Plus, Tesla priced its secondary offering and issued a recall of its Model X SUVs in North America, and AstraZeneca posted plunging profits.
Stocks were little changed to start Friday with the Dow falling 6 points, or less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 added 0.1%, while the Nasdaq gained 0.2%.
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China’s National Health Commission reported an additional 121 deaths from the coronavirus and 5,090 new confirmed cases, bringing the total of confirmed cases to nearly 64,000. The Commission said COVID-19 has killed 1,380 people in mainland China after it removed 108 deaths from the total figure due to a double-count in the Hubei province, marking the second day in a row that the province’s data revisions have caused significant changes to nationwide figures. Given this, there are doubts that the numbers coming out of China are accurate, with a senior Trump administration official saying that the White House does “not have high confidence in the information coming out of China.” The economic ripples from the virus are beginning to become more apparent. Global airline revenues could drop by $4 to $5 billion in the first quarter as some 70 airlines have cancelled all international flights to and from China—with another 50 airlines limiting air operations to the country—due to the outbreak, according to a forecast by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization. China’s top auto industry body said that auto sales in China are expected to fall more than 10% in the first half of the year as a result of the epidemic, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said today that the economic impact from COVID-19 had already exceeded that of the SARS outbreak in 2003 and could lead the city-state into recession.
Consumer spending in the U.S. slowed further in January with sales a clothing retailers declining by the most since 2009. The Commerce Department said this morning that retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials, and food services were unchanged last month and revised its data for December down to show core retail sales rose just 0.2% instead of gaining 0.5% as previously reported. January’s unchanged core retail sales reading suggests consumer spending has slowed further after considerable momentum in the last quarter of 2019. However, according to the University of Michigan, consumer sentiment in the U.S. has come in higher than expected for February at 100.9, compared to economists’ expectations for a reading at 99.5. “Current personal finances as well as evaluations fo the national economy each posted large gains” for February, said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Surveys of Consumers. “Net gains in household income and wealth were reported more frequently in early February than at any prior time since 1960.” Curtin added that the coronavirus outbreak is still not a major concern for U.S. consumers as just 7% of survey respondents mentioned the epidemic “when asked to explain their economic expectations in early February.”
Tesla said Friday that it is pricing its secondary common stock offering at $767 a share, a 4.5% discount to current prices. The electric vehicle pioneer will sell 2.65 million shares and expects to raise $2 billion from the sale. The company also said it is recalling 15,000 Model X SUVs in North America due to a potential issue that can lead to a loss of power steering assist that could make steering harder and increase the risk of a crash in models released in 2016. While Tesla said it is not aware of any injuries of collisions related to the issue, it said it has “observed excessive corrosion on the bolts that attach this component to the steering gear in affected Model X vehicles,” particularly in areas with very cold climates that use road salts. And finally, the company acknowledged in its annual financial filing that the coronavirus outbreak could have a “material adverse impact” on its “business, operating results and financial condition.”
Roku shares are up more than 2% this morning following its Q4 earnings report Thursday afternoon. The streaming device maker surpassed expectations, reporting a $0.13 loss per share on revenue of $411 million, compared to consensus estimates for a loss of $0.14 per share on revenue of $392 million. For 2019, Roku reported full year revenue of $1.13 billion, and said in a letter to shareholders that its monetized video ad impressions more than doubled over the year and “all top 10 technology and telecom advertisers, as well as all top 10 consumer packaged goods companies, spent with Roku.” CEO Steve Louden also said that the company “increased our active account base by almost 10 million over the year to end at 36.9 million. So we continue to build scale.” Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Shyam Patil said the report continues “to highlight Roku’s strong momentum,” as the company has seen a continued boost from consumers cutting the cable cord and moving to on-demand services like Netflix and Disney+. “We predict that by 2024 roughly half of all U.S. TV households will have cut the cord or never had traditional pay TV,” Roku executives wrote in the letter to shareholders. “While 2019 was a tipping point in commitments to streaming, the full force of change is still to come.”
And AstraZeneca shares are down nearly -4% today after the pharmaceutical giant reported tumbling profits in the fourth quarter. Pretax profit fell 67% to $240 million, while operating profit sank 46% to $577 million. While sales rose 9% in Q4, the result was much slower than the 18% rise from the previous quarter. Full year revenue rose 10% to $24.4 billion for 2019, but annual profit slumped 14% to $2.9 billion. AstraZeneca also warned that its outlook for 2020 hinges on the scale of the COVID-19 epidemic. “All guidance assumes an unfavorable impact from China lasting up to a few months as a result of the recent coronavirus outbreak,” the company said in a statement. Depending on the impact of the virus, the company said that it expects revenue to grow by a high single-digit to low double-digit percentage in 2020 with earnings per share increasing by a mid- to high-teens percentage.
Stocks We’re Watching
CounterPath Corp (NASDAQ: CPAH): CounterPath shares surged as much as 61% yesterday after the company announced that it had secured a five-year deal with Vodafone Fiji to provide its Bria mobile applications and Stretto Platform services to enable reliable voice calling for up to 700,000 consumers across Fiji and its neighboring islands. “We’re excited about establishing a long-term relationship with Vodafone Fiji,” said Todd Carothers, Chief Revenue Officer at CounterPath. “With the CounterPath mobile unified communications solution, Vodafone customers will benefit from a differentiated offering that provides a superior user experience. It’s a huge step forward for unified mobile communications in Fiji.”
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