Top US stocks to watch: Novavax, Lordstown Motors and Washington Prime

Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine proves effective against variants, Lordstown Motors abruptly loses its CEO and CFO, Washington Prime is on the verge of bankruptcy, Tesla hopes to accept bitcoin again in the future, and wholesaler Boxed and Tik Tok-rival TrillerNet both plan to go public.

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Novavax

Novavax has revealed its coronavirus vaccine is over 90% effective against the virus and effective in protecting people against variants as it hopes its jab can be approved by governments this year.

Late-stage results from a study of nearly 30,000 volunteers in the US and Mexico revealed it is 93% effective against variants of concern and 100% effective against other variants. It proved 91% effective on people considered at high risk and offered full protection against moderate to severe cases.

Novavax said it plans to start filing for emergency approvals in the third quarter. It intends to be producing up to 100 million doses per month by the end of September and 150 million doses a month by the end of December.

Lordstown Motors

Electric pickup truck company Lordstown Motors stunned shareholders this morning after announcing that its chief executive and chief financial officer have both resigned.

CEO Steve Burns and CFO Julio Rodriguez have both left the company with immediate effect and a search for their replacement is underway. In the meantime, independent director Angela Strand has taken on the role of executive chair to lead the business until a new CEO comes in, while Becky Roof will take charge of the finance department on a temporary basis. Lordstown said the management changes were needed as it transitions to a commercial stage business and trucks start to roll-off the production line this year.

‘As we transition to the commercial stage of our business – with planned commencement of limited production in late-September – we have to put in place a seasoned management team with deep experience leading and operating publicly-listed OEM companies,’ said director David Hamamoto.

Washington Prime Group

Washington Prime Group on Sunday warned it has filed for bankruptcy protection and secured $100 million of financing to keep it going during the proceedings.

The company has struggled after being forced to close several of its malls during the pandemic. This has slashed the value of its properties and left it with a similar amount of liabilities as assets, putting it in a troublesome position. The new funds are what are known as debtor-in-possession financing from its existing creditors to ensure it can keep operating as normal.

Washington Prime intends to convert $950 million of loan notes into equity and pay-off its $190 million revolving credit facility as part of the restructuring. Notably, it said it is considering raising $325 million of new equity to help fund that.

Alphabet

Alphabet’s Google is giving businesses the option to upgrade their Gmail accounts for a monthly fee in order to access new and improved services such as better calendars, video chat and email newsletters.

The individual Google Workspace plan will cost $7.99 a month when a temporary $2 discount is applied and is targeted at small businesses that still use free Gmail accounts to run their company. It is thought to be part of a bigger push toward subscription revenue after similar moves for other products such as YouTube and Google Photos.

The new plan will initially be made available in the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and Japan.

Tesla

Tesla’s founder and chief executive Elon Musk has said the electric carmaker will accept bitcoin again once mining operations use more clean energy.

‘When there’s confirmation of reasonable (~50%) clean energy usage by miners with positive future trend, Tesla will resume allowing bitcoin transactions,’ Musk tweeted on Sunday.

The carmaker earlier this year turned about 10% of its cash holdings into bitcoin to prove it could be treated as alternative asset on the balance sheet, having sold it on for a profit, but stopped consumers paying for cars using bitcoin after revelations emerged about how energy-intensive bitcoin mining is.

Equinix

Equinix has announced that it has struck an agreement with its joint venture partner to inject a further $3.9 billion into its plans to build data centres around the world.

Equinix is working with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC on building new data centres around the world. The new $3.9 billion in funding means the pair have committed $6.9 billion to build 32 facilities. The majority will be in Europe with three to be built in Asia and four in the Americas.

Honeywell

Honeywell International said it is working with the Indian government to help boost supplies of oxygen and aide the country in the fight against the coronavirus.

Honeywell said it is assuring a ‘timely supply’ of adsorbents needed to make enough medical-grade oxygen to meet the surge in demand and will also help by sourcing alternative materials and cutting costs.

The company is shipping its global supply of adsorbents from Italy to India as part of its plans.

Boxed

Online bulk wholesaler Boxed plans to go public on the Nasdaq by merging with SPAC Seven Oaks Acquisition Corp to raise new funds and propel further growth.

The transaction will raise $334 million through the deal and give it a pro-forma value of around $900 million.

Boxed is designed to offer large-scale wholesale services to smaller businesses, all underpinned by its ecommerce platform. It is also pursuing a strategy built around Software-as-a-Service after signing a deal with one of Asia’s largest retailers Aeon Group earlier this year.

TrillerNet

TrillerNet, the company behind the Triller app, is planning to go public in the US via a direct listing, according to reports from Reuters.

Triller is a music-focused short video app that rivals the likes of TikTok. It has been downloaded over 250 million times according to its website and partners with the biggest names in music, from Universal Music Group to Spotify. It is reported to be considering a direct listing after it considered merging with a SPAC last year. A direct listing would mean no new shares would be issued as part of the listing.

The filing has been made confidential, according to the report, but the company is thought to be targeting a valuation of over $5 billion. The company is aiming to make $250 million in annual revenue in 2021, according to comments from its CFO last April.  

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