FDA Approves J&J’s one shot Covid-19 Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine granted emergency approval from FDA 

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the third vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease. The FDA has determined that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine has met the statutory criteria for issuance of an EUA. The totality of the available data “provides clear evidence that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine may be effective in preventing COVID-19,” the agency said in a statement.

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The Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is manufactured using a specific type of virus called adenovirus type 26. The vaccine uses Ad26 to deliver a piece of the DNA, or genetic material, that is used to make the distinctive “spike” protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the FDA said. While adenoviruses are a group of viruses that are relatively common, Ad26, which can cause cold symptoms and pink eye, has been modified for the vaccine so that it cannot replicate in the human body to cause illness, it added. After a person receives this vaccine, the body can temporarily make the spike protein, which does not cause disease, but triggers the immune system to learn to react defensively, producing an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.

The EUA allows Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson also announced that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

The ACIP recommendation will be forwarded to the Director of the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for review and adoption.

Johnson & Johnson has begun shipping its COVID-19 vaccine and expects to deliver enough single-shot vaccines by the end of March to enable the full vaccination of more than 20M people in the U.S.

The company plans to deliver 100M single-shot vaccines to the U.S. during the first half of 2021. The U.S. government will manage allocation and distribution of the vaccine in the U.S.

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Palantir’s Bulls and Bears

Goldman Sachs upgrades the recent IPO while Citi says Sell

Palantir Technologies Inc. (PLTR) builds and deploys software platforms for the intelligence community in the United States to assist in counterterrorism investigations and operations.

It offers Palantir Gotham, a software platform for government operatives in the defense and intelligence sectors, which enables users to identify patterns hidden deep within datasets, ranging from signals intelligence sources to reports from confidential informants, as well as facilitates the handoff between analysts and operational users, helping operators plan and execute real-world responses to threats that have been identified within the platform.

The company also provides Palantir Foundry, a platform that transforms the ways organizations operate by creating a central operating system for their data; and allows individual users to integrate and analyze the data they need in one place. 

The company took the unusual route of becoming a public company by directly listing it’s shares and bypassing the brokers. Shares came public around $9 and shot up to $45 a share before pulling back. There were a number of brokers who made comments about the shares today following the company’s earnings.

Earnings

Palantir Technologies reported 4th Quarter December 2020 earnings of $0.07 per share on revenue of $322.1 million yesterday morning. The consensus earnings estimate was $0.02 per share on revenue of $300.4 million.

The company said it expects 2021 revenue of $1.42 billion or more. The current consensus revenue estimate is $1.41 billion for the year ending December 31, 2021.

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs analyst Christopher #Merwin upgraded Palantir Technologies to Buy from Neutral with a price target of $34, up from $13. Palantir reported “strong” Q4 results and its Q1 guidance called for revenue growth of 45%, while fiscal 2021 revenue guidance was for 30%-plus, Merwin tells investors in a research note. The analyst is “encouraged” to see management guide to $4B of revenue in fiscal 2025, implying a 30% annual growth from fiscal 2020. With a growing backlog of $2.8B in deal value, there is increasing visibility into the achievability of that long-term target, says Merwin.

Further, the analyst believes Palantir’s recent efforts to modularize Foundry and add channel partners like IBM “should improve product market fit” for the commercial business in the coming quarters.

Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley analyst Keith #Weiss raised the firm’s price target on Palantir to $19 from $17, telling investors after the company’s Q4 report that Palantir’s results in FY20 showed a big expansion of existing customers, “huge leverage” in operating margins and the seeds for future distribution capability.

However, he keeps an Underweight rating on the shares as he would like to see evidence of effective investment behind the company’s opportunity to support growth and what he views as a “lofty valuation.”

Jefferies

Jefferies analyst Brent #Thill noted that Palantir reported a top and bottom line beat in Q4 along with “robust” large deal metrics and said it is targeting $4B or more in 2025 revenues, but that the stock remains under pressure due to Thursday’s lock-up expiry and the recent run-up that saw the stock up 35% year-to-date ahead of the report.

However, he views Palantir as “a highly unique story for long-term investors” given that he thinks its growth sustainability at significant scale, and “aggressive profitability ramp,” puts the stock “in rarified air” among software companies. Thill maintains a Buy rating on the stock, which he expects to “trend to $40,” his price target on Palantir shares.

