Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics’ Car of the Year

Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics’ Car of the Year

Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics' Car of the Year
Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics’ Car of the Year

Popular Mechanics has named Tesla’s Model 3 as its Car of the Year.

Automotive editor Ezra Dyer said, “The demand makes sense. I try to reserve judgment on any car until I drive it, but the Model 3 sure looks good on paper.

Tesla (TSLA) claims zero-to-60 miles in the five-second range-unofficially, the first owners  are getting into the fours…

The autonomy is reliable and pleasantly novel, but I learn that it’s more fun to do the driving myself, sandbagging in the middle lane and then mashing the throttle to revel in that gush of acceleration.

With 271 horsepower, the Model 3 doesn’t quite rearrange your internal organs like a Model S, but it’s still ferocious… It’s thrilling, but the Model 3 isn’t perfect. I’d like a heads-up display, some way to put the speedometer in my line of sight.

And there are some places where you can see the cost-cutting, like in the rear trunk, where there’s no trim panel up top, just bare metal and cutouts for the speakers that would be there if you had ordered the premium sound system. But I think I could live with such compromises.

In fact, I know I can, because when I get home, I do something that I’ve never done with any of the other thousands of cars I’ve tested: I put down a deposit.”

TSLA closed at $257.78


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Volkswagen to buy back diesel cars amid German bans

Volkswagen offers to buy back diesel cars amid German bans

Volkswagen offers to buy back diesel cars amid German bans. Stockwinners.com
Volkswagen offers to buy back diesel cars amid German bans.

The Volkswagen (VLKAY) brand is starting a diesel campaign for its customers in Germany in April.

The new Germany Guarantee gives the buyers of new and year-old vehicles with diesel engines purchased from a Volkswagen dealership additional security and will keep them on the road in the event of a driving ban.

The Volkswagen Group’s successful environmental incentive has already taken some 170,000 old diesel vehicles from the road since August 2017 and replaced them with efficient and clean current models.

Approximately 120,000 of these customers have chosen a Volkswagen brand model.

The Volkswagen brand continues its effort to rejuvenate the vehicle population by offering the diesel environmental incentive with the purchase of a new diesel vehicle beginning in April.

Volkswagen’s new Germany Guarantee is free of charge and will apply to the purchase of a new or a year-old car with a diesel engine from a Volkswagen dealership from 1 April throughout 2018.

It is valid for three years from the date of purchase and offers customers who would be affected by possible driving restrictions at their home or working address the opportunity to exchange vehicles.

The affected customer will receive an offer that the participating Volkswagen dealership will buy back the original model for the current value determined by the independent institution, Deutsche Automobil Treuhand, if the customer then buys from the same dealership a new or year-old vehicle which would not be affected by driving restrictions.

The participating Volkswagen dealership will give the customer a model-dependent trade-in premium with a maximum value corresponding to the previous environmental incentive. The vehicle exchange will be dealt with the involved Volkswagen Partner and in addition via Volkswagen’s digital ecosystem at volkswagen-we.de.

The Volkswagen brand has already taken some 120,000 old diesel vehicles with Euro 1 through Euro 4 emissions standards from the road since August 2017 with its successful environmental incentive, thus making a substantial contribution to improving the air quality of German cities.

Therefore, the measure will be continued as a diesel environmental incentive for new diesel vehicles until 30 June 2018.

The previous model-dependent premiums will continue unchanged.

VLKAY closed at $38.63.


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Trump targets Amazon

Amazon slides as president said to take aim at tax treatment 

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Trump targets Amazon

Shares of Amazon (AMZN) are slipping this morning after Axios reported that President Donald Trump may want to go after the e-commerce giant rather than Facebook (FB) and has discussed changing the former’s tax treatment.

AFTER AMAZON, NOT FACEBOOK

According to a report by Axios, President Trump wants to go after tech giant Amazon rather than Facebook and has discussed changing the company’s tax treatment due to concerns about small retailers being put out of business.

