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Bitcoin Plunges Below $50,000 As Sell-Off Intensifies

Bitcoin Plunges Below $50,000 As Sell-Off Intensifies

Plus, Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine faces a key CDC committee vote today, Intel shares are down after the company reported flat sales, and Ford got two analyst upgrades.

Stocks were mixed at the open on Friday with the Dow trading just below the flatline. The S&P 500 added 0.1%, while the Nasdaq rose by 0.3%.

Bitcoin is headed for its worst week in nearly two months as President Joe Biden’s proposed capital gains tax increase for the wealthiest Americans intensified volatility in the digital coin. Intense selling drove bitcoin down as low as $47,467, taking the world’s largest cryptocurrency below the $1 trillion market cap. Bitcoin is trading at $49,198 at the time of writing. “Bitcoin has slipped below the 50-day moving average support that it held sacrosanct through this rally,” said Delta Exchange CEO Pankaj Balani. “It looks like there is more downside here.”

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine faces a key vote today as a key CDC committee meets to discuss the rare instances of blood clots in patients  who have received the vaccine. Analysts expect the committee to determine that women under age 50 should avoid the J&J vaccine. “We continue to believe that the most likely outcome is that JNJ’s vaccine remains on the market, but with significant new warning language and restrictions on use in women under 50 years of age,” SVB Leerink analyst Danielle Antalffy said in a note. In other vaccine news, Inovio shares are down more than 25% this morning after it said the U.S. government had decided to pull funding for a Phase 3 trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine given the “broad availability” of vaccines. Inovio said it will now run the Phase 3 trial largely outside of the U.S., which could impact its ability to get the vaccine approved by the FDA.

Intel shares are down 6% this morning after the company reported that sales were essentially flat and profit dropped in the first quarter, even as earnings per share beat expectations. Intel reported earnings per share of $1.39, versus earnings of $1.15 expected, on revenue of $18.57 billion – roughly flat year-over-year. “Intel delivered strong first-quarter results driven by exceptional demand for our leadership products and outstanding execution by our team. The response to our new IDM 2.0 strategy has been extraordinary, our product roadmap is gaining momentum, and we’re rapidly progressing our plans with re-invigorated focus on innovation and execution,” CEO Pat Gelsinger said in a press release. “This is a pivotal year for Intel. We are setting our strategic foundation and investing to accelerate our trajectory and capitalize on the explosive growth in semiconductors that power our increasingly digital world.”

In other earnings news, Snap reported a beat, reporting an adjusted loss per share of 0 cents on revenue of $770 million, while analysts had expected a loss of $0.06 on revenue of $743.8 million. The social media company said it expects year-over-year revenue growth of 80% to 85% for the second quarter, a significant acceleration from the 66% annualized revenue growth it saw in Q1. Toymaker Mattel also delivered a beat as sales soared 47% as families spent more on toys for their children with money from government stimulus checks. “We are strengthening our position as a consistent leader in the toy industry,” said Mattell CEO Ynon Kreiz. “We believe we are very well-positioned to improve profitability and accelerate topline growth in 2021 and beyond.”

And Ford got two upgrades. First, Wolfe Research analyst Rod Lache upgraded Ford stock from Hold to Buy, and boosted his price target from $13 to $15 – 24% higher than the price as of this writing. Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner also put Ford on his Catalyst Buy list ahead of the carmaker’s earnings. “Favorable vehicle mix/pricing, combined with a robust product cycle, improved warranty performance, and restructuring savings could result in a large [first quarter] earnings beat,” Rosner said in a note out Thursday. “The strength of Q1 could potentially enable management to maintain its [full year] earnings guidance despite intensifying headwinds from chip shortages.”

Stocks We’re Watching

Universal Forest Products (NASDAQ: UFPI): Universal Forest Products announced yesterday that its board of directors approved a quarterly dividend payment of $0.15 per share at their most recent meeting. The dividend is payable on June 15, 2021 to shareholders of record on June 1. “As a result of our company’s strong performance and our confidence in future earnings, in January 2021 our board voted to increase the dividend payment by 20 percent to $0.15,” Chairman William G. Currie said in a press release. “I am happy to share this enhanced dividend with our shareholders, which include many of our employees. UFP has a great strategic plan and talented people to execute it, and we look forward to continuing our strong performance and delivering even greater returns in the years to come.”

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