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LabCorp CEO says recipients don’t need antibody test afterward

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LabCorp CEO Adam Schechter on Tuesday urged Americans to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and told CNBC that recipients are not being advised to be tested for Covid antibodies afterward.

“At the moment, there’s no recommendation to do that. We still have to understand a lot more about the vaccines, know what to measure, how to measure,” Schechter said on “Closing Bell.”

The body’s immune system produces antibodies in response to a foreign pathogen and uses them to help fight an infection. Throughout the pandemic, antibody tests have been used to determine whether someone was previously infected with the coronavirus.

Now, as Covid vaccines are being administered to millions of people, questions have been raised about the role antibody tests could play in determining whether a vaccine recipient is developing an immune response. In clinical trials, the vaccines from both Moderna and PfizerBioNTech were shown to be more than 94% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19.

In December, for example, Roche was granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a test that detects antibodies against the coronavirus’ spike protein. In a press release at the time, the Swiss diagnostics and pharmaceutical giant contended the test could be valuable after someone is vaccinated against Covid.

“Many current candidate vaccines aim to induce an antibody response against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein,” the company said. “Tests that quantify antibodies to the spike protein could be used to measure the level of that response and track that measurement over time.”

Schechter acknowledged there could be a role for post-vaccination antibody tests, but he said “there’s still a lot more we have to learn.”

“In the future, it may make sense to look at antibodies. It may make sense to look at T-cells,” which represent another element of the body’s immune response, he said. “At the moment, as many people should get vaccinated as quickly as possible, and there’s no recommendation to get an additional blood test afterwards,” he added.

Shares of LabCorp closed Tuesday’s trading session at roughly $220 apiece. The stock is up more than 120% since its pandemic-era low on March 19 of $98.


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American Eagle sees holiday-quarter sales dropping amid weak mall traffic

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A shopper wearing a protective mask walks past a sale sign at an American Eagle Outfitters Inc. clothing store at Westfield San Francisco Centre in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 18, 2020.

Michael Short | Bloomberg | Getty Images

American Eagle, ahead of a virtual meeting with investors, said Thursday it expects fourth-quarter revenue to decrease in the low-single digits, driven by a drop in brick-and-mortar sales due to weak mall traffic during the Covid pandemic.

That comes in lower than analysts’ estimates, which were for a 0.14% dip, according to data from Refinitiv.

The apparel retailer said it expects momentum to continue online, with digital sales at both of its brands growing double digits. Its lingerie brand for teens, Aerie, is forecast to grow fourth-quarter revenue in the high-20% range, the company said, while its namesake American Eagle brand is forecast to see sales drop in the low double-digit range.

American Eagle shares were falling around 2% in premarket trading. The stock is up about 54% over the past 12 months.

A number of mall-based retailers including Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters have reported weak 2020 holiday sales, as many Americans have been staying put at home, shopping from the sofa, and buying less apparel and footwear for their closets. Retailers like American Eagle, that rely on apparel sales, have tried to stock their shelves with more comfortable clothing, such as leggings and pajama sets, that consumers have been looking to wear more of during the pandemic.

Management said the retailer’s tailored selection of merchandise during the holidays helped it to sell more at full price.

“Compelling holiday product and marketing, combined with a disciplined approach to promotional activity drove very strong margin results,” Chief Executive Jay Schottenstein said in a statement. “I believe we are well-positioned as we head into 2021.”

The retailer is expected to report its fourth-quarter and fiscal 2020 results on March 3.

In a separate press release Thursday, American Eagle laid out longer-term financial targets, aiming to grow its Aerie business to $2 billion, while it works on improving profits at its namesake banner.

“Aerie has been posting among the best growth in retail, and therefore $2 billion seems a reasonable target to present,” BMO Capital Markets senior analyst Simeon Siegel said in an interview. “But it also seems fair investors may have been looking for more.”

The rapid growth of the Aerie brand, which sells everything from bras and underwear to swimsuits and sweatpants, is making it a much stronger competitor to L Brands‘ Victoria’s Secret business, he added.

Overall, American Eagle said it is targeting revenue of $5.5 billion, and operating income of $550 million, in fiscal 2023. In its latest reported fiscal year, it brought in revenue of $4.31 billion.

Read the press releases here.


