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Dr. Inglesby: People should stay home for holiday, US in 'uncharted territory' with coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus spike threatens to overwhelm health care systems

Dr. Tom Inglesby weighs in on mask mandates, school shutdowns on ‘Fox News Sunday.’

As coronavirus infections spike nationwide, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security is warning Americans against traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday this week.

Dr. Tom Inglesby pointed to record numbers of cases across the country, with more than 82,000 people currently hospitalized.

"We are entering in uncharted territory in many places," Inglesby said on "Fox News Sunday," calling the situation a "very, very serious moment for the country."

Inglesby said the current state of the pandemic is the result of 
"the gradual accumulation of choices and policies over the past couple of months," unlike the crackdowns in spring, "when the country really was acting with common purpose."

Another alarming difference, Inglesby said, is the breadth of the spread as winter approaches.  "The epidemic is surging in almost every part of the country, whereas earlier in the year there were parts of the country that had not been significantly affected yet," he noted.

Inglesby recommended that people remain home with their immediate families for Thanksgiving.

TRUMP CALLS INTO VIRTUAL G20 SUMMIT, TALKS COVID-19 WITH WORLD LEADERS

"I would recommend that people do not travel on Thanksgiving for this particular holiday," he said, warning that airports and other travel hubs where large numbers of people gather can cause further spread of the virus.

Inglesby also noted the risk of asymptomatic cases, saying "we don’t know if we’re infected when we walk into a gathering," and that guests cannot be certain that their hosts are not infected and vice versa.

For those who do spend the holiday with others, Inglesby recommended that they spend as much time as they can outdoors, and when indoors wear masks when not eating. Meals should be kept short, and the amount of people gathering kept to a minimum.

Inglesby also discussed the idea of mask mandates that have been resisted by some governors, including Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

 The health expert likened mask mandates to speed limits, saying, "We trust government to do things to keep us safe," and that "there are some times when it’s really important for government to set the rules."

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Amid the spike in cases, schools are closing down in places like New York City, even though the CDC has noted that staying in school could actually be safer for kids.

Inglesby recognized that this appears to be the case for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, particularly in schools that can decrease classroom density and where students wear masks.

At the same time, he warned that "we have to be very cautious" due to the sheer number of new  infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

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Markets

Nikola talks GM partnership status

Nikola founder: Partnership with GM will bring $10B of savings for our company

Nikola founder and Executive Chairman Trevor Milton discusses working with General Motors on a new electric truck, called The Badger.

It looks like investors will need to remain patient as conversations between Nikola Corp. and General Motors are continuing after a strategic partnership agreement was announced in September.

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"The transaction has not closed, and Nikola is continuing its discussions with General Motors," the company wrote in its third-quarter earnings report Monday. "Nikola will provide further updates when appropriate or required."

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
NKLA NIKOLA CORPORATION 18.63 -0.95 -4.85%
GM GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY 38.96 +1.49 +3.98%

The deal may provide GM with an 11% equity stake in the electric vehicle maker in exchange for "various in-kind services."

GM RECALLS 217,000 VEHICLES TO FIX LEAK THAT CAN STOP TRAVEL

The announcement echoes similar comments made by General Motors CEO Mary Barra last week.

"As you're aware, we've been in ongoing discussions with Nikola about a commercial transaction. The transaction has not yet closed, and we will provide further updates at the appropriate time," Barra said on GM's earnings call.  "We are exploring all opportunities to commercialize our Ultium battery system as well as the Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cells we have developed with Honda. We have invested heavily in developing and manufacturing fuel cells. Commercialization of our Ultium battery system and hydrogen fuel cells reflects that commitment and our commitment to a 0 emissions future."

If a deal is not closed by Dec. 3, either party can terminate it.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
TSLA TESLA INC. 421.26 -8.69 -2.02%

General Motors previously announced it would collaborate on Nikola's Badger pickup truck as part of the partnership. Tesla is also building its Cybertruck.

Former executive chairman Trevor Milton told FOX Business that the company expects the partnership with GM to result in almost $10 billion in savings across the board. In September, Milton left the company after allegations of fraud.

