Benzinga Before The Bell: Baidu Beats Tesla, Finland Sells $47.5M Bitcoins, Tesla's Bitcoin Sale And Other Top Financial Stories Thursday, July 21


Microsoft, Lyft’s Actions Highlights Concerns Over Lingering Economic Uncertainty: Report

  • Microsoft Corp MSFT joined its counterparts in hiring relaxation amid current macro uncertainty.
  • Microsoft acknowledged continued headcount growth in the year ahead with additional focus on the direction of the resources.
  • Microsoft’s LinkedIn, the Xbox gaming unit, and advertising are vulnerable to the slowdown.


As Exiting Russia Becomes Complicated, Foreign Banks Like Citi Look To Hire People: Report

  • Russian arms of western banks, including Citigroup Inc C and Raiffeisen Bank International AG RAIFF are looking for staff as exiting the country becomes complicated.
  • But escalating sanctions have restricted their options, industry sources said.
  • Last week, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev said Russia would block the sale of foreign banks’ Russian businesses while Russian banks abroad could not function normally.

Wall Street Journal

BlackRock Acquires Vanguard Renewables For $700M

  • BlackRock Inc. BLK has agreed to acquire Vanguard Renewables, a Boston-area company that works with dairy farmers and food companies to produce renewable natural gas for utilities and energy firms, reported Wall Street Journal.
  • The transaction is valued at $700 million, and BlackRock could spend over $1 billion more in financing Vanguard Renewables’ expansion, WSJ stated, citing a source familiar with the matter.


DiDi Fined $1.2B In China: Is The Company Finally Out Of Rough Waters?

  • China has fined ride-hailing app DiDi Global Inc – ADR DIDIY $1.2 billion for violating its data security law, cyber security law, and personal information protection law. The decision has brought to a conclusion a year-long investigation into the firm.
  • Regulators have also fined Didi’s Chairman Cheng Wei and President Jean Liu RMB 1 million each, according to a statement by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), Bloomberg reports.

Which US Big Tech Was Highest Lobbying Spender Against Antitrust In Q2 - Answer Is Not Shocking

  • Inc AMZN spent a record $4.98 million, up 2.5% year-on-year, on lobbying during the second quarter of 2022, fueled by a possible ruling to crack down on tech giants.
  • The legislation sought to prohibit the leading tech companies from abusing their dominant platforms against competitors.
  • Another bill looked to force Apple Inc AAPL and Alphabet Inc GOOG GOOGL Google to open up their platforms to third-party app stores and apps.

Finland Sells Off Seized Bitcoin Stockpile Amid Crypto Crisis: Bloomberg

  • Finland has sold its hoard of confiscated Bitcoins BTC/USD, collecting less money than expected, just as the cryptocurrency market is slowing down.
  • The Customs reported in an emailed statement that it sold 1,889.1 Bitcoins over the course of the summer through two brokers, raising €46.5 million ($47.5 million).
  • The coins had been seized in drug busts and had been legally forfeited. The stake was valued at almost $130 million at the height of the crypto boom last year, but Finland made no attempt to time the market with its sale.

Ford To Slash 8,000 Jobs To Boost EV Investment

  • Ford Motor Co F is planning to slash as many as 8,000 jobs to boost investment into electric vehicle manufacturing, Bloomberg reported.
  • The job loss is likely to happen in Ford’s recently formed Ford Blue unit, which is in charge of internal combustion engine vehicle production and other operations.
  • In March, the company created electric vehicle and internal combustion businesses, Model e and Ford Blue, respectively, to compete and win against both new EV competitors and established automakers.


Nokia Registers 11% Revenue Growth In Q2; Shares Pop

  • Nokia Corp NOK reported a second-quarter FY22 net sales growth of 11% year-on-year (3% in constant currency) to €5.87 billion.
  • Network Infrastructure sales grew 12% Y/Y in CC with growth across all four businesses.
  • Cloud and Network Services posted flat Y/Y growth in CC, while Nokia Tech declined 25% Y/Y, affected by expired licenses.

Warren Buffett–Backed Chinese Automaker To Begin Selling 3 EV Models In Japan In 2023

  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B)-backed Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD Co. Ltd BYDDY BYDDF is eyeing Japan’s passenger car market to expand its global footprint.
  • BYD will start selling its electric cars in Japan next year, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
  • The Shenzhen-based automaker held a conference in Tokyo and unveiled its plans to launch a mid-sized all-electric SUV, ATTO 3, in January 2023

Roche’s Long-Time CEO Passes Baton, Higher Diagnostics, Medicine Sales Lift 1H Sales & Profit

  • Roche Holdings AG’s RHHBY 1H FY22 sales reached CHF 32.3 billion, +5% Y/Y on higher sales of diagnostic tests and pharmaceuticals.
  • Core operating profit increased 9% to CHF 12.7 billion, and EPS up 11% to CHF 11.76.
  • Roche CEO Severin Schwan will be moving to the board chairman role, making way for Thomas Schinecker, the current CEO of the diagnostics division.

Baidu Beats Elon Musk’s Tesla: New Self-Driving Taxi In China Has Detachable Steering

  • Chinese search engine Baidu Inc BIDU has unveiled an autonomous vehicle (AV) with a detachable steering wheel that can be removed or installed when required.
  • Baidu said it plans to use its fully electric vehicle, the Apollo RT6, in China next year for its robotaxi services.
  • The Apollo RT6 will come at a much lower cost of $37,000 per unit compared to $71,020 for the previous generation, Baidu said in a statement.

