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Bayer Slumps as Bleak Crop Outlook Undermines Monsanto Rationale

Forest Products IIII - 1 hour 3 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- Bayer AG slumped after the agriculture and pharma giant said it would have to slash costs as the pandemic’s impact on farm commodities extends into next year, further undermining the rationale for its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto Co.The stock fell as much as 13% in German trading. Bayer, already reeling from a legal battle over its herbicide Roundup, late Wednesday said it would cut 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) of annual costs and may also eliminate jobs and sell businesses.Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann is confronting multiple challenges after getting his contract extended earlier this month. Besides Roundup, the German company faces slumping crop prices and demand for biofuel that threaten its agriculture unit just two years after the controversial Monsanto takeover.“It was already quite clear that the growth prospects of Monsanto had deteriorated over the last 2.5 years, though the magnitude of this decline is greater than expected,” Sebastian Bray, an analyst at Berenberg Bank, said by email.The pandemic has hurt demand for agricultural commodities and biofuel, exacerbating headwinds like trade tensions, competition and the African swine fever.The company’s crop business, which delivers just under half of sales, will face a “deeper than expected” impact that probably won’t improve in the near term, Bayer said in a statement. The company expects to take non-cash impairment charges in the mid to high-single-digit billion-euros range on assets in the agricultural business.Citi analysts cut their rating on Bayer to hold from buy. The “long suffering” buy recommendation had been based on the idea that the stock was cheap and a resolution to the Roundup litigation was near, Peter Verdult and Andrew Baum wrote in a note.“We were wrong,” they said, adding that concerns will probably intensify over Bayer’s long-term growth outlook.While completing midterm planning Wednesday, Bayer management decided to lower expectations for the crop division through 2021, and perhaps even into 2022, Baumann said on a call with investors.“It is totally clear that the impairment is driven by that lack of growth,” he said. “We cannot outgrow, to the extent of our original assumptions, a market that doesn’t grow at the level we need it to.”The company’s pharmaceutical arm, meanwhile, is facing patent expirations for two blockbuster medicines in the next few years while its pipeline of potential future products is regarded as weak.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Covid: Rolls-Royce announces plan to raise £3bn

Forest Products IIII - 1 hour 6 min ago

After weeks of speculation, the plane engine maker will tap investors for money and issue new bonds.

Tesla cuts starting price for China-made Model 3 cars by 8%

Forest Products IIII - 1 hour 24 min ago

U.S. electric car maker Tesla cut the starting price of its Chinese-made Model 3 sedans on Thursday by about 8% to 249,900 yuan ($36,805), once Chinese subsidies for electric vehicles are taken into account, according to its China website. Previously, the starting price for Model 3 sedans made in Tesla's Shanghai factory with a standard driving range was 271,550 yuan, after state purchase subsidies. Tesla did not disclose what batteries the cheaper version uses.

American Airlines To Furlough 19K Thursday When Federal Payroll Support Expires

Forest Products IIII - 4 hours 55 min ago

American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ: AAL) said in a letter to employees Wednesday that 19,000 will be furloughed starting Thursday after the federal Payroll Support Program expires.Airline Layoffs Underway As Stimulus Talks Continue: Talks on extending the relief program under the Coronovirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security -- CARES -- Act are ongoing between the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in the letter, citing a conversation with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Senate and the House of Representatives are also deliberating the extension of payroll support an alternative to the broader relief package, he said. If the grant is approved in the coming days, American Airlines will reverse the furloughs, Parker said. United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: UAL) is also prepared to furlough 13,000 staff Thursday, Reuters. The figure does not include any pilots.If the larger economic relief bill passes, the airline industry would receive an additional $25 billion for payroll aid from the larger economic support package of $2.2 trillion, according to Bloomberg. Aviation Job Losses Could Go Much Deeper: Coronavirus lockdown measures and travel restrictions have rocked the airline industry. Further job cuts could come in other areas that are supported by the aviation sector.Job losses tied to the downturn in air travel, including cuts in related industries, could be as high as 46 million worldwide, according to a new statement from the the Air Transport Action Group, a global, industrywide body. Related Links: Why Airline Stocks Are Trading Lower TodayTreasury Cash Could Lift Airline ETFSee more from Benzinga * Options Trades For This Crazy Market: Get Benzinga Options to Follow High-Conviction Trade Ideas * Alibaba Sees Cloud Business Finally Turning Profitable This Year * General Atlantic Can't Have Enough Of India's Reliance, To Invest Another 0M(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine unlikely to be ready before U.S. election - FT

Forest Products IIII - 5 hours 49 min ago

Stéphane Bancel told FT that he did not expect to have full approval to distribute the drug to all sections of the U.S. population until next spring. Moderna did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment. Moderna will not be ready to seek emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration before Nov. 25 at the earliest, the report said, citing Bancel.

