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Chris Lau

Friday Stock Chatter for Nov 8, 2019

Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes won a courtroom skirmish this week in a months-long battle over access to government documents in the federal criminal fraud and conspiracy case against her. That federal agencies have not produced all the documents sought by the defense is “a major potential issue in the case,” Holmes lawyer Lance Wade told the court Monday. Well if it's a major potential issue then it should be fixed.

The New York attorney general's office today dropped part of its securities fraud case against Exxon Mobil that accuses the oil giant of misleading investors about how potential climate change regulations could affect its future business. Lawyers for the state withdrew two fraud counts at the end of the nearly three-week trial, but the AG's office proceeded with two counts that require the elements of the Martin Act, a New York state anti-fraud law with a lower bar of proof. Lower bar of proof sounds about right for this case, IMO.

Another wave of Sears store closures is on the horizon as billionaire owner Eddie Lampert struggles to return the big-box retailer to its former glory days. 96 more stores will closed by February. Following the closures, there will be just 182 Sears/Kmart stores in operation, down from 425 locations as of February, when Lampert rescued Sears from bankruptcy proceedings in a $5.2B deal. Glory days indeed.

The DOJ has issued civil subpoenas to Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen that reached a tailpipe emissions deal this summer with the state of California. At issue are details of how the agreement was reached and if the automakers engaged in improper conduct. Politics and investing again. Maybe subpoena California too? Why not?

CEO Elon Musk went into a bit more detail about the timelines and vehicle requirements to not only reach Mars, but to set up a sustainable base on the Red Planet that can serve as an actual city, supporting a local population. SpaceX will need to build and fly around 1,000 Starships according to his estimates, which will need to transport cargo, infrastructure and crew to Mars over the course of around 20 years, since planetary alignment only really allows for a realistically achievable Mars flight once every two years. Alrighty then! There it is! Mars news that I have been waiting for. Yikes.

Walt Disney is up 3.8% postmarket after easily clearing the Street's profit bar in fiscal Q4 earnings, paced by strong gains in its TV networks and film studio juiced by its Fox acquisitions. So much for the analysts who got this one wrong. Back to work they go with no repercussions. Throw things at the wall and see what sticks. You might be right. If you are wrong, it is simply back to work. Nice business.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent an invitation to Greenlight Capital to tour the company's production facilities in a sarcastic letter he posted on Twitter. Musk pokes fun at Greenlight's track record and short position on Tesla in the missive. He also maintains shorts in general are recoiling from the public discourse due to the recognition of Tesla's contributions to science, safety and a sustainable environment.

Wow. What a class act. Tough to comment further as Mr. Musk does a wonderful job showing his true colors yet again.

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