Plus, the National Bureau of Economic Research officially declared the coronavirus recession began in February, Signet Jewelers shares are down after reporting earnings, and shares of an electric truck maker with no revenue jumped more than 100% yesterday.
Stocks were down sharply to start Tuesday with the Dow dropping 400 points, or 1.5%. The S&P 500 fell 1.1% while the Nasdaq slid 0.4%.
The National Bureau of Economic Research said yesterday that the U.S. is officially in a recession that began in February, as if that wasn’t already a foregone conclusion given we’re in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Still, the NBER is the official arbiter of recessions and said this one is marked by “different characteristics and dynamics than prior recessions.” Even with the designation, the S&P 500 yesterday turned positive for the year following the index’s nearly -34% decline from February 19 to March 23. In fact, since that March low, stocks have regained $21 trillion in value, and there are signs the rally is looking frothy. Sundial Capital Research found that speculative excess has surged to the highest level in at least 20 years among U.S. options traders, which is a negative for stocks over the medium term. Sundial founder Jason Goepfert said that traders established bullish positions last week by buying 35.6 million new call options on equities, up from a peak of 28.7 million in February when speculative activity was rampant. “Options traders may stunning best on rising prices,” Goepfert said. “This kind of activity has a strong tendency to lead to negative returns in the S&P 500 and other indexes over a multi-week to multi-month time frame.”
Coronavirus latest: The World Health Organization is scrambling to clarify its comments from yesterday that transmission of the deadly virus by asymptomatic people is “very rare” following skepticism from physicians and others. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who made the original comment at a WHO briefing, said that the statement was based on just two or three studies and that it was a “misunderstanding” to say asymptomatic transmission is rare. “I was just responding to a question, I wasn’t stating a policy of WHO or anything like that,” Kerkhove said, adding that her statement was referring to “a very few studies, some two or three studies, that have been published that actually tried to follow asymptomatic cases. That’s a very small subset of studies.” Elsewhere, genetic-testing company 23andMe has found that differences in a gene that influences a person’s blood type can affect a person’s susceptibility to COVID-19, and a new study found that Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir prevented lung disease in monkeys infected with the coronavirus.
Apple is reportedly planning to announce a shift to its own main processors in its Mac computers, replacing chips from Intel, as early as this month at its annual developer conference, according to a Bloomberg report. While the move away from Intel has been expected for years, Apple’s move will still be a big deal as it will mean the company will be able to build its computers without waiting for Intel to develop a new processor, helping it stand out from competitors in the laptop market. Apple’s new processors will be based on the same technology used in iPhones and iPad ships, however, future Macs will still run the macOS operating system rather than the iOS software on these other devices.
In earnings news, shares of Signet Jewelers are down -14% this morning after it reported it lost $1.59 per share on revenue of $852.1 million in its fiscal first quarter. While the results were better than analysts’ expectations, the jewelry company reported a same-store sales slump of 38.9% in the quarter, which was worse than the expected 35.4% decline. Online sales gained 6.7%, but that wasn’t enough to offset the losses tied to store closures for its brands, including Kay, Zales, and Jared. Tiffany & Company reported a loss of $0.53 per share on revenue of $555.5 million as total net sales slid 45% in the Americans and 44% in the Asian-Pacific region. “I am confident that Tiffany’s best days remain ahead of us and I am excited we will be taking that journey with LVMH by our side,” said Tiffany CEO Alessandro Bogliolo. “On the topic of the merger, we are pleased that there has been additional progress with the antitrust / competition process in the last few weeks,” including clearance from authorities in Russia and Mexico.
Tesla shares rose to a new all-time high of just shy of $950 Monday as Chinese sales data, along with the strength of the overall market, pushed the stock higher. Model 3 sales in China reportedly tripled from April, with sales of 3,635 that month and 11,095 in May. Following the news, billionaire investor Ron Baron said that “there’s 10 times more to go” for Tesla shares. But Tesla isn’t the only electric vehicle maker stock that’s been on the rise. Aspiring battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell truck maker Nikola jumped nearly 105% yesterday and is continuing to climb today, despite forecasting zero revenue in 2020, and not reaching its first $1 billion year until 2023. The move came after founder and executive chairman Trevor Milton announced Nikola would begin taking reservations for its Badger pick-up truck later this month on June 29 in a tweet.
Stocks We’re Watching
IZEA Inc (NASDAQ: IZEA): IZEA shares are up more than 60% today after the influencer marketing technology, data, and services provider announced it has secured a significant six-figure contract with a new Fortune 500 customer for influencer marketing managed services. “IZEA continues to see a strong recovery of our managed services business following the initial negative impacts we observed due to COVID-19,” said Ted Murphy, IZEA’s Chairman and CEO. “The company remains above the January 1-March 15 average bookings trendline we previously shared and we are optimistic about year over year managed services bookings in the second quarter, despite the pandemic. The SaaS business is also starting to show early signs of recovery as businesses begin to reopen and gain more comfort with the longer-term commitments required for those licensing our software.”