What is FOMC’s next move?

The Fed says go, go, go, the markets’ say whoa, whoa, whoa

There is a lot of uncertainty on the Fed outlook and just how fast and how far will the FOMC go in hiking rates in orders to bring inflation down to the 2% average target.

Though Chair Powell gave no clear indication in last Wednesday’s press conference that the Fed was near done with its mission, the markets nevertheless heard what they wanted to hear, putting on a dovish spin and pricing in a pivot to rate cuts in the spring of 2023.

Fed Chair: Jerome Powell

But over the last week policymakers have been out in force, including several doves, strongly contradicting that outlook.

They have stressed the necessity of getting to restrictive territory while playing down the fear that the economy is already in recession.

Meanwhile, the U.S. ISM-NMI services index rose to 56.7 from a 2-year low of 55.3 in June that was last seen in February of 2021, translated to an ISM-adjusted ISM-NMI rise to 54.3 from a 2-year low of 53.7 in June.

Today’s rise joins big declines for the ISM, Chicago PMI, Dallas Fed and Philly Fed, but gains for the Richmond Fed and Empire State, to leave an 8-month producer sentiment pull-back from robust November peaks.

Surging interest rates and a flattening in real household spending as prices rise are aggravating the downtrend, though sentiment also faces support as businesses continue to restock.

The ISM-adjusted average of the major sentiment surveys in July fell to a 2-year low of 52 from prior lows of 53 in June and 54 in May. Analysts saw a 62 all-time high in both November and May of 2021. Analysts expect a 52 average in Q3, after averages of 55 in Q2, 57 in Q1, and 60 in Q4.

The futures are now repricing for about a 50-50 risk for a third straight 75 bp hike in September.

James Bullard
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Meanwhile, the hawk Bullard continues to look for a policy rate around 3.75% to 4% by year-end, though implied Fed funds still reflect a terminal rate in the 3.5% area.

Analysts continue to project a 50 bp boost in September followed by 25 bps in November and December to bring the median funds rate to 3.375%.

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Beige Book says housing is slowing amid high inflation

Fed’s Beige Book reiterated the economy expanded at a moderate pace

Fed’s Beige Book reiterated the economy expanded at a moderate pace.

But there was a big “however,” something the Fed typically does not express:

“several Districts reported grow signs of a slowdown in demand, and contacts in five Districts noted concerns over an increased risk of a recession.”

Most Districts reported moderation in consumer spending as higher food and gas prices diminished households’ discretionary income.

Federal Reserve Regions

Auto sales were sluggish with low inventories still impacting.

Leisure travel was “healthy.” Manufacturing was mixed. Non-financial services firms saw stable to slightly higher demand. Housing demand weakened.

As in the prior report, the outlook for future economic growth was mostly negative.

Employment generally continued to rise at a moderate pace and conditions were tight overall.

Jerome Powell, FOMC Chair

But there was some sign of modest improvement in labor availability.

Most Districts reported wage growth.

“Substantial” price increases were reported across all Districts, at all stages of consumption, with food, commodities, and energy (particularly fuel) cost remaining “significant.”

There was some moderation in construction materials.

Pricing power was steady, but firms in some sectors like travel and hospitality, were able to pass through sizeable increases to consumers. That is seen persisting through the year.

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FOMC Raises Rates

Fed boosts rates 50 basis points, says ongoing raises ‘appropriate’ 

The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. With appropriate firming in the stance of monetary policy, the Committee expects inflation to return to its 2 percent objective and the labor market to remain strong. In support of these goals, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3/4 to 1 percent and anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate.”

Federal Reserve to reduce Treasury, debt holdings on June 1 – The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “The Committee decided to begin reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities on June 1, as described in the Plans for Reducing the Size of the Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet that were issued in conjunction with this statement.”

Fed says inflation remains elevated, Ukraine impacts ‘highly uncertain’ – The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “Although overall economic activity edged down in the first quarter, household spending and business fixed investment remained strong. Job gains have been robust in recent months, and the unemployment rate has declined substantially. Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher energy prices, and broader price pressures.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is causing tremendous human and economic hardship. The implications for the U.S. economy are highly uncertain. The invasion and related events are creating additional upward pressure on inflation and are likely to weigh on economic activity. In addition, COVID-related lockdowns in China are likely to exacerbate supply chain disruptions. The Committee is highly attentive to inflation risks.”

