Are These Reopening Penny Stocks On Your April 2021 Watch List?
Penny stocks are some of the highest risk assets out there. But in 2020, they became some of the most popular. One of the biggest reasons had to do with the pandemic sell-off in February and March. The shock of a global shutdown triggered a huge flight out of stocks and into cash.
How do penny stocks come into play? Many of the leading names in different industries fell to levels below $5 per share. Stocks that were never thought of as “penny stocks” were, in fact, exactly that. The crazy part is many still have yet to recover. Travel, leisure, entertainment, and even energy were some of the hardest-hit last year.
Fast-forward to 2021, and vaccine distribution has brought about a new trend for “reopening stocks.” Many of these are in the same industries there were hit hard last year. The idea, however, is that if the economy begins reopening thanks to lower case numbers, “reopening stocks” could benefit greatly.
Are Reopening Stocks A “Buy” Right Now?
There’s been plenty of volatility to account for over the last few weeks. Most of the major indexes dropped hard to close out in the first quarter of 2021. In light of the latest jobs figures, however, optimism is helping to push certain stocks higher. Many of these, coincidentally, are your typical consumer-driven industries.
What’s more, in the jobs report last week, the numbers indicated something interesting. It’s probably something that anyone looking at this “reopening trade” could make a note of. While nonfarm payrolls rose by 916,000 in March, the gains were strongest in leisure and hospitality. In light of expanded vaccine adoption, it looks like these industries are starting to rehire or put people full-time.
Seasonality aside, travel, leisure, and hospitality are things most people were deprived of for the last year. In light of this new data, now could be the time to start looking at a few penny stocks that may benefit from the reopening trade.
- Express Inc. (NYSE: EXPR)
- Rave Restaurant Group Inc. (NASDAQ: RAVE)
- Harbor Custom Development Inc. (NASDAQ: HCDI)
- Sunlink Health (NYSE: SSY)
- 88 Energy Limited (OTC: EEENF)
Penny Stocks To Watch #1. Express Inc. (NYSE: EXPR)
Express Inc. has gotten swept up in several trends this year. Initially, EXPR was part of the list of “epicenter penny stocks” or “reopening stocks” to watch. Brick and mortar retail was hit last year. But the company focused on developing its online retail footprint to make it more of a brick-and-click model. This helped give the company a boost in its last quarter. On top of this, it provided such strong growth that Express has put together a separate plan to enhance its online offerings further.
It was also part of the “short-squeeze” or “Reddit penny stocks” trend last quarter. Heavily shorted stocks became the target of retail traders who congregated on social media outlets like Reddit, putting together trading ideas and ultimately rallying behind certain companies.
EXPR was one of these stocks, and it ended up running as high as $13.97 in January. Since coming back down, shares have held a strong support level around the 50-day moving average. This has been a technical level that EXPR stock hasn’t broken below in months.
With an uptick in physical retail stores reopening and fresh stimulus funds in people’s hands, many stocks within this industry have become targets. On April 5th, shares of EXPR stock jumped to highs of $4.20, marking a year-to-date move of more than 350%.
2. Rave Restaurant Group Inc. (NASDAQ: RAVE)
Leisure and hospitality jobs are on the rise. So it would make sense that related stocks are in focus. Rave Restaurant Group has climbed significantly since the start of the 4th quarter last year. The company operates, owns, and licenses pizza restaurant franchises under the Pie Five Pizza Co and Pizza Inn brands. In addition to the reopening trade sentiment helping boost certain stocks, Rave’s financial performance is something to take note of as well.
In its latest quarterly update, the company recorded a net income of $102,000. Compared to the net income of $14,000 thousand in the same period of the prior year, this significantly increased. In addition to that, income before taxes was $104,000 for the second quarter of fiscal 2021. This didn’t compare to $10,000 for the same period of the prior year.
Clint Fendley, Vice President of Finance of RAVE Restaurant Group, Inc. explained, “Our focus on cost controls yielded another quarter of profitability as the income before taxes for the six months ended December 27, 2020 was $182 thousand. RAVE’s cash balance of $6.3 million further bolsters our position as we deal with the lingering effects of the pandemic while working to revitalize both of our brands. Although we have experienced modest store closures, the closures have been less than we expected when the pandemic began and are a credit to the tenacity of our franchisees.”
In light of this growth trend, restaurant stocks like RAVE have come back into focus in April.