AstraZeneca's COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Delays May Worsen As FDA Widens Investigation

Forest Products IIII - 6 hours 23 min ago

AstraZeneca Plc's (NYSE: AZN) coronavirus vaccine development program could hit by further delays, as the Food and Drug Administration has widened the scope of its probe into the halted trial, Reuters reported Wednesday.What Happened: The federal agency is inquiring whether side effects similar to the one seen in the COVID-19 vaccine trial -- transverse myelitis -- also emerged in trials of other vaccines designed by Oxford University, AstraZeneca's partner, Reuters said, citing people familiar with the matter. The vaccines reportedly under review use a modified adenovirus as a vector and target illnesses such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and the flu.Oxford's vaccines use a chimpanzee adenovirus, ChAdOx1, unlike other vaccine developers that use a human variant. A review of research papers by Reuters found that in one trial, a serious side effect event cited by researchers was classified as unrelated to the vaccine.Another complication that may affect the trial: the Reuters report said the FDA is requesting data from the British pharmaceutical firm that is in a different format than the one used by the FDA. People familiar with the developments told Reuters the FDA's actions aren't an indicator there are safety issues related to any of the vaccines under review.Benzinga is covering every angle of how the coronavirus affects the financial world. For daily updates, sign up for our coronavirus newsletter.Why It Matters: Last month, AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine trials were halted after a volunteer developed symptoms of a serious neurological disorder known as transverse myelitis.The Cambridge, United Kingdom-based company has resumed trials in India, South Africa, Brazil and the U.K.Some scientists have questioned why the drugmaker's COVID-19 vaccine trials remain suspended in the U.S.While AstraZeneca experiences delays, Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) is seeking FDA clearance to expand its late-stage trials by adding more participants.AZN Price Action: AstraZeneca shares ended Wednesday's session down 0.54% at $54.81 and fell slightly further after-hours. See more from Benzinga * Options Trades For This Crazy Market: Get Benzinga Options to Follow High-Conviction Trade Ideas * Regeneron Says COVID-19 Antibody Cocktail Helped Non-Hospitalized Patients Heal Faster In Early Trials * Sanofi CEO Says COVID-19 Vaccine Development Process Accelerated, Not Side-Stepped(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

Private Sector PMIs and Brexit to Drive the EUR, the Dollar, and the Pound

Forest Products IIII - 6 hours 44 min ago

It is a busy day ahead. Economic data and geopolitics will keep the markets busy.

