Nektar Therapeutics’ INHALE drug fails

Bayer announces INHALE Phase III clinical study did not meet primary endpoint

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Bayer (BAYRY) announced that INHALE, a global Phase III clinical study program investigating Amikacin Inhale in addition to standard of care in intubated and mechanically ventilated patients with Gram-negative pneumonia, did not demonstrate superiority versus standard of care plus aerosolized placebo.

The primary endpoint, as well as secondary endpoints were similar in both treatment arms, and were therefore not met.

Amikacin Inhale is the development name of an integrated drug-device combination, consisting of a specially formulated Amikacin Inhalation Solution and a proprietary Synchronized Inhalation System with a vibrating mesh nebulizer.

The primary outcome measure was survival at day 28-32. Secondary outcome measures included pneumonia-related mortality through to day 28-32, early clinical response up to day 10, number of days on mechanical ventilation up to day 28-32, and number of intensive care unit days up to day 28-32.

Efficacy and safety analyses from this study will be published in due course. The Amikacin Inhale program is being developed through a collaboration with Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR).

NKTR closed at $49.75. It last traded at $46.50. BAYRY closed at $32.05.


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Cerner and Amazon to announce a deal next week

Amazon to announce ‘huge healthcare deal’ with Cerner, CNBC says

 

AWS and CERNER to announce major deal. See Stockwinners.com for details

Shares of Cerner (CERN) are up 4.5% to $69.75 after CNBC, citing sources, reported that Amazon Web Services (AMZN) CEO Andy Jassy plans to announce next week that the company is teaming up with Cerner to help health-care providers better use their data.

Cerner Corporation designs, develops, markets, installs, hosts, and supports health care information technology, health care devices, hardware, and content solutions for health care organizations and consumers in the United States and internationally.

ANALYST COMMENTS

Stifel analyst David #Grossman noted that such an agreement would allow Cerner to leverage AWS’ global reach and technology to scale this business, which is still relatively small but is perceived to be one of the more important and faster growing industry segments, Grossman tells investors.

A “much more significant opportunity” would be for Cerner to reduce implementation times and reduce the capital intensity of its business by partnering with a hyperscale cloud provider, like Amazon, added Grossman, who keeps a Hold rating on Cerner shares.

RBC Capital analyst George #Hill commented that he thinks the deal would give the company even more credibility when trying to sell its outsourcing or hosting services to large health system clients.

The analyst, who doesn’t see Amazon getting into the provider interface business near to medium term, doesn’t view the deal as a meaningful threat to Cerner, he adds. Hill maintains an Outperform rating and $74 price target on Cerner shares.

Piper Jaffray analyst Sean #Wieland says that if they can overcome patient privacy risks, the partnership will be complementary and synergistic. Further, the analyst believes the deal would also validate Cerner as a market leader in Electronic Health Records. Wieland reiterates an Overweight rating and $70 price target on Cerner‘s shares.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Shares of athenahealth (ATHN) initially dropped after CNBC said Cerner (CERN) will be teaming up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help health-care providers better use their data, but the stock has recovered to briefly move back into positive territory following the headlines.


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Tesla’s Cash Burn Accelerates

Tesla burning through cash at $480K per hour pace

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Tesla’s (TSLA) latest announcement of designing a sports car should take a back seat to investors’ focus of the company’s cash burn, says Bloomberg, estimating that at the current rate, Tesla would be out of cash by August 6th.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kevin Tynan estimates that the company may have to raise at least $2B in fresh capital by mid-2018.

The report adds that the bond market route may not be welcoming, as Tesla investors who bought $1.8B in debt 3 months ago remain under water.

Over the past 12 months, the electric-car maker has been burning money at a clip of about $8,000 a minute (or $480,000 an hour), Bloomberg data show. At this pace, the company is on track to exhaust its current cash pile on Monday, Aug. 6.

To be fair, few Tesla watchers expect the cash burn to continue at quite such a breakneck pace, and the company itself says it’s ramping up output of its all-important Model 3, which will bring money in the door. Investors don’t seem concerned.