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Crane to split into two companies!

Crane plans to split into two independent public companies

Crane (CR) announced that its Board of Directors has unanimously approved a plan to pursue a separation into two independent, publicly-traded companies to optimize investment and capital allocation, accelerate growth, and unlock shareholder value.

Upon completion, Crane Co.’s shareholders will benefit from ownership in two focused and simplified businesses that are both leaders in their respective industries and well-positioned for continued success:

Crane Co. will be a leading global provider of mission-critical, highly engineered products and solutions, with differentiated technology, respected brands, and leadership positions in its markets.

After the separation, Crane Co. will include the Aerospace & Electronics and Process Flow Technologies businesses.

This year, these businesses are expected to generate approximately $1.9B in annual sales with a pre-corporate Adjusted EBITDA margin of approximately 18.5%.

The company will be well-positioned to accelerate organic growth in its large and attractive end markets, benefit from favorable secular trends, and apply its proven processes to drive growth through new product development and commercial excellence.

Richard Teller Crane, Founder of Crane Co.

Crane Co. is expected to have a strong, well-capitalized balance sheet underpinning a capital deployment strategy focused on supporting the company’s organic and inorganic strategic growth objectives, while providing a dividend in-line with peers.

Crane Co. will be led by Max Mitchell, who will continue to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer, with Rich Maue continuing to serve as Chief Financial Officer.

The company intends to continue to be listed on the NYSE under its current ticker symbol, “CR”.

Crane NXT will be a premier Industrial Technology business with substantial global scale, a best-in-class margin profile, and strong free cash flow generation.

This year, the Payment and Merchandising Technologies business that will become Crane NXT is expected to achieve approximately $1.4 billion in sales with a pre-corporate Adjusted EBITDA margin of approximately 28%.

In addition to its market leading brands, Crane NXT will differentiate itself through its technology leadership, positioning it to leverage long-term secular drivers including automation, security and productivity, across several high-growth adjacent markets.

After the separation, Crane NXT will be positioned to drive earnings growth through continued investment in the business and value-enhancing bolt-on acquisitions. Its balance sheet and strong free cash flow will also allow it to support a robust and differentiated level of capital return to shareholders that is expected to include a competitive dividend.

Crane NXT’s shares are expected to be listed on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “CXT”. A process is currently underway to identify Crane NXT’s chief executive, including evaluation of both internal and external candidates.

The executives currently leading Crane’s PMT business will continue to serve in senior positions with Crane NXT.

The separation is expected to occur through a tax-free distribution of the Aerospace & Electronics and Process Flow Technologies businesses to the Company’s shareholders.

Payment & Merchandising Technologies will be renamed Crane NXT concurrent with the separation, and the Aerospace & Electronics and Process Flow Technologies businesses will retain the Crane Co. name.

Upon completion of the separation, shareholders will own 100% of the equity in both of the publicly traded companies.

The separation is expected to be completed within approximately 12 months of this announcement, subject to the satisfaction of customary conditions and final approval of the separation by Crane Co.’s Board of Directors. Shareholder approval is not required.

Crane Co. will maintain its current capital deployment policies until the separation is completed.

CR is up $2.50 to $112.63.

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Rate Hikes are Coming!

Fed Chair confirmed a 25 bp rate hike this month

Fed’s Beige Book was released a few minutes ago. The report reiterated the economy expanded at a “modest to moderate” pace. Many Districts reported that the surge in Covid cases and severe winter weather disrupted businesses. Some firms noted a “temporary” weakening in demand in the hospitality sector to Covid.

The Beige Book reports an expanding economy

“All Districts” said supply chain issues and low inventories continued to restrain growth, especially in construction.

The overall outlook for the next 6 months remained one of stable and general optimism, though with elevated uncertainty.

Powell, FOMC Chair, Stockwinners
Fed Chief Jerome Powell

For the labor market, the widespread strong demand for labor was hampered by “equally widespread reports of worker scarcity.”

Meanwhile,  Fed Chair Powell’s testified before the Congress today. He confirmed a 25 basis points rate hike is in the cards for the March 15-16 meeting.

FOMC as policymakers look to address “indisputably” high inflation pressures. He also suggested more aggressive increases could be warranted down the road. Powell said liquidity has been functional thanks to a number of measures and facilities put in place, including swap lines and the standing repo facility.

