Hurricane Sally made landfall in Alabama as a Category 2 storm early Wednesday, packing strong winds of up to 105 miles an hour and threatening to hit parts of the Gulf Coast with storm surges and flash flooding. WSJ’s Cameron McWhirter reports. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Congressional panel subpoenas top Homeland official in whistleblower probe
By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A congressional intelligence committee has issued a subpoena to compel a senior U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official to testify about accusations that it had meddled in intelligence reports for political purposes.
The accusation stems from a whistleblower complaint made by former Homeland Security Department intelligence chief Brian Murphy, who has alleged that top DHS officials and a White House official sought to skew intelligence reports.
Adam Schiff, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said he had subpoenaed acting DHS intelligence chief Joseph Maher to testify publicly on Friday. Schiff has said the department was seeking to stall the committee’s investigation into Murphy’s allegations.
Schiff said he also had issued a subpoena to force DHS to turn over “documents, communications, and other records” related to the committee’s probe of Murphy’s allegations.
“Adam Schiff’s claims about DHS stonewalling his committee or obstructing the clearance process are completely false. DHS is doing no such thing and Chairman Schiff, despite the obvious political theater of this subpoena, knows this,” a department spokesman said in a statement.
“In fact, the department has produced nearly 3,000 pages of documents and has provided two briefings and three transcribed interviews to date,” the spokesman said.
Murphy has claimed he was pressured to stop providing assessments of the threat of Russian interference in the Nov. 3 U.S. election and to play down white supremacist activity.
He has also said acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told him in May to instead report on political interference threats posed by China and Iran and highlight the involvement of left-wing groups in domestic disorder.
The DHS has flatly denied Murphy’s accusations.
Schiff originally announced that he planned to take a closed-door deposition from Murphy last week so Murphy could talk about classified material he dealt with while at DHS.
But Murphy’s lawyers say DHS has moved slowly to grant them security clearances they would need to participate in such proceedings, and have also denied him pre-deposition access to all but unclassified materials he worked on.
Mark Zaid, a lawyer for Murphy, said it was still possible Murphy could be deposed by the committee on Friday if security clearances for his lawyers are approved by then.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington, D.C.; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, David Gregorio and Jonathan Oatis)
Central Bank Gold-Buying Seen Climbing From Near Decade Low
2 “Strong Buy” Space Stocks That Are Ready for Takeoff
Space, the final frontier. Throughout history, the expanse that exists beyond Earth has captivated people all over the world, with space exploration continuing to take giant leaps forward since Apollo 11 first landed on the moon.Now, outer space has peaked Wall Street’s interest. Given the high levels of private funding and advances in technology, the pros argue there could be major implications should space become more accessible and less expensive to reach. To this end, new markets such as satellite broadband, high-speed product delivery, reusable rockets and human space travel are emerging.Speaking to the potential opportunity, according to a recent KPMG report, by 2030, the global space industry could reach $600 billion, with it currently worth $350 billion. Bearing this in mind, we used TipRanks’ database to zero in on two space stocks reaching for the stars, so says the Street. Boasting the analyst community’s full support, both tickers have received a “Strong Buy” consensus rating. Virgin Galactic Holdings (SPCE)By offering high-speed point-to-point travel, Virgin Galactic wants to commercialize space travel and revolutionize commercial flight. Given the significant backlog of demand for commercial spaceflight, several members of the Street have high hopes for this space stock.Representing Cowen, analyst Oliver Chen sees SPCE as “uniquely positioned to benefit from the growing consumer interest toward luxury experiences, especially among high-net-worth individuals.” He added, “We believe a substantial growth opportunity lies ahead with the commercial spaceflight business, which already has ~600 reservations, and the development of high-speed point-to-point travel.”Looking at the market opportunity, Chen estimates that this part of the business could push SPCE’s top-line to $1 billion-plus by 2030, growing at a 60%-plus CAGR (2021-2030), with an EBITDA margin of 46%. According to the analyst, there’s a total addressable market (TAM) for commercial spaceflight (suborbital) of roughly 2.4 million individuals with a net worth of $5 million-plus globally.On top of this, SPCE could use its technology to develop additional revenue streams such as high-speed P2P commercial air travel. The development of hypersonic aircrafts would make 85% of the global network pairs accessible in a one-day trip. In addition, the analyst thinks the high-speed P2P opportunity could yield a TAM of $985 billion by 2050, and SPCE’s market share could clock in at 20%. “P2P is in very early innings but we believe the company has the resources, capital, and experience to pursue this business line,” Chen noted.Given that the company’s leadership team brings expertise from NASA and Disney to the table, Chen argues SPCE is capable of capitalizing on the opportunity, with solid execution potentially solidifying its status as an experiential luxury brand.The positioning of its commercial space flight offering as a luxury airline experience, which is what consumers are more used to, is likely to give SPCE the first-mover advantage over others like Blue Origin. “Given the high fixed cost of operating a space tourism operation, first-mover advantage looks critical to success; and VG appears better positioned than BO to get it,” Chen mentioned.What else could give SPCE the first-mover