The Founders Series Roadster will cost buyers a $250,000 down payment even though it’s not coming for more than two years. Orders of those cars are capped at 1,000, meaning they alone could generate $250 million. Tesla is charging a total of $50,000 for reservations of the regular Roadster. Companies can also pre-order electric Semi trucks for $5,000, though they don’t go into production until 2019.

Tesla has said it has ample money to meet its target of producing 5,000 Model 3 sedans by the end of March. After that date, the company expects to “generate significant cash flows from operating activities,” Tesla said in a Nov. 1 letter to shareholders. Tesla’s capital expenditures should also decline as the company pays off its expenses related to the Model 3, CFO Deepak Ahuja said on a conference call the same day.

TSLA last traded at $314.40


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Rockwell Automation rejects Emerson proposal

Rockwell Automation board unanimously rejects Emerson proposal

Rockwell receives $29B takeover offer. See Stockwinners.com for details

Rockwell Automation (ROK) announced that its Board of Directors has unanimously rejected Emerson’s (EMR) unsolicited proposal to acquire Rockwell Automation received on November 16.

The company said, “The Rockwell Automation Board of Directors, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, has thoroughly considered Emerson’s November 16 proposal and has unanimously determined that it is not in the best interests of Rockwell Automation and its shareowners.

Emerson’s proposal undervalues Rockwell Automation and its prospects for continued growth and value creation, presents significant long-term risk for Rockwell Automation’s shareowners, and would create a company that is not well-positioned to compete successfully in the evolving market.

The Board believes that continuing to execute Rockwell Automation’s successful strategy, which is generating extraordinary returns for the company’s shareowners, will create greater long-term value than pursuing Emerson’s proposal.”

RELATED BLOGS

ROK closed at $193.02. EMR closed at $60.35.


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DOJ to block AT&T and Time Warner’s merger

Analysts cut Time Warner, AT&T targets following DOJ lawsuit

Time Warner Name to Become History, See Stockwinners.com Market Radar

Following the news that the U.S. Department of Justice is suing to block AT&T (T) and Time Warner’s (TWX) merger deal, several Wall Street analysts lowered their price targets for both names.
Nonetheless, Baird analyst William Power argued that he sees the merits of the antitrust case favoring AT&T.

DOJ LAWSUIT

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it is suing to block the deal agreed to between AT&T and Time Warner.
Commenting on the news, AT&T’s Senior Executive VP and General Counsel David McAtee II said the DOJ lawsuit is “a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent.”
He added: “Vertical mergers like this one are routinely approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market.
We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently. […] Fortunately, the Department of Justice doesn’t have the final say in this matter. Rather, it bears the burden of proving to the U.S. District Court that the transaction violates the law. We are confident that the Court will reject the Government’s claims and permit this merger under longstanding legal precedent.”

PRICE CUTS

In light of the news that the DOJ will be suing to block the merger, Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker lowered her price target for Time Warner to $84 from $100 to reflect its standalone value.
Looking at Time Warner purely on fundamentals, the analyst told investors that she is not totally sure 2018 estimates are accurate given that the company has given no sense of trends for next year.
While #Ryvicker acknowledged that many investors have asked what Time Warner is worth, she does not think anyone steps in for it. The analyst reiterated a Market Perform rating on Time Warner’s shares.
Her peer at Barclays also cut his price target for Time Warner to $92 from $107.
Analyst Kannan #Venkateshwar argued that the DOJ move “in effect goes against almost 40 years of judicial commentary and action and, therefore, is quite unprecedented.”
Based on past DOJ frameworks, the analyst believes it may be tough for it to establish competitive harm, but the companies are likely in a 4-6 month period of litigation that should delay not only the closing of the deal but may also “chill other M&A activity across the space.”
Absent a deal, Venkateshwar estimates Time Warner could trade at $77 per share.
Meanwhile, Nomura Instinet analyst Jeffrey Kvaal lowered his price target for AT&T shares to $42 from $45 as he considers shares on fundamentals, while noting that he did not cut his target post the third quarter video miss given the pending deal.
Nonetheless, Kvaal told investors he believes the shares have “room to run” with or without Time Warner.

