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A roundup of some of the North American equities that made moves in both directions

On the rise

Shares of Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc. (NEPT-T) jumped 14.2 per cent on Thursday after it announced it has received Health Canada authorization to commercialize natural, plant-based hand sanitizer products.

In a premarket announcement, the Laval, Que,-based said it has engaged with the National Research Council of Canada to support NRC’s efforts to facilitate the development, manufacturing and ultimately commercialization of solutions to meet COVID-19 related needs.

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“Neptune will leverage its product formulation expertise to develop natural, plant-based sanitizers that effectively kills 99.9 per cent of germs and bacteria, made with a specialized blend of essential oils and fruit extract,” it said. “The product will be formulated at the Company’s production and processing facilities in Sherbrooke, Quebec and Conover, North Carolina, and also with the help of its contract manufacturing partners.”

Cenovus Energy Inc. (CVE-T) increased 23.2 per cent after it said on Thursday it would reduce its full-year capital spending by another $150-million and suspend its dividend, citing low global oil prices.

The fall in crude prices have forced producers to look for ways to reduce cost, and Cenovus said its measures included a 25-per-cent cut in compensation for chief executive officer and board members.

The company’s other executives will take a 12-15-per-cent reduction in annual base salary, while employees at other levels will experience a graduated smaller salary impact, Cenovus said.

Last month, Cenovus announced a near 32-per-cent cut to its capital spending for the year and a temporary suspension of its crude-by-rail program, as an erupting Saudi-Russia oil price war dealt a blow to the struggling Canadian oil industry.

The company on Thursday kept is oil sands production outlook unchanged in then range of 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 400,000 bpd for the year.

See also: CEOs of these large-cap TSX companies were buying their own stock in last month’s market collapse

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Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. (AEM-T) was up 5 per dent despite announcing the ramping down of activities at its mining operations in Mexico (Pinos Altos , Creston Mascota and La India) in order to comply with the a government decree in the country relating to the COVID-19 pandemic that all non-essential businesses, including mining, suspend operations until April 30.

It also announced n employee who works underground at its Kittila mine in Finland tested positive for COVID-19 on March 28.

As part of the response protocols, the company immediately suspended all underground operations at Kittila for 72 hours in order to identify other employees who may have been in close contact with the employee who had tested positive.

Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corp. (LIF-T) was up 2.1 per cent after announcing before the bell that it has been advised that Iron Ore Company of Canada is adjusting its production to focus on meeting the demand for iron ore concentrate.

“LIORC understands that IOC is temporarily halting production of two pellet machines in Labrador City to respond to market demand for additional concentrate for sale. Currently, the demand for concentrate remains strong. IOC is in a unique position to be able to adjust its supply of product to align with changing market conditions,” it said.

Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. (KL-T) rose 7.8 per cent after announcing before the bell it has withdrawn its 2020 guidance due to the impact of COVID-19.

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The Toronto-based company also announced the temporary suspension of operations at its Holt Complex in North Ontario and reduced operations at its Macassa mine in Kirkland Lake.

“The latest business reductions are in response to recent developments related to the COVID-19 virus, including increased border restrictions between Ontario and Quebec, which is making the movement of workers increasingly difficult. Both Macassa and the Holt Complex have a significant number of employees and contractors resident in Quebec who travel to Ontario for work. Essential activities at both operations, that will continue, are being completed entirely by a local, Ontario-based workforce,” the company said.

On the decline

Shopify Inc. (SHOP-T) was lower by 9.7 per cent after it announced late Wednesday it has suspended its forecast for 2020, blaming uncertainties fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company scheduled its first-quarter results for May 6, before markets open.

RBC Dominion Securities analyst Mark Mahaney said: “Shopify’s withdrawal of FY20 guidance suggests that near-term visibility is low, similar to other Internet stocks in our coverage. Long-term, however, we believe that Shopify will be a beneficiary as we expect this COVID disruption to lead to a sustained pickup in online shopping activity, with Shopify a major beneficiary.”

Altria Group (MO-N) was down 3.7 per cent after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday it had filed a complaint aimed at forcing Marlboro maker to sell its investment in e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc.

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The FTC has probed Altria’s decision to buy a 35-per-cent stake in Juul, announced in December 2018, for US$12.8-billion. The value of the investment has dwindled to US$4.2-billion, following a series of writedowns last year, as Juul faced litigation and heightened regulatory scrutiny over its contribution to a surge in teenage vaping.

Altria and Juul were once competitors in the e-cigarette market. The FTC alleges that once Juul skyrocketed to become the market-leading e-cigarette maker in 2018, Altria dealt with the competition by “agreeing not to compete in return for a substantial ownership interest in Juul.”

“Altria and Juul turned from competitors to collaborators by eliminating competition and sharing in Juul’s profits,” said Ian Conner, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

Boeing Co. (BA-N) slid 5.8 per cent after Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun outlined a plan of voluntary layoffs for employees on Thursday, while warning that the coronavirus pandemic would have a lasting impact on the global aerospace industry.

Under the plan, eligible employees who want to exit the company will be offered pay and benefits package, Mr. Calhoun said in a memo.

“We’re in uncharted waters. We’re taking actions based on what we know today,” Mr. Calhoun said.

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“We’re also doing everything we can ... That means continuing to deliver for our commercial and services customers, even as their own businesses slow to a trickle.”

Reuters reported on Wednesday that an announcement on early retirement and buyout packages could come as early as Thursday.

Boeing, which calls itself America’s largest exporter, has some 150,000 employees worldwide, nearly half of whom are clustered around marquee factories in Seattle’s Puget Sound region.

Shares of Xiamen, China-based Luckin Coffee Inc. (LK-Q) sank 75.7 per cent on Thursday after it said it suspended its chief operating officer and several other employees for misconduct related to the fabricating of transactions.

The company said the suspensions were the result of initial recommendations from a special committee appointed to investigate issues in its consolidated financial statements for 2019.

Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV-N) was down 1.7 per cent after saying Thursday it intends to file an application with the U.S. Treasury department for aid related to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The aid could be in form of grants that could boost liquidity and provide job security for its employees from April 1 through Sept. 30, 2020, Southwest said.

The company also drew down US$2.33-billion in credit, as airlines move to shore up liquidity during the outbreak, a regulatory filing showed.

With files from staff and wires

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