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BenzingaEditorial

The COVID-19 Vaccine Front Updates

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While the pandemic that’s raging for the second time this year, the pharmaceutical giants are giving the world hope of ending the COVID-19 nightmare. On Monday, Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA) said it will apply for U.S. and European emergency authorization of its vaccine candidate as late-stage study results showed its vaccine was 94.1% effective without any serious safety concerns.

Moderna is one week behind Pfizer, but its candidate comes with a significant advantage

With a 100% success rate in preventing severe cases, the efficiency is consistent across age, race, ethnicity and gender demographics. There were no new side effects since the interim analysis on November 16th. The most common side effects were fatigue, injection site redness and pain, headache and body aches, which increased after the second dose but were short-lived. Considering such a potent vaccine, these flu-like symptoms are expected.

The filing that came a week after Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) and its German partner BioNTech’s (NASDAQ:BNTX), sets Moderna’s candidate to be the second vaccine likely to receive U.S. emergency use authorization this year. Both candidates use a new technology called synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) and showed effectiveness of approximately 95%.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines proved more effective than anticipated and far superior to the 50% benchmark set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But, Moderna’s distribution is expected to be easier to store than Pfizer’s. It does require a freezer, but not the ultra-cold temperature needed by Pfizer’s vaccine.

Just like other vaccine developers, Moderna will  begin a new trial aimed at adolescents before the end of the year, followed by another trial in even younger volunteers at the beginning of next year. It expects the adolescent version of the vaccine to be available by September next year.

Pfizer’s vaccine comes with challenges

The excitement over Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech’s (NASDAQ:BNTX) vaccine developments has been hampered by some harsh realities. While a marvelous scientific discovery this new technology is, this particular vaccine has significant obstacles to overcome if it wants to contribute in putting an end to the global pandemic. Besides the regulatory approval, distributing and administering this vaccine across the globe may not be the walk in the park the markets seem to assume.

The overall trial counts over 40,000 participants, but the impressive efficacy is based on 170 individuals so we need to wait and see will this rate hold as numbers increase.

The duration of effectiveness is also unknown. Usually, vaccines are not approved unless they offer protection for at least one year. But, these are everything but normal times so this factor won’t hamper the regulatory process. Yet, there are production, distribution and administration issues to consider.

It’s much easier to make a small batch of mRNA for a clinical trial than it is to make millions and billions of doses that are to be distributed worldwide.

In May, Pfizer got valor glass containers by Corning (NYSE:GLW) to prevent contamination and enable a smooth high volume production. But Messenger RNA is very unstable, and these will be the very first mRNA vaccines that are approved for human use. The vaccine requires to be stores at cold temperatures due to this instability. Moreover, Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept at a temperature colder than in Alaska. Moreover,  the negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit that the vaccine requires has not even been recorded in the US.

Given the complex requirements, the company has chosen to distribute its own vaccine rather than rely on the government. To ship the vaccine from its Wisconsin or Michigan manufacturing sites, Pfizer developed a special suitcase. This so-called ‘pizza-box’ allows temperature and location to be tracked at all times. But the necessary temperature can be kept with the help of dry ice only for 10 days. Moreover, the suitcase can only be opened twice per day for less than three minutes at a time.

These freezers are not cheap, nor easy to find. They cost about $20,000. Thankfully, Walgreens (NASDAQ:WBA) and CVS (NYSE:CVS) stated they are up to the task.

Administering the Pfizer vaccine is also somewhat of a challenge as the vaccine must be mixed at the administration site with a sterile liquid, usually water, and given within six hours of creating the solution.  Therefore, it is hard to decentralise the administration. At the very least, nursing homes, where nearly a third of COVID deaths have occurred, have been covered by CVS (NYSE: CVS) which pledged to administer the vaccine as soon as it has been approved.

Despite the current situation, the U.S. is fortunate regarding the vaccine whereas Australia, despite being a developed economy, will have to figure out a way how to get this vaccine across the globe to its citizens in less than 10 days.

Astrazeneca caused a lot of head-scratching

Britain’s AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN) and University of Oxford announced an average efficacy rate of 70% for their candidate, with the rate increasing up to 90% for a subgroup of trial participants who got a half dose/full dose treatment. But, some scientists have expressed doubts as it remains puzzling why immunization was more effective in trial participants who received a lower dose.

