By David Randall NEW YORK (Reuters) - The booming biotech sector is putting a premium on lab space, and fund managers are buying in. One of their favorite targets is Pasadena, California-based Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc, which owns the largest collection of high-end lab space in such research clusters as San Diego, San Francisco and Cambridge, Massachusetts. A total of 64 mutual funds and hedge funds have reported adding shares of the company to their portfolios in the current quarter, a 56 percent jump from the quarter ending in September, according to Morningstar data. Those buys come on the heels of a steep decline in biotech stocks generally because of concerns that legislation could bring caps to drug prices. Shares of Alexandria fell by as much as 10 percent during the sell-off, while the broader Nasdaq biotechnology index tumbled as much as 24 percent before hitting a low at the end of September. Fund managers say that they pounced on shares of a company they see as uniquely positioned to benefit from an aging U.S. population that will spur the development of new drugs. U.S.-based life science firms have added approximately 80,000 employees since 2011, according to real estate research firm JLL. That has helped push rents for lab spaces up by 7.4 percent over the last year in Boston, the nation's most expensive market for life science firms, while San Francisco rose 16.9 percent and San Diego is up 15.5 percent. And investors who go long on lab space instead of the biotech companies that use it don't have to worry about which drugs will emerge as winners and which won't. "They own the best real estate in the best healthcare-focused markets in the country," said Jeffrey Kolitch, whose $1.8 billion Baron Real Estate fund is the top-performing real estate fund over the last five years, according to Morningstar. Kolitch, who has owned shares of the company since 2008, added to his position this fall, according to a September quarterly filing. He would not say at exactly what price he added shares. With its fortunes directly tied to the health of tenants including Biogen, Novartis, Eli Lilly and Roche, Alexandria has long traded in tandem with the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. At the same time, the shares are benefiting from the acquisition of BioMed Realty Trust - its chief competitor among life-sciences focused REITs - by private equity group Blackstone for $4.8 billion on Oct. 8. Blackstone paid a 24 percent premium for BioMed's assets, which Kolitch estimates were in less desirable locations than Alexandria's and suggests that Alexandria would fetch a higher valuation. To be sure, the company's strong connection to the biotech sector cuts both ways. Shares of Alexandria are down 3.5 percent over the last three months, compared with a 3.2 percent gain for the REIT sector as a whole, largely due to its connection to tenants such as Gilead Sciences, whose shares were down at one point as much as 22 percent for the year before rebounding. And it's no bargain. Shares of Alexandria, which reports its next quarterly results on Nov 3, trade at a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 119, about double the average U.S. REIT. Its short interest - a measure of how many investors are betting that it will fall - is a low 1.9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data and it is paying a 3.4 percent dividend. PUSH INTO TECH Some analysts say that they are cautious about the company's expansion plans as it increasingly moves away from its profitable core business of lab space and into traditional office space leased by tech startups. Alexandria announced last year that it had formed a joint venture with car-booking service Uber Technologies [UBER.UL] to build its new headquarters in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood. In August, Alexandria announced that it had leased a 150,000 building to Pinterest in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood. Overall, the company has about 3.1 million of square footage leased in the San Francisco region. "When you talk to brokers in San Francisco, you're hearing that over the last six to nine months companies are taking space that they don't need today so they can expand in the future," said David Rodgers, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., who downgraded Alexandria to "neutral" in September, according to Thomson Reuters data. "We're not calling the end of the tech boom yet, but there's a lot of planning based on the growth plans of tech companies who may not need it." Anthony Paolone, an analyst at JP Morgan Securities, upgraded his rating on the company to "overweight," however, based in part on the company's holding of real estate in the tech centers of San Francisco and Seattle. He estimates that 83 percent of the company's $2.7 billion in developments have already been pre-leased, and that the stock trades at a discount of approximately 10 percent to what its underlying real estate is worth. "While you are getting later in the cycle, we are comfortable that these are folks that are going to show up and pay rent. It's Pinterest, Uber, Bayer. We're not experts in those spaces but they seem to us like good potential tenants," he said. (Reporting by David Randall; editing by Linda Stern and John Pickering)
Days ahead of Oprah‘s landmark interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, people are already spotting significance in the fashion choices made in the clips released. Meghan Markle‘s Oprah interview outfit reportedly sends a strong message, including a touching tribute to the late Princess Diana. Markle and Prince Harry have spent a year away from the spotlight, adjusting to life after stepping back as “senior members” of the royal family.
