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AstraZeneca’s Q3 Results Disappoint but COVID-19 Vaccine Trial On Track

AZ’s Q3 results disappoint – but COVID19 vaccine trial is still on track



This article was originally published by PharmaPhorum.

AstraZeneca has posted an uninspiring set of quarterly results as it gears up for results from its closely watched coronavirus vaccine trial. AZ said in its third quarter results statement that it is on track to meet its guidance for the year, with total revenue expected to grow by 8%-12% and core earnings per share increasing by 15%-19%. In the three months to the end of September AZ’s revenue increased by 3% to $6.6 billion, with products sales up 6%. Earnings per share fell to $0.94, missing analysts’ estimates of $1, as some patients held off treatments for ailments unrelated to COVID-19. AZ has pursued a strategy of selling off its older or unwanted drugs and has been benefiting from “collaboration revenue” from these deals as development partners reach certain milestones. This revenue fell by 79% to $58 million compared with the same quarter last year, although the company said that this was down to a strong performance in last year’s Q3. The company suggested that collaboration revenue may be higher in the next quarter as this income tends to come in chunks as various research projects reach fruition or sales targets are met. At the same time the company also grabbed two new European approvals – for Lynparza in castration-resistant prostate cancer and for Forxiga for a form chronic heart failure. The company’s coronavirus vaccine is perhaps the company’s most eagerly-watched pipeline asset, although AZ is unlikely to make much money from it – at least until the worst of the pandemic is over. As reported by pharmaphorum earlier this week, AZ expects results from its late-stage trial by the end of the year despite a safety scare in September, setting up approval by regulators early in 2021. AZ has pledged to sell the vaccine at cost price until a cut-off point expected midway through next year. But as the UK heads for another economically damaging month-long lockdown the company confirmed that it could have crucial phase 3 data from the vaccine by the end of the year. If approved the vaccine will do little for the company’s figures but will create huge goodwill as governments across the world seek an end to the spiral of death caused by the coronavirus.
The post AZ’s Q3 results disappoint – but COVID19 vaccine trial is still on track appeared first on .

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Uranium is booming, which is good news for this exploration company

Atomic Minerals (TSXV:ATOM) provided its outlook on uranium’s substantial price increase observed in the uranium market in recent months.
The post Uranium…



Atomic Minerals (TSXV:ATOM) provided its outlook on uranium’s substantial price increase observed in the uranium market in recent months The spot price of U3O8 (uranium) has increased 227.6 per cent since March 2020, rising from US$21.51 to US$73.00 in October 2023 The team believes that the recent increase in uranium’s spot price reflects not only the present demand for uranium, but future demand is being addressed in the 450 nuclear power facilities that are either in the planning, permitting or construction phase globally Atomic Minerals Corp. last traded at $0.09 per share

Atomic Minerals (TSXV:ATOM) provided its outlook on uranium’s substantial price increase observed in the uranium market in recent months.

The spot price of U3O8 (uranium) has increased 227.6 per cent since March 2020, rising from US$21.51 to US$73.00 in October 2023.

The company’s leadership stated that it recognizes the positive implications of this upward trend, which reflects the escalating global demand for clean and sustainable energy sources.

“We are witnessing a significant strengthening of the uranium spot price, which signifies the increasing acknowledgment that nuclear power is the only solution to the looming worldwide power shortages,” Clive Massey, Atomic Minerals CEO and president stated in a news release. “At Atomic, we are strategically positioned to play a significant role in the global transition towards clean energy.”

The team believes that the recent increase in uranium’s spot price reflects not only the present demand for uranium, but future demand is being addressed in the 450 nuclear power facilities that are either in the planning, permitting or construction phase globally.

As the international community intensifies efforts to transition towards a low-carbon future, nuclear energy plays a crucial role in meeting the world’s growing energy needs while curbing greenhouse gas emissions. This renewed focus on nuclear power has stimulated a strong demand for uranium.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already seen sanctions imposed on its uranium that is expected to further constrain the already limited supply of uranium.

The company is advancing its Harts Point Uranium Project in San Juan County, southeast Utah, while both its 10 Mile and Dolores uranium projects are set to be permitted in early 2024.

Source: Atomic Minerals Corp.

Atomic Minerals Corp. is a uranium exploration company that seeks to identify exploration opportunities in regions that have been previously overlooked but are geologically similar to those with previous uranium discoveries.

Atomic Minerals Corp. last traded at $0.09 per share.

Join the discussion: Find out what everybody’s saying about this stock on the Atomic Minerals Corp. Bullboard, and check out the rest of Stockhouse’s stock forums and message boards.

The material provided in this article is for information only and should not be treated as investment advice. For full disclaimer information, please click here.

The post Uranium is booming, which is good news for this exploration company appeared first on The Market Herald Canada.

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What Revolut’s attempt to secure a UK banking licence could mean for its current customers and for the ‘unbanked’

More diversity in the banking sector can help with stability, but Revolut’s two-year wait for a UK banking licence indicates regulatory caution.



