Milacron sold for $2 billion

Hillenbrand to acquire Milacron in cash, stock deal valued around $2B

Milacron sold for $2 billion, Stockwinners

Hillenbrand (HI) and Milacron (MCRN) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Hillenbrand will acquire Milacron in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $2B, including net debt of approximately $686M as of March 31.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, Milacron stockholders will receive $11.80 in cash and a fixed exchange ratio of 0.1612 shares of Hillenbrand common stock for each share of Milacron common stock they own.

Based on Hillenbrand’s closing stock price on July 11, the last trading day prior to the announcement, the implied cash and stock consideration to be received by Milacron stockholders is $18.07 per share, representing a premium of approximately 34% to Milacron’s closing stock price on July 11, and a premium of approximately 38% to Milacron’s 30-day volume-weighted average price as of the close on July 11.

Hillenbrand pays $2 billion to buy one of its suppliers, Stockwinners

Upon closing, Hillenbrand shareholders will own approximately 84% of the combined company, and Milacron stockholders will own approximately 16%.

Milacron will benefit from the Hillenbrand Operating Model, or HOM, and Hillenbrand expects to leverage Milacron’s global shared services center to drive operational efficiency.

The transaction is expected to generate annualized, run-rate cost synergies of approximately $50M within three years following close, primarily through reducing public company costs, realizing operating efficiencies, and capturing direct and indirect spend opportunities.

The transaction is also expected to generate revenue synergies, driven by opportunities to cross-sell extruder and material handling equipment, and to leverage the combined service footprint to further penetrate the product aftermarket.

These efficiencies will be driven across the combined organization through utilizing the HOM, while maintaining a commitment to serving customers with excellence and innovation.

The transaction, which is expected to close in Q1 of 2020, is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, including the approval of stockholders of Milacron.

About the Companies

Hillenbrand, Inc. operates as a diversified industrial company in the United States and internationally. The company operates in two segments, Process Equipment Group and Batesville. The Process Equipment Group segment designs, engineers, manufactures, markets, and services process and material handling equipment and systems for various industries, including plastics, food and pharmaceuticals, chemicals, fertilizers, minerals and mining, energy, wastewater treatment, forest products, and other general industrials.

Milacron Holdings Corp. manufactures, distributes, and services engineered and customized systems within the plastic technology and processing industry in the United States and internationally. 

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Canary in the mine, Homebuilders

Homebuilders continue tumble as Credit Suisse downgrades several in space

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Homebuilder shares tumble; Stockwinners

Many believe that housing market is the engine of the economy. If that is the case, we should expect a slow down in the economy. Housing prices have always been one of the first indicators of a slowdown or a coming out of a recession for the economy. We should brace ourselves for lower home prices!

Shares of homebuilders continued their decline after an analyst at Credit Suisse downgraded several companies in the space, saying that she expects more tempered demand and rising affordability concerns to weigh on homebuilding sentiment and broader group valuation, offsetting any near-term earnings beats.

A different analyst at the firm downgraded home improvement retailers Home Depot (HD) and Lowe’s (LOW) this morning, due to his concern that their recent results and stock prices have disconnected from housing.

HOMEBUILDERS DOWNGRADED

Credit Suisse analyst Susan Maklari told investors in a research note this morning that although she believes housing and macro fundamentals remain “intact,” including high consumer confidence and sustained low unemployment, unit gains are likely to moderate.

She sees any near-term earnings beats to be offset by even more tempered demand and rising affordability concerns. She sees average order growth for 2019 of 8%, compared to 11% in 2018 and 12% in 2017, and sees “relative” outperformance from builders who are able to capture above-trend gains due to product mix, like D.R. Horton (DHI), and geographic positioning, like PulteGroup (PHM). Maklari downgraded Lennar (LEN) and Meritage Homes (MTH) to Neutral from Outperform and lowered her respective price targets for the shares to $45 from $55 and to $36 from $50.

The analyst sees more limited upside to Lennar looking ahead as its strategic initiatives, as well as geographic exposure, are reflected in its current valuation.