3. Harbor Custom Development Inc. (NASDAQ: HCDI)
Real estate has become another hot topic in the stock market. Low rates and a piping hot housing market have helped keep the momentum going. Harbor Custom Development has experienced a bit of a mixed year, nonetheless. Shares slid early but have since begun picking up steam.
The company itself is involved in all aspects of the land development cycle. This week Harbor announced entry into a purchase and sale agreement acquiring roughly 1.85 acres of land in Tacoma, Washington, for $2,000,000. The purchase is expected to close on or before May 22, 2021. The company plans to develop an 80 unit condominium site catering to first-time homebuyers in Tacoma. These units will be 1 and 2 bedrooms priced between $300,000 and $400,000.
“Tacoma represents an ideal location for Harbor Custom Homes (R) to increase our Western Washington footprint and address the significant need for affordable housing in Tacoma. As home prices continue to escalate due to record low inventory levels, first-time homebuyers are often priced out of the market.”Sterling Griffin, President and CEO of Harbor
This deal comes just a few days after Harbor announced the sale of 50 lots in Washington State to Lennar Northwest for $7 million. Given the momentum in the housing market and the surge in first-time homebuyers right now, HCDI could be one of the reopening penny stocks to watch.
4. Sunlink Health (NYSE: SSY)
Another “outside the box” reopening stock could be Sunlink Health. Given that people are beginning to do more things in person, healthcare could be an industry that sees more visits being schedule with actual people instead of over the phone or online.
Sunlink has several subsidiaries that own and operate healthcare properties and businesses in the U.S. Each of these is focused on connecting patient needs with healthcare teams. The company most recently announced a revised capital strategy for one of its operating units, Trace Regional Hospital. Its Trace Forward Capital Plan was implemented, totaling approximately $2 million. This will expand, upgrade, and improve its physical plant, patient care, ancillary services, and support areas.
Specifically, the plan includes an 8-bed expansion of its Pathways Care Program and a geriatric behavioral health service, among other things. It will also bring Pathways to 26 beds. This is all expected to get buttoned up by the end of June.
Given the timing of this and the likely anticipation of in-person visits increasing, SSY could be another one of the reopening penny stocks to watch this quarter.
5. 88 Energy Limited (OTC: EEENF)
Another area of interest has been energy. Whether it’s green energy or traditional oil and gas, energy stocks are on fire right now. 88 Energy operates roughly hundreds of thousands of acres targeting oil on the North Slope of Alaska.
Specifically, since entering into a binding agreement with Burgundy Xploration, the company has expanded its “Project Icewine” acreage to roughly 231,000 net acres at the end of last year. Fast-forward to the end of Q1, and 88 Energy highlighted several key developments that the market has focused on. The final condition related to the Umiat Oil Field acquisition was completed cement work that was previously associated with plugging and abandoning 2 historical wells. This Field is a historic oil discovery that was initially made in 1945.
Given the current state of the energy industry as a whole, oil and gas stocks are at the center of the reopening trade. While 88 may still be in the early stages, it’s worth mentioning that smaller oil and gas penny stocks have gained attention lately. For EEENF in particular, there is a very active focus on the company from social media users. So it’s also important to understand that the “hype factor” could also play a role with this penny stock, in particular.
Is It Time To Buy Reopening Penny Stocks?
Obviously, the world felt the pressure just as much as many of these penny stocks last year. In light of the high level of optimism thanks to vaccine distribution, the markets follow this “reopening trade” closely. But emotions could also play a bigger role right now in comparison to the actual fundamentals, including the time it will take to return to pre-pandemic operating levels.stimulus reopening pandemic nasdaq stocks real estate housing market penny stocks otc vaccine epicenter stimulus oil
Oregon Schools Eliminate Proficiency Requirements In Math & English For Students
Oregon Schools Eliminate Proficiency Requirements In Math & English For Students
Authored by Jonathan Turley,
Two years ago, we discussed how…
Two years ago, we discussed how Oregon schools solved declining scores by eliminating their requirements that graduates actually attain levels of proficiency in basic subjects like math and English.
In 2021, the changes were portrayed as just a temporary measure due to the pandemic.
However, the state just extended it five more years. It declared that such proficiency tests are unfair to students of color.
So, rather than give these students the level of education needed to excel in the modern workplace, schools will now process them out with degrees and call it social progress.
Public schools across the country continue to fail inner city children and appear to be be giving up on reversing this trend.
