Active Stock’s News Report: Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE:EPD), Ceres (NASDAQ:CERE), Merck & (NYSE:MRK), Chevron (NYSE:CVX)

Active Stock’s News Report: Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE:EPD), Ceres (NASDAQ:CERE), Merck & (NYSE:MRK), Chevron (NYSE:CVX)

On Tuesday, Shares of Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE:EPD), lost -5.92% to $22.09. Enterprise Products Partners declared the start of service on its Rancho II pipeline between Sealy, Texas and the partnership’s ECHO terminal in […] When Louisiana native Kim O’Brien decided to have an abortion in 2011 because her pregnancy had severe complications, she was unaware of the difficulties she would face — including traveling to another state — to get the care she is legally entitled to through Roe v. Wade. Now, nine years later And no, it has nothing to do with avoiding traditional IRAs or 401(k)s. The good news is that the biotech’s second worst scenario isn’t nearly as scary as its worst nightmare. Even if games are played in 2020 and the competitive balance tax is reset, the team might not want to increase its payroll.

On Tuesday, Shares of Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE:EPD), lost -5.92% to $22.09.

Enterprise Products Partners declared the start of service on its Rancho II pipeline between Sealy, Texas and the partnership’s ECHO terminal in southeast Houston. The 88-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline will transport various grades of crude oil, condensate and processed condensate from the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale.

“The Rancho II pipeline is an integral part of Enterprise’s larger efforts to expand its crude oil and condensate network in Texas,” said Michael A. Creel, chief executive officer of Enterprise’s general partner. “Combined with our existing Eagle Ford assets and recently declared Midland-to-Sealy pipeline, Rancho II enhances our ability to provide crude oil and condensate from key producing areas with direct access to every refinery in Houston, Texas City, Beaumont and Port Arthur, in addition to Enterprise’s marine facilities through our ECHO distribution system.”

Enterprise Products Partners L.P. is one of the largest publicly traded partnerships and a leading North American provider of midstream energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, NGLs, crude oil, refined products and petrochemicals. Our services comprise: natural gas gathering, treating, processing, transportation and storage; NGL transportation, fractionation, storage and import and export terminals; crude oil and refined products transportation, storage and terminals; petrochemical transportation and services; and a marine transportation business that operates primarily on the United States inland and Intracoastal Waterway systems. The partnership’s assets comprise about 49,000 miles of pipelines; 225 million barrels of storage capacity for NGLs, crude oil, refined products and petrochemicals; and 14 billion cubic feet of natural gas storage capacity.

Enterprise Products Partners L.P. is a provider of midstream energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs), crude oil, petrochemicals and refined products.

Shares of Ceres Inc (NASDAQ:CERE), inclined 27.49% to $1.28, during its last trading session.

Ceres, an agricultural biotechnology company, recently declared that KWS SAAT SE, a global seed developer with operations in over 70 counties, will evaluate Ceres Persephone bioinformatics technology under a license agreement.

Originally developed for in-house use by Ceres, the Persephone system allows researchers to organize, store, access and explore a diverse array of DNA-related information in much the same way online mapping programs allow users to explore geographic regions and locations.

We look forward to working with researchers at KWS to demonstrate how Persephone can assist deliver complex genomic information directly to its diverse product development groups, said Tim Swaller, Ceres Vice President of Genomic Technologies.

Swaller noted that next generation sequencing technologies have substantially raised the amount and complexity of information generated in crop research and development. Despite the power of this information, it is often difficult to access and fully utilize throughout a research organization. Persephones capabilities and user experience is designed to allow more eyes on information that is often inaccessible recently, said Swaller.

Ceres, Inc. (Ceres) is an agricultural biotechnology company that develops and markets seeds to produce crops for bioenergy and other markets that utilize plant biomass. It uses a combination of advanced plant breeding, biotechnology and bioinformatics to develop seed products.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), inclined 0.45% to $48.64, during its last trading session.

Merck & Co., The Carter Center, PAHO/WHO and the Mectizan Donation Program of Merck & Co., Inc. known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, are part of a coalition of organizations assisting countries in the Americas fight river blindness (onchocerciasis), and are calling for a final push to definitively eliminate transmission of the disabling disease from the Western Hemisphere.

“Today, four of the six river blindness-endemic countries in the Americas have eliminated transmission of the disease, but I am not ready to celebrate until the task is complete,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, founder of The Carter Center, which has led the campaign to wipe out river blindness in Latin America through its Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA). “Now is not the time to be complacent. It is the time to improvement our efforts.”

