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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

BMW, XPENG and Worksport Switching Gears Forward

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The EV revolution is happening with governments and automakers going full speed ahead to combat carbon emissions with all-electric vehicles. Many players joining forces in the attempt to win the race with the power of synergy. Even the almighty Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM) knew better than going at it alone as it partnered with Panasonic Corporation (OTC: PCRFY) to form Prime Planet Energy & Solutions to develop batteries that can be used over and over again anytime, anywhere. In June, Renault SA (OTC: RNLSY) revealed it formed two major partnerships to specialize in the design and production of EV batteries. In March, Volkswagen (OTC: VWAGY) announced it aims to build several “gigafactories” in Europe by 2030. This week, we got a few more expansion updates.

BMW receives battery ‘fuel’

Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft (OTC: BMWYY) is also working on new concepts and ideas related to batteries.  Its project BMW-UK-BEV that is centered around the development of a long-distance EV battery has been awarded $36.07 million in joint funding from the industry and the U.K. government. The U.K. is determined to stop selling new diesel and gasoline cars and vans by 2030, the Oxford-based project is one of four to receive funding as new technologies that address range anxiety are crucial to wider EV adoption.

XPeng is is quadrupling capacity

The Chinese EV maker announced it will quadruple capacity as it signed an agreement with a Zhaoqing Smart EV Manufacturing Base expansion project that will boost capacity to 200,000 units annually from 100,000 units. The expansion will enable Xpeng Inc (NYSE: XPEV) to capture the anticipated increase in consumer demand for its smart EVs. In addition to Zhaoqing, XPeng is building manufacturing capacity in Guangzhou and Wuhan, which should enable it to make 400,000 EVs a year, four times what it produces today.

XPeng has delivered about 58,000 vehicles over the past 12 months, behind 76,000 vehicles from NIO Inc (NYSE: NIO) and 59,000 by Li Auto Inc (NASDAQ: LI).

All these three U.S.-listed Chinese EVs are expanding production to meet rising demand. Nio recently announced it will more than double its current production of 100,000 vehicles to 240,000 units a year. Li Auto raised more money in August selling stock in Hong Kong, part of which will commit to doubling capacity to 200,000 units a year.

Worksport announcing Pre-Order Date Solar Covers

Worksport moved into its new headquarters and 55,000 sqaure feet manufacturing facility. As its tonneau cover business continues to grow, Worksport Ltd (NASDAQ: WKSP) is getting ready for pre-production of its TerraVis solar-powered tonneau cover and its extension, the standalone COR battery system. The company also revealed it is expanding its EV ecosystem with a new product termed NPEV that aims to contribute to making transportation greener. Today Worksport announced its anticipated Pre-Order platform will go live on 21ste of September.

With a physical foundation and the right partners, as it joined forces with two EV players on two upcoming electric pickups, Worksport seems ready for the next chapter of its growth story that is bound to bring new technologies to the EV table.

These updates make it clear that capacity is expanding to meet rising EV demand. In July alone, EV sales grew about 200% YoY, and approximately 5% from June.

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

Even Covid-19 Cannot End Disney’s Enduring Magic

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Disney’s (NYSE: DIS) blowout third quarter that beat expectations across the board was fueled by growth in Disney+ subscribers and parks returning to profit. But now that Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary is around the corner, things are looking even better.

50th anniversary celebration

Walt Disney World is gearing up for its celebration which starts on October 1. Dining is returning to Orlando, Florida park as preparations are ongoing. The fact that normal operations are resuming at parks is a good sign that the company is on track when it comes to guest and travel confidence, which translates to an improved bottom line. The party tickets are sold separately from park entry tickets which implies an exponential growth as this segment was literally crushed by the pandemic one and a half year ago. The celebration will open a busy holiday travel season so it can be assumed that Disney stands to benefit from an increase in guest spending, from large purchases like annual passes to shopping for seasonal merchandise. As for the outlook, 2022 is looking brighter for the Parks, Experiences and Products segment.

Delta variant is looming

However, Covid continues plaguing the entertainment industry and the world for more than 18 months now, and there are fears that new variants will reverse the progress at Disney’s biggest money makers as theme parks and cruise lines are its lifeblood. Box office revenue also wasn’t exempt from the devastating blowdespite management trying to reinvent the release structure to drain as much benefit as possible. Streaming also resulted in a compensation-related and public lawsuit from Scarlett Johansson who found like many of her colleagues she was severely harmed by this model.

