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Merck KGaA sees FY adjusted profit gains of up to 9% on lab demand

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the Merck & Co. headquarters in Kenilworth, New Jersey, U.S., November 13, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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By Ludwig Burger

(Reuters) – Germany’s Merck KGaA said it expects earnings growth of up to 9% this year, mainly driven by drugmakers’ demand for its laboratory gear business, but flagged risks related to lockdown measures in China.

In a statement on Thursday, the diversified group predicted growth of 5% to 9%, excluding the effect of currency swings and any acquisitions, for adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), with the Life Science division as a key growth driver.

It said the forecast was based on expectations that energy and raw material prices remain high and that the COVID-19 lockdown in China remains locally restricted will be relaxed soon.

“The current forecast is subject to increased uncertainty and volatility,” the company added.

In response, it would keep higher stocks for critical raw materials, switch to e-commerce for its lab equipment in lockdown-affected areas and try to shift production to other factories, where necessary, Merck said in presentation slides.First-quarter adjusted EBITDA rose 7.8% to 1.63 billion euros ($1.71 billion), in line with analyst expectations, also driven by demand for chemicals for semiconductor makers as well as for cancer drug Bavencio and multiple sclerosis treatment Mavenclad.

($1 = 0.9508 euros)

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U.S. CDC recommends re-isolation if COVID recurs after taking Pfizer’s pill

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pfizer’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pill Paxlovid is packaged in Ascoli, Italy, in this undated image obtained by Reuters on November 16, 2021. Pfizer/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Patients who experience recurrence of COVID-19 symptoms after completing treatment with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)’s drug Paxlovid should isolate again for five days, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an advisory issued on Tuesday.

Dozens of individuals have reported rebounding COVID symptoms on social media or to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after taking Paxlovid, but Pfizer suggests the experience is rare. A recent rise in COVID cases has driven up use of therapeutics in the country.

The CDC in its advisory that case reports suggest that recurrence results in mild symptoms, and there have been no reports of severe disease so far. The agency still continues to recommend the oral antiviral drug as a treatment, despite the possibility of recurrences.

A brief return of symptoms may be part of the natural history of SARS-CoV-2 infection in some persons, regardless of treatment with Paxlovid, the agency said.

CDC recommends that patients with COVID rebound can end their re-isolation period after five full days if there is no fever for 24 hours and symptoms improve, but such patients should wear a mask for a total of 10 days after rebound symptoms begin.

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European shares fall as business growth data deepens slowdown worries

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© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, May 23, 2022. REUTERS/Staff

By Susan Mathew

(Reuters) -European shares ended lower on Tuesday, tracking declines in global stock markets with business expansion data for May renewing investor concerns over slowing economic growth and monetary policy tightening.

The pan-European STOXX 60 index closed 1.1% down, giving back almost all of Monday’s gains.

PMI data showed euro zone business growth slowed this month and a shortage of raw materials held back expansion in manufacturing, adding to worries over global growth.

Europe’s largest economy, Germany, meanwhile, remains on the growth path helped by a sustained rebound in services, although demand outlook looks bleak amid inflation and supply issues. German shares gave up 1.8%.

“The clouds are packing above the eurozone economy,” said Bert Colijn, senior economist, Eurozone at ING. “And the question is really how long the service sector can continue to profit from consumers… when we also see that purchasing power is under extreme pressure due to high inflation.”

“Inflationary pressures are barely abating and… this is a warning that it is likely to remain quite hawkish for the European Central Bank,” he said, signalling a period of sustained pressure for stocks.

All major sectors posted broad declines, with luxury stocks and retailers in the lead, which take a hit when disposable income is squeezed.

The French index, packed with luxury stocks, slumped 1.7%, the top decliner among regional peers.

Tech stocks on Europe fell 2.7% along with Wall Street after Snapchat-owner Snap Inc (NYSE:SNAP)’s profit warning hurt other major social media stocks. Frankfurt-listed shares of Snap plunged 44.6%.

“Snap seems to have taken the blame for the market’s inability to hold its limited gains, but in reality, investors are still taking every chance they can to cut back on stocks, particularly those previous market darlings in the tech sector,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading platform IG.

The STOXX 600 is now down more than 12% from this year’s highs hit in early January.

Worries about monetary policy tightening to control surging inflation, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and COVID-19 curbs in China restricting demand in the world’s second-largest economy have all weighed on markets.

Tele2 plunged 7.9% after investment company Kinnevik sold a 7.2% stake in the telecoms operator.

Barclays (LON:BARC) rose 3.2% on starting a suspended 1-billion-pound share buyback programme.

Shares of UK power generating companies Drax, Centrica (OTC:CPYYY) and SSE (LON:SSE) plunged between 7.5% and 14% after the Financial Times reported that the British government could extend the windfall tax to power generators.

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Nio to Invest $32.8M Building R&D Labs in Shanghai

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© Reuters Nio (NIO) to Invest $32.8M Building R&D Labs in Shanghai

By Michael Elkins

A recent report by CnEVPost shows that the electric vehicle company, Nio (NYSE:NIO) is planning to invest $32.8 million to build lithium-ion battery labs and a cell pilot production line in Shanghai.

Citing an environmental assessment report, CnEVPost says that the electric vehicle company will build 31 R&D labs engaged in lithium-ion cell and battery pack research and development as part of a new R&D project in Anting town, Jiading district. Along with the labs, Nio is planning to build a lithium-ion cell pilot line and a battery pack production line.

The report suggests that the “R&D labs will explore the charge and discharge performance, temperature performance, and safety performance of lithium-ion cells and packs under different physical experimental conditions such as temperature, tension, humidity.” While the production and battery pack line conducts trial production of lithium-ion cells and battery packs.

“NIO continues to grow in revenue but its expenses continue to pile on. The company’s expansion plans will likely also impact profitability in the future, ” suggests, Sandeep Rao, a Seeking Alpha analyst on the stock.

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