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BenzingaEditorial

Is AstraZeneca Still a Safe Bet?

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Corona Virus and the Stock Market

Since the beginning of the pandemic, AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) was among the likely winners in the COVID-19 vaccine race. The company has joined forces with the University of Oxford to develop its candidate, AZD1222. But investors recently got a bitter reminder of the difficulties and risks of clinical trials. AstraZeneca had to pause its trial after patient showed serious neurological symptoms on September 8th. Although the trial resumed after a few days, it was a wake up call for investors who are looking to profit from these efforts. Although adverse regulation are quite common in clinical trials, especially of that magnitude, it was still enough for its stock to drop about 8 percent. Fortunately, AstraZeneca’s stock rebounded relatively swiftly the next day as it became clear that the initial news wasn’t as damaging to the entire program as it initially seemed. For now, there’s no certain sign that there is something wrong with AZD1222. So this time, AstraZeneca pulled through.

Competitive landscape

Astrazeneca was fast out of the gate and was one of the first to start a phase 2/3 clinical trial back in May. It was seen as the promising candidate by both the U.S. government and the European Union. Only a few companies in this race received such support. Meanwhile, the trio Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE)-BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX)-Fosun Pharmaceutical (OTC: SFOSF) is going turbo to launch its candidate in the upcoming months. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) also as it launched its Phase III in Europe. The Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY)- GSK (NYSE: GSK) duo plans to finalize its last stage by the end of the year. This race is going faster than Formula 1.

But this is a reminder that clinical trials inevitable come with potential pitfalls. Moreover, one obstacle is all it takes to sink a company’s stock.

The strength of AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca’s stock has benefitted from its vaccine development as its shares are up 7.7% year to date. But this isn’t that much because the company was doing more than fine before the pandemic struck. Over the trailing-12-month period, its sales were $25.7 billion resulting in a net income of $2.15 billion from multiple products and programs in its pipeline. In other words, even if it does not find a way to win COVID-19, AstraZeneca will be just fine.

Competitors

By contrast, the success of Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) greatly depends on the outcome of their COVID-19 efforts.

Inovio’s stock is up by 202.4% year to date. Moreover, its market cap skyrocketed from $325.37 million on January 2nd to $1.67 billion. The vaccine will literally make or brake Inovio as these gains have been almost entirely driven by its efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Its stock could easily burn in flames if any sort of obstacle arises. Moderna is in the same boat. Its shares are up by 199.1%, expanding its market cap from $6.47 billion to $23.11 billion in the same timeframe. Moreover, its cap seems too high for a clinical-stage biotech company, so its stock could could just as easily fall off a cliff if its efforts are unsuccessful.

COVID-19 investors

Just because AstraZeneca is the likely leader, it does not mean others such as Inovio and Moderna cannot launch successful vaccines But because of the uncertainties that plague clinical trials, along with the fact that neither of two has an approved and marketed product, both are high-risk and high-reward bets. Taking a small position and closely observing developments is always a possibility, but  AstraZeneca is a rare player that provides significant exposure to the coronavirus vaccine opportunity without the threat of its stock plummeting if the pharma giant doesn’t win the COVID-19 race.

A wake-up call

Leading U.S. and European pharma giants have pledged to keep safety as their priority while they develop their candidates. CEOs of nine biopharmaceutical companies pledged of scientific integrity. Putting it bluntly, they promised they will not succumb to political pressures to rush the process as the WHO’s chief referred to AstraZeneca’s pause as a ‘wake up call’.

Vaccines are always a risky scenario

The equation goes far beyond a company’s background, experience and experience. People’s immune systems respond to vaccines differently. Our immune systems are different. Previous infections and genetics can cause our immune system to respond differently. Moreover, the composition of our immune system changes throughout the course of our lives. Children are still developing so their systems are even more different than  that of adults. Lifestyle such as one’s diet, exercise, stress and harmful habits such as smoking all play a part in the response of our immune response to vaccination.

