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Vaxart Can Still Be a Major Force in the COVID-19 Vaccine Landscape, Says Analyst

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Vaxart Can Still Be a Major Force in the COVID-19 Vaccine Landscape, Says Analyst

Vaxart (VXRT) began the week with a monster Monday session. Shares of the vaccine specialist surged by 47% after the biotech announced it had been given the go ahead from the FDA to commence the Phase 1 clinical trial of its oral COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The study will evaluate the vaccine’s effect on healthy adults between the ages of 18 to 55, examining the safety and reactogenicity of a two-dose regimen.

The trial’s commencement couldn’t have come sooner for this high-flying coronavirus stock, as the small cap is significantly behind peers in the development of its COVID-19 vaccine program. However, based on the available pre-clinical data, B Riley FBR analyst Mayank Mamtani believes “the long awaited initiation clears the path for the ‘show me’ story” to make a mark in a crowded yet still “uncertain landscape.”

The 5-star analyst further said, “Having demonstrated the potential to activate multiple arms of the immune system, i.e., serum neutralizing antibody, dose-dependent IgG, mucosal immune and cell-mediated CD4 and CD8 T cell responses, we believe VXRT likely emerges as a dominant player in the second wave of COVID-19 vaccines with the potential to induce sterilizing immunity, conferring a high degree of immune protection while also limiting the risk for transmission.”

Vaxart’s rise in 2020 has been nothing less than a fairytale with shares up by 1950% so far. Yet, Mamtani urges investors pull the trigger on VXRT shares believing the “valuation disconnect relative to more advanced C-19 vaccine peers, presents an additional compelling buying opportunity.”

Mamtani expects several 4Q catalysts to drive further share appreciation. These include “(1) incremental challenge data in hamsters and non-human primates (NHP); (2) in-human Ph. I proof-of-concept data informing dose selection; and (3) external Ph. III efficacy readouts (e.g., PFE/BNTX, MRNA, NVAX) informative of the value proposition of VXRT’s oral vaccine, which could then result in appropriate non-dilutive funding.”

To this end, Mamtani reiterates a Buy rating on VXRT alongside a $22 price target, which implies a 207% upside. (To watch Mamtani’s track record, click here)

Overall, it has been relatively quiet when it comes to other analyst activity. In the last three months, only 2 analysts have issued ratings. However, as they were both Buys, the word on the Street is that VXRT is a Moderate Buy. Based on the $19.50 average price target, shares could climb 169% higher in the next twelve months. (See Vaxart stock analysis on TipRanks)

To find good ideas for healthcare 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 analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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India’s Biggest Slum Successfully Contained COVID-19. But Can Its Residents Survive the Economic Collapse?

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India's Biggest Slum Successfully Contained COVID-19. But Can Its Residents Survive the Economic Collapse?
Jayanti Keshav Parmar, a tailor, at his home in Dharavi. His sewing machine sits idle, as no one in the neighborhood can afford to have new clothes stitched this year.

Jayanti Keshav Parmar, a tailor, at his home in Dharavi. His sewing machine sits idle, as no one in the neighborhood can afford to have new clothes stitched this year. Credit – Atul Loke for TIME

Jayanti Keshav Parmar, a tailor who lives in Dharavi, a bustling informal settlement of nearly 1 million low-income residents packed into a one-square-mile area in Mumbai, has been stuck at home since March 25 when the Indian government declared a stringent lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Before the lockdown, he worked at a store doing alterations and would make about $200 a month, but now he has exhausted his savings. Out of work for over five months, he has not been able to pay the $80 monthly rent on his compact home in Dharavi since March. His sewing machine at home sits idle, as no one in the neighborhood can afford to have new clothes stitched this year. His wife, who had secured some work as a domestic helper in an apartment in Mumbai late last year, was asked to stop coming to the building because of fear of spreading the coronavirus. They are down to cooking one meal a day, the remains of which they eat for lunch the following day. He worries about what will happen if his wife or son fall sick. “If there’s no money for food, how will we pay a big hospital bill?” Parmar says.