Onchocerciasis is a parasitic disease carried by biting black flies that breed in fast-flowing rivers and streams. It can cause intense itching and skin damage, nodules, eye damage, and eventually blindness. The disease disproportionately affects low-income communities in several Latin American countries and in Africa, contributing to the cycle of poverty by reducing affected individuals’ ability to work and learn. In the late 1990s, an estimated 500,000 people in six endemic countries of the Americas were at risk of onchocerciasis.

“River blindness can be controlled and even eliminated when countries mobilize the necessary political will and receive strong support from international partners,” said Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). “Recently we are calling for renewed resolve in our joint efforts so we can finally rid our hemisphere of this disabling disease forever.”

Merck & Co., Inc. is a global health care company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures. The Company’s Pharmaceutical segment includes human health pharmaceutical and vaccine products marketed either directly by the Company or through joint ventures.

Finally, Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), ended its last trade with 0.63% gain, and closed at $76.27.

Chevron Corporation one of the worlds leading energy companies, will hold its quarterly earnings conference call on Friday, October 30, 2015, at 11:00 a.m. ET (8:00 a.m. PT).

Chevron Corporation (Chevron) manages its investments in subsidiaries and affiliates. The Company operates through two segments: Upstream and Downstream. Upstream operations consist primarily of exploring for, developing and producing crude oil and natural gas; processing, liquefaction, transportation and regasification associated with liquefied natural gas (LNG); transporting crude oil through international oil export pipelines; transporting, storing and marketing natural gas, and operating a gas-to-liquids plant.


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Information contained in this article may contains forward-looking information within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, counting statements regarding the predictable continual growth of the market for the corporation’s products, the corporation’s ability to fund its capital requirement in the near term and in the long-term; pricing pressures; etc.

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Family's abortion story sheds light on stakes of Supreme Court ruling

Family’s abortion story sheds light on stakes of Supreme Court ruling

When Louisiana native Kim O’Brien decided to have an abortion in 2011 because her pregnancy had severe complications, she was unaware of the difficulties she would face — including traveling to another state — to get the care she is legally entitled to through Roe v. Wade.

Now, nine years later, O’Brien, 43, is part of an abortion case before the U.S. Supreme Court that has the potential to dramatically change the landscape of abortion access across the United States, particularly in Louisiana, where the case originates.

O’Brien, now a mom to two daughters, decided to tell her story publicly and join the case as an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” because she does not want any women, including her daughters, to be denied medical care, specifically access to abortions, because of where they live or the resources they do or do not have.

“My experience was really eye-opening that women all over the place are having to comply with all these unnecessary restrictions,” O’Brien told “Good Morning America.” “And a lot of them probably ultimately don’t get their abortion because they don’t have the privileges, the financial support, the capabilities that I did.”

O’Brien’s experience seeking an abortion after a devastating ultrasound taken at 20 weeks was made more difficult — logistically, financially and emotionally — because of the patchwork of state laws like the one the Supreme Court is reviewing, called targeted restrictions on abortion providers, or TRAP laws, by abortion rights advocates. Rather than overarching bans, which often get stopped by courts, these seemingly more minor laws work to limit abortion access in reality in a variety of ways.

“It makes me really sad and really frustrated,” she said. “And I feel empowered to do all that I can to try to make things better for them.”

The case of June Medical Services v. Russo centers on a 2014 Louisiana state law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges with a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, which allows a patient to go to that hospital should urgent care be required.

If the law is upheld by the Supreme Court, Louisiana, a state of more than 4.6 million people whose population is 51% female, would likely go from having three abortion clinics in the state down to one, according to Kathaleen Pittman, administrator of the Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Louisiana, the lead plaintiff in the case.

The state would likely have just one physician with admitting privileges who could perform abortions, she told “GMA.”

“When we decided to challenge the law, we really had no other option. It was that or shut down,” said Pittman, who has worked at Hope for nearly three decades. “There is no exaggeration when I tell you that this is a really critical decision that’s about to be handed down.”

In that 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court majority said the law, which required doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and mandated that abortion clinics meet state requirements for licensed surgical centers, created an “undue burden” on patients seeking access to abortion.