While Meritage has benefited from efforts to drive improvements in operations in its East region as well as the rollout of its entry level targeted homes, Maklari believes much of the initial gains have been captured and she expects limited upside to the current valuation as comparisons become more difficult.

The analyst also downgraded KB Home (KBH) to Underperform from Neutral and lowered her price target to $18 from $27, saying that over the last several months her channel checks and Realtor Survey have pointed to slowing demand in higher cost MSAs, including California, which accounted for about 50% of the company’s 2017 revenues.

HOME DEPOT, LOWE’S ALSO DOWNGRADED

Another analyst at Credit Suisse, Seth Sigman, this morning downgraded Home Depot and Lowe’s, both to Neutral from Outperform, citing his concern that their recent results and stock prices have disconnected from housing. In a research note of his own, Sigman said his key concern is that home prices will continue to moderate, at least temporarily, as higher rates weigh on affordability.

Overall, Sigman still sees EPS growing, but sees less upside over the next 12 months relative to current estimates.

The analyst continues to view Home Depot as best-in-class in retail, but struggles to find multiple upside from its current premium level as housing sentiment shifts and some uncertainty arises. While he continues to expect meaningful improvement in sales and operating profit at Lowe’s under new CEO Marvin Ellison, Sigman thinks consensus estimates are baking that in. The analyst cut his price target on Home Depot to $204 from $222 and on Lowe’s to $111 from $115.

PRICE ACTION

Shares of Lennar dropped 3%, while Meritage Homes dropped 6.6% and KB Home declined 4.4%. Other homebuilders were dragged lower, including D.R. Horton, PulteGroup and Toll Brothers (TOL), which are all down over 3%.

Additionally, Home Depot and Lowe’s both declined over 4%. Further, XHB, the homebuilding ETF, is down nearly 3% today and about 10% month-to-date.


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ModSpace sold for $1.1 billion

Williams Scotsman to acquire ModSpace for approx. $1.1B

ModSpace sold for $1.1 billion, Stockwinners
ModSpace sold for $1.1 billion, Stockwinners

WillScot Corporation (WSC) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Modular Space Holdings, the parent holding company of Modular Space Corporation, for an enterprise value of approximately $1.1B. Williams Scotsman will indirectly acquire MS Holdings for a purchase price comprising $1,063,750,000 of cash consideration, 6,458,500 shares of WSC Class A common stock and warrants to purchase 10,000,000 shares of WSC Class A common stock at an exercise price of $15.50 per share, subject to customary adjustments.

The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in 3Q18.

ModSpace, a privately-owned provider of office trailers, portable storage units and modular buildings, had approximately $1.1B of total assets as of March 31, 2018.

ModSpace generated $453M of total revenue, $18M of net income and $106M of Adjusted EBITDA for the twelve months ended March 31, 2018. Once combined, Williams Scotsman will have over 160,000 modular space and portable storage units serving a diverse customer base from approximately 120 locations across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Williams Scotsman expects to capture $60M in annual cost synergies after integration, with approximately 80% of the forecast synergies expected to be realized on a full run-rate basis by the end of 2019.

Williams Scotsman also expects to benefit from the net operating tax loss carryforwards to be acquired in the transaction, and for the transaction to be accretive to earnings in 2019.

Williams Scotsman expects to expand its “Ready to Work” value proposition across the ModSpace fleet and customer base, a strategy that has driven double-digit organic Adjusted EBITDA growth in Williams Scotsman’s U.S. Modular segment in recent years and proven successful in Williams Scotsman’s acquisitions of Acton Mobile and Tyson Onsite.

Until the transaction closes, both companies will operate independently and execute on their respective strategic priorities. Williams Scotsman has secured committed financing to fund the transaction, which includes an amendment and expansion of its existing revolving ABL credit facility to $1.35B with an accordion feature allowing up to $1.8B of total capacity, a $280M secured bridge credit facility, and $320M unsecured bridge credit facility.

Williams Scotsman expects the permanent financing plan to include a combination of long-term debt and equity or equity-linked securities.

