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BenzingaEditorial

4 Feel-Good Gaming Stocks

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The gaming industry is on fire this year thanks to COVID-19 keeping more people indoors. The World Economic Forum forecasts the global gaming industry’s revenue is set to hit $165 billion for the whole year. This should benefit all gaming companies, even some that might not come immediately to mind. Penn National Gaming’s (NASDAQ:PENN), Tencent Holdings (OTC:TCEHY), Sony (NYSE:SNE), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are riding the gaming wave and surfing away.

Penn National Gaming – massive expansion ahead

Considering Penn’s 41 gaming properties in 19 states were forced to shut down during the pandemic, its stock made a great comeback. Most of its locations have reopened, but the recent surge in coronavirus cases is bringing a great deal of uncertainty. Fortunately, positive vaccine developments give hope that it won’t be long before Penn can return to operating at full speed. But even until that happens, online sports betting segment is doing extremely well. After all, this gaming operator has been successful over the last decade by managing both to growth revenue and maintain the operating margin in double digits. It was greatly helped when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned in 2018 as this paved the way for for more states to legalize sports betting outside of Nevada, and 21 states have followed suit.

This year, it decided to invest in Barstool Sports, a sports media company, gaining more than 60 million monthly active users and more than 100 million social media followers. Besides this userbase, it gained advertising rights for 10 years on the Barstool Sports platform. It is already helping the company expand its offering of online sports betting in Pennsylvania with the launch of the Barstool Sports app in September which was the most-downloaded sports app the first weekend it became available, despite only being launched in only one state.

The majority of Penn National Gaming’s growth will come from online sports betting as the CEO Jay Snowden revealed that the company will massively expand to offer sports betting in every state in which it operates and where sports betting is legal by the end of next year.

Tencent – gaming is bright, but so are its other segments

The ecosystem of this conglomerate with a market cap greater than $700 billion includes a social media platform, fintech, e-commerce, and other products in addition to gaming that accounts for about one third of its revenue. It now has 140 licensed games under its umbrella. One of its more notable gaming-related acquisitions is its ownership stake in Epic Games who is the developer of Fortnite, with which it gained access to 350 million players.

In the latest quarter, gaming revenue increased by 45% compared to last year to $6.3 billion, which is a much greater rate than the total 29% growth of total revenue.

Tencent’s gaming growth may slow once the world moves past the pandemic but analysts forecast a 32% profit increase in 2021. But the bottom line is that this is a massive media company and gaming is merely one of its growth drivers as the company defines itself as a”world-leading game development, publishing, and operation platform.”

Sony is back in the game

Some of the businesses of the consumer electronics giant have suffered amid the pandemic, mostly due to supply chain disruption. However, the PlayStation 5 could bring a breath of fresh air. It is the first new console since the previous generation machine, the PlayStation 4, came out seven years ago. The PS5 will bring much more than faster load times and preliminary sales data out of Japan shows 120,000 units were sold in its first four day. This is almost six times more than Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S sold during their first six days. However, this is only one country and the period does not include the holiday season.

The gaming division made up less than one-fourth of Sony’s revenue in the latest quarter, but it accounted for one-third of the operating income. Upcoming games such as Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Moralewill likely help enhance its gaming reputation and allow Sony the build further on this momentum.

Microsoft is not leaving gaming behind

Given Microsoft’s success in cloud computing, its gaming segment often gets forgotten. Still, the Xbox is a growth area within its “more personal computing” division. Like Sony Microsoft launched its next-generation Xbox, the Series S/X in November, seven years after its last-generation console, the Xbox One.

Admittedly, early Xbox sales numbers aren’t great but with the success of Xbox Game Pass, potential is there. The new consoles could also bring more interest in Microsoft’s games as of the end of fiscal 2020 that ended in June, Xbox Game Pass had 15 million subscribers and nearly 100 million Xbox Live players. Gaming revenue increased by 30% in the most recent quarter and it is expected to increase further with the release of the Series X.

Microsoft also signed a partnership with GameStop (NYSE:GME). It took some time for the troubled GameStop to recover after its stock cratered after the release of its third quarter earnings report, but it certainly appears this old dog is learning some new tricks as its gaming console upgrade cycle has officially kicked off.

Outlook

Gaming revenue is driven by consumers’ discretionary income. In other words, this is what’s left over in people’s wallets when they pay their bills and meet their basic demands. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, disposable income levels are higher than before the pandemic, in part because of the large stimulus package passed by the government and the gaming world benefited already with the outlook looking just as bright as COVID-19 won’t be conquered overnight.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure. IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

BenzingaEditorial

Retailers Are Hoping for a Better 2021

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This week, three major retailers provided a glimpse of hope that the world is returning to normalcy- or at the very least, consumer behavior is. Although The Gap, Inc. (NYSE: GPS) came short on sales estimates, Kohl’s Corporation (NYSE: KSS) and Nordstrom Inc (NYSE: JWN) topped estimates, although they have other issues to deal with.

