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(d) Shares held by shareholders who have validly exercised and not effectively withdrawn or lost their rights to dissent from the merger pursuant to Section 238 of the Companies Law of the Cayman Islands.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

Alnylam presents Phase 3 results from ILLUMINATE-A study of Lumasiran

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY) announced Phase 3 results from the ILLUMINATE-A study of lumasiran, an investigational RNAi therapeutic targeting hydroxyacid oxidase 1 – the gene encoding glycolate oxidase – in development for the treatment of primary hyperoxaluria type 1.

The clinical data were presented at a late-breaking session at the European Renal Association-European Dialysis and Transplant Association International Congress being held as a virtual event on June 6-9.

Lumasiran achieved the ILLUMINATE-A primary endpoint with a 53.5% mean reduction in urinary oxalate relative to placebo and showed a 65.4% mean reduction in urinary oxalate relative to baseline.

All tested study secondary endpoints were met, including the proportion of patients achieving near-normalization or normalization of urinary oxalate, compared with zero percent in the placebo group.

Lumasiran administration was associated with an encouraging safety and tolerability profile, with no serious or severe adverse events and with mild injection site reactions as the most common drug-related AE.

Primary hyperoxaluria (PH) constitutes a group of rare inherited disorders of the liver characterized by the overproduction of oxalate, an end-product of metabolism. High levels of oxalate are toxic because oxalate cannot be broken down by the human body and accumulates in the kidneys.

PH1 is an ultra-rare orphan disease caused by excessive oxalate production, and elevated urinary oxalate levels are associated with progression to end-stage kidney disease and other systemic complications.

Based on the ILLUMINATE-A results, Alnylam filed a New Drug Application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has granted a Priority Review for the NDA and has set an action date of December 3, 2020 under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act.

In addition, the Marketing Authorisation Application for lumasiran has been submitted to and validated by the European Medicines Agency, and has received Accelerated Assessment designation.

Stifel

Stifel analyst Paul Matteis believes full Alnylam’s Lumasiran data presented at ERA-EDTA reflect a relatively derisked clinical profile that’s very likely to attain regulatory approval.

Lumasiran treatment led to robust and durable reductions in urinary oxalate, which based on the well described biology in PH1 should ultimately lead to clinical benefit on renal outcomes, he contends.

The analyst notes that for the stock, lumasiran is already mostly priced-in here, though there’s some investment debate surrounding the market opportunity which is generally perceived to be ultra-orphan/small.

While he is also somewhat conservative in how he models revenues for lumasiran, there could be upside to numbers should approval/launch increase the PH1 diagnosis rate. Matteis has a Buy rating and a $159 price target on the shares.

ALNY closed at $127.59.

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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.”

https://stockwinners.com/blog
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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Arena Pharmaceuticals higher on ulcerative colitis data

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY) reported positive ulcerative colitis treatment data. The report sent shares of Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) higher.

Arena shares jump of Bristol Myers data, Stockwinners

The study tested Bristol Myers’ Zeposia in patients with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. At weeks 10 and 52, the experimental ulcerative colitis treatment induced clinical remission and maintained remission, respectively.

Zeposia belongs to a class of oral drugs known as sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor modules, or S1P. This is the first time an S1P drug has shown strong effectiveness in ulcerative colitis treatment, suggesting these drugs could beat out another class called janus kinase inhibitors, or JAKs.

Arena is also testing out an S1P drug, etrasimod.

Etrasimod is a next-generation, once-daily, oral, highly selective sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptor modulator discovered by Arena, and designed for optimized pharmacology and engagement of S1P receptor 1, 4 and 5 which may lead to an improved efficacy and safety profile.

Etrasimod provides systemic and local effects on specific immune cell types and has the potential to treat multiple immune-mediated inflammatory diseases including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and atopic dermatitis.

Etrasimod is an investigational compound that is not approved for any use in any country.

Canter Comments

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Alethia Young raised the firm’s price target on Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) to $88 from $68 and reiterates an Overweight rating on the shares.

Bristol Meyers’ (BMY) positive topline data this morning from the pivotal study of its sphingosine-1-phosphate ozanimod in ulcerative colitis is a “positive readthrough” to Arena’s etrasimod ulcerative colitis program, Young tells investors in a research note.

The analyst increased her probability of success to 80% from 75% and is now “very confident” in the Phase 3 success of etrasimod.

#Young also thinks that #S1P1 as a class is shaping up to be a “big commercial opportunity” and increased her peak sales to $3B.

She thinks Arena shares will be up at least 10% today on Bristol’s news given that ozanimod and etrasimod are both S1P1s and this is the first positive Phase 3 readout for the class in ulcerative colitis, says the analyst.

Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse analyst Martin Auster raised the firm’s price target on Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) to $87 from $77 and keeps an Outperform rating on the shares after Bristol-Myers (BMY) announced that S1P modulator ozanimod met its primary endpoint of clinical remission in the Phase 3 “True North” study of adults with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis.

Auster views ozanimod’s topline success as de-risking for the S1P class and sees positive read-through for Arena’s etrasimod, he tells investors. He has increased his view on the odds of success for etrasimod in ulcerative colitis following Bristol’s report, the analyst added.

ARNA is up 16% to $68.04

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Iterum Therapeutics drug fails, shares cut in half

Iterum says Phase 3 trial of sulopenem did not meet primary endpoint

Iterum Therapeutics (ITRM) announced that sulopenem did not achieve statistical non-inferiority relative to ertapenem in its SUlopenem for Resistant Enterobacteriaceae 2 clinical trial in complicated urinary tract infection.

Iterum shares collapse following it’s drug failure

The primary U.S. Food and Drug Administration endpoint was overall clinical and microbiologic response on Day 21 in the micro-MITT population as evaluated using a 10% non-inferiority margin.

The randomized, multi-center, double-blind SURE 2 clinical trial enrolled 1,395 patients to measure the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of IV and oral sulopenem for the treatment of cUTI in adults.

Patients were randomized to receive either IV sulopenem once daily for a minimum of five days followed by oral sulopenem twice daily to complete seven to ten days of treatment, or IV ertapenem once daily for a minimum of five days followed by either oral ciprofloxacin or, for quinolone resistant isolates, amoxicillin-clavulanate twice daily.

Responder rates at the test of cure visit for sulopenem were 67.8% and for ertapenem were 73.9% with a difference of -6.1%.

The difference in response rates was driven almost entirely by higher rates of asymptomatic bacteriuria on sulopenem relative to ertapenem, only evident at the test of cure visit; the rates of patients receiving additional antibiotics or with residual cUTI symptoms was similar.

Clinical response at the test of cure in the Modified Intent to Treat patient population and Clinically Evaluable patient population sulopenem vs ertapenem: 0.4% was similar.

The outcome at other secondary endpoints was also similar, including the overall response at the end of therapy visit at Day 10.

Strategic Alternatives

Based on the trial results, Iterum Therapeutics is evaluating its corporate, strategic and financial alternatives with the goal of maximizing value for its stakeholders while prudently managing its remaining resources.

These alternatives could potentially include the licensing, sale or divestiture of the company’s assets or proprietary technologies, a sale of the company, a merger or other business combination, another strategic transaction involving the company, restructuring activities, winding down of operations, dissolving and liquidating assets or seeking protection under bankruptcy laws.

ITRM shares are down 54% to $1.95.

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Minerva shares collapse following its drug failure

Minerva says Phase 3 trial of roluperidone did not meet primary endpoint

Minerva Neurosciences (NERV) announced that the Phase 3 trial of roluperidone to treat negative symptoms in schizophrenia did not meet its primary and key secondary endpoints.

Shares tumble following its drug failure

In total, 515 patients were enrolled into the trial, and 513 patients received treatment and were included in the safety and Intent-To-Treat population.

The trial was conducted in the USA, Europe and Israel.

There were 172 patients who received placebo, 172 patients who received roluperidone 32 mg, and 171 patients who received roluperidone 64 mg.

Demographic and baseline disease characteristics were comparable across all treatment arms.

The results for both roluperidone doses versus placebo across both the primary and the key secondary endpoints to Week 12 were corrected for multiplicity using the truncated Hochberg procedure.

The primary objective of the trial was to evaluate the change from baseline to Week 12 of NSFS with 32 mg and 64 mg doses of roluperidone compared to placebo in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia presenting with moderate to severe negative symptoms.

Neither the 32 mg nor 64 mg dose of roluperidone showed a statistically significant separation from placebo.

Furthermore, neither dose showed a statistically significant separation from placebo on the key secondary endpoint, the change from baseline to Week 12 in PSP.

Schizophrenia destroys patient’s life

Although limited inferences can be drawn from this data, unadjusted statistically significant separations from placebo were observed in NSFS at Week 4 for both doses and at Week 8 for the 64 mg dose, and the 64 mg dose was statistically significantly different from placebo as measured by change in PSP at all other assessment timepoints.

Overall, subgroup analyses by region and by age groups were similar.

Roluperidone was generally well tolerated, and the incidences of patients who reported treatment-emergent adverse events over the duration of 12 weeks of treatment were 37% for the 64 mg group, 42% for the 32 mg group, and 33% for placebo.

Only 42 patients discontinued from the study due to adverse events, 16 in 64 mg arm, 18 in 32 mg arm, and 8 in placebo arm.