That is why extensive clinical trials with numerous stages are so important. They do not only ensure the vaccine’s safety and effectives, but whether the vaccine will work for different kinds of people. One’s medical history or age can make all the difference. The bottom line is that this is a very difficult quest. Traditional medicine still has so many things to discover when it comes to preserving and restoring our health, such as how to win and prevent cancer. Scientists are learning at an exponential pace but they are still are at the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to this brand-new virus that managed to put the whole world to a stop.

It’s like a game of chess…

Although AstraZeneca seems like a safer bet in comparison to its peers, portfolios and financial position don’t weigh as much in this battle. It’s like a game of chess: you only know what your next move is. You play for the present and do your best to predict the future, knowing it is impossible to predict what will happen even after two moves. Unfortunately, one wrong move can cost you the entire game. Therefore, the best strategy for all pharmaceutical companies in this race is to play silently and speak only when it’s time to say checkmate.

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

News From the EV World

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EV news keeps on coming. After leading companies like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), General Motors (NYSE:GM) and NIO (NASDAQ:NIO) now Subaru Corporation (OTC: FUJHY) has finally hopped on the EV train by officially releasing a few of teaser images of its first electric car that will be powered by the platform it has been co-developing with fellow Japanese automaker Toyota Motors (NYSE: TM). Renown tonneau cover designer and manufacturer that brought its revolutionary solar fusion TerraVis to the EV table, Worksport Ltd (OTC: WKSP) has announced this morning it entered pre-production and testing phase with TerraVis COR mobile energy storage system with which it’ll tap into a wider consumer market.

Subaru’s first EV

No pricing or specs have been released but the Solterra EV will be coming to the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan in 2022.  Like its automotive peers, the Japanese automaker will use its first electric vehicle as a clean slate to refresh the way it designs the interior of its vehicles. Solterra was created from two Latin words, “Sol” standing for the ‘Sun’ and “Terra” standing for the ‘Earth’ to represent the automaker’s commitment to deliver traditional SUV capabilities in a way that is in harmony with the environment, which does sound refreshingly harmonic for corporate naming conventions. Like other vehicles that will be built on this platform which Toyota calls the e-TNGA and Subaru calls e-Subaru, Subaru’s first EV will benefit from its expertise in creating good all-wheel drive systems and Toyota’s mastery in developing battery technology for its hybrids. Solterra certainly seems more pleasing to the eyes than “BZ4X,” the first SUV Toyota will build on this shared platform that is also due out next year.

Worksport’s TerraVis COR has entered the production prototype phase

After signing deals with Atlis Motor Vehicles and Hercules Electric Vehicles to configure its groundbreaking TerraVis™ system for their upcoming electric pickups and the company’s most recent news about the expansion of its manufacturing capacity and Private Label customer base, Worksport reported it has entered the pre-production and testing phase of its mobile energy storage system, TerraVis COR.

In the coming weeks, the company will soon launch a TerraVis™ website to provide more information on this revolutionary line. TerraVis COR™’s first pre-production prototype is expected to be ready during the early stages of the third quarter. It will be fully operational and is expected to reflect the final product that will be commercially available by the end of the year. However, extensive testing is required to receive certifications for it to become a commercially viable global product. This independent mobile energy system is the ideal integration of user-friendly simplicity with clever and multi-dimensional functionality. It is an extension to its TerraVis line that will allow the company to go beyond pickup trucks and tap into a wider consumer market, appealing to any everyday consumer who needs mobile power- and that is pretty much everyone.

Worksport is also in in the process of getting its uniquely designed sold through several large, automotive-focused, online retailers to expand its footprint nationally.  Simultaneously, discussions are being held with various distribution channels to get the company’s innovative branded products in many brick-and-mortar stores in the coming year as the company is working diligently towards becoming a household brand known for its unique offering of affordable leading-edge technology that enhances everyday lives.