“When the law passed, we went from 44 clinics in 2013 down to six when the law was fully enforced throughout the state,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, the Texas-based health organization that challenged the law. “It just created this perfect storm that really crumbled the fabric of access to abortion services that had existed prior to its passing.”

MORE: Everyone talks about Roe v. Wade but women’s health groups say Supreme Court could ‘gut’ abortion access without actually overturning it

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Louisiana’s 2014 law is substantively different from the Texas measure and should be upheld because it does not “impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women” in the state. The Supreme Court is reviewing that decision.

Even though abortion rights advocates gained a victory in the 2016 Supreme Court ruling on the Texas law, the limited time the law was in effect still managed to decimate access to abortion care for people in the state, according to Hagstrom Miller.

“Many clinics had to close, or let their lease go, or couldn’t pay their mortgage, or their doctors and staffs all got different jobs,” she said of the effect of the three-year legal battle. “The win was a super strong win on paper, but it came three years after the law went into effect such that it was remarkably difficult for clinics to reopen — or new clinics to start.”

June Medical Services v. Russo (ABC NEWS)

Hagstrom Miller estimates there are now less than two dozen abortion clinics in Texas, a state with a population of nearly 29 million that is 50% female. By comparison, the state of Massachusetts, with a population of nearly seven million, had 47 facilities providing abortion as of 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

“One of the things I’ve seen is we have a generation of people now who have come to just expect restrictions on abortions,” she said. “They expect that there’s going to be multiple delays in a waiting period and all these hoops to jump through in order to get an abortion.”

In Louisiana, a 24-hour waiting period is also legally required for patients seeking an abortion, meaning they must make two trips to an abortion provider, which is often hours away from their home due to the shrinking number of clinics. Each visit can last as long as five hours, according to Pittman.

MORE: 2-year battle over Indiana abortion clinic highlights ‘politically motivated’ licensing laws: Advocates

“On day one, we are required by law to perform an ultrasound … and the stenographer goes into great detail about what he or she is seeing on the screen as far as fetal development,” she said, adding that, because of state law, the ultrasound screen must be facing the patient with the sound on. “From the ultrasound, they spend one-on-one time with the patient advocate, and from there they spend time one-on-one with a physician who goes again through the process, explaining it in great detail.”

Louisiana also requires parental consent for minors seeking an abortion, does not allow the use of telemedicine to administer medication abortion, and allows abortions to be performed at 20 weeks or more postfertilization “only in cases of life or severely compromised physical health, or lethal fetal anomaly,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

PHOTO: A Capitol employee walks through the U.S. Supreme Court plaza in Washington, March 18, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters, FILE)

Both Miller and Pittman worry that if the Supreme Court reverses course and votes to uphold the Louisiana law in June Medical Services vs. Russo, it will mobilize other state legislatures, including Texas, to put more abortion restrictions in place.

In 2019 alone, more than 350 pieces of legislation restricting abortions were introduced across the country, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

“Every time a barrier to abortion is successfully implemented in one state, another state follows,” said Pittman. “If we don’t have an absolute win this time, we’re going to see a lot of activity from other states trying to get cases before the Supreme Court as well.”

At the heart of June Medical Services vs. Russo is a debate over admitting privileges, which a hospital may grant to doctors to allow them to admit patients to that hospital and provide medical services there.

All doctors are licensed in Louisiana through a separate process to ensure competency and safety.

Whether a hospital decides to grant admitting privileges to a doctor is a subjective process that is often reduced to numbers and whether the doctor will bring in enough revenue, i.e. patients, to the hospital to make it worth it. Hospitals can also deny admitting privileges if they do not want the doctor’s specialty, i.e. abortion care, at their hospital.

Because abortion statistically has very low complication rates, the need for hospital care is extremely rare.

PHOTO: Kathaleen Pittman, the administrator of the Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, La., works in her office, Feb. 20, 2020. (Rebecca Santana/AP)

At Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, there have been just four or five direct transfers to a hospital in the last 25 years, according to Pittman.

“That record stands for itself,” she said, noting that only one of the clinic’s two physicians currently has admitting privileges and the other has not been able to get them.

Dr. Pooja Mehta, an OBGYN in Louisiana and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, calls requiring admitting privileges for abortion care an “added step that is not necessary for good care.”

“Abortion care doesn’t require a hospital to be safe,” she told “GMA.” “If you are the one in 1,000 case where that abortion may need to be watched more closely in a hospital, that abortion provider can still send someone to an emergency room and that person will still be seen in a hospital.”

