All posts by yanchunliu2017

Opinions Differ on How Merged Bayer-Monsanto Affects Some Seed Businesses

By Yanchun (Roxanne) Liu
Medill Reports

Academics and independent seed companies have divergent outlooks on whether the merger between agrichemical giants Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG will drive away potential customers from companies that sell organic seeds and seeds that aren’t non-genetically modified.

German drug maker Bayer said in a press release on June 7 that it completed its $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto, the St. Louis-based provider of genetically modified organism seeds and crop protection chemicals. The tie-up further consolidates the global agrichemical sector, after Dow Chemical Co. merged with DuPont Co. in August and China National Chemical Corp. purchased Swiss biotechnology company Syngenta AG in June 2017.

The new company is likely to continue Monsanto’s strategy of increasing the prices of GMO seeds with new genetics each year, but the price increase will not be as aggressive as it was five years ago because of declining crop prices, said Chris Shaw, a senior analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co., a New York-based equity research and trading firm. Prices have dropped and stayed at relatively low levels over the past few years, reducing farmers’ incomes and undermining seed companies’ ability to increase prices, Shaw said.

“If the price of GMO seeds rises as a result of the merger, that can sort of open up an opportunity for non-GMO seed producers to raise their prices a little bit, because their product will be more attractive if the rival product is more expensive,” said John Bovay, an assistant professor in agricultural economics at the University of Connecticut.

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People may not inherit parents’ money DNA, experts say

By Roxanne (Yanchun) Liu
Medill Reports

Lori Schwartz’s father, a 74-year-old doctor, only goes to restaurants for dinner where he can use coupons. Raised in a poor family, her father watches how much he spends all the time despite the good paychecks he now earns, embarrassing his daughter.

“I hate it,” she said. “His cheapness is not attractive. I never want to be like that.”

Several adults interviewed for this story said they are comfortable spending more money on themselves than their thrifty parents do, but they are still influenced by their parents’ money habits. These children cherry-pick their parents’ financial behaviors, adopting those that fit with their current economic situation and their expectations of future financial means, said Jean Marie Dillon, a certified financial planner at Freedom Financial Counseling, LLC.
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Tesla’s share price gets a bump from Model 3 production but the run may not continue

By Roxanne (Yanchun) Liu
Medill Reports

Shares of luxury electric-car manufacturer Tesla Inc. (TSLA) jumped the week after the company reported scaled-up production of its Model 3 sedan in the first quarter, but concerns about product quality and heightened competition have led to Wall Street’s skepticism about Tesla’s long-term stock price.

The Palo Alto, California-based auto maker said on April 3 it produced 2,020 Model 3 cars, its first mass-production affordable electric vehicle, in the seven days ending April 2, slightly missing its 2,500-unit weekly target announced in February. Tesla built 793 Model 3 vehicles in the last seven working days of the fourth quarter, according to a company press release published on Jan. 3

Tesla’s stock reached a 52-week low of $244.59 on April 2, the day before the company’s production announcement. It hit a 52-week high of $389.61 on Sept. 18. Shares closed at $294.08 on April 27.

Some investors doubt whether the Model 3 production increase represented the true-color of Tesla’s capacity in the long run.
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Consumer price rise slows, stirring renewed Fed action speculation

By Roxanne (Yanchun) Liu
Medill Reports

Consumer Price Index growth slowed to 0.2 percent in February from 0.5 percent in the prior month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, stirring divergent anticipations of the likely timing of the Federal Reserve’s next move to curb inflation. The February bump was in line with the Wall Street consensus forecast.

One-month percent change in CPI, source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March. 13 (Liu Yanchun/Medill)

The index increase was held back by a sharp price decline in the energy sector, with the adjusted gasoline index plummeting 0.9 percent after jumping 5.7 percent in January, and the fuel oil index falling 3.6 percent after a 9.5-percent hike a month earlier.

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Abbott buys rights to a vascular balloon, possibly confronting Medtronic

Roxanne (Yanchun) Liu
Medill Reports

Illinois-based healthcare giant Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) announced Tuesday that it would pay up to $92 million to secure global commercialization rights for SurVeil, a Minnesota company’s drug-coated vascular balloon designed to treat peripheral artery disease, or PAD, a niche market already occupied by muscular competitors including Medtronic PLC (NYSE: MDT).

The worldwide peripheral vascular devices market is estimated to surge to $12.63 billion by 2022 from $9.09 billion in 2017, according to a report by Research and Markets. The drug-coated balloon, also known as a drug-eluting balloon, is an alternative therapy to the market-dominating drug-coated stents. SurVeil, currently in clinical trials, would be the first PAD-targeted drug-coated balloon in Abbott’s portfolio.

SurVeil’s developer, medical device company Surmodics Inc. (NASDAQ: SRDX), has been conducting a pivotal clinical trial that tests the new device against the In.PACT Admiral drug-coated balloon, the current U.S. market-leading product manufactured by Minnesota-based Medtronic, one of the major rivals of Abbott in vascular care.

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Baxter tops Wall Street expectations, but sees share price drop

By Yanchun (Roxanne) Liu
Medill Reports

Baxter International Inc. (NYSE: BAX), Deerfield-based medical product manufacturer, reported adjusted earnings that surpassed Wall Street expectations and declaraed an intention to continue share buybacks.

Nevertheless, Baxter shares dropped 2.9 percent Thursday.

On a GAAP basis, the company lost $71 million, or 13 cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $243 million, or 44 cents per share, in the prior-year quarter, a result caused by a charge of $322 million, or 58 cents per diluted share, related to the recent tax reform.

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AbbVie share hit 5-year high with strong sales growth in fourth quarter

By Yanchun (Roxanne) Liu
Medill Reports

Stock of AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) soared 13.8 percent, hitting a five-year high, after the North Chicago-based biopharmaceutical company reported Friday quarterly adjusted earnings that beat Wall Street expectations and strong growth in sales of flagship drug Humira.

abbvie share
Five-Year Share Prices of AbbVie Inc. Source: Yahoo Finance, Jan. 26, 2018. (Liu Yanchun/MEDILL)

However, net earnings plunged 96.3 percent to $52 million, or 3 cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $1.39 billion, or 85 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter. The dive was occasioned mainly by an estimated $4.5 billion tax charge on unrepatriated foreign income, pursuant to the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Excluding special items, the company’s fourth-quarter earnings jumped 21.6 percent to $2.40 billion, or $1.48 per diluted share, from $1.96 billion, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier, exceeding the consensus estimate of $1.45 per share compiled by Bloomberg. Quarterly net revenues rose 13.9 percent to $7.74 billion from $6.80 billion.

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Johnson & Johnson Q4 Report: huge loss to tax provision but strong sales growth

By Yanchun (Roxanne) Liu

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical makers, reported Tuesday a huge net loss occasioned by a tax charge on cash outside the United States, along with a healthy increase in adjusted quarterly earnings that slightly beat Wall Street expectations. The stock dropped 4.3 percent.

The New Jersey-based health care giant lost $10.7 billion in the fourth quarter, dragging earnings per share down to a loss of $3.99, compared with a gain of $3.81 billion and per-share earnings of $1.38 in the year-earlier quarter. The loss was caused mainly by a provisional charge of $13.6 billion for a liability under the new law that imposes a tax on previously unremitted foreign incomes.

The company holds $16 billion of cash overseas, with approximately $12 billion expected to be repatriated and allocated to fund domestic operations immediately, Chief Financial Officer Dominic Caruso said Tuesday in a conference call.

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