Outlook

There are issues that the potential candidates are yet overcome to reward shareholders and save lives. But the past few weeks of positive developments brought hope for ending the pandemic that has beaten economies to ground and claimed more than 1.45 million lives across the globe. Good news come at a time when new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are at record levels. Independent advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are scheduled to meet on December 10th to review Pfizer’s data, with Moderna’s following up on December 17th. The world will be eagerly waiting for their recommendations to the FDA. But regardless of the outcome of those reviews, it is certain that it will take a while for 2021 to be the year when life went back to normal.

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

Coca Cola Confirms Its World’s Beloved Brand Status

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For more than a century, The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) has been “refreshing the world in mind, body, and spirit”. The company aims to inspire moments of optimism, to create value and make a difference.

On Wednesday, the beverage giant revealed second-quarter earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street’s expectations, allowing it to raise its full year forecast for adjusted earnings per share and organic revenue growth. Most importantly, some markets rebounded from the pandemic, fueling revenue to surpass 2019 levels. Shares rose more than 2% in morning trading.

Q2 figures

Net income rose from $1.78 billion as it amounted to $2.64 billion. It resulted in adjusted earnings per share of 68 cents, exceeding the expected 56 cents. Net sales rose 42% with revenue of $10.13 billion that also exceeded the expected $9.32 billion. Excluding acquisitions and foreign currency, organic revenue rose 37% compared to last year’s biggest plunge in quarterly revenue in at least three decades due to lockdowns that severely dented demand.

A significant increase in marketing and advertising spend fueled the rebound but Coca Cola’s approach isn’t just about boosting spend, but also about increasing the efficiency of that spend. CFO John Murphy revealed that marketing dollars were doubled compared to last year’s quarter, when the pandemic forced the beverage giant to slash its costs to preserve cash.

Unit performance

All drink segments reported double-digit volume growth. Away-from-home channels, like restaurants and movie theaters, were rebounding in some markets, like China and Nigeria, but there are also markets that are still being heavily pressured by the pandemic such as India.

The department that contains its flagship soda saw volume increase by 14% in the quarter. The nutrition, juice, dairy and plant-based beverage business saw a volume growth of 25%, partly fueled by Minute Maid and Fairlife milk sales in North America. The same volume growth was seen by hydration, sports, coffee and tea segment. Costa cafes in the United Kingdom reopened and drove 78% increase in volume for coffee alone.

The risk of raising commodity prices

Like its F&B peers, Coke is facing higher commodity prices but it plans to raise prices and use productivity levers to manage the volatility in the second half of the year.

Outlook

For the full year, Coke improved its organic revenue growth outlook from high-single digit growth to a range of 12% to 14%. It also raised its forecast for adjusted earnings per share growth from high single digits to a low double digits range of 13% to 15%.

Putting it all together, executives emphasized the range of possible outcomes given the asynchronous recovery and dynamic of the pandemic. Coca Cola plans to build on the strong momentum by intensifying the amount and efficacy of promotions and continuing to innovate, what it does better than anyone and what helped it earn its brand status.

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

Automakers Are Hitting the Accelerator in the EV Race

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On Thursday, Daimler AG (OTC: DDAIF) has officially hit the accelerator in the e-car race with Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), revealing it will invest more than 40 billion euros in EVs by 2030. From 2025, three new vehicle platforms will only make battery-powered vehicles. One will cover passenger cars and SUVs, one will be devoted to vans and last but not least, the third will be home to high-performance vehicles that will be launched in 2025. Under its EV strategy, the inventor of the modern motor car will be renamed Mercedes-Benz as it spins off its trucks division by the end of the year. With its partners, it will build eight battery plants to ramp up EV production.

Upon the news that come just over a week after the EU proposed an effective ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035, shares rose 2.5%.

Automotive peers

Ahead of the EU’s announcement that is only part of a broad strategy to combat global warming, many automakers announced major investments in EVs. Earlier this month, Stellantis (NYSE: STLA) revealed its own EV strategy that includes investing more than 30 billion euros by 2025. Mercedes Benz isn’t the only one ‘going for it’ to be dominantly, if not all electric, by the end of the decade. Geely Automobile Holdings Limited’s (OTC: GELYF) Volvo Cars committed to going all electric by 2030, while General Motors Co (NYSE: GM) is aiming to be fully electric by 2035 and Volkswagen AG (OTC: VWAGY) even plans to build half a dozen battery cell plants in Europe.

