SoftBank to invest $2.25B in GM

SoftBank Vision Fund to invest $2.25B in GM Cruise 

 

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SoftBank Vision Fund to invest $2.25B in GM Cruise 

General Motors (GM) announced that the SoftBank Vision Fund will invest $2.25B in GM Cruise Holdings, further strengthening the company’s plans to commercialize AV technology at large scale.

GM will also invest $1.1B in GM Cruise upon closing of the transaction.

“Our Cruise and GM teams together have made tremendous progress over the last two years,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.

“Teaming up with SoftBank adds an additional strong partner as we pursue our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”

“GM has made significant progress toward realizing the dream of completely automated driving to dramatically reduce fatalities, emissions and congestion,” said Michael Ronen, managing partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers.

“The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stack gives it a unique competitive advantage. We are very impressed by the advances made by the Cruise and GM teams, and are thrilled to help them lead a historic transformation of the automobile industry.”

The SoftBank Vision Fund investment will be made in two tranches.

At the closing of the transaction, the Vision Fund will invest the first tranche of $900M. At the time that Cruise AVs are ready for commercial deployment, the Vision Fund will complete the second tranche of $1.35B, subject to regulatory approval.

Together, this will result in the SoftBank Vision Fund owning a 19.6-percent equity stake in GM Cruise and will afford GM increased flexibility with respect to capital allocation.

The GM and SoftBank Vision Fund investments are expected to provide the capital necessary to reach commercialization at scale beginning in 2019.

GM (GM) Chairman and CEO Mary Barra confirmed the automaker’s plans to launch an autonomous ride-hailing vehicle in 2019.

President Dan Ammann noted that talks with SoftBank occurred over the course of several months. He said GM wasn’t looking for a partner, but found one that was “uniquely aligned” with it.

Ammann added that the Cruise team has grown to over 800 since the acquisition two years ago. He said the decision to report GM Cruise as a standalone segment is intended to enhance transparency around this part of the business.

ANALYST COMMENTS

Evercore ISI analyst George Galliers upgraded General Motors (GM) to Outperform from In Line after SoftBank’s (SFTBF) Vision Fund agreed to invest in the company’s Cruise autonomous driving unit in a deal that values the unit at $11.5B.

Galliers said he had been assigning no value to the Cruise assets before the announcement.

Under his new sum-of-the-parts valuation, Galliers applies a 6.0x multiple on GM’s core, attributes a value of about $8 per share for the Cruise assets and about 60c per share for GM’s stake in Lyft before applying a 25% discount to both of the latter. He raised his price target on GM shares to $50 from $47.


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Madrigal Pharmaceuticals sharply higher on NASH trial

Madrigal achieves liver biopsy endpoints in NASH trial of MGL-3196

Madrigal Pharmaceuticals higher on NASH trial, Stockwinners.com
Madrigal Pharmaceuticals higher on NASH trial,

Madrigal Pharmaceuticals (MDGL) announced top-line, 36-week results from a Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with biopsy-proven non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH.

In this trial, MGL-3196, a first-in-class, oral, once-daily, liver-directed, thyroid hormone receptor beta-selective agonist, demonstrated statistical significance in the primary endpoint, relative reduction of liver fat on magnetic resonance imaging-estimated proton density fat fraction at 12 Weeks in December 2017, and, reported here, statistically significant results in multiple Week 36 endpoints including key secondary endpoints, reduction and resolution of NASH.

“The degree of NASH resolution, an approvable FDA endpoint, in patients who received MGL-3196 for 9 months we believe suggests a high likelihood of success in a larger trial with a somewhat longer treatment period in a Phase 3 study designed similarly to this Phase 2 study, pending regulatory agreement with such a design. Further, considering what we have learned regarding drug exposure and dosing, we believe there is potential to resolve NASH in as little as 9 months in 30-40% of patients receiving only MGL-3196, a well-tolerated once a day oral therapy,” stated Paul Friedman, CEO of Madrigal.