Citing five sources familiar with the matter, the publication added that Trump has wondered if there is any way to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law as he thinks the e-commerce giant has gotten a free ride from taxpayers and the Postal service and agrees the company is killing shopping malls and brick-and-mortar retailers.

“The whole post office thing, that’s very much a perception he has,” a source said. “It’s been explained to him in multiple meetings that his perception is inaccurate and that the post office actually makes a ton of money from Amazon.”

VICE-PRESIDENT CONCERNED OVER FACEBOOK, GOOGLE

Nonetheless, the same Axios’ article pointed out that Vice-President Mike Pence is concerned about Facebook and Google (GOOG; GOOGL).

While Pence is not yet pushing internally for any specific regulations, he views these companies as dangerously powerful and worries about their influence on media coverage as well as their control of the advertising industry and users’ personal info, a source told the publication.

FACEBOOK POLICY CHANGE

Facebook, embroiled recently in a scandal over the way it has handled users’ personal data, has announced a privacy policy change.

According to Erin Egan, VP and Chief Privacy Officer, Policy and Ashlie Beringer, VP and Deputy General Counsel at Facebook:

“We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed. […] We’ve redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. […] We’re introducing Access Your Information – a secure way for people to access and manage their information, such as posts, reactions, comments, and things you’ve searched for.

You can go here to delete anything from your timeline or profile that you no longer want on Facebook. It’s also our responsibility to tell you how we collect and use your data in language that’s detailed, but also easy to understand. In the coming weeks, we’ll be proposing updates to Facebook’s terms of service that include our commitments to people.”

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday’s trading, shares of Amazon have dropped nearly 5% to $1,426, while Facebook’s stock has gained over 1% to $153.99.


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CACI withdraws offer to acquire CSRA

CACI withdraws offer to acquire CSRA

 

CSRA sold for $9.6 billion. Stockwinners.comCACI withdraws offer to acquire CSRA

CACI International (CACI) announced that it has withdrawn its previously announced offer to acquire all outstanding shares of CSRA (CSRA) for $44.00 per share in cash and stock.

CACI delivered a letter withdrawing its offer to CSRA’s Board Chair and CEO.

With regard to the decision to withdraw its offer, CACI CEO Kenneth Asbury commented, “CACI continues to believe that CACI and CSRA would be the superior strategic and financial business combination. The potential for such a high value and transformational transaction certainly warranted our pursuit of this unique opportunity. We will continue our aggressive pursuit of strategic opportunities, judiciously and without engaging in auctions at uneconomic levels…As demonstrated by our performance and increased guidance for Fiscal Year 2018, CACI is in a strong position for future growth.

We will continue to evaluate new opportunities to grow our business in ways consistent with our disciplined approach to M&A and the capture of major programs.

We are very confident in our time-tested business strategy to bring our unique, innovative, value-add capabilities to our customers and marketplace, and our commitment to increase shareholder value.”

General Dynamics (GD) and CSRA recently announced that they have entered into an amendment to their definitive merger agreement under which General Dynamics will acquire all outstanding shares of CSRA for $41.25 per share in cash, an increase from the prior $40.75 per share offer.


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Willbros Group sold for $100M

Primoris to acquire Willbros Group in all-cash transaction

 

Primoris to acquire Willbros Group, Stockwinners.com
Primoris to acquire Willbros Group,

Primoris Services Corporation (PRIM) announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire Willbros Group (WG) in an all-cash transaction.

Primoris will pay 60c per share for all of the outstanding stock of Willbros and will settle all of the existing Willbros debt obligations, for an enterprise value of approximately $100M.

Willbros is a specialty energy infrastructure contractor serving the Oil & Gas and Power industries across its three operating segments: Utility Transmission and Distribution, Oil & Gas, and Canada. Willbros’ infrastructure services platform provides a diverse base of utility, natural gas, and renewable customers with comprehensive engineering, construction, maintenance, repair, and restoration solutions.

