Plus, Moderna shares are down after a report throwing cold water on its preliminary vaccine results, doctors in China are seeing the coronavirus manifest differently in a second wave of infections, Google Cloud landed a new contract with the DoD, and Lowe’s reported online sales surged 80% in its first quarter.
Stocks were higher to start Wednesday with the Dow rising 400 points, or 1.7%. The S&P 500 added 1.8%, while the Nasdaq traded 2% higher.
Moderna shares dropped as much as -17% yesterday and are down slightly this morning from an all-time high on Monday as investors digested a report from STAT that threw cold water on the biotech’s seemingly impressive preliminary coronavirus vaccine data. The health publication’s report highlighted the early nature of the vaccine data, interviewing several vaccine experts who said that based on the information Moderna made available, “there’s really no way to know how impressive—or not—the vaccine may be” given that the full results have not been published in an official study. “I do think it’s a bit of a concern that they haven’t published the results of any of their ongoing trials that they mention in their press release. They have not published any of that,” said Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University, adding that while Moderna said it found neutralizing antibodies in eight subjects two weeks after receiving a second dose of the vaccine during the Phase I trial, “That’s very early. We don’t know if those antibodies are durable.”
In other coronavirus news, President Donald Trump said yesterday afternoon that the U.S.’s 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases—the highest in the world—are “a badge of honor” that’s the result of successful widespread testing for the deadly virus. While the U.S. has performed more than 11.8 million tests for the virus, the U.S. continues to face testing shortages and trails countries like the U.K., Italy, Spain, Russia, New Zealand, and Qatar in per capita testing. In China, doctors are seeing COVID-19 manifest differently among patients in its new cluster of cases compared to the original outbreak in Wuhan. Patients in the second wave have been found to carry the virus for a longer period of time before developing symptoms, making it harder for authorities to catch cases before they spread as the virus mutates.
Alphabet shares are up 2.5% this morning the company said that its Google Cloud has landed a deal with the Department of Defense to detect, protect against, and respond to cyber threats. The new contract, which is through the DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), is reportedly in the “seven figures.” Google said the system “will provide real-time network monitoring, access control, and full audit trails, enabling DIU to maintain its strict cloud security posture without compromising speed and reliability,” and will allow the DIU to run web services and applications across competing cloud services like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. “Google Cloud is a pioneer in ‘zero trust’ security and in deploying innovative approaches to protecting and securing networks worldwide,” said Google Cloud Vice President Mike Daniels. “We’re honored to partner with DIU on this critical initiative to protect its network from bad actors that pose threats to our national security.”
Spotify just nabbed a big-name podcast, sending shares up more than 6% this morning. The Joe Rogan Experience podcast will move to Spotify starting on September 1, and will be exclusively on the service later this year. The comedian’s podcast is one of the most popular, consistently ranking at the top of the charts on major podcasting services from Apple and Google. The value of the deal will depend on how successful the show is on Spotify, as well as its impact on the broadcaster’s broader podcasting business. Rogan stands to make anywhere from tens of millions to more than $100 million from the deal to license the podcast, according to a person familiar with the terms.
And in earnings news, Lowe’s shares opened 5% higher after the home improvement retailer said same-store sales were up 11.2% in the first quarter. Lowe’s reported earnings per share of $1.77 on revenue of $19.98 billion, while analysts had expected earnings of $1.32 per share on revenue of $18.33 billion. CEO Marvin Ellison said online sales increased 80% in the quarter and have so far remained high through May. “lowes.com will only get better for the balance of the year,” Ellison said on a conference call with investors. Target also delivered an earnings beat, reporting earnings per share of $0.59 on revenue of $19.37 billion, compared to estimates for earnings per share of $0.40 on revenue of $19.04 billion. In less positive earnings, Royal Caribbean Cruises posted a big loss in the first quarter, with the cruise operator reporting it lost $6.91 per share in the quarter, with revenue falling around 17% to $2 billion. “We understand that when our ships return to service, they will be sailing in a changed world,” Royal CEO Richard Fain said in the earnings release, adding that “booking volumes for the remainder of 2020 are meaningfully lower than the same time last year at prices that are down low-single digits.”
Stocks We’re Watching
ShiftPixy Inc (NASDAQ: PIXY): ShiftPixy shares rocketed as much as 143% higher yesterday after it announced that it had landed a partnership with Diamondback DTNM, operator of 11 Del Taco restaurants in the Albuquerque, NM area to implement its platform across all 11 locations. “The upheaval from COVID-19 has forced restaurants to re-think their approach to customers, employees and third-party alliances. The folks at Diamondback understood that ShiftPixy was uniquely positioned to help solve critical issues forced on operators but also as leverage to thrive beyond the current crisis,” said Scott Absher, CEO and co-founder of ShiftPixy. “With the ShiftPixy platform, John Bissell and his team were able to quickly and effectively revamp their infrastructure to deploy native delivery, allowing them to focus on delivering a great food experience while also keeping the commissions they were losing and better engaging with their customers.”
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