Palantir Slips on First Day After Long-Awaited Listing

Forest Products IIII - 7 hours 20 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- Palantir Technologies Inc. fell 5% from its opening trades in its debut as a public company, ending a 17-year tradition of secrecy surrounding the software business co-founded by Peter Thiel.The data analytics company’s share price fell to $9.50 after opening Wednesday at $10 on the New York Stock Exchange. Palantir listed its shares directly on the exchange, rather than raising capital through an initial public offering. As in the three other major direct listings that have taken place, the exchange had set a reference price -- $7.25 for Palantir -- to help guide investors and to allow shares to begin trading.Palantir ended the day with a market capitalization of about $15.7 billion based on its listed shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. On a fully diluted basis based on all the shares covered in its filings, the company has a value of almost $21 billion, in line with the $20 billion valuation private investors awarded it in 2015.Going public was the right decision for Palantir, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Alex Karp said in an interview, without commenting directly on the first day’s trading.“We didn’t need to change our culture,” he said, referring among other things to Palantir’s tight group of insiders and their support for the programs run by U.S. government agencies. “I feel really good.”Karp, Thiel and a tight-knit group of leaders will retain tight control of the company through a three-tiered share structure and voting rights. That’s needed to assure customers -- some of them controversial -- that they can trust the company, Karp said.“It gives our clients enormous comfort that we will stand by them when times are good and when times are bad,” Karp said. “We support some of the most clandestine operations in the world.”Companies are racing to go public in the U.S., where investors are welcoming new stocks ahead of a presidential election likely to drive volatility. Companies raised $61 billion from initial public offerings this quarter, the busiest on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Software businesses were at the forefront of the listing boom. Snowflake Inc., the largest of them, raised $3.9 billion including so-called greenshoe shares in its IPO this month.Asana Inc., a software company backed by Thiel’s venture capital firm Founders Fund, also went public Wednesday through a direct listing, an unconventional mechanism for taking a company public. Asana’s shares gained 6.7% from their opening price, giving the company a value of about $5.5 billion on a fully diluted basis.Palantir traveled a long and sometimes rough road to its public debut. Thiel helped start the company in 2003 with early funding from an arm of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, but Palantir’s darling status among U.S. government agencies didn’t translate into success with businesses for well over a decade.Named for the all-seeing stones in the fictional “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Palantir combines myriad, ever-changing data streams into one centralized “source of truth.” Customers, including the U.S. Defense Department and pharmaceutical giant Merck KGaA, then mine that information and analyze it to make decisions. The results are presented as a series of spiderweb-like visuals, making information accessible to non-technical users.For years, Palantir operated much like a consultancy, dispatching its engineers to customer sites to implement the software and build one-off applications. The model was expensive, and Palantir incurred heavy losses for most of its history. The business remains unprofitable.When Palantir built a new software platform, Foundry, in 2016, the company cut costs by automating much of the grunt work and said it reduced time to set up customers from months to days. Palantir expects to deliver an adjusted profit this year on more than $1 billion in revenue.Competition for global customers will be fierce. Palantir only began building a sales team in 2019. The company currently has about 125 customers, with the U.S. Army being the largest representing 15% of revenue.Palantir’s chairman, Thiel, and its work for government agencies including U.S. immigration have sparked concerns among corporate watchdogs and human rights groups including Amnesty International. The company has also drawn rebukes from governance experts who point out that Thiel will have power with little accountability because of multi-class stock that grants him outsize power in perpetuity.Palantir followed other tech companies in its decision to bypass a traditional IPO. Spotify Technology SA went public through a direct listing in 2018 and Slack Technologies Inc. followed last year.In a direct listing, employees and other shareholders can sell stock without the company issuing new shares to raise capital. Slack and Spotify each soared on their first day of trading, reaching valuations of $19.5 billion and $27.8 billion, respectively.(Updates with CEO’s comments in fourth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Micron Remains a Solid Long-Term Play, Says 5-Star Analyst

Forest Products IIII - 8 hours 26 min ago

Shares of Memory chip specialist Micron (MU) trended downwards on Wednesday following the release of the company’s FQ4 results.Micron reported revenue of $6.06 billion, a 24% year-over-year increase and coming in ahead of the estimates by $170 million. Non-GAAP (adjusted) net profit almost doubled from the same quarter last year to clock in just under $1.23 billion, resulting in Non-GAAP EPS of $1.08, above consensus estimates by $0.11.So far, so good. What investors did not like, however, was Micron’s forecast of what’s to come next. For the November quarter, Micron anticipates revenue of $5.2 billion, just under consensus calls for $5.3 billion, while the company’s forecast for non-GAAP EPS of $0.47 at the mid-point is also well below the Street’s $0.68 estimate.Soft near-term gross margins on heightened NAND mix and several DRAM ramps along with the loss of Huawei revenue (which amounted to almost 10% of sales in the quarter) are weighing heavily on investors’ minds. Micron expects the impact of halted shipments to the Chinese telecom giant to be offset by the close of F2Q21.Despite Wall Street’s lukewarm reception, Rosenblatt analyst Hans Mosemann calls the November quarter guide “mixed but better than feared.”While the short-term outlook is weakened by reduced enterprise demand, lower IT spending and certain customers’ higher inventories, the 5-star analyst remains bullish on Micron’s long-term prospects.Mosesmann commented, “Looking into Micron's end markets, the company has started to see certain end market recoveries, including Smartphones, Automotive, and Consumer. Cloud and Notebook demand continues to be healthy, on the heels of work from home and shop from home trends, as well as Gaming demand... We think the setup for Micron for investors looking into 2021/22 is for a memory cycle driven by traditional S/D dynamics, Micron’s new DRAM 1Z and 1- alpha ramps, and 2nd generation RG NAND ramps.”Overall, Mosesmann reiterates a Buy rating on MU shares along with a $100 price target. Investors are looking at returns of a strong 113%, should Mosesmann’s thesis play out over the coming months. (To watch Mosesmann’s track record, click here)Mosesmann is Wall Street’s most prominent Micron bull, but how does the memory giant fare amongst his colleagues? Based on 14 Buys, 4 Holds and 1 Sell, the stock has a Moderate Buy consensus rating. There’s possible upside of 29%, should the $60.78 average price target be met over the next 12 months. (See Micron stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for tech stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

