Plus, Pfizer said final analysis showed its COVID vaccine is 95% effective at preventing the coronavirus, Target delivered an earnings beat, and Apple is reducing its commission rate for its App Store for developers making less than $1 million per year.
Stocks were mixed to start Wednesday with the Dow adding 86 points, and the S&P 500 trading just above the flatline. The Nasdaq slid 0.2%.
The FAA just cleared Boeing’s 737 Max to return to the skies after an extensive package of fixes following two deadly crashes. The clearance ends a scarring 20-month hiatus, the longest grounding of a jetliner in U.S. history, and sets the stage for airlines and other regulators around the world to resume passenger flights with the plane. “The design and certification of this aircraft included an unprecedented level of collaborative and independent reviews by aviation authorities around the world,” the FAA said in a statement. “Those regulators have indicated that Boeing’s design changes, together with the changes to crew procedures and training enhancements, will give them the confidence to validate the aircraft as safe to fly in their respective countries and regions.” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said the 737 Max is “the most scrutinized transport airplane in history and it’s ready to go,” and added that the design and training changes implemented after the crashes that grounded the plane make it “impossible for the airplanes to have the same kind of accidents that unfortunately killed 346 people.”
95%. Pfizer and BioNTech said this morning that final analysis of the data for their coronavirus vaccine found it to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 and appeared to fend off severe disease. The final analysis evaluated 170 confirmed COVID infections among the late-stage trial’s more than 43,000 participants, with 162 cases found in the placebo group versus just 8 cases observed in the group that received its two-dose vaccine. “The final analysis underlines the results of the positive interim efficacy analysis announced on November 9,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement. “The data indicates that our vaccine … is able to induce a high rate of protection against COVID-19 only 29 days after the first dose. In addition, the vaccine was observed to be well-tolerated in all age groups with mostly mild to moderate side effects, which may be due in part to the relatively low dose.” Pfizer said it plans to submit an application for emergency use authorization to the FDA “within days.”
Target shares are up 4% this morning after the big-box retailer reported a third-quarter earnings beat. The retailer reported adjusted earnings per share of $2.79 on revenue of $22.63 billion, versus Wall Street expectations for earnings per share of $1.60 on revenue of $20.93 billion. Target CEO Brian Cornell said of the results, “We’re seeing a guest who’s shopping all of our categories, taking advantage of our one-stop solution. We’re seeing many families coming to us to pick up a new Barbie or something for their kids – a Lego item. But while they’re there, they’re shopping for Microsoft items or Apple. Even during the pandemic, children are outgrowing their clothes, so guests are coming to us for Cat & Jack, but while they’re there they’ve discovered that we have Levi’s Red Tab available for them and their families. They’re also visiting food and beverage and discovering our Good & Gather brand.” Lowe’s shares are down more than 6% following its slight earnings miss. The home improvement retailer reported earnings per share of $1.98, versus estimates for earnings per share of $1.99, on revenue of $22.31 billion. “What’s next? I think that’s what the market is really starting to ask here,” said Oppenheimer analyst Brian Nagel in reaction to Lowe’s results. “The market is worried about… how these companies perform against these very difficult comparisons.”
Apple said today that it will cut its App Store commission rate to 15% for software developers with less than $1 million in annual net sales on its platform. Apple currently takes a 30% commission from the total price of paid apps and in-app purchases from the App Store, and the new policy could cut the amount some small app makers pay to Apple in half. The new App Store Small Business Program will begin on January 1 and developers who qualify will receive reduced App Store fees for paid app and in-app purchases. “We’re launching this program to help small business owners write the next chapter of creativity and prosperity on the App Store, and to build the kind of quality apps our customers love,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “The App Store has been an engine of economic growth like none other, creating millions of new jobs and a pathway to entrepreneurship accessible to anyone with a great idea.”
It’s looking like December 2017. For bitcoin, anyway. The digital coin rose past $18,000, reaching a price it hasn’t seen since December 20, 2017. Bitcoin has gained more than 150% in 2020, and is within striking distance of the all-time high of $19,783 reached in late 2017. “Bitcoin’s market cap is now higher despite the crypto asset being worth slightly less because there are more bitcoins in the system than there were in 2017,” said Adam Vettese, market analyst at online investment platform eToro. “The supply has expanded by roughly 10.75% since its last record.”
Stocks We’re Watching
Medallia Inc (NYSE: MDLA): Medallia shares are up more than 9% over the last week following the company’s announcement that it plans to integrate with Oracle CX Service to deliver real-time feedback on what customers think and feel about customer service interactions with a brand. “Recent events have put in motion a new set of customer behaviors and requirements. Businesses need to react quickly in order to continue providing services and pick up on the signals customers are sending,” said Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager, Oracle Cloud CX and Data Cloud. “With Oracle CX Service, and our work with partners like Medallia, we are helping brands make every customer interaction matter by providing our customers with the data they need to read and react to signals in real-time, and ultimately create lasting relationships with their customers.”