In the trial, MGL-3196 demonstrated statistical significance in the primary endpoint, relative reduction of liver fat on magnetic resonance imaging-estimated proton density fat fraction at 12 weeks and statistically significant results in multiple week 36 endpoints.
Shares of Madrigal are up 67%, or $66.57, to $175.00 in premarket trading. Viking Therapeutics (VKTX), which has a thyroid beta agonist in Phase 2 development for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and hypercholesterolemia, is trading up 38% to $6.86. Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT), which has a competing, and further along than Madrigal’s, drug to treat non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is trading down 6% to $69.01.

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Franklin American Mortgage sold for $511M

Citizens Financial to purchase Franklin American Mortgage for $511M

Citizens Financial to purchase Franklin American Mortgage for $511M, Stockwinners.com
Citizens Financial to purchase Franklin American Mortgage for $511M, 

Citizens Financial Group (CFG) announced a definitive agreement to purchase the assets of Franklin American Mortgage Company, a Franklin, Tennessee-based national mortgage servicing and origination firm with a leading position among private, non-bank mortgage companies.

As of March 31, 2018, Franklin American Mortgage managed a $41.4B mortgage servicing portfolio and generated approximately $13.7B in annualized originations for the first quarter 2018, nearly 100% of which was conforming.

“The addition of Franklin American Mortgage triples the size of Citizens’ off-balance sheet mortgage servicing portfolio, providing significantly more balance sheet leverage. The transaction also more than doubles Citizens’ origination platform while significantly diversifying its origination capabilities with the addition of correspondent and wholesale channels, which complement Citizens’ strong retail capabilities,” the bank said.

Under the terms of the asset purchase agreement, Citizens’ wholly-owned subsidiary, Citizens Bank, N.A., will purchase assets with a net book value of approximately $488M, which includes a mortgage servicing rights portfolio valued at $550M, for $511M in cash, or approximately 1.1 times tangible book value.

The transaction is expected to improve fee income, produce attractive returns and have a crossover earnback period of less than three years. The transaction is expected to reduce the company’s Basel III common equity tier one ratio by approximately 18 basis points at the transaction close.

This transaction has no impact on the execution of Citizens’ previously announced planned share repurchases under its 2017 capital plan. The company expects to achieve annual expense synergies of approximately $50M by 2020 with total estimated after-tax integration costs of $30M-$45M.

Return on average tangible common equity accretion is expected to be approximately 30 basis points in 2019 and approximately 45 basis points in 2020 with earnings per diluted common share accretion of approximately 2% in 2019 and approximately 3% in 2020.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018, subject to customary closing terms and conditions and regulatory approval.


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Exact Sciences higher on colon cancer screening

Cologuard maker jumps as colon cancer screening now recommended earlier

Cologuard maker jumps as colon cancer screening now recommended earlier , Stockwinners
Cologuard maker jumps as colon cancer screening now recommended earlier

Shares of Exact Sciences (EXAS) are on the rise after the American Cancer Society released an updated guideline for colorectal cancer screening, saying screening should begin at age 45 for people at average risk.

Previously, the guideline recommended screening begin at age 50 for people at average risk.

UPDATED GUIDELINE

The American Cancer Society released an updated guideline for colorectal cancer screening.

Among the major guideline changes, the new recommendations say screening should begin at age 45 for people at average risk. Previously, the guideline recommended screening begin at age 50 for people at average risk.

Additionally, the American Cancer Society also recommended that people who are in good health and with a life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75.

Recommendations for screening test options are also part of the guideline changes.

“There are some differences among the tests to consider, but the most important thing is to get screened, no matter which test you choose,” the American Cancer Society said in a statement, listing the differences between stool-based tests and visual exams.

LEERINK COMMENTS

After the American Cancer Society updated its guideline for colorectal cancer screening to recommend screening begin at age 45 for people at average risk, Leerink analyst Puneet Souda said this is “only directionally positive” for Exact Sciences.

