Plus, the Biden administration imposed new sanctions on Russia, Citigroup and Bank of America delivered earnings beats, and Walmart is investing in GM’s Cruise self-driving start-up.
Stocks were higher at the open on Thursday with the Dow adding 58 points, or nearly 0.2%. The S&P 500 gained 0.3%, while the Nasdaq rose by 0.9%.
Coinbase shares got off to a volatile start. The stock began trading yesterday afternoon at $381 per share, rising in its opening minutes and briefly valued at more than $100 billion before closing at $328 per share at a value of $85.8 billion. Shares are currently trading at $329 at the time of writing. Analysts at BTIG initiated coverage of the cryptocurrency exchange in a note out this morning. BTIG analysts Mark Palmer and Andrew Harte rated Coinbase shares a Buy with a price target of $500, writing that the company is the “gold standard among digital asset exchanges,” and is set for “sustained rapid growth” as the industry’s ecosystem expands. “We believe COIN, the most popular consumer-facing cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S., is positioned to be a primary beneficiary of the increased adoption of bitcoin and other digital assets as it continues to scale in the U.S. and internationally,” the analysts wrote.
The Biden administration has imposed sweeping new sanctions against Russia over alleged interference in the 2020 election, a massive cyberattack against U.S. government and corporate networks, illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea, and human rights abuses. “Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took sweeping action against 16 entities and 16 individuals who attempted to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian Government,” the Treasury said in a statement. The U.S. is also expelling 10 Russian diplomats working in Washington, including some intelligence officers, and is barring U.S. financial institutions from participating in the primary market for new debt issued by the Russian central bank, Finance Ministry, and sovereign wealth fund. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that President Joe Biden believes the actions “are proportionate measures to defend American interests in response to harmful Russian actions, including cyber intrusions and election interference. His goal is to provide a significant and credible response but not to escalate the situation.”
Citigroup’s equities desks lifted the firm to a record quarterly profit for the first quarter. The bank reported profit of $7.94 billion, or $3.62 per share, beating analysts’ expectations for $2.60 per share. Revenue of $19.3 billion topped the $18.8 billion estimate. “It’s been a better-than-expected start to the year,” said CEO Jane Fraser, who took over the helm last mont. Fraser credited the “strong performance” of Citi’s Wall Street operations and said the firm is optimistic about its outlook for the economy. Bank of America also topped estimates, reporting earnings of $0.86 per share on revenue of $22.9 billion, versus expectations for earnings per share of $0.66 on revenue of $22.1 billion. “While low interest rates continued to challenge revenue, credit costs improved and we believe that progress in the health crisis and the economy point to an accelerating recovery,” CEO Brian Moynihan said in the earnings release.
In other earnings news, Delta Air Lines reported another quarterly loss but said it expects to break even in June as travel demand picks back up. The carrier posted a net loss of $1.18 billion on $4.15 billion in revenue for the first quarter, topping analysts’ estimates for sales of $3.91 billion. “When I look at the first quarter, what’s been clear to us is that our business has made a turn. We’ve seen a huge surge in bookings just over the last couple of months,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian, adding that the company expects “positive cash generation for the June quarter and see a path to return to profitability in the September quarter as the demand recovery progresses.”
And Walmart is making an undisclosed investment in General Motors’ self-driving subsidiary, Cruise, as part of a new $2.75 billion funding round for the company. “This investment is a marker for us – it shows our commitment to bringing the benefit of self-driving cars to our customers and business. We’re excited to join Cruise’s already impressive partner and investor ecosystem with the likes of GM, Honda, and Microsoft as we work towards pioneering this emerging technology,” said Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner, adding that Walmart has “been impressed with Cruise’s differentiated business model, unique technology and unmatched driverless testing.”
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Alimera Sciences Inc (NASDAQ: ALIM): Alimera Sciences announced yesterday that Ocumension Therapeutics has acquired an exclusive license agreement for Alimera’s 0.19mg fluocinolone acetonide intravitreal implant, which Alimera markets under the trademark ILUVIEN. “We are excited about this opportunity with Ocumension to continue our strategy of geographic expansion. Diabetes and its complications are a growing issue, with a third of the total number of people with diabetes living in the Western Pacific. We look forward to working with Ocumension to help patients suffering from diabetic macular edema in these markets to see better, longer, with fewer injections,” Rick Eiswirth, Alimera’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said in a press release. “Additionally, the initial license fee combined with Ocumension’s equity investment significantly strengthens our balance sheet and provides incremental financing to pursue our vision of creating a unique global company solely focused on retina specialists and their patients.”