Upon completion of the transaction, Primoris expects the Willbros UTD business to become a new operating segment, Primoris UTD, which continues Primoris’ strategic plan for growing its Master Service Agreement revenue base.

Primoris anticipates that Willbros’ Lineal Oil & Gas operations will be incorporated into Primoris’ Utilities & Distribution segment, the Houston-based Oil & Gas facilities operations will become part of Primoris’ Pipeline & Underground segment, and the Canadian business will become part of Primoris’ Power, Industrial, and Engineering segment.

Primoris expects the financial benefits of the transaction to include: For the first 12 months after closing, revenues of approximately $660M, including estimated UTD revenues of $470M, For the first 12 months after closing, EBITDA of $25M, including approximately $7M in annual cost savings, The addition of approximately $400M to Total Backlog, including approximately $300M from the UTD business and within 24-30 months after the closing of the transaction, additional annual cost savings of $7.5 million to $10M.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both Willbros and Primoris, each stockholder of Willbros will receive 60c per share in cash, without interest, which represents a significant premium to the closing price of Willbros common stock on March 27, 2018.

In addition, Primoris will settle all of the existing Willbros debt obligations. The transaction has an enterprise value of approximately $100M.

Primoris intends to finance the transaction through cash on hand and its existing credit facilities.

As part of the transaction, Primoris has agreed to provide Willbros up to $20M in secured bridge financing to support Willbros’ working capital liquidity needs prior to the transaction close.

The transaction is subject to approval by Willbros stockholders and certain other closing conditions. In connection with the execution of the merger agreement, certain Willbros directors and stockholders, together representing approximately 17% of Willbros’ outstanding shares, have entered into voting agreements with Primoris, whereby such stockholders agreed, among other things, to vote in favor of the adoption of the merger agreement. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2018.


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Polycom sold for $2 billion

Plantronics to acquire Polycom for $2B in cash, stock deal

 Plantronics to acquire Polycom for $2B. Stockwinners.com
Plantronics to acquire Polycom for $2B.

Plantronics (PLT)  and Polycom announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Plantronics will acquire Polycom in a cash and stock transaction valued at $2B enterprise value.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close by the end of the third calendar quarter of 2018. With the acquisition of Polycom, Plantronics will become the partner of choice for the communications and collaboration ecosystem.

Polycom, a privately held company, brings a global leadership position in voice and video collaboration, accelerating Plantronics vision of delivering new communications and collaboration experiences.

With the addition of Polycom, Plantronics will have the broadest portfolio of complementary products and services across the global communications and collaboration ecosystem, and the ability to create exceptional user experiences.

The combination positions Plantronics to capture additional opportunities across the $39.9B Unified Communications and Collaboration industry driven by innovation in video and the ubiquity of audio, building growth opportunities through data analytics and insight services.

Polycom significantly expands Plantronics services offering, providing a meaningful presence in management and analytics services.

The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to Non-GAAP EPS. Plantronics targets achieving annual run-rate cost synergies of $75M within 12 months of transaction close.

Under terms of the definitive agreement, Plantronics will acquire Polycom for $2B enterprise value consisting of an estimated $690M of net debt and an estimated $948M in cash and 6.352M Plantronics shares, valued at $362M based on the 20 trading day average closing price of Plantronics stock prior to signing, resulting in Polycom shareholders owning approximately 16.0% of the combined company.

Estimated amounts are subject to customary post-closing adjustments per the definitive agreement. Frank Baker, Founder and Managing Partner, Siris Capital, and Daniel Moloney, Executive Partner, Siris Capital, will join Plantronics Board of Directors.

Plantronics intends to fund the cash portion of the consideration with cash on hand and approximately $1.375B in new, fully-committed debt financing. Wells Fargo Bank and affiliates have committed to provide the debt financing for the transaction, subject to customary conditions. P

lantronics expects to pay down a significant portion of the debt within the next several years with cash on the balance sheet and through cash generation.


