U.S. orders 600M doses of Covid-19 vaccine candidate for $1.95B

Pfizer, BioNTech to supply U.S. government up to 600M doses of vaccine candidate

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and BioNTech SE (BNTX) announced the execution of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense to meet the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program goal to begin delivering 300 million doses of a vaccine for COVID-19 in 2021.

Pfizer to provide 600M doses of its vaccine candidate

Under the agreement, the U.S. government will receive 100 million doses of BNT162, the COVID-19 vaccine candidate jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, after Pfizer successfully manufactures and obtains approval or emergency use authorization from U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The U.S. government will pay the companies $1.95B upon the receipt of the first 100 million doses, following FDA authorization or approval. The U.S. government also can acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.

Americans will receive the vaccine for free consistent with U.S. government’s commitment for free access for COVID-19 vaccines. The BNT162 program is based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology and supported by Pfizer’s global vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities.

The BNT162 vaccine candidates are undergoing clinical studies and are not currently approved for distribution anywhere in the world. BioNTech is the market authorization holder worldwide and will hold all trademarks for the potential product.

Both collaborators are committed to developing these novel vaccines with pre-clinical and clinical data at the forefront of all their decision-making.

Covid19 vaccine path to defeat the virus

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine development program is evaluating at least four experimental vaccines, each of which represents a unique combination of messenger RNA format and target antigen.

On July 1st, Pfizer and BioNTech announced preliminary data from BNT162b1, the most advanced of the four mRNA formulations. The early data demonstrates that BNT162b1 is able to produce neutralizing antibodies in humans at or above the levels observed in the plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, and this was shown at relatively low dose levels.

Local reactions and systemic events were dose-dependent, generally mild to moderate, and transient. No serious adverse events were reported.

On July 20th, the companies announced early positive update from German Phase 1/2 COVID-19 vaccine study, including first T Cell response data.

Recently, two of the companies’ four investigational vaccine candidates received Fast Track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This designation was granted based on preliminary data from Phase 1/2 studies that are currently ongoing in the United States and Germany as well as animal immunogenicity studies.

Further data from the ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trials of the four vaccine candidates will enable the selection of a lead candidate and dose level for an anticipated large, global Phase 2b/3 safety and efficacy study that may begin as early as later this month, pending regulatory approval.

If the ongoing studies are successful, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be ready to seek Emergency Use Authorization or some form of regulatory approval as early as October 2020.

The companies currently expect to manufacture globally up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and potentially more than 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021, subject to final dose selection from their clinical trial.

In addition to engagements with governments, Pfizer and BioNTech have provided an expression of interest for possible supply to the COVAX Facility, a mechanism established by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and World Health Organization that aims to provide governments with early access to a large portfolio of COVID-19 candidate vaccines using a range of technology platforms, produced by multiple manufacturers across the world.

PFE closed at $36.69, last traded at $38.45. BNTX closed at $91.60, it last traded at $97.60.

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National General sold for $4 billion

Allstate to acquire National General for $34.50 per share, in cash

Allstate (ALL) has agreed to acquire National General (NGHC) for approximately $4B in cash, or $34.50 per share.

The companies said in a release, “The transaction is expected to close in early 2021, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

National General sold for $4B

National General provides a wide range of property-liability products through independent agents with a significant presence in non-standard auto insurance.

The company also has attractive Accident and Health and Lender-Placed Insurance businesses.

Gross premiums written were $5.6 billion, which generated operating income of $319 million in 2019.

National General shareholders will receive $32.00 per share in cash from Allstate, plus closing dividends expected to be $2.50 per share, providing $34.50 in total value per share.

Allstate will fund the share purchase by deploying $2.2 billion in combined cash resources and, subject to market conditions, issuing $1.5 billion of new senior debt.

Allstate expects to maintain its current share repurchase program.

National General’s board of directors has approved the transaction, which includes customary terms and conditions, including a breakup fee of $132.5 million.

A voting agreement has also been signed with entities controlling 40% of National General’s common shares to vote for the transaction.

MSD Capital, which owns approximately 7.4% of National General’s outstanding common shares, also supports the transaction.

NGHC closed at $20.41.

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Pfizer and BioNTech report promising data on Covid-19 vaccine

Pfizer, BioNTech announce early data from Phase 1/2 study of vaccine candidate

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and BioNTech SE (BNTX) announced preliminary U.S. data from the most advanced of four investigational vaccine candidates from their BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine program, Project Lightspeed, against SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the current global pandemic.