Revolut CEO Nik Storonsky: all he wanted for Christmas (2022) was a UK banking licence. Revolut

Last year, the CEO of financial technology (fintech) company Revolut added a UK banking license to his 2022 Christmas wish list, telling startup news outlet Sifted: “I would love to have it as a Christmas present. A present for me personally and for the business.”

But it’s nearly Christmas 2023 and Revolut still hasn’t secured the right to take deposits from the UK customers – the main benefit to the company of getting a UK license.

Revolut has been offering e-money services such as currency exchange and transfers (which do not require a UK banking licence) in the UK since 2015. It generated £196 million in revenue from this in 2021, or nearly one-third of its business – the rest mostly comes from banking activities in 18 EU countries.

Revolut, which says it has more than 30 million retail customers worldwide, now wants to join other “challenger banks” (those attempting to break the historical dominance of the “big four” UK banks: Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, NatWest) in becoming a fully licensed bank in the UK.

The main benefit of this would be that it could take deposits and handle more loan business instead of “outsourcing” these activities to a number of UK-licensed banks. It could also boost financial inclusion by providing people in the UK with more choice and access to products that help manage money – a key concern amid the current cost of living crisis.

Whether deposits are handled directly by Revolut or through a third-party provider is unlikely to make much difference to customers. But for Revolut, outsourcing means additional costs so this could provide the company with cheaper access to finance. So, in theory, Revolut could pass any savings on to its customers.

Getting a UK banking license involves an extensive application process but typically takes about a year. Once a bank gets one, it has to adhere to more stringent reporting and monitoring requirements.

During the nearly two years since Revolut first applied in January 2021, it has experienced IT system issues that have delayed its reporting of annual accounts. Requesting an extension is not an unusual process, but concerns were also raised by Revolut’s auditor BDO about its 2021 revenue reporting.

In March 2023, a Revolut spokesperson told Reuters the concerns were “remedied” in 2021. The company’s chief financial officer Mikko Salovaara said: “There is not any doubt over the completeness of the balance sheet, which, in turn, logically means that total revenue is also correct.”

More recently, Revolut has simplified its ownership structure – its use of different classes of shares was more common in EU countries – which could help unblock the UK banking license application process for the company.

Whether, after all of this, customers would actually benefit from lower operating costs will depend on various factors, including what the competition is charging and the need for Revolut to maintain its profitability.

Another possible (perceived) benefit for customers could be greater financial security. Deposits of up to £85,000 held with licensed banks are secured through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). However, the outsourcing model already offers the same protection to Revolut users if its third-party provider operates with its own UK banking license anyway.

Enhancing UK financial inclusion

More generally, fintech companies offer easier and often cheaper access to financial products than traditional banks, which means they boost financial inclusion according to research-based definitions.

World Bank research on financial inclusion suggests the UK scores almost perfectly in this area: 99.76% of respondents to World Bank surveys have personal current accounts and 95.46% with a debit card (although only 88.91% say they use their card).

How people bank in the UK:

Bar chart showing results of World Bank survey of UK banking customers.
Author provided using data from the World Bank Findex Database, 2021

But the limited sample size for the UK (the World Bank’s survey relies on 128,000 adults in 123 countries) makes it difficult to truly identify the small number of “unbanked” people in the UK and their struggles. The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) more comprehensive Financial Lives Survey puts the number of unbanked people in the UK at 1.1 million in 2022, down from 1.7 million in 2014 but largely unchanged since 2017.

The UK Treasury’s Financial Inclusion Report 2021-22 argues that the more basic bank accounts now offered by all banks have improved financial inclusion, but it also stresses the importance of fintechs in increasing choice and launching innovative products like mobile budgeting tools.

On the other hand, fintech’s reliance on mobile and internet banking arguably widens an existing digital divide. According to the World Bank, 92% of UK respondents had access to the internet and used mobile phones in 2021, leaving some without access to fintech products.

For those that can access them, fintech solutions could help reduce costs and provide tools to manage people’s stretched budgets. This could help mitigate the current cost of living crisis while also enhancing financial inclusion. Studies show better financial inclusion can reduce income inequality under certain conditions.

Woman sitting in a window using a laptop.
Tech companies can provide easier access to financial products. GaudiLab/Shutterstock

Becoming a challenger bank

Revolut has a convincing track record of obtaining banking licences in its short history. After its 2015 UK launch, Revolut obtained its first banking licence in Lithuania in 2018. It has operated as a bank in 18 EU countries since 2021. That same year, Revolut applied to become a deposit-taking institution in Australia. This is a good sign that its UK banking licence should be achievable.

However, the benefits for customers are less clear. Most customers already use e-money accounts together with traditional bank accounts. Looking at Metro Bank’s recent problems – investors were concerned that it could not meet regulatory requirements on its capital levels, although it has since secured additional financing and continues to serve customers as normal – it is not evident that one more challenger bank will benefit UK customers.