NIKOLA FOUNDER TREVOR MILTON KEEPS BILLIONS IN STOCK AFTER EXIT AMID FRAUD ALLEGATIONS

Nikola's new CEO Mark Russell noted that the company also made "significant progress on key milestones" in the third quarter, including delivering on its commitment to assembling the first Nikola Tre BEV prototypes, and working with its customers on prospective and previously announced BEV truck orders.

The company said it began assembling the first five Tre electric trucks at vehicle manufacturer IVECCO's Ulm, Germany, plant and that it remains on track to start production in late 2021.

Nikola Tre BEV (photo courtesy of Nikola Corp.)

In addition, the company has broken ground on a plant in Coolidge, Ariz., which is on track to be completed toward the end of 2021. Based on the company's current construction rate, trial production is expected to start in the late second quarter or early third quarter of 2021.

"I look forward to building on our momentum as we execute our strategy and lay the groundwork to become an integrated zero-emissions transportation solutions leader," Russell added.

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Going forward, the company said it "remains committed to its goal of announcing potential collaboration partners concerning electricity procurement and the rollout of hydrogen fueling infrastructure" and that it expects to make continued progress on the development of the Tre BEV and construction of its Coolidge facility.

Nikola added that it assumes “long-term objectives will not be materially affected by COVID-19," and that it will continue to provide progress updates across its entire product portfolio.

The company posted a narrower than expected loss of $117.5 million, or 31 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with a loss of $15.5 million, or 6 cents a share, in the third quarter of 2019. Nikola ended the third quarter with $908 million in cash on hand.

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Markets

Buy these 13 stocks that are set to crush expectations and rally after their earnings, Jefferies says — including a top pick that could surge 79%

  • Earnings are picking up just as COVID-19 cases increase again and market volatility rises ahead of the US presidential elections.
  • Analysts from Jefferies are naming a group of "Buy"-rated companies that they think will beat expectations and set up longer-term gains.
  • The firm thinks most of the picks have upside of 20% or more in the next year.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

With the election coming and COVID-19 cases rising, if ever there were a time that earnings season looked like it might be a pleasant distraction, this is that time.

But some companies and investors are going to have a much better time than others. To that end, a group of 11 analysts from Jefferies Group are pointing out a slate of companies that they believe will beat expectations this season and be rewarded for strong results, a positive outlook, or both.

And it comes at a time when investors might be that much more desperate for good news.

The group of stocks spans the market in terms of sectors and size, with the smallest worth well under $1 billion and the largest tipping the scales at $140 billion.

All are "Buy"-rated by the firm, and in most cases, the Jefferies analysts expect the companies' earnings to beat Wall Street expectations — although in a few instances their optimism is connected more to other metrics or company guidance.

They're bullish on all 13 companies over the longer term, and the firm's price targets imply substantial upside. The stocks are arranged from lowest to highest based on the gain that's being projected by Jefferies' current 12-month targets.

Upside and price figures are based on Thursday's closing prices.

Read more:

  • Famed short-seller Andrew Left told us about his bullish positions in a magic-mushroom company and a COVID-19 test maker — and explained why he's now all-in on an online retailer he bet against barely a year ago
  • A 'premier growth' stock expert who's more than tripled investors' money at 2 different funds tells us about his interlocking strategies and his top picks for each
  • GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 13 unloved vaccine stocks that have the potential to spike on positive treatment updates

13. AMN Healthcare Services

Ticker: AMN

Sector: Healthcare

Market cap: $3.0 billion

The reason: "We believe Q4 earnings guidance will be above Street and will push the stock higher. In addition, elevated COVID-driven demand for temp nurse staffing persists and should carry over into 1Q21."

Price target: $65

Upside to target: 1.0%

Source: Jefferies

12. Surgery Partners

Ticker: SGRY

Sector: Healthcare

Market cap: $1.1 billion

The reason: "We are bullish on SGRY heading into the Q3 print given our view that revenue trends continue to accelerate, driven by the rebound in ASC (ambulatory surgery center) demand, share gains from hospitals, and more importantly, the company-specific acceleration in joint replacement surgery growth."

