Russia’s vaccine news really knocked me out. They’ve left the West behind, as Wall Street stocks start to sing and shout.

Vax in the U.S.S.R.

Flew into Miami Beach from NYC. Didn’t get to bed last night.

On the way, The Wall Street Journal on my knee. Man, it was a dreadful sight.

There’s vax in the U.S.S.R. You don’t know how lucky you are, boy.

Vax in the U.S.—

Vax in the U.S.—

Vax in the U.S.S.R.!

Well, the Russian news really knocked me out. They’ve (supposedly) left the West behind. President Putin made Wall Street sing and shout. But the speed of this vaccine is on my my my my my my my my my mind.

Song break for some details. Yes, we like details too sometimes.

Russia just registered the first COVID-19 vaccine, President Vladimir Putin said in a press conference. The vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya Institute for Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, with scientists using military testing to speed up the process.

The kicker: They’ll market the vaccine outside of Russia under the name Sputnik V — a clear dig at Russia beating the U.S. into space with the first satellite launched into orbit.

Outside of concerns that Russia might’ve sacrificed its own citizens for vaccine testing, I can’t see any American allowing a doctor to inject “Sputnik” into their veins. We have enough trouble with regular vaccinations as it is.

Furthermore, Wall Street once again got ahead of itself in celebration.

Sputnik V still needs to undergo a third round of testing after being registered. And … let’s not forget that we have to verify these claims first. It doesn’t matter if Putin tested it on his own daughter. We still need to check. Mmmkay?

So … show me ’round your phase 3 trials way down south. Take me to your biotech lab.

Let me hear your trial data ringing out. Come and keep the market warm.

There’s vax in the U.S.S.R!

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Great Stuff, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good: Woah!

We had more electric vehicle (EV) news out of China, with Nio Inc. (NYSE: NIO) reporting second-quarter earnings.

From one red to another … we had more electric vehicle (EV) news out of China, with Nio Inc. (NYSE: NIO) reporting second-quarter earnings.

The so-called “Chinese Tesla” reported a loss of $0.16 per share on revenue of $526 million. Both figures beat Wall Street’s expectations, with critical sales besting consensus targets by about 6%.

But wait … there’s more! Nio’s gross profit margins came in higher than expected. The company also said it expects to deliver between 11,000 and 11,500 EVs in the third quarter, up 125% year over year.

It honestly doesn’t get much better than that for an upstart EV maker, even stateside. However, NIO shares traded down more than 4% in regular trading after spiking nearly 11% in pre-market action.

The problem, if you can call it that, is that NIO is up more than 270% this year.

With U.S.-China tensions on the rise, those profits are looking rather tasty right now. So, a round of profit-taking is to be expected. Look for NIO to continue to run higher, with a few bumps in the road due to Chinese trade tensions.

The Bad: Oh, Inovio!

Stifel said that Inovio’s quarterly report left them again "…with more questions than answers on numerous fronts…”

Wherefore art thou, Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: INO)?

The company seemed to be on the right track after it announced yesterday that its COVID-19 vaccine was on track to enter mid-to-late stage testing next month. But the stock plummeted today — dropping more than 20% — and only part of that decline is due to Sputnik V.

Problems arose after Inovio released its second-quarter earnings report. The biotech said it lost $0.83 per share, compared to Wall Street’s expectations for a loss of just $0.17 per share. That’s a 388% miss! Oof.

In fact, Inovio’s performance was so bad that analysts at Stifel slashed their INO price target from $24 to $16. Stifel maintained its “hold” rating but said that the INO-4800 COVID-19 vaccine would contribute very little value to Inovio’s bottom line.

Furthermore, Stifel said that Inovio’s quarterly report left them again “…with more questions than answers on numerous fronts…”

I know some Great Stuff readers held on to INO after we recommended getting out of it. At this point, I hope you took profits back in late June when INO traded north of $30. It’s been a rough ride back down from those lofty peaks!

The Ugly: The Gig Is Up

Ride-hailers Uber and Lyft Inc. (Nasdaq: LYFT) were both hit with a preliminary injunction over how they classify their workers for payroll and benefit reasons.

