Medical suppliers tumble on Amazon fears; ABC in play

Medical suppliers slide as Amazon looms

Walgreens pursues AmerisourceBergen

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Medical suppliers tumble on Amazon fears

Two news reports are moving several names in the medical supply space this morning.

Namely, Amazon (AMZN) is said to be looking to expand its medical supplies business, while Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has approached AmerisourceBergen (ABC) about a potential takeover.

Walgreens pursues AmerisourceBergen. Stockwinners.com
Walgreens pursues AmerisourceBergen

Shares of Owens & Minor (OMI), McKesson (MCK), and Cardinal Health (CAH) are all slipping following the two Wall Street Journal scoops.

AMAZON RAMPS UP IN MEDICAL SUPPLY

Amazon is seeking to expand its medical supplies business into being a major distributor to hospitals and outpatient clinics, according to The Wall Street Journal. The e-commerce giant is currently running a pilot with a Midwestern hospital system to supply its 150 outpatient facilities, the publication said. Typically, hospitals sign contracts to buy supplies directly from manufacturers or distributors like Owens & Minor, McKesson, Cardinal Health and Medline Industries.

WALGREENS DEAL INTEREST

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal separately reported, citing sources, that Walgreens reached out several weeks ago to Amerisource to discuss the possibility of buying the portion of the company it doesn’t already own. The sources added, though, that there is not an offer on the table.

In a research note to investors, Jefferies analyst Brian Tanquilut pointed out that while Walgreens acquiring AmerisourceBergen would be EPS-accretive and would allow the former to take advantage of its strong free cash flow and balance sheet, the rationale for such a deal is a bit of a “headscratcher” as both companies already have a joint venture that affords them the strategic value that combining would provide.

Leerink analyst David Larsen told investors in a note of his own that he is surprised that talks of such a large transaction have surfaced so quickly following the Rite Aid (RAD) deal being blocked, but says he has always believed that Walgreens at some point would seek to acquire either Express Scripts (ESRX) or AmerisourceBergen.

His peer at Loop Capital added that a full merger would have similar attributes to that of the vertically integrated pharmacy model that Walgreens operates in the U.K., which lowers product costs and working capital requirements to the benefit of all customers.

Ultimately, analyst Andrew Wolf views this strategic response positively as it would better position a combined company to navigate in the face of industry change and possibly even be a disrupter, he said.

Wells Fargo analyst Peter Costa also commented on The Journal report, saying he believes the acquisition makes sense given the already existing long-term partnership and limited ability to merge laterally.

Further, the analyst argued that a potential combination could help lower costs and wring out synergies in the U.S. drug distribution channel, and better position Walgreens in the face of increasing competitive threat from a possible Amazon entry. However, a merger might risk alienating AmerisourceBergen’s retail pharmacy customers that compete with Walgreens’ pharmacies, he contended.

CNBC’s  REPORT

The recently announced healthcare venture from Amazon (AMZN), Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A;BRK.B) and JPMorgan (JPM) is aiming to cut out drug distributors like AmerisourceBergen (ABC), Cardinal Health (CAH) and McKesson (MCK), according to CNBC’s Jim Cramer, citing sources.

PRICE ACTION

In Tuesday’s trading, shares of Amazon have gained over 2% to $1,415, while Walgreens is fractionally higher and AmerisourceBergen shares have jumped 8%. Moving in the opposite direction, Owens & Minor is sliding 8%, McKesson is slipping 2% and Cardinal Health is down 4%.


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Algos and VIX

Algos are manipulating the VIX according to a whistleblower complaint

CBOE Global Markets falls amid VIX swings - Stockwinners.com
CBOE Global Markets falls amid VIX swings 

Algorithms  (Algos) are manipulating the VIX according to a whistleblower complaint filed with the SEC and CBoE, according to a Bloomberg report filed late yesterday.

“Algos,” as they’re called, automatically execute trades based on pre-programmed criteria. They can process millions of trades in seconds, predict market movements, take advantage of arbitrage opportunities, speculate on trends and otherwise do whatever programmers design them for.

The letter filed by the lawyer for the unnamed whistleblower claims that derivative VIX equity volatility index can be targeted and moved by posting quotes on options on the underlying S&P 500 without needing to actually trade them or deploy capital.

This has reportedly cost investors $100’s of millions/month in profits and may have contributed to the flat-line on the VIX followed by its surge to 50.3 last week, according to the report.

The CBoE denied the validity of the manipulation charge, citing factual errors and fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between the VIX index, VIX futures and volatility.

The search for a scapegoat will no doubt continue after the VIX surge last week contributed to the 10-11% correction on underlying stocks, along with the demise of the XIV inverse VIX short-volatility index.