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Altimmune announces ‘positive’ data for NasoVax

Altimmune announces ‘positive’ data from Phase 2a study of NasoVax

Altimmune announces 'positive' data from Phase 2a study of NasoVax. Stockwinners.com
Altimmune announces ‘positive’ data from Phase 2a study of NasoVax

Altimmune (ALT), announced positive data from its Phase 2a study of NasoVAX intranasal influenza vaccine and provided an update on its Phase 1b study of HepTcell targeted immunotherapy in chronic hepatitis B infection.

Results from the Phase 2a study of NasoVAX intranasal flu vaccine in 60 healthy individuals showed 100% seroprotection in the mid- and high-dose groups.

Results from the Phase 1b study of HepTCell in hepatitis B infection showed that HepTcell was well tolerated at all doses tested, while the unblinded T-cell immunogenicity results were inconclusive.

The randomized Phase 2a study compared a monovalent NasoVAX vaccine against an H1 strain of influenza to intranasal placebo in 60 healthy adults across three dose ranges.

In a parallel open label study, a similar population of 20 subjects were given Fluzone, a licensed injectable influenza vaccine. Blood samples from both studies were tested and the lab was blinded to treatment assignment.

Data demonstrated 100% seroprotection for the middle and high dose groups of NasoVAX as compared to 95% seroprotection with Fluzone. Mean antibody titers against influenza, as measured by the hemagglutinin inhibition and microneutralization assays increased up to 4.3-fold, indicating that high levels of immunity were induced in this study population, even with prior immunity to the influenza strain.

The serum antibody responses were also robust and dose dependent. Seroconversion rates and breadth of antibody response were comparable to Fluzone for the highest NasoVAX dose tested. Additionally, compared to Fluzone, the highest dose of NasoVAX induced over nearly 6-fold higher levels of influenza cellular immunity, an important element in defending against influenza disease.

All doses of NasoVAX were well tolerated and there were no cases of fever, serious adverse events or discontinuations. Rates of local and systemic side effects did not increase with dose and were not statistically different than placebo. Subjects will continue to be followed through six months after vaccination to assess durability of antibody response.

The company plans to submit the full data, which will also include mucosal antibody and serum antibody levels at other time points, for presentation at an appropriate scientific conference later this year.

ALT last traded at $1.60.


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GlaxoSmithKline acquires Novartis stake in Consumer Healthcare venture for $13B

GlaxoSmithKline acquires Novartis stake in Consumer Healthcare venture for $13B

GlaxoSmithKline acquires Novartis stake in Consumer Healthcare venture for $13B. Stockwinners.com
GlaxoSmithKline acquires Novartis stake in Consumer Healthcare venture for $13B

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announces that it has reached an agreement with Novartis (NVS) for the buyout of Novartis’ 36.5% stake in their Consumer Healthcare joint venture for $13B.

The Consumer Healthcare joint venture was formed as part of the three-part transaction between GSK and Novartis which was approved by shareholders in 2014.

Last year, GSK’s Consumer Healthcare business reported sales of GBP 7.8B.

Under the terms of the original transaction, Novartis has the right, exercisable from March 2, 2018 to March 2, 2035 to require GSK to purchase its stake in the joint venture.

“This put option, in both size and possible timing, creates inherent uncertainty for the Group’s capital planning. The new agreement to buy-out Novartis’ stake removes this uncertainty and improves the Group’s ability to plan allocation of capital to its other priorities,” the company said.

The business expects operating margins to approach “mid-20’s” percentages by 2022 at 2017 CER. The transaction is expected to be accretive to adjusted earnings in 2018 and thereafter, and is expected to “strengthen operational cash flows.”

GSK added, “Together with the Group’s new launch opportunities and expected operational improvements, these financial benefits further support GSK’s increased confidence in its ability to deliver its 2020 outlooks and invest effectively in the Group’s other priorities.”

The transaction is subject to approval by GSK shareholders as Novartis.

NVS closed at $79.68. GSK closed at $37.43.


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Gebr. Knauf offers to acquire USG for $42 per share

Gebr. Knauf offers to acquire USG for $42 per share

 Gebr. Knauf offers to acquire USG for $42 per share. Stockwinners.com
Gebr. Knauf offers to acquire USG for $42 per share.