#Souda said the ACS recommendation does not automatically translate into becoming a reality in clinical practice in the near-term, nor does it mean the USPSTF and NCCN automatically follow suit. Souda maintains an Outperform rating on Exact Sciences shares.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday’s trading, shares of Exact Sciences have gained over 8% to $56.96. The company sells stool-based test Cologuard, a noninvasive colorectal cancer screening test.


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Carbon-free aluminum smelting process now a reality

Alcoa, Rio Tinto, Apple  announce ‘world’s first’ carbon-free aluminum smelting process 

carbon-free aluminum smelting process; Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process; 

Alcoa (AA) and Rio Tinto (RIO) announced what the companies called “a revolutionary process to make aluminum that produces oxygen and eliminates all direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process.”

carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners

To advance larger scale development and commercialization of the new process, Alcoa and Rio Tinto are forming Elysis, a joint venture company to further develop the new process with a technology package planned for sale beginning in 2024.

carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners

Apple (AAPL) is also investing in the venture. Apple said that its involvement with the new process started in 2015, when Apple engineers came across the new technology at Alcoa in Pittsburgh when looking for a cleaner way to mass-produce aluminum. They were able to get Rio Tinto on board, and three years later, the three companies have formed a joint venture.

Elysis, which will be headquartered in Montreal with a research facility in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, will develop and license the technology so it can be used to retrofit existing smelters or build new facilities. Canada and Quebec are each investing C$60M in Elysis.

The provincial government of Quebec will have a 3.5% equity stake in the joint venture with the remaining ownership split evenly between Alcoa and Rio Tinto. Apple is providing an investment of C$13M.

The company helped facilitate the collaboration between Alcoa and Rio Tinto on the carbon-free smelting process, and Apple has agreed to provide technical support to the JV partners.

Aluminum has been mass produced the same way since 1886, when it was pioneered by Alcoa’s founder, Charles Hall. The process involves applying a strong electrical current to alumina, which removes oxygen. Both Hall’s original experiments and today’s largest smelters use a carbon material that burns during the process, producing greenhouse gases.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will invest C$55M cash over the next three years and contribute specific intellectual property and patents.

The patent-protected technology, developed by Alcoa, is currently producing metal at the Alcoa Technical Center, near Pittsburgh in the United States, where the process has been operating at different scales since 2009.

The joint venture intends to invest up to C$40M in the United States, which would include funding to support the supply chain for the proprietary anode and cathode materials.


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Armo BioSciences sold for $1.6 billion

Eli Lilly to acquire Armo BioSciences for $50 per share

Armo BioSciences sold for $1.6 billion, Stockwinners
Armo BioSciences sold for $1.6 billion, Stockwinners

Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) and ARMO BioSciences (ARMO) announced a definitive agreement for Lilly to acquire ARMO for $50 per share, or approximately $1.6B, in an all-cash transaction.

ARMO BioSciences is a late-stage immuno-oncology company that is developing a pipeline of novel, proprietary product candidates designed to activate the immune system of cancer patients to recognize and eradicate tumors.

The acquisition will bolster Lilly’s immuno-oncology program through the addition of ARMO’s lead product candidate, pegilodecakin, a PEGylated IL-10 which has demonstrated clinical benefit as a single agent, and in combination with both chemotherapy and checkpoint inhibitor therapy, across several tumor types.

#Pegilodecakin is currently being studied in a Phase 3 clinical trial in pancreatic cancer, as well as earlier-Phase trials in lung and renal cell cancer, melanoma and other solid tumor types.

ARMO also has a number of other immuno-oncology product candidates in various stages of pre-clinical development.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lilly will promptly commence a tender offer to acquire all shares of ARMO BioSciences for a purchase price of $50 per share in cash, or approximately $1.6B.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals and the tender of a majority of the outstanding shares of ARMO’s common stock.

