Entrepreneur Elon Musk said he believes the Las Vegas tunneling system his Boring Company is creating under the city’s convention center could be done by next year, possibly months ahead of schedule.
Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, made the prediction on Twitter. The $48.7 million project will transport visitors to and from the massive Las Vegas Convention Center along three spots to the Las Vegas Strip, turning a 15-minute walk into a one-minute trip.
“Boring Co is completing its first commercial tunnel in Vegas, going from Convention Center to Strip, then will work on other projects,” Musk said on Twitter. When asked when it would be completed, he tweeted, “Hopefully fully operational in 2020.”
An earlier announcement had the convention center tunnel being completed by January 2021.
Steve Hill, president of the chief executive of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said this weekend that The Boring Company’s two-mile tunnel under the convention center is scratching the surface of a possible tunnel system that could span the entire Las Vegas Strip from Fremont Street to McCarren International Airport.
“We do think that over time, this just doesn’t have to be just a convention center or just a [Las Vegas[ Strip type of transportation system,” Hill said. “This can be a system that everybody in the valley can take advantage of.”
A map on The Boring Company’s websites shows a future tunnel system that would have stops at virtually every major Las Vegas casino and hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, taking visitors from the airport through the city.
“We also see it as a real opportunity to solve some of the congestion problems in Las Vegas going forward,” Hill said. “So it is helpful to start at the convention center, make sure that it works, work the kinks out and then look at the opportunity of moving into the city.”
Musk said his tunnel projects won’t replace other forms of transportation.
“These would be road tunnels for zero emissions vehicles only – no toxic fumes is the key,” Musk tweeted. Really, just an underground road, but limited to EVs (from all auto companies). This is not in place of other solutions, eg light rail, but supplemental to them.
Last December, Musk unveiled an “entirely new system of transport” with a demonstration of a 1.14-mile test tunnel intended to ease Los Angeles traffic.
Copyright 2019 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.
How the Coronavirus Crisis Affects Tanker Shipping And Stocks
The coronavirus outbreak centered in China continues to worsen. Over 7,800 cases have been reported — already exceeding the 2002-03 SARS outbreak — and over 170 people have died.
Fallout for crude-tanker shipping and public equities took center stage on the quarterly conference call of tanker major Euronav (NYSE: EURN). While the comments on the call were about crude tankers, almost all of them could apply to all modes of shipping.
“This is bad news,” said Euronav CEO Hugo De Stoop. “Let’s not pretend it’s anything but bad news. The impact is definitely uncertain, but in the short term, it’s negative. In the long term, everybody is convinced it will be contained, so you want measures to be as strong as possible now so the virus is contained as quickly as possible,” he said.
As previously reported by FreightWaves, the sweeping shutdown of land and air transportation within China and to and from the country will weigh heavily on near-term oil demand given the outsize role China has in global consumption.
Another negative for tanker demand: OPEC is expected to extend production cuts in response to the coronavirus-induced plunge in oil prices.
According to De Stoop, “If we look at other terrible viruses that have spread in the past, what we know for sure is that once they are contained and things go back to normal, they don’t go back to normal. There’s huge stimulus, usually by China but also by other economies, to try to get back a bit of what has been lost during the [epidemic] period.
“So, if you predict that it may take a few months [before the virus is contained], what you will have is a fantastic first quarter — no matter what happens for the rest of the quarter, it will be a great first quarter — then you have summer, which is never the period we count on, and then the chances are we will be back in winter with a super-strong market, so it should be a great year,” he said.
When reporting fourth-quarter results on Thursday, Jan. 30, Euronav disclosed that it had booked 60% of available days for the first quarter for its very large crude carriers (VLCCs, tankers that carry 2 million barrels of crude oil) at an extremely high rate of $89,200 per day, and 51% of available days for its Suezmaxes (tankers that carry 1 million barrels) at $57,500 per day.
In the crude-tanker business, almost all bookings for a particular quarter are done in the prior quarter or the early part of the current quarter. Tanker rates were extremely high in the fourth quarter and first few weeks of 2020.
