Plus, there are now 8,200 confirmed cases of the Chinese coronavirus, Facebook reported a 51% rise in expenses, and GM said it’s bringing back the Hummer.
Stocks fell to start Thursday with the Dow dropping 200 points, or 0.7%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both traded 0.8% lower.
China’s National Health Commission confirmed today that the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 170 as confirmed cases have surged past 8,200. Russia has said it plans to close its 2,600-mile border with China to prevent the spread of the virus, while a cruise ship in Italy with 7,000 on board has been put on lockdown after a passenger from Macau came down with suspicious symptoms. As fears of a economic slowdown from the fast-spreading virus have been reignited, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note has fallen to 1.545%, falling below the 3-month Treasury rate and thus briefly inverting part of the closely watched yield curve. Meanwhile, former White House health advisor Ezekiel Emanuel said that Americans should “take a very big breath, slow down and stop panicking and being hysterical” over the Chinese coronavirus as the risk of the virus spreading in the U.S. remains low.
The U.S. economy grew 2.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019, according data released by the Commerce Department this morning. For the full year, the economy grew at 2.3%, below the 2.9% increase in 2018 and well below the White House’s projections for 3% following passage of the 2017 tax bill. Consumer spending slowed to 1.8%, while nonresidential business investment declined for a third straight period. Economists largely view the results as reflective of a broader trend toward steady but slower growth. “If we think of the economy as being roughly in equilibrium, the natural question is what would it take to shock the system,” wrote Eric Winograd, senior economist at AllianceBernstein, in a note. “For the moment, I think negative risks are more likely than positive ones. But with the economy as stable as it is, it would take a very large shock indeed to materially alter the economy’s basic trajectory.”
Facebook shares are down nearly 7% this morning after falling as much as 8% premarket, erasing more than $50 billion from the social media giant’s market cap and $4 billion from CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth. The fall came after Facebook reported its fourth quarter results, with a 51% rise in expenses and a drop in the company’s operating margin to 34% in 2019 from 45% in 2018. Facebook also warned of headwinds for its advertising business related to privacy and regulatory changes, which will lead to slowing growth in the U.S. It also said that privacy improvements on Apple iPhones and Google Android devices should hurt its ability to target advertising. Pivotal Research Group lowered its rating on Facebook from Buy to Hold on these advertising concerns, lowering its price target for the stock to $215 from $245. “The slow down, particularly in the U.S., was far greater than we expected and sounds likely to persist,” Pivotal wrote in its research note.
Tesla shares are up more than 10% this morning following its blockbuster earnings beat. The electric vehicle maker reported adjusted earnings per share of $2.14 on revenue of $7.38 billion, compared to Wall Street expectations of earnings per share of $1.72 on revenue of $7.02 billion. Tesla said it expects positive cash flow and net income will continue on an ongoing basis going forward, with possible exceptions as it launches and ramps up production of new vehicles, and said it expects 500,000 deliveries for 2020 with deliveries of its new Model Y beginning in March. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the earnings report “potentially game changing.” “Tesla has the potential to hit the elusive 1 million overall delivery vehicle mark potentially two years ahead of our original 2024 projections,” Ives wrote in a note, adding in an interview with Bloomberg Television, “The comeback story that we’ve seen over the last nine months, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen covering tech on Wall Street for 20 years. There’s always going to be speed bumps, but at least right now, there was a lot of hype and they met the hype and more.”
And General Motors said it’s bringing back the Hummer as an all-electric “super truck” with 1,000 horsepower, 0 to 60 acceleration in 3 seconds, and 11,500 pounds of torque. The “GMC Hummer EV” will be officially unveiled in a 30-second Super Bowl ad featuring NBA star LeBron James. “It’s a combination of an incredibly capable truck and a supercar,” said GMC vice president of marketing Phil Brook, adding that it’s an “all-electric super truck.” “It is very different from anything we’ve ever done before. This is the start of big things in the electric space. … This is GMC and how we’re moving into that space in a big way.” GM is branding the Hummer EV as a “quiet revolution” and will begin production of the vehicle in 2021.
Stocks We’re Watching
Macom Technology Solutions (NASDAQ: MTSI): Macom Technology shares jumped as much as 19% yesterday after the networking semiconductor company reported fiscal Q1 results. Macom reported adjusted earnings per share of $0.07 on revenue of $119 million, compared to analysts’ estimates for earnings per share of $0.03 on revenue of $115 million. “We view 5G as a key driver for Macom revenue in the years ahead, and in the coming quarters we anticipate expanding our current 5G portfolio by launching complementary new products including more optical components, more discrete [radio frequency] components, and more high-performance analog and mixed-signal ICs,” said CEO Steve Daly on Macom’s earnings call.
Immutep Limited (NASDAQ: IMMP): Shares of this biotech jumped more than 27% yesterday on the heels of a pipeline update that included several important near-term data readouts. The company said data from its pivotal Active Immunotherapy PAClitaxel (AIPAC) study evaluating its eftilagimod alpha (efti) plus paclitaxel in metastatic breast cancer patients is expected in March. “We have entered into a very important and decisive quarter especially as we prepare to report our first PFS data from late-stage AIPAC study in metastatic breast cancer, expected in March 2020,” said Immutep CEO Marc Voigt. “If positive, AIPAC results could help to validate an entirely new class of products in immuno-oncology: antigen present cell activators, along with the ‘pushing the gas’ concept. This would be a landmark medical achievement, with metastatic breast cancer just being the first indication of possibly many others to follow. It would also arm the Company with the data it needs to make strategic decisions, paving the way for the creation of very significant value for Immutep and its shareholders.”
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