Very shortly after the closing of the tender offer, Lilly will acquire any shares of ARMO that are not tendered into the tender offer through a second-step merger at the tender offer price.

This transaction will be reflected in Lilly’s reported results and financial guidance according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and is subject to customary closing conditions.

There will be no change to Lilly’s 2018 non-GAAP earnings per share guidance as a result of this transaction.


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Walmart to pay $16B for about 77% in India’s Flipkart

Walmart to pay about $16B for initial stake of about 77% in India’s Flipkart

Walmart to pay about $16B for initial stake of about 77% in India's Flipkart, Stockwinners
Walmart to pay about $16B for initial stake of about 77% in India’s Flipkart, Stockwinners

Walmart (WMT) announced it has signed definitive agreements to become the largest shareholder in Flipkart Group.

The investment will help accelerate Flipkart’s customer-focused mission to transform commerce in India through technology and underscores Walmart’s commitment to sustained job creation and investment in India, the company said.

Subject to regulatory approval in India, Walmart will pay approximately $16B for an initial stake of approximately 77% in Flipkart, formally Flipkart Private Limited.

The remainder of the business will be held by some of Flipkart’s existing shareholders, including Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, Tencent Holdings (TCEHY), Tiger Global Management and Microsoft (MSFT).

While the immediate focus will be on serving customers and growing the business, Walmart supports Flipkart’s ambition to transition into a publicly-listed, majority-owned subsidiary in the future.

While Walmart and Flipkart will leverage the combined strengths of both companies, they will maintain distinct brands and operating structures.

Currently, Walmart India operates 21 Best Price cash-and-carry stores and one fulfillment center in 19 cities across nine states in India, with more than 95 percent of sourcing coming from India, aiding suppliers, creating skilled jobs and contributing to local economies across the country.

Krish Iyer, president and chief executive officer of Walmart India, will continue to lead that part of the business.


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Shire sold for $62 billion

Takeda reaches agreement to acquire Shire for $62B in cash and stock

Shire sold for $62 billion, Stockwinners
Shire sold for $62 billion, Stockwinners

Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical (TKPYY) and Shire (SHPG) announced that they have reached agreement on the terms of a recommended offer pursuant to which Takeda will acquire the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of Shire.

Under the terms of the acquisition, each Shire shareholder will be entitled to receive $30.33 in cash for each Shire share and either 0.839 new Takeda shares or 1.678 Takeda ADSs. The transaction has been approved by both companies’ boards of directors, and is expected to close in the first half of calendar year 2019.

Upon the closing of the transaction, Takeda shareholders will own approximately 50% of the combined group. “With leading market positions in prioritized therapeutic areas, an attractive geographic footprint, greater scale and efficiencies, and an even more productive R&D engine, the combined group will be better positioned to deliver highly-innovative medicines and transformative care providing better health and a brighter future for patients around the world,” Takeda said.

Takeda has entered into a bridge facility agreement of $30.85B with, among others, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking and MUFG Bank, part of the proceeds of which will be used to fund the cash consideration payable to Shire shareholders in connection with the acquisition.

It is currently contemplated that, prior to completion, the commitments under the bridge facility agreement will be reduced or refinanced with a combination of long-term debt, hybrid capital and available cash resources.

Shire plc, an Irish biotechnology company, researches, develops, licenses, manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells medicines for rare diseases and other specialized conditions worldwide.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited engages in the research and development, manufacture, marketing, and sale of pharmaceutical products worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Prescription Drug, Consumer Healthcare, and Other.


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Xcerra sold for $796 million

Cohu to acquire Xcerra in cash, stock deal valued around $796M

Xcerra sold for $796 million, Stockwinners
Xcerra sold for $796 million, Stockwinners

Cohu (COHU) and Xcerra (XCRA) announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which Cohu will acquire Xcerra for a combination of cash and stock.

