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Wall Street Brunch- February 1

Feb. 01, 2021 7:15 AM ET89 Comments
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Let's start with a little history, shall we?

On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia breaks up while entering the atmosphere over Texas, killing all seven crew members on board. The Columbia‘s 28th space mission, designated STS-107, was originally scheduled to launch on January 11, 2001, but was delayed numerous times for a variety of reasons over nearly two years. Columbia finally launched on January 16, 2003, with a crew of seven. Eighty seconds into the launch, a piece of foam insulation broke off from the shuttle’s propellant tank and hit the edge of the shuttle’s left wing. Cameras focused on the launch sequence revealed the foam collision but engineers could not pinpoint the location and extent of the damage. Although similar incidents had occurred on three prior shuttle launches without causing critical damage, some engineers at the space agency believed that the damage to the wing could cause a catastrophic failure. Their concerns were not addressed in the two weeks that Columbia spent in orbit because NASA management believed that even if major damage had been caused, there was little that could be done to remedy the situation. Columbia reentered the earth’s atmosphere on the morning of February 1. It wasn’t until 10 minutes later, at 8:53 a.m.–as the shuttle was 231,000 feet above the California coastline traveling at 23 times the speed of sound–that the first indications of trouble began. Because the heat-resistant tiles covering the left wing’s leading edge had been damaged or were missing, wind and heat entered the wing and blew it apart. The first debris began falling to the ground in west Texas near Lubbock at 8:58 a.m. One minute later, the last communication from the crew was heard, and at 9 a.m. the shuttle disintegrated over northeast Texas, near Dallas. Residents in the area heard a loud boom and saw streaks of smoke in the sky. Debris and the remains of the crew were found in more than 2,000 locations across East Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Making the tragedy even worse, two pilots aboard a search helicopter were killed in a crash while looking for debris. Strangely, worms that the crew had used in a study that were stored in a canister aboard the Columbia did survive. In August 2003, an investigation board issued a report that revealed that it in fact would have been possible either for the Columbia crew to repair the damage to the wing or for the crew to be rescued from the shuttle. The Columbia could have stayed in orbit until February 15 and the already planned launch of the shuttle Atlantis could have been moved up as early as February 10, leaving a short window for repairing the wing or getting the crew off of the Columbia. In the aftermath of the Columbia disaster, the space shuttle program was grounded until July 16, 2005, when the space shuttle Discovery was put into orbit.

It broke up! The shuttle broke up!": Remembering Columbia - CBS News

By the time the first of his three career-defining operas had its premiere, Giacomo Puccini was no longer living a life of impoverished artistic struggle. His previous opera, Manon Lascaut, had made his name in the world of Italian opera, and, more important, it had earned him a significant advance on his next work. With his debts repaid and a country villa acquired, Puccini was no longer a starving artist, but rather an up-and-coming star embraced by the artistic establishment. It was, perhaps, the perfect vantage point from which to create a work that so famously romanticizes the passionate struggles of the artistic class: La Bohème, which was performed for the very first time on February 1, 1896, at the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy. The libretto of La Bohèmewas based on the immensely popular Scènes de la Vie de Bohème, Henri Murger’s 1845 collection of stories depicting the lives and loves of a group of young Parisian “Bohemians”—a label that Murger’s work helped popularize. (The label refers to the supposed geographic origins of the Gypsies, whose itinerant, out-of-the-mainstream ways seemed an apt comparison to the alternative lifestyles being led by the growing class of artist-types living in Europe’s urban centers.) From Murger’s stories, Puccini drew his cast of characters: Colline, the philosopher; Rodolfo, the poet; Marcello, the painter; Schaunard, the musician; and Marcello and Rodolfo’s respective love interests, the singer Musetta and the doomed seamstress Mimì. In choosing to write La Bohème, Puccini was choosing to involve himself in his own real-life drama. Puccini’s friend, the composer Ruggero Leoncavallo, was working on an opera of his own, also based on Scènes de la Vie de Bohème and also called La Bohème. Puccini’s pursuit of the project cost him his friendship with Leoncavallo, who is nevertheless famous for his 1892 opera Pagliacci, but whose own La Bohème, completed one year after Puccini’s, is now almost never performed. Puccini’s La Bohème, on the other hand, is second on the list of the world’s most-performed operas, behind only his own Madama Butterfly, the third of his acknowledged masterworks (Tosca being the second). Even those who are not opera fans may be more familiar with La Bohèmethan they realize; Puccini’s opera acted as inspiration and source material for the late Jonathan Larson in creating the Broadway smash Rent.

