By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
India is third measured by cases at 906,752, followed by Russia with 738,787 and Peru with 330,123.
The U.K. has 45,053 fatalities, the highest in Europe and third highest in the world. China, where the illness was first reported late last year, has 85,117 cases and 4,641 fatalities.
France will celebrate this year’s Bastille Day national holiday, not with the usual dignitaries attending a military parade but with a smaller ceremony honoring all of the front-line workers in the pandemic, from health care staff to supermarket workers and postal workers.
What’s the latest medical news?
Post-it maker 3M Co. /zigman2/quotes/205029460/composite MMM +0.06% is developing a rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19 that would be used at the point of care, MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported. The test, which is being jointly developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been selected by the National Institutes of Health for commercial support and has received $500,000 from the U.S. government.
Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207222917/composite RIGL -0.30% will test a drug used to treat an autoimmune disorder in a clinical trial in the U.K. as a treatment for COVID-19 pneumonia. The Imperial College London will operate the open-label, controlled trial for Tavalisse, which received Food and Drug Administration approval for chronic immune thrombocytopenia in 2018.
Patients will receive Tavalisse, the chemotherapy ruxolitinib, or the standard of care, with a goal of understanding whether the drug can prevent the progression of mild or moderate COVID-19 pneumonia to more severe disease.
Shares of Moderna Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA -0.18% soared on the news that the company, which is developing a COVID-19 vaccine, will join the Nasdaq-100 Index before the market opens on July 20.
What are companies saying?
The second--quarter earnings season kicked off early Tuesday with earnings from three of the biggest U.S. banks and Delta Air. Bank earnings predictably showed gains from trading volatile markets and fees from underwriting debt and equity deals offsetting weakness in consumer banking and a big boost in loan loss provisions.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. /zigman2/quotes/205971034/composite JPM +1.35% and Citigroup Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207741460/composite C +0.08% managed to beat analyst estimates, even as profits fell, while Wells Fargo swung to a wider-than-expected loss, its first in more than a decade.
Wells Chief Executive Charles Scharf said the bankwas “extremely disappointed” in its results and need to cut its dividend.
“Our view of the length and severity of the economic downturn has deteriorated considerably from the assumptions used last quarter, which drove the $8.4 billion addition to our credit loss reserve in the second quarter,” he said.
Delta /zigman2/quotes/200327741/composite DAL -0.37% also reported a bigger-than-expected loss as the pandemic grounded flights and recession destroyed demand.
Elsewhere, companies continued to update guidance and analysts continued to adjust models for the new COVID world.
Here’s the latest news about companies and the pandemic:
• Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/209801102/composite BBBY -1.52% June same-store sales were “positive” for reopened stores and digital channels. Cash flow during June was also positive. Nearly all stores have reopened, following closures because of the pandemic. Separately, the company believes there is between $350 million to $450 million it could get from asset sales and the plan to reduce up to $1 billion of inventory at retail is slightly more than halfway complete.
• Analyst James Hardiman at Wedbush cut his price target on Carnival Corp. /zigman2/quotes/202325446/composite CCL +0.45% to $20 from $29 while reiterating his neutral rating, in the wake of the cruise operator’s announcements last week that three of its AIDA Cruises will start resailingin August, and that cumulative advance bookings for 2021 remained within historical ranges, although at lower prices. “While a legitimate target for the restart of the AIDA brand is encouraging, we can’t help but think that we remain a far distance away from operations resuming in the United States given a resurgence in COVID-19 cases as well as halted (in some instances reversed) economic reopenings,” Hardiman wrote in a note to clients.