RBC Capital

RBC Capital analyst Matthew #Hedberg raised the firm’s price target on Palantir to $27 from $15 and keeps a Sector Perform rating on the shares.

The company ended 2020 with a “solid” set of Q4 results while forecasting acceleration and margin improvement in Q1, the analyst tells investors in a research note. Hedberg adds however that while he is positive on Palantir’s catalysts, he remains on the sidelines due to the stock’s “full valuation”.

Citi

Citi analyst Tyler #Radke keeps a Sell rating on Palantir Technologies with a $15 price target following the company’s Q4 results.

The results featured “solid” reported revenue upside, but came with “signs of growth drivers narrowing with new customers growth still lacking and Commercial revenue missing expectations,” Radke tells investors in a research note.

The new five-year revenue target of $4B “looks high,” but ultimately may be a non-event for the stock, says the analyst. He thinks the stock is overvalued and “could be particularly volatile” into the upcoming lockup on February 18.

Insiders

Peter Thiel, Chairman, and well connected Washington insider

Several insiders have sold shares into the lockup expiry on Thursday but Peter Thiel, Chairman of the Board, reported a 5% ownership of the stock.

PLTR last traded at $28.50.

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Oil Prices Reach Pre-Pandemic Level

Front-month WTI oil futures rallied over 2% to a 13-month high at $60.95.

A flaring up in the Yemeni civil war boosted crude prices, in addition to reflation-trade positioning, which is being aided by the ongoing tumble in world-wide positive Covid test results (now one third the January peak), alongside optimism about vaccination programs and prospects of big stimulus spending in the U.S. and EU.

Crude oil reaches $61 per barrel

Taking step back, the question is how much higher can oil prices go in a sustained manner.

Crude markets are now well into pre-pandemic ranges, yet global demand is not likely be restored for a considerable time.

OPEC lowers demand forecast

OPEC last week cut its 2021 oil demand projection by about 100 M barrels per day due to more severe than anticipated lockdowns in major economies in the first half of the year.

This forecast still assumes a global economic recovery in the latter half of the year on the back of successful vaccination programs. This puts the focus on supply, leaving aside the impact of a softening dollar, which is only a part of the story and is in any case a partial by-product of the demand for oil and other assets in the global reflation trade.

Higher oil prices justify shale production

The OPEC+ group are limiting quotas, which are being reviewed on a monthly basis.

Saudi Arabia unilaterally complemented this regime with an additional two-month output cut, which took effect this month and which has more than offset rising supply out of Libya and Iran.

Without talking numbers, this supply restraint is evidently proving effective given the oil price rise and the recent corresponding draw downs in global crude inventories.

But, U.S. shale oil production, which is viable again after the surge in oil prices, is rising and will have increasing impact — the rig count is already up 70% since the 2020 lows.

This is something the EIA forecasted in its February oil market report.

Then there is there question of continued OPEC discipline.

Saudi Arabia is unlikely to extend its unilateral supply reduction beyond March, as it won’t want to give up market share.

Discipline among the OPEC+ nations will be a factor going forward, and is more likely to weaken than strengthen.

The Saudi-Russian price war last year illustrated how quickly the dam of quota curtailment can burst, although a repetition of that episode seems highly unlikely.

Overall, market sentiment remains strongly bullish.

JPM in a recent note forecast an “epic systemic short squeeze” will unfold over the next month, and a GS note mooted $150.0 as an upside target.

Analysts are less optimistic, being skeptical of the bullish supply gap hypothesis.

The oil industrial is well positioned, in terms of known and unexploited reserves, to respond to any sustained demand increases, while demand-quelling factors, such as the new trend for working from home, and alternative electrical powered transport is increasingly available.

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Johnson & Johnson files for FDA approval of it’s Covid-19 Vaccine

 J&J submits FDA application for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced that Janssen Biotech, Inc., has submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requesting Emergency Use Authorization for its investigational single-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

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JNJ files for approval of Covid-19 vaccine

The company’s EUA submission is based on topline efficacy and safety data from the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE clinical trial, demonstrating that the investigational single-dose vaccine met all primary and key secondary endpoints.