Kohl’s posted better-than-expected earnings, but activist investors aren’t pleased

Kohl topped Wall Street’s estimates and pointed to stronger growth in 2021. Net income amounted to $343 million but sales dropped to $5.88 billion from $6.54 billion a year earlier despite online sales jumping 22% from a year earlier as they accounted for 42% of total sales.

In 2020, the company added more than 2 million new customers in 2020 thanks to its Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) returns service, a third of which are millennials. But the group of activists looking to seize control published a letter to shareholders saying the board seems to be content performing just slightly better than the worst companies in retail. Facing pressure from activist investors whose attempt to seize control was rejected at the end of last month, the company will reinstate its dividend and buy back shares.  The retailer has a market cap of $8.99 billion, which is bigger than Nordstrom’s and Macy’s.

Nordstrom sales drop despite digital surge

Fourth-quarter sales and earnings topped analysts’ estimates owed to stronger online demand and growth at its Nordstrom Rack business. The department store chain warned that it is still working through impacts from delayed holiday shipments by selling excess inventories during the first quarter, hoping to be back to normal inventory levels by the second quarter. Its quarterly net revenues of $3.64 billion dropped $893 million from fiscal 2019’s quarter, despite digital sales increasing 24% compared to the same period and contributing 54% to total sales. The digital surge wasn’t enough to move the needle and net income shrank to $33 million compared to $193 million a year earlier. Although consumer behavior remains uncertain, the retailer is calling for fiscal 2021 sales to grow more than 25%. The retailer has a market cap of $5.93 billion, which is less than Kohl’s but greater than Macy’s.

Gap misses sales but forecasts return to sales growth in 2021

Ongoing store closures overseas in Europe, parts of Asia and Canada weighed on Gap’s fourth-quarter results, with sales coming up short of estimates. The apparel retailer swung to a profit, thanks to its efforts to sell more merchandise at full price and closing underperforming stores.

For the quarter ended January 30th, Gap reported net income of $234 million, or 61 cents per share, compared with a loss of $184 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier. Net sales fell about 5% to $4.42 billion from $4.67 billion a year earlier. The company showed continued strength at its Old Navy and Athleta brands which cover basics and workout gear. But its namesake Gap brand and Banana Republic brands saw another quarter of sales declines. Overall online sales were up 49%, representing 46% of net sales during the quarter.

For fiscal 2021, Gap is calling for net sales to be up a mid- to high-teens percentage, as the company is hoping return to a more normalized, pre-pandemic level of net sales in the second half of the year which depends on customers soon returning to its stores and spending more money on apparel as they resume social activities.

Many retailers are facing shipping headwinds

Backlogged ports in the U.S. and heightened shipping costs continue to hit all kinds of businesses, from those selling apparel and shoes, to appliances and at-home fitness equipment. Moreover, as shoppers do return to stores, the persisting problem could make it even more difficult for retailers to plan their inventories and keep their shelves stocked with goods. COVID-19 will be put to an end by vaccines but the uncertainty that the pandemic created will be more difficult to mend as its long-term impact on consumer behavior is still unknown.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure. IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Zoom Is Doing Great But Can It Continue Being a Necessity?

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On Monday, Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM) shares rose 11% in extended trading after the company reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, beating top and bottom-line expectations and issuing strong guidance.

As COVID-19 made physical contact impossible one year ago, video conferencing became a necessary work tool.  Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) benefited from the trend thanks to its Microsoft Teams and Google Meet enabled Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) to take a piece of the pie, but Zoom’s share price has almost quadrupled last year, resulting in a market value of more than $100 billion.

Q4

The video-calling software maker reported its revenue grew 369% YoY in the quarter that ended on January 31st, after growing 367% in the third quarter and losing fewer customers than executives had expected. Revenues soared to $883 million, up from $188 million the year before. Based on formal accounting rules, Zoom’s net income rose from $15 million to $260 million, or 87 cents a share. Gross margin expanded from previous quarter’s 66.7% to 69.7%.

The company also posted gains among small customers as it had 467,100 customers with more than 10 employees at the end of the fiscal fourth quarter, nearly five times as many as it had before the pandemic hitor up 470% on an annualized basis, compared with 354% growth in the previous quarter. It ended the quarter with $4.24 billion in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, significantly up from previous quarter’s $1.87 billion. The video conferencing start-up turned in a surprisingly strong performance in the latest quarter during which Covid-19 vaccines were intensively administered and predicted faster than expected growth in the coming year. The news sent Zoom’s shares up nearly 10 per cent in after-market trading on Monday, valuing it at $131billion. They are still more than 20 per cent below their highest level reached back in October, before investors started thinking about the impact of pandemic restrictions.

FY2021

For the year characterized by lockdowns across the globe, sales quadrupled to $2.65 billion with Zoom’s app being downloaded nearly half a billion times or twice as many times as Google’s video chat app, as reported by Apptopia.