In a regulatory filing, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) disclosed that from time to time, beginning many years ago, executives of Gebr. Knauf Verwaltungsgesellschaft KG, or “Gebr. Knauf,” have contacted Berkshire’s Chief Executive Officer to describe the Knauf Entities’ potential and conditional interest in a transaction with USG.

Most recently, the Knauf Entities furnished Berkshire a copy of a letter from Gebr. Knauf to USG dated March 15, 2018 in which Gebr. Knauf submitted an indicative and non-binding proposal for the acquisition of 100% of the outstanding shares of Common Stock of USG at $42.00 per share.

“On March 23, 2018 Berkshire’s CEO and another Berkshire executive held a telephonic discussion with two executives of the Knauf Entities and three representatives of one of the advisors of the Knauf Entities, during which Berkshire proposed to grant to the Knauf Entities an option to purchase all of the Berkshire Entities’ shares of Common Stock of USG, subject to legal review.

Such option would be exercisable only in connection with the consummation of a purchase by the Knauf Entities of all of the outstanding shares of Common Stock of USG that the Knauf Entities did not already own, at a price of not less than $42.00 per share, subject to and in accordance with applicable law and contractual restrictions.

The option exercise price per share was proposed by Berkshire to be the price per share paid to such other holders of Common Stock of USG by the Knauf Entities, less the option purchase price of $2.00 per share to be paid to the Berkshire Entities upon entering into a definitive option agreement.

The option would have a term of approximately 6 months.

The Knauf Entities have not responded to this proposal, and the Reporting Persons do not know whether the Knauf Entities will pursue further discussion with Berkshire of the proposed option or will make an offer to purchase shares of Common Stock of USG.

Berkshire has not agreed to support any plan or proposal by the Knauf Entities with respect to the Common Stock of USG, and there are no agreements, written or otherwise, between the Reporting Persons and the Knauf Entities.”

USG closed at $33.51.


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Finish Line sold for $558 million

Finish Line to be acquired by JD Sports Fashion for $13.50 per share 

Finish Line sold for $558 million

Finish Line (FINL) announced that it has entered into a merger agreement providing for JD Sports Fashion to acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding Finish Line shares at a price of $13.50 per share in cash representing an aggregate deal value of approximately $558M.

JD is the leading European retailer of sports, fashion and outdoor brands.

The terms of the merger represent a premium of 28 percent for Finish Line shareholders compared to the closing price of Finish Line’s shares of $10.55 as of March 23, 2018.

This provides an excellent strategic fit for Finish Line and JD.

Finish Line moves into a stronger position to compete as part of a global enterprise that leads in the industry.

JD gains a significant physical and online retail presence with direct access in the US which they have long identified as a highly attractive growth opportunity.

Finish Line and JD together create a leading global, premium, multichannel retailer of sports, fashion and outdoor brands who embraces the latest online and in-store digital technology. Upon closing of the agreement, the Finish Line executive team will continue their involvement with the business.

The expected timeline to close on this agreement is no earlier than June 2018.

FINL closed at $10.55.


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Barron’s is bullish on Facebook, La-Z-Boy

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

Stockwinners offers Barron's review of Stockwinners offers stocks to buy, stocks to watch, upgrades, downgrades, earnings, Stocks to Buy On Margin
Stockwinners offers Barron’s review of stocks to buy

BULLISH   MENTIONS:

Barron’s lists potential takeover targets in cloud software – Shares of young cloud software companies like MongoDB (MDB) and SendGrid (SEND) have soared since the Nasdaq’s bottom on February 8, in part on speculation of a takeover, Barron’s Tiernan Ray contends. Takeover targets form a long list in addition to the aforementioned, and include Friday’s initial public offering Dropbox (DBX), Appian (APPN), Veeva Systems (VEEV), Atlassian (TEAM) and ServiceNow (NOW), Ray writes.