Dharavi, often called Asia’s largest slum, is a hyper-dense network of brick homes and small-scale enterprises that sprawl in the shadow of shiny new skyscrapers in the heart of India’s financial capital. Until recently, it was home to a thriving economy, with 20,000-odd factories and small businesses that recycle plastic, make earthen pottery, tan leather, stitch garments, make soap and cook meals. While coronavirus cases in India are soaring—the country is on track to overtake the United States as the nation with the most cases—community engagement and a nimble local government have meant that for now, the virus seems to be contained in Dharavi. But a tough national lockdown declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with little warning or preparation has crippled the local economy and residents are struggling to survive.

Read more: How the Pandemic is Reshaping India

Dharavi’s slowdown is emblematic of a wider national decline. The Indian economy contracted by 23.9% in the second quarter, the sharpest fall of any major economy during the pandemic. About 21 million salaried employees lost their jobs from April to August, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. Those in the informal economy, which constitutes 90% of India’s workforce and is the bedrock upon which the country’s $2.9 trillion economy is built, have suffered the most. Most people in the unorganized sector do not have any savings and live off what they earn each week, making it impossible for them to cope with months of a protracted shutdown. The loss of income and the diminished purchasing power has depressed demand, and because many small businesses in informal settlements like Dharavi sell to others in the area, the blow to the economy is even harsher.

“The Indian government never took the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown on the unorganized sector into account,” says Arun Kumar, a professor at the Institute of Social Sciences in New Delhi. It could take up to three years for the Indian economy to recover after the pandemic, he says.

Dharavi in late April. The hyper-dense network of brick homes and small scale enterprises, which sprawl in the shadow of shiny new skyscrapers, was home to a thriving economy—until recently. <span class="copyright">Atul Loke—The New York Times/Redux</span>
Dharavi in late April. The hyper-dense network of brick homes and small scale enterprises, which sprawl in the shadow of shiny new skyscrapers, was home to a thriving economy—until recently. Atul Loke—The New York Times/Redux

For three months after Modi declared a nationwide shutdown, hundreds of small businesses in this city-within-a-city pulled their shutters down. Some of the narrow lanes were barricaded with planks of wood, broken furniture, and wooden vegetable carts, with signs warning outsiders to stay away. People wearing makeshift masks made from old saris and handkerchiefs occasionally converged in informal markets, where wary residents attempted to keep a distance from each other. Though the Indian economy gradually began to reopen in June, many of Dharavi’s small businesses are still struggling to reboot.

Irfan Bhai, who runs a plastic-recycling business in Dharavi, fears a long-term hit to his business. Before the lockdown, his workshop processed about 15 metric tons of plastic scrap each month, from which he made things like plastic buckets, mugs, and plates. His business, like many others, is entwined with the economic fabric of the neighborhood. The machine that crushes the plastic scrap he buys is next door; many of his clients have offices in the area. He had to shut down his factory in March and has lived on savings since.

“Usually this area is constantly active,” Bhai says. “But during the lockdown, 80% of businesses have been closed. Everything has gone silent.”

Now that the lockdown is over, he says he does not have the money to buy the plastic scrap needed to restart the business, and because of the stigma attached to his Dharavi address, he says he has found it hard to secure a bank loan or access government benefits for small businesses. The walls of his workshop are lined with about 2,000 plastic mugs in vibrant colors, but the packages are all collecting dust.

The last time his business suffered such a blow was in 2016, when the Indian government made a sweeping move to invalidate most of the paper currency in circulation, in a widely criticized bid to curb corruption. “India went back 10 years then,” he says. “Now with this lockdown, India has gone back another 10 years.”