What De Stoop is saying is that full-year 2020 results should be strong based on exceptional first and fourth quarters (the fourth assuming the virus is contained), even if the coronavirus and seasonality hit the second and third.
The coronavirus is hitting shipping stocks, including tanker stocks, even more severely than the broader market. Strong fundamentals, exceptional quarterly returns, incremental volumes driven by the new marine-fuel rules — all of those positives are now being erased in the stock market by coronavirus fears.
Euronav is a prime example. It reported net income $160.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, up from just $279,000 in the same period the year before. Earnings per share of $0.70 easily topped the consensus forecast for $0.63 per share. Its VLCCs averaged $61,700 per day in the spot market in the most recent quarter, and its Suezmaxes $35,700 per day. These rates, which De Stoop dubbed “remarkable,” were the highest since 2008, before the financial crisis.
And yet, Euronav’s share price was down 4% in the double the average trading volume on the day its results were announced (in mid-day trading, it was down 7%).
“In the first 10 days of January, we were finally getting our share price above NAV [net asset value], which is always our objective,” De Stoop said. “Obviously, we are not happy at all with our share price at the moment.” Investment bank Jefferies estimated that Euronav’s stock is now trading at a 24% discount to NAV.
De Stoop argued that the share decline creates “a fantastic entry point in tanker shipping companies. With Euronav, you have a guarantee to be paid with the dividends, and if that upside [following virus containment] doesn’t come as quickly as I just expressed, you are in a company with a super-strong balance sheet that can weather any storm. So yes, this [virus] is terrible news. It’s completely unexpected. But quite frankly, if I was an investor and I was attracted by this sector, I know where I would put my money.”
Asked whether the balance could shift toward more time charters as opposed to spot voyage contracts, De Stoop again brought up the coronavirus.
“The volume of time charters in the market is very thin. There have been even fewer opportunities in the last three to four months simply because the market has been extremely volatile. It was quickly going to $100,000 a day and then suddenly there was a massive drop [to around $45,000 a day]. So, everybody is looking each other in the eyes, and thinking on one side [a proposed time-charter rate] is too high and the other side saying it’s too low.
“We need to see a little bit more stability. And I think that because of the events affecting the market at this moment — and we spoke about the virus— it’s just too unpredictable for people to start signing long-term contracts,” he said.
Discussing potential “positives” of the outbreak, De Stoop pointed to the extremely high secondhand VLCC prices recorded in early January.
He noted that secondhand VLCCs have been sold for $107 million, versus a newbuilding contract price of $90 million. “I think those prices were probably exacerbated by the excitement around the rates and quite frankly we don’t think they were justified,” he said.
He noted that $90 million newbuilding price is unlikely to appreciate further because of the low orders at the yards. Owners are unusually reluctant to order newbuilds due to ongoing uncertainty over future emissions standards. De Stoop said the newbuild price should “anchor” the secondhand values, which are at premium to newbuilding pricing in a strong market (because second-hand purchases can earn immediately; a newbuild takes 14 months to deliver).
The implication is that the newbuilding price anchor combined with weaker sentiment due to lower spot rates and the coronavirus fears should serve to either maintain or reduce secondhand values.
Euronav bought back $30 million of its own stock last year. It has targeted a return of 80% of quarterly net income to shareholders through dividends and/or buybacks. But the buyback aspect of the equation faces new uncertainty due to the coronavirus.
“The philosophy of this company has always been the same,” said the CEO. “We don’t rush to buy back our shares. If there is weakness in the share price, we want to see if it’s a temporary weakness or whether it’s more permanent. If it’s more permanent, then obviously we’d think very seriously about it [share buybacks].
“We’re disappointed about what’s going on at the moment, but we understand there are exceptional circumstances around that. Before deploying capital for share repurchases, we need to see how long and how deep it will go. Because if you buy back today, maybe tomorrow it will be weaker. If [share-price weakness] is deeper tomorrow, you’d better wait before deploying your capital.”