FOMC is looking to soak up liquidity

The Fed has “institutionalized liquidity provisions” — hence the geopolitical pressures have not added stresses in the funding markets.

The markets are sharply higher across all sectors.

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Economic Activities Slowed in December

U.S. flash Markit PMIs all slipped in December

U.S. flash Markit Purchasing Managers Index’s (PMI) all slipped in December as activity eased amid well known headwinds such as capacity constraints and Omicron variant spread.

Flash Manufacturing PMI is an estimate of manufacturing for a country, based on about 85% to 90% of total Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey responses each month.

Any reading of the Flash Manufacturing PMI above 50 indicates improving conditions, while readings below 50 indicate a deteriorating economic climate.

The manufacturing index fell another -0.5 ticks to 57.8 in December after dipping -0.1 ticks to 58.3 in November. It is the weakest since the 57.1 last December.

The index has been sliding from the record high of 63.4 in July, but it remains in expansion for an 18th straight month.

New orders declined to 56.3 from 56.9, while supplier delivers increased to their best reading since May.

The preliminary services index also fell -0.5 ticks to 57.5 on the month following the -0.7 point decline to 58.0. The reading is above the 54.8 from a year ago, however, and has been above 50 since July 2020.

The business expectations component improved to its highest reading since November 2020.

Input prices climbed to 77.4 versus 75.7 last month and is at an all-time peak (data goes back to 2009).

The composite reading dipped -0.3 ticks to 56.9 from November’s 57.2 and was at 55.3 last December. Input prices increased to a new record level at 78.1 from November’s 77.6.

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When It rains, It pours!

Workhorse Group suspends deliveries of C-1000 vehicles, recalls 41 that it had delivered

Workhorse Group Inc. (WKHS) shares plunged on Wednesday to their lowest in fifteen months after the beleaguered electric-vehicle maker said it will suspend deliveries of its vans and recall units it has already delivered.

Workhorse Group (WKHS) provided an update to its ongoing review of the Company’s business and go-forward operating and commercial plans to transition from an advanced technology start-up to an efficient manufacturing company.

The electric van, called the C-1000, would require additional testing and modifications to existing vehicles in order to certify them under federal motor vehicle safety standards, the company said in a statement.

The Company stopped delivery of its C-1000

The Company has identified a number of enhancements in the production process and design of the C-1000 to address customer feedback, primarily related to vehicle dynamics to increase the vehicles’ payload capacity.

As Workhorse has identified these enhancements and continued its review and redesign of the C-1000, the Company has decided to suspend deliveries of C-1000 vehicles and recall 41 vehicles it has already delivered.

As part of these efforts, the new leadership team has determined that additional testing and modifications to existing vehicles are required to certify the C-1000 vehicles under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.

The Company expects to complete testing in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Workhorse intends to provide an update on its operating and commercial plans on its upcoming third quarter 2021 earnings call.

The Company has filed a report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding the need for additional testing and vehicle modifications to certify its C-1000 vehicles under FMVSS, and intends to fully coordinate with NHTSA.

The Company has not received any customer reports of safety issues related to this matter in any of the C-1000 vehicles previously delivered by Workhorse.

Additional details will be available in the Company’s filing with NHTSA.

Accordingly, the Company’s previous statements related to the C-1000’s compliance with NHTSA standards cannot be relied upon and the Company has so notified the Securities and Exchange Commission.

#Cowen analyst Jeffrey #Osborne lowered his price target on the company to $7.50 from $8.50, and also reduced his estimates for 2021 and 2022 after the announcement, saying a “turnaround appears more challenging.” The analyst also expects working capital to likely be challenged due to prepayments for batteries and other critical materials.

According to some reports, the company is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as disappointment related to losing out on a U.S. Postal Service contract that many had expected Workhorse to win.

WKHS closed at $7.41. Shares have a 52-week high of $42.96.

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Spectrum Brands shares soar on sale of it’s division

Spectrum Brands agrees to sell Hardware & Home Improvement segment for $4.3B

Spectrum Brands Holdings (SPB) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its HHI segment to ASSA ABLOY (ASAZY) for $4.3B in cash, which it said represents over 14 times HHI’s expected FY21 Adjusted EBITDA.

