FDA to hold hearing on cannabis products

FDA to hold hearing on potential regulatory pathways for cannabis products

FDA to evaluate cannabis use, Stockwinners

The FDA issued a statement from outgoing Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on new steps to advance the agency’s continued evaluation of potential regulatory pathways for cannabis-containing and cannabis-derived products, in which he stated in part:

“In recent years, we’ve seen a growing interest in the development of therapies and other FDA-regulated consumer products derived from cannabis and its components, including cannabidiol, or CBD…We also recognize that stakeholders are looking to the FDA for clarity on how our authorities apply to such products, what pathways are available to market such products lawfully under these authorities, and how the FDA is carrying out its responsibility to protect public health and safety with respect to such products.”

The FDA is announcing a number of new steps and actions to advance its consideration of a framework for the lawful marketing of appropriate cannabis and cannabis-derived products under its existing authorities, Gottlieb said.

These new steps include:

A public hearing on May 31, as well as a broader opportunity for written public comment, for stakeholders to share their experiences and challenges with these products, including information and views related to product safety;

The formation of a high-level internal agency working group to explore potential pathways for dietary supplements and/or conventional foods containing CBD to be lawfully marketed; including a consideration of what statutory or regulatory changes might be needed and what the impact of such marketing would be on the public health;

Updates to its webpage with answers to frequently asked questions on this topic to help members of the public understand how the FDA’s requirements apply to these products;

and the issuance of multiple warning letters to companies marketing CBD products with “egregious and unfounded claims that are aimed at vulnerable populations.”

Publicly traded companies in the cannabis space include Aphria (APHA), Aurora Cannabis (ACB), CV Sciences (CVSI), CannTrust Holdings (CNTTF), Canopy Growth (CGC), Cronos Group (CRON), General Cannabis (CANN), India Globalization Capital (IGC), MediPharm Labs (MLCPF) and Tilray (TLRY).

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Advaxis jumps on its prostate cancer drug data

Advaxis says ADXS-PSA in combination with KEYTRUDA prolonged survival in mCRPC

Advaxis jumps on its prostate cancer drug data, Stockwinners

Advaxis (ADXS) announced updated data from the Phase 1/2 KEYNOTE-046 study in metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Castrate-resistant prostate cancer refers to prostate cancer that keeps growing even when the amount of testosterone in the body is reduced to very low levels. Many early-stage prostate cancers need normal levels of testosterone to grow, but castrate-resistant prostate cancers do not. 

Androgens are required for normal growth and function of the prostate. Androgens are also necessary for prostate cancers to grow. Androgens promote the growth of both normal and cancerous prostate cells by binding to and activating the androgen receptor, a protein that is expressed in prostate cells Once activated, the androgen receptor stimulates the expression of specific genes that cause prostate cells to grow .

Early in their development, prostate cancers need relatively high levels of androgens to grow. Such prostate cancers are called castration sensitive, androgen dependent, or androgen sensitive because treatments that decrease androgen levels or block androgen activity can inhibit their growth.

This trial is being conducted in conjunction with Merck (MRK) and is evaluating ADXS-PSA, one of Advaxis’ Listeria monocytogenes-based immunotherapies, alone and in combination with KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy.

Findings will be highlighted in a poster discussion entitled “Effects of ADXS-PSA with or without Pembrolizumab on Survival and Antigen Spreading in Metastatic, Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer Patients” at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting underway in Atlanta.

KEYNOTE-046 is an open-label, multicenter, dose-determining safety and tolerability Phase 1/2 trial of 50 heavily pretreated patients conducted in two parts, with a Phase 2 expansion cohort. The objective of the study is to evaluate ADXS-PSA alone and in combination with KEYTRUDA for primary endpoints that include safety, tolerability and dosing.

Secondary endpoints include anti-tumor activity and progression-free survival, and exploratory endpoints include associations between biomarkers of immunologic response with clinical outcomes.

Key findings from the combination arm of KEYNOTE-046 include the following: The majority of treatment-related adverse events consisted of transient and reversible Grade 1-2 chills/rigors, fever, hypotension, nausea and fatigue.

The combination of ADXS-PSA and pembrolizumab has been well-tolerated, to date, with no additive toxicity observed. Median overall survival was 21.1 months at data cutoff in this dataset of 37 patients.