The acquisition is expected to make Cohu a global leader in semiconductor test, with combined sales for Cohu and Xcerra in excess of $800M for the last twelve months.

Upon the closing of the transaction, Xcerra shareholders will be entitled to receive $9.00 in cash and 0.2109 of a share of Cohu common stock, subject to the terms of the definitive agreement.

Based on the closing price of Cohu common stock as of May 7, 2018, the transaction values Xcerra at $13.92 per share, or approximately $796M in equity value, with a total enterprise value of approximately $627M, after excluding Xcerra’s cash and marketable securities net of the debt on its balance sheet as of January 31, 2018.

The transaction value represents a premium of 8.4% to Xcerra’s closing price on May 7, 2018, and a premium of 15.4% to Xcerra’s 30-day average closing price.

The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to non-GAAP earnings per share and generate over $20M of annual run-rate cost synergies within 2 years of closing, excluding stock-based compensation and other charges.

Xcerra shareholders are expected to own approximately 30% of the combined company upon the closing of the transaction. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of calendar year 2018, subject to approval by both companies’ respective shareholders, antitrust regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.


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Starbucks receives $7.15 billion from Nestle

Nestle pays $7.15B to Starbucks for rights to sell packaged coffee, tea

Nestle pays $7.15B to Starbucks for rights to sell packaged coffee, Stockwinners
Nestle pays $7.15B to Starbucks for rights to sell packaged coffee,

Starbucks (SBUX) announced it will form a global coffee alliance with Nestle (NSRGY) to “accelerate and grow the global reach of Starbucks brands in Consumer Packaged Goods and Foodservice.”

It added, “With a shared commitment to ethical and sustainable sourcing of coffee, this alliance will transform, expand and elevate both the at-home and away-from-home coffee and related categories around the world.” As part of the alliance, Nestle will obtain the rights to market, sell, and distribute Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Starbucks Reserve, Teavana, Starbucks VIA and Torrefazione Italia packaged coffee and tea in all global at-home and away-from-home channels.

Nestle will pay Starbucks $7.15B in closing consideration, and Starbucks “will retain a significant stake as licensor and supplier of roast and ground and other products going forward.”

Additionally, the Starbucks brand portfolio will be represented on Nestle’s single-serve capsule systems.

The agreement is subject to customary regulatory approval and is expected to close this summer or early fall.

The agreement excludes ready-to-drink coffee, tea and juice products. Starbucks intends to use the after-tax proceeds from the up-front payment primarily to accelerate share buybacks and now expects to return approximately $20B in cash to shareholders in the form of share buybacks and dividends through fiscal year 2020.

Additionally, the transaction is expected to be earnings per share accretive by the end of fiscal year 2021 or sooner, with no change to the company’s currently stated long-term financial targets.


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International rig count rises in April

Baker Hughes reports April international rig count 978, up 6 rigs from March

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Rig Counts Rise – See Stockwinners.com Market Radar to read more

Baker Hughes (BHGE)  announced that the Baker Hughes international rig count for April 2018 was 978, up 6 from the 972 counted in March 2018, and up 22 from the 956 counted in April 2017.

The international offshore rig count for April 2018 was 194 up 6 from the 185 counted in March 2018, and down 7 from the 201 counted in April 2017.

The average U.S. rig count for April 2018 was 1,011, up 22 from the 989 counted in March 2018, and up 158 from the 853 counted in April 2017.

The international offshore rig count for April 2018 was 194. Stockwinners
The international offshore rig count for April 2018 was 194.

The average Canadian rig count for April 2018 was 98, down 120 from the 218 counted in March 2018, and down 10 from the 108 counted in April 2017.

The worldwide rig count for April 2018 was 2,087, down 92 from the 2,279 counted in March 2018, and up 170 from the 1,917 counted in April 2017.