He continued, “Let’s see how capital markets react to this virus and the continuous flow of news we’re going to receive. Let’s see what happens to tanker markets and tanker values and where we are [in the share price] compared to NAV.”
Takeaways For Tanker Stocks
The comments on the Euronav call were negative in general for tanker stocks, which are falling across the board.
Shipping stocks are valued in relation to NAV, and the most important variable of NAV is the market value of the ships in the fleet. If the coronavirus and other factors either cap or decrease tanker asset values, it’s bad for stock prices.
Secured revenue streams via time charters at attractive rates are a positive for tanker companies. If coronavirus uncertainty reduces the ability to sign such contracts, it’s another negative.
There are also conflicts between De Stoop’s statement that the crisis creates “a fantastic entry point” and some of his other comments on the call. First, if tanker rates aren’t likely to recover until next winter, assuming virus containment, why buy shares now?
Second, if Euronav itself is openly hesitant to buy its own shares specifically because states on the record that “you’d better wait” to see how the coronavirus situation develops, why shouldn’t individual investors wait as well?
7 Blockbuster Drugs Expected To Be Launched In 2020
Biotech stocks had a fairly decent run in 2019, thanks to record deal flow, several path-breaking innovation in drug research & development and the positive broader market sentiment. New molecular entity approvals totaled 48 in 2019, less than the 59 NME approvals in 2018.
The new year is expected to be risk fraught, as lawmakers are expected to step up their rhetoric on drug pricing. Even as the outlook for drug companies remains not-so-promising, some key drug approvals could still impart some momentum to the sector.
The FDA could expedite the review of some drugs, Evaluate Pharma said, citing some approvals in 2019 that came about well ahead of the scheduled PDUFA date such as Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated’s (NASDAQ: VRTX) Trikafta. Trikafta, a treatment option for cystic fibrosis, was approved five months ahead of the PDUFA date.
The following are the drugs with blockbuster potential that could make their way from lab to the shelves, according to Evaluate Pharma.
- Sponsor: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Limited (OTC: DSNKY) & AstraZeneca plc (NYSE: AZN)
- Indication: Her2 positive breast cancer
- Status: BLA accepted with priority review status in October and the PDUFA date has been fixed for second quarter of 2020
- Sponsor: Aimmune Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: AIMT)
- Indication: Peanut allergy
- Status: PDUFA date of January; A FDA panel, which met in September, voted 7 to 2 that the efficacy data and 8 to 1 that the safety data in conjunction with additional safeguards are adequate to support the use of Palforzia
- Sponsor: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE: BMY) (came into the company’s stable through its Celgene buy)
- Indication: relapsing form of multiple sclerosis
- Status: The FDA accepted for review the BLA in June and has set a PDUFA date of March 25
- Sponsor: Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS)(came into the company’s stable through its Medicines Company buy)
- Indication: LDL-cholesterol lowering therapy
- Status: NDA submitted in December for use in secondary prevention patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and familial hypercholesterolemia
- Sponsor: AstraZeneca/FibroGen Inc (NASDAQ: FGEN)
- Indication: treating anemia associated with chronic kidney disease
- Status: FibroGen, AstraZeneca’s partner in developing roxadustat, said it has submitted the NDA to the FDA in late December
- Sponsor: Immunomedics, Inc. (NASDAQ: IMMU)
- Indication: treating metastatic triple-negative breast cancer
- Status: After an initial snub, the company resubmitted the BLA and the FDA accepted the application for review Dec. 26, 2019, fixing a PDUFA action date of June 2
Dow Jones Industrial Average Breaks 29,000 For The First Time in History
Slight gains send Dow Jones Industrial Average above 29,000!
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 29,000 points for the first time and the S&P 500 index hit its second record high in three days Wednesday.
The milestones came on a day when the market traded in a narrow range as investors weighed the latest batch of corporate earnings reports and the widely anticipated signing of an initial trade deal between the U.S. and China.