Health workers check residents' temperatures during a mass screening for COVID-19 symptoms in Dharavi in April. <span class="copyright">Atul Loke—Panos Pictures/Redux</span>
Health workers check residents’ temperatures during a mass screening for COVID-19 symptoms in Dharavi in April. Atul Loke—Panos Pictures/Redux

Though Dharavi has emerged as an unlikely story of success lauded for containing the spread of coronavirus, the neighborhood’s battles are far from over. Dharavi was one of the most vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus in the country because of its high density. While wealthy Indians have been able to shelter in their apartments, Dharavi’s residents live in tightly packed shanties, share public toilets, and rely on community kitchens.

From the beginning, Kiran Dighavkar, the city official leading the response to the virus in Dharavi, knew that standard models of social distancing, contact tracing, and home quarantine would be ineffective here. Instead, his team focused on creating customized solutions that responded to the community’s lived reality. They enlisted local doctors who ran private practices in the area and provided them with the personal protective equipment they needed to re-open their clinics and go door-to-door to screen for people with high temperatures or low oxygen levels. They created health-care facilities and quarantine centers by taking over a sports club, a marriage hall and private hospitals. They set up community kitchens with customized meals so that those fasting during the month of Ramadan could be accommodated. A 200-bed hospital equipped with supplemental oxygen for coronavirus patients was built in just two weeks in a parking lot. The 450 community toilets in the area were sanitized three times a day, and the local government provided free virus tests.

Their efforts paid off. In May, there were an average of 43 new cases each day in the neighborhood. By the third week of August, daily cases were down to six. The local government’s efforts in the area have been commended by the World Health Organization, and officials have been fielding calls from authorities in the Philippines and Kenya for guidance on how to replicate the model in other dense neighborhoods.

“The beauty of the Dharavi model was that it was based on first-hand experiences. Instead of being reactive, we chased the virus,” says Dighavkar, adding that the credit for their success went to community engagement.

"My family was worried about the disease and didn’t want me to return to the city, but I had to come back to work," said Ishrar Ali, who stitches women's tops in a garment workshop in Dharavi. <span class="copyright">Atul Loke for TIME</span>
“My family was worried about the disease and didn’t want me to return to the city, but I had to come back to work,” said Ishrar Ali, who stitches women’s tops in a garment workshop in Dharavi. Atul Loke for TIME

But economic hardship has forced people back to work in Dharavi, as in the rest of India. While the Indian government, in a bid to restart the economy, has begun to lift lockdown restrictions, the country now has the largest number of daily confirmed cases in the world and over 5.6 million cases in total. The nearly 150,000 migrant workers who left Dharavi for their villages during the lockdown have begun to return to work, and local officials fear a new wave could infect the community. In the past two weeks, Dighavkar has noticed an uptick in cases in Dharavi with 15 new cases on Thursday. “There is a possibility that the infections might be coming back,” says Dighavkar. “In a pandemic like COVID, nobody can guess what will happen next.”

Ishrar Ali, who stitches women’s tops in a garment workshop in Dharavi and shares the room above the workshop with eight other migrants, has recently returned to the city. Ali, 29, who earned about $70 a month, found it hard to sustain himself in the city when the garment workshop shut down in March. He found himself standing in long lines waiting for food handouts from nonprofits or local officials. In April, he took a bus back to his village in Uttar Pradesh, a state in north India, to be with his parents, wife, and child. But there was little work in the village and Ali was forced to return in August.

“My family was worried about the disease and didn’t want me to return to the city, but I had to come back to work,” said Ali. “You have to take some risk to fill your stomach.”

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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See Willie Nelson’s Animated Video for ‘Vote ‘Em Out’

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See Willie Nelson’s Animated Video for ‘Vote ‘Em Out’

Willie Nelson has paired his political anthem “Vote ‘Em Out” — which the country legend premiered ahead of the 2018 midterms election — with a new animated video to spread its message before Election Day 2020.

Nelson first performed the track at a 2018 rally in support of Beto O’Rourke during his Texas senatorial race against Ted Cruz, but the track could apply to the presidential election as well: “If it’s a bunch of clowns you voted in / Election day is comin’ ‘round again / If you don’t like it now / If it’s more than you’ll allow,” Nelson sings. “If you don’t like who’s in there / Vote ’em out.”