Upon closing of the transaction, Spectrum Brands expects to receive approximately $3.5B in net proceeds, subject to final tax calculations and purchase price adjustments.

Spectrum Brands expects to use the proceeds from this transaction to repay debt and reduce its gross leverage ratio to approximately 2.5x times in the near term.

Excess proceeds are expected to be allocated to invest for organic growth, fund complementary acquisitions and return capital to shareholders.

The company expects to maintain its quarterly cash dividend of 42c per common share, which will be subject to the company’s continued review from time to time.

The sale of HHI is expected to close following the receipt of certain regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

The results of operations of HHI will be reported as discontinued operations beginning in the fourth quarter of 2021. David Maura, CEO of Spectrum Brands, said, “I am exceedingly proud of the fact that our Hardware & Home Improvement business nearly doubled its EBITDA under Spectrum Brands’ ownership.

I am pleased to know that HHI has found a new home with a great partner, and I am confident that ASSA ABLOY will take it to its highest potential, bringing great value and innovation to consumers for generations to come.

We believe this transaction demonstrates the tremendous value of Spectrum Brands as an owner and steward of our businesses and places the Company in a strong position for the future by allowing us to further reduce our leverage levels, and enhance our capital allocation strategy.

Our remaining business will be more focused, allowing us to prioritize innovation to accelerate organic growth and pursue synergistic acquisitions to further drive value creation in Global Pet Care and Home & Garden, while continuing to look for strategic and organic ways to enhance the value of Home and Personal Care.

After the closing, we will become a more pure play consumer staples company with higher growth rates and strong margins.”

The company added: “Spectrum Brands will be a simplified business consisting of three focused business units with leading market share, strong growth opportunities and consistent performance.

The pro forma business generated $3.0B in net sales and $386 million in Adjusted EBITDA representing a 13.0% margin for the LTM period ended July 4, 2021.

Spectrum Brands will report its fourth quarter 2021 results in mid-November and expects to provide Fiscal 2022 Earnings Framework at that time.”

ASSA ABLOY AB is a Swedish company that provides door opening products, solutions, and services for the institutional, commercial, and residential markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Oceania.  In addition, the company offers entrance automation products, services, and components, such as automatic swing, sliding, and revolving doors; industrial doors; garage doors; high-performance doors; docking solutions; hangar doors; gate automation products; components for overhead sectional doors and sensors; and high security fencings and gates. The company provides its products primarily under the ASSA ABLOY, Yale, and HID brands.

Spectrum’s Hardware & Home Improvement segment offers hardware products under the National Hardware and FANAL brands; locksets and door hardware under the Kwikset, Weiser, Baldwin, EZSET, and Tell Manufacturing brands; and plumbing products under the Pfister brand. Its Home and Personal Care segment provides home appliances under the Black & Decker, Russell Hobbs, George Foreman, Toastmaster, Juiceman, Farberware, and Breadman brands; and personal care products under the Remington and LumaBella brands.

The company’s Global Pet Care segment provides rawhide chewing, dog and cat clean-up and food, training, health and grooming, small animal food and care, and rawhide-free products under the 8IN1 (8-in-1), Dingo, Nature’s Miracle, Wild Harvest, Littermaid, Jungle, Excel, FURminator, IAMS, Eukanuba, Healthy-Hide, DreamBone, SmartBones, ProSense, Perfect Coat, eCOTRITION, Birdola, and Digest-eeze brands.

ASAZY is down 38 cents to $15.53 per share while SPB is up $15 to $94.

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Railroad Traffic Points to Growing Economy

North American rail traffic rose 10.6% in week ended June 19, AAR says

The Association of American Railroads, AAR, reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 19.

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 514,112 carloads and intermodal units, up 12.5% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending June 19 were 232,144 carloads, up 15.1% compared with the same week in 2020, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 281,968 containers and trailers, up 10.4% compared to 2020.

For some rail traffic categories, percentage changes for the current week compared with the same week in 2020 are inflated because of the widespread shutdowns – and subsequent large reduction in rail volumes – that impacted many economic sectors last year at this time.

North American rail volume for the week ending June 19, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 329,907 carloads, up 11.3% compared with the same week last year, and 369,258 intermodal units, up 10% compared with last year.

Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 699,165 carloads and intermodal units, up 10.6%.