“There is no science that suggests that require admitting privileges makes abortion safer,” she said.

MORE: Louisiana abortion case may hinge on Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts

In the U.S., three states — Missouri, North Dakota and Utah — currently require admitting privileges for abortion providers, while efforts to enforce similar requirements have been blocked in eight states, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Advocates for admitting privileges argue the law is simply meant to keep women safe.

“Louisiana abortion providers have a record of non-compliance with basic safety regulations, and now they want a special exemption from generally accepted medical standards that apply to similar surgical procedures in our state,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement in March, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case. “Women seeking abortions deserve better than that; they should have the same assurance of prompt and proper care in the event of complications.”

In 2017, 9,920 abortions were provided in Louisiana, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Pittman described a “dark cloud” constantly over her head as she worries where those people — who also travel from states including Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi — will get help if the admitting privileges requirement is upheld and abortion providers in Louisiana are forced to close their doors.

“For a lot of women, this unplanned pregnancy is a crisis for them,” she said. “And a woman who comes to us, more often than not, has decided this is what she wants to do.”

The majority of patients who seek care at Hope Medical Group live at or below the federal poverty level, according to Pittman. She said the most common reason given for pregnancy termination by patients at Hope is “lack of financial stability.”

“Often times, we hear from women that they need to make the best decision for the family they already have,” she said. “They need to protect their family and make sure their family is OK.”

Across the country, patients who are denied abortions face a “large and persistent increase” in financial distress in the years after, according to a working paper published earlier this year by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Looking at credit report data, researchers found that being denied an abortion increases the amount of debt 30 days or more past due by 78% and increases negative public records, such as bankruptcies and evictions, by 81%. The economic fallout appeared to be the worst for woman who were forced to have a child when they were not prepared to, the data shows.

In Louisiana, nearly 19% of the population lives in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Women who carry their pregnancies to full term also face health complications, data shows. While a small number of abortions require hospital care, the state of Louisiana has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the country.

Louisiana ranks second in the country in maternal deaths, behind only Georgia, with 44.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 lives birth, according to an analysis last year by U.S. News & World Report.

The lack of access to abortion care that Pittman predicts would be made worse with an unfavorable Supreme Court ruling is what O’Brien experienced in 2011 when she learned at her 20-week ultrasound that the fetus she was carrying had “severe brain abnormalities.”

After seeking second, third and fourth medical opinions and talking to trusted family and friends, O’Brien, an attorney, and her husband, a medical doctor, decided to terminate the pregnancy.

“It was all bad news and would not have resulted in a healthy baby if it was to survive to the end of the pregnancy,” said O’Brien. “At that [ultrasound] appointment, our doctor told us, ‘You know, you have a lot to think about. If you decide that you want to terminate the pregnancy, the clock is ticking. There are restrictions in Louisiana.'”

MORE: What to know about new abortion restrictions and what they could mean for Roe v. Wade

“I knew that I had a legal right to an abortion, but I just didn’t know much about the practicalities,” she said. “I assumed that I would just go back to my doctor and say, ‘OK, we’re ready.’ I was wrong.”

O’Brien learned she would have to travel out of her home state for an abortion because of state law as she was past the 20-week mark of her pregnancy. She had to do research on her own to see if laws in nearby states would allow her to have an abortion there.

She also had to find a doctor on her own and says it was only thanks to her husband’s medical network that she found a doctor in Texas who would perform an abortion at her stage in pregnancy.

O’Brien and her husband drove six hours from their home in New Orleans to Houston for the procedure. They had to take time off work, arrange childcare for their daughter, who was 1 at the time, and pay for a three-night stay at a hotel.

MORE: Supreme Court set to hear critical Louisiana abortion case

“I was given no guidance and I know that I have privileges that the vast majority of women don’t have,” she said. “I have a legal education. My husband has a medical education and training. We have this vast social and professional network of other healthcare providers. We have financial resources … we had my parents’ support and availability to keep our child for three nights. My husband was able to take off work, which so many people don’t have the ability to do.”

“All of those things I know that the average person does not have, and still it was near impossible for me to get the abortion,” said O’Brien, who experienced an additional logistical complication once she was admitted at a Houston hospital for the procedure.