Nelson adds, “Bring some new ones in / We’ll start the show again.” “Vote ‘Em Out” was written by Nelson and Buddy Cannon and features Nelson’s sons Lukas on guitar and Micah on drums.

On Saturday, Nelson — along with his partners Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young and guests Brandi Carlile, Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Bonnie Raitt & Boz Skaggs, Chris Stapleton and more — will take part in the 35th edition of Farm Aid, this year being held virtually due to Covid-19.

“Farm Aid 2020 On the Road” will broadcast live from the Farm Aid site as well as Sirius XM’s Willie’s Roadhouse and AXS TV beginning at 8 p.m. EST on September 26th.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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BP’s Stock Price Crashes To The Lowest Level In 25 Years

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BP’s Stock Price Crashes To The Lowest Level In 25 Years

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3 ‘Strong Buy’ Stocks With Over 7% Dividend Yield

Markets are volatile, there can be no doubt. So far this month, the S&P 500 has fallen 9% from its peak. The tech-heavy NASDAQ, which had led the gainers all summer, is now leading the on the fall, having lost 11% since September 2. The three-week tumble has investors worried that we may be on the brink of another bear market.The headwinds are strong. The usual September swoon, the upcoming election, doubts about another round of economic stimulus – all are putting downward pressure on the stock markets.Which doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities. As the old saw goes, “Bulls and bears can both make money, while the pigs get slaughtered.” A falling market may worry investors, but a smart strategy can prevent the portfolio from losing too much long-term value while maintaining a steady income. Dividend stocks, which feed into the income stream, can be a key part of such a strategy.Using the data available in the TipRanks database, we’ve pulled up three stocks with high yields – from 7% to 11%, or up to 6 times the average dividend found on the S&P 500 index. Even better, these stocks are seen as Strong Buys by Wall Street’s analysts. Let’s find out why.Williams Companies (WMB)We start with Williams Companies, an Oklahoma-based energy company. Williams controls pipelines connecting Rocky Mountain natural gas fields with the Pacific Northwest region, and Appalachian and Texan fields with users in the Northeast and transport terminals on the Gulf Coast. The company’s primary operations are the processing and transport of natural gas, with additional ops in crude oil and energy generation. Williams handles nearly one-third of all US commercial and residential natural gas use.The essential nature of Williams’ business – really, modern society simply cannot get along without reliable energy sources – has insulated the company from some of the economic turndown in 1H20. Quarterly revenues slid from $2.1 billion at the end of last year to $1.9 billion in Q1 and $1.7 billion in Q2. EPS in the first half was 26 cents for Q1 and 25 cents for Q2 – but this was consistent with EPS results for the previous three quarters. The generally sound financial base supported the company’s reliable dividend. Williams has been raising that payment for the past four years, and even the corona crisis could not derail it. At 40 cents per common share, the dividend annualizes to $1.60 and yields an impressive 7.7%. The next payment is scheduled for September 28.Truist analyst Tristan Richardson sees Williams as one of the midstream sector’s best positioned companies.“We continue to look to WMB as a defensive component of midstream and favor its 2H prospects as broader midstream grasps at recovery… Beyond 2020 we see the value proposition as a stable footprint with free cash flow generation even in the current environment. We also see room for incremental leverage reduction throughout our forecast period on scaled back capital plans and even with the stable dividend. We look for modestly lower capex in 2021, however unlike more G&P oriented midstream firms, we see a project backlog in downstream that should support very modest growth,” Richardson noted.Accordingly, Richardson rates WMB shares as a Buy, and his $26 price target implies a 30% upside potential from current levels. (To watch Richardson’s track record, click here)Overall, the Strong Buy analyst consensus rating on WMB is based on 11 Buy reviews against just a single Hold. The stock’s current share price is $19.91 and the average price target is $24.58, making the one-year upside potential 23%. (See WMB stock analysis on TipRanks)Magellan Midstream (MMP)The