President Donald Trump and China’s chief negotiator, Liu He, signed the “Phase 1″ deal before a group of corporate executives and reporters at the White House. The pact eases some sanctions on China. In return, Beijing has agreed to step up its purchases of U.S. farm products and other goods.
“This was telegraphed well enough that the market is kind of looking through it and toward the next phase and what that means,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at Globalt Investments.
Health care stocks accounted for much of the market’s gains. Utilities and makers of household goods also rose. Those gains outweighed losses in financial stocks, companies that rely on consumer spending and the energy sector.
The S&P 500 index rose 6.14 points, or 0.2%, to 3,289.29. The index also climbed to an all-time high on Monday.
The Dow gained 90.55 points, or 0.3%, to 29,030.22. The Nasdaq composite added 7.37 points, or 0.1%, to 9,258.70.
Smaller-company stocks fared better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 picked up 6.66 points, or 0-4%, to 1,682.40.
The benchmark S&P 500 index is on track for its second straight weekly gain.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.78% from 1.81% late Tuesday.
While limited in its scope, investors have welcomed the U.S.-China deal in hopes that it will prevent further escalation in the 18-month long trade conflict that has slowed global growth, hurt American manufacturers and weighed on the Chinese economy. The world’s two largest economies will now have to deal with more contentious trade issues as they move ahead with negotiations. And punitive tariffs will remain on about $360 billion in Chinese goods as talks continue.
With the “Phase 1” agreement now a done deal, investors have more reason to focus on the rollout of corporate earnings reports over the next few weeks. Earnings have been flat to down for the last three quarters, and if the fourth quarter meets expectations, it should be around the same.
However, analysts are projecting 2020 corporate earnings growth to jump around 9.5%, which is why traders will be listening this earnings reporting season for any clues management teams give about their business prospects in coming months.
“We’re expecting a reacceleration in the back end of the year, so any (company) guidance that brings any type of skepticism to that could threaten the recent rally we’ve had and the gains that we’ve accrued in the past few months,” Buchanan said.
Health care stocks powered much of the market’s gains Wednesday. Several health insurers climbed as investors cheered a solid fourth-quarter earnings report from UnitedHealth Group.
The nation’s largest health insurer, which covers more than 49 million people, said its revenue rose 4% on a mix of insurance premiums and growth from urgent care and surgery centers. Its stock rose 2.8%. Other health insurers also moved higher. Anthem gained 1.6%, Cigna added 1.5% and Humana climbed 1.9%.
Technology companies also rose. The sector is reliant on China for sales and supply chains and benefits from better trade relations. Microsoft gained 0.7% and Advanced Micro Devices gained 0.8%.
Utilities and consumer staples sector stocks also notched gains. Edison International climbed 2.5% and PepsiCo rose 1.7%.
Financial stocks fell the most. Bank of America slid 1.8% after reporting weaker profits due to the rapid decline of interest rates in late 2019.
Energy stocks also fell along with the price of crude oil. Valero Energy dropped 3.3%.
Homebuilders marched broadly higher on news that U.S. home loan applications surged 30.2% last week from a week earlier. The pickup in mortgage applications reflects heightened demand for homes and suggests many buyers are eager to purchase a home now, rather than waiting for the traditional late-February start of the spring homebuying season. Hovnanian Enterprises jumped 6.4%.
Target slumped 6.6% after a disappointing holiday shopping season prompted the retailer to cut its forecast for a key sales measure in the fourth quarter. The company said weak sales of electronics, toys and home goods crimped sales growth to just 1.4% in November and December.
Benchmark crude oil fell 42 cents to settle at $57.81 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, dropped 49 cents to close at $64 a barrel.
Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.64 per gallon. Heating oil declined 3 cents to $1.88 per gallon. Natural gas fell 7 cents to $2.12 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold rose $9.70 to $1,552.10 per ounce, silver rose 25 cents to $17.92 per ounce and copper fell 1 cent to $2.87 per pound.
The dollar fell to 109.91 Japanese yen from 110.00 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1150 from $1.1128.
Markets in Europe closed mostly lower.
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