- Associated Press
Washington will not have cheerleaders for the first time since the NFL’s longest-running cheerleading team was founded in 1962, with a coed dance team taking its place. The move is part of the organization's rebranding effort and not related to a confidential settlement reached with members of the 2008 and 2010 cheerleading teams. Lawyers for the team and those cheerleaders told The Associated Press last month that “the matter has been resolved” but would not say when the settlement was reached.
- The Independent
‘Everything is made in China,’ said a business partner behind the six foot replica
- Associated Press
All-rounder Faheem Ashraf and Paul Stirling starred in Islamabad United’s emphatic six-wicket victory over winless Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League on Tuesday. Fast bowler Ashraf’s 3-11 limited Quetta to 156-7 and then Stirling smashed 56 off 33 balls as Islamabad eased to 157-4 with three balls to spare.
Indonesia has detected two cases of the more infectious COVID-19 variant first discovered in Britain, officials said on Tuesday, marking a potential new complication for the country as it tries to contain one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia. Dante Saksono Harbuwono, the deputy health minister, said the discovery of the variant, known as B117, represented a new challenge. Wiku Adisasmito, the spokesman for Indonesia's COVID-19 task force, said that monitoring at arrival gates in the country would be tightened in a bid to keep the variant from spreading.
The musician, who helped forge the skiffle craze, died peacefully in his sleep, aged 90.
- The Independent
John Brennan says ‘there are so few Republicans in Congress who value truth, honesty, and integrity’
- Reuters Videos
Leader of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has been defending her handling of the sexual harassment case involving her predecessor Alex Salmond, which has been threatening to derail her dream to lead Scotland to independence from the United Kingdom.Sturgeon testified on Wednesday (March 3) and described the feud with Salmond as "one of the most invidious political and personal situations" she has ever faced.She denied his accusations that she had plotted against him and misled the Scottish parliament."I have never claimed in this or anything else to be infallible. I have searched my soul on all of this many, many times over. It may very well be that I didn't get everything right, that's for others to judge, but in one of the most invidious political and personal situations I have ever faced, I believe I acted properly and appropriately, and overall, I made the best judgments I could."In his own explosive testimony last week, Salmond accused Sturgeon of taking part in a malicious plot to drive him out of public life, and of breaking the ministerial code.He stood trial on charges of sexual assault and was acquitted last year.The feud between the pair, once close friends and powerful allies in the cause of Scottish independence, could deprive Sturgeon of the emphatic win she needs in May's Scottish elections to overcome resistance by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who opposes a referendum.
- The Independent
5,000 National Guard troops remain in DC amid QAnon frenzy that Trump will be inaugurated again this week
QAnon followers believe that on 4 March, which was once the inauguration date of US presidents, Donald Trump will become president again
- Associated Press
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has avoided public appearances for days as some members of his own party call for him to resign over sexual harassment allegations. The governor hasn’t taken questions from reporters since a Feb. 22 briefing, an unusually long gap for a Democrat whose daily, televised updates on the coronavirus pandemic were must-see TV last spring.