• Delta Air Lines Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200327741/composite DAL -0.37% reported second-quarter losses that were wider than expected, although revenue beat lowered expectations. Passenger revenue for the quarter fell 94% to $678 million, and cargo revenue was down 42% to $108 million. “Given the combined effects of the pandemic and associated financial impact on the global economy, we continue to believe that it will be more than two years before we see a sustainable recovery,” said Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian, emphasizing the “staggering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business.” Delta ended the quarter with $15.7 billion in liquidity, and reduced its daily cash burn in June by 70% compared to late March, down to an average of $27 million. The airline has received $5.4 billion in grant funds and unsecured loans through the CARES Act, which will be paid in installments through July 2020. Maturities on $1.3 billion in borrowings on revolving credit facilities have been extended to 2022 from 2021. Delta has taken additional sanitation steps in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, has limited load factor at 60% and is blocking off middle seats. The company has provided more than $2.2 billion in cash refunds in 2020. Delta is positioning itself to be a smaller airline over the next couple of years, retiring MD-88 and other planes, and reducing head count through early retirement and other programs. The company is also accelerating airport construction projects in New York’s LaGuardia Airport, in Los Angeles and other cities. At the end of the quarter, the company had total debt and finance lease obligations of $24.6 billion. Delta took a write down of $1.1 billion on its investment in LATAM Airlines and a write down of $770 million on its investment in AeroMexico after those companies’ losses and bankruptcy filings. The company took a $200 million write down in its investment in Virgin Atlantic, a $200 million charge.
• BS analyst Eric Sheridan downgraded Netflix Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX -2.17% stock to neutral from buy, writing that while the company looks poised to report a strong June quarter as it continued to benefit from COVID-19 lockdowns, investors seem to have already priced in these benefits to Netflix’s shares. “Unlike prior periods over the last few months (with debates centered around competition with Disney, balance sheet vs. free-cash flow generation, content costs/competition), investor fears seem to have disappeared and the current stock price increasingly reflects many of the long-term business moat dynamics including sustained growth in users/revs and steady state margin expansion,” Sheridan said in his note to clients. He sees tough subscriber comparisons ahead for the company next year and wrote that he “would rather be constructive at levels when a mix of potential subscriber volatility, FCF dynamics & competition are better reflected in the share price.” Sheridan kept his $535 price target unchanged.
• Tesla Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA +0.18% extended their seemingly unstoppable rally, after Piper Sandler analyst Alexander Potter raised his price target on the stock to $2322 from $939, writing of “faster-than-expected share gains” and big opportunities in software. Though Tesla shares have rocketed nearly 260% on the year and the stock’s valuation is 88 times higher than it was after its 2010 initial public offering, Potter said that “resoundingly” his conclusion is to stick with the stock. “While deliveries are a key driver of our increased near-term estimates, software is the biggest driver of our increased DCF-based price target,” he wrote in a late Monday note to clients. “Tesla has noted the possibility for 30%+ gross margins if/when more customers opt-in for purchasing the company’s full self-driving (FSD) software.” That could help Tesla record operating margins in the “mid-20s” by the end of Potter’s 20-year forecast period, even if only half of customers go for the full self-driving software. “Thanks to the high-margin nature of the FSD package, we think that by the 2030s, Tesla could conceivably be selling vehicles at cost - or even below cost - while still achieving higher operating margins,” he wrote. Tesla shares have rallied even though its main California plant was closed for much of the recent quarter because of the pandemic.
• The Travelers Cos. Inc. /zigman2/quotes/206313935/composite TRV +2.12% expects to report a net loss per share of 16 cents for the second quarter, weighed down by a high level of catastrophe losses, mostly stemming from severe storms in the U.S., along with claims related to social unrest. The New York-based insurer is expecting net investment income of $268 million pretax, or $251 million after-tax, including $511 million from its fixed income portfolio and a loss of $234 million in the non-fixed income portfolio. That is equal to $438 million after-tax and $180 million after-tax respectively. The company is expecting the pandemic to have a modest impact on its underwriting result. Insurance losses directly caused by the pandemic are expected to come to $114 million pretax. The company will report second-quarter earnings on July 23.
• Wells Fargo & Co. tumbled 6.5%, enough to pace the large-capitalization banking sector’s decliners, after the bank reported second-quarter results that missed expectations. The stock is on track to suffer the biggest one-day post-earnings decline since it tumbled 8.4% on Oct. 17, 2011, after third-quarter 2011 results were released.
Additional reporting by Tim Rostan