Plus, MGM Resorts’ chairman and CEO steps down as the casino operator withdraws its financial forecast for 2020, and Pepsi and Incyte report earnings.
Stocks were lower to start Thursday with the Dow dropping 200 points, or 0.7%. The S&P 500 fell 0.5%, while the Nasdaq traded 0.6% lower.
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China said that it has confirmed 15,152 new cases of COVID-19 and 254 additional deaths after updating its diagnosis methodology. That brings the global tally of those infected with the virus to more than 60,000 with the total death toll surpassing 1,300. The CDC confirmed a 15th case of the virus in the U.S. The latest case was a recent evacuee from China’s Wuhan province who was quarantined at the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas. “There will likely be additional cases in the coming days and weeks, including among other people recently returned from Wuhan,” the CDC said. And the number of COVID-19 cases aboard the Diamond Princess ship quarantined in Japan has risen by 44 to a total of nearly 220, making the ship the single biggest concentration of cases of the virus outside of China. Japanese health officials said they will begin moving the “most medically vulnerable” guests off the ship, including older adults with preexisting conditions, and will test guests before they disembark.
MGM Resorts shares are down roughly -5% this morning after chairman and CEO Jim Murren said that he is stepping down. The U.S.-based casino operator also withdrew its financial forecast for 2020 to assess how the coronavirus outbreak will impact operations with its two properties in Macau suspended since February 5, adding that it is also difficult to weigh the impact the epidemic may have on its business at properties outside of China. “Although the outbreak has been largely concentrated in China, to the extent that the virus impacts the willingness or ability of customers to travel to the company’s properties in the U.S., the company’s domestic results of operations could also be negatively impacted,” MGM said in a statement. “The extent to which the coronavirus impacts the Company’s results will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted.”
Tesla said it plans to offer $2 billion in common stock, taking advantage of its recent surging shares, with analysts and investors cheering the move as a way to shore up its balance sheet and potentially further expansion plans. “It’s a smart, strategic move,” said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. “It takes any doomsday scenario around cash crunch… off the table.” CEO Elon Musk said he will buy as much as $10 million in the stock offering, while board member Larry Ellison said he would purchase up to $1 million. And in disclosures filed by the electric vehicle pioneer with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla disclosed a new subpoena from securities regulators. “On December 4, 2019, [the SEC] issued a subpoena seeking information concerning certain financial data and contracts including Tesla’s regular financing arrangements,” the company stated in its annual report filed on a 10-K form. In the filing, Tesla also disclosed that the SEC had closed its investigation into statements Musk made about taking the company private back in 2018, as well as his prior predictions about Model 3 production rates.
Pepsi Co shares are down slightly this morning following its Q4 report. Earnings and revenue topped analysts’ estimates with the company reporting earnings per share of $1.45 on revenue of $20.64 billion, compared to the consensus expectation for earnings per share of $1.44 on revenue of $20.27 billion. However, the company’s forecast for 2020 was weaker than expected. Pepsi said it expects to grow organic revenue by 4% this year, shy of the 4.5% it saw in 2019, and projects profits of $5.88 per share. While that represents a 6% jump from 2019, it’s below Wall Street’s expectation for $5.95 per share. “The world is certainly a volatile place, lots of events going on in a lot of areas of the world, even as noted a bit with some of the news this morning,” CFO Hugh Johnston said on a call with analysts. “That said, we take the fact that we have, and we always try to plan for at least some level of volatility as a part of developing our expectations for the year, because most years will have some volatility.”
And Incyte shares are up nearly 3% this morning after it beat analyst expectations in its Q4 report. The drug maker reported non-GAAP diluted earnings of $0.65 per share, beating consensus estimates for $0.60 per share. Sales of its Jakafi, a treatment for blood cancer and Incyte’s key product, were up $466 million. “As we enter 2020, we have multiple opportunities for additional growth,” said CEO Hervé Hoppenot in the earnings release. “We recently announced successful initial results from the Phase 3 TRuE-AD program, which we plan to include as part of the NDA in the fourth quarter of 2020 seeking approval of ruxolitnib cream for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis. We also look forward to the FDA decisions on the potential approvals of pemigatinib and capmatinib later this year. The recent progress made within both oncology and dermatology, as well as the recently announced MorphoSys collaboration for tafasitamab, positions Incyte very well as we deliver on our objectives for diversification and growth.” Cowen analyst Marc Frahm wrote in a note that Incyte’s results bolster his Outperform rating on the stock. “We think in 2020 investors will seek confidence that Incyte’s broad oncology and inflammation pipeline contains growth asset(s). With multiple pipeline candidates… approaching the market we expect Incyte shares to outperform.”
Stocks We’re Watching
NICE Ltd. (NASDAQ: NICE): NICE shares are up 14% so far this year. Earlier this month, the company announced the launch of its NEVA Unlimited, which it describes as “the world’s first digital assistant designed with the employee in mind,” with an “AI-driven interface” that “responds to voice or text communication from employees, offering real-time process guidance and next best actions advice as well as executing multiple and varied tasks on their behalf.” “With NEVA Unlimited, NICE unlocks the full potential of the benefits that automation offers,” said NICE president Barry Cooper in a press release. “By redefining the way commercial models are built in the industry, NICE provides transparency and simplicity that was previously unavailable. This unprecedented offering includes NICE’s full set of robotic automation solutions and we believe it will accelerate the value automation brings to organizations and shorten time to ROI.”
Datasea Inc (NASDAQ: DTSS): Datasea shares jumped as much as 50% yesterday after the company announced that has six agreements to provide services to K-12 schools and public communities in the Chinese cities of Nanjing and Taiyuan with infrared thermometers and related hardware and software solutions in an effort to detect and control the COVID-19 outbreak. “We believe that our surveillance systems and thermal cameras, which can measure 16 objects’ temperature within 0.03 second, will assist our customers in addressing this critical situation” said Ms. Zhixin Liu, Chairman and CEO of Datasea. “Since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern, we have reached out to more than 100 schools and communities over 20 cities in China, hope to help them fight against the coronavirus by providing our smart security systems. As we are actively developing advanced detection instruments and enhancing big data processing technology, we believe our expertise and technology can potentially help prevent and control the coronavirus outbreak.”
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