Plus, coronavirus cases surpassed 10 million globally and 2.5 million in the U.S., Chesapeake Energy filed for bankruptcy, and Beyond Meat shares are down after a double downgrade.
Stocks were higher to start Monday with the Dow adding 352 points, or 1.4%. The S&P 500 gained 0.7%, while the Nasdaq traded 0.3% higher.
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Stocks rose despite grim headlines on the coronavirus front. Globally, cases have surpassed 10 million, and deaths have risen to more than 500,000. In the U.S., cases have risen to more than 2.54 million as states including Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, and Texas all see cases grow by 5% or more per week. “There are more cases. There are more hospitalizations in some of those places and soon you’ll be seeing more deaths,” said White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. “Even though the deaths are coming down as a country, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to start seeing them coming up now.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned yesterday that time is running out for the U.S. to curb the spread of the deadly virus as cases surge across the country. “We’ve got the tools to do this,” Azar said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “But the widow is closing, we have to act, and people as individuals have to act responsibly. We need to social distance, we need to wear our face coverings where we can’t social distance, particularly in these hot zones.”
In other coronavirus news, the FDA has granted emergency use clearance for Danaher’s coronavirus antibody test. Danaher’s Beckman Coulter unit said it has shipped the antibody tests to nearly 400 U.S. hospitals and laboratories, and has ramped up production to deliver more than 30 million tests a month. Elsewhere, Gilead announced this morning that pricing for its remdesivir treatment will be $3,120 for a typical U.S. patient with commercial insurance, announcing the pricing in time for the company to begin charging for the antiviral drug in July. Gilead said that it will sell remdesivir for $390 per vial to governments “of developed countries” around the world, and the price for U.S. private insurance companies will be $520 per vial. “Whether you’re covered by a private insurer, whether you’re covered by a government insurer, whether you’re uninsured with COVID-19, there will not be an issue for access with remdesivir,” Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said.
Boeing shares are up more than 6% this morning after news broke that the FAA is ready to begin test flights for Boeing’s 737 Max jet, with flights happening as soon as today. The test flights are an important step in the recertification of the troubled Max plane, which has been grounded for more than a year. If all goes well, the FAA will then need to approve new pilot training procedures, among other reviews, and is unlikely to approve the plane’s ungrounding until September, putting the jet on a path to resume U.S. services before the end of the year. However, the recertification process has been plagued by delays for more than a year, and one person familiar with the flight plans said, “Based on how many problems have been uncovered, I would be stunned if the flight tests are ‘one and done.’”
Chesapeake Energy shares are down more than -7%. The heavily indebted pioneer in the U.S. shale revolution filed for bankruptcy Sunday. Chesapeake said its $7 billion in debt will be wiped out through the restructuring, and the company has secured $925 million in debtor-in-possession financing in order to continue operations during the bankruptcy process. Chesapeake has also secured an agreement in principle from some existing lenders for $2.5 billion in debt financing on its emergence from bankruptcy, as well as a backstop commitment for $600 million in new equity. “We are fundamentally resetting Chesapeake’s capital structure and business to address our legacy financial weaknesses and capitalize on our substantial operational strengths,” said CEO Dog Lawler in a statement. “Over the last several years, our dedicated employees have transformed Chesapeake’s business – improving capital efficiency and operational performance, eliminating costs, reducing debt and diversifying our portfolio. Despite having removed over $20 billion of leverage and financial commitments, we believe this restructuring is necessary for the long-term success and value creation of the business.”
And Beyond Meat is down more than -8% after a double downgrade from Barclays analyst Benjamin Theurer. Theurer slashed his rating on the alternative meat stock from Buy to Sell, saying he doesn’t believe some of the coronavirus-induced business headwinds related to restaurant closures are adequately reflected in the stock price. Around half of Beyond Meat’s sales come in the food service distribution channel, with around 80% of international sales generated at restaurants. Theurer reduced his price target on the stock from $185 to $115 – nearly -12% lower than the current price.
Stocks We’re Watching
iBio Inc (OTC: IBIO): iBio shares are up more than 14% this morning after rising as much as 67% on Friday following its inclusion in the Russell 2000 and Russell 3000 indexes. “Being included among the companies that comprise the Russell indexes is a significant milestone for iBio, which, we believe reflects the significant progress we have made towards building shareholder value over the past few months,” said Tom Isett, Chairman and CEO of iBio. “Since December 1, 2019, we have launched our FastGlycaneering Development Service™; supported initiatives for the development of bioinks for 3D bioprinting; and expanded business collaborations with two partners for the development of a bio-better rituximab. Additionally, we recapitalized the Company and began implementing our hiring plan so as to prepare to advance IBIO-100 for the treatment of fibrotic diseases while adding more proprietary products to our portfolio. To that end, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to emerge, we quickly responded by designing two novel vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. Shortly thereafter, we demonstrated manufacturability of both platforms, signed key partnerships with providers of preclinical testing services and adjuvant technologies, and gained support from industry leaders in clinical trials data management. With preclinical immunization data for our IBIO-200 and IBIO-201 COVID-19 vaccine candidates expected in Q3-2020, we see potential additional value-creating milestones in the near term.”
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