Last time we checked in on Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER), it had just out-lost Wall Street’s quarterly estimates by half a billion, digested a big spender buyout of Postmates and bragged up its “natural hedge.”

But Uber’s natural hedge — ride-hailing falls and food delivery picks up —  doesn’t mean squat with a certain ruling from California courts. Ride-hailers Uber and Lyft Inc. (Nasdaq: LYFT) were both hit with a preliminary injunction over how they classify their workers for payroll and benefit reasons.

The order comes as part of a larger suit against the two gig economy leaders, which for years have classified their workers as independent contractors instead of those costly full-time employees. Instead, both nonprofitable companies have so far skirted the line in the workplace protections front.

For all the benefits of the gig economy — the flexibility of choosing one’s own hours, the lack of an over-your-shoulder boss — platforms like Uber and Lyft don’t yet have the wiggle room to pay workers like they were actual employees, period.

And if they’re forced to shell out for hundreds of millions in worker restitutions, you bet this isn’t the last loss we’ll see from Uber anytime soon.

Great Stuff Quote of the Week

We’re crossing the streams here in our Quote of the Week — with game-streaming site Twitch now under fire from musicians and songwriters.

If you’ve been avoiding the online world — and I don’t blame you, ‘tis a silly place — Twitch lets users stream video of themselves playing video games and engaging with their live virtual audience. The issue here (in some folks’ eyes), is when streamers use background music to liven up their streams.

And, since Inc.’s (Nasdaq: AMZN) near-billion-dollar buyout of the platform, Twitch is under more of a microscope than ever before. Here’s the story, straight from the Artists Rights Alliance:

As Twitch uses music to grow its audience and shape its brand, the company owes creators more than the willful blindness and vague platitudes you offered,” instead asking that artists are “paid fair market value for their work.

Now, two points here in the interest of objective subjectivity!

As far as music on its platform goes, Twitch doesn’t muck about with that music-licensing nonsense … who’s got time? Instead, it favors the blanket tactic of issuing notices to streamers to take down music they use improperly.

To be fair, Bezos himself didn’t even know if Twitch pays music royalties when pressed on it by Congress back in July.

My problem here is, in the best case, the streamer would’ve bought the music they’re using in the stream, physically or digitally. And, at the very least, background music is probably streamed on Spotify or whatever music service Apple and Google are pushing nowadays.

That’s to say, the streamer has already “paid” their dues for the music, but the drawing line is in distribution, and that’s where groups like the Artists Rights Alliance come in. I get why artists want a cut of the Twitch streams now, but the nitty-gritty legal fine print over copyrights and the ever-elusive “fairness” will be the death of us all.

That leads me to my second point: The way artists are paid has almost always been faulty, and the streaming world just made the business model side of music that much more complex.

It’s the same broken payment model that encourages Spotify-backed pop artists to pump out double albums worth of filler tracks for that sweet, sweet streaming cents. I’m just surprised the Artists Rights Alliance asked for better compensation instead of suing for it like yesteryear.

But I don’t want to turn this into a “get off my lawn” rant about the glory days of music, buying actual albums and whatnot…

Please, no one mention Napster!

How do you feel about Twitch streaming, artist compensation or that whole “paying for music” thing nowadays? Let us know at

Great Stuff: Just a Bit Twitchy

Great Stuff Reader Feedback Yeet!

I think this is the most ground we’ve covered on a Tuesday in quite some time! The changing streams of musical revenue, China’s EVs, biotech earnings that disappoint “on numerous fronts,” Uber and Lyft forced to pretend like they care about workers…

Oh, and the return of Sputnik … just not in the way any of us would’ve guessed. What is this, a crossover episode?

There’s enough meat on the newswires’ bones today to get the Reader Feedback feast started. Besides, the more you write in, the more you’ll hear back from your fellow readers in turn.

It’s the cycle of life and email feedback. You dig? Rant, rave and have away with it!

And if you don’t want your email featured in our weekly Reader Feedback columns, just let me know. It’s cool — really. You can always follow us on social media too: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Until next time, stay Great!

Joseph Hargett

Editor, Great Stuff