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BenzingaEditorial

Automotive Outlook – A Road to Hell?

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Ford News

The automotive industry was hit hard by COVID-19. Automakers were forced to shut down approximately  95% of plants across Europe and the US. In most cases, those measures were supposed to last only two weeks. Now it looks like factories will remain silent for much longer. Reopening dates are being postponed, while some auto producers like General Motors (NYSE: GM) decided not to give any reopening targets at all. Uncertainty is present everywhere these days.

Beating the invisible enemy

The COVID-19 is the new virus, an invisible enemy, that you cannot catch or hit back. The number of infected people is constantly increasing. The average growth rate is moving between 10% and 15% per day. According to the latest data, it can be said that the virus is not showing any signs of slowing down. It looks like COVID-19 has just started its horror show. So far, until the end of March that is, approximately 4.000 people died, but public health officials recently said that between 100.000 and 240.000 deaths can be expected until the end of this year. President Trump decided not to lift the restrictions as planned on Easter but to extend them. He warned that the US is facing “very, very painful two weeks” ahead.

Lockdowns are here to stay

Thus, it can be expected that lockdowns will continue. It is the only available option in the fight against the virus. China showed to the rest of the world that this strategy works. Yes, it is hurting everyone mentally, physically and financially, particularly the automotive industry. But it is an inevitable cost that we all must pay. For automakers, it means that there will be no production nor car sales any time soon and for much longer than they previously anticipated.

Crisis is only getting momentum

Because the crisis is getting momentum, analysts are now giving new forecasts and warning us not only about an upcoming recession but something even worse – economic depression in the automotive industry. Investors are worried, as they are starting to realize that unemployment rates could skyrocket and that factories may remain closed for the next two months or even longer. Even after the crisis is over, it is hard to avoid the upcoming economic downturn. People will probably try to postpone some bigger purchases until they are convinced that the situation is back to normal.

The question on everyone’s minds is: “Where is all this going?”. And we are all hoping that the answer is not: “ Down the road to nowhere.”

What do analysts expect?

Average expectations are that Detroit’s Big 3 automakers will all show sales declines in the first quarter of 2020. It is expected that General Motors , Ford (NYSE: F) and Fiat Chrysler (NYSE: FCAU) auto sales will drop somewhere near 6%, 16%, and 10% respectively compared to last year’s results.

And what about the whole year forecast?

Well those numbers are even worse. JP Morgan Chase & Co. analysts predict that approximately 10.3 million automobiles could be sold in 2020 and that is 40% down compared to last year. If this ends up being the case, sales would be even lower than in 2009, when only 10.4 million vehicles were sold. Just remember, it was the year when General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. But, if the crisis continues, those forecasts can be even worse. In that case, sales may go even down – and that means literally down, 6 to 7 million vehicles to be exact. Best of all is that many analysts are relying on the last quarter when they expect a bounce-back. But what if the virus strikes again, like the second wave China is so scared of? This fear is making the country have to close up again just shortly after lifting its restrictions. This all seems like a road or even highway to hell, doesn’t it?

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic 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 Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

BenzingaEditorial

Healthcare Industry- A Diamond In the Rough

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When looking for growth stocks, the healthcare industry probably isn’t the first place you’d think to look. Yet, what we realized last year is that an invisible enemy that weighs less than 1g can not only threaten our lives but actually stop the world – and healthcare ended up being the only superhero that we could turn to. Over the past decade, healthcare companies working behind the scenes have produced market-crushing gains. But US healthcare, which has dealt poorly with the pandemic, is worth almost $4 trillion a year.

Three years ago, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon unveiled a joint initiative to fix the already troubled US healthcare system. But, the Haven venture will dissolve in February. Even the bosses of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE: BRK-B) and JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) were no match for this complex industry. The trio had a good plan as this is just the kind of legacy set-up tech should be able to skewer. They wanted to use their combined workforce that exceeds 1 million in a non-profit, tech-driven venture, to show what could be achieved without intermediaries.

But disruption alone cannot finish the job as hiring renowned surgeon Dr Atul Gawande as chief executive, someone better known for writing about healthcare than running a business, suggests the project prioritized talking over doing. Perhaps this is what got us in the trouble with the global pandemic in the first place. Fortunately, vaccine makers such as Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) and Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) delivered on their promises and we can see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel thanks to their candidates. But, even though three of the world most successful businessmen didn’t succeed, does not mean that massive potential is not there.

Healthcare’s where the money goes

In 2019, U.S. healthcare spending grew to $3.8 trillion, which was 4.6% more than 2018. We can be sure this figure will keep rising because the pandemic has amplified how vulnerable human health is. The beauty of the industry is that health encompasses so many different segments such as clinical services, manufacturing of drugs and medical equipment, and healthcare-related support services, including medical insurance. These companies play a key role in the diagnosis, treatment, nursing, and management of illness, disease, and injury. They are essential for the health of the population which can easily be considered as the most important task on the planet.

Electronic health records still didn’t bring any benefits

Over the past decade, the federal government has spent about $36 billion to ditch paper records and switch to electronic health records. But accessing that data and actually using it to make better decisions for patients is still more challenging than it should be. If you want to know what your doctor looks like when he or she is angry and frustrated, try asking them about their experience with EHR providers.

In a nutshell, the hired providers focused primarily on facilitating complex billing systems that don’t have a lot to do with the main service. In simple words, the software hospitals bought was not made with healthcare in mind and the goal to help physicians make better treatment decisions and therefore it was set for failure from the very beginning. Healthcare is a noble profession that is much more about qualitative than quantitative figures. But, this does not mean it cannot benefit from software, on the contrary. Technology can do a great job in taking control of automated processes away from so doctors and nurses can devote their energy to what no machine can do – restore a patient’s health and save a life. We can take a medicine for a symptom or boost our immune system, but only a human being can find a way to identify what went wrong and make a roadmap to get us on a path to health, sometimes with their own hands. Have no doubt, what medical staff does is nothing short of magic. In order to serve them, the people behind the technology need to be aware of what these magnificent people do before creating the software.

Achieving scale and speed

The healthcare industry spends more than $600 billion per year on administration costs, which makes about 30% of all healthcare costs. Healthcare Business Resources, Inc. is one of the rare companies focused on providing technology solutions to make healthcare organizations more efficient. They are able to provide modern management, marketing, and technology solutions and refresh the antiquated healthcare business model because its officers, directors and advisors have a healthcare background. They are an SEC reporting issuer but not yet publicly traded.  They cumulatively acquired companies with a combined value exceeding  $20 billion who run billion dollar healthcare systems. They plan to grow primarily through strategic acquisitions to benefit from the power of synergy in which one plus one is not only greater than two but can also be greater than 11 – because when the right people come together, magic happens.

Healthcare is the place to be

The last drop that contributed to Haven’s collapse may have been the Amazon-ifying of healthcare as the ecommerce giant has launched online prescription service Amazon Pharmacy and a virtual primary care facility for employees. Even Jeff Bezos knew that if he wants to shake some of the criticism, US healthcare is always a good place to start. If 2020 taught us anything is that without healthcare, the world collapses and so do we. The potential is there, all that it needs is someone who is not afraid of a challenge and who will let action speak for itself.

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

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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