last year. Analysts estimated $216.81 million for the quarter.

Texas Roadhouse stock up 7% after Q4 beat, dividend hike

Shares of Texas Roadhouse Inc. TXRH, +2.08% jumped 7% in the extended session Thursday after the restaurant chain reported fourth-quarter earnings above Wall Street expectations and raised its dividend. Texas Roadhouse said it earned $43 million, or 61 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $30 million, or 42 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Sales rose 20% to $725 million, compared with $606 million a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected EPS of 53 cents on sales of $714 million. Comparable-store sales rose 4.4% at company-owned restaurants and 3.4% at U.S. franchises, Texas Roadhouse said. The company guided for "positive" same-restaurant sales growth, capital expenditures between $210 million and $220 million, and "at least" 30 new company-owned restaurants in 2020. Texas Roadhouse also said its board authorized a 20% dividend increase to 36 cents a share, from 30 cents a share, payable March 27 to shareholders of record on March 11. Shares had ended the regular trading day up 2%.