The Company expects to have product available to ship immediately following authorization. “Today’s submission for Emergency Use Authorization of our investigational single-shot COVID-19 vaccine is a pivotal step toward reducing the burden of disease for people globally and putting an end to the pandemic,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson.

“Upon authorization of our investigational COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, we are ready to begin shipping. With our submission to the FDA and our ongoing reviews with other health authorities around the world, we are working with great urgency to make our investigational vaccine available to the public as quickly as possible.”

Johnson & Johnson intends to distribute vaccine to the U.S. government immediately following authorization, and expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. in the first half of 2021.

JNJ last traded at $161.99.

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Big Rock Partners buys NeuroRx

NeuroRx to trade on Nasdaq following Big Rock Partners Acquisition merger

Big Rock Partners Acquisition (BRPA) announced that it has entered into an agreement and plan of merger with NeuroRx, a clinical stage, small molecule pharmaceutical company.

Big Rock shares jump on purchase of NeuroRx

NeuroRx develops novel therapeutics for the treatment of COVID-19 and Bipolar Depression.

Under the terms of the transaction, Big Rock and NeuroRx will merge and the company is expected to continue to trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol (NRXP).

The transaction is expected to occur in the first or second quarter of 2021.

As a public Nasdaq-listed company, NeuroRx expects to have increased access to capital to continue development of its drug pipeline targeting Central Nervous System/Psychiatry and Respiratory Disease.

NeuroRx is a clinical stage, small molecule pharmaceutical company which develops novel therapeutics for the treatment of central nervous system disorders and life-threatening pulmonary disease.

NeuroRx’s two main drugs are Zyesami which is an application for COVID-related respiratory failure and NRX-101, which focuses on suicidal bipolar depression and PTSD.

Zyesami is a synthetic human vasoactive intestinal peptide, or VIP, a 28 amino-acid natural peptide with 50 years of research. NRX-101 is a fixed-dose combination of D-cycloserine and lurasidone that has advanced to phase 3 with FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation, a Special Protocol Agreement, Biomarker Letter of Support, and Fast Track Designation.

NeuroRx’s management team is comprised of industry veterans, led by founder, Chairman & CEO Jonathan C. Javitt, MD, MPH, Robert Besthof, MIM (Chief Commercial Officer), William Fricker, MBA, CPA (Chief Financial Officer) and Alessandra Daigneault, JD (Corporate Secretary), who are expected to continue to run the combined company, post-transaction.

All officers and members of the board of Big Rock will resign in connection with the closing of the transactions.

The board of the combined company will initially consist of seven members, including Prof. Jonathan Javitt.

Under the terms of the transaction, Big Rock will issue to NeuroRx’s current equity holders an aggregate of 50M shares of Big Rock common stock for their interests in NeuroRx, representing $500M of equity consideration, assuming a value of $10.00 per common share.

Subject to certain conditions, an aggregate of 25M additional shares of Big Rock common stock will be issued to NeuroRx pre-merger equity holders if, prior to December 31, 2022, RLF-100 receives emergency use authorization by the FDA and the FDA accepts the company’s filing of its application to approve RLF-100.

In addition, subject to certain conditions, a $100M cash earnout may be payable to NeuroRx pre-merger equity holders if, prior to December 31, 2022, either FDA approval of the company’s COVID-19 Drug is obtained and the company’s COVID-19 Drug is listed in the FDA’s or FDA approval of the company’s Antidepressant Drug Regimen is obtained and the company’s Antidepressant Drug Regimen is listed in the FDA’s “Orange Book”.

The boards of both NeuroRx and Big Rock have unanimously approved the proposed transaction.

Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by stockholders of NeuroRx and Big Rock and other customary closing conditions.

BRPA is up 30% to $15.50.

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Uncertainty in economy pushes lawmakers to come up with stimulus bill!

Powell says outlook for economy is ‘extraordinarily uncertain’

In prepared remarks for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell said:

Jerome Powell say economy is on shaky ground

“Economic activity has continued to recover from its depressed second-quarter level. The reopening of the economy led to a rapid rebound in activity, and real gross domestic product, or GDP, rose at an annual rate of 33 percent in the third quarter.

In recent months, however, the pace of improvement has moderated.

Household spending on goods, especially durable goods, has been strong and has moved above its pre-pandemic level.

