Gilead's Coronavirus Drug Shows Positive Data

The National Institute of Health (NIH) reported exciting news from its trial on Gilead’s GILD drug remdesivir, which is being tested to treat COVID-19. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study (considered the “gold standard” among types of drug tests) came out roughly a month ahead of schedule to state remdesivir has met its primary endpoint in the study.

This is obviously remarkably good news for COVID-19 suffers, the general public in the throes of this pandemic, and of course Gilead itself. More details are expected to follow, but the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, a segment of the NIH) report likely refers to a first-generation anti-viral treatment. Dr Scott Gottlieb this morning on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” has likened this to Tamiflu in the treatment of influenza, and if this bears out, the FDA approval of such a drug might be accelerated quickly under our current pandemic conditions.

Another study of remdesivir, being performed by Gilead itself, tested severe patients in a non-placebo-controlled environment. Both 5-day and 10-day dosing regiments have performed similarly to the NIAID study, in that early treatment appears to improve patients’ conditions better than late-stage treatment. Gilead shares have been halted on this news; if remdesivir does indeed become the next Tamiflu, this could be a real game-changer for the stock.

The Boeing Company BA put out Q1 earnings results this morning, disappointing on both top and bottom lines: $1.70 per share missed the $2.04 expected and $3.16 per share from the year-ago quarter, while revenues of $16.9 billion came up short of estimates by 1.6% and well off the year-ago total of $22.92 billion. But as the bad news for the aviation giant gets digested, investors are bidding up Boeing shares 5.5% in the pre-market.

The company is expected to cut its overall payrolls by 10%, most likely occurring in its Commercial Airplane segment. CEO Dave Calhoun has said he expects another 3-5 years before the company is back to its previous highs. Shares are down 63% over the past year.

General Electric GE also posted Q1 earnings results, missing on the bottom line for the first time in the past 4 quarters, but only by a penny to $0.05 per share. Revenues of $20.52 billion narrowly missed the Zacks consensus, but is a far cry from the $27.29 billion reported a year ago. Shares had been down 39% year to date, and are selling off another 1.5% in today’s pre-market.

Finally, the first read on Q1 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hit the tape this morning, falling deeper than expected: -4.8% versus -3.9%. Obviously this is a big drop from the +2.1% reported in Q4 2019, but there is much more damage to come. Q1 results account for a small portion of the economic shutdown and “shelter in place” initiatives; expect Q2’s GDP headline to be expand by a factor of 4 or 5x.

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