WSC closed at $12.15, it last traded at $14.10.


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A.V. Homes sold for $963 million

Taylor Morrison to acquire A.V. Homes for $21.50 per share

A.V. Homes sold for $963 million, Stockwinners
A.V. Homes sold for $963 million

Taylor Morrison Home (TMHC) and AV Homes (AVHI) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Taylor Morrison will acquire all of the outstanding shares of AV Homes common stock at $21.50 per share in a cash and stock transaction valued, including outstanding AV Homes debt, at approximately $963M.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of both Taylor Morrison and AV Homes and will be submitted to the stockholders of AV Homes for approval.

The transaction is expected to close late in Q3 or early in Q4 and the closing is subject to customary closing conditions. TPG Capital, the holder of approximately 40% of AV Homes common stock, has agreed to vote all of its shares of AV Homes common stock in favor of the transaction.

Under the terms of the agreement, AV Homes stockholders will have the option to receive, at their election, consideration per share equal to $21.50 in cash, 0.9793 shares of Taylor Morrison Class A common stock or the combination of $12.64 in cash and 0.4034 shares of Taylor Morrison Class A common stock, subject to an overall proration of approximately 60% cash and 40% stock.

On a pro forma basis, AV Homes stockholders are expected to own up to approximately 10% of the combined company, subject to conversion mechanics applicable to holders of AV Homes’ convertible notes.

AVHI closed at $16.50.


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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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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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House Republicans sign letter expressing ‘deep concern’ over Trump tariffs

House Republicans sign letter expressing ‘deep concern’ over Trump tariffs

divided-gop over Trump tariff, Stockwinners
GOP divided over Trump tariffs,

Over 100 House Republicans have signed a letter to the White House expressing “deep concern” over potential tariffs on aluminum and steel imports.

divided-gop over Trump tariff, Stockwinners
GOP divided over Trump tariffs,

Representative Kevin Brady, a Republican from Texas and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote in the letter that, while the GOP lawmakers “support” President Trump’s “resolve to address distortions caused by China’s unfair practices,” they urge him to “reconsider the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to the U.S. economy and its workers.”

The letter says that “key elements” are required to minimize any negative consequences associated with the proposed tariffs, namely that any relief should be “narrow” and that a robust exclusion process should be announced at the outset that allows U.S. companies to petition for and promptly obtain duty-free access for imports that are unavailable from U.S. sources or otherwise present extenuating circumstances.

In addition, the lawmakers believe that existing contracts to purchase aluminum or steel should be “grandfathered to allow duty-free imports and avoid disrupting the operations and finances of projects that are already budgeted and underway.”

Lastly, the letter says that the effects of this remedy on the U.S. economy should be “reviewed and reconsidered” on a short-term basis to determine if another approach would be better. Publicly traded metal producers include U.S. Steel (X), Century Aluminum (CENX), Alcoa (AA), and AK Steel (AKS).


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TopBuild to acquire United Subcontractors for $475M

TopBuild to acquire United Subcontractors for $475M in cash

TopBuild to acquire United Subcontractors. Stockwinners.com
TopBuild to acquire United Subcontractors

TopBuild (BLD) has entered into an agreement to acquire United Subcontractors in an all-cash transaction valued at $475M.

The company expects to finance the acquisition using a combination of debt financing and cash on hand.USI is a leading provider of insulation installation and distribution services to the residential and commercial construction markets, generating pro forma annual revenue of approximately $375M in 2017 and an adjusted EBITDA margin of 12.5%.

It has a diversified product and service offering including fiberglass, spray foam and window and glass installation.

Founded in 1998 and headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, USI has 38 locations in 14 states, including high growth regions in the Pacific Northwest, Mountain West, Southwest and Southeast.

TopBuild expects to achieve cost savings of $15M, with approximately $5M-$10M expected in the first full year after closing and the full run-rate by the end of year two after closing.

On a December 31, 2017 pro forma basis, inclusive of expected run rate synergies of $15 million, the combined company had revenue of $2.3 billion, adjusted EBITDA of $259 million, almost 10,000 employees and close to 300 installation and distribution locations.