Investors Are Betting Big On Canada’s New Gold Rush

Forest Products IIII - 9 hours 19 min ago

As investors pile into safe havens like cash and precious metals, a new gold rush is starting in one of the world’s most exciting mining hotspots

Eton Pharmaceuticals: Following FDA Approval, This 5-Star Analyst Says ‘Buy’

Forest Products IIII - 9 hours 21 min ago

A green light from the FDA can change everything for a healthcare company. This might just be the case for Eton Pharmaceuticals (ETON).On September 29, the company announced that the FDA had given Alkindi Sprinkle, its taste-neutral sprinkle (granule) formulation of hydrocortisone designed as a replacement therapy for pediatric adrenal insufficiency (AI), its stamp of approval.The verdict came on the previously scheduled PDUFA date. Additionally, six clinical studies, including the first and only interventional Phase 3 study of oral hydrocortisone for pediatric AI in neonates to children under eight years of age, served as the basis for the approval. Before the therapy got the FDA approval, oral hydrocortisone was only approved in tablet formulations of 5mg and stronger, with many pediatric patients requiring significantly lower doses. Alkindi Sprinkle will be available in 0.5mg, 1mg, 2mg and 5mg strengths, which will give clinicians flexibility to individualize dosing based on each patient’s needs in accordance with the instructions for dosage and administration.Weighing in on the development for H.C. Wainwright, 5-star analyst Raghuram Selvaraju stated, “In our view, the drug could be launched with a very small, targeted sales effort and may generate peak sales of $57 million by 2026. This is the third agent from Eton's pipeline to receive regulatory approval —after Biorphen in October 2019 and Alaway a few days ago—and this ought to be viewed as further validation of Eton's pharmaceutical product development capabilities.”According to management, the product could be commercially available in Q4 2020. That being said, the rest of its pipeline could also serve as significant upside drivers, in Selvaraju’s opinion.ETON currently has three more product candidates under review at the FDA. In May, the company submitted a first-to-file challenge on Elcys (DS-300), which is a cysteine hydrochloride injection designed as an additive to amino acid solutions to meet the nutritional requirements of newborn infants requiring total parenteral nutrition (TPN), with an approval potentially coming in 2H21.New Drug Applications (NDAs) for DS-100, its dehydrated alcohol injection for the treatment of methanol poisoning, and ET-104, its potential treatment for partial seizures in patients with epilepsy, have also been submitted. Both candidates could be approved and launched in 2021.Everything that ETON has going for it convinced Selvaraju to keep a Buy rating on the stock. Along with the call, he bumped up the price target from $18 to $20, suggesting 153% upside potential. (To watch Selvaraju’s track record, click here)Turning now to the rest of the Street, other analysts agree with Selvaraju. 3 Buys and no Holds or Sells translate to a Strong Buy consensus rating. At $15.67, the average price target implies 100% upside potential. (See ETON stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for healthcare stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

Stock market news live updates: Stock futures hug the flat line after worst September since 2011

Forest Products IIII - 9 hours 55 min ago

Stock futures opened flat Wednesday evening heading into the first trading day of October and the fourth quarter.