Price target: $23

Upside to target: 3.4%

Source: Jefferies

11. ON Semiconductor

Ticker: ON

Sector: Information technology

Market cap: $10.1 billion

The reason: "We expect outperformance in its Auto Business, and we think the Street is underestimating ON Auto revs by $100m in 2H21."

Price target: $27

Upside to target: 7.2%

Source: Jefferies

10. Deckers Outdoor

Ticker: DECK

Sector: Consumer discretionary

Market cap: $7.0 billion

The reason: "Traffic to UGG.com rose by nearly 40% in F'2Q, accelerating from F'1Q, when UGG registered triple-digit e-comm growth. We also see signs of overall improving brand momentum, esp. with younger consumers."

Price target: $300

Upside to target: 16.4%

Source: Jefferies

9. Broadcom

Ticker: AVGO

Sector: Information technology

Market cap: $140.4 billion

The reason: "We recommend AVGO as our top idea heading into earnings and see 3 catalysts for the stock in 2H20. They include: our expectation for the company to increase its dividend by 10-15% in Dec; content increase in the iPhone and data center spend to drive revenue upside … higher capital return and P/E expansion."

Price target: $420

Upside to target: 19.5%

Source: Jefferies

8. Republic Services

Ticker: RSG

Sector: Industrials

Market cap: $27.6 billion

The reason: "RSG showed the largest improvement in our commercial waste survey … of respondents that reduced or discontinued service asking for service increases. We believe this bodes well for RSG into its Q3 print around better operating leverage."

Price target: $110

Upside to target: 25.9%

Source: Jefferies

7. Cloudflare

Ticker: NET

Sector: Information technology

Market cap: $16.7 billion

The reason: "3Q Street rev estimates for $103.1M in 3Q and full year estimates for $406.5M in 2020 both feel conservative given it implies significant deceleration vs the 48% growth in both 1Q and 2Q, coupled with strong future business tailwind."

Price target: $70

Upside to target: 29.6%

Source: Jefferies

6. Church & Dwight

Ticker: CHD

Sector: Consumer staples

Market cap: $21.8 billion

The reason: "The company continues to benefit from elevated demand for COVID-19 "mega-trends". … with strong demand in the US as well as a conservative GM guide which are both sources of potential upside."

Price target: $114

Upside to target: 30.9%

Source: Jefferies

5. RingCentral

Ticker: RNG

Sector: Information technology

Market cap: $23.9 billion

The reason: "We expect another strong beat and raise quarter … guidance implies 23% y/y total rev growth and 25% sub rev growth. Mgmt's guidance factored in macro uncertainty, but we believe results will ultimately prove this to be conservative."

Price target: $370

Upside to target: 39.1%

Source: Jefferies

4. Beacon Roofing Supply

Ticker: BECN

Sector: Industrials

Market cap: $2.2 billion

The reason: "We are above consensus for FY21 after raising estimates to reflect strong demand and upside on GMs. Despite the toughest resi comp of the year, we are modeling a positive inflection in the residential segment this quarter."

Price target: $44

Upside to target: 39.4%

Source: Jefferies

3. Extended Stay America

Ticker: STAY

Sector: Consumer discretionary

Market cap: $1.9 billion

The reason: "We highlight STAY as a beneficiary of transient demand, and we believe it is one of the few hotel companies within our coverage that we expect to generate higher YoY occupancy in 2H."

Price target: $16

Upside to target: 42.1%

Source: Jefferies

2. Keurig Dr Pepper

Ticker: KDP

Sector: Consumer staples

Market cap: $39 billion

The reason: "Strength in cold beverages/AH (at home) coffee offsets AFH (away from home) headwinds in the quarter. … higher HH penetration and attachment rates in Coffee should drive sustainably higher growth and multiple expansion for KDP shares."

Price target: $40

Upside to target: 47.1%

Source: Jefferies

1. Golar LNG

Ticker: GLNG

Sector: Energy

Market cap: $732 million

The reason: "We believe that winter inventory building in Japan, South Korea, and China will drive increased LNG (liquid natural gas) export activity during 4Q20, resulting in our increased rate assumptions and EBITDA estimates."