The Company plans to fund this transaction using proceeds from a $350 million bond issuance, $100 million from a delayed draw term loan commitment currently available under its existing secured credit facility and $25 million from cash on hand or drawings under its revolving credit facility.

In the event the bond market terms are not attractive to the Company at the time of execution, the Company would expect to finance the transaction with secured bank debt.

At the close of the transaction, the Company’s net debt to pro forma adjusted EBITDA implies a multiple of 2.9 times pre-synergies, or 2.8 times post-synergies.

The transaction, which has been approved by TopBuild’s Board of Directors, is subject to customary closing conditions, including expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

The Company expects the transaction to close in the second quarter of 2018.

TopBuild Corp. engages in the installation, distribution, and sale of insulation and other building products to the United States construction industry. The company operates in two segments, Installation and Distribution.

BLD closed at $68.00.


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Barron’s in bullish on Citi, bearish on GE

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: 

Hovnanian (HOV) stock too cheap to ignore- Hovnanian Enterprises offers an interesting speculative bet, because more than a decade’s worth of problems are reflected in the price, Brett Arends writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. A successful resolution of its legal issues, a corporate turnaround, a takeover, or a continued recovery in the U.S. real estate market are all potential catalysts, he adds.

JPMorgan, Walmart cash flow yields exceed dividend yields – The cash flow yields of JPMorgan (JPM), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Walmart (WMT), Pfizer (PFE), Cisco (CSCO), AbbVie (ABBV), PepsiCo (PEP), 3M (MMM), Bristol-Myers (BMY), United Technologies (UTX), Texas Instruments (TXN) and Abbott Laboratories (ABT) exceed their dividend yields, a good signal for dividend coverage and growth, Lawrence Strauss writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.

Alphabet, Citi well positioned for later stages of market rally – It is time for investors to think about how and when bull markets end, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Groups to favor now include financials, which benefit from rising interest rates, and industrials, he notes, adding that technology still looks attractive. Alphabet (GOOG; GOOGL), Lam Research (LRCX), Citigroup (C), and Cummins (CMI) are all well positioned for the later stages of a long market rally, Hough contends.

Bears, bulls battle over Under Armour – In a follow-up story, Barron’s says that Under Armour (UA) reported fourth quarter revenue that beat Wall Street’s estimate, but is difficult to tell whether the revenue upside represents a turning point for the business. Bulls and bears both found something to support their arguments, as revenue increased but gross margin declined while inventories swelled and store count rose 22%, the report notes.

BEARISH  MENTION:

General Electric stock could drop another 10% – General Electric (GE) lost $6B in 2017 after a series of charges and impairments, cut its dividend by 50%, and its accounting is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but lately it has been attracting fresh attention from value-oriented investors, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Nonetheless, the stock is not a bargain and could drop another 10% or more, he contends


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Layne Christensen sold for $565M

Granite Construction to acquire Layne Christensen in $565M stock merger

Granite Construction to acquire Layne Christensen. Stockwinners.com
Granite Construction to acquire Layne Christensen 

Granite Construction Incorporated (GVA) and Layne Christensen Company (LAYN) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement whereby Granite will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Layne in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at $565 million, including the assumption of net debt.

The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.

Granite Construction to acquire Layne Christensen. Stockwinners.com
Granite Construction to acquire Layne Christensen

Under the terms of the agreement, Layne shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 0.270 Granite shares for each share of Layne common stock they own. This represents $17.00 per Layne share, or a premium of 33%, based on the volume-weighted average prices for Granite and Layne shares over the past 90 trading days.

Following the close of the transaction, Layne shareholders will own approximately 12% of Granite shares on a fully diluted basis, and Granite’s Board will be expanded to include one additional director from Layne.

The transaction represents an enterprise value multiple of 8.2x 2018 expected EBITDA.

Granite expects to achieve approximately $20 million of annual run-rate cost savings by the third year following the close of the transaction, with approximately one-third realized in 2018.