New EV models are coming, the world’s first electric pickup will see the light of the day this year with exciting technology developments also on the way as after all, EVs are more about software than hardware.

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

Ride-hailing Seems To Be Making a Comeback But Drivers Seem Hesitant

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Last week, Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER) and Lyft Inc (NASDAQ: LYFT) showed they are seeing improvement in ride hailing that was strangled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uber was saved by its food delivery business

Uber’s first-quarter results come after it announced March was the best month in the company’s nearly 12-year history, as its mobility business reported the most bookings since the start of the pandemic and delivery demand exceeded driver supply.

Q1 figures

Revenue for the quarter came in at $2.9 billion which was below analysts’ estimates. Uber had to deal with a $600 million UK charge, which is merely a glimpse of the costs it could face if it were it is forced to treat its US gig workers as employees. This time, it had to settle with its more than 70,000 UK drivers. During the first quarter, Uber had 3.5 million active drivers and food-delivery workers on its platform, the majority of whom work in the United States.

Excluding that charge, Uber reported $3.5 billion in revenue, up 8 per cent YoY. As has been the case for most of the pandemic, its delivery division accounted for the bulk of sales, at $1.7 billion, a 230% increase from the first quarter of 2020. A one-off, $1.6 billion windfall from the sale of its self-driving division helped the company come within touching distance of a profitable quarter, recording a net loss of $108 million, compared with $2.9 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Uber recorded $19.5 billion in gross bookings which is the total value of all transactions, marking a 24 per centincrease compared to the same period last year which was marked by the early days of the pandemic.

Uber’s preferred measure of performance and the one it promised to be profitable on by the end of the year, adjusted EBITDA, also came in ahead of analysts’ expectations, with a $359 million loss, 41 per cent better than a year ago.  Narrowing losses by nearly $100 million from the previous quarter, it is important to note this figure excludes one-time costs such as stock-based compensation.

Ride-hailing improvements

In April, Uber’s gross ride-share bookings in the US increased 5 per cent month on month. Also, executives shared data from two of its largest markets for rides and delivery, namely Sydney and New York, that revealed delivery gross bookings were still elevated even after reopenings, which boosted rideshare demand. Uber recorded 98 millionactive users, whether for rides or food which is a 5 per cent increase from the previous quarter but 5 per cent lower than the same period last year.

Incentives for drivers

In addition to distributing free personal protective equipment, Uber announced last month it would spend $250 million as a one-time stimulus to get drivers who are hesitant to ferry passengers over food back on the road.

Lyft’s first quarter results exceeded expectations

Lyft is handing out similar incentives as it will use its cut from elevated pricing to fund investments to bring back more drivers. But, unlike Uber, it managed to beat on the top and bottom lines and exceeded Wall Street’s rider expectations for its first quarter.

Purely ride-hailing company generated $609 million of revenue that resulted in a loss per share of 35 cents. After deducting $180.7 million of stock-based compensation and related payroll tax expenses, net loss for the quarter amounted to $427.3 million whereas net loss margin was 70.2%. One year ago, it amounted to 41.7%.

Adjusted EBITDA loss was $73 million whereas the adjusted EBITDA loss margin was 12%, compared to 8.9% in the same quarter in 2020 and 26.3% in the previous quarter, fourth quarter of 2020.

It is important to highlight that YoY comparisons don’t adequately show the company’s progress since Covid-19 pandemic took hold of the world and severely restricted travel. For example, revenue is down 36% YoY but it increased 7% from the fourth quarter.

Outlook

Lyft reaffirmed its expectation that it will reach sustained adjusted profits on an adjusted EBITDA basis by the third quarter of the year. It also issued guidance for its second quarter, with revenue expected in the range between $680 million and $700 million, which is a 12% to 15% increase quarter over quarter and YoY growth between 100% and 106%. Adjusted EBITDA loss is expected in the range between $35 million and $45 million.