Price target: $15

Upside to target: 78.6%

Source: Jefferies

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Business

Netflix Will Offer Free Trial Of Its Full Service For A Weekend, Starting In India

Netflix will offer a free trial of its full service to everyone in a country for one weekend, starting in India and going to other global territories.

The streaming giant revealed the plan during its third-quarter earnings interview, which followed the release of results that undershot subscriber and earnings estimates.

Chief Product Officer Greg Peters said the giveaway “could be a great way to expose a lot of people” to the service. He called it “an idea that we’re excited about and we’ll see how it goes.” No details were announced about the timing or details of the offer.

Netflix recently ended a 30-day free trial promotion. The company runs hundreds of “A/B” tests of a wide range of product features as well as promotional efforts. In terms of promotions, it has a wide range of different initiatives in different parts of the world. As COVID-19 kicked in, the company made a selection of documentary films and shows available free via YouTube as a way of helping schoolteachers.

Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said the company is “always looking at new, different ways for people to get a sample of the content that everyone’s talking about, including trying our service out in different ways.”

On a similar note, when asked by interview moderator Kannan Venkateshwar, a media analyst at Barclays, Sarandos said the company is not actively considering “reverse licensing” of its own originals to other platforms. Free streaming platforms like Pluto have set a number of deals recently with cable properties like The Walking Dead and recently Netflix drama Narcos. Sarandos said Gaumont owns Narcos and was able to make that deal.

“Mostly I think it’s important for us to keep our content on Netflix, so that people understand the value of Netflix,” Sarandos said.

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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said a coronavirus relief deal is unlikely before the election

  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said a coronavirus relief deal was unlikely to materialize before the election.
  • "I'd say at this point getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult, just given where we are in the level of details," Mnuchin said during a virtual event organized by the Milken Institute Global Conference.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mnuchin appear to have made little headway on a broad relief bill.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that Democrats and Republicans are unlikely to approve a broad coronavirus relief bill before Election Day next month.

"I'd say at this point getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult, just given where we are in the level of details," Mnuchin said during a virtual event organized by the Milken Institute Global Conference.

He also suggested Democrats were unwilling to give President Donald Trump a victory before the election, saying it is "part of the reality." Mnuchin added that Trump would continue pushing for a spending deal and said "the clock will not stop."

Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have engaged in off-again, on-again negotiations for the past two weeks though the pair appear to have made little progress on reaching an agreement. The treasury secretary made a $1.8 trillion stimulus offer on Friday, but many Democrats panned it as insufficient and said it lacked a national testing strategy among other measures.

The pair spoke again for an hour on Tuesday morning, according to Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill on Twitter. "The two spent time seeking clarification on language, which was productive," he said.

Read more: A $2.5 billion investment chief highlights the stock-market sectors poised to benefit the most if stimulus is passed after the election — and says Trump ending negotiations doesn't threaten the economic recovery

Their discussions continue as Trump has increased his calls for a broad economic aid package in recent days, an abrupt change of course after ending the talks only a week ago. "Go big or go home!!!" the president wrote on Twitter.

Democrats have insisted on a comprehensive $2.2 trillion spending plan with the House approving an economic aid package of that scale. Senate Republicans rebuffed it. 

The White House on Sunday called for Congress to approve the distribution of $130 billion in unspent federal relief funds to aid small businesses, but Democrats rejected it. Mnuchin was critical of what he described as Pelosi's "all or nothing approach."

"From our perspective we could have immediate help to many different parts of the economy now," he said.

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Johnson & Johnson posts strong third quarter earnings after pause in coronavirus vaccine study

J&J exec on coronavirus vaccine study pause: Will let science dictate how we proceed

Johnson & Johnson CFO and Executive Vice President Joe Wolk on the coronavirus vaccine study being paused due to an adverse reaction by a participant, earnings, and the supply chain.

Johnson & Johnson reported a strong third-quarter performance on Tuesday following an announcement that it is pausing its coronavirus vaccine research study.

