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roundup of some of the North American equities making moves in both directions today

On the rise

Toronto-based Cott Corp. (BCB-T) increased 4 per cent after it announced that it’s evaluating strategic alternatives for its coffee, tea and extract solutions segment— include a sale — “to enhance shareholder value.”

The company said it’s evaluating the alternatives “to transition Cott into a pure-play water solutions provider.” Cott said it has hired a financial advisor as part of its strategic planning process “to assist it in evaluating whether there are alternatives available to Cott’s coffee, tea and extract solutions operating segment that would either complement its strategy of organic growth or otherwise enhance shareholder value.”

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Macy’s Inc. (M-N) jumped 2.4 per cent after it reported just a 0.6-per-cent drop in holiday period same-store sales, quelling fears of a more dramatic fall in the department store operator’s numbers for the crucial annual shopping season after an earlier profit warning.

The company benefited from strong online sales and demand for gifting assortments, Macy’s Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gennette said. The reported drop was for the months of November and December.

Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ-N) jumped nearly 4 per cent in the wake of raising its full-year adjusted earnings forecast and beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit on Wednesday, driven by strong demand for its beers such as Corona Premier and Modelo Especial.

The upbeat results and raised forecast signal that the brewer benefited from its efforts to beef up its beer portfolio through launches of variants such as Modelo Chelada Limon y Sal and Corona Refresca.

The company now plans to add a seltzer to its Corona portfolio this year, looking to tap into the surging popularity of the alcoholic carbonated drink among millennials.

The brewer now expects to earn US$9.45 to US$9.55 per share for its fiscal 2020, excluding the impact from its investment in Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corp. (WEED-T) on a comparable basis, up from its prior forecast of US$9 to US$9.20.

See also: Constellation appoints one of its own as Canopy Growth CEO

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Apple Inc. (AAPL-Q) was up 1.5 per cent after revealing its Apple News service has reached 100 million monthly active users versus 85 million a year prior, demonstrating growth in a key services business that is being closely watched by investors as iPhone sales decline.

The users come from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, Apple said. Apple also offers a paid version of its news service called Apple News+ for $9.99 per month but did not disclose subscriber numbers.

Lennar Corp. (LEN-N) was up 0.8 per cent following the announcement of a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, as demand for its homes got a boost from lower mortgage rates.

The No. 2 U.S. homebuilder also said orders, which indicate future demand, rose 23.4% to 13,089 homes in the quarter.

Lennar sold 16,420 homes in the fourth quarter, up from 14,154 homes a year ago, while average price fell 6.7 per cent to US$393,000.

“During the fourth quarter, the basic underlying housing market fundamentals of low unemployment, higher wages and low inventory levels remained favorable,” Chief Executive Rick Beckwitt said in a statement.

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On the decline

Boeing Co. (BA-N) shares fell 1.7 per cent after its 737-800 jet belonging to a Ukrainian airline burst into flames shortly after take-off from Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard including 63 Canadians.

Before the bell, an equity analyst at Cowen downgraded its stock based on costs related to its 737 Max problems.

See also: Boeing recommending simulator training for pilots before resuming 737 Max flights

Westshore Terminals Investment Corp. (WTE-T) dropped 10.6 per cent after customer Teck Resources Ltd. (TECK-B-T) said it has expanded a commercial agreement with Ridley Terminals for shipments of steel-making coal from its British Columbia operations.

Shares of Teck were down 3.3 per cent.

Beyond Meat Inc. (BYND-Q) slid 3 per cent after McDonald’s Corp. (MCD-N) saying on Wednesday it would expand its vegan burgers trials using Beyond Meat patties to 52 restaurants in Canada, signaling a stronger push from the world’s No. 1 fast-food chain into plant-based meat options.

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The move follows Reuters report on Tuesday that said Beyond Meat’s rival Impossible Foods was no longer pursuing McDonald’s as it cannot produce enough of its imitation meat to partner with the burger chain.

Beyond Meat shares closed up 12.5 per cent on Tuesday after the news.

McDonald’s vegan burger is called P.L.T., short for plant, lettuce and tomato, a play on the popular bacon, lettuce and tomato or BLT sandwich.

See also: How investors can participate in plant-based profits

Drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA-Q) slid 5.8 per cent after it posted a quarterly profit that missed expectations on Wednesday, hurt by lower payments from insurers on drugs sold.

Sluggish retail growth, disappointing performance of Boots U.K. unit and low reimbursement rates for drugs have pushed Walgreens’ shares down 15.3 per cent in the last year, making it the worst performer on Dow Jones Industrials Average index.

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Sales in the company’s U.S. retail pharmacies missed estimates, despite the company selling more prescription drugs, as continued low reimbursement rates ate into the unit’s profit.

With files from Brenda Bouw and wires

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