CASE MERITS FAVOR AT&T

Commenting on the lawsuit, Baird analyst William Power argued that the merger deal may be delayed, but is not dead.
The analyst argued that with Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG; GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) now media forces, including in original content, he finds it difficult to believe that AT&T will be able to significantly raise pricing for the Turner properties or HBO and risk driving away current partners.
Ultimately, Power believes the merits of the case favor AT&T. The analyst reiterated an Outperform rating and $42 price target on AT&T shares.

PRICE ACTION

In Tuesday’s trading, shares of Time Warner have gained over 1% to $88.79 while AT&T is fractionally down to $34.42 per share.


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Cytokinetics’ ALS drug fails

Cytokinetics Phase 3 clinical trial of tirasemtiv did not meet primary endpoint

Cytokinetics Phase 3 clinical trial of tirasemtiv did not meet primary endpoint. See Stockwinners.com for details

Cytokinetics (CYTK) announced that Ventilatory Investigation of Tirasemtiv and Assessment of Longitudinal Indices after Treatment for a Year in ALS, or VITALITY-ALS, the international Phase 3 clinical trial of tirasemtiv in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, did not meet the primary endpoint of change from baseline in slow vital capacity, or SVC, which was evaluated at 24 weeks following randomization or any of the secondary endpoints in the trial which were evaluated at 48 weeks.

No new safety or tolerability findings related to tirasemtiv were identified in VITALITY-ALS. Serious adverse events were similar between patients who received tirasemtiv or placebo but more patients discontinued double-blind treatment on tirasemtiv than on placebo primarily due to non-serious adverse events related to tolerability.

The decline in SVC from baseline to 24 weeks was smaller in patients who received any dose of tirasemtiv in VITALITY-ALS compared to the decline in patients receiving placebo.

The largest differences from placebo were observed in patients randomized to the mid- and high-dose groups of tirasemtiv who could tolerate and remain on their target dose, although those differences were not statistically significant.

“While we are deeply disappointed by the results of VITALITY-ALS, we remain committed to people with ALS who are fighting this devastating disease and who need new therapies to slow the decline of respiratory function and muscle strength that are key hallmarks of disease progression,” said Robert Blum, Cytokinetics’ President and CEO.

“We have decided to suspend the development of tirasemtiv. While we believe that VITALITY-ALS demonstrated pharmacologic activity for the mechanism of action, we also believe that limitations of tirasemtiv may be addressed with our next-generation fast skeletal muscle activator, CK-2127107. Based on previous Phase 1 clinical studies, we believe CK-2127107 will be better tolerated and potentially more effective than tirasemtiv in patients with ALS and look forward to Phase 2 trial results in 2018. We are grateful to the trial investigators, site personnel, patients and caregivers who participated in VITALITY-ALS.”

CYTK closed at $11.10.


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CBS blocks Dish Network

CBS blacks out DISH subscribers, DISH offers OTA antennas at no cost 

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DISH reported that CBS Corporation (CBS) chose to black out DISH customers’ access to 28 local channels in 18 markets across 26 states.

CBS is blocking consumers in an effort to raise carriage rates for local channels and gain negotiating leverage for unrelated cable channels, all with declining viewership on DISH.

“CBS is attempting to tax DISH customers on programming that’s losing viewers, tax DISH customers on programming available for free over the air, and tax DISH customers for content available directly from CBS,” said Warren Schlichting, DISH executive vice president of Marketing, Programming and Media Sales.

“Our customers are clear: they don’t want to pay a CBS tax. It’s regrettable and unnecessary that CBS is bringing its greed into the homes of millions of families this Thanksgiving.”

On a recent investor conference call, CBS boasted about the rate increases promised to shareholders, going from $250 million in 2012 to a forecasted $2.5 billion by 2020.

Those desired increases come as DISH customers are watching less CBS, with average viewership down 20 percent over the past 3 years.

