Stocks were lower at the open on Tuesday with the Dow falling by 43 points, or 0.1%. The S&P 500 slid 0.2%, while the Nasdaq dropped 0.4%.
Volkswagen is rebranding. The automaker accidentally posted a press release to its website a month early announcing the renaming of its U.S. operations to Voltswagen of America, according to reports from CNBC and USA Today. The release was reportedly dated April 29 and has since been taken down. The name change is expected to take effect in May and is being done as a “public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility,” with all electric vehicles having a Voltswagen exterior badge and gas vehicles having the company’s VW emblem only. “We might be changing out our K for a T, but what we aren’t changing is this brand’s commitment to making best-in-class vehicles for drivers and people everywhere,” Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Voltswagen of America, said in the press release. “The idea of a ‘people’s car’ is the very fabric of our being. We have said, from the beginning of our shift to an electric future, that we will build EVs for the millions, not just the millionaires. The name change signifies a nod to our past as the peoples’ car and our firm belief that our future is in being the peoples’ electric car.”
Apple’s annual developers conference will happen on June 7 this year, the company announced this morning. 2021 marks the second year the Worldwide Developers Conference will be held online due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it is expected the company may unveil its new iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac software at the event. “We love bringing our developers together each year at WWDC to learn about our latest technologies and to connect them with Apple engineers,” Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations and Enterprise and Education Marketing, said in a press release. “We are working to make WWDC21 our biggest and best yet, and are excited to offer Apple developers new tools to support them as they create apps that change the way we live, work, and play.”
Spotify is moving into live audio. The company announced today that it is buying Betty Labs, the creator of Locker Room, the app that lets sports fans and experts chat in real time. While terms of the deal were not disclosed, the acquisition builds on Spotify’s work to create the “future formats of audio.” “Creators and fans have been asking for live formats on Spotify, and we’re excited that soon, we’ll make them available to hundreds of millions of listeners and millions of creators on our platform,” Spotify’s Chief Research & Development Officer Gustav Söderström said in a press release. “The world already turns to us for music, podcasts, and other unique audio experiences, and this new live audio experience is a powerful complement that will enhance and extend the on-demand experience we provide today.”
Virgin Galactic unveiled its newest spacecraft this morning. The VSS Imagine represents the first of the company’s next-generation SpaceShip III class of vehicles. “For us to make the business start to scale, at the place that we’re aspiring towards, we need two things: We need many more ships than we have right now and we also need the ships that we bring forward to be built in a way that they’re able to be maintained in a way that we can have much quicker [turnaround times between flights] than what we have with Unity,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said to CNBC, adding that the VSS Imagine “has been designed in a way that’s taken the learnings we’ve had from all the flight testing on Unity. That allows us to access things in the right way – we know what things need to be tackled on a routine basis, so that we can give people easy access.”
And Merck shares are down more than 1% at the time of writing after the FDA rejected the company’s application to approve its popular cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda for certain patients with high-risk, early-stage triple-negative breast cancer. The decision comes a month after an FDA advisory committee voted unanimously against approving the drug until more data was available from an ongoing trial. Merck said it is reviewing the letter it received from the FDA and will discuss next steps with the agency, while also noting the rejection doesn’t affect approval of any other Keytruda indications. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen wrote in a note that she expects the company will eventually receive approval for the indication in question. “We continue to believe there is a high probability that subsequent data can support approval,” Chen wrote. “Given the high unmet need in TNBC, we still believe there could be a role for checkpoint inhibitors in the early stage setting.”
Stocks We’re Watching
Kazia Therapeutics (NASDAQ: KZIA): Kazia Therapeutics gained as much as 19% yesterday after the company announced that it has entered into a licensing agreement with Sincere Pharmaceutical Group Ltd to develop and commercialize Kazia’s investigational new drug, paxalisib, in Greater China. “China is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical markets, with specific requirements and opportunities for innovative oncology products,” said Kazia CEO Dr. James Garner. “We are delighted to partner with Simcere to secure the commercial success of paxalisib in this critical territory. Simcere’s track record of success is unrivalled, and they bring to paxalisib first-class capabilities in clinical development, regulatory affairs, and commercialisation. We look forward to working closely with our new partners to make paxalisib available for Chinese patients as swiftly as possible.”