Baker Hughes, a GE company provides integrated oilfield products, services, and digital solutions worldwide. Its Oilfield Services segment offers drilling, wireline, evaluation, completion, production, and intervention services; and drilling and completions fluids, completions tools and systems, wellbore intervention tools and services, artificial lift systems, pressure pumping systems, and oilfield and industrial chemicals for integrated oil and natural gas, and oilfield service companies for onshore and offshore operations.


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Gramercy Property Trust sold for $7.6 billion

Gramercy Property Trust to be acquired by Blackstone for $27.50 per share 

Gramercy Property Trust sold for $7.6 billion. Stockwinners
Gramercy Property Trust sold for $7.6 billion.

Gramercy Property Trust (GPT) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with affiliates of Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII, under which Blackstone (BX) will acquire all outstanding common shares of Gramercy for $27.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $7.6B.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by Gramercy’s Board of Trustees and represents a premium of 23% over the 30-day volume-weighted average share price ending May 4, 2018 and a premium of 15% over the closing stock price on May 4, 2018.

Completion of the transaction, which is currently expected to occur in the second half of 2018, is contingent upon customary closing conditions, including the approval of Gramercy’s shareholders, who will vote on the transaction at a special meeting on a date to be announced.

The transaction is not contingent on receipt of financing by Blackstone.

Gramercy shareholders will be entitled to receive the previously announced second quarter dividend of $0.375 per share payable on July 16, 2018, and if the transaction is completed after October 15, 2018 Gramercy shareholders will receive a per diem amount of approximately $0.004 per share for each day from October 15, 2018 until the closing date.

Gramercy Property Trust is a leading global investor and asset manager of commercial real estate. The Company specializes in acquiring and managing high quality, income producing commercial real estate leased to high quality tenants in major markets in the United States and Europe.


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Barron’s is bullish on Apple and Exxon

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, stocks to watch

BULLISH   MENTIONS

Apple reaffirms position as tech’s ‘undisputed’ leader – In a follow-up story, Barron’s says that with its earnings report last week, Apple (AAPL) flexed its financial muscle and reaffirmed its position as “tech’s undisputed leader.” Fiscal second-quarter iPhone sales came in roughly as expected, while the company’s total profit was slightly ahead of estimates, the report notes, adding that Apple’s real surprise came from its updated buyback plans. Investors rewarded the company with its best five-day stretch in the stock market since October 2011, Barron’s says.

Apple raking in profits amid technology impasse – Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) has bought another 75M shares of Apple (AAPL), Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. While the current impasse for technology is going to continue to reduce new opportunities for Apple, for competitors such as Samsung (SSNLF) and suppliers like Qorvo (QRVO), there is enough wealth in the steady supply of what exists to keep investors like Buffett delighted with the cash flow, he contends. Milking it, at the moment, triumphs over innovation, Barron’s says.

Boeing eyeing ‘air supremacy’  – Boeing  (BA) announced last week that it would acquire KLX, whose products include airplane parts, as part of the aircraft manufacturer’s long-term plan to bolster its presence in parts, components, and services, Lawrence Strauss writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. This is a trend investors should keep an eye on, he contends.

Sarepta winning over investors – Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) has been winning over investors with rising sales of its drug to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy and a promising pipeline of drugs targeted at the fatal muscle-wasting disease, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Part of the optimism surrounding Sarepta is that it can bring to market two drugs similar to Exondys 51, which treats about 13% of DMD patients, he notes, adding that these drugs – casimersen and golodirsen – target mutations at other points on the dystrophin gene and could treat another 16% of DMD patients.

Exxon Mobil looks appealing – Demand for oil and natural gas is expected to be strong for decades and to capitalize on this growth, Exxon (XOM) has an ambitious plan to increase the company’s energy output by 25% and more than double earnings by 2025, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. At a share price of $77, Exxon looks “appealing,” he adds.

