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  1. Key Points Uber shares rose 9% on Monday on optimism that a Covid-19 vaccine is on the way. Last week, the stock jumped 34%, as investors cheered the passage of California’s Proposition 22, which will allow Uber to keep classifying drivers as contractors. Revenue has been slumping and losses mounting, but the company says its margins are headed in the right direction. Investors are suddenly optimistic about Uber. Shares climbed over 9% on Monday and were poised to close above their $45 IPO price for the first time since June 2019, the month after the company went public. The move comes despite last week’s Q3 earnings report showing a second straight quarter of declining revenue, with another drop expected this period, and a cumulative net loss of $5.8 billion for the year so far. Monday’s rally came after drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech indicated their Covid-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective, raising optimism that demand for consumer services like ride-sharing may soon return in force. The gains follow last week’s 34% jump, sparked by the passage of California’s Proposition 22, which will allow Uber to continue classifying its drivers as contractors instead of employees. Lyft shares soared 22% on Monday, following a 31% increase last week. However, while Uber’s stock has erased its post-IPO losses and finally generated some gains for investors, Lyft remains almost 50% below its debut price from last year. Uber and Lyft this year The difference between the companies is food delivery. Uber has partly offset declines in its core ride-sharing business this year through Uber Eats. That service recorded gross bookings growth of 134% in the third quarter while Uber’s ride-hailing division sank by 53%. Still, the delivery business lost $183 million on an adjusted basis, after a deficit of $232 million in the second quarter. Richard Kramer, an analyst at Arete Research, told CNBC in August that Uber was likely to “slip into a net debt position” in the next quarter because of its cash burn rate. Reasons for optimism Uber and its proponents believe the company’s profitability outlook is improving even with the challenges of the pandemic. The negative margin in the delivery business shrank to 16.1% in the third quarter from 26.2% in the second quarter and 59.4% in the first. Meanwhile, its positive adjusted margin in ride-sharing grew to 17.9% in the third quarter from 6.3% the prior period, though still down from 23.5% in the first three months of the year. Factor in those developments and then look to a not-too-distant future that includes open bars and restaurants, some live events, and workers commuting to and from the office, and there’s at least a sensible narrative for investors to bet on the company. “Ultimately, we view a rides recovery as ‘when’ not ‘if’ and now represents a source of upside in 2021 if/when mass availability of a vaccine can jumpstart travel/social-related ridesharing demand,” analysts at Guggenheim wrote in a report on Friday, before the latest update on vaccine development. They have a buy recommendation on the stock. Analysts at Canaccord Genuity, who also have a buy rating, take a similar view. They wrote last week that, “given recovery trends and a more optimistic outlook for Covid vaccines, it seems likely that Uber’s mobility business will be posting strong growth against easy comps by mid-2021, suggesting the stock may begin working more decisively.” However, should the economy reopen in a way that resembles the pre-pandemic world, what does that mean for Uber Eats, which is growing rapidly because consumers aren’t going to restaurants? As Arete’s Kramer said in August, “You either have people taking rides to restaurants or staying at home and ordering takeaway, but you don’t tend to have both at the same time.” Add it all up and Uber still has to show it can make money. Source
  2. Facebook Inc. shares were down sharply Thursday on a report the Federal Trade Commission is weighing a preliminary injunction as early as next month against the social-networking giant amid antitrust concerns over how its products interact. Federal regulators are closely monitoring how Facebook integrates its apps – specifically, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp – or allows them to work with potential rivals, according to a Wall Street Journal report, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. If it were to act, the FTC could seek to block Facebook from enforcing those policies on the grounds they are anticompetitive. Ultimately, this could lead to an injunction barring Facebook from further integrating apps as part of a potential breakup of the company, one person told the Journal. Facebook shares were down 3.2% to $195.80 in trading Thursday. Facebook and the FTC were not immediately available for comment on news of the injunction. Facebook has been pushing to extend its reach, especially among young users who favor messaging networks, through interoperability between its three main services – Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram – on a private network. “There are privacy and security advantages to interoperability,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post in March. “With the ability to message across our services...you’d be able to send an encrypted message to someone’s phone number in WhatsApp from Messenger.” At the same time, the company said in a blog post Thursday that it does not plan to change its web-tracking practices to adhere to the California Consumer Privacy Act, which becomes law on Jan. 1. Facebook said its practices are in compliance with new law restricting “sale” of user” data. And in a third piece of regulatory-related news, Bloomberg is reporting Facebook intends to spend $130 million over six years on its content oversight board, a third-party of advisers who will help decide whether posts violate Facebook’s policies. Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc. , and Apple Inc. are the subjects of antitrust investigations by either the FTC or Department of Justice for their business practices. Additionally, they are bracing for CCPA, and a raft of legislation from House and Senate members that ratchet up the privacy rights of consumers while tightening the rules of how companies handle individuals’ data. Source
  3. (Reuters) - Shares of Facebook Inc rose nearly 5% on Thursday, a day after the social network reported its third straight rise in the pace of quarterly sales growth as well as an uptick in users in some of its most lucrative markets. Wall Street analysts gave a more mixed reception to the earnings report, with at least nine analysts raising their price targets on the stock, while at least five trimmed. But if the share gains hold through Thursday’s session, it would translate to a nearly $26 billion gain in value for the Silicon Valley firm. The stock was last up 4.8% at $197.27, still around 22% off analysts’ median price target of $240. Facebook, the world’s No. 2 seller of online ads, said that revenue would grow more slowly in the fourth quarter, at closer to about 20% to 25%, partly due to users choosing to limit the company’s ability to target ads to them using personal details. That did little to shake brokerages’ faith in a business model that has generated stellar gains throughout the past two years, in counterpoint to growing pressure from politicians and regulators about privacy and competition. “We remain confident in the strength of core usage trends and long-term opportunities from new monetization channels, even in the face of multiple distractions and political challenges,” Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian said. Source
  4. Facebook shares plummeted more than 18 percent in midday trading on Thursday, erasing over $110 billion from the social media giant’s market value. The sharp stock decline came a day after Facebook, one of the largest publicly traded companies in the United States, reported disappointing second-quarter earnings. Of particular concern to investors was Facebook’s warning that revenue growth rates would continue to slow sharply in the coming quarters. “Management commentary about decelerating topline growth during a quarter where the company fell short of ad revenue for the first time is what has led to the stock’s after-hours performance,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note to clients, referring to the initial market reaction to the earnings report on Wednesday. Facebook has been one of the most influential stocks in recent years. I ts losses dragged down the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index’s technology sector, the worst-performing part of the market early Thursday. Because the S.&P. 500 is weighted by market size, large companies — even after its early losses on Thursday, Facebook was worth more than $500 billion — exert the greatest influence. There were signs that investors viewed Facebook’s woes as specific to the company. Shares of Apple, the largest company in the world by market value at more than $950 billion, were down only slightly at midday. It was unclear whether Facebook’s sharp drop would derail a stock market that has been gaining traction this month. The S.&P. 500 has climbed more than 6 percent this year, despite a number of concerns, including rising trade tensions between the United States and its largest trading partners and the Federal Reserve’s increases in interest rates. The S.&P. 500 is only about 1 percent below its high hit on Jan. 26. On Thursday, markets again showed their resilience. The S. & P. 500 was down only slightly despite the carnage in Facebook shares. In recent weeks markets have rallied as investors took heart in second-quarter earnings reports. Once the results are tallied, second-quarter earnings for companies in the S. & P. 500 are expected to have grown more than 20 percent, compared with the same period last year, reflecting the strength of the American economy and the impact of corporate tax cuts. Still, the sheer size of Facebook’s fall became a focus for investors. It was one of the largest single-day losses, in terms of market value, on record for a single stock. The dollar value decline in Facebook’s market value Thursday is roughly equivalent to the entire value of some of the country’s most-well known companies, including General Electric, Texas Instruments and Union Pacific railroad. But in a sense, the large decline shouldn’t be surprising. In recent years, valuations of the largest technology firms have surged. Apple is foremost among then. But Amazon, Google’s parent company Alphabet and Microsoft are not far behind, with market values of more than $800 billion. And even after the sharp decline Thursday, Facebook is the fifth-largest publicly traded company, by market value, at more than $500 billion. Source
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