On the other hand, a more comprehensive range of different types of financial service providers tends to stabilise the financial system. In this sense, diversity could enhance financial stability. receives funding from the ESRC-NSFC (Newton Fund), FP7, FP6, and the Maava Foundation.

Aravinda Meera Guntupalli receives funding from ESRC, GCRF, World Cancer Research Fund, Canadian government and World Bank.

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How Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor became Halloween’s theme song

The famous composer certainly didn’t have haunted houses in mind when he wrote the piece.

In Bach's era, the pipe organ was one of the world's most technologically advanced instruments. Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis via Getty Images

Imagine a grand house on a hill, after dark on an autumn night. As the door opens, an organ pierces through the thick silence and echoes through the cavernous halls.

The tune that comes to many minds will be Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, an organ work composed in the early 18th century. Most people today recognize it as a sonic icon of a certain type of fear: haunting and archaic, the kind of thing likely to be manufactured by someone – a ghost, perhaps – wearing a tuxedo and lurking in an abandoned mansion.

The iconic intro to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Paul Fey/YouTube1.04 MB (download)

Bach could not have thought that his nearly 9-minute organ piece would become so strongly associated with haunted houses and sinister machinations. As a musicologist whose current research is focused on the musical representation of mystery, I see the story of this song as a classic example of how the meaning, use and purpose of music can change over time.

30 seconds of sheer suspense

Bach was a technically skilled musical craftsman and a scholar of composition. In his work, he sought to dutifully serve his employer, whether that was a Lutheran church, a royal court or a town council. He wasn’t like the famous composers of later eras – Mozart, Haydn, Liszt – who used their talents to build fame and increase their influence.

As Bach scholar Christoph Wolff has pointed out, Toccata and Fugue belongs to the repertory of virtuosic show pieces that Bach created to exhibit his own prowess as an organ player.

For Bach, who left no documents pertaining to this piece, the work would have been merely functional, a way to show the abilities of the organ and to put his talent to good use – not indicative of emotions, stories or other ideas.

The music of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue owes much of its spookiness to the drama it employs: Harmonically, it is set in a somber minor mode that is generally aligned with more negative emotions such as sadness, nostalgia, loss and despair.

Within this minor mode, a striking melodic contour is unleashed. The piece’s first pitch is the fifth scale degree instead of the first pitch of the scale. This means that from the first note there is some uncertainty: because of the unexpected note. Then there’s a quick descent down the D minor scale after the initial flickering ornament.

Add to this the silent background and the pregnant pauses between musical phrases, and the first 30 seconds are sheer suspense. A heavily contrasting texture – with lots of notes stacked up on each other – follows, introducing sonic clashes and rich harmony that swell with power.

The piece moves quickly after this arresting beginning, relentlessly following a pattern of solo figures interspersed with massive, pounding chords.

The organ’s haunting effect

The sounds of the pipe organ further enhance the piece’s spooky sound.

During the Baroque era – roughly 1600 to 1750 – the organ reached the height of its popularity. At the time, it was one of humankind’s most technologically advanced instruments, and musicians routinely performed organ music during church services and in concerts held at churches.

But as musicologist Edmond Johnson has explained, many instruments preferred in the Baroque era, such as the organ and the harpsichord, had become out of fashion by the 19th century, stashed in storage rooms where they gathered dust.

When music historians and ancient music revivalists first brought these instruments out for public performances after more than a century in storage, the now unfamiliar instruments sounded archaic and creaky to audiences.

Musicologist Carolyn Abbate has argued that music can be “sticky,” collecting new meanings as contexts change and time passes. You can see this in the way Schubert’s famous “Ave Maria” – originally written as accompaniment to the words of Walter Scott’s poem “Lady of the Lake” – became associated with Catholic devotional music. Or the way Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” morphed from an underappreciated neo-Romantic ballet in 19th-century Russia to a popular annual Christmas tradition in the U.S.

A song that stuck

So how did the piece become associated with Halloween?

One landmark film likely contributed to the impression that Bach’s Toccata and Fugue portends something nefarious: the 1931 release of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Rouben Mamoulian’s famous adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel uses Bach’s Toccata in the opening credits.

The opening credits to ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ (1931).

The piece sets a tone of suspense and suggests the depths of evil that Dr. Jekyll will encounter in his experiments. In the film, Dr. Jekyll is portrayed as an amateur organist who enjoys playing Bach’s music, so it is easy for a listener to apply the dramatic, suspenseful and complex nature of the Toccata to Dr. Jekyll and his alter ego.

Since then, the music has also been used in other spooky films and video games, including “The Black Cat” (1934) and the “Dark Castle” video game series.

Though Bach himself would not have thought of Toccata and Fugue in D minor as spooky, its origins as an innocuous concert piece won’t prevent it from sending a shiver down people’s spines every Halloween.

Megan Sarno does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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