The BNT162 program is evaluating at least four experimental vaccines, each of which represents a unique combination of mRNA format and target antigen.

Pfizer reports preliminary positive data

The manuscript describing the preliminary clinical data for the nucleoside-modified messenger RNA candidate, BNT162b1, which encodes an optimized SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain antigen, is available and is concurrently undergoing scientific peer-review for potential publication.

Overall, the preliminary data demonstrated that BNT162b1 could be administered in a dose that was well tolerated and generated dose dependent immunogenicity, as measured by RBD-binding IgG concentrations and SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody titers.

The ongoing U.S. Phase 1/2 randomized, placebo-controlled, observer-blinded study is evaluating the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of escalating dose levels of BNT162b1. The initial part of the study included 45 healthy adults 18 to 55 years of age.

Preliminary data for BNT162b1 was evaluated for 24 subjects who received two injections of 10 microgram and 30 microgram, 12 subjects who received a single injection of 100 microgram, and 9 subjects who received 2 doses of placebo control.

The participants received two doses, 21 days apart, of placebo, 10 microgram or 30 microgram of BNT162b1, or received a single dose of 100 microgram of the vaccine candidate.

Because of a strong vaccine booster effect, the highest neutralizing titers were observed seven days after the second dose of 10 microgram or 30 microgram on day 28 after vaccination.

The neutralizing GMTs were 168 and 267 for the 10 microgram and 30 microgram dose levels, respectively, corresponding to 1.8- and 2.8-times the neutralizing GMT of 94 observed in a panel of 38 sera from subjects who had contracted SARS-CoV-2.

In all 24 subjects who received 2 vaccinations at 10 microgram and 30 microgram dose levels of BNT162b1, elevation of RBD-binding IgG concentrations was observed after the second injection with respective GMCs of 4,813 units/ml and 27,872 units/ml at day 28, seven days after immunization.

These concentrations are 8- and 46.3-times the GMC of 602 units/ml in a panel of 38 sera from subjects who had contracted SARS-CoV-2.

At day 21 after a single injection, the 12 subjects who received 100 microgram of BNT162b1 had an RBD-binding IgG GMC of 1,778 units/ml and a SARS-CoV neutralizing GMT of 33, which are 3-times and 0.35-times, respectively, the GMC and GMT of the convalescent serum panel.

At the 10 microgram or 30 microgram dose levels, adverse reactions, including low grade fever, were more common after the second dose than the first dose.

Following dose 2, 8.3% of participants who received 10 microgram and 75.0% of participants who received 30 microgram BNT162b1 reported fever greater than or equal to 38.0 degrees C.

Local reactions and systemic events after injection with 10 microgram and 30 microgram of BNT162b1 were dose-dependent, generally mild to moderate, and transient.

The most commonly reported local reaction was injection site pain, which was mild to moderate, except in one of 12 subjects who received a 100 microgram dose, which was severe. No serious adverse events were reported.

Given higher numbers of subjects experiencing local reactions and systemic events after a single 100 microgram dose with no significant increases in immunogenicity compared to the 30 microgram dose level, the 12 participants in the 100 microgram group were not administered a second dose.

These preliminary data, together with additional preclinical and clinical data being generated, will be used by the two companies to determine a dose level and select among multiple vaccine candidates to seek to progress to a large, global Phase 2b/3 safety and efficacy trial.

That trial may involve up to 30,000 healthy participants and is anticipated to begin in late July 2020, if regulatory approval to proceed is received.

The preliminary clinical data from this ongoing study has been submitted for potential publication in a peer-reviewed journal and is available on an online preprint manuscript server.

The BNT162b1 candidate remains under clinical study and is not currently approved for distribution anywhere in the world. If the ongoing studies are successful and the vaccine candidate receives regulatory approval, the companies expect to manufacture up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and potentially more than 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021.

In that event, BioNTech and Pfizer would work jointly to distribute the potential COVID-19 vaccine worldwide.

The Canadian company provides lipid nanoparticles or the formulation of various mRNA vaccines.

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AMC Theatres to open in July

AMC to reopen 450 U.S. theaters on July 15

Beginning July 15, AMC will resume operations of 450 U.S. theatres as part of a phased plan that is expected to bring the 600-plus U.S. theatre circuit to nearly full operation leading into the opening of MULAN on July 24 and TENET on July 31.