CBOE Global Markets (CBOE) is up 24 cents to $110.92′


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Eli Lilly announces ‘positive’ top-line results for Taltz

Eli Lilly announces ‘positive’ top-line results for Taltz

Eli Lilly announces 'positive' top-line results for Taltz. Stockwinners.com
Eli Lilly announces ‘positive’ top-line results for Taltz

Eli Lilly (LLY) announced that Taltz met the primary and all key secondary endpoints in COAST-V, a Phase 3 study evaluating the safety and efficacy of Taltz for the treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis, or AS, also known as radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, or axSpA.

The trial included a placebo arm and an active control arm, or adalimumab, for comparison with placebo, and studied patients who had never received a biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug, or bDMARD. Taltz demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in the signs and symptoms of AS, as measured by the proportion of patients who achieved Assessment of Spondyloarthritis International Society 40, or ASAS40, response at 16 weeks, when compared to placebo.

COAST-V is the first registration trial to use ASAS40 as the primary endpoint, compared to the standard endpoint of ASAS20. AS is one type of spondyloarthritis that affects the pelvic joints and spine, and can be characterized by chronic inflammatory back pain, stiffness and impaired function and mobility.

Of those affected by AS, approximately 80 percent will experience symptoms before age 30. In COAST-V, the incidence of treatment-emergent adverse events was similar with Taltz compared with placebo.

The most common adverse events observed were consistent with the Phase 3 studies of ixekizumab for the treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis and active psoriatic arthritis.

Lilly plans to submit detailed data from COAST-V for disclosure at scientific meetings and in peer-reviewed journals later this year.

The company plans to submit for regulatory approvals pending additional data from the ongoing Taltz development program later this year.

Ankylosing spondylitis , or AS, is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become involved. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort.

In more advanced cases this inflammation can lead to ankylosis — new bone formation in the spine — causing sections of the spine to fuse in a fixed, immobile position.

LLY closed at $76.25.


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WMIH and Nationstar to merge

WMIH, Nationstar enter definitive merger agreement

Nationstar and WMIH to merge. Stockwinners.com
Nationstar and WMIH to merge.

WMIH Corp. (WMIH) and Nationstar Mortgage Holdings (NSM) with its flagship brand Mr. Cooper announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Nationstar shareholders may elect to receive $18.00 in cash or 12.7793 shares of WMIH common stock for each share of Nationstar common stock they own, subject to an overall proration to ensure that 32% of the total outstanding Nationstar shares are exchanged for the stock consideration.

Upon completion of the transaction, Nationstar shareholders will own approximately 36% of the combined company and WMIH shareholders will own approximately 64%.

The aggregate consideration payable to Nationstar shareholders will consist of $1.2 billion in cash and WMIH shares currently anticipated to be valued at approximately $702 million.

In addition, approximately $1.9 billion of Nationstar’s existing senior unsecured notes will be refinanced at closing.

WMIH has secured $2.75 billion of financing commitments in connection with the transaction. Upon closing the Transaction, all outstanding WMIH Series B Preferred Stock and all outstanding warrants to purchase shares of WMIH common stock will be converted into common stock of WMIH.

The shares issued pursuant to these conversions are included in the pro forma ownership percentages referenced above. Holders of WMIH’s Series B 5% Convertible Preferred Stock (the “Series B Stock”) will receive approximately 444 million shares of common stock following the mandatory conversion of the Series B Stock at a fixed conversion price of $1.35 per share.

Between signing and closing of the transaction, we expect that holders of the Series B Stock will receive approximately 21 million shares of common stock in accordance with the terms of the Series B Stock.

Finally, upon closing of the transaction, holders of the Series B Stock also will receive a special distribution of approximately 11 million shares of common stock.

As a result, upon consummating the transaction, and on a pro forma basis, holders of the Series B Stock will be expected to own approximately 477 million shares of common stock or approximately 43% of the combined company.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies and is subject to approval by the shareholders of both companies, as well as regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

An entity owned by investment funds managed by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC, holding approximately 68% of Nationstar’s voting shares, has contractually agreed to support the transaction and elect cash consideration for approximately 34 million shares, subject to proration.

KKR, which owns 24% of WMIH’s voting shares, has also agreed to support the transaction.

The transaction is anticipated to close in the second half of 2018.

WMIH Corp. engages in reinsurance business with respect to mortgage insurance in runoff mode.

Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. provides servicing, origination, and transaction based services primarily to single-family residences in the United States.

Jay Bray, CEO and Chairman of Nationstar, said, “We expect this merger to create value for our shareholders in both the near and long-term, including immediate accretion on a cash EPS basis and a cash premium for those of our stockholders who elect to receive the cash merger consideration.

I am passionately committed to continuing and accelerating our growth and investment as a leader in our industry, leveraging our best-in-class integrated servicing and originations platform.

The Nationstar Board and management team have taken considerable steps to make homeownership simpler and more rewarding for our three million customers and we look forward to identifying additional opportunities to enhance value for the combined company’s shareholders.” The operating business will retain the Nationstar Mortgage name and Dallas Headquarters and, at least initially, be traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “WMIH”.


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