Granite expects to incur approximately $11 million in one-time costs to achieve these savings.

The transaction is expected to be accretive to Granite’s adjusted earnings per share, and high single-digit accretive to Granite’s adjusted cash earnings per share in the first year after closing.

Granite expects to assume outstanding Layne convertible debt with principal value of $170 million and honor the terms and existing maturity date provisions of the indentures.

The transaction is not expected to trigger any change of control provisions under Layne’s indentures.

Granite also expects to fund the cash financing requirements of the transaction of approximately $70 million through a combination of existing cash on hand and availability under Granite’s revolving credit facility.

Following close, Granite will maintain an investment grade credit profile and significant financial flexibility.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018, is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including applicable regulatory approvals and the approval of the shareholders of Layne.

Wynnefield Capital, which has an approximate 9% voting interest in Layne, has agreed to vote in favor of the transaction.

In connection with the transaction, Granite will issue approximately 5.4 million shares of Granite common stock to Layne common stockholders.

LAYN closed at $12.62. GVA closed at $60.08.


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Barron’s is bullish on Danaher and GM

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:

Danaher among more reliable stocks– Danaher’s (DHR) results were met with cries of sell even though they were stellar as ever, sending the shares into negative territory on Monday, Ben Levisohn writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Fast-forward to Friday, the stock market was in freefall but the stock weathered the blast, he notes, adding that there is something to be said for Danaher’s consistency. While it will never be the fastest grower, it has grown sales at 4%-5%, quarter after quarter, while cutting costs and improving efficiency to grow earnings, making it one of the more reliable stocks out there, the report says.

General Motors shares could rise more than 35% – General Motors (GM) has been turning in strong profits, which have helped it fund research into autonomous and electric cars, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. When Tesla’s (TSLA) stock-market value surpassed General Motors last year, it was big news, but recently the latter has edged back into the top spot, he adds. Selling at just seven times forward earnings, General Motors shares have room to rise more than 35% in the year ahead, Hough contends.

Cisco, Oracle among stocks with rising dividend estimates – Some of the large-cap companies whose dividend estimates for their current fiscal year have increased by at least 2% since July include Cisco (CSCO), Texas Instruments (TXN), UnitedHealth (UNH), Oracle (ORCL), Comcast (CMCSA), 3M (MMM), AbbVie (ABBV), Boeing (BA), Union Pacific (UNP), Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), Wells Fargo (WFC) and JPMorgan (JPM), Lawrence Strauss writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.

TD Ameritrade adding round-the-clock trading – TD Ameritrade  (AMTD) is offering customers more social media capabilities and has added round-the-clock trading in 12 exchange-traded funds, from Sunday evening through Friday evening using its thinkorswim trading platform or TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader app, Theresa Carey writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.

Apple, Facebook facing challenges, shares still holding up well – Considering the challenges they face, both Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) shares held up well, Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Apple offered a forecast for its March quarter that missed expectations, and Wall Street now thinks that the company is reaching a bit too far in pricing the iPhone X at $999-$1150, he notes. Nonetheless, Apple is still an empire very much in control of its destiny, Ray contends. Meanwhile, Facebook said people are spending less time than before on the site, but Mark Zuckerberg calmly assured the Street that he thinks it is a good thing, the report points out.

Cisco, Salesforce among most sustainable companies – Cisco (CSCO) tops Barron’s first annual list of most sustainable companies, followed by Salesforce (CRM), Best Buy (BBY), Intuit (INTU), HP Inc. (HPQ), Texas Instruments (TXN), Microsoft (MSFT), Oshkosh (OSK), Clorox (CLX) and Xylem (XYL).

Spirit Air offers plenty of potential upside – Following a steep decline, shares of Spirit Airlines (SAVE) now trade for less than 12 times forward earnings estimates, a good value or growth play, Brett Arends writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Long-term investors may need to be patient because short-term headwinds pop up so frequently for airline stocks, but in return for its risks, Spirit offers reasonable valuations and plenty of potential upside, he argues

BEARISH  MENTIONS:

Musk new compensation package sets wrong targets – Tesla’s  (TSLA) new 10-year compensation package, which considers that Elon Musk could grow the company’s market capitalization from the current $58B to $650B in 2028, is not shareholder-friendly as it emphasizes market cap goals, not sustainable profits, Vito Racanelli writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.