Adam Aron, CEO & President, AMC Theatres, said, “After a painful almost four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus, we are delighted to announce that movies are coming back to the big screen at AMC.

Our next 100 years of making smiles happen officially begin at approximately 450 theatres across the United States on July 15. I cannot emphasize enough how much care and attention to detail we have taken in developing AMC Safe & Clean, our absolute commitment to optimizing the health and safety of our theatres for our guests and associates.

Remember that there is a rumor that Amazon may buy AMC

Developed along with The Clorox Company, and current and former faculty of Harvard University’s School of Public Health, AMC Safe & Clean represents a comprehensive commitment with a broad array of tools being used in sanitizing our theatres.

Social distancing, reduced seat capacity, greatly intensified cleaning regimens, new employee health protocols, contactless ticketing and mobile food & beverage ordering are all part of AMC Safe & Clean.

So too is a new multimillion-dollar commitment to implementing high tech solutions in making AMC theatres safe, including deploying electrostatic sprayers, HEPA vacuums and upgraded MERV 13 ventilation filters.

All this is being put into motion because at AMC our single highest priority is the health and safety of our guests and associates. Both personally and professionally, I couldn’t be more excited for what this means for movie lovers.”

Disney’s Mulan to open July 24th

In the coming weeks, theatre teams will begin returning to their theatres for training on AMC’s new, enhanced cleaning and safety procedures.

AMC expects that almost all its 600-plus U.S. locations will be open and in operation for the launch of MULAN on July 24 and TENET on July 31.

The resumption of AMC operations may be adjusted if there are changes to the current theatrical release schedule, or as needed in response to local or regional conditions.

To facilitate proper social distancing within theatre auditoriums, AMC will approach seat capacity limitations in four distinct phases. But AMC will always follow all federal, state and local directives, including those that mandate a maximum capacity if lower than those envisioned in AMC’s four phases as now planned.

Tenet is scheduled for July 31 opening

The reopening schedule for specific theatres will be communicated in early July. During the weeks leading up to new major theatrical releases, AMC will be showing popular repertory titles made available from its studio partners. Those titles and ticket price information will be announced prior to reopening.

AMC closed at $5.63.

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Rig Counts Decline!

Baker Hughes reports U.S. rig count down 5 to 279 rigs

Baker Hughes (BKR) reports that the U.S. rig count is down 5 rigs from last week to 279 with oil rigs down 7 to 199, gas rigs up 2 to 78, and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 2.

The U.S. Rig Count is down 690 rigs from last year’s count of 969, with oil rigs down 589, gas rigs down 103, and miscellaneous rigs up 2 to 2.

Rig counts decline

The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is unchanged at 13 and down 11 year-over-year.

The international offshore rig count for April 2018 was 194. Stockwinners

The Canada Rig Count is unchanged from last week at 21, with oil rigs unchanged at 7 and gas rigs unchanged at 14.

The Canada Rig Count is down 86 rigs from last year’s count of 107, with oil rigs down 62 and gas rigs down 24.

WTI crude is down 14 cents to $36.20 per barrel. Brent is up 28 cents to $38.88 per barrel.

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Bitauto taken private at $16 a share

Bitauto enters definitive agreement for going-private transaction

Bitauto (BITA) announced that it has entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger with Yiche Holding and Yiche Mergersub Limited, a wholly owned Subsidiary of Parent, pursuant to which the company will be acquired by an investor consortium led by Morespark Limited, an affiliate of Tencent Holdings (TCEHY) and Hammer Capital Opportunities Fund L.P. in an all-cash transaction that values the company’s equity at approximately $1.1B.

BitAuto taken private

Pursuant to the Merger Agreement, at the effective time of the Merger, each ordinary share of the company issued and outstanding immediately prior to the Effective Time will be cancelled and cease to exist in exchange for the right to receive $16 in cash without interest, and each outstanding American depositary share of the company will be cancelled in exchange for the right to receive $16 in cash without interest, except for

(a) certain Shares owned by affiliates of Tencent, an affiliate of JD.com (JD), and Bin Li, chairman of the board of directors of the company, which will be rolled over in the transaction ,

(b) Shares owned by Parent, Merger Sub, the company or any of their respective subsidiaries,

(c) Shares held by the ADS depositary and reserved for issuance, settlement and allocation upon exercise or vesting of company’s options and/or restricted share unit awards, and

(d) Shares held by shareholders who have validly exercised and not effectively withdrawn or lost their rights to dissent from the merger pursuant to Section 238 of the Companies Law of the Cayman Islands.