FY2022

Despite predictions that its service will play a less central role in the lives of many workers and students in 2021, Zoom expects revenues for its next fiscal year to grow by 43 per cent to $3.76 billion to $3.78 billion, compared to Wall Street projections of about $3.5 billion. It also predicted pro forma earnings per share of $3.59 to $3.65, higher than the $2.96 a share analysts had pencilled in. Still, churn rates remain higher than they were before the pandemic and the trend is expected to persist as people begin to travel.

For the undergoing Q1, adjusted EPS are expected to be between 95 cents and 97 cents with revenue in the range between $900 million and $905 million in revenue. The outlook is significantly brighter than 72 cents and $829.2 million that Refinitiv gathered analysts penciled in.

“Zoom fatigue”

A possible major bump in the road was recently identified by a study from the Silicon Valley Itself that was published on February 23rd in the journal of Technology, Mind and Behavior. Researchers from Stanford University found that all those hours of video calls take more of a toll on our brain and body than regular office work. Seemingly never-ending video calls leave us utterly drained, even though our most strenuous physical activity during the workday involved smiling at the camera. Although it concerns all video chat platforms, researchers named it “Zoom fatigue.” Researchers say Zoom fatigue has four main culprits: excessive and intense eye contact, constantly watching video of yourself at a frequency and duration that hasn’t been seen in the history of people, the limited mobility of being stuck at your desk, and more energy spent identifying social cues that is much easier to do in person. The “non-verbal overload” is a result that we are gifting even strangers with the behavior that is ordinarily reserved for close relationships. Although some issues can be easily resolved such as by removing our selfie from the user interface and going for an audio call, others might require a lot more effort.

Zoom’s prospects

Oddly enough, the founder of a company whose success is inextricably linked to the pandemic-fueled rise of remote work and home offices, Eric Yuan, himself admitted that everybody’s desperate to return to the office. But then again, the company knows too well it has to show no fear about the world going back to its pre-pandemic days if it wants to protect its equity value. The video call software company’s 2020 growth story will probably never be repeated and a post-pandemic slowdown is inevitable but Zoom’s betting on a new normalcy that combines in-person meetings with video calls.

Zoom has plans for an independent future. Like Salesforce.com,inc (NYSE: CRM), it is trying to take on Microsoft Teams with a suite of office collaboration products. The pandemic awarded Zoom with the sort of brand recognition that no money can’t buy. But Microsoft has $132 billion in its war chest and is busy improving Teams, so there’s no way it will relinquish its domination over workplace software willingly.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure. IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

News From The Vaccine World

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Less than a year before the COVID-19 started its relentless march across the globe Novavax (NASDAQ: NVAX) was facing delisting from the Nasdaq. The 33-year-old Maryland-based pharmaceutical company didn’t have a single approved shot after hundreds of millions of dollars invested in its R&D efforts. Wall Street likes to take bets on unproven biotech such as Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA), but it can be unforgiving of failure.  Fortunately, Novavax is now on the verge of getting approval in the UK, which will probably be followed by the US. Interim data have shown that its vaccine has an efficacy rate up there with the shots developed by Moderna, BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), all of which are based on revolutionary mRNA technology. However, Novavax’ candidate s is cheaper and easier to transport and can be stored at room temperature for at least 24 hours. Additionally, the one-shot candidate by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JMJ) that can be kept at normal temperatures was granted an emergency use authorization during the weekend.

Merck and Johnson will join forces

Merck & Co Inc (NYSE: MRK) will manufacture the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JMJ) under an unusual deal that the Biden administration engineered to boost production of the single-shot ja which has been hampered by manufacturing delays.

The Biden administration helped to engineer the deal between the competitors after J&J, which was, experienced production hold-ups. J&J is the world’s largest healthcare company, but when it comes to vaccines, Merck has the expertise as it is one of the world’s largest vaccine makers with many approved shots.

Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY) is another large vaccine maker that has fallen behind in the COVID-19 vaccine race and has agreed to help boost supplies of the J&J vaccine in Europe. Last month, it stated it would use its capacity to fill vials.

Novavax has finally stopped gasping for air

The CEO of Novavax, Stanley Erck, stated their candidate is more than 90% effective against the original strain, 86% effective against the U.K. strain and considerably less effective against the South African strain. According to forecasts, Novavax will generate more than $5 billion in revenue this year. As it is applying for approval for it flu shot, it will start studies on combining the Covid-19 and flu vaccine into a single shot later this year.

A story with a happy ending for everyone?

Novavax’s story resembles a Cinderella story as a little company that was on the verge of potentially closing has really been able to play with the big boys in the race for the Covid vaccine. The bottom line is that the US will have enough coronavirus vaccine doses for every adult by the end of May, which is sooner than anticipated, thanks in part to an unusual type of collaboration we didn’t see since World War II between two of the country’s largest drugmakers.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure. IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

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