Stocks were lower at the open on Wednesday with the Dow trading just below the flatline. The S&P 500 slid by 0.16%, while the Nasdaq dropped 0.3%.
Netflix shares are down nearly 7% this morning after the streaming giant posted a dramatic slowdown in subscribers. The company reported first quarter earnings per share of $3.75 on revenue of $7.16 billion, compared to earnings of $2.97 per share on revenue of $7.13 billion, while global net subscriber additions fell to 3.98 million, versus 6.2 million expected. “We believe paid membership growth slowed due to the big COVID-19 pull forward in 2020 and a lighter content slate in the first half of this year, due to COVID-19 production delays,” Netflix said in a letter to shareholders. Executive Chairman and co-CEO Reed Hastings said in a webcast for investors, “We had those 10 years where we were growing smooth as silk. It’s a little wobbly right now.”
As the U.S. vaccination pace holds above 3 million shots a day for two weeks straight, the FDA said production of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine at an Emergent BioSolutions facility in Baltimore will remain on hold. In an inspection report posted on the agency’s website, the FDA found Emergent failed to thoroughly investigate unexplained discrepancies, including the cross-contamination of a vaccine substance batch with vaccine ingredients from another client. Also in the report, inspectors said that the facility used to manufacture the vaccine was “not maintained in a clean and sanitary condition” and was “not of suitable size, design, and location to facilitate cleaning, maintenance, and proper operations.” The FDA said that the decision to keep the facility on hold is unrelated to the review of safety data after “extremely rare” cases of blood clots that occurred in 6 individuals after they received the J&J vaccine.
Apple unveiled a colorful new iMac, an updated iPad Pro with 5G and the new M1 chip, and a new Apple TV set-top box with a faster processor and revamped remote control at yesterday’s product launch event. The new iMac features a thinner aluminum design, with the volume of the computer reduced by 50%, and will come in red, blue, purple, orange, yellow, silver, and green. The entry-level desktop model will ring up at $1,299, with an upgraded version costing $1,499. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro features an improved screen and a 12-megapixel front-facing camera with an ultra wide lens that can automatically pan to keep human subjects in the shot. And the new Apple TV 4K box has been updated with a new processor that will allow it to handle high frame rate HDR video, as well as a redesigned remote. In addition to the new hardware, Apple announced paid subscriptions for its Podcasts app, letting users pay creators directly and access ad-free listening experiences.
That’s not the only big Apple headline this morning… As the iPhone maker was unveiling its newest line of iPads and new iMacs, one of its primary suppliers—Quanta Computer—was enduring a ransomware attack from a group of Russian hackers named REvil who claimed to have stolen blueprints of the company’s latest products. Quanta confirmed the attack and said it is working with law enforcement, adding that the hack had no material impact on the company’s business operations. However, REvil claims that it has product blueprints for future Apple devices that it will publish daily unless Apple pays a $50 million ransom.
And Dish Network signed an agreement making Amazon a key partner in the development of its planned 5G network, advancing the company’s efforts to compete in the wireless business against the likes of Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Dish will use Amazon’s cloud software and equipment to run core elements of the 5G network, which it hopes to launch sometime in the third quarter using Amazon Web Services in Las Vegas. Dish is spending $10 billion to transform itself into a cloud-based wireless carrier. In other Amazon news, the company said it is expanding its palm-scanning payment system to a Whole Foods store in Seattle. The Amazon On technology, which is now currently only used in a dozen physical Amazon stores, allows customers to link a credit card to their palm print after which they can then pay for products simply by holding their hand over a specialized kiosk.
Stocks We’re Watching
Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU): Kansas City Southern shares jumped nearly 17% yesterday after it announced that it had received an unsolicited proposal from Canadian National Railway that values it at $325 per share. Kansas City Southern entered into a merger agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway on March 21, 2021 valuing KCS at $275 per share.