The Merger is currently expected to close in the second half of 2020 and is subject to customary closing conditions including the approval of the Merger Agreement by an affirmative vote of holders of Shares representing at least two-thirds of the voting power of the Shares present and voting in person or by proxy at a meeting of the company’s shareholders. those dissenting shares in accordance with Section 238 of the Companies Law of the Cayman Islands.

Bitauto Holdings Limited provides internet content and marketing services, and transaction services for the automobile industry in the People’s Republic of China. 

BITA closed at $14.33.

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Boeing 737-Max Recertification Flight is set for later this month

Boeing 737-Max Recertification Flight is scheduled for later this month

Boeing (BA) is targeting late June for a recertification flight on the grounded 737 Max, Bloomberg’s Alan Levin and Julie Johnsson report.

Boeing 737-Max recertification flight set for late June

The company separately is notifying airlines of an important fix to the grounded jetliner’s wiring, said two people familiar with the planning who asked not to be named discussing sensitive matters.

A draft of revised pilot training for the plane, which has been parked around the world since March 2019 as a result of two fatal crashes that killed 346 people, is also being shared with airlines, the people said.

Grounded 737-Max planes

The moves were strong indications that Boeing is finally nearing the end of the jet’s 15-month grounding and controversy that has engulfed the company after the two fatal crashes.

The flight by Federal Aviation Administration pilots to certify that the plane meets safety regulations is one of the critical remaining milestones. However, the people cautioned that the date hasn’t been finalized and has shifted repeatedly as Boeing completed its final work for regulators.

Boeing’s goal has been to return the 737 Max, a critical source of revenue, to commercial service in the third quarter. The company restarted manufacturing the single-aisle jet late last month, ending a five-month halt to work in its 737 factory in the Seattle suburb of Renton, Washington.

The company is revising a software system implicated in the two crashes that repeatedly drove down the noses of the jets due to a malfunction. Reviews of the plane’s safety following its March 13, 2019, grounding also discovered additional flaws that needed upgrading, including its flight-control computer, how electrical wires were bundled and software issues.

The FAA on Wednesday said it won’t approve the plane for passenger service until it is satisfied that all safety-related issues have been addressed.

BA is down 5% to $206.00

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California Resources on the verge of bankruptcy!

The oil driller is preparing near-term bankruptcy filing, WSJ reports

California Resources Corporation (CRC) operates as an oil and natural gas exploration and production company in the State of California.

The company sells crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids to marketers, California refineries, and other purchasers that have access to transportation and storage facilities. It holds interests in approximately 2.2 million net acres of mineral acreage. As of December 31, 2019, the company had net proved reserves of 644 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Interest Payment

California Resources skipped an interest payment to lenders and could file for bankruptcy as soon as next week, The Wall Street Journal’s Alexander Gladstone reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company said in an 8-K filing that it entered into forbearance agreements most of its lenders, who have agreed not to exercise “remedies” under the credit agreements. 

The oil driller said Monday it has entered into an agreement with a majority of its senior lenders to wait until Sunday before they can declare a default, the author notes.

2-Year price chart for CRC

The company has suffered from a sharp selloff in crude oil futures prices to start this year, as a result of the drop in demand from the COVID-19 pandemic and the price war between Saudia Arabia and Russia.

CRC is up 67 cents to $2.68.

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American Airlines reports improved bookings, Shares fly!

American Airlines to fly 55% of July 2019 domestic capacity in July 2020

American Airlines (AAL) announced that, “in response to improving demand for air travel,” American is planning to fly 55% of its domestic schedule and nearly 20% of its international schedule in July 2020 compared to the same period last year.

The airline’s July systemwide capacity amounts to approximately 40% of July 2019 flying.

The company added: “American saw an increase in demand in May. By the last week of May, the airline carried a daily average of about 110,000 customers per day – an increase of 71% over the approximately 32,000 average daily customers the airline served in April.

Compared to the spring, American is increasing frequency of flying from hubs, including Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Charlotte Douglas International Airport to destinations customers are searching and booking most, with increased flying to major cities in Florida, Gulf Coast cities as well as mountain destinations.