In contrast, spending on services remains low largely because of ongoing weakness in sectors that typically require people to gather closely, including travel and hospitality.

The overall rebound in household spending is due, in part, to federal stimulus payments and expanded unemployment benefits, which provided essential support to many families and individuals…

As we have emphasized throughout the pandemic, the outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend, in large part, on the success of efforts to keep the virus in check…

Covid-19 has caused a global slowdown

The rise in new COVID-19 cases, both here and abroad, is concerning and could prove challenging for the next few months.

A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to re-engage in a broad range of activities.

Recent news on the vaccine front is very positive for the medium term. For now, significant challenges and uncertainties remain, including timing, production and distribution, and efficacy across different groups.”

Meanwhile lawmakers in Washington have come up with a new stimulus plan.  

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers announced a $908B COVID-19 aid package aimed to breaking a monthslong deadlock between Democrats and Republicans over new emergency relief for small businesses, unemployed people, airlines, and other industries during the coronavirus crisis, Reuters’ Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu report.

The bill has not yet been written into legislation, nor has it been embraced by the Republican White House, Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, or leaders in the Senate or House of Representatives, the authors note.

The package, however, does come with the support of a group of conservatives and moderates who believe it will appeal to a broad swath of Congress, the authors note.

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Merck invests $1B in Seattle Genetics

Merck to acquire $1B equity stake in Seattle Genetics as part of collaborations

Seattle Genetics (SGEN) and Merck (MRK) announced two new strategic oncology collaborations.

The companies will globally develop and commercialize Seattle Genetics’ ladiratuzumab vedotin, an investigational antibody-drug conjugate, or ADC, targeting LIV-1, which is currently in phase 2 clinical trials for breast cancer and other solid tumors.

Merck presents results from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 study, Stockwinners
Merck bets heavily on Seattle Genetics, Stockwinners

The collaboration will pursue a broad joint development program evaluating ladiratuzumab vedotin as monotherapy and in combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy Keytruda in triple-negative breast cancer, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and other LIV-1-expressing solid tumors.

Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics will receive a $600M upfront payment and Merck will make a $1B equity investment in 5M shares of Seattle Genetics common stock at a price of $200 per share.

Seattle Genetics scores bug with Merck

In addition, Seattle Genetics is eligible for progress-dependent milestone payments of up to $2.6B.

Separately, Seattle Genetics has granted Merck an exclusive license to commercialize Tukysa, a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, for the treatment of HER2-positive cancers, in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Seattle Genetics will receive $125M from Merck as an upfront payment and is eligible for progress-dependent milestones of up to $65M.

Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics and Merck will collaborate and equally share costs on the global development of ladiratuzumab vedotin and other LIV-1-targeting ADCs.

Breast cancer drug Liv-1 is expected to do well

The companies have agreed to jointly develop and share future costs and profits for ladiratuzumab vedotin on a 50:50 basis worldwide. Merck will pay Seattle Genetics $600M upfront and make a $1B equity investment in 5M shares of Seattle Genetics common stock at a price of $200 per share.

In addition, Seattle Genetics will be eligible to receive up to $2.6B in milestone payments, including $850M in development milestones and $1.75B in sales milestones.

The companies will jointly develop and commercialize ladiratuzumab vedotin and equally share profits worldwide.

The companies will co-commercialize in the U.S. and Europe. Seattle Genetics will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in the U.S. and Canada, and will record sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Merck will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in Europe and in countries outside the U.S. and Canada, and will record sales in countries outside the U.S., Europe and Canada. Including the upfront payment, equity investment proceeds and potential milestone payments, Seattle Genetics is eligible to receive up to $4.2B.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck has been granted exclusive rights to commercialize Tukysa in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe. Seattle Genetics retains commercial rights and will record sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Merck will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in its territory, supported by the positive results from the HER2CLIMB clinical trial.

Merck will also co-fund a portion of the Tukysa global development plan, which encompasses several ongoing and planned trials across HER2-positive cancers, including breast, colorectal, gastric and other cancers set forth in a global product development plan.

Seattle Genetics will continue to lead ongoing Tukysa global development planning and operational execution.

Merck will solely fund and conduct country-specific clinical trials necessary to support anticipated regulatory applications in its territory.