In Baltimore, a survey found that forty percent of schools did not have a single student proficient in math. Rather than reverse that trend, the schools are just waiving the tests and graduating the students.
What is so frustrating is reading about failing school systems waiving proficiency and claiming that it is better for minority students.
American education faces the perfect storm.
Despite record expenditures on public schools, we are still effectively abandoning students, particularly minority students, in teaching the basic subjects needed to succeed in life.
We will then graduate the students by removing testing barriers for graduation. Then some may go to colleges and universities that have eliminated standardized testing for admission. At every stage in their education, they have been pushed through by educators without objective proof that they are minimally educated. That certainly guarantees high graduation rates or improved diversity admissions. However, these students are still left at a sub-proficient state as they enter an increasingly competitive job market and economy. Any failures will come down the road when they will be asked to write, read, or add by someone who is looking for actual work product. They will then be outside of the educational system and any failures will not be attributed to public educators.
If we truly care for these students, we cannot rig the system to just kick them down the road toward failure. It is like declaring patients healthy by just looking at them and sending them on their way. We have the ability to measure proficiency and we have the moral obligation to face our own failures in helping these kids achieve it.
Oregon board members said proficiency is now unnecessary and harmed minority students since higher rates of students of color failed to reach these levels, The Oregonian reported. The question is how the board is defining what is necessary. If any of these students hope to escape cycles of poverty, they have to be able to do better than the status quo. These boards are condemning them to the same endless cycle.
These proficiency standards were developed by academics to establish what they viewed as the education needed to excel in our society. Now, the boards are simply downgraded to meet their own lack of academic performance. State Sen. Michael Dembrow told the Oregon Capital Chronicle insists “I think there’s an assumption here that teachers are just graduating students, who don’t have the necessary competencies and I don’t know what the justification is for that.”
The point is that these students do not need to meet some low level of competence in order to be able to aspire to more than menial or low-level positions.
The move in Oregon occurs at the same time as a national effort to eliminate standardized testing and scores on every level of our educational system. For example, the University of California system joined the “test-blind” movement and said it would end the use of the SAT and ACT in its admissions decisions. The move followed a decision of California voters not to lift the long ban on affirmative action in education under state law. Many have decried standardized testing as vehicles for white supremacy.
University of California President Janet Napolitano sought to eliminate standardized testing by assembling the Standardized Testing Task Force in 2019. Many people expected the task force to recommend the cessation of standardized testing. However, the Task Force surprised many (most notably Napolitano herself) by releasing a final report that concluded that standardized testing was not just reliable, but that “at UC, test scores are currently better predictors of first-year GPA than high school grade point average (HSGPA), and about as good at predicting first-year retention, [University] GPA, and graduation.” It even found that “test scores are predictive for all demographic groups and disciplines … In fact, test scores are better predictors of success for students who are Underrepresented Minority Students (URMs), who are first generation, or whose families are low-income.”
Despite those conclusions, Napolitano simply announced a cessation of the use of such scores in admissions.
I previously wrote how some teachers and administrators are rapidly killing public education.
Many of us have advocated for public education for decades. I sent my children to public schools, and I still hope we can turn this around without wholesale voucher systems. Yet teachers and boards are killing the institution of public education by treating children and parents more like captives than consumers.
As public schools continue to produce abysmal scores, particularly for minority students, board and union officials have called for lowering or suspending proficiency standards or declared meritocracy to be a form of “white supremacy.” Gifted and talented programs are being eliminated in the name of “equity.”
Once parents have a choice, these teachers lose a virtual monopoly over many families, and these districts could lose billions in states like Florida.
This is precisely why school systems like the Seattle public schools are facing budget shortfalls as families vote with their feet. These families want a return to the educational mission that once defined our schools.
The lowering of these standards reflect a lack of proficiency in public education. Rather than meet the standard previously set for success in society, Oregon will now codify pandemic measures to allow students to graduate with lower levels of math, English, and science knowledge. The people of Oregon are clearly not going to stop this trend and they are entitled to set school policy. Just don’t claim it is good for these students.
Revenge travel is coming to an end, says industry CEO — a recession will replace it
The CEO of Intercontinental Hotels Group says that the world has moved beyond revenge travel–even China.