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While the stock fell Tuesday on the news that the 60,000-patient clinical trial was temporarily halted, the drug maker’s worldwide sales from July to September jumped 1.7% to $21.1 billion. Its adjusted earnings per share rose 3.8% to $2.20.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON COVID-19 VACCINE STUDY PAUSED DUE TO ILLNESS

Johnson & Johnson CFO Joe Wolk told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on “Mornings with Maria” on Tuesday that “all three segments performed extremely well especially considering the pandemic dynamics.”

The company’s consumer health sales rose 1.3% to $3.5 billion, while pharmaceutical sales jumped 5% to $11.4 billion.

The drug maker posted stronger than expected third quarter earnings following an announcement that it paused its coronavirus vaccine research study after a participant came down with an unexplained illness. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Wolk said medical device sales impacted earnings the most. The segment was down almost 35% in the second quarter. But as elective procedures returned, sales fell 3.6% to $6.2 billion in the third quarter.

“I also have to give a tremendous amount of credit to the hospital systems out there,” Wolk said. “They are making patients feel safe. They can run their hospital systems in a manner that treats all patients and not just shut down for the potential to treat COVID patients.”

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
JNJ JOHNSON & JOHNSON 148.51 -3.33 -2.19%

However, the stock still slid nearly 2% early Tuesday after one participant in the company’s coronavirus vaccine study came down with an unexplained illness and forced the study to be paused.

Wolk said that “unexpected, adverse effects” in a 60,000-patient study should be expected to some degree. He added that this new information will be analyzed by an independent board before the study can resume, but the company remains confident in its safety.

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“We have not altered our investment plans in terms of expanding our manufacturing capacity,” Wolk said. “We’re still on the timeline for first quarter next year for potential approval. And we’re going to let the science dictate how we proceed.”

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Trump campaign confident in standing in 2020 race, despite Biden's lead in polls

Alyssa Farah: Trump’s recovery from coronavirus has truly been ‘miraculous’

White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah provides insight into President Trump’s road to recovery from coronavirus on ‘Fox & Friends Weekend.’

The Trump campaign on Monday expressed confidence in President Trump's standing in the 2020 race despite trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls, and campaign officials argued that Democrats are "falling short" of their goal in requested and submitted absentee ballots. 

Campaign manager Bill Stepien, returning to the Trump campaign’s headquarters Monday after recovering from COVID-19, touted Team Trump’s voter contacts and registration numbers, as early voting and absentee voting are underway in key battleground states.

“Voter contact continues to be a real strength, and an open playing field for our campaign, when you compare to Joe Biden’s,” Stepien said, noting that the Trump campaign and Republicans have “made more than 133 million voter contacts this cycle.”

“Today, we have a registration advantage,” Stepien said.

WHAT THE LATEST FOX NEWS POLL SHOWS IN THE BIDEN-TRUMP RACE

But amid the coronavirus pandemic, millions of voters across the country are requesting absentee ballots, or participating in some universal mail-in voting practices if passed in their states.

Those early numbers are coming in favor of Democrats, but the Trump campaign has downplayed those figures and early numbers, while maintaining that supporters of the president will physically cast their ballots at the polls on Nov. 3.

Election officials in key general election battleground states say they have noticed the surge in requests for absentee ballots by Democrats upending a trend of Republicans in some crucial states typically dominating voting by absentee ballot through the mail.

According to the latest Fox News Poll, equal numbers of Biden (75 percent) and Trump (77 percent) backers are extremely committed to their candidate and extremely interested in the election (65 and 66 percent respectively).

Voters planning to cast a ballot by mail favor Biden by 41 points, while Trump leads by 11 points among those planning to vote in person. 

“It is really important to remember that Democrats need to have a large advantage with absentee voting, which they do, because it is how their voters—Democratic voters—are telling us they are going to vote, and this is how they are planning to vote,” Stepien said Monday.

“Just a reminder, requesting a ballot is very different than voting a ballot,” he added. “We see a lot of touting of absentee ballot requests, totaling with Democrat advantages, but a lot less touting of actual ballots cast.”

Stepien added that “with so many more requests made in 2020 than in past years, we are absolutely bound to see the percentages of unreturned ballots increase.”