BEARISH  MENTIONS

Wolverine may face mounting cleanup costs – The Scotchgard chemicals that gave stain resistance to Wolverine’s Hush Puppies shoes have leached into wells and aquifers from rusting barrels of sludge and other factory waste scattered around Michigan’s Kent County, where Wolverine (WWW)  used the chemicals for about 50 years, Bill Alpert writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. The footwear firm has provided water filters to area homes and last year it set aside $35M to cover expected legal and remediation costs, but the question is whether $35M is enough, Barron’s notes.


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Newell Brands sells its Waddington Group for $2.3B

Newell Brands to sell The Waddington Group to Novolex for about $2.3B

Newell Brands tumbles on outlook, Stockwinners.com
Newell Brands sells its Waddington Group for $2.3B

Newell Brands (NWL) announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell The Waddington Group, its global consumer and commercial package manufacturing business, to Novolex Holdings, a leading provider of paper and plastic packaging products backed by The Carlyle Group (CG).

The Waddington Group, based in Covington, KY, comprises a global brand portfolio including Eco-Products, the leader in the green packaging space; POLAR PAK containers, serving ware, drink-ware and cutlery; WNA upscale disposable plastic products; and other industry-leading brands.

The sale is part of Newell Brands’ previously announced Accelerated Transformation strategy, designed to create a simpler, faster, stronger consumer-focused portfolio of leading brands.

Gross proceeds from the divestiture are expected to be approximately $2.3B, subject to customary working capital and transaction adjustments. Waddington’s 2017 net sales were $907M.

The company expects the transaction to result in after-tax proceeds of approximately $2.2N, which will be applied to deleveraging and share repurchase.

The transaction is expected to close within approximately 60 days, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval. J.P. Morgan Securities acted as financial advisor to Newell Brands on the transaction.

NWL closed at $26.69


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Esperion falls after drug failure

Esperion falls after Phase 3 study of bempedoic acid met primary endpoint

Esperion announces 'positive' top-line results from bempedoic acid study, Stockwinners.com
There were no clinically relevant differences between the bempedoic acid and placebo groups

Esperion (ESPR) announced top-line results from the second pivotal, Phase 3 study, the long-term safety study of bempedoic acid 180 mg, in this case evaluating the safety, tolerability and efficacy of bempedoic acid versus placebo in high-risk patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease who are inadequately controlled with current lipid-modifying therapies, including maximally tolerated statin therapy.

The study included 2,230 patients and met the primary endpoint of safety and tolerability and the key efficacy endpoint with on-treatment LDL-C lowering of an additional 20% at twelve weeks, the company said.

Patients treated with bempedoic acid also achieved a significant reduction of 22% in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, an important marker of the underlying inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease, Esperion added.

There were no clinically relevant differences between the bempedoic acid and placebo groups in the occurrence of adverse events with 78.5% and 78.7% respectively; or serious adverse events with 14.5% and 14.0% respectively, it added.

Discontinuations due to AEs were 10.9% and 7.1%, respectively for the bempedoic acid and placebo groups; discontinuations due to muscle-related AEs were 2.2% and 1.9%, respectively, in the bempedoic acid and placebo groups.

“In this study, the largest in our Phase 3 program, bempedoic acid was observed to be safe and well tolerated over a 52-week period, while providing clinically and statistically significant LDL-cholesterol lowering and reductions in hsCRP when added on to maximally tolerated statin therapy,” said Tim Mayleben, CEO of Esperion.

“In the coming months, results from our three remaining pivotal Phase 3 studies are expected to further validate the safety, efficacy and tolerability profile of bempedoic acid and the bempedoic acid / ezetimibe combination pill, definitively establishing these once-daily oral therapies as convenient and complementary to existing treatments for the 13 million people in the U.S. with ASCVD who live with elevated levels of LDL-cholesterol despite taking maximally-tolerated lipid-modifying therapy and remain at high risk for further cardiovascular disease or events, including heart attack and stroke.”

Esperion shares in premarket trading are down 27% to $52.40.


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