'Last stage of pent-up demand'The Summer of '23 was also pretty strong, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which found that almost a third, or 32.8%, of all U.S. households took a vacation between May and August, up from 28.5% in August 2022 and a record high in data going back to 2015. However, it looks like the revenge travel upswing is coming to an end. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book said in September that consumer spending on tourism was stronger than expected, "surging during what most contacts considered the last stage of pent-up demand for leisure travel from the pandemic era." Elie Maalouf also thinks that the revenge travel dish has gone cold. The CEO of Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) - Get Free Report said in an interview with CNBC that he believes pent-up demand is over. "People started traveling really by the end of 2020 as restrictions started to lift,” he said. “So we’re really past revenge travel — even in China.” Intercontinental Hotel Group operates hotels under several brand names, including Regent, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, and Candlewood Suites. The company’s latest quarterly update showed travel demand remained strong during the close of the summer travel season. “We think we’re in a sustainable place,” Maalouf said. “Our bookings for groups and meetings going into 2024 and beyond are the strongest we’ve seen in a very long time.”
Average room rates increaseIHG’s third quarter trading update showed the company’s revenue per available room — or “revpar” — was up 10.5% compared to third quarter 2022, and nearly 13% higher compared with the third quarter of 2019, which was before the pandemic. This is despite a 3% drop in revpar, compared to 2019, in large cities in Greater China, which are more dependent on international travelers. Maalouf said that lack of “airlift,” or flight capacity, into China is below 50% of prepandemic levels, which is affecting travel recovery in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. “But if you look at the country as a whole, travel — which is mostly domestic in China — it’s recovered well above 2019,” he said, adding that more than 80% of IHG’s business in China is in mid-sized to smaller cities. Occupancy levels in the third quarter at IHG hotels was 72% — just 1% shy of pre-pandemic levels, according to the quarterly update. But average room rates have jumped well above 2019 levels — up nearly 6% in Greater China, 15% in the Americas, and 24% in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) and Asia. But rising rates are barely keeping up with inflation, said Maalouf. “Room rates have not really exceeded inflation in any of our markets,” he said. “I think people’s willingness to travel is exhibited by the fact they’re willing to pay.” Get investment guidance from trusted portfolio managers without the management fees. Sign up for Action Alerts PLUS now. fed federal reserve lockdown pandemic covid-19 recovery consumer spending africa europe china
How Novo Nordisk’s Rybelsus went from pandemic washout to blockbuster amid the GLP-1 boom
Novo Nordisk’s Rybelsus pill was long expected to be a hit out of the gate.
The Danish drugmaker cashed in a priority review voucher in early 2019 for…
Novo Nordisk’s Rybelsus pill was long expected to be a hit out of the gate.
The Danish drugmaker cashed in a priority review voucher in early 2019 for what would be the first oral GLP-1, primed by positive studies showing reduced blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. Analysts and company insiders anticipated blockbuster status for the oral version of semaglutide, with peak sales expected to hit up to $5 billion — and potentially follow the trajectory of its sibling injectable Ozempic, which reached $1.6 billion in sales in less than two years.
“We have another monumental event with the world’s first oral GLP-1,” commercial strategy chief Camilla Sylvest said in November 2019. “This is not just a compressed pill. This is a pill that has a clinical profile to compete and [that has] the oral administration to compete. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for us.”
But then health officials declared the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, and everything changed. Novo’s sales reps couldn’t do in-person meetings. No commercial advertising shoots were allowed. Patients scrapped going to the doctor for elective purposes. As Novo’s launch plans crumbled, so did the promise of Rybelsus.
Three and a half years later, amid a frenzy of all things GLP-1, Rybelsus has come back to life — albeit slowly, and with skepticism over its efficacy for weight loss compared to injectables.
There’s fresh enthusiasm for other oral GLP-1s in development, and Ozempic, approved for type 2 diabetes, is now a household name. That’s in part because people have been taking Ozempic — and more recently, Rybelsus — off-label for weight loss amid shortages of Wegovy, the injectable version of semaglutide approved for obesity. But there are also concerns about tolerability in a market that’s increasingly crowded.
The pandemic disruptor
Back in late 2019 and early 2020, everything was going as planned for Rybelsus. The FDA approved the pill in 3 mg, 7 mg and 14 mg doses. Novo had expanded its manufacturing facilities in North Carolina, and it was working on plans for a broad direct-to-consumer ad campaign, including mainstream TV commercials.