As DISH works to reach an agreement, the company is offering digital over-the-air, or OTA, antennas at no cost so that customers in affected markets can watch CBS’s local broadcast channels for free.

Eligible DISH customers have the option to completely drop their local channels from their programming package, saving $10 on their monthly bill.

In recent weeks, thousands of eligible DISH customers in CBS markets have made the switch to OTA, accessing news, popular network shows and sports from CBS and other local channels for free, over the air.

Customers with qualifying equipment, programming, and location can choose to receive local channels free over the air and save $10 per month on their bill. At no cost, DISH will install an antenna for qualifying customers in CBS markets based on the reception available at their home.

In addition to asking for significant price increases for local channels, CBS is attempting to “force bundle” unrelated and low-performing cable channels at a premium.

“CBS is using its mix of local and national channels against viewers, abusing outdated laws to try to force consumers to pay more. This greedy attempt to extort more money from our customers is one of the main reasons we – and our industry – are asking Congress to restore balance in the broadcaster-pay TV equation,” said Jeff Blum, DISH senior vice president and deputy general counsel.

“We are asking lawmakers to reform outdated TV laws to give our customers the best viewing experience at an affordable price – without the threat of broadcaster blackouts.”

Along with other pay-TV companies and public interest groups that form the American Television Alliance, DISH has called for the U.S. Congress to revamp the out-of-date laws that favor these high fees and unnecessary blackouts.

Blum continued: “We continue to urge the FCC and Congress to update a system that emboldens broadcasters to black out consumers.”


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Bitcoin hits an all time high, thanks to Square

Bitcoin hits record high amid Square inclusion on Cash app

Bitcoin hits $8000. See Stockwinners.com for details

Bitcoin hit a new record high on Sunday, breaking the $8,000 threshold for the first time.

WHAT’S NEW:

Bitcoin reached $8,121.56 on Monday at 12:25 p.m. London Time after breaking the $8,000 value on Sunday, CNBC reported, citing the Coindesk website. The high comes after a sell-off on November 12, in which the cryptocurrency’s price dropped to roughly $5,500, resulting from the cancellation of a potential November 16 upgrade called SegWit2X, which was designed to increase transaction speeds to the bitcoin network.

Positive news including favorable regulation in Japan, increasing interest from institutional investors and planned new market products including CME Group’s (CME) bitcoin future contracts have supported the bitcoin price.

SQUARE TESTS BITCOIN

On Wednesday, Forbes reported Square (SQ) is now offering users the option to buy, sell or hold Bitcoin on its Cash app.

“We’re always listening to our customers and we’ve found that they are interested in using the Cash App to buy Bitcoin,” the spokesperson said.

“We’re exploring how Square can make this experience faster and easier, and have rolled out this feature to a small number of Cash App customers. We believe cryptocurrency can greatly impact the ability of individuals to participate in the global financial system and we’re excited to learn more here.”

CREDIT SUISSE RAISES SQUARE PRICE TARGET

Credit Suisse analyst Paul Condra raised his price target for Square to $37 from $31 following its announcement that it is piloting bitcoin sales via its Square Cash app.

While the analyst is positive on Square’s strategy, to the extent it confers legitimacy on Bitcoin and prompts adoption by other providers, the biggest beneficiary may be the crypto-asset industry. He added that he believes there is low risk that bitcoin will disrupt mainstream payments as the cryptocurrency requires traditional bank accounts, it has fees for consumers to send it, merchant knowledge of bitcoin is very low and buyers are more interested it on holding it than spending it.

The analyst estimates that if Square can attract 10M bitcoin buyers over 10 years, it could drive an incremental $30M in revenue. Condra reiterated a Neutral rating on the shares.

SUNTRUST SAYS BITCOIN “GAME-CHANGING” FOR SQUARE

Suntrust Robinson analyst Andrew Jeffrey said the news of Square offering Bitcoin on its Cash app is bullish, if not game changing, for Square as it creates Cash app differentiation and supports potential monetization.

