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Week Ahead – Earnings season a highlight

US It will be a busy week filled with the first look at Q4 GDP, corporate earnings, and US debt ceiling gridlock. There is a lot of risk on the table and…

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US

It will be a busy week filled with the first look at Q4 GDP, corporate earnings, and US debt ceiling gridlock. There is a lot of risk on the table and a key focal point for many will be the modest growth we will see alongside a plethora of data points that are signalling recession warnings. Traders will want to see if the contraction manufacturing and service PMI readings we saw in December show any improvement this month.  

Wall Street is also fixating on what will happen with debt ceiling talks. Special measures are being used and that should stave off default until June 5th, but flare-ups will most likely happen along the way.   

Earnings season shifts away from the banks and now focuses on broader parts of the economy.  Key earnings include results from Tesla, Chevron, the airlines, Lockheed Martin, Visa, American Express, 3m Abbott Labs, JNJ, GE, IBM, and Colgate-Palmolive.  

EU

The flash PMIs early in the week will be of keen interest as investors continue to assess how much trouble the economy is in. A relatively mild winter to date has boosted the bloc’s economic prospects as gas prices have fallen considerably. This isn’t expected to be reflected in the PMIs though, with the prospect of much higher interest rates and a tougher global economic environment continuing to weigh. It will be interesting to see if there is any improvement as a result of this and China’s growth prospects.

Regardless, markets expect the ECB to hike by another 150 basis points over the coming meetings and officials have been keen to ensure investors don’t become complacent on that. I expect more commentary along those lines next week.

UK 

While the PMIs would typically be the standout release next week, investors may have more of an eye on the PPI inflation data for signs of inflationary pressures subsiding. The CPI data in December declined for a second month but remains far too high, above 10%. We’ll need to see much greater signs of those pressures abating before the Bank of England can become more comfortable.

Russia

The only economic release of note is the PPI data. That aside, the focus will remain on the war in Ukraine. 

South Africa

The SARB is expected to raise interest rates by another 50 basis points on Thursday, taking the repo rate to 7.5%, although they could opt for only 25. Inflation has been heading in the right direction since peaking in the summer and could be back within the 3-6% target range before long. Investors will be looking for signs on whether the tightening cycle is now at or near an end. 

Turkey

The CBRT left the repo rate unchanged at 9% in January after opting to pause the easing cycle late last year. The quarterly inflation report may offer insight into whether rates will fall again and when but that aside, I’m not sure it will contain much of note given the logic adopted to justify cutting interest rates over the last couple of years.

Switzerland

Trade data is the only notable release next week. 

China

This Saturday is Chinese New Year’s Eve, followed by the Spring Festival. The New Year atmosphere which generally extends until at least the end of January may further stimulate domestic consumption and investment in China. The billions of trips made during the Chinese New Year could bring the second wave of Covid-19 to largely unaffected rural areas and smaller cities. Given that the general population will have a higher level of immunity, the economic impact of a second outbreak should be less in areas that have already withstood the main wave of evacuations.

India

No major data or central bank appearances are expected. 

Australia & New Zealand

China’s full reopening since the beginning of January this year and its renewed focus on ‘economic development’ will benefit economic growth in Australia and New Zealand. The largest potential upside from reopening itself sits within the services sector given China is the largest consumer of Australian tourism and education exports.  

Australia recently released its CPI for November at an annual rate of 7.3%, in line with expectations but higher than the previous value of 6.9%, indicating that Australia’s inflation level may still not have peaked. 

The RBA’s CPI for December will be released on Thursday, as well as its revised CPI average quarterly rate for the fourth quarter. New Zealand’s CPI for the fourth quarter will offer clues on whether sustainable disinflation is underway. 

Japan

The Bank of Japan monetary policy decision saw them defer any major decisions until at least Governor Kuroda’s last meeting in March, barring any surprises in the interim. Following that, the summary of opinions on Wednesday could be of interest, as will the December minutes, released Monday. Despite being outdated now, it will provide perspective on the decision to unexpectedly tweak its yield curve control band.  

Next week also focuses on the Japan PMI readings, leading index, and Tokyo’s CPI. 

Singapore

The release of the December inflation will be followed closely.  MAS sees core inflation averaging 3.5%–4.5% this year. 


Economic Calendar

Saturday, Jan. 21

Economic Events

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visits Senegal, Zambia, and South Africa

Sunday, Jan. 22

Economic Events

Germany Chancellor Scholz and French President Macron hold a joint news conference after a Franco-German cabinet meeting in Paris

Italian PM Meloni visits Algiers

Monday, Jan. 23

Economic Data/Events

US Conference Board leading index

Euro area consumer confidence

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is expected to travel to South Africa’s Pandor