The company was so confident that it priced Rybelsus on par with Ozempic at about $770 per month, to the surprise of some analysts at the time. The commercial strategy was to market its GLP-1 drugs side-by-side, positioning Ozempic as the first and preferred injectable for type 2 diabetes and Rybelsus as the first and preferred oral medication, Sylvest and then-chief scientific officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said in an investor call, according to AlphaSense transcripts.
“With our two recent GLP-1 products, Ozempic and Rybelsus, we want to redefine type 2 diabetes treatment,” Novo wrote in its 2019 annual report. “We are at the forefront of innovation in the GLP-1 class and orally administered delivery devices and are pursuing several therapeutic opportunities with semaglutide.”
But then came Covid, and Novo had to switch gears from the splashy DTC ad campaign to animated work with an upbeat soundtrack that eventually debuted in the autumn of 2020. For the first six months of that year, Rybelsus brought in just $92 million.
By 2022, however, it rang up sales of $1.7 billion, more than twice its 2021 total, likely fueled by the demand for semaglutide sibling brand Wegovy, which was approved to treat obesity in mid-2021. Novo is reporting Q3 sales next week, with Rybelsus likely on track to top $2 billion in sales this year. Novo declined comment for this story, citing its quiet period ahead of its Q3 earnings release.
Off-label for weight loss
As Wegovy took off and supplies waned, clinicians used their off-label prescribing power to redirect desperate obesity and overweight patients to Ozempic.
Some physicians turned to Rybelsus. Tracking off-label prescribing is difficult, but data show that there were 157,500 Medicaid prescriptions for Rybelsus for weight loss in 2022. In the same year, Wegovy had 30,100 Medicaid prescriptions for weight loss, while Eli Lilly’s type 2 diabetes treatment Mounjaro had 30,700, according to a KFF analysis in August. Ozempic was the lead seller among Medicaid populations, at more than 978,000 prescriptions.
That said, Rybelsus does not seem to be as effective at weight loss as the other approved GLP-1s.
Diana Thiara, medical director of the University of California, San Francisco’s weight management program, calls the new GLP-1 meds in general “amazing,” citing an example of a patient taken off a lung transplant list after losing weight and improving lung function. But she also acknowledges the social trends driving low-dose oral uptake by “people so desperate to lose weight.”
“I have one patient who can’t even use our MyChart electronic health communications, but tells me about what Reddit says,” she said. “Reddit and TikTok people say stuff, but that’s not really what the evidence shows right now.”
Rybelsus’ current highest dose is equivalent to Ozempic’s lowest dose, though some experts say the lower doses can still help patients lose weight.
“The lower doses, based on my experience, are effective for weight loss,” said Kristin Baier, clinical director at Calibrate, a telehealth weight loss startup founded in 2020. “When used along with lifestyle changes, we have seen patients achieve up to 20% weight loss on the lower doses of oral semaglutide.”
The future of oral GLP-1 weight loss drugs
Novo is currently testing higher doses at 25 mg and 50 mg doses of Rybelsus in the Pioneer Plus (with type 2 patients) and Oasis (with people with overweight or obesity) trials against the 14 mg currently approved by the FDA. The results, published this spring and summer, show up to 15% bodyweight loss, which is on par with Ozempic and Wegovy.
Clinicians are also encouraged by differentiated competing oral candidates, like Pfizer’s danuglipron and Lilly’s orforglipron, both in Phase II trials. The candidates are non-peptide GLP-1s and can be taken with food. Rybelsus is directed to be taken on an empty stomach with small sips of water and a wait time of 30 minutes before other medications or food.
“With Novo Nordisk expected to file for the higher dose approval, I believe there’s going to be an uptake that hopefully would help with some of the manufacturing supply issues we see [with injectable semaglutides],” said Weight Watchers medical director Spencer Nadolsky. “It will be nice to have the larger dose option when it’s available.”
Yet, it’s not all upside on the weight loss front for Rybelsus.
“It’s equivalent to a pretty low dose of Ozempic. So in terms of weight loss, we don’t see much weight loss in terms of the average person at that dose of Rybelsus,” Thiara said.
She also has some concerns about the higher doses and gastrointestinal issues and tolerability.
“People just seem to have more side effects with oral Rybelsus than they do with the equivalent Ozempic dose,” Thiara said, adding that she does think it will be approved. “But head-to-head right now, with no supply chain issues and if 50 milligrams was on the market and I had a patient who was open to anything injectable or oral, I would probably skew towards injectable.”treatment testing fda medication pandemic covid-19
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