La-Z-Boy shares could rally 20% within a year or two – La-Z-Boy (LZB) shares currently trade at 13.8 times forecast earnings for the next 12 months, which is well below the small-cap Russell 2000 Index’s price/earnings ratio of 25, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index’s 17, and its own five-year average of 16.3 times forward earnings, writes Barron’s Brett Arend. He believes the stock, which closed Friday at $28.75, could merit a valuation of $36 per share, or roughly 20% higher, within a year or two “by simply getting back to its average five-year multiple.” Higher consumer spending, a new relationship to sell on Amazon.com (AMZN), and successful efforts to reach millennials could propel the shares even higher, Arend contends.

Time Warner shares look appealing with antitrust trial under way – Time Warner (TWX) investors face a “win-win” scenario with the antitrust trial for AT&T’s (T) proposed takeover now under way in Washington, Andrew Bary of Barron’s writes. Time Warner shares “look appealing, based on their underlying value and AT&T’s strong chances of winning,” Bary contends. He notes the stock closed Friday roughly $11 below the current value of AT&T’s cash and stock bid, worth $103.60 per share. The 12% deal spread is appealing with “many observers” believing AT&T and Time Warner will prevail over the U.S. government, according to Bary. He adds that while Time Warner shares could fall $5 if the government wins, some analysts think the stock will quickly recover to its current price of $92.57.

Interactive Brokers tops Barron’s list of best online brokers – Interactive Brokers (IBKR) sits atop Barron’s 23rd annual ranking of The Best Online Brokers. Interactive scored highly in trading experience, range of offerings, and portfolio analysis, Theresa Carey writes in a feature story for this weekend’s magazine. Interactive Brokers is followed by Fidelity, TD Ameritrade (AMTD), Charles Schwab (SCHW), TradeStation, Merrill Edge (BAC), E-Trade (ETFC) and tastyworks in Barron’s annual ranking.

Facebook may now be more tempting to investors – In its cover story titled “Facebook Comes Under Siege,” Barron’s says Facebook  (FB) shares may be more tempting to investors following last week’s 14% decline. With more than 2B users, however, Facebook is “almost certain” to not walk away unscathed as the top target for privacy concerns, Jon Swartz writes. Nonetheless, with nearly $42B in cash and investments, Facebook has the flexibility to diversify into other business lines, as it did with Instagram and WhatsApp, Swartz adds.


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Rig count continues to rise

Baker Hughes reports U.S. rig count up 5 to 995 rigs

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Rig Counts Rise 

Baker Hughes (BHGE) reports that the U.S. rig count is up 5 rigs from last week to 995, with oil rigs up 4 to 804, gas rigs up 1 to 190, and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 1.

The U.S. Rig Count is up 186 rigs from last year’s count of 809, with oil rigs up 152, gas rigs up 35, and miscellaneous rigs down 1 to 1.

The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is unchanged at 13 rigs and down 5 rigs from last year’s count of 18.

The Canada Rig Count is down 58 rigs from last week to 161, with oil rigs down 51 to 93, gas rigs down 7 to 68, and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 0.

The Canada Rig Count is down 24 rigs from last year’s count of 185, with oil rigs up 23, gas rigs down 46, and miscellaneous rigs down 1 to 1.


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Piper says big game publishers to catch up quickly to ‘Fortnite,’ ‘PUBG’

Piper says big game publishers to catch up quickly to ‘Fortnite,’ ‘PUBG’

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Piper says big game publishers to catch up quickly to ‘Fortnite,’ ‘PUBG’

Shares of video game makers are in focus after Piper Jaffray noted that while so-called “battle royale” style games such as “Fortnite” and “PlayerUnkonwn’s Battlegrounds,” or “PUBG,” are drawing a great deal of player engagement now, bigger publishers will catch up quickly to the trend.

WHAT’S NEW

In a research note to investors, Piper Jaffray analyst Michael J. Olson said Epic Games’ “Fortnite” and PUBG Corporation’s “PUBG” may have some short-term impact on time/wallet share for the major game publishers, but he expects this impact to be temporary as these publishers incorporate similar battle royale modes into existing titles.

