Plus, earning reports are streaming in, Boris Johnson is threatening an election if tonight’s Brexit vote doesn’t go his way, and Facebook is being investigated by 47 attorneys general.
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Stocks were up slightly to start on Tuesday, with the Dow adding 22 points, or 0.1%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both gained 0.2%.
Shares of drugmaker Biogen led the market this morning, with the drug maker currently up more than 27%. Biogen stunned investors when it announced that it will seek regulatory approval for an Alzheimer’s drug, aducanumab, that it had said it was giving up on five months ago after the drug appeared to fail in clinical trials earlier this year. Aducanumab’s failure sent Biogen’s stock down 29% in a single day back in March and has dominated investor sentiment for the stock since, but Biogen now says that their new analysis of a larger data set shows that the drug actually did work and was successful in reducing clinical decline in patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s. “We are hopeful about the prospect of offering patients the first therapy to reduce the clinical decline of Alzheimer’s disease and the potential implications of these results for similar approaches targeting amyloid beta,” said Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos. If Aducanumab is approved by the FDA, it will be the first drug approved to reduce the clinical decline of Alzheimer’s disease, and would be a blockbuster drug for Biogen as the disease effects roughly 50 million people globally. But it’s far from a done deal. As SVB Leerink’s Geoffrey Porges put it, “At first pass the results still appear to be marginal, with inconsistent treatment effects between the two studies and for different endpoints, but the critical question will be what reassurance the company has received from the FDA. This could range from ‘the agency has reviewed all the data with us and has guaranteed approval’ to ‘you can file whatever you want and we’ll review it.’”
There were a slew of earnings out this morning, Biogen among them. The drugmaker reported Q3 earnings per share of $9.17 on revenue of $3.60 billion, while analysts had expected earnings of $8.27 per share on revenue of $3.539 billion. United Technologies also topped expectations, earning an adjusted $2.21 per share compared to a consensus estimate of $2.03, and raised its full-year guidance. Procter & Gamble, Novartis, and TD Ameritrade also reported earnings beats. While McDonald’s, toymaker Hasbro, and property and casualty insurer Travelers both came in below estimates.
The Brexit soap opera continues. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened today to scrap his attempt to pass his new Brexit deal and move straight to an election if MPs defeat him tonight and vote for another delay. Johnson will find out around 7 p.m. London time tonight if he has any chance of getting his deal through Parliament, and whether he can ram it through before the October 31 deadline. Parliament will have a Second Reading vote to decide if they agree with the general principles of Johnson’s Brexit deal, and there will be another vote immediately afterward on his proposed fast-track timetable for passing the bill.
Facebook shares are down nearly -3% this morning after New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced that 47 state attorneys general plan to take part in the New York-led antitrust probe into the social media giant. The multi-state investigation was first reported in August and officially announced back in September, and is focused on Facebook’s dominance in the industry and any anticompetitive conduct related to that dominance. “After continued bipartisan conversations with attorneys general from around the country, today I am announcing that we have vastly expanded the list of states, districts, and territories investigating Facebook for potential antitrust violations,” James said in a statement. “Our investigation now has the support of 47 attorneys general from around the nation, who are all concerned that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising. As we continue our investigation, we will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions stifled competition and put users at risk.”
SoftBank is in advanced talks to take control of troubled office-sharing unicorn WeWork, and the decision could come as soon as today. SoftBank plans to spend between $4 and $5 billion in additional funding to buy existing shares in a deal that would value WeWork at between $7.5 and $8 billion – a far cry from the $47 billion valuation WeWork had before its failed IPO. As part of the deal, SoftBank will pay former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann around $1.7 billion to walk away from the company and give up his voting rights, as well as a $185 million consulting fee and offer him $500 million in credit to help repay his loans to JPMorgan Chase. Meanwhile, roughly 2,000 WeWork employees are being cut, and many investors are nursing losses related to the company.
Stocks We’re Watching
City Holding Company (NASDAQ: CHCO): This bank holding company headquartered in Charleston, West Virginia, announced its Q3 earnings today, reporting net income of $22.4 million and earnings per share of $1.36. “The third quarter of 2019 saw City once again deliver impressive earnings, along with strong loan growth,” said City Holding President and CEO Charles R. (“Skip”) Hageboeck. “Loans grew over $63 million, or 7.2% annualized, from June 30, 2019 to September 30, 2019. Our commercial loan portfolio rebounded this quarter and grew $62 million with growth being generated throughout our footprint, including our core markets.”
JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU): JetBlue shares are up more than 6% this morning after the airline reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings. JetBlue reported adjusted earnings of $0.59 per share in the quarter, beating consensus estimates of $0.53 per share, on revenue of $2.086 billion.