Novartis Invests in Stem Cell Therapy for Covid
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Mesoblast Ltd. soars after getting a vote of confidence from large pharmaceutical backer Novartis AG on a stem cell medicine that was panned by U.S regulators just a month before.
Novartis will pay an initial $25 million and invest another $25 million in Mesoblast stock in a deal securing global rights for remestemcel-L. The stem cell therapy is being developed to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome, a complication often seen in advanced Covid-19 patients.
The deal comes on the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration telling the Australian drug developer in October that furtherstudy was needed before the agency would consider an approval in another ailment, graft-versus-host disease. Mesoblast’s American depository receipts jumped 18% in Friday premarket trading and are on track to open at the highest since Sept. 30, the day before the company revealed it wasn’t getting FDA approval.
The stock surgedmore than 200% in June when Mesoblast revealed that it was pursuing a Covid-19 treatment. Novartis plans to run a late-stage study of remestemcel-L in non-Covid respiratory illnesses.
Foot Locker Q3 Profit Beats Estimates; Comps. Up 7.7%
New York-based specialty athletic retailer, Foot Locker, Inc. (FL) delivered a strong top- and bottom-line performance in the third quarter, surpassing analysts’ estimates. The company’s gross margin rate decreased to 30.9 percent from 32.1 percent a year ago. Comparable-store sales increased by 7.7 percent. Given the ongoing uncertainty due to COVID-19, the company is not providing full-year 2020 guidance.
Third quarter adjusted earnings per share increased to $1.21 from $1.13, previous year. On average, 23 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report profit per share of $0.62, for the quarter. Analysts’ estimates typically exclude special items. Non-GAAP earnings were $128 million, compared to $122 million, a year ago.
Third quarter total sales increased 9.0 percent, to $2.11 billion from $1.93 billion, last year. Excluding the effect of foreign exchange rate fluctuations, total sales for the third quarter increased by 7.7 percent. Analysts expected revenue of $1.94 billion, for the quarter.
The company’s cash totaled $1.39 billion, while debt on its balance sheet was $131 million.
“With close to $2 billion in liquidity, we believe our company is well prepared both financially and operationally to continue navigating the ongoing pandemic,” said Lauren Peters, EVP and CFO.
Shares of Foot Locker were up more than 4% in pre-market trade on Friday.
U.S. Leading Economic Index Climbs In Line With Estimates In October
A reading on leading U.S. economic indicators increased in line with economist estimates in the month of October, according to a report released by the Conference Board on Thursday.
The Conference Board said its leading economic index climbed by 0.7 percent in October, matching the increase seen in the previous month as well as expectations.
Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director of Economic Research at The Conference Board, said the continued advance by the index reflected widespread improvements despite weakness from housing permits and consumers’ outlook on economic conditions.
“However, the leading index has been decelerating in recent months, which suggests growth will moderate significantly in the final months of 2020, slowing down from the unusually rapid pace in Q3,” Ozyildirim said.
He added, “Furthermore, downside risks to growth from a second wave of COVID-19 and high unemployment persist.”
The report said the coincident economic index also increased by 0.5 percent in October after rising by 0.4 percent in September.
Meanwhile, the lagging economic index inched up by 0.1 percent in October following a 0.3 percent drop in the previous month.
Pfizer, BioNTech Plan to File on Friday to Use Vaccine in December
Pfizer Inc. andBioNTech SE said they plan to file on Friday for an emergency use authorization that could allow their Covid-19 vaccine to be used in the U.S. next month.
The U.S. drugmaker and its German partner said earlier this week that a final analysis of clinical trial data showed the shot was 95% effective at preventing the disease. The filing with the Food and Drug Administration could permit the vaccine to be administered to high-risk populations in the U.S. by the middle to the end of December, the companies said in a statement.
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GE Healthcare To Acquire Prismatic Sensors – Quick Facts
GE Healthcare, healthcare business of GE (GE), announced its acquisition of Prismatic Sensors AB, a Swedish start-up specializing in photon counting detectors. GE Healthcare anticipates to close the acquisition by January 2021, after holding a minority position in the company since 2017.
Prismatic Sensors AB is a spin-off company from research at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Linkping Institute of Technology. The company is focused on research and development of photon counting detectors for CT. Prismatic has many granted patents as well as pending patent applications.
“We believe this technology has the potential to be a substantial step forward for CT imaging to establish a new standard of care and eventually improve clinical outcomes for millions of patients worldwide,” said Kieran Murphy, President & CEO, GE Healthcare.