He added the move is also bullish for Bitcoin adoption as it eliminates friction in buying/selling the cryptocurrency via a P2P app.

Jeffrey also said a broader launch of the feature may boost new user growth for the app, drive increased engagement among existing users and allow Square to monetize Square Cash through transaction fees.

While the analyst believes the news is a slight negative to legacy ecosystem participants, he does not see mainstream Bitcoin adoption in the “investable horizon.” Jeffery has a Hold rating on Square.

Standpoint Research

Standpoint Research analyst Ronnie Moas raised his 2018 price target for bitcoin to $14,000 from $11,000. The price just crossed $8,180 and is now split-adjusted at $9,518 when you factor in the August fork spinoff bitcoin cash and the October fork spinoff bitcoin gold at $158, Moas writes in an email. The analyst sees the price of bitcoin hitting $60,000 five years. He says this is reached by 0.5% of the global total money invested currently in cash, stocks, bonds and gold going into the cryptocurrency.

PRICE ACTION

Bitcoin rose 2.1% to 8,198.99 in morning trading, while Square (SQ) was up 3.1% to $45.56.


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Intra-Cellular receives FDA Fast Track designation

 Intra-Cellular receives FDA Fast Track designation for lumateperone

Intra Cellular Therapies receives FDA's fast track designation. See Stockwinners.com for details

Intra-Cellular (ITCI) announced that the FDA has granted Fast Track designation for lumateperone for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Lumateperone (INN; developmental code names ITI-007ITI-722) is an investigational atypical antipsychotic which is currently under development by Intra-Cellular Therapies, licensed from Bristol-Myers Squibb, for the treatment of schizophrenia.  It is also being developed by Intra-Cellular Therapies for the treatment of bipolar disorder, depression, and sleep and behavioral disturbance in dementia, autism, and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

The company requested Fast Track designation for lumateperone based on clinical evidence that lumateperone has the potential to address the unmet medical need for the treatment of schizophrenia with significant improvements on several clinically significant safety parameters, including with respect to metabolic, motor and cardiovascular issues associated with many currently available antipsychotic agents.

The FDA’s Fast Track designation is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of drug candidates to treat serious and life-threatening conditions.

Fast Track designation may allow for more frequent meetings and communications with the FDA to discuss a drug candidate’s development plans and review process.

Drug candidates with Fast Track designation may also qualify for priority review to expedite the FDA review process, if relevant criteria are met.

ITCI closed at $15.32.


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Cavium sold for $6 billion

Marvell to acquire Cavium for $40.00 per share in cash plus 2.1757 MRVL stock

Cavium sold for $6 billion. See Stockwinners.com

Marvell Technology Group (MRVL) and Cavium (CAVM) announced a definitive agreement, unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, under which Marvell will acquire all outstanding shares of Cavium common stock in exchange for consideration of $40.00 per share in cash and 2.1757 Marvell common shares for each Cavium share.

Upon completion of the transaction, Marvell will become a leader in infrastructure solutions with approximately $3.4B in annual revenue.

The transaction combines Marvell’s portfolio of leading HDD and SSD storage controllers, networking solutions and high-performance wireless connectivity products with Cavium’s portfolio of leading multi-core processing, networking communications, storage connectivity and security solutions.

The combined product portfolios provide the scale and breadth to deliver comprehensive end-to-end solutions for customers across the cloud data center, enterprise and service provider markets, and expands Marvell’s serviceable addressable market to more than $16B.

This transaction also creates an R&D innovation engine to accelerate product development, positioning the company to meet today’s massive and growing demand for data storage, heterogeneous computing and high-speed connectivity.

The transaction is expected to generate at least $150M-$175M of annual run-rate synergies within 18 months post close and to be significantly accretive to revenue growth, margins and non-GAAP EPS. Under the terms of the definitive agreement, Marvell will pay Cavium shareholders $40.00 in cash and 2.1757 Marvell common shares for each share of Cavium common stock.

The exchange ratio was based on a purchase price of $80 per share, using Marvell’s undisturbed price prior to November 3, when media reports of the transaction first surfaced.

