Monday Morning Reads
- Kodak Loan Debacle Puts a New Agency in the Hot Seat
- Bond Defaults Deliver 99% Losses
- Apple Developing Smaller AirPods Pro
- Prepares to Avoid Spotlight Under Biden
- The Baseball Card Market Is Thriving
- Power of Data and Technology Trends
- What Should Happen? What Will Happen?
- Who Owns the Stock Market?
- Only 5 Things You Can Invest In
Bayer (OTCPK:BAYRY) is paying as much as $4B for U.S. biotech firm Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, bolstering its pharmaceuticals division as it continues to reel from its acquisition of crops giant Monsanto (and cancer-related Roundup lawsuits). The latest deal, which includes upfront consideration of $2B and potential milestone payments of up to $2B, is a bet on cutting-edge gene therapy, which offers the potential to cure a wide range of often-rare diseases by editing errors in the body's instruction manual. Drugmakers including Novartis (NYSE:NVS), Roche Holding (OTCQX:RHHBY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) have also made big bets on the industry, snapping up gene therapy makers.
Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin Robbins chains owner Dunkin' Brands (NASDAQ:DNKN) confirmed preliminary talks to be acquired by Inspire Brands after the NYT reported on the negotiations. Inspire would take Dunkin' private at $106.5 per share, valuing the company at $8.8B, or a 20% premium over DNKN's closing price of $88.79 on Friday. While Dunkin' said "there is no certainty that any agreement will be reached," if successful, Inspire would add the new assets to the Buffalo Wild Wings, Arby's Sonic, and Jimmy John's chains that it already owns. DNKN +19% premarket.
More M&A: Blackstone to buy Simply Self Storage for about $1.2B.
Cenovus Energy (NYSE:CVE) has agreed to buy Husky Energy (OTCPK:HUSKF) in a C$3.8B ($2.9B) all-stock deal that will combine two of the largest players in Canada's struggling oil-sands industry. The combined company will have about 750K boe/d production, making it the third-largest Canadian oil and natural gas producer. it would also be the second-largest Canadian-based refiner and upgrader with total North American upgrading and refining capacity of ~660K boe/d.
U.S. stock index futures are starting the week on the backfoot, falling nearly 1% overnight, as the nation reported a record of more than 83,000 new COVID infections on both Friday and Saturday. "We're not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN's State of the Union program. Meadows and Nancy Pelosi also accused each other of "moving the goalposts" on stimulus legislation in back-to-back interviews, dimming chances a deal could be reached before Election Day.
The COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) produces a robust antibody and T-cell immune response in elderly people, the group at highest risk, FT reports. While details of the finding are expected to be published shortly in a clinical journal, sources cautioned that positive immunogenicity tests do not guarantee that the vaccine will ultimately prove safe and effective in older people. AstraZeneca resumed the U.S. trial of its experimental vaccine on Friday after a pause due to safety concerns, while Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) also restarted trials, saying the first batches of its shot could be available in January.
"China has purchased approximately 71% of its farm purchases target for 2020," according to an interim report on agricultural trade from the U.S. Trade Representative. "They have purchased $23.6B in agricultural products so far this year, substantially more than the base year of 2017, and should end up being our best year ever in sales to China. It is worth noting that the Phase One Agreement did not go into effect until February 14, 2020, and March is the first full month of its effect... We already are on pace to have all-time high sales to China in beef, pork, corn, and soybeans."
Go Deeper: Some are questioning the figures and the timeline.
PG&E (NYSE:PCG) is pre-emptively cutting power again in northern California, affecting 386,000 homes and businesses in 38 counties, or nearly 1M people. It's the fourth times this year the state’s largest utility had to shut off electricity due to high winds and extreme wildfire danger, which could spark blazes if live wires topple into dry brush. Utilities in Southern California, like Southern California Edison (NYSE:EIX), are also warning of potential blackouts.
As the threat of election-related unrest escalates in the U.S., Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) said it would implement emergency measures reserved for "at-risk" countries to bring down the online temperature. The social media giant plans to limit the "spread of viral content" and lower the bar for "suppressing potentially inflammatory posts" using internal tools previously deployed in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, WSJ reports. The tools would only be used in the event of election-related violence or other serious circumstances, though some employees are concerned it could slow down viral content and unintentionally hide legitimate political discussions.
Go Deeper: Facebook will ban U.S. political ads indefinitely after November 3.
A chapter has closed for the Samsung conglomerate following the death of Lee Kun-hee, who transformed the South Korean appliance maker into the world's biggest producer of smartphones, TVs and memory chips. He had been incapacitated for years following a 2014 stroke, leaving day-to-day operations to his son, Lee Jae-yong, who goes by Jay Y. in the West. While Lee spends about 95% of his time focused on Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF), the conglomerate's most valuable arm, he formally takes the reins with Samsung on the defensive and struggling to evolve within the tech industry.
What else is happening...
Chinese policymakers discuss new five-year development plan.
In Asia, Japan -0.1%. Hong Kong +0.5%. China -0.8%. India -1.3%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.2%. Paris -0.6%. Frankfurt -2.1%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.9%. S&P -0.9%. Nasdaq -0.9%. Crude -2.5% to $38.85. Gold -0.2% at $1902.40. Bitcoin +0.6% to $13099.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -3 bps to 0.81%
Today's Economic Calendar