Moving the debate

Daimler’s chief executive stated that  spending on ICE-related technology will be “close to zero” by 2025 but he did not specify when it will end the sales of fossil fuel-powered cars. Källenius wants to move the debate away from when will the last combustion engine be built to how quickly they can scale up to being close to 100% electric.

Tough decisions for Mercedes Benz

The undergoing shift will result in an 80% drop in investments in ICE vehicles between 2019 and 2026. This will have a direct impact on jobs because EVs have fewer components and so require fewer workers compared to their ICE counterparts. As of 2025, Daimler expects EVs and hybrids will make up half of its sales, with all-electric cars expected to account for most that figure, which is earlier than its previous forecast for 2030.

The battery- the Holly Grail

By 2023, Daimler plans to have a fully operational battery recycling plant in Germany. The industry leader Tesla just signed a deal with the world’s largest nickel miner to secure its battery resources as it prepares to begin its own tables battery in-house. Then there’s Worksport (OTC: WKSP) who will bring solar power to the EV table with its solar fusion TerraVis which will be fine-tuned and validated for prelaunch by the end of 2021. Although the first prototype is a solar-powered tonneau cover for pickup truck drivers, the company is also developing TerraVis COR which is a standalone product that offers remote power generation and storage. In other words, with its two-year partnership with Ontario Tech University, Worksport is fully equipped to power many automakers step into the electrification era.

The EV race is a journey like no other we have witnessed – and the participants are going full-speed ahead as they race to reshape the energy matrix of automotive industry.

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

Intel’s Q2 Results Show It Is Not Losing Focus

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Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) revealed its second-quarter 2021 financial results yesterday. The digitization transformation and switching to cloud services continue to accelerate, and a company like Intel sees that as the opportunity for an even bigger growth. Even with the current semiconductor shortage, Intel is not losing its focus on both innovations and the implementation of new solutions. The company’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, appointed earlier in 2021, believes we are at the beginning of the semiconductor industry’s decade of sustained growth and that Intel has a unique position to capitalize on that trend. As the momentum is strengthening, execution is increasing, the company’s products are being chosen for top and flagship products. We can also see good results in other companies in the semiconductor business, like Texas Instruments Incorporated (NASDAQ: TXN) and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD).

 Second-quarter results

Intel’s second-quarter results are positive and the proof of the momentum building up, as mentioned by Gelsinger. GAAP revenues for Q2 were $19.6 billion, significantly higher than the expected $17.8 billion, and there was no change when looking back year over year. However, non-GAAP revenues were $18.5 billion, exceeding the April guidance by $700 million, and that is 2% up compared to the previous year. Intel’s Data Center Group (DCG) generated $6.5 billion compared to the expected $5.9 billion. Client computing generated the expected revenues of 9.95 billion, while the actual revenues were $10.1 billion. GAAP earnings per share were $1.24, while the non-GAAP EPS were $1.28, which also surpassed April’s guidance of $1.07.

 The good trend in the semiconductor industry

Another chipmaker, Dallas-based Texas Instruments, also reported Q2 earnings that topped the expectations. These good results were due to revenues growth and an increase in profits. The analysts expected revenues of $4.36 billion, and the company managed to generate $4.58 billion. That is a sales increase of 41% when looking year over year. Expected earnings per share were $2.05, while the analysts expected $1.83. However, the sales guidance for the current quarter was below the investors’ wishes, so the share price dropped upon the news.

 Outlook

As revenue, EPS, and gross margin exceeded the Q2 guidance, Intel raised its 2021 full-year guidance. So expected GAAP revenues are $77.6 billion and non-GAAP revenues are expected to amount to $73.5 billion (which is an increase of $1 billion), resulting in expected GAAP EPS of $4.09 and non-GAAP EPS of $4.80. Planned CAPEX is between $19 billion and $20 billion and free cash flow should be $11 billion, which is an increase of $500 million versus prior expectations. Gelsinger estimates that the semiconductor shortage will start loosening in the second half of the year, but it will take another one to two years until the demand is completely met.

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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