Top US stocks to watch: Apple, Intel and J&J

Apple and Intel test new chip technology from TSMC, J&J’s vaccine looks effective against the Delta variant, India’s central bank worries about big US tech firms, Virgin Galactic leads in the space race, DiDi and Krispy Kreme remain in focus after their IPOs, and Robinhood updates its prospectus.

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Apple and Intel

Apple and Intel are set to be the first companies to adopt the next-generation of semiconductor chip technology to be unleashed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, according to reports from Nikkei Asia.

Both companies are thought to be testing the new chip design that incorporates TSMC’s 3-nanometer technology and a commercial launch is expected in the second half of the next year, according to the report, which cited unnamed sources.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson yesterday said the latest data suggests its single-shot coronavirus vaccine offers ‘strong, persistent activity’ against the Delta variant spreading across several nations and can protect people for ‘at least eight months’.

‘We believe that our vaccine offers durable protection against COVID-19 and elicits neutralizing activity against the Delta variant. This adds to the robust body of clinical data supporting our single-shot vaccine’s ability to protect against multiple variants of concern,’ said chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels.

Big Tech

India’s central bank has flagged that moves by big US tech firms such as Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook into the country’s financial sector poses a risk for traditional banks.

The Reserve Bank of India said they could become dominant players in the market and could cause a headache for regulators on several fronts, from governance and anti-trust rules to how data is handled and kept secure. It builds on concerns flagged by UNI Global Union, India’s largest state-run bank, about how the entry of Big Tech could disrupt the country’s payments industry.

Tensions between India and US tech firms have risen since the country introduced new rules for digital firms and there have been spats over varying issues from privacy to content-management in recent months. India also announced today that it backs the global framework that has been drawn-up to streamline how countries tax multinational companies, which has so far been supported by 130 countries including all the members of the G20 and the OECD.

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic announced yesterday that its first fully-crewed space flight will happen on July 11, pending weather and technical checks. 

Its founder Richard Branson will be among those on-board the landmark flight, which is set to take place just nine days before Blue Origin, led by fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos, conducts its maiden voyage.

The test flight, named the ‘Unity 22’ mission, will be a 20-second journey on the VSS Unity and carry two pilots and four passengers in total.  It will be the company’s fourth space flight and it plans to conduct two more before launching commercial services in 2022.

Goldman Sachs

The investment arm of Goldman Sachs and private equity firm EQT are reported to be in advanced talks about buying Parexel International for almost $9 billion including debt, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Parexel is a contract research firm that conducts clinical trials on behalf of drugmakers and is thought to have attracted several bidders. Although contract research firms suffered lower demand as the pandemic disrupted trials, the industry is thought to be swiftly recovering as companies and governments invest in new drugs.

DiDi

Chinese ride-hailing firm DiDi Global will be added to the S&P Down Jones’ global equity indices later this month after completing its blockbuster IPO.

The company will be added on July 12, the index publisher said. It follows on from FTSE Russell’s announcement that DiDi would be added to its global equity indices on July 8 earlier this week.

DiDi’s IPO was priced at $14 per share and the stock has pushed higher since listing and ended yesterday at $16.40.

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme remains in focus after the donut maker completed its IPO yesterday.

The company priced its IPO at $17, lower than the $21 to $24 price range it had targeted, raising $500 million for the business and giving it an initial valuation of $2.7 billion. However, the disappointing IPO price didn’t deter investors and shares ended the day up over 23% at $21.

Revenue rose 17% last year to $1.12 billion but the company has remained in the red during recent years after raising investment into the business.

Robinhood

Robinhood has filed an eagerly-awaited prospectus providing further insight into the fast-growing but controversial trading platform ahead of its planned IPO that could value the business at around $40 billion.

The Robinhood app is free to use and has attracted a new wave of retail investors into the markets. The filing revealed Robinhood it ended March with 17.7 million users compared to 11.7 million at the end of 2020 as the rally in so-called meme stocks attracted new customers. Quarterly revenue soared to $522 million from just $128 million the year before, and it incurred a $1.4 billion net loss after having to borrow billions in convertible bonds to plug funding gaps to fulfil a surge in orders by Reddit-inspired traders.

The spotlight is also on how regulation shapes up as Robinhood has attracted the eyes of authorities. There are at least seven state and federal investigations being conducted in the US alone and there are even more class-action lawsuits filed against the company.

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