This represents a transaction value of approximately $6B.

Cavium shareholders are expected to own approximately 25% of the combined company on a pro forma basis. Marvell intends to fund the cash consideration with a combination of cash on hand from the combined companies and $1.75B in debt financing.

Marvell has obtained commitments consisting of an $850M bridge loan commitment and a $900M committed term loan from Goldman Sachs Bank USA and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in each case, subject to customary terms and conditions. The transaction is not subject to any financing condition.

The transaction is expected to close in mid-calendar 2018, subject to regulatory approval as well as other customary closing conditions, including the adoption by Cavium shareholders of the merger agreement and the approval by Marvell shareholders of the issuance of Marvell common shares in the transaction.

Matt Murphy will lead the combined company, and the leadership team will have strong representation from both companies, including Marvell’s current CFO Jean Hu, Cavium’s Co-founder and COO Raghib Hussain and Cavium’s Vice President of IC Engineering Anil Jain.

In addition, Cavium’s Co-founder and CEO, Syed Ali, will continue with the combined company as a strategic advisor and will join Marvell’s Board of Directors, along with two additional board members from Cavium’s Board of Directors, effective upon closing of the transaction.


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Barron’s turns bullish on Baker Hughes

Barron’s, the weekly publication owned by the Wall Street Journal, in its latest issue mentions several names:

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BULLISH MENTIONS

Buy Baker Hughes – While it is “not easy” to be a General Electric company (GE) and seems like GE may be giving up on Baker Hughes (BHGE), it does not mean investors should, Ben Levisohn writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. The recent selloff may be a chance to pick up shares of Baker Hughes at a bargain, he adds.

Activist investors Nelson Peltz still in P&G picture. – In a follow-up story, Barron’s notes that while a month ago Procter & Gamble (PG) claimed to have survived a challenge from activist Nelson Peltz, a new vote tally last week showed that Peltz’s Trian Fund Management had won a board seat. A Peltz win would be good for the stock, as the consumer-products giant has faced a lack of significant revenue growth, the publication contends

IBM could be next to fetch higher valuation – Investors are warming to moderately priced blue chips, and IBM could be the next “slumbering giant” that could fetch a higher valuation, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. IBM’s gross profit could grow in the current quarter for the first time in years, suggesting its big investment in analytic and cloud products are winning over customers, he notes, adding that a stock rebound could follow.

BEARISH MENTIONS

More needed for Cisco to have ‘groove back.’  – While the Nasdaq composite returned to its heights a couple of years ago, it took Cisco Systems (CSCO) until last week to regain its footing, with an upbeat outlook by the company, Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Cisco has “certainly achieved something,” but not everything it needs, he notes, adding that while it seems to have stability, it has a kind of fixation on its own balance sheet that does not bode well for its competitiveness in the years to come.

Risk remains after GE dividend cut – While buying General Electric (GE) shares after a big payment cut may seem like a safe move, it might not be as GE would have to move still lower to give it the “sort of plump yield befitting a struggling giant” in need of a turnaround, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. 


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JA Solar goes private at $7.55 per share

JA Solar enters into definitive agreement for going private transaction

JA Solar sold for $7.55 per share. See Stockwiners.com for details

JA Solar (JASO) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement and plan of merger with JASO Holdings Limited, JASO Parent Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Holdco, and JASO Acquisition Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Parent, pursuant to which the company will be acquired by an investor consortium in an all-cash transaction implying an equity value of the company of approximately $362.1M.

Pursuant to the terms of the Merger Agreement, at the effective time of the merger, each ordinary share of the company issued and outstanding immediately prior to the Effective Time will be cancelled and cease to exist in exchange for the right to receive $1.51 in cash without interest, and each American depositary share of the company, representing 5 Shares, will be cancelled in exchange for the right to receive $7.55 in cash without interest.

The merger consideration represents a premium of 18.2% to the closing price of the company’s ADSs on June 5, 2017, the last trading day prior to the company’s announcement of its receipt of a revised “going-private” proposal, and a premium of 17.2% to the average closing price of the company’s ADSs during the 3-month period prior to its receipt of a revised “going-private” proposal.

