Markets Today: EU vaccine turmoil continues as UK summer vacation hopes sink


  • Long-awaited US study results bring positive news for AstraZeneca
  • EU vaccine battles turn to production as cases rise
  • Hargreaves becomes embroiled in legal action at Woodford
  • Deliveroo is targeting a £ 8.8 billion valuation on its IPO
  • Latest company news: Knights, Centamin, Visa

Let’s start the week with some positive vaccine news. The UK gave a record 844,285 Covid-19 vaccinations yesterday, which now means more than half of the adult population has received at least one dose. But a return to normal is still a long way off. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC that an extension of the foreign holiday ban cannot be ruled out as concerns about the spread of new variants grow. The government’s current plan is May 17th as the date when people in England can vacation abroad. Unsurprisingly, airlines and travel stocks had a difficult start to the week.

Read more about early market trading in Neil Wilson’s morning update here.

AstraZeneca skeptics (AZN: Buy, Feb 2020) Vaccine was dealt another blow as a late US study of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine against Covid-19 showed 79 percent effectiveness in preventing symptomatic disease. Perhaps more importantly, given the current vaccine narrative, the study identified “no vaccine-related safety concerns” and most importantly, “no increased risk of thrombosis” or blood clots.

EU leaders had to allay their safety concerns after further analysis by European regulators found no evidence that vaccination increases the risk of blood clots.

But now the narrative has changed. Instead of questioning the safety of the Astra vaccine, the EU has started making noise around its manufacture. Large quantities of the vaccine are manufactured in a Dutch factory and exported to the UK for Astra to fulfill its contract with its domestic market (the company must deliver to the UK first), but EU officials have now threatened “to consider whether exports to countries with higher vaccination rates than we are still proportionate”. weekly from the Oxford Biomedica facility but that’s not enough to meet the pace Brits are being vaccinated at.

But before issuing threats, the EU should perhaps be careful about relying on British manufacturers. The lipid shell, which is essential for the manufacture of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, is made in a factory in northern England.

The question of whether AstraZeneca is a victim of the nationalization of the vaccine has an increasingly obvious answer. The company’s management hopes that the US, where they are now preparing to present study results to drug regulators, will prove to be a less turbulent market.

Hargreaves becomes embroiled in legal action at Woodford

The investment platform giant Hargreaves Lansdown (HL: Buy February 2021) was drawn into the legal ramifications by fund manager Neil Woodford’s empire collapse in 2019.

Hargreaves has received a pre-trial letter from attorneys working for the RGL Management class action group, which is pursuing multiple claims on behalf of thousands of investors who have suffered losses in the Woodford Equity Income Fund (WEIF) collapse, including lawsuits against the authorized corporate Director of the Fund, Link Fund Solutions.

A separate class action lawsuit filed by Harcus Parker and Leigh Day targeted Link but avoids the investment giant.

RGL claims that Hargreaves did not provide investors with “accurate, adequate and timely information” about the funds prior to the suspension. On a website about the use of investor claims, the group suggests that the investment platform “knew of liquidity problems in the WEIF from November 2017” and that there remain open questions as to why they continue to recommend the fund in its Wealth 50. Best buy list.

Hargreaves’ shares fell 2.4 percent this morning after news of the pre-action letter was reported over the weekend. A spokesman for the group did not want to comment. A

Continue reading: What can we learn from the Woodford scandal?

China’s power game with cryptocurrencies

China begins testing digital currency in Beijing and the Shanghai and Shenzhen financial centers. Most central banks have approached blockchain-based solutions with caution – but China is emerging as the world leader in implementing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

Do the benefits outweigh concerns – including the fact that blockchain technology lends itself well to persecution by the Chinese government and the possible degradation of civil liberties? And what does that mean for the rapid emergence of e-commerce solutions from the east?

James Norrington explores the “power play” in this article.

Latest company news: Visa, Deliveroo, Centamin and more

Visa crashes on possible antitrust investigation

Shares in Visa (V: Buy, January 2021) closed 6 percent lower late last week after the Wall Street Journal reported the US Department of Justice was investigating whether the company was engaged in anti-competitive practices in the debit card market. The department is reportedly investigating possible limitations on the ability of merchants to complete debit card transactions over often lower-cost networks. However, given Visa’s undeniable dominance of payments infrastructure, the possibility of tighter regulation will come as no surprise. Alex Newman explains why The company is one of our ideas of the year.

Deliveroo to offer £ 8.8 billion IPO

The grocery delivery app Deliveroo is targeting a valuation between £ 7.6 billion and £ 8.8 billion as it nears its market debut in London. The tech company set a price range of 390p to 460p and said the offering will consist of 384 million shares, with no over-allotment option. The news came along with a trading update that showed that the total value of transactions processed on its platforms had more than doubled in January and February 2021 compared to the previous year – although not a word was said about whether there were any profits to be made in those months . after it posted an operating loss of £ 221 million in 2020. Its prospectus will be released later in the day which may shed a little more light on the matter.

The charge of acquiring knights continues

Legal service group Ritter (KGH: Buy, July 2020) has entered into an agreement to acquire Mundays, a full-service independent law firm for £ 5.3 million. This includes an initial consideration of £ 3.9m – consisting of £ 2.7m in cash and the remainder in new shares – followed by a deferred cash payment of £ 1.4m due over the next two years pay is. The deal is expected to close on April 16.

In line with Knights’ strategy to Focus on the fragmented legal landscape outside of London, Mundays will strengthen the group’s presence in south east England and bring 34 fee recipients to the group. Mundays is believed to have a strong offering of corporate, real estate, and retail clients, and Knights believes the acquisition will immediately increase profits.

Analysts are similarly optimistic and have raised their forecasts. Real estate agent Numis now expects adjusted pre-tax profit of £ 22.9million for the year ended April 30, 2022, compared to £ 22.3million previously. Knights’ shares rose 3 percent at 447 pence in early trading. NK

Centamin hits sales record in 2020

Centamine (CEY: Buy, Dec. 2020).

The Egyptian miner was able to increase his cash profits by 54 percent in 2020 thanks to a quarter higher realized gold price for the year. The company will pay a final dividend of 3 ¢ compared to the final payout of 6 ¢ for 2019, which became a first interim dividend for 2020 due to Covid-19 uncertainty. A similar payout of just over $ 100 million is also expected for 2021.

The weak share price is related to the decision Stop production in an area of ​​the Sukari mine pit last year due to safety concerns. This meant production was 452,320 ounces, 6 percent lower than the previous year.

Centamin clearly needs another mine, given Sukari’s regular production problems. Another discovery at the same site is said to be a possibility, while its holdings in West Africa are also showing promise. A new exploration team is a sign that the company is taking this seriously. AH

Kingfisher jumps on strong results

kingfisher (KGF: Buy, Mar 2021) rose over 3 percent after further strong results as consumers continue to focus on home improvement during the lockdown. Revenue increased 7 percent for the year through January, while adjusted profit increased +44 percent. This was a very strong performance in both the UK and Ireland and France. However, management warns that revenue growth will slow this year. NW

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