NIO: High-Quality Premium EV Brand in the Making

Forest Products IIII - 10 hours 3 min ago

What a ride 2020 has been so far for Nio (NIO). The Chinese EV manufacturer has taken the bull by the horns and has ridden it all the way to massive gains of 427%.There’s no doubt the hype on EV vehicles in 2020 is almost at fever pitch, with investors banking on the sector disrupting the entire auto industry over the coming years. However, as in any emerging industry there will be winners and losers.After initiating coverage of Nio earlier this month, the main pushback for Deutsche bank's Edison Yu from investors concerned the fact Nio “does not create the same level of excitement and loyalty in China that Tesla or the German luxury automakers command.”While Yu concedes that “given NIO is an upstart,” there is some truth to that assertion. The analyst points to recent data that shows “NIO is increasingly perceived by customers as a high-quality premium brand with best-in class technology and service.”The evidence is twofold.First, according to a study in leading Chinese automotive web portal Bitauto, which measured how likely a customer is to refer a car brand to others, NIO was both the highest-ranking premium brand and overall brand (54%), beating Tesla (52%) and BMW (42%).“The study suggested this could be due to aggressive promotional activity and customers putting more value on post-purchase service, which is an area we believe NIO thrives in,” Yu said.Secondly, Nio beat Tesla again in J.D. Power’s 2020 China New Energy Vehicle (NEV) Experience Index Study, coming in as the top brand in the BEV segment “based on problems per 100 vehicles.”The study also showed that the proportion of NEV owners born in the 1990s has risen from 24% in 2019 to 37% indicating “that younger buyers are much more open to emerging brands.”All of which leads Yu to conclude, “We believe NIO can take material share in the premium segment as consumers begin to understand the value proposition and quality of its products and services. Near term, we continue to expect record 3Q/4Q deliveries and margin, boosted by the newly launched EC6 SUV coupe (deliveries began on Friday), 100 kWh battery pack option, and BaaS roll-out.”To this end, Yu reiterated a Buy rating on NIO shares along with a $24 price target. According to Yu, then, there’s room for another 15% of upside from current levels. (To watch Yu’s track record, click here)So, that’s Deutsche Bank’s view, what does the rest of the Street have in mind for the stock? NIO's Moderate Buy consensus rating is based on 4 Buy ratings, 3 Holds and 1 Sell. However, the analysts expect shares to trend downwards by 19% as indicated by the $17.14 average price target. (See Nio stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

JPMorgan Finds More Than 500 Workers Got U.S. Virus Relief Funds

Forest Products IIII - Wed, 30/09/2020 - 23:35

(Bloomberg) -- More than 500 JPMorgan Chase & Co. employees got assistance from taxpayers aimed at helping businesses through the pandemic -- and dozens of them shouldn’t have, according to people with knowledge of the firm’s internal investigation.The discovery that so many people at the largest and most profitable U.S. bank had tapped the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program raised suspicions inside the company and set off a hasty probe, the full extent of which hasn’t been previously reported. Bloomberg broke the news earlier this month that at least some staff had abused the program.After noticing hundreds of employees had received government funds in their accounts, the bank began scrutinizing director-level employees and workers who received certain amounts, according to people with knowledge of the confidential review who spoke on condition they not be named. Of almost two dozen in that first group, the bank found five -- none of them director-level employees -- had improperly tapped the program, one of the people said.Ultimately, the bank’s look at hundreds of deposits found many were probably legitimate -- providing funds, for example, to side businesses run on workers’ own time. A JPMorgan spokeswoman declined to comment on its investigation.The figures shed light on the scope of a probe that has spooked the banking industry, in which JPMorgan is known as a standard-bearer with more than a quarter million employees. While JPMorgan revealed its efforts in an all-staff memo, rival banks have remained silent on whether any employees improperly tapped the money.The Small Business Administration has urged U.S. banks to look out for suspicious deposits from the EIDL program to their customers and even their own staff. While the program offers loans to businesses, much of the concern has focused on its advances of as much as $10,000 that don’t have to be repaid. A Bloomberg Businessweek analysis of SBA data in August identified at least $1.3 billion in suspicious payments.JPMorgan sent a memo to its roughly 256,000 employees on Sept. 8 in which senior leaders said they had seen “instances of customers misusing Paycheck Protection Program Loans, unemployment benefits and other government programs” and that some employees had fallen short on ethical standards, too.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

10 times Suze Orman got it wrong, her critics say

Forest Products IIII - Wed, 30/09/2020 - 23:20

Experts say this advice from the personal finance personality ought to be ignored.

Palantir COO on company's NYSE debut

Forest Products IIII - Wed, 30/09/2020 - 23:10

Shyam Sankar, Palantir's COO, joined The Final Round to discuss the company's direct listing on the NYSE, his outlook for the company's revenue and addresses how the company works with the government.