Strategic move to advance the profitability timeline

Lyft sold off its self-driving car unit to a subsidiary of Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM), Woven Planet, for $550 million in cash. This deal is great news for its profitability timeline as it is expected to eliminate $100 million of annualized non-GAAP operating expenses on a net basis.

Outlook – driver supply shortage

Although recovery will take time, as Covid vaccines roll out, state restrictions are lifted, and people feel more comfortable returning to work or traveling, transit companies are slowly showing signs of recovering. Moreover, Uber is confident that its business will benefit from the complementary nature of two of its large core opportunities even in a post-pandemic world as it intertwined its ride-hailing app with its delivery business.

With a resurgence in users, both companies are facing a growing need for more drivers. Lyft executives said they expect issues around supply and demand to continue in the second quarter and ease in the third. Uber executives expect ride-hailing business to bounce back as vaccinations pick up but they also acknowledged the business isfacing the same imminent challenge: not enough drivers.

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

Updates From the EV World

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EV news just keep on coming. Hyundai Motor Company (OTC: HYMTF) confirmed several new models in an investor presentation. But, in the EV world where software is more important than hardware, equipment makers are just as important as automakers, with a few players even promising to bring the game to a whole new level or change the rules entirely beside well known companies like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) or General Motors (NYSE:GM). One such player is Worksport Ltd (OTC: WKSP) which has partnered with Atlis Motor Vehicles and Hercules Electric Vehicles to configure its revolutionary solar fusion technology TerraVis for their upcoming electric pickups. The company has just issued a progress update this morning to its investors, shareholders, and supporters about how it continues to expand its customer base.

Hyundai provided more details about its ambitious EV plans

Hyundai’s ambitious new-product launch cycle continue going forward with an investor presentation that confirmed several new EV models and updates to existing vehicles due next year.

The Genesis GV70 compact crossover is getting its electric version.  After the established template as theElectrified G80 that looks nearly identical to the gas-powered sedan, the GV70 EV will likely also resemble its gas-powered peer. Hyundai’s EV subrand will also gain a new Ioniq 6 sedan that will join the Ioniq 5 hatchback.

Mid-cycle updates will also be applied to various models beginning with the 2022 Genesis G90, full-size luxury sedan, that will probably arrive later this year. It will likely adopt the same “two lines” styling motif seen on the rest of the luxury brand’s models. Visual updates for the 2023 Hyundai Sonata mid-size sedan and the 2023 Hyundai Palisade three-row SUV have been announced for next year.

Worksport is strengthening its footprint

Following up its announcement from March 16th, Worksport announced this morning that it has officially secured a deal with a new brand in the automotive sector for its Private Label unit.  The innovative designer and manufacturer of tonneau covers is pleased to report that it has a queue of additional customer orders pending as a result of overwhelming product demand. When Worksport realized profitability back in 2019, it was able to do so with just one customer. With three private label customers the Company has gained along with two additional ones that are in the process of being secured, Worksport is on track to achieve profitability once again even after the havoc the COVID-19 brought to supply chains and operations across the industry. Worksport is also reporting that the first shipment from its last signed Private Label brand has already been scheduled for delivery. This major milestone speaks loads about the company’s delivery capabilities. Worksport’s CEO Steven Rossi commented  that strengthening the company’s manufacturing footprint will ensure demand is being met, bringing opportunities previously out of reach and propelling the company to new heights.

These business developments speak volumes to Worksport’s relentless determination and successful execution. It is important to highlight that the private label segment makes non-competing products both in terms of type and cost for Private Label customers, meaning that Worksport provides bespoke products for each customer that do not directly compete with neither each other nor the Worksport brand.  As always, the company isn’t disclosing customer identities to respect its Private Label agreement.

In 2020, we charged towards electric vehicles. By the looks of it, 2021 will be the year of the electric revolution.

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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