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How to stay in control and avoid emotional investing decisions

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Yellow Dog Prod. | Image Bank | Getty Images

We witnessed the tale of two markets in 2020.

The market experienced a short, steep and frightening freefall. Yet it quickly turned, with stocks finishing the year near all-time highs.

This unique experience had a big impact on the psyche of investors and, consequently, how they managed their money. Some investors became too traumatized to put cash to work in the markets. Others reacted by aggressively day trading and made rash investment decisions.

Neither of these behaviors are beneficial for long-term financial success. Evaluating both reactions, and incorporating a proper process-oriented approach for managing your investments, is the best way to avoid similar missteps in 2021.

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As the market dropped, the economic situation looked bleak, with unemployment reaching numbers not seen since the Great Depression. I remember having conversations with investors as the market fell where I suggested putting some cash to work. Some of the responses I received broadly fell into the theme of “I don’t want to catch a falling knife,” “Let’s wait for things to settle down” or “Let me think it over and get back to you.”

All these reactions were essentially just a way for investors to procrastinate. I advised against that approach but they were, understandably, scarred by the freefall they had just experienced.

As time passed, that procrastination morphed into “investor inertia.” These folks became too comfortable sitting in cash, and they had no strategy to get back into the market. As a result, they missed out on the market rebound and lost buying power due to inflation. Both consequences could have a long-lasting impact on the ability for some of these investors to reach their financial goals.

The Federal Reserve, Treasury and Congress acted quickly to ease monetary policy and approve the CARES Act, and loans for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program helped prop up the economy.

This spurred the market to begin recovering and helped investors to regain some confidence.

Over time, however, this confidence turned to overconfidence, with millions deciding to try their hand at day trading.

The most popular stocks also had some of the best performance. Consequently, many investors continued to pile into their favorite names, ignoring basic investing principals such as proper diversification.

Adding to the investment excitement were spikes in value of some crypto currencies, a record number of initial public offerings and the rise in popularity of Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs). These factors, coupled with the market’s meteoric rise, fed into the euphoria that propelled some investors to throw caution to the wind. Many of these day traders were rewarded for their imprudence with eye-popping returns to close out the year.

It’s during times of exuberance that it’s especially important to remember that markets move in cycles. A winning period for a group of stocks may be followed by a period of underperformance. This can be clearly seen throughout market history. The S&P 500 is experiencing a decade of outsized returns. However, investors are quick to forget that the index was flat from 2000 to 2010.

The reverse is true of emerging market stocks. They had a lackluster average return of approximately 3% annually for the past 10 years, following the stellar 37% average annualized returns from the decade prior.

Sectors move in cycles, as well. Technology stocks are currently having a wonderful run. However, it took 15 years for the NASDAQ to regain its peak after falling 70% when the dotcom bubble burst. Years of underperformance are a characteristic of the market. They are not an anomaly. Investors must plan accordingly.

So, how do investors overcome these behaviors?

Build a process-oriented approach to investing

A remedy for overcoming investor psyche, and both of the above resulting behaviors, is the same. It requires putting together a process-oriented approach for your investing. This involves four key components.

First, establish an investment policy statement. An IPS allows investors to clearly define their financial goals and other guidelines for how they want their money managed. A properly established IPS serves as a guiding light during both bear and bull markets and prevents investors from losing sight of what they are trying to achieve with their wealth.

Embracing diversification is not as exciting as trading the hot stocks of the day. However, it minimizes the chance of a catastrophic loss, which may help keep investors on track to achieve their objectives. To use a baseball analogy, you don’t need to hit home runs to win the game. It’s far better to focus on consistently getting base hits and avoiding a strike out.

Periodic rebalancing is also key. Rebalancing is readjusting portfolio weightings as investments fluctuate in value. Setting up predetermined weighting thresholds for each investment or a regular schedule when rebalances should occur, instead of trying to determine an optimal time to buy or trim one’s holdings, allows this process to happen automatically without emotions getting involved.

Get acquainted with dollar-cost averaging. This is the process of automatically adding money to your portfolio on a regular basis. This removes the temptation to time the market and alleviates the concern of investing at the wrong time. Regardless of what is happening in the market, money will continue to be added at regular intervals, allowing one’s investments to continue to compound over the long-term.


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5 things to know before the stock market opens January 21, 2021

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