advantage? Chen points to SPCE’s 10-plus years of technology developed with $1 billion of investment made to-date and the vertically integrated aerospace development capabilities. What’s more, SPCE has “created competitive moats in a high-barrier-to-entry industry and benefits from strong consumer demand, which should support a premium pricing structure.”Based on all of the above, Chen puts an Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating and $22 price target on the stock. (To watch Chen’s track record, click here)Are other analysts in agreement? They are. Only Buy ratings, 7 to be exact, have been issued in the last three months. Therefore, the message is clear: SPCE is a Strong Buy. With a $25.43 average price target, shares could rise 22% in the next year. (See Virgin Galactic stock analysis on TipRanks)Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings (AJRD)Serving customers that include the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), NASA and other agencies and companies, Aerojet Rocketdyne develops and manufactures advanced propulsion and energetics systems. Given its recent contract awards, multiple analysts believe this company’s long-term growth prospects are strong.5-star analyst Ken Herbert, of Canaccord Genuity, recently met with AJRD’s new CFO, coming away from the discussion with his bullish thesis very much intact. The company expects the space business, which makes up 40% of sales, to be flat to up slightly, due to the recent SLS RS-25 engine order, with the core defense business (60% of sales) set to see steady growth.“While near-term margin upside is limited, we believe the revenue visibility, strong balance sheet and incremental opportunities in both space and defense contribute to a scarcity value for AJRD not reflected in the stock,” Herbert commented.That said, new programs are an essential piece of the puzzle here. Earlier in September, AJRD announced that it will build two elements of the new ground based strategic deterrent (GBSD) nuclear missiles for Northrop Grumman, which received a $13.3 billion, 8.5-year EMD contract to initiate early production of the “Minuteman IV” platform. AJRD is responsible for manufacturing a large solid rocket motor for the missile’s upper stage and the post-boost propulsion system needed to guide the nuclear warheads to their targets through apogee (the highest point of their parabolic flight arc). Weighing in on the deal, Herbert commented, “The program is expected to be substantial to both Aerojet and Northrop, with 400 active and 242 spare ICBMs expected to occupy the existing launch sites in the American West. It has been estimated that the GBSD program will be worth $63 billion during its first 20 years of life, which is likely to be extended given the longevity of the current Minuteman III deterrent.”Adding to the good news, AJRD’s backlog has increased to a record high of $6.8 billion as of Q2 2020, a 48% gain from the prior-year quarter. According to Herbert, a key driver of this growth has been the $1.8 billion NASA contract to construct 18 new RS-25 engines to support at least five additional Artemis lunar missions beyond the three currently planned. “As such, visibility into Aerojet’s business with NASA continues to look promising through 2030. Aerojet has also continued to see backlog growth on THAAD, hypersonics, Standard Missile and GMLRS,” the analyst stated. If that wasn’t enough, Herbert believes missile defense and classified hypersonics programs are likely to see solid backlog growth in the near-term.On top of this, in August, the U.S. Air Force awarded two contracts for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program to ULA (a Boeing and Lockheed joint venture) and SpaceX. The implication? “Aerojet Rocketdyne is seen as a winner of the contact outcome, which ensured that the company will continue to provide content on a majority of U.S. military and intelligence launches. AJRD will see its upper stage engine content double on the new ULA Vulcan rocket under this contract, which utilizes a new Centaur upper stage (the Centaur V) powered by two RL10 engines, as opposed to one RL10 on the legacy Atlas V rocket,” Herbert explained.Everything that AJRD has going for it convinced Herbert to reiterate his Buy rating. Along with the call, he maintained a $54 price target, suggesting 34% upside potential. (To watch Herbert’s track record, click here)All in all, other analysts are on the same page. AJRD’s Strong Buy consensus rating breaks down into 3 Buys and no Holds or Sells. Meanwhile, the $56 average price target brings the upside potential to 39%. (See AJRD stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
Seattle greenlights minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers
(Reuters) — The Seattle City Council passed a minimum pay standard for drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft on Tuesday.
Under the ordinance, effective January, the drivers will now earn at least $16.39 per hour – the minimum wage in Seattle for companies with more than 500 employees.
Seattle’s law, modeled after a similar regulation in New York City, aims to reduce the amount of time drivers spend “cruising” without a passenger by paying drivers more during those times.
City officials argue this should prevent Uber and Lyft from oversaturating the market at drivers’ expense, but the companies say it would effectively force them to block some drivers access to the app. Both Uber and Lyft have locked out drivers in response to the NYC law.
“The City’s plan is deeply flawed and will actually destroy jobs for thousands of people — as many as 4,000 drivers on Lyft alone — and drive rideshare companies out of Seattle,” Lyft said in a statement.
Uber did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and New York’s New School, who analyzed the Seattle ride-hailing market using city data and a driver survey, found drivers net only about $9.70 an hour, with a third of all drivers working more than 32 hours per week.
But a study of data provided by Uber and Lyft showed most ride-hail workers in Seattle are part-time drivers whose earnings are roughly in line with the city’s median, defying some perceptions of drivers working full-time for little pay.
(Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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