- The New York Times
ATLANTA — After record turnout flipped Georgia blue for the first time in decades, Republicans who control the state Legislature are moving swiftly to implement a raft of new restrictions on voting access, mounting one of the biggest challenges to voting rights in a major battleground state following the 2020 election. Two bills, one passed by the House on Monday and another that could pass the Senate this week, seek to alter foundational elements of voting in Georgia, which supported President Joe Biden in November and a pair of Democratic senators in January — narrow victories attributable in part to the array of voting options in the state. The Republican legislation would undermine pillars of voting access by ending automatic voter registration, banning drop boxes for mail ballots and eliminating the broad availability of absentee voting. The bills would restrict early voting on the weekends, limiting the longstanding civic tradition of “Souls to the Polls” in which Black voters cast ballots on Sunday after church services. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Taken together, the new barriers would have an outsize impact on Black voters, who make up roughly one-third of the state’s population and vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Black voters were a major force in Democratic success in recent elections, with roughly 88% voting for Biden and more than 90% voting for Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the January runoff elections, according to exit polls. Democrats say that Republicans are effectively returning to one of the ugliest tactics in the state’s history — oppressive laws aimed at disenfranchising voters. “Rather than grappling with whether their ideology is causing them to fail, they are instead relying on what has worked in the past,” Stacey Abrams, the voting rights activist, said, referring to what she said were laws designed to suppress votes. “Instead of winning new voters, you rig the system against their participation, and you steal the right to vote.” The Georgia effort comes as former President Donald Trump continues to publicly promote the lie that the election was stolen from him, which has swayed millions of Republican voters. It has also put further pressure on Republican state legislatures across the country to continue drafting new legislation aimed at restricting voting rights under the banner of “election integrity” as a way of appeasing the former president and his loyal base. New restrictions on voting have already passed in Iowa, and multiple other states are lining up similar efforts, while the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments this week on another challenge to the Voting Rights Act. Should the high court make changes to Section 2 of the act, which allows after-the-fact challenges to voting restrictions that may disproportionately affect members of minority groups, Democrats and voting rights groups could be left without one of their most essential tools to challenge new laws. Justice Elena Kagan, in her questioning on Tuesday, appeared to allude to Georgia’s proposed limitations on Sunday voting. “If a state has long had two weeks of early voting and then the state decides that it is going to get rid of Sunday voting on those two weeks, leave everything else in place, and Black voters vote on Sunday 10 times more than white voters, is that system equally open?” Kagan asked. For decades, Georgia has been at the center of the voting rights battle, with Democrats and advocacy groups fighting back against repeated efforts to disenfranchise Black voters in the state. As recently as 2018, Georgians faced hourslong lines to vote in many majority-Black neighborhoods, and thousands of Black voters were purged from the voting rolls before the election. Now Democrats and voting rights groups are alarmed that Republicans are again trying to change the state’s voting laws ahead of critical Senate and governor’s races in 2022. Though the bills in the Legislature have not been finalized, it is expected they will eventually reach the desk of Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican. Kemp has not explicitly backed either bill, but he said Tuesday that he was in favor of efforts “to further secure the vote.” “I’m supportive of putting the photo ID requirement on absentee ballots by mail and other things, making sure that there’s a fair process to observe,” Kemp told radio host Hugh Hewitt. He said his decision on the bills would depend on “what it is and what’s in it.” Democrats, shut out of power in the Statehouse despite holding both U.S. Senate seats, are relatively powerless in the legislative process to stop the bills, though they do have avenues through the courts to challenge any final bill signed. In an interview on Tuesday, Abrams, the former Democratic minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, called Monday’s House vote “a sign of fear” over Republicans’ failure to win support from young and minority voters, two of the fastest-growing sectors of the state’s electorate. She added that the measure was also potentially self-defeating for the GOP in that large percentages of rural white voters, a traditionally Republican-leaning bloc, could also be impeded by laws that make it harder for citizens to cast absentee ballots and vote by mail. Asked about restrictions to Sunday voting, Abrams cited a study by the Center for New Data, a nonprofit group, that found Black voters were more likely to vote on weekends than white voters in 107 of Georgia’s 159 counties. Overall, 11.8% of Black voters voted on weekends compared with 8.6% of white voters, according to the