GM, Ford Seek US Permit To Deploy Limited Autonomous Vehicles

  • General Motors Co GM and Ford Motor Co F sought exemptions to deploy a limited number of autonomous vehicles without human controls like steering wheels and brake pedals.
  • Both automakers look to deploy up to 2,500 vehicles a year, the maximum allowed under the law, for ride-sharing and delivery services.
  • GM aims to deploy the Origin, a vehicle with subway-like doors and no steering wheels.
  • Ford sought to deploy a self-driving ride-hailing and package delivery vehicle by this decade.

Toyota Plans To Develop Light-Duty Fuel Cell Electric Trucks

  • Toyota Motor Corp TM said it would work along with Isuzu, Hino Motors, and Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corporation to develop light-duty fuel cell electric trucks in Japan.
  • The four companies will mobilize their combined knowledge - the truck technology of Isuzu and Hino along with Toyota’s FC technology, to meet the performance and conditions required for light-duty trucks.

Crypto Exchange KuCoin Raises $10M From Prominent Quant Trading Firm SIG

  • Crypto exchange KuCoin has received a $10 million investment from Susquehanna International Group (SIG) to promote the development of new blockchain technologies.
  • KuCoin said it had secured the strategic investment with the goal of helping build web3 ecosystems and creating 300 more jobs for talented people who had been laid off, in a Thursday press release seen by Benzinga.
  • With Bitcoin BTC/USD and Ethereum ETH/USD-led crypto market suffering a 70% decline year-to-date, many major crypto companies, including Coinbase Global Inc COIN and Gemini, cut 10% of their workforce.

Tesla Hasn’t Sold Any Dogecoin, But Elon Musk Says Bitcoin Sale ‘Shouldn’t Be Taken As A Verdict’

  • Tesla Inc TSLA reported its second-quarter earnings after the closing bell on Wednesday, beating analysts’ top and bottom line estimates.
  • What’s more, Tesla sold a staggering 75% of its Bitcoin BTC/USD holdings, adding $936 million in cash to its balance sheet.
  • Musk’s Crypto Moves: It is not that CEO Elon Musk is any less bullish on cryptocurrency — he hasn’t sold any of Tesla’s Dogecoin DOGE/USD holdings. Instead, he sold Tesla’s Bitcoin as a hedge against the macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty global markets are facing.
  • “The reason we sold a bunch of our Bitcoin holdings was that we were uncertain as to when the COVID lockdowns in China would alleviate,” the billionaire CEO said. “So, it was important for us to maximize our cash position given the uncertainty of the lockdowns.”

Microsoft-Owned Mojang Bans NFTs And Blockchain Integrations On Minecraft

  • Microsoft Corporation MSFT owned Mojang Studios strongly opposed NFTs and blockchain integrations on its sandbox videogame Minecraft.
  • In a blog post on Wednesday, Mojang said “integrations of NFTs with Minecraft are generally not something we will support or allow.”
  • Mojang reasoned that the “speculative pricing and investment mentality” behind these digital assets would take the focus away from the game, in addition to encouraging profiteering.

Snap Analyst Cuts Price Target Just Ahead Of Q2 Earnings, Says Watch For These 4 Factors Today

  • Snapchat parent Snap, Inc. SNAP is scheduled to release its second-quarter results Thursday after the markets close. An analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets has reduced the price target for shares just ahead of the quarterly earnings report.
  • The Snap Analyst: Justin Patterson maintained an Overweight rating on Snap shares and reduced the price target from $27 to $25.
  • The Snap Thesis: The ad market is characterized by pockets of stability and softness, with softness seen around the brand, display and less-scales social companies, analyst Patterson said, citing his channel checks.

In 1969, A Man Walked On The Moon; In 2023, SpaceX Toys Will Land In Stores

  • It seems Elon Musk wants to help children realize their inner space explorers.
  • Mattel Inc MAT announced on Wednesday a multi-year agreement with Musk’s space exploration company, SpaceX, to create and market products, toys and collectibles that inspire children and space geeks alike.
  • The announcement comes on the 53rd anniversary of the first person to step foot on the moon, July 20, 1969.

Tesla Posting Record-Breaking H2 Deliveries ‘Somewhat’ Out Of Elon Musk’s Control: Munster Shares Insights From Q2 Call

  • Tesla, Inc. TSLA reported mixed quarterly results on Wednesday, and the stock reacted with a move to the upside in after-hours trading.
  • Noted Tesla analyst and Loup Fund co-founder Gene Munster sifted through the information gleaned out of the company’s earnings call.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk mentioned on the call that the company would have record-breaking second-half deliveries. This is something that is “somewhat out of his control,” Munster said.

Biogen Reveals $900M Settlement In Whistleblower’s MS Drug Kickbacks Lawsuit Days Before Trial

  • Biogen, Inc. BIIB disclosed in its second-quarter earnings report that it recorded $900 million related to a settlement agreement to resolve previously disclosed “qui tam” litigation related to its conduct before 2015.
  • Qui tam is a type of whistleblower lawsuit that falls under the False Claims Act, and it rewards whistleblowers in successful cases where the government is able to recover funds lost to fraud.
  • The Context: The lawsuit was filed by a former employee, Michael Bawduniak, in a Boston federal court in 2012. It accused the biopharma of doling out millions of dollars in kickbacks under the guise of consulting deals, speaker programs, lavish dinners, and entertainment.

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