David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - General

    Trump Ban on Top Messaging App Risks Snarling Global Business

    This article by Zheping Huang and Vlad Savov for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Trump’s order on WeChat came after a similar injunction against ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, the viral video service the White House accuses of jeopardizing national security. But while ByteDance’s business outside of TikTok is largely confined to home, Tencent is central to the global distribution of games and a major conduit for American companies that sell products in the world’s No. 2 economy.

    Apple, for instance, makes the majority of its iPhones in China, where WeChat is the oil that lubricates communications both on the factory floor and in the boardroom. In a worst-case scenario, American consumer brands like Walmart and Starbucks Corp. may be prevented from selling goods and services to Chinese buyers via WeChat’s “mini-programs” in China -- now one of the fastest-growing avenues for e-commerce. China accounts for about 9% of Walmart’s international sales and is its fastest-growing market.

    “If you can’t pay for Starbucks coffee on WeChat, people will stop drinking it,” said BOCOM International analyst Connie Gu, commenting on the extreme cases where American brands are banned from using WeChat as a payment method.

    Less quantifiable is the spillover effect on the gaming industry.
    Tencent ranked as the world’s biggest games publisher by revenue in 2019, according to Newzoo data, and it collaborates with U.S. industry leaders like Activision and Electronics Arts Inc. It also holds a large stake in Fortnite maker Epic Games Inc. and owns League of Legends developer Riot Games Inc. That sprawling but somewhat stealthy gaming empire, deeply rooted in the U.S., was deemed under threat when the WeChat sanction was first announced, though a U.S. official later clarified that the action only involved the messaging service and not its parent.

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    Biogen Soars After Alzheimer's Drug Gets Priority FDA Review

    This article by Timothy Annett and Bailey Lipschultz for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Aducanumab, a so-called monoclonal antibody designed to target amyloid plaque in the brain, has been one of the most closely watched drugs in development for years. Biogen at one point halted research on it after getting disappointing results, only to revive the drug in a reversal that surprised scientists and investors and raised the hopes of patients and families.

    The drug and the stop-start study process have been viewed skeptically by some. Data presented in December at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference in San Diego showed conflicting findings, with one trial suggesting the drug could be the first-ever to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. But a second, essentially identical trial showed no effect on the disease at all.

    Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that most commonly arises in people over age 60. It robs patients of their memories and their minds, causing impaired speech and thought. More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 14 million are expected to suffer from it by 2060.

    With no medications currently available to slow the progression of the disease, demand for a therapy like aducanumab would be substantial. The next focus for investors will be a meeting of outside
    advisers to review the results generated by Biogen. Stifel analyst Paul Matteis said the briefing documents released prior to the panel are expected to be “a bigger determinant than usual
    in dictating how panelists eventually vote” and called the panel the highlight of 2020 and 2021 for health-care investors.

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    How COVID-19 is changing the world of beauty

    Thanks to a subscriber for this report from McKinsey which is dated May 5th but is no less relevant today.

    Digital continues to rise. Pre-COVID-19 trends will likely accelerate, with direct-to-consumer e-commerce, such as brands’ websites, shoppable social-media platforms, and marketplaces becoming more important. Across the globe, consumers indicate they are likely to increase their online engagement and spending. Beauty-industry players will need to prioritize digital channels to capture and convert the attention of existing and new customers. On the operations side, the use of artificial intelligence for testing, discovery, and customization will need to accelerate as concerns about safety and hygiene fundamentally disrupt product testing and in-person consultations.

    The pace of innovation accelerates. As the COVID-19 crisis has shown, the world can change quickly, bringing substantial shifts in demand. Sometimes, supply cannot catch up. Even before the pandemic, brands were under pressure to overhaul their product-innovation pipelines, inspired by the ability of digital-native direct-to-consumer brands to go from concept to cupboard in less than a month. Now, the need for speed is even greater. To achieve it, there may be a greater role for contract manufacturers, both to diversify (and thus reduce production risks) and to serve as thought partners in product innovation. There is also potential for closer collaboration—among brands and retailers, in particular—through data sharing and inventory pooling.

    M&A rises as multiples fall. With the COVID-19 crisis causing significant damage to the balance sheets of brands, retailers, and suppliers, many companies will need to find new sources of capital. At the same time, given the hits to revenues and the global economy, multiples could fall from precrisis levels, when some brands were trading for more than eight times revenue or 10 to 15 times earnings.

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    Turkey's Lira Hits Record Low as Interventions Fail to Stem Drop

    This article by Alex Nicholson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    In the view of analysts from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Oxford Economics, rate increases may be warranted soon. Others are less bearish, citing a shortage of liquidity in the offshore money-market engineered by authorities.

    The cost of overnight funding spiked to over 1,000% earlier this week, making it prohibitively expensive for foreign investors to borrow the currency and bet against it.

    “My sense is that there is more tolerance for currency volatility than there is for a drastic measure like an emergency rate hike,” said Phoenix Kalen, a strategist at Société Générale in London. “And with the squeezes in the front-end rates, market participants are, needless to say, wary about getting burned trying to short the lira speculatively.”

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