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Trending tickers: Oracle, Apple, Paramount and L&G

The latest investor updates on stocks that are trending on Wednesday

TOP GUN :  MAVERICK 2022 Paramount Pictures film with Tom Cruise in the title role
Skydance Media, the firm behind Top Gun: Maverick, assembled a consortium of investors to buy the vehicle that owns Redstone’s controlling stake in Paramount. (Pictorial Press, Pictorial Press Ltd)

Shares in Oracle were up by over 8% in pre-market trading as the software company announced cloud deals with Google (GOOG) and OpenAi.

"In Q4 alone, Oracle signed over 30 AI sales contracts totalling more than $12.5bn (£9.8bn), including one with OpenAi to train ChatGPT in Oracle Cloud," CEO Safra Catz said.

The company also said that it would bring its database to Google's cloud, with availability coming in November. Organisations will be able to deploy workloads in Google and Oracle cloud data centre regions without being subject to data-transfer charges.

"In Q3 and Q4, Oracle signed the largest sales contracts in our history, driven by enormous demand for training AI large language models in Oracle Cloud," Catz added.

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Despite this, fourth-quarter results in Larry Ellison's company fell short of Wall Street expectations.

Total revenue grew 3% to $14.29bn. Net income came in at $3.14bn, or $1.11 per share, down from $3.32bn or $1.19 per share in the year-ago quarter.

In the latest quarter, the company raked in $10.23bn in revenue from cloud services and license support, up 9% from a year before.

Oracle reported total revenue growth of 6% for fiscal 2024. For FY25, analysts expect 9% growth.

The company expects first-quarter revenue to grow between 5% and 7%, while analysts estimate a 7.6% rise.

Apple shares hit a new high during Tuesday's session, closing 7% higher but it was in the red during pre-market trading as the AI announcements continue to divide analysts.

In its worldwide developers conference, the iPhone maker got back on the AI race with the announcement of Apple Intelligence. It also said users will soon be able to tap into OpenAi's ChatGPT when using Siri.

At least 13 analysts raised their price targets on Apple’s shares after the developer event, and said the latest features could give sales a boost as the company prepares to announce a new line of iPhones in autumn.

"This was a historical day for Apple and Cook & Co, and it did not disappoint in our view," Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives told investors in a research note.

Ives, who kept his outperform rating and $275 price target, said “the entire tech landscape was laser focused on the highly anticipated AI strategy and further updates across both the hardware and software ecosystems that will drive the next growth cycle over the coming years.”

“Apple is demonstrating that it is invested in evolving its platform and devices to enable the next era of computing, interfaces and experiences,” Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen said.

Elon Musk has threatened to ban Apple devices at his companies over what he alleges are security fears.

Shares in the company have crashed and continue to dive deeper into the red during pre-market hours after the media tycoon behind Paramount Pictures pulled the plug on a proposed multibillion-dollar merger, after months of negotiations.

Shari Redstone ended talks with Skydance Media over a merger that would have handed control of Paramount from her family to billionaire David Ellison.

Skydance had offered about $2bn to acquire Redstone's National Amusements (NAI) after which he would merge Paramount into Ellison's company through a stock deal.

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Skydance was also ready to buy out about half of Paramount's common shareholders at $15 a share and inject about $1.5bn to help pay off the company's debt.

A statement from National Amusements merely noted that the two sides “have not been able to reach mutually acceptable terms” for the deal.

Paramount has struggled in an evolving media landscape, particularly as its traditional cable business has declined.

Shares in insurance, retirement and investment services group tumbled as CEO António Simões announced a shake up to deliver a "simpler, better-connected L&G".

The changes include creating a single asset management division that will bring together Legal & General Investment Management and the wider group’s own investment unit, as well as looking to sell certain assets, notably its housebuilder Cala.

The group’s powerhouse institutional pension insurance business, which buys out old pension schemes, and its main insurance retail arm, which has 14m customers, will remain.

However, the company plans to aggressively pursue corporate pension deals, targeting up to £65bn in the UK by 2028, after completing £13.7bn globally last year.

The company said it intends to return more to shareholders over 2024 to 2027, with 5% dividend growth in 2024 followed by 2% growth per annum, in addition to a £200m share buyback.

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