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Ply Gem sold for $2.4B

Ply Gem to be acquired by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in deal valued at $2.4B

Ply Gem to be acquired by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in deal valued at $2.4B. Stockwinners.com
Ply Gem sold for $2.4B

Ply Gem Holdings (PGEM) and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice announced a definitive agreement under which CD&R funds will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Ply Gem common stock in a go-private transaction valued at approximately $2.4B.

Ply Gem’s board of directors unanimously approved the agreement, which provides for the payment of $21.64 per share in cash to all holders of Ply Gem common stock.

The cash purchase price represents a premium of approximately 20% over Ply Gem’s closing stock price on January 30, 2018.

Promptly following entry into the agreement, stockholders holding greater than 50% of the outstanding shares of Ply Gem common stock executed a written consent to approve the transaction, thereby providing the required stockholder approval.

CD&R has also entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Atrium Windows & Doors and combine the company with Ply Gem to create an exterior building products company with total revenue of more than $2.4B in 2017.

The transactions are expected to close simultaneously in the second quarter of 2018 and are subject to the receipt of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

Closing of the acquisition of Ply Gem is not subject to the closing of the acquisition of Atrium.

However, assuming both transactions close simultaneously, CD&R funds will own approximately 70% of the new privately-held company, and Atrium shareholders, which include funds managed by Golden Gate Capital, will hold approximately 30%.

The new Ply Gem will continue to be headquartered in Cary, NC, and Gary E. Robinette, currently Chairman and CEO of Ply Gem, will continue as Chairman and CEO. John Krenicki, a CD&R Operating Partner and former Vice Chairman of General Electric Company, will become Lead Director of the Board.

Ply Gem Holdings, Inc. manufactures and sells residential and commercial building products primarily in the United States and Canada.


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Barron’s is bullish on Gold and FedEx, bearish on Caterpillar

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

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Stockwinners offers Barron’s review of stocks to buy, stocks to watch

BULLISH  MENTIONS:

FedEx EPS (FDX) growth should more than triple next year – U.S. postal rates look likely to rise, pinching Amazon (AMZN) and benefiting FedEx and UPS (UPS), Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. While for now UPS enjoys higher profit margins, investors should favor FedEx as years-long investment in automating and expanding its hubs has given the company a speed and efficiency advantage over the former, he adds. Earnings per share growth for FedEx should more than triple next year as tax cuts kick in, the report notes.

Deal makers now ‘on the clock.’  – Deal makers may be on the clock, especially if one believes that the bull market is in its waning stages and the Federal Reserve is serious about interest rate hikes, Alex Eule writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. 2018 merger speculation already kicked off in a big way, with headlines that Amazon (AMZN) could buy Target (TGT) and Apple could acquire Netflix (NFLX), he notes, adding that M&A may be necessary to grow and even to survive.

Valero, Home Depot among companies expected to raise dividend – Charles Schwab (SCHW), Home Depot (HD), Valero Energy (VLO), NextEra Energy (NEE), Allstate (ALL) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) are among the large companies expected to announce healthy dividend increases soon, Lawrence Strauss writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. These projected boosts come amid a solid outlook for dividend growth in the U.S. and globally, he adds.

Intel not to be blamed for failures of computer security – Intel (INTC) came under fire for the revelation that its chips were vulnerable, but the nature of technology and how the industry approaches computer security are the real problem, not Intel chips, Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. There may be things Intel can do, and in fact AMD (AMD), whose chips run the same software, said its products are less vulnerable than Intel’s, he notes, but difference here are just relative as hackers’ inventiveness will continue.