The Buyer Group comprises Baofang Jin, chairman and CEO of the company, Jinglong, a British Virgin Islands company of which Baofang Jin is the sole director, and/or its affiliates, and the other Rollover Shareholders.

The Buyer Group intends to fund the merger with a combination of debt and equity.

The Buyer Group has delivered an executed debt commitment letter to the company pursuant to which CSI Finance Limited, Credit Suisse AG, Singapore Branch and certain other parties will provide, subject to the terms and conditions set forth therein, a loan facility to fund the merger in the amount of $160M.

The company’s board, acting upon the unanimous recommendation of a committee of independent and disinterested directors established by the board, approved the Merger Agreement and the merger and resolved to recommend that the company’s shareholders vote to authorize and approve the Merger Agreement and the merger.

The Special Committee negotiated the terms of the Merger Agreement with the assistance of its financial and legal advisors.

The merger is currently expected to close during the first quarter of 2018.


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Atlantic Coast Financial sold for $145 million

Ameris Bancorp to acquire Atlantic Coast Financial in $145M transaction

Atlantic Coast Bank sold for $145 million. See Stockwinners.com for details

Ameris Bancorp (ABCB) announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement under which Ameris will acquire Atlantic Coast Financial (ACFC), the parent company of Atlantic Coast Bank, Jacksonville, Florida.

Upon completion of the transaction, the combined company will have approximately $8.6B in assets, $6.9B in loans, $6.6B in deposits and a branching network across four states.

Under the terms of the definitive merger agreement, each share of Atlantic Coast common stock will be converted into the right to receive 0.17 shares of Ameris common stock and $1.39 in cash.

The transaction is valued at approximately $145M in the aggregate based on Ameris’ closing stock price of $47.30 as of November 16.

The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of each company.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals and the approval of the stockholders of Atlantic Coast.


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NovoCure reports positive data from its brain cancer drug

Novocure says increased compliance with Optune showed increased survival

Novocure reports positive brain cancer data. See Stockwinners.com for details

Novocure (NVCR) announced results from a retrospective post-hoc analysis of its phase 3 pivotal EF-14 trial data showing that increased compliance with Optune predicted increased survival in glioblastoma patients.

Glioblastomas  are tumors that arise from astrocytes—the star-shaped cells that make up the “glue-like,” or supportive tissue of the brain. These tumors are usually highly malignant (cancerous) because the cells reproduce quickly and they are supported by a large network of blood vessels. Glioblastomas are generally found in the cerebral hemispheres of the brain, but can be found anywhere in the brain or spinal cord.

Results were highlighted in an oral presentation at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology in San Francisco.

The analysis showed that an Optune compliance threshold as low as 50% correlated with significantly improved outcomes in patients treated with Optune together with temozolomide compared to patients treated with temozolomide alone.

The results also demonstrated that the greater patients’ compliance with Optune, the better their outcomes.

Patients who used Optune more than 90% of the time had the greatest chance of survival: a median survival of 24.9 months from randomization and a five-year survival of 29.3%.

The median time from diagnosis to randomization was 3.8 months for patients treated with Optune together with temozolomide.

Novocure’s phase 3 pivotal EF-14 trial compared Optune in combination with temozolomide to temozolomide alone in 695 patients with newly diagnosed GBM. The trial was designed to test both progression free survival and overall survival.

The trial demonstrated unprecedented five-year survival results in newly diagnosed GBM.

Patients treated with Optune in combination with temozolomide experienced a significant extension of overall survival without added systemic toxicity compared to patients treated with temozolomide alone.

The data also showed that Optune-treated patients were able to maintain quality of life for longer compared to patients treated with temozolomide alone.

Patients in the EF-14 trial treated with Optune together with temozolomide were recommended to use Optune 75 percent of the time, or 18 hours per day.

This new analysis demonstrated that a threshold value as low as 50% compliance with Optune led to an extension of both PFS and OS versus temozolomide alone.

