Top US stocks to watch: J&J, Regeneron and Oracle

The EU says J&J won’t deliver vaccines on time, Regeneron celebrates landmark results from its potential coronavirus treatment, Oracle beats expectations but its outlook disappoints, Lennar and Honest Co to report quarterly results later, and streaming firm Confluent prices its IPO.

USA (1)

Johnson & Johnson

J&J will fail to supply the promised doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the EU by the end of this month, prompting fears that the bloc’s inoculation programme could slow down.

A spokesperson from the European Commission told Reuters that J&J is not expected to deliver 55 million doses by the end of June as planned. This was after 17 million doses were scrapped because of fears batches made in a US factory were contaminated.

The EU has ordered 200 million doses of the vaccine in total, but only 12 million or so have been delivered so far. The company has said it remains committed to meeting its obligations to the EU. The bloc is mainly using the jab developed by Pfizer and BioNTech at present.

Regeneron

Regeneron said a UK study has revealed its antibody cocktail developed in partnership with Roche helps reduce the risk of hospitalisation among patients infected with coronavirus that can’t mount their own immune defence.

The study suggests REGEN-COV can cut the risk of hospitalisations by 20%. It is the first study to suggest an antibody treatment could help boost survival rates in people hospitalised by the virus. Regeneron will share the data and apply for US approval straight away.

‘It is wonderful to learn that even in advanced COVID-19 disease, targeting the virus can reduce mortality in patients who have failed to mount an antibody response of their own,’ said Peter Hornby, one of the professors working on the trial.

Oracle

Oracle on Tuesday posted ‘outstanding’ fourth-quarter results that beat expectations as its cloud-computing business drove growth, but disappointed with its outlook for the new financial year.

Revenue in the quarter rose 8% year-on-year to $11.2 billion and non-GAAP EPS jumped 29% to $1.54. That beat Wall Street expectations for revenue of $11.04 billion and EPS of $1.31. It said its Fusion and NetSuite businesses saw ‘dramatic increases’ in revenue growth, while topline income from its Gen2 Cloud Infrastructure unit doubled.

Oracle said it plans to double its investment budget for its cloud computing business to ramp-up competition with the likes of Microsoft and Amazon, but said this meant first-quarter EPS would come in between $0.94 and $0.98, below the $1.03 expected by analysts.

Lennar

Housebuilder Lennar is due to release second-quarter results after the markets close today, with investors hoping it can continue to benefit from the boom in demand and higher prices.

It is aiming to deliver new orders of 16,500 to 16,700 and deliver 14,200 to 14,400 homes in the quarter at an average selling price of $405,000 and a gross margin of 25%. Analysts are expecting revenue to rise to $5.91 billion from $5.32 billion the year before, and for diluted EPS to jump to $2.34 from $1.65.

Watch out for any changes to its full year guidance to deliver 62,000 to 64,000 homes for around $400,000 each, as well as commentary on inflation pressures after flagging rising costs in its last update.

Honest Co

Honest Co, the health and wellness firm founded by actress Jessica Alba, is set to release its first set of quarterly earnings since going public in May after the markets close today.

This will be its first opportunity to impress the market and update investors on how it has deployed the $422 million raised through its listing, which is expected to be funnelled to marketing and R&D to create new products.

The company expects revenue growth between 8% and 11% for the first quarter. For context, Honest made revenue of $72.4 million and net income of $559,000 in the first three months of 2020.

Twitter

Twitter continues to fail to meet new IT rules in India that were introduced in May, according to officials, raising tensions between the government and the US social media platform.

The Indian government is in disputes with several big US companies on matters ranging from anti-competitive behaviour to tighter rules for the online space. The new IT rules aim for companies like Twitter and Facebook to take more responsibility for the content on their platforms and to respond to requests to remove content quicker. They are also supposed to appoint new executives to handle the new rules.

Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has written to Twitter stating there could be ‘unintended consequences’ from defying the rules, but has not confirmed whether the firm has lost legal protections in the country as a result. Twitter said it is in the process of appointing a new compliance director and making every effort to comply with the new requirements.

eBay

EBay is planning to sell its business in South Korea to local retailer E-Mart and web portal Naver for around KRW400 trillion, roughly $3.6 billion, according to local newspaper reports.

The company’s Korean unit operates numerous platforms including Gmarket, Auction and G9. It is thought to be the third-largest ecommerce player in the country, according to Euromonitor. The reports are based on regulatory filings from E-Mart, which is owned by Shinsegae Group, that said it was in discussions about buying eBay Korea.

The reports also suggest Lotte Shopping, another local giant, could be interested.

Ford

Ford Motor Co is among a group of big-name companies in talks about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles in the UK, according to reports from the Financial Times.

Nissan, LG Corp and Samsung are the other major companies being considered, alongside British start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat. It is thought to be part of the wider push by the UK government to ban the sale of petrol and diesel car sales by 2030, which will require better supply chains for electric vehicles.

Ford specifically is thought to be considering making batteries in the UK to ship to Turkey for their final assembly and to be installed in new electric Transit vans. Nissan is thought to be considering building a new site at its Sunderland plant, while LG and Samsung are looking to make investments in the space.

General Motors

General Motors is set to boost its budget for developing electric cars by 30% to around $35 billion through to 2025, according to reports from Reuters.

The bigger budget would allow General Motors to build two new battery plants in the US and accelerate some of its investments. Notably, the electric vehicle budget has exploded rom around $20 billion before the pandemic erupted.

American Tower

European insurer and investor Allianz is buying a 10% stake in American Tower’s European arm for around EUR530 million.

The deal values ATC Europe at EUR8.8 billion including debt, in-line with the valuation struck when Caisse de depot bought a 30% stake last month.

American Tower said the investment would allow ATC Europe to strengthen its mobile broadband business in Europe, particularly in key markets of Germany, France and Spain.

Confluent

Real-time streaming events platform Confluent has priced its IPO after confidentially filing its listing back in April.

Confluent plans to sell 23 million shares at between $29 and $33 each. That could see it raise as much as $759 million and give it a valuation of around $8.3 billion. It was valued ta around $4.5 billion back in April 2020.

Confluent said revenue growth accelerated to 77% in the first three months of 2021 from the 51% growth delivered over the entirety of 2020.

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