Stepien went on to reference Florida, noting that public polling shows that “55% of Democrats are saying they are voting by mail, compared to only 29% of Republicans.”

Stepien said that Democrats' reliance on absentee and voting by mail ballots will have them “falling short of a win number.”

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“Democrats, in Florida, to the event that they have an advantage over Republicans, they have built that by converting more historically Election Day voters to vote absentee than we have,” Stepien said. “Democrats are largely cannibalizing Election Day voters and shifting them to vote earlier.”

He added: “To that, we say, have at it. There is no electoral impact to that strategy, and that’s what we care about.”

In Florida, where 3.3 million people requested mail-in ballots in 2016, state elections officials have already had more than 4.2 million requests.

Stepien argued that Democrats in other key states, like North Carolina, will fall “way short of their vote goal” in “pinning all of their hopes on absentee ballots.”

The ballots requested in the first wave of North Carolina voting largely came from Democratic and independent voters. The number of requests for ballots by mail was 16 times the number the state sent out during the same period for the 2016 election.

In 2016, just one-quarter of the electorate cast their ballots by mail, but this time, election officials expect the majority of voters to do so. In states like Wisconsin, they have already seen 100,000 more requests than in 2016.

Stepien said that Democrats are aware that they are “falling short,” pointing to Biden “venturing out of his basement to go vote early in person — not by mail.”

“They know they don’t have the votes they need,” Stepien said. “The lesson here is that ballots don’t return themselves. Ballots can be sent out, and that’s all fine and good, but it takes work to get those ballots filled out and returned.”

Stepien touted the Trump campaign’s “ground game,” saying they have “the best ground game that has ever been erected in political history.”

The Biden campaign, however, fired back, with spokesman Andrew Bates saying the coronavirus, which he called "a consequence of Donald Trump's historic and tragic failed leadership," has had a "stronger ground game" in the U.S. "than any other nation."

"The Biden campaign has the most advanced voter contact operation in American history," Bates told Fox News. "Donald Trump has no case for four more years in which he'd continue to tear the American people apart, help the pandemic spiral out of control, and constantly side with corporate boardrooms and rich donors over middle class families." 

The latest RealClearPolitics average shows Biden leading Trump 52.3% to 41.7%, but Corey Lewandowski, a senior adviser to the campaign, downplayed the polls, pointing to 2016. 

"The enthusiasm in the states are very real," Lewandowski said. "We feel very good with our polling numbers."

Lawyers for Trump

Meanwhile, Trump’s deputy campaign manager Justin Clark touted the team’s efforts in “aggressively” pushing back on universal mail-in voting in states across the nation, calling for “clear and stable rules in voting around the country,” “transparency in the system,” and “making sure everybody who is eligible to vote has the right to vote, and have that vote counted once.”

Clark called voting by mail “inherently less safe than voting in person,” and again said the campaign is pushing for “stable rules and transparency in the system so that everyone can see what’s going on in count rooms and polling places.”

President Trump and Republicans have railed against the practice of mail-in ballots and warned of widespread fraud in the upcoming election.

The Trump campaign is bracing for the possibility of a protracted legal battle in the event of a contested election, forming what it's calling a “Lawyers for Trump” coalition to “protect the integrity” of November’s vote.

Campaign General Counsel Matthew Morgan told Fox News last month that the campaign is urging active and retired attorneys and even law students to volunteer in their nationwide efforts.

The campaign’s efforts come amid a fierce war of words between the Trump and Biden campaigns, and their allies, over the integrity of the vote, including GOP warnings about mail-in voting and Democrats' predictions that Trump would refuse to accept a loss.

The Lawyers for Trump coalition comes as part of the joint Republican National Committee and Trump campaign's "Protect the Vote" effort, which has warned for months that "Democrats are trying to use coronavirus and the courts to legalize ballot harvesting, implement a nationwide mail-in ballot system, and eliminate nearly every safeguard in our elections.”

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign has built a massive "election protection program," including employing former Attorney General Eric Holder and hundreds of other lawyers in preparation for a legal battle in the event of a contested election.