Seattle Genetics will receive from Merck $125M as an upfront payment and is eligible to receive progress-dependent milestones of up to $65M. Seattle Genetics will also receive $85M in prepaid research and development payments to be applied to Merck’s global development funding obligations. In addition, Seattle Genetics would receive tiered royalties on sales of Tukysa in Merck’s territory.

SGEN is up 14.8% to $172.40. MRK is up 1.4% to $85.00.

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Virtusa sold for $2 billion

Virtusa to be acquired by BPEA for $51.35 per share in cash deal valued at $2B

Baring Private Equity Asia, or BPEA, and Virtusa (VRTU) announced the companies have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which funds affiliated with BPEA will acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of Virtusa for $51.35 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $2B.

Virtusa Corporation provides digital engineering and information technology (IT) outsourcing services primarily in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Virtusa sold for $2B

The companies said in a release, “The price per share to be paid in the transaction, which was unanimously approved by the Virtusa Board of Directors, represents a premium of approximately 27 percent to the closing price of Virtusa common stock on September 9, 2020, the last trading day prior to the transaction announcement, and premiums of approximately 29 percent and 46 percent to Virtusa’s volume-weighted average prices, or VWAP, for the last 30 and 60 trading days, respectively.

In addition, the price paid implies a valuation of 16.2x Firm Value / Last Twelve Months EBITDA as of June 30, 2020. On July 20, 2020, the Virtusa Board of Directors received an unsolicited proposal from an interested party to acquire Virtusa.

BPEA buys Virtusa for $2 billion

Following receipt of the offer, consistent with the Board’s fiduciary duties to maximize shareholder value, the Board authorized the Company and its financial advisors to engage with other potential strategic buyers and financial sponsors regarding a potential acquisition of Virtusa.

As part of this process, the Company signed non-disclosure agreements with five parties and engaged with two others.

After an independent review of the alternatives available, including the value creation opportunity through continued execution of the Company’s strategic plan, the Virtusa Board unanimously determined that the all-cash premium transaction with BPEA for $51.35 per share in cash maximizes value for Virtusa’s shareholders.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the first half of 2021, is subject to the approval of Virtusa’s shareholders, customary regulatory requirements, including approval from The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, and customary closing conditions.

The transaction is not subject to a financing condition.

The Orogen Group, which holds 108,000 shares of Virtusa Convertible Preferred Stock and whose CEO is Vikram Pandit, an independent member of the Board, has entered into a voting agreement under which it has agreed to vote all of Orogen’s Convertible Preferred Stock in favor of the transaction.

Orogen Group is a major shareholder of Virtusa

Orogen’s shares of preferred stock are convertible into 3,000,000 shares of Virtusa common stock and represent approximately 10 percent of the voting power in the Company.

The directors and executive officers of Virtusa have also entered into this voting agreement, and hold an additional approximate 5.7% of the voting power of the Company.”

VRTU closed at $40.50, last traded at $50.45.

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Intra-Cellular sharply higher on it’s Bipolar drug

Intra-Cellular says lumateperone 42 mg met primary endpoint in Study 402

Intra-Cellular Therapies (ITCI) announced positive topline results from its Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating lumateperone as adjunctive therapy to lithium or valproate in the treatment of major depressive episodes associated with Bipolar I or Bipolar II disorder.

Intra-Cellular sharply higher on its bi-polar drug

In Study 402, once daily lumateperone 42 mg met the primary endpoint for improvement in depression as measured by change from baseline versus placebo on the MADRS total score.

Lumateperone 42 mg also met the key secondary endpoint, the CGI-BP-S Depression Score.

The lower lumateperone dose, 28 mg, showed a trend for a dose-related improvement in symptoms of depression but the results did not reach statistical significance.

Lumateperone demonstrated a favorable safety profile and was generally well-tolerated in the trial.

Lumateperone was successful in treating bipolar disorders

The most commonly reported adverse events that were observed at a rate greater than or equal to 5% and at least twice the rate of placebo were somnolence, dizziness, and nausea.

Rates of akathisia, restlessness, extrapyramidal symptoms, and changes in weight were similar to placebo.

This trial, in conjunction with our previously reported positive Phase 3 monotherapy study, Study 404, forms the basis for our sNDA for the treatment of bipolar depression in patients with Bipolar I or II disorder as monotherapy and adjunctive therapy which we expect to submit to the FDA in late 2020 or early 2021.