study. “We know that some version of this bill is likely to pass because Republicans face an existential crisis in Georgia,” Abrams said, portraying the party as shortsighted in refusing to address the factors that have put its traditional demographic advantages at risk in recent elections. Among the most pressing concerns for Georgia Democrats is the possibility that the House’s bill, H.B. 531, might be amended in the Senate to include provisions that put an end to automatic voter registration and a vote-by-mail system known as “no excuse,” which allows any voters to cast mail ballots if they choose. These proposals were included in a bill that passed out of a Senate committee last week. The automatic registration system, which registers voters when they apply for or renew a driver’s license, was put in place in 2016 under the Republican governor at the time, Nathan Deal. Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, another Republican, has credited the system with drastically increasing voter registration numbers, and Republicans have cited such figures to push back against charges leveled by Abrams and others that Georgia Republicans want to suppress votes. No-excuse absentee voting was approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2005 and was used by many voters during the pandemic. In December, Raffensperger supported ending no-excuse absentee voting, saying it “opens the door to potential illegal voting.” Raffensperger took that stance even as he defended Georgia’s electoral system against accusations by Trump that the election was somehow rigged; his refusal to support the former president’s baseless claims earned him the enmity of Trump and Georgia Republicans allied with him. Raffensperger’s office did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday on the current legislative efforts in the Legislature, including the House bill, which would remove the secretary of state from his role as chair of the State Elections Board. Cody Hall, a spokesman for Kemp, repeated an oft-used phrase of his, saying that the governor wanted to make it “easy to vote and hard to cheat” in Georgia. Kasey Carpenter, a Republican state representative whose district is a conservative swath of Northwest Georgia, said the House bill included a number of common-sense provisions that Democrats would be supporting if it were not for the intense partisan nature of the times. Changes to mail-in procedures, he said, were particularly important given the sharp increase in people who chose to vote that way because of the restrictions of the pandemic. “I think what you’re seeing is a measured approach,” he said. For example, Carpenter said, the bill requires voters to put the number of their driver’s license or state identification card on applications for a mail-in ballot, and requires photocopies to be sent in only if the voter is using alternative forms of identification. If a highly restrictive bill ends up on Kemp’s desk, he will be faced with a complicated dilemma. On the one hand, the governor must show his Trump-loyal Republican base that he has heard and responded to their concerns about election integrity. Doing so will be particularly important if Trump, who was incensed that Kemp did not take steps to overturn his electoral defeat in Georgia, carries out his threat to back a primary challenger on Kemp’s right flank. On the other hand, if Abrams chooses to engage Kemp in a rematch of their 2018 contest, she and her allies are likely to once again make allegations of voter suppression one of their most forceful and incessant attack lines against Kemp. In an electorate still reeling from the two-month effort to subvert the election result by Trump, and the rash of lawsuits attacking voting before and after the election, the bills in Georgia have quickly attracted national attention. More Than a Vote, a group founded by LeBron James, the basketball superstar, has vowed to draw attention to the issue during the NBA All-Star game this weekend in Atlanta; his pledge was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Voting rights groups note that the severe limitations put on early voting could also have a cascading effect: By limiting the number of hours available for in-person voting, the bottlenecks created during high-volume times and on Election Day would very likely lead to more hourslong lines, like the waits that plagued the Georgia primary in June. “They’re creating a line management problem,” said Aunna Dennis, the executive director of Common Cause Georgia, a voting rights group. In the primary, she noted, “we saw people in line for over six hours. Just imagine if we were losing 108 hours of early voting time, of Sunday voting, access to the drop box, how many of those people are now going to have to wait in line?” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
- Associated Press
A national panel of vaccine experts in Canada recommended Wednesday that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to four months to quickly inoculate more people amid a shortage of doses in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed optimism that vaccination timelines could be sped up. The current protocol is an interval of three to four weeks between doses for the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.
During a recent interview on Good Morning America with host Robin Roberts, former First Lady Michelle Obama opened up about how she and her husband, former President Barack Obama, have open communications with their two young-adult daughters. “I always have wanted them to start practicing the power of their voices very early on,” Mrs. Obama shared of Sasha, 19, and Malia, 22.