second stock on our list is another midstream energy company, Magellan. This is another Oklahoma-based firm, with a network of assets across much of the US from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi Valley, and into the Southeast. Magellan’s network transports crude oil and refined products, and includes Gulf Coast export shipping terminals.Magellan’s total revenues rose sequentially to $782.8 in Q1, and EPS came in at $1.28, well above the forecast. These numbers turned down drastically in Q2, as revenue fell to $460.4 million and EPS collapsed to 65 cents. The outlook for Q3 predicts a modest recovery, with EPS forecast at 85 cents. The company strengthened its position in the second quarter with an issue of 10-year senior notes, totaling $500 million, at 3.25%. This reduced the company’s debt service payments, and shored up liquidity, making possible the maintenance of the dividend.The dividend was kept steady at $1.0275 per common share quarterly. Annualized, this comes to $4.11, a good absolute return, and gives a yield of 11.1%, giving MMP a far higher return than Treasury bonds or the average S&P-listed stock.Well Fargo analyst Praneeth Satish believes that MMP has strong prospects for recovery. “[We] view near-term weakness in refined products demand as temporary and recovering. In the interim, MMP remains well positioned given its strong balance sheet and liquidity position, and ratable cash flow stream…” Satish goes on to note that the dividend appears secure for the near-term: “The company plans to maintain the current quarterly distribution for the rest of the year.”In line with this generally upbeat outlook, Satish gives MMP an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating, and a $54 price target that implies 57% growth in the coming year. (To watch Satish’s track record, click here)Net net, MMP shares have a unanimous Strong Buy analyst consensus rating, a show of confidence by Wall Street’s analyst corps. The stock is selling for $33.44, and the average price target of $51.13 implies 53% growth in the year ahead. (See MMP stock analysis on TipRanks)Ready Capital Corporation (RC)The second stock on our list is a real estate investment trust. No surprise finding one of these in a list of strong dividend payers – REITs have long been known for their high dividend payments. Ready Capital, which focuses on the commercial mortgage niche of the REIT sector, has a portfolio of loans in real estate securities and multi-family dwellings. RC has provided more than $3 billion in capital to its loan customers.In the first quarter of this year, when the coronavirus hit, the economy turned south, and business came to a standstill, Ready Capital took a heavy blow. Revenues fell by 58%, and Q1 EPS came in at just one penny. Things turned around in Q2, however, after the company took measures – including increasing liquidity, reducing liabilities, and increasing involvement in government-sponsored lending – to shore up business. Revenues rose to $87 million and EPS rebounded to 70 cents.In the wake of the strong Q2 results, RC also started restoring its dividend. In Q1 the company had slashed the payment from 40 cents to 25 cents; in the most recent declaration, for an October 30 payment, the new dividend is set at 30 cents per share. This annualizes to $1.20 and gives a strong yield of 9.9%.Crispin Love, writing from Piper Sandler, notes the company’s success in getting back on track.“Given low interest rates, Ready Capital had a record $1.2B in residential mortgage originations versus our $1.1B estimate. Gain on sale margins were also at record levels. We are calculating gain on sale margins of 3.7%, up from 2.4% in 1Q20,” Love wrote.In a separate note, written after the dividend declaration, Love added, “We believe that the Board’s actions show an increased confidence for the company to get back to its pre-pandemic $0.40 dividend. In recent earnings calls, management has commented that its goal is to get back to stabilized earnings above $0.40, which would support a dividend more in-line with pre-pandemic levels.”To this end, Love rates RC an Overweight (i.e. Buy) along with a $12 price target, suggesting an upside of 14%. (To watch Love’s track record, click here)All in all, Ready Capital has a unanimous Strong Buy analyst consensus rating, based on 4 recent positive reviews. The stock has an average price target of $11.50, which gives a 9% upside from the current share price of $10.51. (See RC stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for dividend 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.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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