Two treatment-unrelated deaths were reported in the 32 mg treatment arm says Phase 3 trial of roluperidone did not meet primary endpoint.

NERV is down 82% to $2.50.

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ARCA Biopharma shares soar on possible COVID-19 treatment

ARCA Biopharma announces AB201 development program for coagulopathy

ARCA biopharma (ABIO) announced a new development program to evaluate AB201, a potent, selective inhibitor of tissue factor as a potential treatment for COVID-19 associated coagulopathy and the related inflammatory response.

Coagulopathy (also called a bleeding disorder) is a condition in which the blood’s ability to coagulate (form clots) is impaired. This condition can cause a tendency toward prolonged or excessive bleeding (bleeding diathesis), which may occur spontaneously or following an injury or medical and dental procedures.

CAC is one of the most serious adverse effects seen in COVID-19 patients.

AB201 has previously undergone clinical testing through Phase 2 in more than 700 patients for other indications, generating substantial safety data, which the Company believes may enable more rapid development.

ARCA anticipates filing an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the third quarter and initiating late-stage clinical testing in the second half of this year.

TF is the protein responsible for initiating the primary or extrinsic coagulation pathway.

TF has been identified as playing a central role in the inflammatory response to viral infections and in the process of viral dissemination.

AB201, a single-chain, 85 amino acid, recombinant protein, has previously undergone Phase 1 and Phase 2 testing in more than 700 patients, including as an anti-thrombotic agent in the setting of acute myocardial infarction, where it showed efficacy in inhibiting the TF pathway and was well tolerated at therapeutic doses.

Recent research suggests that the disease syndrome caused by coronavirus may have much in common with other coagulopathic disorders in which the blood’s ability to coagulate is impaired by consumption of clotting factors.

For example, filovirus infections such as Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers are characterized by dysregulated activation of the TF pathway, resulting in abnormal systemic coagulation and related inflammation, leading to organ failure and mortality.

Recent mechanistic discoveries, as well as data from studies in non-human primates given lethal doses of Ebola or Marburg filoviruses demonstrating mortality reductions, decreases in inflammatory biomarkers and reduction in viral load, indicate that AB201 may have important antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity in addition to its anticoagulant effects.

Collectively, the Company believes these observations provide a strong rationale for investigating AB201 as a treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS CoV-2 virus.

COVID-19 disease is associated with a significant incidence of coagulation-related adverse events, including stroke, MI, pulmonary emboli, and disseminated intravascular coagulation, a condition in which small blood clots develop throughout the bloodstream.

A commonly used biomarker for assessing coagulation activation is a D-dimer test, which is elevated in approximately 50% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and is directly associated with adverse clinical outcomes.

In Ebola or Marburg NHP models, AB201 inhibited the DIC process, as measured by lowered D-dimer levels, which the Company believes provides further support for its therapeutic potential for CAC. The Company believes the efficacy of AB201 against COVID-19 disease may not be affected by potential mutations of the SARS CoV-2 virus, would be additive with therapeutics inhibiting virus-cell binding or viral RNA polymerase, and could be effective against other coagulopathy-associated viruses.

The Company anticipates filing an IND application for AB201 as a potential treatment for COVID-19 with the FDA in the third quarter of this year. In collaboration with the Colorado Prevention Center, the University of Colorado’s Academic Research Organization directed by Marc Bonaca, MD, a vascular and anti-coagulation clinical trialist, a Phase 2B/3 clinical trial protocol is being developed for hospitalized COVID-19 patients with elevated D-dimer levels.

Pending FDA concurrence and obtaining trial funding, ARCA estimates initiating late-stage clinical testing of AB201 in the second half of 2020.

ABIO is up 206% to $12.16.

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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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Inovio Shares Jump on COVID-19 Data

Inovio’s COVID-19 vaccine INO-4800 generates antibodies and immune responses

Inovio (INO) announced the publication of the preclinical study data for IN0-4800, its COVID-19 DNA vaccine, demonstrating “robust” neutralizing antibody and T cell immune responses against coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Inovio reports promising data, Stockwinners

The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications by INOVIO scientists and collaborators from The Wistar Institute, the University of Texas, Public Health England, Fudan University, and Advaccine. Kate Broderick, Inovio’s Senior VP of R&D and Team Lead for COVID-19 vaccine development, said, “These positive preclinical results from our COVID-19 DNA vaccine not only highlight the potency of our DNA medicines platform, but also build on our previously reported positive Phase 1/2a data from our vaccine against the coronavirus that causes MERS, which demonstrated near-100% seroconversion and neutralization from a similarly designed vaccine INO-4700.