- The Telegraph
The Duchess of Sussex wore earrings given to her by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia three weeks after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, against advice from palace aides, The Telegraph understands. The Duchess, 39, had been given the Butani earrings as an official wedding present from the Saudi Royal Family. When she wore them to a formal dinner in Fiji in October 2018, during a royal tour, the media were told that they were “borrowed” but unusually, declined to offer further information or guidance. The dinner took place three weeks after Mr Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Duchess’s lawyers insisted that at the time of the dinner, she was unaware of speculation that the crown prince was involved in the murder of the journalist. However, a royal source claimed that palace staff had advised the Duchess not to wear the jewellery. “Members of Royal Household staff sometimes advise people on their options,” one said. “But what they choose to do with that advice is a very different matter.” The earrings were accepted as a wedding gift by the prince, known as MBS, in March 2018, when he had lunch with the Queen during a three-day visit to London. They were among a series of wedding gifts that were then transferred to Kensington Palace in June, the month after the wedding, which was when the Sussexes first knew of their existence. A source close to the Duchess said members of her staff were aware that the earrings had been chosen as part of the Duchess’s tour wardrobe. Saudi Arabia admitted on October 20, three days before the dinner in Fiji, that its officials were responsible for Khashoggi’s death. Staff in London were concerned when they saw the Duchess’s earrings in the media and alerted Kensington Palace, according to The Times. But it was claimed they decided not to take it up with the Sussexes while they were on tour “for fear for what their reaction would be." The following month, the Duchess wore them again to the Prince of Wales's 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace and at that point, an aide is said to have confronted the Duke about the issue. He reportedly looked "shocked" when approached about the concerns. Lawyers for the Sussexes’ denied he was questioned about their provenance, which they said was well known.
- The Week
During the campaign for the two Georgia Senate races, Joe Biden repeatedly promised to pass $2,000 stimulus checks if the Democrats won. After they did, the administration argued that $2,000 really meant $1,400 in addition to the $600 that had already gone out in the December rescue package. Whether that is true or not, now Biden is inarguably breaking his promise. Under pressure from moderate Senate Democrats, he has reportedly agreed to cut down the formula under which the checks will be sent out. In the previous packages, the amount started phasing out at $75,000 in income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers, and vanished entirely at $100,000 and $200,000 respectively (as of 2019). Now the phase-out will start start in the same place but end at $80,000 for singles and $160,000 for couples. The $1,400 promise clearly implied at least that the checks would go out according to the previous formula used under Trump. But now singles making between $80,000-100,000 and couples making between $160,000-200,000 will get nothing. The Washington Post's Jeff Stein reports that roughly 17 million people who previously got checks now will not. The supposed justification here is that moderates want the aid to be more "targeted." In fact this formula is horribly inaccurate, because the income data the IRS uses is from the year before the pandemic (unless people have already filed their taxes — and by the way, if your income decreased in 2020, you should do that immediately). This formula is therefore doubly wrong — there are no doubt millions of people who have lost jobs and should qualify but won't, and a smaller number that have gotten raises and shouldn't qualify but will. And this change will only save a pitiful $12 billion. The survival checks are one of the most popular government programs in American history. Polls have them at something like 4-1 approval. "Moderation," for Senate Democrats, apparently means breaking their party's promises in the service of unpopular, pointless actions that make their president seem less generous than Donald Trump. More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's CPAC appearanceHouse passes sweeping voting rights and elections reform billThe complicated quagmire of Dr. Seuss
- NBC News
All federal government agencies have until noon Friday to download the latest software update to block the perpetrator.
- LA Times
Paul George calls Clippers' first-half finale a "must-win" game before All-Star break, but will Kawhi Leonard be healthy enough to play?
- Business Insider
Biden cuts 16 million people off from stimulus checks after striking deal with moderate Senate Democrats, study says
Biden approved phasing out direct payments entirely for individuals making above $80,000 a year and married couples earning more than $160,000.
- Business Insider
Dr. Fauci has a stunningly simple way to explain how Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine differs from Pfizer's and Moderna's shots
All three of the COVID-19 shots authorized for use in the US train the body to recognize the coronavirus, but J&J's uses a cold virus instead of mRNA.
- Business Insider
The Trumps are trying to sell a Florida home for $49 million after buying it from the former president's sister for $18 million in 2018
Eric Trump tweeted a listing for a home that the family is trying to sell through a limited liability company for more than twice its 2018 value.