PHOTO: Kim O’Brien, right, poses with a friend at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (Kim O’Brien)

O’Brien said that after waiting for hours in her hospital room, her doctor told her the hospital’s board had changed their policy a week prior to say they would no longer allow abortions beyond 20 weeks. The hospital had not yet informed the OBGYN department about the new rule but hospital officials said her procedure could not move forward, according to O’Brien.

“Ultimately they connected with another abortion provider who had a clinic in the area, and I had to be taken by wheelchair across the street to a medical office building where they started the procedure, and then I had to be wheeled back to the hospital so that they could complete the abortion,” she said. “It was absolutely insane and had nothing to do with my health or anyone’s health.”

In the 2016 case, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a concurring opinion that “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws” — like what O’Brien faced in both Louisiana and Texas — “that ‘do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion’ cannot survive judicial inspection.” Even so, lawmakers and judges have moved forward with similar laws in many states, as the Louisiana case shows. O’Brien says that if her circumstance had occurred today, she would not be able to get an abortion in either state due to additional TRAP laws enacted in each state.

“It’s shocking to me that nine years later, the situation is worse,” she said.

ABC News’ Alexandra Svokos and Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.

Family’s abortion story sheds light on stakes of Supreme Court ruling originally appeared on



Suze Orman calls this investment advice the 'most overlooked financial tip'

Suze Orman calls this investment advice the ‘most overlooked financial tip’

Suze Orman calls this investment advice the ‘most overlooked financial tip’

Personal finance pooh-bah Suze Orman has thrust herself into the headlines by advising consumers to “stay away” from traditional IRAs and 401(k) retirement plans.

The TV personality and best-selling author said in a Pivot podcast that when you withdraw the money in retirement, the taxes are bound to be high because the government will have to find a way to pay for its massive coronavirus debt. She recommends going with a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k), which offer tax-free withdrawals.

It’s a stunning piece of advice — but is that what Orman recently referred to as “the most overlooked financial tip”?

Not even close.

Is it the guidance she’s been giving investors to keep buying stocks when the market tanks, because you get shares of great companies at cheap prices? (As stocks started sliding in late February, Orman said people should “rejoice.”)

Nope, it’s not that either.

Orman says there’s one important investment that beats all of the others.

It allows you to make smarter financial decisions. It helps you cut your health care costs and save money on life insurance.

It keeps us “focused on the work we have, or the new job we now need,” Orman writes, in a blog post titled “The Most Overlooked Financial Tip.”

When it comes time to buy disability insurance to protect your income in case you’re ever seriously ill or injured, the tip can help you save on that, too.

It gives you energy to take your work to a new level and work longer “if that’s a priority,” the financial guru says.

So what is this key to success that many people leave in the drawer? It has become particularly important during the pandemic.

“I can think of no better investment in your current and future self than to take better care of you,” Suze Orman says. “That starts with sleep. And making sure you connect to friends and loved ones just to chat and be connected.”

Orman says people often don’t think about the important connection between their emotional and physical health and their financial health.

“When you are stressed in life, and especially if you are stressed about money, that’s going to take a toll on you,” she says.

In a recent survey by the Census Bureau, nearly half of U.S. adults said either they or someone in their household had lost income because of the COVID-19 crisis. And about a third reported symptoms of serious anxiety or depression.

“For those of you struggling with maintaining a positive outlook during this very unsettling time, please don’t hesitate to seek out professional help,” says Orman. “And don’t you dare be embarrassed.”

She says reach out to friends for leads on where to find help, and try to get more exercise and eat healthier. Because when you pay more attention to your mind and body today, there’s a long-term payoff — in retirement. You’ll need to be in excellent financial shape when you retire, and good physical shape, too.

“Taking better care of you today ups the odds that you will enter retirement in better health. That’s going to be worth so much, as a healthier you can make the most of enjoying retirement,” Orman says, in the blog.


Author: Doug Whiteman

How Moderna's Second Worst Nightmare Could Become a Reality

How Moderna’s Second Worst Nightmare Could Become a Reality

Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) is living the dream that most biotechs aspire to achieve. In late 2018, the company pulled off what was at the time the biggest initial public offering (IPO) in biotech history. Its messenger RNA technology captured the imaginations — and pocketbooks — of investors.

This year, Moderna has emerged as a highly celebrated leader in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. It was even named by the White House as one of five drugmakers to receive major federal support, alongside several much larger pharmaceutical companies.