AAL shares jump 35% on improved bookings

The airline also increased frequency of flying to Asheville, North Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina for business and leisure travelers.”

The firm  said: “While international demand continued to be diminished, today marked the return of service to eight international destinations.

These include service from Dallas-Fort Worth to Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt, as well as service from Miami to Antigua in the Caribbean and Guayaquil and Quito in South America. American also restored additional service to London from Chicago and New York. 

The airline said: “American Airlines will begin reopening Admirals Club lounges in phases, beginning June 22, after making improvements to adapt the clubs and product offerings to reinforce the well-being of customers and everyone who works in the clubs…

American will continue to adhere to CDC guidelines, use enhanced cleaning measures and provide limited food and beverage offerings to help ensure the well-being of customers and team members.”

AAL is up 35% to $16.05.

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White House selects vaccine finalists

Novavax sinks after White House omits as COVID vaccine finalist

The New York Times reports that Moderna (MRNA) is among the five finalists selected by the Trump administration as the most likely to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Moderna (MRNA) is one of the finalists

By narrowing the field, the White House is betting it can identify the most promising vaccines at an early stage, speed along the process of determining which will work and ensure that the winner or winners can be quickly manufactured in large quanities, the Times said.

Pfizer is also one of the finalists

The announcement of the decision will be made at the White House in the next few weeks, government officials said.

see Stockwinners.com
AstraZeneca is one of the five companies.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top epidemiologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, hinted at the coming action on Tuesday when he told a medical seminar that “by the beginning of 2021 we hope to have a couple of hundred million doses.”

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Johnson & Johnson is also a finalist for Covid 19 vaccine

Finalists

A White House announcement is expected in the new few weeks. In addition to Moderna, the winners are AstraZeneca (AZN), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Merck (MRK) and Pfizer (PFE), according the Times.

Merck presents results from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 study, Stockwinners
Merck is the final company on the list.

B. Riley FBR

B. Riley FBR analyst Mayank Mamtani views the selloff today in shares of Novavax on the New York Times report that the company was not selected as a finalist for the White House’s “Operation Warp Speed” as overdone.

Mamtani reiterates a Buy rating on Novavax. NVAX closed down 11% to $44.25.

Novax did not make the final cut, shares tumble

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Boeing fires 6,770 U.S. workers

Boeing starts involuntary layoffs with 6,770 U.S. workers losing jobs

Boeing (BA) President and CEO Dave Calhoun issued a letter to employees today providing an update on workforce actions, which stated in part, “Following the reduction-in-force announcement we made last month, we have concluded our voluntary layoff program.

And now we have come to the unfortunate moment of having to start involuntary layoffs. We’re notifying the first 6,770 of our U.S. team members this week that they will be affected.

Boeing beings involuntary layoffs

We will provide all the support we can to those of you impacted by the ILOs – including severance pay, COBRA health care coverage for U.S. employees and career transition services.

Covid19 related layoffs are adding up

Our international locations also are working through workforce reductions that will be communicated locally on their own timelines in accordance with local laws and benefit terms.

Boeing plans to cut 10% of it’s workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the airline industry means a deep cut in the number of commercial jets and services our customers will need over the next few years, which in turn means fewer jobs on our lines and in our offices.

We have done our very best to project the needs of our commercial airline customers over the next several years as they begin their path to recovery. I wish there were some other way.”

Green Shoots

In another announcement, Dave Calhoun stated “We are seeing some green shoots. Some of our customers are reporting that reservations are outpacing cancellations on their flights for the first time since the pandemic started. Some countries and U.S. states are starting cautiously to open their economies again.

And some parts of our business, most notably on the defense side, will continue hiring to meet customer commitments and fill critical skill positions.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun

The Defense, Space & Security and defense services teams have achieved a number of milestones recently, including the successful return to orbit of the reusable and autonomous X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.

We’re moving forward with our plan to restart 737 MAX production in Renton, Washington, as our return-to-service efforts continue.

And our Global Services team is changing its organization to ensure it is lean and focused on the post-COVID needs of its customers. But these signs of eventual recovery do not mean the global health and economic crisis is over. Our industry will come back, but it will take some years to return to what it was just two months ago.”

Company executives said last month that Boeing planned to cut about 10% of its global workforce this year as it reduces jetliner production, and union officials say the initial wave of layoffs was focused on Boeing’s Seattle-area commercial airplanes operation.