3 FAANG Stocks That Score a ‘Perfect 10’

Forest Products IIII - Wed, 30/09/2020 - 23:04

In the first week of September, the markets saw a sudden drop from peak values. That fall was most pronounced in the NASDAQ index, which dropped from 1,200 points – some 10% – in just 5 trading sessions. Since then, however, the situation has stabilized. Stocks have bounced up and down, but the NASDAQ has generally held steady at or near 11,000 for the past three weeks.The holding pattern is likely more important than the slide. It’s lasted longer, and appears to represent a classic market correction. The NASDAQ’s 5-month run to its September 2 all-time high left it somewhat overvalued, and it’s now fallen back to a more sustainable level. This is borne out by a look at three major components of the index, members of tech’s ‘FAANG’ club.The FAANG stocks are Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (Alphabet). They are the 800-pound gorillas of the tech world, companies of enormous size and scope, whose operations and market fluctuations have been a major driver to the NASDAQ, and the overall stock market, in recent years. And three of them have another important point in common, too: each gets a ‘Perfect 10’ rating from the TipRanks Smart Score.The Smart Score rates every stock according to set of 8 factors that have historically correlated with future outperformance, and combines them into a simple 1 to 10 scale to indicate the stock’s likely future course. Now let's see why these tech giants scored so highly, and what Wall Street’s analysts have to say about it.Facebook (FB)First on our list is Facebook. The social media giant has spawned both an industry and much controversy in the years since it burst on the scene. In recent years, Facebook has come under fire for advertising policies, privacy breaches, and accusations of censorship – but none of that has halted the long-term growth of the stock.The company makes its money selling advertising, using AI tracking algorithms to monitor account activity and create perfectly target ads. It’s a system that has introduced us, in less than one generation, to impressions, banner ads, and pay-per-click. It has changed the way we do business online.With the election coming up, Facebook is not shying away from controversial actions. The company has announced that it will ban political ads in the week before election day, as well as censor groups deemed to promote violence or spread false information about the corona pandemic. Intended to be politically neutral, these moves have drawn criticism from side of the political arena.That has not stopped Facebook from raking in the money, however. Earnings did fall 33% sequentially in the first quarter of this year – but that should be put in perspective. FB’s pattern is to register its best results in Q4 (holiday advertising), and its lowest results in Q1. With that in mind, it’s more important that, during the ‘corona quarter,’ Facebook’s Q1 EPS were up 101% year-over-year. Results in Q2 were almost as impressive, with the $1.80 EPS being up 97% year-to-date. Looking at Facebook’s near-term prospects, 5-star analyst Mark Zgutowicz of Rosenblatt Securities see plenty of reason for optimism. Zgutowicz admits that consumers may develop a ‘spending fatigue’ in the wake of anti-COVID stimulus bills, but “given Facebook’s immense exposure to ecommerce with now 9M active small business advertisers, and the holiday season soon approaching," the analyst believes "any stimulus spend fatigue will be offset [by] escalating ecommerce trajectory.”In line with these comments, Zgutowicz rates FB a Buy and sets a price target of $325. This target implies room for 24% share appreciation in the next year. (To watch Zgutowicz’s track record, click here)Overall, Facebook’s Strong Buy consensus rating is based on 38 recent reviews, with a breakdown of 33 Buy, 4 Hold, 1 lonely Sell. The shares are priced at $261.90 and have an average price target of $295.82, suggesting a 13% upside from current levels. (See FB stock analysis on TipRanks)Amazon.com (AMZN)Next up, Amazon, is the market’s second largest publicly traded company, with a market cap of $1.59 trillion and a famously high share price exceeding $3,000. Amazon has proven a master of self-reinvention since the late ‘90s, starting out as an online book seller and surviving the doc.com bubble to become, now, the world’s largest online retailer, where customers can buy everything from buttons to brie, and even books.Looking at Amazon’s performance, the most immediate salient factor is the steady rise in share value over the years. Under Jeff Bezos’ leadership, Amazon does not pay out a dividend or conduct share buybacks; investors benefit solely from share appreciation. And that appreciation has been substantial, especially for long-term investors. Just in the last five years, the stock has grown over 480%.The company has achieved this growth by taking advantage of every opportunity that comes its way – when it is not inventing those opportunities. The corona crisis was no exception to this pattern; as the social lockdown policies kept people home and closed down stores and shops, Amazon’s service became essential. Customers could order anything, and have it delivered. The company’s 2Q20 revenues reflect this success; coming in at $88.9 billion, they were up 40% year-over-year. Earnings also showed how Amazon thrived under the new conditions. Q1 results had been in-line with the previous six quarters – but in Q2, EPS jumped to $10.30, far ahead of the $1.74 estimate.In his coverage of Amazon stock, JMP’s 5-star analyst Ronald Josey notes the perfect fit of the company and the times.