Study 402 was conducted globally in five countries including in the U.S. A total of 529 patients with moderate to severe major depressive episodes associated with either Bipolar I or Bipolar II disorder were randomized 1:1:1 to lumateperone 42 mg, 28 mg or placebo, while being maintained on lithium or valproate as mood stabilizers.

Lumateperone 42 mg met the primary endpoint by demonstrating a statistically significant improvement compared to placebo at week 6, as measured by change from baseline on the MADRS total score.

In the intent-to-treat study population, the least squares mean reduction from baseline for lumateperone 42 mg was 16.9 points, versus 14.5 points for placebo. Lumateperone 42 mg also met the key secondary endpoint of statistically significant improvement on the CGI-BP-S Depression Score.

Lumateperone 28 mg showed a trend for a dose-related improvement in symptoms of depression.

Though not formally tested against placebo since it did not separate on the primary endpoint, lumateperone 28 mg demonstrated a statistically significant improvement versus placebo on the CGI-BP-S. Lumateperone was generally well-tolerated with a favorable safety profile in the trial.

Adverse events were mostly mild to moderate and similar to those seen in prior studies in bipolar depression and schizophrenia, with no new adverse events observed. These findings provide further evidence supporting lumateperone’s favorable safety and tolerability profile across different patient populations.

 Importantly, lumateperone was generally safe and well tolerated in the study, adds the analyst. Hazlett believes that if approved in this indication, lumateperone would be differentiated as a potential first-line treatment option in depressive episodes associated with both bipolar I and bipolar II disorders.

ITCI is up 76% to $32.51

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American Airlines to fire 19,000 employees

American Airlines plans to cut 19,000 jobs if federal aid lapses, cuts to take effect October 1

In a regulatory filing, American Airlines (AAL) said:

“In short, American’s team will have at least 40,000 fewer people working Oct. 1 than we had when we entered this pandemic. We have worked to mitigate as many involuntary reductions as possible through voluntary programs.

Company says it will have 40,000 less employees on October 1

Across the mainline and regional carriers, more than 12,500 of our colleagues have made the difficult decision to leave the company permanently through early out programs or retirement.

Another 11,000 team members have offered to be on a leave of absence in October.

These are important life decisions and we respect and greatly appreciate the sacrifice these team members have made, and continue to make, for American and their fellow team members.

The pandemic has hurt airline the most

Even with those sacrifices, approximately 19,000 of our team members will be involuntarily furloughed or separated from the company on Oct. 1, unless there is an extension of the PSP…

The one possibility of avoiding these involuntary reductions on Oct. 1 is a clean extension of the PSP. Led by your labor unions, with the support of the industry, we have generated enormous bipartisan support for such an extension.

The overwhelming majority of members of both the U.S. House and Senate appreciate that saving jobs in the airline industry through this crisis will mean a quicker economic recovery in the months and years ahead.

And that preserving these essential service jobs will also mean continued commercial air service to all communities, small and large. But, despite this broad bipartisan support, a PSP extension is tied up in a larger COVID-19 relief package, which our elected officials haven’t yet been able to negotiate.

So we must prepare for the possibility that our nation’s leadership will not be able to find a way to further support aviation professionals and the service we provide, especially to smaller communities.”

AAL is down $0.45 to $13.00.

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Stein Mart files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Stein Mart voluntarily files Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Stein Mart (SMRT) announced that it and its subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida – Jacksonville Division.

Stein Mart files for bankruptcy protection

Stein Mart offers designer and name-brand fashion apparels, home decor merchandise, accessories, and shoes at everyday discount prices in the United States. As of June 3, 2020, it operated 281 stores in 30 states. The company was founded in 1908 and is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.

The Company has filed customary motions with the Bankruptcy Court that will authorize, upon Bankruptcy Court approval, the Company’s ability to maintain operations in the ordinary course of business, including, among other things, the payment of employee wages and benefits without interruption, payment of suppliers and vendors in the normal course of business, and the use of cash collateral.

Too much savings caused Stein Mart’s demise

These motions are typical in the Chapter 11 process and the Company anticipates that they will be approved shortly after the commencement of its Chapter 11 case.