BA last traded at $146.47, up 1.2%.

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In the market for a used car? You are in luck

A Hertz bankruptcy will flood the market with used vehicles

If you are in the market for a used car, you are in luck. That is, if you have a place to drive to!

According to the Detroit Press, used car prices fell 34.4 percent in April alone. The paper offers solace to it’s readers by mentioning that  used car prices could go up soon due to a shortage of new cars caused by plant closures. The paper however, failed to mention the nearly half a million cars currently sitting ideal on Hertz car lots. With practically no one traveling these days, the need for rental cars has evaporated. Hertz (HTZ) and Avis-Budget (CAR) have suffered the most. Hertz has bigger problems than COVID-19 and that is it’s balance sheet.

There are several stories suggesting a Hertz bankruptcy is around the corner.

Hertz is near bankruptcy

According to Bloomberg, Hertz’s situation is a three-way standoff between Holders of Hertz’s asset-backed securities. They could delay pressuring Hertz to sell down its fleet for a short period of time, but they will need Hertz’s banks to promise to make them whole. The banks, in turn, may not want to take on such a risk, which requires them to bet that either the rental car business or used car prices return to some normal operating level.

A 2-year price chart of Hertz (HTZ), Stockwinners

Meanwhile, controlling shareholder Carl Icahn (IEP) holds a 39% equity stake in the rental company. Bloomberg says that he could put in more money to keep Hertz afloat, but this once again is dependent on a belief that the rental car business will recover to some extent in the very near future.

Carl Icahn

In a bankruptcy, Bloomberg notes, equity holders’ claims would be behind those of creditors, which is not an incentive for Icahn to put in more money at the moment.

Used car prices have fallen sharply due to Covid-19

A Hertz bankruptcy could flood the used car market with several hundred thousand cars, whose value is likely to take a substantial hit at a time when used car lots are already quite full and demand is low.

Companies now deliver used cars to your home for test drives

Bloomberg notes that used car prices dropped 11.4% from March to April, while sales were merely a quarter of pre-outbreak levels.

Meanwhile Hertz has started discounting its cars on its used car lots and Hertz Car Sales. In fact, you can pick up a car, and they will deliver it to your house for a test drive. We have seen discounts as high as 25% on some models.  The company carries brands like Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota and Nissan, to some luxury brands like Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz.

Cars are discounted by Hertz

One more footnote to this story: auto dealerships usually set their used car prices as a function of new car prices. With most of the domestic auto plants closed, price of new cars (2021 model year) will not be known anytime soon.

Companies in the space include: Copart (CPRT), CarMax (KMX), Carvana (CVNA), CarGurus (CARG), Penske (PAG). AutoNation (AN). 

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Moderna shares jump on Fauci comments, possible COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna rises as Fauci comments on COVID vaccine potential highlighted

Shares of Moderna (MRNA) are trading higher, which is being attributed to comments made earlier this week by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director who has become one of the faces of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response.

Fauci highlighted Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, as well as another one in development at Oxford University, in an interview with National Geographic this week, telling the publication that he believes that the U.S. will have a vaccine ready for general use as soon as January “When we look at the immune response that you can induce with a modest dose – one that’s feasible to be translated into humans – and the amount of time it takes to get to that level of immunity, it is really quite impressive,” Fauci was quoted as saying when discussing both Moderna’s vaccine candidate and the one being developed at Oxford.

Modernal shares are higher on its vaccine potentail

“It is also really easy to scale up with these two, in the sense of making a lot of doses pretty quickly,” he reportedly added.

Dr. Fauci has been government’s leading Covid-19 expert

The interview, published two days ago, may be getting added attention after The Boston Business Journal published a recap with the headline “Fauci singles out Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine as reason for optimism” yesterday afternoon.

Moderna, Inc. (MRNA) is a clinical stage biotechnology company. It develops therapeutics and vaccines based on messenger RNA for the treatment of infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.

Covid 19 has killed thousands of people worldwide

As of February 15, 2019 the company had 11 programs in clinical trials and a total of 20 development candidates in six modalities comprising prophylactic vaccines, cancer vaccines, intratumoral immuno-oncology, localized regenerative therapeutics, systemic secreted therapeutics, and systemic intracellular therapeutics. Moderna, Inc. also has a collaboration with Lonza Ltd. for the manufacture of mRNA-1273, a COVID-19 vaccine.

