China Is Threatening To Kill The Deal For TikTok

Plus, Johnson & Johnson started its phase three trial for its possible coronavirus vaccine, Nike shares are up after its earnings report, and Tesla shares are down after its disappointing Battery Day event.

Stocks were lower to start Wednesday with the Dow trading just below the flatline. The S&P 500 fell 0.3%, while the Nasdaq slipped 0.6%.

Johnson & Johnson said this morning that it has begun its phase three trial for its potential one-shot coronavirus vaccine. The drugmaker is the fourth backed by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program, along with AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer. Johnson & Johnson’s late-stage trial will enroll up to 60,000 adult volunteers in 215 locations in the U.S. and other countries. “Four COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in Phase 3 clinical testing in the United States just over eight months after SARS-CoV-2 was identified,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a statement. “This is an unprecedented feat for the scientific community made possible by decades of progress in vaccine technology and a coordinated, strategic approach across government, industry and academia. It is likely that multiple COVID-19 vaccine regimens will be required to meet the global need.”

A government shutdown before the election looks set to be averted with the House passing a spending bill to fund the government through December 11. The bill, which was negotiated between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other Republicans, includes $8 billion for nutrition assistance for schoolchildren and families, renews the Pandemic EBT program that provides food benefits while schools are closed, and adds increased accountability for farm aid money “preventing funds for farmers from being misused for a Big Oil bailout,” Pelosi said in a statement. After clearing the House in an overwhelming vote last night, the bill now heads to the Senate.

Beijing is threatening to kill the deal for TikTok as state-run media denounce the deal as “an American trap” and a “dirty and underhanded trick.” While the deal initially looked like a win for China with ByteDance retaining 80% control over the social media app’s U.S. operations as part of the deal with Oracle and Walmart taking a 20% stake in the new entity, the shift in sentiment reveals the complications of finalizing an agreement that has far-reaching ramifications for how the world’s biggest economies handle security threats related to new technologies that will drive growth in the future. “Beijing basically doesn’t want to set a precedent where the U.S. can be allowed to unilaterally flex in this way,” said Kendra Schaefer, head of digital research at the Trivium consultancy in Beijing. “Having some role to play in the decision balances things out a bit.”

Nike shares are up nearly 10% this morning after the athletic apparel maker reported that it returned to profitability as online sales surged 82% in its most recent quarter. Nike reported earnings per share of $0.95 on revenue of $10.59 billion for its fiscal first quarter, while analysts had expected earnings of $0.47 per share on revenue of $9.15 billion. “Nike’s decision to evolve into a digital-first organization has proved prudent, as the crisis continues to push consumers toward the digital channel,” said Susquehanna analyst Sam Poser. “Digital momentum is sticky. … [And] Nike has embraced the structural shift of consumer shopping habits from traditional brick-and-mortar to digital and will, in our view, continue to capitalize on this shift.”

And Tesla shares are down more than 8% after its highly-anticipated “Battery Day” event fell short of expectations. During the event, CEO Elon Musk laid out a plan to build a $25,000 car and cut battery costs in half over the next three years. While analysts said the technology and manufacturing innovations outlined were impressive, they also argued that Tesla’s valuation already reflects its ability to disrupt and investors may be let down by the lack of surprises at the showcase event. “With the Battery Day in the rearview, we think there is a lack of upcoming catalysts and are cautious about demand given the recessionary environment,” said Robert W. Baird analyst Ben Kallo in a note where he named Tesla stock a “bearish fresh pick.” Kallo added that Tesla “is accomplishing impressive things, but we think current valuation already reflects [the company’s significant disruption potential.”

Stocks We’re Watching

AIM ImmunoTech Inc (OTC: AIM): AIM ImmunoTech shares jumped as much as 34% yesterday after the company announced statistically significant positive pancreatic cancer survival results from a multi-year Early Acmes Program (EAP) conducted at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands. “We started this program in January 2017. These exceptional results from Erasmus exceed even our most optimistic expectations. I am deeply grateful to Prof. Casper van Eijck, his team at Erasmus, and Ronald Brus, MD, the guiding hand at myTomorrows, for their vision and careful diligence in implementing this important analysis of Ampligen as a single-agent therapy for late-stage pancreatic cancer,” said AIM CEO Thomas K. Equels in a statement. “I extend deep gratitude to the government of the Netherlands for its pioneering support and commitment to advancing a critical medical innovation in a deadly cancer with very limited medical interventions. Medical advances in lethal unmet medical needs depend on this sort of outstanding clinical and governmental cooperation and support. We could not have accomplished this but for the support of the Netherlands.”

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