Inovio hopes its work would lead to a vaccine, Stockwinners

The potent neutralizing antibody and T cell immune responses generated in multiple animal models are supportive of our currently on-going INO-4800 clinical trials.

” The studies demonstrated that vaccination with INO-4800 generated “robust” binding and neutralizing antibody as well as T cell responses in mice and guinea pigs.

The authors demonstrated virus neutralizing activity using three separate neutralization assays testing the vaccine’s ability to generate antibodies which can block virus infection.

Study authors also detected these antibodies in the lungs of the vaccinated animals which could be important in providing protection from SARS-CoV-2.

In addition, high levels of Spike-specific T cell responses were observed with INO-4800 vaccination, which could be important in mediating protection from the virus infection.

A Phase 2/3 efficacy trial is planned to start in July/August pending regulatory approval.

PIPER Comments:

Piper Sandler analyst Christopher Raymond noted that Inovio shares are up by a double digit percentage on the Nature Communications publication of preclinical data on the company’s CoV-19 DNA vaccine INO-4800, but he said “this isn’t new news.” The market currently has a “buy-first-ask-questions-later mentality on all things COVID,” but most of the data in this paper has been available since the pre-print in early March, said Raymond.

Additionally, while an ability to generate T-cell responses and functional neutralizing antibodies in mice and guinea pigs is important, the preclinical picture remains incomplete without non-human primate data and viral challenge data, which is needed to fully understand the potential, the analyst tells investors. Raymond, who thinks it is more prudent to reserve judgment until initial human data slated for the end of June is available, keeps a Neutral rating on Inovio shares.

INO closed at $14.50, last traded at $17.00

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Several retailers grab their shopping bags and file for bankruptcy

As JC Penney’s files for bankruptcy, others line up to do the same

Retailers have long been suffering from a tough retail environment due to competition from online retailers such as Amazon, Etsy and eBay; it seems like COVID-19 fired the kill shot.

J.C. Penney

J.C. Penney announced that it has received approvals from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Corpus Christi, TX for the “First Day” motions related to the company’s voluntary Chapter 11 petitions filed on May 15, 2020, including approval for the company to access and use its approximately $500M in cash collateral.

The 118 year old retailer files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Stockwinners

J.C. Penney entered into a restructuring support agreement with lenders holding approximately 70% of J.C. Penney’s first lien debt to reduce the company’s outstanding indebtedness and strengthen its financial position. J.C. Penney has approximately $500M in cash on hand as of the Chapter 11 filing date.

James Cash Penney started the company in 1902

JCP Gets Delisted

The New York Stock Exchange announced that the staff of NYSE Regulation has determined to commence proceedings to delist the common stock of J.C. Penney Company – ticker symbol JCP – from the NYSE. NYSE Regulation reached its decision that the company is no longer suitable for listing after the company’s May 15, 2020 disclosure that the company filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Recent Retail Bankruptcies

On May 4th, J.Crew Group announced it has reached an agreement with its lenders holding approximately 71% of its Term Loan and approximately 78% of its IPCo Notes, as well as with its financial sponsors, under which the company will restructure its debt and deleverage its balance sheet, positioning J.Crew and Madewell for long-term success.

Houston-based Stage Stores Inc. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in Texas last week.

GNC Holdings (GNC), the nutritional supplement retailer, avoided bankruptcy by reaching a last-minute deal with creditors that allows it to avoid bankruptcy for at least 30 days but no more than 90 days under a deal announced Friday.

GNC avoids bankruptcy for 90 days

True Religion

Even before COVID-19 forced True Religion to close its 87 stores, the denim specialist’s sales were in decline and its profits were negative. After shuttering its footprint in response to the pandemic, 80% of its sales disappeared, according to the company. 

Others on the list

According to Law.com, both Macy’s (M) and Neiman Marcus have hired bankruptcy law firm Kirkland, and Wachtell. Neiman filed for Chapter 11 last week. Macy’s should be forthcoming.

Pier 1 Imports (PIR) filed for bankruptcy protection this month. It would only make sense if it’s competitors follow the same path.

Nashville-based retailer, Kirkland’s, Inc. operates as a specialty retailer of home décor in the United States. The company’s stores provide various merchandise, including holiday décor, furniture, ornamental wall décor, decorative accessories, art, textiles, mirrors, fragrance and accessories, lamps, artificial floral products, housewares, outdoor living items,

Kirkland’s has avoided Chapter 11, Stockwinners

In 2019, seventeen major retailers filed for bankruptcy. For some of them it was their second trip to the alter including Payless, Gymboree, and Charming Charlie.

Some of the retailers that filed for bankruptcy in the past 18 months. Stockwinners

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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.

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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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.