The strategies, according to the campaign, are being directed to support election jurisdictions in preparing for and administering the vote under what they call “extraordinary conditions” this cycle, voter education to raise awareness of options for in-person and mail-in voting, aggressive responses to voter suppression activities, and robust programs for identifying and countering foreign interference and misinformation from foreign or domestic sources.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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UK airport group to cut up to 900 jobs as furlough nears end

The owner of three major UK airports is planning to cut up to 900 jobs in response to a fall in passenger numbers and the end of the government furlough scheme.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has begun discussions with trade unions over the loss of up to 465 roles at Manchester airport, 376 at London Stansted and 51 at East Midlands airport.

Additionally, it is looking to make other changes such as altering certain roles and staff roster patterns, in an effort to cut costs to ensure the future of the business following the pandemic.

Aviation has been one of the sectors hardest hit by coronavirus, and the airport operator said it had seen a more than 90% fall in demand from passengers between April and August.

Its three airports welcomed 2.8 million passengers during that period, compared with 30.3 million the previous year. The group revealed that current monthly passenger demand was 75% below normal levels.

MAG, which employs around 6,000 people, said it had taken steps to reduce its cost base since the start of the pandemic, including asking every employee to accept a year-long 10% pay cut, while it also paused investment and non-essential spending.

The company said it had already reduced the size of its management team and made extensive use of the government’s furlough job retention scheme. It is understood to have furloughed at least 70% of its staff during lockdown.

The furlough scheme finishes at the end of October, to be replaced by the less generous job support scheme, where the government will cover 22% of worker pay for six months.

The group said the reduction in government support, combined with sluggish demand and a fresh increase in coronavirus cases, meant it had to reduce its workforce.

“By now, we would have hoped to see a strong and sustained recovery in demand. Unfortunately, the resurgence of the virus across Europe and the reintroduction of travel restrictions have meant this has not happened,” said Charlie Cornish, the chief executive of MAG.

“The end of the job retention scheme means that we have to consider the number of roles that we can sustain at our airports.”

Cornish thanked staff for their “dedication” during what he called the “toughest summer our industry has ever seen”.

The airport operator does not expect passenger demand to recover fully until 2023-24.

A raft of airport and airlines including Gatwick and British Airways have cut jobs in a battle to reduce costs during the pandemic.

MAG and much of the rest of the aviation industry have lobbied government to allow the urgent introduction of coronavirus testing on passengers arriving at UK airports, warning that failure to allow this was weighing on the aviation industry and putting thousands of jobs at risk.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, on Wednesday unveiled a taskforce to develop options for a testing system.

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Apple Awards CEO Tim Cook Major Stock Grant

Apple Inc. awarded Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook a new stock grant, his first since taking charge in 2011, that will vest over time.

Based on Apple’s positive share development, the restricted units of Apple stock as well as performance-based grants could take his total to more than 1 million shares by 2025. The shares are worth $114 million based on Tuesday’s closing price of $114.09.

Apple’s board said in a statement, “Tim has brought unparalleled innovation and focus to his role as CEO and demonstrated what it means to lead with values and integrity. For the first time in nearly a decade, we are awarding Tim a new stock grant that will vest over time in recognition of his outstanding leadership and with great optimism for Apple’s future as he carries these efforts forward.”

As per a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the equity comes in two packages. The first comprises 333,987 restricted stock units that vest in thirds on an annual basis starting in 2023 till 2025. The other has 333,987 units that will vest in 2023.

Along with this primary compensation, Cook also receives a salary and an annual bonus. In 2019, his salary was $3 million and bonus was $7.67 million. His total compensation, including stock, was over $125 million.

The awarded stocks could double if Cook meets targets related to Apple’s performance on the stock market, but can also lose all if Apple underperforms.

In August, Apple had touched a $2-trillion market value, becoming the first U.S. company to reach the milestone. Apple stock had more than doubled over the past five months, since March, when its market cap was $1 trillion, being benefited by the pandemic as the majority of employees are forced to opt work from home, and schools worldwide are closed forcing students to continue their studies online.

The tech giant is currently the most valuable company in the entire world even as the majority of the world is grappling with coronavirus – induced financial crisis.

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