Kohl’s making right moves to grow earnings. – Until recently, Kohl’s (KSS) was largely written off as a casualty of Amazon’s (AMZN) domination of the retail sector, but the stock has become one of the hottest plays in retail as investors increasingly believe that the e-Commerce giant could acquire the company, Steven Sears writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Even without Amazon, Kohl’s seems to be making the right moves to grow earnings, he adds.

Gold rally may be ‘just the start.’  – Gold’s recent rally could be just the start, and investors betting on a new bull market in gold can buy physical gold, mining stocks or funds that track the metal and mining shares, with junior miners typically outperforming big-caps in a gold bull market, John Kimelman writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Publicly traded companies in the sector include Newmont Mining (NEM), Barrick Gold (ABX), Goldcorp (GG) and Agnico Eagle (AEM).

BEARISH  MENTIONS:

Bank earnings could ‘be messy.’ – The backdrop for banks could not be much better but earnings season is about to begin – with JPMorgan (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and PNC Financial (PNC) expected to report on Friday – and it could “be messy,” Ben Levisohn writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. While tax reform should be a boon for banks, it will also produce one-time charges and gains that will need to be accounted for, he adds.

Time to sell Caterpillar – In a follow-up story, Barron’s says that with Caterpillar (CAT) soaring, it is time to sell. Investors should not expect the stock to move quickly from here, as cyclical companies like Caterpillar tend to trade at high multiples of earnings at the bottom of the cycle and low multiples at the top, it adds.


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Hubbell to acquire Aclara Technologies for $1.1B

Hubbell to acquire Aclara Technologies for $1.1B

Hubbell to acquire Aclara Technologies for $1.1B. Stockwinners.com
Hubbell to acquire Aclara Technologies for $1.1B

Hubbell (HUBB) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Aclara Technologies, an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners for approximately $1.1B in an all- cash transaction.

Hubbell Incorporated designs, manufactures, and sells electrical and electronic products in the United States and internationally.

The transaction strengthens and broadens Hubbell Power Systems’ competitive position across utility markets.

The acquisition will combine the complementary strengths of Aclara and Hubbell Power Systems, providing the opportunity to integrate Aclara’s strong customer relationships and smart infrastructure solutions into the Hubbell portfolio and accelerate ongoing innovation efforts to address utility customer demand for data and integrated solutions.

Aclara offers a comprehensive suite of solutions, including advanced metering infrastructure, meters and edge devices, software, and installation services.

Aclara reported revenues of $500M and adjusted EBITDA of $90M for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2017.

The transaction is expected to be accretive in 2018 to Hubbell’s diluted EPS, excluding intangible amortization and deal related costs, and in 2019 on a GAAP basis.

Further, Hubbell expects to maintain an investment grade rating. Hubbell has obtained fully committed bridge financing from J.P. Morgan Securities, BofA Merrill Lynch, and HSBC Securities.

Hubbell expects its debt-to-adjusted EBITD ratio to be 3.1x at the close of the transaction, and anticipates reducing this ratio over the next few years.

The transaction, which is expected to be completed in 1Q18, is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including U.S. antitrust clearance.

HUBB closed at $135.23.


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Rig counts continue to rise

Baker Hughes reports U.S. rig count up 6 to 929 rigs 

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Baker Hughes reports that the U.S. rig count is up 6 rigs from last week to 929, with oil rigs up 2 to 749, gas rigs up 4 to 180, and miscellaneous rigs unchanged.

The U.S. Rig Count is up 332 rigs from last year’s count of 597, with oil rigs up 272, gas rigs up 61, and miscellaneous rigs down 1 to 0.

The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is down 2 rigs from last week to 20 and down 2 rigs year-over-year.

The Canada Rig Count is up 7 rigs from last week to 222, with oil rigs up 4 to 111 and gas rigs up 3 to 111, and miscellaneous rigs unchanged.

The Canada Rig Count is up 22 rigs from last year’s count of 200, with oil rigs up 11, gas rigs up 13, and miscellaneous rigs down 2 to 0.

Crude oil is up 85 cents to $58.25 per barrel.  Brent crude is up $1.01 to $63.64 per barrel.


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