Olson said that the “mode,” not the game, has attracted users to “Fortnite” and “PUBG,” and therefore he expects major publishers to win back engagement as this style of play is included in their games.

The analyst noted that these battle royale games are most likely to steal time/wallet from other shooter titles, and as such, Activision Blizzard (ATVI) may have the most overlap, followed by EA (EA) and then Take-Two (TTWO).

The analyst maintained an Overweight rating on Activistion, EA, Take-Two and Zynga (ZNGA).

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Meanwhile, mobile versions of “Fortnite” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” have launched this week. Currently, both are the most downloaded games on the iOS (AAPL) App Store.

JEFFERIES ON ACTIVISION

Yesterday, Jefferies analyst Timothy O’Shea maintained a Buy rating on Activision Blizzard, saying he sees a buying opportunity with the shares pulling back over the past week.

The analyst attributed the selloff to fears that “Fortnite” could siphon engagement and monetization away from games like “Call of Duty,” potentially pressuring near-term results. O’Shea said that while channel checks indicate “Fortnite” is in fact pulling some engagement away from Activision, the monetization fears are overblown.


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ChemoCentryx is in focus

ChemoCentryx publishes findings of role of CCR2 in kidney glomerulus

ChemoCentryx publishes findings of role of CCR2 in kidney glomerulus. Stockwinners.com
ChemoCentryx publishes findings of role of CCR2 in kidney glomerulus

ChemoCentryx  (CCXI) announced the peer-reviewed publication of positive results from in vivo studies examining the efficacy of inhibiting the chemokine receptor known as CCR2 in the treatment of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a debilitating chronic kidney disorder with no approved treatment option.

Data presented in the publication show that blocking CCR2 provides rapid and sustained renal protection in two well-established models of FSGS, as measured by reduction in proteinuria and improvement in multiple histological parameters.

The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE under the title “CCR2 antagonism leads to marked reduction in proteinuria and glomerular injury in murine models of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.”

Key findings from the study include: In two murine FSGS models, CCR2 inhibition markedly reduced proteinuria and improved renal function, both as a single agent and in combination with renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system blockade; The combination of CCR2 inhibition and RAAS blockade was as effective as the combination of endothelin receptor inhibition and RAAS blockade; and Improvements in renal function observed with CCR2 inhibition were associated with encouraging histological changes, as assessed by decreased glomerular sclerosis, mesangial expansion and tubular collapse, including increased podocyte density.

CCR2 antagonism leads to marked reduction in proteinuria and glomerular injury in murine models of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.

CCXI is down 31 cents to $14.68.


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Fed boosts rates by 25 basis points to 1.5%-1.75%

Fed boosts target for federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 1.5%-1.75%

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Fed boosts target for federal funds to 1.5%-1.75% 

The Federal Reserve says in today’s statement, “In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 percent.

The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting strong labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation…

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were Jerome H. Powell, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Thomas I. Barkin; Raphael W. Bostic; Lael Brainard; Loretta J. Mester; Randal K. Quarles; and John C. Williams.”

Jerome H. Powell, Chairman

In its updated economic projections of Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents under their individual assessments of projected appropriate monetary policy for their March meeting, the Federal Reserve members kept their median expectation for the Federal funds rate at the end of 2018 at 2.1%, consistent with their December projection.

The projections, often referred to as a summary of the Fed’s “dots,” shows that the median expectation for the end of 2019 Federal funds rate is now 2.9%, up from 2.7% in the December projection.

The Federal Reserve says in today’s statement, “Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.

The economic outlook has strengthened in recent months.

The Committee expects that, with further gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace in the medium term and labor market conditions will remain strong. Inflation on a 12-month basis is expected to move up in coming months and to stabilize around the Committee’s 2 percent objective over the medium term.

Near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced, but the Committee is monitoring inflation developments closely.”


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