Details on the Company’s Chapter 11 process and go-forward strategy are as follows:

The Company expects to close a significant portion, if not all, of its brick-and-mortar stores and, in connection therewith, the Company has launched a store closing and liquidation process.

The Company, however, will continue to operate its business in the ordinary course in the near term; and the Company is evaluating any and all strategic alternatives, including the potential sale of its eCommerce business and related intellectual property. 

SMRT last traded at $0.18.

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Gilead submits New Drug Application for Covid-19 Treatment

Gilead submits NDA to FDA for Veklury for COVID-19 treatment

Gilead Sciences (GILD) announced that it has submitted a New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for  Veklury® (remdesivir), an investigational antiviral for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

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Gilead files for NDA for Veklury

#Veklury is currently available in the U.S. under an Emergency Use Authorization for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19.

The filing is the final tier of the rolling NDA submission that was initiated on April 8, 2020.

The filing is supported by data from two randomized, open-label, multi-center Phase 3 clinical studies of Veklury conducted by Gilead and the Phase 3 randomized, placebo-controlled study of Veklury conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

These studies demonstrated that treatment with Veklury led to faster time to recovery compared with placebo and that a 5-day or 10-day treatment duration led to similar clinical improvement.

Across studies, Veklury was generally well-tolerated in both the 5-day and 10-day treatment groups, with no new safety signals identified. Veklury has been approved by multiple regulatory authorities around the world, including in the European Union and Japan.

In countries where Veklury has not been approved, including the United States, Veklury is an investigational drug and the safety and efficacy of remdesivir have not been established.

Veklury has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any use.

In the United States, the FDA granted Veklury an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. This authorization is temporary and may be revoked, and it does not take the place of the formal new drug application submission, review and approval process.

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New York sues to dissolve NRA

New York Attorney General James files lawsuit to dissolve NRA

New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association.

According to a statement, “Attorney General James charges the organization with illegal conduct because of their diversion of millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization for personal use by senior leadership, awarding contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family, and appearing to dole out lucrative no-show contracts to former employees in order to buy their silence and continued loyalty.

The suit specifically charges the NRA as a whole, as well as Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre, former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips, former Chief of Staff and the Executive Director of General Operations Joshua Powell, and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer with failing to manage the NRA’s funds and failing to follow numerous state and federal laws, contributing to the loss of more than $64M in just three years for the NRA.

NY Attorney General Letitia James

In the complaint, Attorney General James lays out dozens of examples where the four individual defendants failed to fulfill their fiduciary duty to the NRA and used millions upon millions from NRA reserves for personal use, including trips for them and their families to the Bahamas, private jets, expensive meals, and other private travel.

In addition to shuttering the NRA’s doors, Attorney General James seeks to recoup millions in lost assets and to stop the four individual defendants from serving on the board of any not-for-profit charitable organization in the state of New York again.”

It further states that, “the NRA is alleged to have fostered a culture of noncompliance and disregard for internal controls that led to the waste and loss of millions in assets and contributed to the NRA reaching its current deteriorated financial state.

Vista Outdoor (VSTO), Stockwinners

The NRA’s internal policies were repeatedly not followed and were even blatantly ignored by senior leaders. Furthermore, the NRA board’s audit committee was negligent in its duty to ensure appropriate, competent, and judicious stewardship of assets by NRA leadership.

Specifically, the committee failed to assure standard fiscal controls, failed to respond adequately to whistleblowers, affirmatively took steps to conceal the nature and scope of whistleblower concerns from external auditors, and failed to review potential conflicts of interest for employees.

Smith & Wesson Brands (SWBI), Stockwinners

The lawsuit alleges that the four men instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA that was illegal, oppressive, and fraudulent.

They overrode and evaded internal controls to allow themselves, their families, favored board members, employees, and vendors to benefit through reimbursed expenses, related party transactions, excess compensation, side deals, and waste of charitable assets without regard to the NRA’s best interests.

Sturm, Ruger (RGR), Stockwinners

The complaint lays out numerous other instances in which LaPierre, Phillips, Powell, Frazer, and other executives and board members at the NRA abused their power and illegally diverted or facilitated the diversion of tens of millions of dollars from the NRA.

These funds were in addition to millions of dollars the four individual defendants were already receiving in grossly excessive salaries and bonuses that were not in line with the best practices and prudent standards for evaluating and determining compensation.”