The White House steps in

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden met with several top U.S. leaders, including the CEO of Disney, Bob Chapek, as part of his ongoing effort to push companies to require workers to be be vaccinated against COVID-19 as the delta variant rages on. Participants in the meeting also included Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (NASDAQ: WBA). However, corporations such U.S. automakers General Motors Co (NYSE: GM) and Ford Motor Co (NYSE: F) are encouraging employees to get the vaccine, but they remain quiet about the executive order. The White House hopes that this meeting will serve “as a rallying cry for more businesses across the country to step up and install measures to boost vaccination rates.

Luckily for Disney that it released Disney+ when it did

Direct to consumer division that includes several streaming services besides Disney+, including ESPN+, Hulu has benefited from people being much more at home. Launched in November 2019, just a few months before the pandemic struck, Disney+  has literally kept Disney afloat while the other divisions struggled to keep their heads above water. Without this division, Disney would not have a rare bright spot over the past year and a half.

The magic lives on

Almost a century old company has endured many things, but the COVID-19 pandemic was by far the worst crisis that the entertainment giant faced as its business model was perfectly exposed to this invisible enemy. Although COVID held its cash-cows hostage, the power of Disney goes beyond the physical experience. Back in August, Target (NYSE: TGT) revealed it will nearly triple the number of Disney shops inside its stores to more than 160 by the end of year, in an attempt to increase foot traffic ahead of the anticipated holiday season. Target hopes that Disney can help it stand out and raise its toy department’s price point. Over almost a century, Disney’s brand evolved while staying loyal to its core values of its founder. In doing so, it became a synonym for storytelling that brings magic to life. Its “once upon a time” earned it an iconic status that made this global brand stronger than any virus- related fear.

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

Oracle Is Aiming for the Cloud

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The enterprise software maker reported its fiscal first quarter revenue on Monday, with its top segment, as well as hardware, missing expectations. Revenue came below expectations as Oracle Corporation (NYSE: ORCL) announced a program during the quarter to encourage customers to adopt its public cloud services in the quarter by reducing or even eliminating its licensing support costs.

Encouraging migrations to the cloud

The support rewards program offers customers who make new commitments to buy Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services to earn rewards that can reduce or even eliminate their Oracle on-premises technology licensing support bills.

Fiscal Q1 figures

For the quarter that ended on August 31st, revenue increased 4% YoY as it amounted to $9.73 billion. Refinitiv reported analysts expected $9.77 billion, whereas the prior quarter’s growth rate was double at 8% respectively.

The two new cloud businesses

The cloud license and on-premises license segment brought in $813 million to the revenue table, down 8% and lower than the $859.7 million consensus. Cloud is fundamentally a more profitable business compared to on-premise. Management expects operating margins to be the same or better than pre-pandemic levels. The company does not disclose revenue nor operating income from its two services that now make 25% of its total revenue with an annual run rate of $10 billion.

The largest business segment, cloud services and license support, generated $7.37 billion in revenue, which is up 6%, although below the StreetAccount consensus estimate of $7.41 billion.

The hardware unit generated $763 million in revenue, down 6% and below the $778.5 million estimate.

Increased capital expenditures

Oracle’s capital expenditures exceeded $1 billion, more than doubling compared to the $436 million in the year-ago quarter as executives invested to build the necessary infrastructure to meet expected cloud demand.

To expand and strengthen its footing in the cloud computing space, Oracle, which counts Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM) as one of its customers, has been heavily investing in opening more data centers to rent to clients as they shift their operations to the cloud.

 Fiscal Q2 guidance

For the undergoing quarter, CEO Safra Catz expects earnings per share to come in the range between $1.09 to $1.13 on 3% to 5% revenue growth. Analysts polled by Refinitiv are expecting a 5% revenue growth to result in adjusted earnings of $1.08 per share.

A crowded space

Austin, Texas-based company whose shares have risen about 40% year to date is in a crowded space of rivals no other than tech titans Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT), Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) Corp that makie it much more challenging to benefit from cloud computing trends.

In a nutshell, Oracle fell short of Wall Street expectations because of incentives it offered to its customers in an attempt to position itself among the clouds.

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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