Top US stocks to watch: United Airlines, Boeing and Biogen

Reports suggest United Airlines is preparing to order hundreds of new aircraft, Boeing’s 777X is hit by further delays, Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug remains under the spotlight, NN Group eyes some of MetLife’s assets, and Didi and SentinelOne provide updates on their IPO plans.

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United Airlines

United Airlines is close to signing orders for up to 270 new aircraft which, at list prices, could be worth more than $33 billion, according to reports from Reuters.

Citing unnamed industry sources, reports suggest it could order up to 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and 70 Airbus A321neo planes. Although an order of that size would be huge at list prices, airlines usually get considerable discounts when making such large orders.

The order, if it comes to fruition, would be the largest to be made since the pandemic erupted and a sign of confidence that airlines are getting ready for travel to rebound. It would be considerably bigger than the 100 planes recently ordered by Southwest Airlines. It could also provide support to MAX planes that have suffered from reputational damage following several major issues.

Boeing

While a large order for Boeing would be welcomed by investors, a potential headwind for shares today is news that regulators have told the company its planned 777X plane will not be certified until 2023 at the earliest.

The regulator sent a letter to Boeing in May seen by Reuters that cited a number of issues for rejecting its application to secure the next step in the certification process, stating ‘the aircraft if not yet ready’. The 777X is a widebody het that has been in development since 2013 and was originally planned to be released in 2020 before being hit by delays. The regulator warned that it is ‘realistically going to be mid to late 2023’ by the time it is ready or certification.

The news causes further concern over increased scrutiny over new Boeing planes following several issues in recent years, including fatal crashes, and its ability to convince officials about the safety of its aircraft.

Biogen

The US House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Friday announced it would investigate the approval of Biogen’s controversial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm as well as its pricing only weeks after it was given landmark approval.

‘We have serious concerns about the steep price of Biogen's new Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm and the process that led to its approval despite questions about the drug's clinical benefit,’ said the committee in a statement.

Aduhelm became the first new drug to be approved to treat Alzheimer’s in 18 years when the Food & Drug Administration gave it the green light earlier this month, despite a debate over its effectiveness.

MetLife

Dutch insurer NN Group said it has made an offer to acquire part of MetLife’s businesses in Europe.

The company did not release any information on what assets it is interested in acquiring and said a further announcement would be made ‘if and when appropriate’.

‘In line with our strategy, this is considered an opportunity to consolidate our leading positions in attractive growth markets in which NN is already active,’ the company said in a short statement.

Tesla

Tesla is set to update nearly 300,000 vehicles in China with new software to improve the assisted driving function, according to Chinese regulators.

The models impacted are Model 3 and Model Y cars made in China and those imported into the country from the US. Importantly, owners will not have to return their cars for the update to be done.

The primary aim of the update is thought to be preventing drivers from accidentally initiating assisted driving mode by accident, which can cause a sudden acceleration.

Qualcomm

Qualcomm said it is working with over 30 companies on a faster version of 5G, stating those that embrace it ‘will find themselves with a competitive advantage’.

A variety of firms from AT&T and China Unicom to Deutsche Telekom and Samsung have announced their collective support form 5GmmWave and are working with Qualcomm to drive the availability on networks and devices.

The company also unveiled its new Snapdragon 888 Plus 5G mobile platform as an upgrade to its flagship Snapdragon 888 chip used to power a number of Android devices. It also released a new platform to help speed up transfers between 5G small cells.

IBM

IBM said it is offering new automation software to communication service providers like Verizon and Telefonica to help them provide 5G services.

No financial terms were released but IBM is helping telecoms companies shift their 5G services to cloud environments so they can be deployed cheaper and quicker. IBM said the software is designed to ‘scale new services in days, rather than months’. It is part of the software it acquired when it bought Red Hat.

SentinelOne

SentinelOne, the cybersecurity firm that outlined IPO plans last week, has hiked its price range and is now targeting a larger valuation.

The company said it is now looking to sell 32 million shares at $31 to $32 per share. The top end of that range would raise over $1 billion for the business and give it a valuation of over $8.1 billion. The original price range was between $26 and $29.

The company was founded in 2013 and offers software to help protect phones and laptops from cybersecurity threats.

Didi

Didi, the Chinese ride-sharing giant planning to launch one of the biggest new listings in the US this year, will close its investor order books for its initial public offering on Monday, one day earlier than planned, according to reports from Reuters.

Didi is expected to raise up to $4 billion in the IPO at a price of $13 to $14 by issuing up to 288 million American Depositary Shares. It could issue up to another 43.2 million shares to raise an additional $605 million if an overallotment option is used.

That price range would give it a valuation of between $62.4 billion to $67.2 billion.

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