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Airline Stocks Are Tanking After The U.S. Announces European Travel Ban

Plus, the global rout for stocks continues, the NBA suspended its season after a player tested positive for the coronavirus, and shares of Carnival cruise line are down sharply after it announced suspending operations for one of its ship fleets.

Stocks plummeted again to start Thursday with the S&P 500 trading down 6.5% before trading was temporarily halted due to a 15-minute circuit breaker. The Dow slid further into bear market territory after losing 1,700 points, or 7.3%, and the Nasdaq fell 6%.

The global rout for stocks deepened as investors showed a lack of faith in policy responses to the coronavirus from the U.S. and Europe. The European Central Bank left its rates unchanged though it did temporarily increase its QE program, while also taking steps to boost liquidity. President Donald Trump’s tepid fiscal measures unveiled in his Oval Office address last night spooked U.S. stock futures, which dropped by the most allowed in pre-market trading. “At this stage people are panicking,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG Union Bank. “The other shoe keeps dropping in a way we can’t foresee.”

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. rose to at least 1,323, while total deaths rose to at least 38, as global confirmed cases rose to nearly 128,000. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, testified to the House Oversight and Reform Committee today that “The system is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing,” referring to the the health care system’s inability to process coronavirus tests as quickly, easily, or of the same volume as other countries. “The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes. But we’re not,” Fauci added. Elsewhere, the NBA has suspended the rest of the season after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are scrambling to take action to combat the spread of the deadly virus following the World Health Organization’s declaring the outbreak a pandemic yesterday, with House Democrats unveiling a new emergency coronavirus aid bill last night. However, House Republicans said they will not support the bill in its current form, and want to see measures President Trump has called on Congress to enact—including payroll tax relief, and increased authority for Small Business Administration loans—included in the bill before voting on it, further delaying action ahead of lawmakers’ planned week-long recess next week. In his address last night, Trump also announced sweeping travel restrictions, including an unprecedented 30-day ban on foreigners arriving from Europe, excluding the U.K., a measure he said was necessary to stop new cases of the virus “from entering our shores.” The virus “is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” said EU Presidents Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen in a statement in reaction to the declaration. “The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation. The European Union is takin strong action to limit the spread of the virus.”

Airline stocks were down sharply following the travel ban, with American Airlines down -8.3%, Delta Air Lines down -14.2%, JetBlue down -13.6%, Southwest down -12.8%, and United Airlines down -14.4% at the time of writing. American Airlines said today that it is capping fares on several U.S.-bound routes from Europe as travelers race to get home due to the travel ban, and other airlines are likely follow suit. The travel ban will take effect Friday, just before midnight, and will prohibit foreigners who have been in Europe in the last two weeks from entering the U.S. “Things are moving so fast,” said Brendan Sobie of the Sobie Aviation consultancy. “The crisis that the industry is facing right now is likely to be the worst in over 40 years.”

And Carnival Corp shares are down nearly -18% this morning after its Princess Cruises line announced that it is immediately suspending all operations for two months due to concerns over the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic. Thursday’s announcement impacts a fleet of 18 ships and will affect voyages from today until May 10. Princess Cruises has been hit particularly hard by the outbreak, with its Diamond Princess ship at one point having one of the largest clusters of confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of China with more than 700 infected passengers and crew, resulting in the ship and its 3,700 occupants being quarantined at a Japanese port on February 4. Last week, U.S. officials confirmed 21 cases on another Carnival-owned ship, the Grand Princess, which has been docked at the Port of Oakland, where passengers are disembarking and being transported to federal quarantine facilities. “We’ve been asked, and we asked ourselves, why COVID-19 seems to be impacting Princess so heavily,” Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz said in a video shared on YouTube. “We really don’t know.”

Stocks We’re Watching

Co-Diagnostics Inc (NASDAQ: CODX): Co-Diagnostics shares rocketed as much as 110% higher yesterday and is up 1,372% so far this year as concern grows over the coronavirus pandemic. H.C. Wainwright analyst Yi Chen reiterated his Buy rating on the stock yesterday and issued a $20 price target for the stock – 45% higher than the current price. Chen noted that Co-Diagnostics was the first U.S.-based firm to receive CE Mark certification for its COVID-19 test and said recent FDA policy changes aimed at accelerating the availability of tests in America should boost sales. “In view of the continuing—and rapidly accelerating—COVID-19 infection spread worldwide and initialization of shipments to U.S. labs, we have increased the enterprise value-to-sales (EV/Sales) multiple to 12x from 10x and projected 2020 total sales to $1.66 from $0.40 per share, which leads to a value of $20 per share,” Chen wrote in a note to clients. 

GenMark Diagnostics (NASDAQ: GNMK): GenMark Diagnostics shares are up more than 15% today after the company announced Wednesday that it had submitted a test for the coronavirus to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency-use authorization. “Our priority was to help our customers address this global health emergency,” said Denmark interim CEO Scott Mendel. “We leveraged our adaptable and easy-to-use ePlex platform to quickly design and manufacture a test to accurately detect this highly contagious virus in clinical samples. EUA submission in just over a week from the initial RUO shipments of our ePlex test is a critical step to enable our customers to rapidly detect and possibly prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

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