La bohème - Wikipedia

Now for some stock and investing news-

Melvin Capital Management, the hedge fund that became the face of short positions on GameStop (NYSE:GME) and required a $2.75B cash infusion, lost 53% in January. The losses came not just from the GME short, but from puts on rallying stocks like Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY), GSX Techedu (NYSE:GSX) and National Beverage (NASDAQ:FIZZ) and longs that struggled like Booking Holdings (NASDAQ:BKNG) and Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPD). The fund is running $8B, including the $2.75B, down from $12.5B at the start of the year.

Morgan Stanley is even more bullish on sports legalization efforts in 2021 than it was a few weeks ago. The firm expects state legislatures in Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota to approve sports betting bills this year. Meanwhile, Iowa and Indiana are expected to see iGaming approved, and New York is forecast to have online sports betting approved. There are also developments brewing in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota and Mississippi worth watching. While just across the border, Ontario is expected to push forward with sports betting during the calendar year. An approach for investors is to invest broadly. The Roundhill Sports Betting & iGaming ETF (NYSEARCA:BETZ) is the catch-all ETF for the sector and has easily outperformed the S&P 500 Index over the last 52 weeks (+71.50% vs. +15.60%). (I/we own shares of $BETZ and have been very pleased with our investment)

The CEOs of Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) talked about a combination of the companies in what would be one of the biggest deals ever. Exxon CEO Darren Woods and Chevron CEO Mike Wirth spoke just after the coronavirus pandemic took hold last year. The talks were preliminary and didn't continue, though they could return in the future, the WSJ said. A potential deal would likely face regulatory and antitrust concerns under a Biden administration.

SpaceX’s first high-altitude test flight of its Starship rocket, which launched successfully but exploded in a botched landing attempt in December, violated the terms of its Federal Aviation Administration test license, according to two people familiar with the incident. Both the landing explosion and license violation prompted a formal investigation by the FAA, driving regulators to put extra scrutiny on Elon Musk’s hasty Mars rocket test campaign. The so-called mishap investigation was opened that week, focusing not only on the explosive landing but on SpaceX’s refusal to stick to the terms of what the FAA authorized, the two people said. It was unclear what part of the test flight violated the FAA license, and an FAA spokesman declined to specify. (The rules are for thee, not for me!) Oddly, this story has not been reported on Seeking Alpha. All that coverage of SpaceX and this one slipped through the cracks.

Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE) announces the date of its new flight window for a rocket-powered test flight of its SpaceShipTwo Unity. The test flight will be crewed by two pilots and will carry research payloads as part of the NASA Flight Opportunities program. A key objective of the upcoming flight will be to test the remedial work that has been completed since the December 12 flight when the onboard computer halted ignition of the rocket motor. The flight will incorporate all of the original test objectives from the previous test flight, including evaluating elements of the customer cabin, testing the live stream capability from the spaceship to the ground, and assessing the upgraded horizontal stabilizers and flight controls during the boost phase of the flight. 

Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SRNE) jumps 14% premarket following an update to the previous Phase 1b results of COVI-MSC study in COVID-19. On January 27, SRNE announced that the first three enrolled ICU COVID-19 patients were discharged from the hospital within a week of starting COVI-MSC infusions and a fourth patient just started the treatment. 

Where is Jon Corzine and is MF Global buying $SPCE today?

Where is Marissa Mayer and will she return to the world of business in the role of a CEO at some point?

Where is Elizabeth Holmes and how is her defense team doing with their attempts to get key information thrown out before her massive fraud trial begins?

Have a great day everyone. Stay safe out there!

This is the day The Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.




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