As compliance increased to 75% or greater, the survival benefit significantly increased. Patients who used Optune 70-80 percent of the time had a median survival of 21.7 months.

Patients who used Optune more than 90% of the time had the greatest chance of survival: a median survival of 24.9 months from randomization and a five-year survival of 29.3%.

The median time from diagnosis to randomization was 3.8 months for patients treated with Optune together with temozolomide.

The data also show that increased compliance independently predicted survival and was not affected by prognostic factors such as performance status, age or MGMT methylation.

NVCR closed at $18.60.


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JB Hunt and Wal-Mart to use Tesla’s trucks

J.B. Hunt reports reservation to purchase multiple Tesla Semi tractors

Wal-Mart says has pre-ordered 10 units of Tesla’s new heavy-duty electric vehicle for Wal-Mart Canada

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n9xafjynJA&w=640&h=360]

J.B. Hunt Transport Services (JBHT) announced that it placed a reservation to purchase multiple Tesla (TSLA) Semi tractors to be manufactured by Tesla.

The electric tractor was unveiled by Tesla at an event on November 16.

J.B. Hunt plans to deploy electric tractors to its Intermodal and Dedicated Contract Services divisions to support operations on the West Coast.

In addition to the electric truck investment, J.B. Hunt is also supporting sustainable initiatives such as reducing engine idle time, governing top speed limits, converting over-the-road shipments to intermodal, engineering fleet routes that maximize efficiency, and using biodiesel fuels when possible.

In April, J.B. Hunt announced a five-year, $500M commitment to enhancing operating systems, developing cloud infrastructure, and creating innovative and disruptive technologies.

The additional investment in Tesla trucks further demonstrates J.B. Hunt’s commitment to meeting the needs of an evolving supply chain and introducing new technology for its customers and employees.

TESLA  TRUCKS

Tesla unveiled a sleek electric semi truck with semi-autonomous capabilities and a new roadster.

Emphasizing the truck’s “badass” performance, Tesla CEO Elon Musk pitched the new Tesla Semi as the safest, most comfortable truck ever.

The semi is a fully electric Class 8 truck, a category of freight vehicles that weigh more than 33,000 pounds, including tractor-trailer rigs that form the backbone of commercial road freight. This one, Musk said, can haul 80,000 pounds.

The truck can gain 400 miles of range with just a 30-minute charge from a “megacharger” and its operating cost per mile is 20 percent below that of conventional diesel semi trucks.

Tesla’s offering has a range of 500 miles at maximum weight at highways speeds, much higher than early spec reports of a range of 300 miles. Musk said the truck has a coefficient of drag of just 0.36, making it more aerodynamic than the Bugatti Chiron, a $2.7 million supercar with a drag coefficient of 0.38.

At the end of the event, Musk also presented the company’s new four-seat roadster, a car with 620 miles of range that can go from zero to 60 mph in 1.8 seconds. “The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars,” Musk said. It’s also claimed to be the fastest production car ever made.

ANALYST COMMENTS

Morgan Stanley analyst Ravi Shanker said Tesla “unveiled the future of trucking” with its Class 8 semi truck, which he contends appears to best current diesel truck performance in “almost every measurable way.” While what he heard was very impressive, questions remain about battery size, launch partners and third-party logistics services, said Shanker, who adds that “its now time to deliver.” The firm has an Equal Weight rating and $379 price target on Tesla shares.

Wal-Mart Gets Onboard

Following Tesla’s (TSLA) unveiling of a new electric semi-tractor-trailer last night, Wal-Mart issued the following statement to CNBC: “We have a long history of testing new technology – including alternative-fuel trucks – and we are excited to be among the first to pilot this new heavy-duty electric vehicle. We believe we can learn how this technology performs within our supply chain, as well as how it could help us meet some of our long-term sustainability goals, such as lowering emissions.”

Wal-Mart says has pre-ordered 10 units of Tesla’s new heavy-duty electric vehicle for Wal-Mart Canada.

TSLA closed at $313.00   JBHT closed at $102.98


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