“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly pulled forward eCommerce adoption by at least three years, in our view, and Amazon’s investment in its product selection and delivery network—which continues to improve—was on display this quarter. Beginning in mid-April, demand expanded beyond essentials to a more normalized mix of hardlines and softlines, and newer services like grocery delivery tripled. Overall, we believe 2Q’s execution and ability to launch newer products and services highlights Amazon’s strength as an organization,” Josey opined.Josey rates Amazon as Outperform (i.e. Buy), and his price target, at an eye-opening $4,075, suggests 29% growth for the next 12 months. (To watch Josey’s track record, click here)Overall, the Strong Buy consensus rating on Amazon is, unsurprisingly, unanimous, based on no fewer than 37 positive reviews. The share price comes in at $3,149, and the average price target of $3,732 implies an 18.5% one-year upside potential. (See AMZN stock analysis on TipRanks)Apple, Inc. (AAPL)And now we come to Apple, the single largest component of the NASDAQ, making up over 13% of the index by weight. It is also the largest publicly traded company in the world. Two years ago, in summer 2018, Apple was the first company to ever exceed $1 trillion in market cap, and earlier this year, Apple broke above $2 trillion. The company is currently valued at $1.98 trillion.A big advantage for Apple, as the corona crisis took hold, was that the company had entered 2020 on the heels of record-breaking fourth quarter results. Apple’s Q4s are typically the company’s best, boosted, by holiday sales, and 4Q19 gave Apple a financial kick right before the sales depression of 1Q20 hit. By 2Q20, Apple’s EPS was down to just 64 cents, well below the $2.03 forecast. Revenues, however, remained at $60 billion, roughly in-line with Apple’s historic mid-year quarterly performance.Looking ahead, Apple has at least two more major advantages going forward. First, the company will be releasing its 5G-compatible iPhone 12 line this fall. And second, at least one-third of Apple’s installed iPhone user base will be entering the natural device replacement cycle over the next year. JPMorgan analyst Samik Chatterjee reviewed Apple, and sums all of the above in clear prose: “…investors have widely acknowledged the rich valuation of AAPL shares. While the $2 trn market cap valuation in itself is a significant milestone, that AAPL shares crossed it in a year with significant COVID-19 disruption testifies to the recurring nature of not only its Services, but also its Products, such that investors are now willing to pay a Services-like premium on the entire earnings stream and a modest premium on account of expectations for further revenue/earnings upside. While we acknowledge that the valuation is no longer an easy entry point into the shares, at the same time, potential upside revenue/earnings drivers as well as upcoming catalysts will make it difficult for investors to step away from the shares."To this end, Chatterjee puts a $150 price tag on AAPL shares, implying an upside of 29% and backing his Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating. (To watch Chatterjee’s track record, click here)All in all, Apple holds a Moderate Buy rating from the analyst consensus, with 35 reviews breaking down to 24 Buys, 8 Holds, and 3 Sells. The shares are selling for $115.81 and have an average price target of $122.04. This suggests a modest 5.5% upside from current levels. (See Apple stock analysis at TipRanks)To find good ideas for tech stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

Predictive markets bet on Biden victory after raucous debate, Trump's momentum evaporates

Forest Products IIII - Wed, 30/09/2020 - 23:02

Betting markets are increasingly persuaded the Democratic nominee will prevail in his bid to deny President Donald Trump a second term after a fiery presidential debate.

Top U.S. oil refiner Marathon Petroleum to lay off 12% of workforce

Forest Products IIII - Wed, 30/09/2020 - 23:00

The workforce reduction plan is a result of indefinite idling of its Martinez, California and Gallup, New Mexico refineries, the company said in the filing https://www.sec.gov/ix?doc=/Archives/edgar/data/1510295/000151029520000098/mpcform8-k9292020.htm. Refiners and oil producers have been cutting staff, slashing spending and reducing production to cope with the slump in crude prices and a global glut of fuel. On Wednesday, Royal Dutch Shell said it would dismiss up to 9,000 workers, or 10% of its staff, while oil majors, Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp , are in the process of restructuring their businesses to halt losses.


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by Dr. Radut