Market Morning: Iran Protests, Boeing Embarrasses Self, Australia Evacuates, GrubHub Rollup


Iran Admits to Shooting Down Ukrainian Plane, UK Rep Detained In Tehran As Protests Worsen

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Persia is coming apart at the seams. In a surprising turn of events, Iran has admitted accidentally shooting down the Ukrainian Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737-800 last week leading to the death of 167 civilians, 82 Iranians among them. In addition to over 60 people being crushed to death in a stampede at General Qassem Suleimani’s funeral, the response to the American assassination of the general doesn’t seem to be going too well for the Iranian government so far. According to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he had advised all civilian aircraft be grounded while Iran responded military to the Soleimani assassination, but his military commanders refused to do so. Which raises the question, How does that jive with him being Supreme Leader, exactly?

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Meanwhile, to make matters even more tense, protests against the Ayatollah have erupted in Tehran, with people chanting, “Death to Khamenei” in the streets, in anger over the downing of the airplane.

To make matters even worse for Tehran, The Guardian reports that Tehran has detained the United Kingdom Ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, for allegedly inciting protests. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has responded to this move by warning Iran that it risks “pariah status” for what he calls a “flagrant violation of international law”.

“The Iranian government is at a crossroads moment. It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to de-escalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards,” Raab’s statement read. Macaire was attending a vigil for the victims of the plane crash at the time of his arrest.

No word yet on whether Boeing is willing or able to sue Iran for the accidental downing of its airplane.

Bad News Boeing Continues

Speaking of Boeing, the bad news for Boeing keeps piling on. The company has released internal messages that were clearly not intended to be released to the public when they were first written. Why these messages are being released may be a sort of “full disclosure” strategy for Boeing. Either that or the company was otherwise compelled. Among the most inflammatory statements released is one that criticizes the 737 MAX series as being ““designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.” Another shows an exchange between two Boeing employees, one asking whether the other would put his family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft. Both agree they would not. In a heavily diplomatic undertone, the Federal Aviation Administration said that that “the tone and content of some of the language contained in the documents is disappointing”. For Boeing’s part, it said that the messages are “unacceptable”. In the future, such messages will probably only be exchanged via private networks rather than company servers.

Near A Quarter Million Told To Evacuate From Fires In Australia

Australia isn’t doing too well either, unfortunately. Reuters reports that about 240,000 people in Victoria have been told to leave their homes by emergency text. Others in New South Wales and South Australia were also urged to consider leaving, though there are no numbers on these other provinces yet. So far, 10.3 million hectares have been burned, for a total area about the size of South Korea. Amazingly, people are actually protesting specifically now, creating a distraction while forces are trying to get the fires under control. The protests are apparently in response to Australia’s climate change policies, which protesters say aren’t strict enough. Whether the fires may have another cause, such as smaller fires in past years that would have cleared some of the fuel being put out too early or prevented entirely, is not really being considered. Overall, 158 fires are blazing across the continent, 39 still uncontained.

Australian stocks (NYSEARCA:EWA) have remained remarkably steady throughout the ongoing tragedy.

Grubhub to be Acquired? Maybe

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Kroger (NYSE:KR), are reportedly both interested in acquiring GrubHub  (NYSE:GRUB), the food delivery service. According to former Amazon exec Brittain Ladd, “I have spoken with executives from each company (especially Walmart) and there is interest in acquiring Grubhub.” Stating the obvious, he continued, “I believe the value of Grubhub to Walmart is that they could leverage Grubhub for delivering food and groceries.” Given that Grubhub is a food delivery service, this reasoning sort of makes some sense.

GrubHub has been looking for a buyer for months with no bidders, however. It could be that the big players are waiting for a lower pricetag. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Uber (NYSE:UBER) have given GrubHub serious competition of late, which have hurt sales. GrubHub has blamed the collapse in its stock price of late on “promiscuous diners” who can’t decide what service to commit to. Monogamy with food delivery services just isn’t a thing anymore, apparently.

Piper Sandler Sees Aurora Turning Into Penny Sock

A Piper Sandler analyst is getting really bearish on Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB), basically calling for it to fall into penny stock territory. Could this mark the bottom? The analyst, Michael Lavery, is calling for shares to fall to $1. The stock has been on a ski slope since March.  He expects positive cash flow beginning in Q3 2021, quite a ways away, with an interim need to refinance over $300M in debt by then as well. It may have to endure asset sales to pad its balance sheet. Meanwhile, Germany sales have been suspended pending regulators’ response on authorization.

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