MRNA is up 9.5% to $53.50.

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The real star war begins

AMC to no longer play Universal movies in its U.S. theaters

AMC Theatres (AMC) sent a letter to Universal Studios (CMCSA) chairman Donna Langley, saying that, going forward, AMC will not license any Universal films in any of its 1,000 globally effective immediately.

AMC will no longer play Universal movies, Stockwinners

“For much of the past four and a half years, I have been in direct dialogue with Jeff Shell and Peter Levinsohn of Universal about the importance of a robust theatrical window to the viability of the motion picture exhibition industry,” the letter reads.

“Throughout that time, AMC has expressed a willingness to consider alternatives to the current windowing strategy common in our industry, where the aim of such alternatives is to improve both studio profitability and theater operator profitability.

Universal stated it only pursued a direct-to-home entertainment release for “Trolls World Tour” because theaters were closed and Universal was committed to a lucrative toy licensing deal. We had our doubts that this was wholly Universal’s motivations, as it has been a longstanding desire by Universal to go to the home day and date.

Nonetheless, we accepted this action as an exception to our longstanding business practices in these unprecedented times.”

AMC noted that Shell was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying that the success of “Trolls World Tour” demonstrated the viability of PVOD, and as soon as theaters reopen, the company expects to release movies on both theater and PVOD formats.

“Going forward, AMC will not license any Universal movies in any of our 1,000 theatres globally on these terms,” the letter said.

“Accordingly, we want to be absolutely clear, so that there is no ambiguity of any kind. AMC believes that with this proposed action to go to the home and theatres simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies.

Universal owns some blockbuster franchises, Stockwinners

It assumes that we will meekly accept a reshaped view of how studios and exhibitors should interact, with zero concern on Universal’s part as to how its actions affect us. It also presumes that Universal in fact can have its cake and eat it too, that Universal film product can be released to the home and theatres at the same time, without modification to the current economic arrangements between us. It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice.

Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East. This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theatres reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat.

Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes.

Currently, with the press comment today, Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo. Hence, this immediate communication in response.”

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L Brands shares tumble after buyer backs out of the deal

Sycamore Partners had agreed in February to acquire 55% of the company

Shares of L Brands fell sharply after Bloomberg reported that Sycamore Partners is seeking to terminate its agreement with the company regarding the Victoria’s Secret brand.

Bloomberg cites a court complaint filed by Sycamore in a Delaware court.

On February 20, L Brands and Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm specializing in consumer and retail investments, announced a strategic transaction that would position Bath & Body Works as a standalone public company and separate Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Victoria’s Secret Beauty and PINK into a privately-held entity.

Sycamore Partners is seeking to terminate its agreement to acquire a controlling stake in Victoria’s Secret from L Brands, Bloomberg’s Ed Hammond and Elizabeth Fournier report, citing a court filing. Sycamore in February had agreed to purchase 55% of the lingerie chain and take it private, leaving L Brands with a minority interest, the authors note.

Sales at Victoria’s Secret have been declining recently, Stockwinners

Before the pandemic disrupted the U.S. retail sector, Victoria’s Secret was struggling with plunging sales, and all of its U.S. retail locations are currently closed, the authors say.

Victoria’s Secret’s sales had been slowing for years , as the company wrestled with changing consumers tastes and how its customers shopper. 

Sycamore sues to cancel the deal, Stockwinners

L Brands, Inc. (LB) today announced that Sycamore Partners delivered a notice on April 22, 2020 purporting to terminate the Feb. 20, 2020 transaction agreement  (“Transaction Agreement”) relating to the sale of a 55% interest in Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Victoria’s Secret Beauty and PINK (collectively, Victoria’s Secret) announced on Feb. 20, 2020. 

Sycamore Partners also filed a lawsuit in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware on April 22, 2020 seeking a declaratory judgment that its termination of the Transaction Agreement is valid. 

L-Brands has been under pressure to create value for share holders, Stockwinners

L Brands believes that Sycamore Partners’ purported termination of the Transaction Agreement is invalid.  L Brands will vigorously defend the lawsuit and pursue all legal remedies to enforce its contractual rights, including the right of specific performance. 

L Brands intends to continue working towards closing the transactions contemplated by the Transaction Agreement.

LB is down 21% to $9.57.

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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.