ECB’s Panetta speaks in the European Parliament

ECB President Lagarde makes a speech at the Deutsche Boerse annual reception

Bank of Japan releases minutes of its December meeting

Tuesday, Jan. 24

Economic Data/Events

US flash PMIs; Richmond Fed Manufacturing

Australia Judo Bank PMI, business confidence

Chile PPI

European flash PMIs: Eurozone, Germany, UK, and France

Japan PMIs, department store sales

Mexico international reserves, bi-weekly CPI

New Zealand performance services index

Thailand trade

South Africa leading indicator

ECB’s Knot speaks at the Future of the Financial Sector conference in Frankfurt

German Foreign Minister Baerbock addresses the Council of Europe in Strasbourg

SNB’s Vice Chairman Schlegel speaks in Zurich

Earnings from Danaher, General Electric, Intuitive Surgical, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Raytheon Technologies, Texas Instruments, 3M, Union Pacific, and Verizon  

Wednesday, Jan. 25

Economic Data/Events

US MBA mortgage applications, Philadelphia Fed non-manufacturing activity

Australia CPI, leading index

Canada rate decision: Expected to raise rates by 25bps to 4.50%

Germany IFO business climate

Japan leading index

Mexico economic activity IGAE  

New Zealand CPI, credit card spending

Russia PPI, weekly CPI

Singapore CPI

Thailand rate decision: Expected to raise rates by 25bps to 1.50%

The Republican National Committee winter meeting is held

Nordic economic outlook published by Finland’s Nordea Bank

Germany’s Economy Ministry publishes its annual report with updated forecasts

BOJ announces the outright purchase amount of government securities

Earnings from Abbott Laboratories, ASML Holding, AT&T, Boeing, IBM, and Tesla

Thursday, Jan. 26

Economic Data/Events

US Q4 GDP, new home sales, initial jobless claims, goods trade balance, US durable goods, wholesale inventories, retail inventories

Canada CFIB business barometer

Japan PPI services, machine tool orders

Mexico unemployment rate

Russia gold, forex reserves

Singapore industrial production

South Africa rate decision: Expected to raise rates by 50bps to 7.50%

New Zealand releases financial statements for the five months to Nov. 30

BOJ releases summary of opinions from January meeting

Earnings from American Airlines, Blackstone, Comcast, Intel, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Mastercard, SAP, Southwest Airlines, and Visa

Friday, Jan. 27

Economic Data/Events

US personal income/spending, University of Michigan consumer sentiment, pending home sales

Australia PPI, export/import price index

Japan Tokyo CPI

Mexico trade balance

New Zealand business confidence

Singapore home prices

South Korea business survey

Thailand foreign reserves, forward contracts

Spain GDP

Earnings from American Express, Chevron, and HCA Healthcare

Sovereign Rating Updates

Denmark (Fitch)

Greece (Fitch)

Hungary (S&P)

Netherlands (Moody’s)

Portugal (DBRS)

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Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

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To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

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Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


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Another country is getting ready to launch a visa for digital nomads

Early reports are saying Japan will soon have a digital nomad visa for high-earning foreigners.

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Over the last decade, the explosion of remote work that came as a result of improved technology and the pandemic has allowed an increasing number of people to become digital nomads. 

When looked at more broadly as anyone not required to come into a fixed office but instead moves between different locations such as the home and the coffee shop, the latest estimate shows that there were more than 35 million such workers in the world by the end of 2023 while over half of those come from the United States.

Related: There is a new list of cities that are best for digital nomads

While remote work has also allowed many to move to cheaper places and travel around the world while still bringing in income, working outside of one's home country requires either dual citizenship or work authorization — the global shift toward remote work has pushed many countries to launch specific digital nomad visas to boost their economies and bring in new residents.

Japan is a very popular destination for U.S. tourists. 

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This popular vacation destination will soon have a nomad visa

Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Latvia and Malta are some of the countries currently offering specific visas for foreigners who want to live there while bringing in income from abroad.

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With the exception of a few, Asian countries generally have stricter immigration laws and were much slower to launch these types of visas that some of the countries with weaker economies had as far back as 2015. As first reported by the Japan Times, the country's Immigration Services Agency ended up making the leap toward a visa for those who can earn more than ¥10 million ($68,300 USD) with income from another country.

The Japanese government has not yet worked out the specifics of how long the visa will be valid for or how much it will cost — public comment on the proposal is being accepted throughout next week. 

That said, early reports say the visa will be shorter than the typical digital nomad option that allows foreigners to live in a country for several years. The visa will reportedly be valid for six months or slightly longer but still no more than a year — along with the ability to work, this allows some to stay beyond the 90-day tourist period typically afforded to those from countries with visa-free agreements.

'Not be given a residence card of residence certificate'

While one will be able to reapply for the visa after the time runs out, this can only be done by exiting the country and being away for six months before coming back again — becoming a permanent resident on the pathway to citizenship is an entirely different process with much more strict requirements.

"Those living in Japan with the digital nomad visa will not be given a residence card or a residence certificate, which provide access to certain government benefits," reports the news outlet. "The visa cannot be renewed and must be reapplied for, with this only possible six months after leaving the countr

The visa will reportedly start in March and also allow holders to bring their spouses and families with them. To start using the visa, holders will also need to purchase private health insurance from their home country while taxes on any money one earns will also need to be paid through one's home country.

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