North American rail volume for the first 24 weeks of 2021 was 16,805,420 carloads and intermodal units, up 12.1% compared with 2020.

Publicly traded companies in the space include CSX (CSX), Canadian National (CNI), Canadian Pacific (CP), Genesee & Wyoming (GWR), Kansas City Southern (KSU), Norfolk Southern (NSC) and Union Pacific (UNP).

Dow Jones Transport Index is up 19 points to 14,959.

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U.S. Concrete sold for $1.29B

Vulcan Materials to acquire U.S. Concrete for $74 per share in cash

Vulcan Materials (VMC) and U.S. Concrete (USCR) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, Vulcan will acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of U.S. Concrete common stock for a purchase price of $74.00 per share in cash, which represents a total equity value of $1.294B.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to close in the second half of 2021, subject to U.S. Concrete shareholder approval, regulatory clearance, and other customary closing conditions.

Tom Hill, Chairman and CEO of Vulcan Materials Company, said, “U.S. Concrete is an important Vulcan customer in a number of key areas, and this transaction is a logical and exciting step in our growth strategy as we further bolster our geographic footprint.

Ronnie Pruitt and his team have done an excellent job growing and operating its business, and we look forward to welcoming the U.S. Concrete employees to the Vulcan family.

This is a merger of two corporate cultures that value people, technology, operating disciplines, customer service and the entrepreneurial spirit, and it positions Vulcan to further drive sustainable, long-term shareholder value.”

U.S. Concrete, Inc. produces and sells ready-mixed concrete, aggregates, and concrete-related products and services to the construction industry in the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada. It operates through two segments, Ready-Mixed Concrete and Aggregate Products. 

Vulcan Materials Company produces and supplies construction aggregate primarily in the United States. It operates through four segments: Aggregates, Asphalt, Concrete, and Calcium. 

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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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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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Waddell & Reed sold for $1.7 billion

Macquarie to acquire Waddell & Reed for $25 per share

Waddell & Reed (WDR) announced it has entered into a merger agreement with Macquarie Asset Management, the asset management division of Macquarie Group (MQBKY), under which Macquarie would acquire all of the outstanding shares of Waddell & Reed for $25.00 per share in cash representing total consideration of $1.7B.

The transaction represents a premium of approximately 48% to the closing price of Waddell & Reed common stock on December 1, 2020, the last trading day prior to the transaction announcement, and a premium of approximately 57% to Waddell & Reed’s volume-weighted average price for the last 90 trading days.

On completion of the transaction, Macquarie has agreed to sell Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc.’s wealth management platform to LPL Financial Holdings Inc. (LPLA), a U.S. retail investment advisory firm, independent broker-dealer, and registered investment advisor custodian, and also enter into a long-term partnership with Macquarie becoming one of LPL’s top tier strategic asset management partners.

As a result of the transaction, Macquarie Asset Management’s assets under management are expected to increase to over $465B, with the combined business becoming a top 25 actively managed, long-term, open-ended U.S. mutual fund manager by assets under management, with the scale and diversification to competitively position the business to maintain and extend its high standards of service to clients and partners.

The transaction has been approved by the Boards of Directors of Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc., Macquarie Group and LPL and is expected to close in the middle of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals, Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. stockholder approval and other customary closing conditions.

Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. provides investment management and advisory, investment product underwriting and distribution, and shareholder services administration to mutual funds, and institutional and separately managed accounts in the United States. 

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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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Rig Counts Decline!

Baker Hughes reports U.S. rig count down 2 to 310 rigs, breaking the nine-week string of gains

Baker Hughes reports that the U.S. rig count is down 2 from last week to 310 with oil rigs down 5 to 231, gas rigs up 3 to 76, and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 3.

Baker Hughes has been reporting weekly rig counts for more than 50 years

The U.S. Rig Count is down 493 rigs from last year’s count of 803, with oil rigs down 440, gas rigs down 53 and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 3.

The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is down 1 to 12, down 10 year-over-year. The Canada Rig Count is up 12 from last week to 101, with oil rigs up 3 to 42, gas rigs up 9 to 59.

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The Canada Rig Count is down 36 rigs from last year’s count of 137, with oil rigs down 44, gas rigs up 8.

Brent crude is up $0.50 to $44.70 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude is up $0.29 to $42.18 per barrel.

Gasoline last traded at $1.17 per gallon, up one cent.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility.

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