Stocks to Watch

Companies in the firearm space include Sturm, Ruger (RGR), Smith & Wesson Brands (SWBI), and Vista Outdoor (VSTO).

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Fulgent Genetics shares soar on Covid-19 testing

Fulgent Genetics surges after ‘record’ Q2 results

Shares of Fulgent Genetics (FLGT) have surged during Wednesday’s session after the company reported second quarter results after the market close last night.

The company noted that it had “record” figures for quarterly revenue, billable tests, adjusted earnings, and adjusted EBITDA, as it has commercially launched several tests for COVID-19 since March 2020.

EARNINGS

In its latest report, Fulgent Genetics reported Q2 adjusted EPS of 17c on revenue of $17.3M, compared to analysts’ estimates of (5c) and $10.05M.

The company delivered 180,513 billable tests in the quarter, an increase of 1003% year-over-year, and gross margin for the quarter improved roughly eight percentage points from the previous quarter and roughly 81% year-over-year.

Commenting on the results, chairman and CEO Ming Hsieh said, “The global COVID-19 pandemic has tested who we are as a company, and now more than ever we have demonstrated that Fulgent is a technology company with a proprietary platform built for massive scale.

Our technology is the cornerstone for all facets of our business, including cloud computing, pipeline services, record management, web portal services, clinical workflow, sequencing as a service and automated lab services.

Covid-19 Test Kit

Our second quarter results illustrate how we quickly applied our technology to the needs of today, organically developing and launching multiple tests to detect COVID-19 with Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, including an at-home test offered through Picture Genetics, our patient-initiated product.

These offerings have attracted major new customer accounts, resulting in an inflection point in our business and outlook.”

GUIDANCE:

On Fulgent’s quarterly conference call, CFO Paul Kim said that based on the “explosive” demand the company is seeing from the market and the quality of its customers, he continues to see the upward trajectory and transformation of the business continuing for the balance of 2020.

Fulgent now projects test volumes for 2020 to be over 1.3M, which translates to into over $120M in revenues. Kim added that he sees adjusted net income of $25M, or about $1.00 per share in FY20.

Analysts had expected the company to report FY20 EPS of 12c on revenue of $45.02M.

Analysts Comments:

Following the results, Piper Sandler analyst Steven Mah maintained an Overweight rating on Fulgent Genetics and raised his price target on the stock to $68 from $31.

Mah, who continues to believe COVID-19 testing is durable for the coming years, said he is encouraged by Fulgent’s early success in test volume, adding that his higher revenue estimates are due to increased COVID-19 expectations.

PRICE ACTION:

In afternoon trading, Fulgent Genetics shares are up nearly 23%, trading at $36.46.

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FDA approves Exact Sciences’ COVID-19 test

Exact Sciences receives revised EUA for COVID-19 test

A letter to Exact Sciences Laboratories (EXAS), dated August 3, posted to the site of the FDA states:

“On May 22, 2020, based on your request, the Food and Drug Administration issued a letter determining that your product met the criteria for issuance under section 564(c) of the Act to be eligible for authorization under the March 31, 2020, Emergency Use Authorization – EUA – for Molecular-based Laboratory Developed Tests for Detection of Nucleic Acid from SARS-CoV-2 for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory specimens collected from individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider…

On July 17, 2020, FDA received a request from you to revise the Scope of Authorization, and thus the test’s intended use as originally specified by the High Complexity LDT Umbrella EUA, to include self-collection of nasal swab specimens that are self-collected at home or in a healthcare setting by individuals using an authorized home-collection kit specified in this EUA’s authorized labeling when determined to be appropriate by a healthcare provider, and to specify that testing is limited to Exact Sciences Laboratories at two locations..

Having concluded that the criteria for issuance of this authorization under Section 564(c) of the Act are met, I am authorizing the emergency use of your product, as described in the Scope of Authorization of this letter (Section II), subject to the terms of this authorization.”

Exact Sciences is known for it’s Cologuard, colon cancer detection test

The COVID-19 test is offered through US physicians and authorized healthcare providers. The test is intended for use with patients who meet the CDC’s current guidance for evaluation of COVID-19 infection.

EXAS last traded at $92.76.

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