But a significant risk remains that Moderna’s dream could turn into a nightmare. There are two potential nightmare scenarios for the biotech. And one of them could very well become a reality.

COVID-19 vaccines on top of $100 bills

Image source: Getty Images.

It’s easy to figure out what Moderna’s worst nightmare is. If the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate proves to be ineffective at preventing infection by the novel coronavirus or, even worse, unsafe, the big gains delivered by the biotech stock in 2020 would evaporate.

So far, however, there’s no reason to expect this worst-case scenario will happen. Moderna’s phase 1 clinical study evaluating COVID-19 vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 went well. The biotech reported encouraging production of binding antibodies and neutralizing antibodies. While there were a few adverse events, they were quickly resolved.

The company’s phase 2 study of mRNA-1273 is currently in progress. Moderna dosed the first participants in this study in late May. Preliminary results aren’t available yet, but that’s not slowing the biotech down. Moderna received a green light from the FDA earlier this month to begin a phase 3 study in July if there aren’t any red flags with the phase 2 data.

Of course, it’s still possible that serious problems could arise for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The company’s approach is different than traditional vaccine development, potentially increasing the risk of issues. But there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic that Moderna will be able to avoid its worst nightmare.

It could be a different story for the biotech’s second-worst nightmare. What is this other negative scenario for Moderna? The company could achieve success with its COVID-19 vaccine, but so could several other big rivals.

You might wonder why this would be problematic for Moderna. After all, with most of the 8 billion people in the world likely to need vaccination against the novel coronavirus, the market should be large enough to support multiple COVID-19 vaccines. 

The issue boils down to pricing. If Moderna is the only drugmaker to successfully launch a COVID-19 vaccine, it will be able to basically name its price. However, if other companies are also successful, the pricing dynamics will change dramatically.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has already hinted that it could price its COVID-19 vaccine at $10 per dose if all goes well. By comparison, the price per dose for flu vaccines can be four or five times that level.

Moderna isn’t the only company focused on developing a mRNA coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) teamed up with BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) in March on developing BNT162. Pfizer Chief Business Officer John Young recently stated that “there is no thought being given to ROI [return on investment] in our COVID-19 work.” He said, “Frankly, the world needs a safe and effective vaccine” and that Pfizer’s priority is to “play our part in bringing forward vaccines and treatments that the world needs right now.”

Young’s comments could simply reflect that Pfizer hasn’t fully thought through the potential pricing for the COVID-19 vaccine that it’s developing with BioNTech. However, reading between the lines, it seems that both Pfizer and J&J want to avoid pricing their COVID-19 vaccines at high prices that would generate a lot of controversy.

The bottom line is that if J&J and Pfizer are able to market COVID-19 vaccines, it could potentially mean that Moderna stands to make tens of billions of dollars less than it could make if the big pharma companies aren’t successful. Moderna’s valuation hinges on achieving tremendous commercial success with mRNA-1273. 

Could Moderna’s second-worst nightmare become a reality? Absolutely. Pfizer and BioNTech aren’t too far behind Moderna in their clinical testing of BNT162. J&J plans to advance its COVID-19 vaccine into clinical testing in late July.

However, this nightmare scenario probably isn’t as scary as it might seem at first glance. Let’s assume that Moderna launches its COVID-19 vaccine and has to price it at $10 per dose to be competitive. If the company can sell 1 billion doses per year, that’s $10 billion in annual revenue — more than enough to justify Moderna’s current market cap of around $25 billion.

The main issue is that these levels don’t give Moderna nearly as big of a growth runway as it would have if the pricing of its COVID-19 vaccine were higher — or if it could grab a greater market share with fewer rivals competing. But if mRNA-1273 proves to be both safe and effective, Moderna’s shares will undoubtedly jump much higher regardless of what happens with the other drugmakers’ candidates. We should know over the next few months if the biotech’s dream will live on.


Author: Keith Speights

One way or another, Red Sox will face hard financial decisions for 2021 season

One way or another, Red Sox will face hard financial decisions for 2021 season

MLB owners and the players’ union have yet to reach an agreement on a deal to restart the 2020 season, which was suspended indefinitely March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It still remains unclear if the 2020 season will resume even if the two sides reach a deal. Coronavirus could derail it. A recent outbreak of positive COVID-19 tests around baseball (five Phillies players and three staff members tested positive at their facility in Clearwater, Florida) – and the entire sports world – prompted MLB to close its spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona.

Whether or not there’s a 2020 season, the Red Sox, like every other organization, could enter the 2020-21 free agency period on a tight budget. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred projected financial losses of nearly $4 billion for owners if the 2020 season is canceled. Teams also would experience significant revenue losses in an abbreviated season without fans in attendance.

Luxury tax penalties will not reset if the 2020 season is canceled (first reported by Boston Globe’s Alex Speier). The Red Sox, therefore, would enter the 2021 season designated as a Third-Time CBT Payor because they exceeded the Competitive Balance Tax threshold in 2018 and 2019. And so Boston would pay the highest tax penalty for each million the payroll exceeds $210 million.

The CBT threshold will increase to $210 million in 2021, up from $208 million in 2020.

Even if the season is played (and CBT penalties reset), the Red Sox, and all other MLB clubs, might need to spend less money this coming offseason after losing significant revenue. Free agents could bear the brunt of it. MLB Network’s Peter Gammons estimates that Mookie Betts, who the Red Sox traded to the Dodgers in February, could lose $100-150 million in free agency because of the financial crisis of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Red Sox will enter the winter committed to $130.05 million in guaranteed contracts that count toward the 2021 CBT threshold.

The $130.05 million guaranteed includes J.D. Martinez’s $23.75 million average annual value. But Martinez has the ability to opt out of the the final two years of his contract and test free agency again this offseason. If he does, the guaranteed number would drop to $106.75 million.

The guaranteed number would increase to $139.55 million if Martinez opts in and the Red Sox exercise Martin Perez’s $6.5 million team option and Mitch Moreland’s $3 team option million. The Red Sox can buy out both Moreland and Perez for $500,000 each.

Boston, of course, also will have to pay arbitration and pre-arbitration salaries. This year, arbitration salaries would have totaled $32.5125 million for a 162-game season. It will be a somewhat similar number in 2021.

Add another $15-16 million for medical costs, health benefits, spring training allowances, moving and traveling expenses, etc. That’s all included in the CBT.

Does it matter anyway if CBT is reset? The Red Sox, like all MLB clubs, might not want to exceed the threshold anyway, even as a First-Time Payor with the smallest tax penalty, because of the significant loss of revenue.

Because of a potential bleak free agent market, it makes sense for Martinez to stay, even though his salary would drop from $23,750,000 this year (before contracts are prorated) to $19,350,000 next season. He signed a front-loaded contract, with more money in the first three years than the final two. That said, MLB’s latest offer to the owners to restart the 2021 season included the use of a universal DH in 2020 and ’21, which could open 15 more job opportunities for Martinez in the National League, as WEEI’s Rob Bradford pointed out earlier this week.

The Red Sox presumably will need to add an outfielder and starting pitching. Jackie Bradley Jr. is eligible for free agency and unlikely to re-sign. The Red Sox traded Betts to the Dodgers in March. Kevin Pillar will enter free agency again. Betts, George Springer, Marcell Ozuna, Nick Castellanos, Joc Pederson, Michael Brantley and Enrique Hernandez are among the pending free agent outfield options.


Guaranteed contracts (7): David Price (Red Sox pay $16 million of his $31 million AAV), Chris Sale ($25.60 million), Xander Bogaerts ($20 million), Nathan Eovaldi ($16.88 million), Dustin Pedroia ($13.3 million), Christian Vazquez ($4.52 million), Andrew Benintendi ($10 million). TOTAL: $106.3 million

Players who can opt out for free agency (1): J.D. Martinez ($23.75 million)

Team options (2): Mitch Moreland ($3 million team option, $500,000 buyout), Martin Perez ($6.5 team million, $500,000 buyout)

1st-year arbitration eligible (2): Rafael Devers, Austin Brice

2nd-year arbitration eligible (3): Josh Osich, Kevin Plawecki, Jose Peraza

Final year of arbitration (3): Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Eduardo Rodriguez

Pre-arbitration eligible (20): Michael Chavis, Colten Brewer, Yoan Aybar, Ryan Brasier, Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, Jeffrey Springs, Kyle Hart, Ryan Weber, Alex Verdugo, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Marcus Walden, Jonathan Arauz, Mike Shawaryn, Bobby Dalbec, Marcus Wilson, C.J. Chatham, Phillips Valdez, Tzu-Wei Lin

Free agents (4): Kevin Pillar, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brandon Workman, Colin McHugh



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