Correlative immune analyses showed T-cell responses against PSA in 75% of subjects and antigen spreading in 85% of subjects. Broader immune stimulation, including B-cell activation, was observed in the combination arm than in the ADXS-PSA monotherapy arm.

ADXS closed at $5.91, it last traded at $8.15. MRK closed at $83.17.

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Quantenna sold for $1.07 billion

ON Semiconductor to acquire Quantenna for $24.50 per share

Quantenna sold for $1.07 billion, Stockwinners

ON Semiconductor Corporation (ON) and Quantenna Communications, Inc. (QTNA) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for ON Semiconductor to acquire Quantenna for $24.50 per share in an all cash transaction.

The acquisition consideration represents equity value of approximately $1.07B and enterprise value of approximately $936M, after accounting for Quantenna’s net cash of approximately $136M at the end of fourth quarter of 2018.

The acquisition significantly enhances ON Semiconductor’s connectivity portfolio with the addition of Quantenna’s industry leading Wi-Fi technology and software capabilities.

Following consummation, the transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to ON Semiconductor’s non-GAAP earnings per share and free cash flow, excluding any non-recurring acquisition related charges, the fair value step-up inventory amortization, and amortization of acquired intangibles.

The transaction is not subject to a financing condition. ON Semiconductor intends to fund the transaction through cash on hand and available capacity under its existing revolving credit facility.

Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by Quantenna’s stockholders, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

The transaction has been approved by ON Semiconductor’s and Quantenna’s boards of directors and is expected to close in the second half of 2019.

No approval of the stockholders of ON Semiconductor is required in connection with the proposed transaction.

Note that QNTA was featured by Stockwinners on February 22 at $18.00.

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Zoosk sold for $255 million

Spark Networks to acquire Zoosk, sees adjusted EBITDA to exceed $50M in 2020

Spark Networks (LOV) announced its entry into a definitive agreement to acquire Zoosk.

Zoosk shareholders will receive $95 million in cash, Stockwinners

The combination will drive a meaningful increase in Spark’s scale, with over one million monthly paying subscribers across the two platforms. Spark expects the transaction to drive meaningful margin expansion in 2020 and beyond.

“Zoosk is one of the strongest dating apps in the North American market, which comprises half of the $5B global online dating opportunity,” said Jeronimo Folgueira, Chief Executive Officer of Spark Networks SE.

“Similarly, North America has been a key strategic market for Spark, and the focal point for our growth initiatives. Our deal with Zoosk creates the second largest online dating platform in North America and the second largest publicly-listed dating company in the world.

Spark buys Zoosk for $255 million, Stockwinners

Over the past 18 months, our management team has successfully integrated acquisitions and developed new brands. As a result of these efforts, our brand portfolio now includes SilverSingles, which continues to exceed our expectations, and the Christian Mingle, Jdate and JSwipe brands, which have all shown significant improvement since they were acquired in late 2017.

Our acquisition of Zoosk is the most transformative deal in our history, and we expect the transaction to immediately strengthen our position in the online dating market. With the increased scale that results from the combination, we see a clear path to profitability improvements and greater opportunity to invest in innovation and growth initiatives that will drive shareholder value.”

With the addition of Zoosk, Spark will more than double in size and the combined business will be considerably more valuable than the two stand-alone entities: Following the completion of its integration plans, Spark expects to drive significant Adjusted EBITDA margin expansion.

In 2020, Spark expects Adjusted EBITDA to exceed $50M. Under the terms of the agreement, Spark will acquire 100% of Zoosk’s shares with a combination of cash and stock valuing the company at approximately $255M based on the closing price of Spark Networks SE stock on March 20.

Spark will issue 12.98M American Depository Shares valued at approximately $150M based on the closing price of Spark Networks SE stock of $11.53 on March 20.

Additionally, Zoosk shareholders will receive net cash consideration of $95M at closing and $10M via a deferred cash payment in December 2020, which will be funded through a new $120M senior secured debt facility.

The transaction is expected to close early in the third quarter of 2019.

LOV closed at $11.90.

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Tribune to buy nineteen stations from Nexstar

Nexstar enters agreements to divest nineteen stations for $1.32B

Nexstar to sell 19 stations, Stockwinners

Nexstar Media Group (NXST) and Tribune Media Company (TRCO) announced that Nexstar has entered into definitive agreements to sell a total of nineteen stations in fifteen markets for an aggregate $1.32B in cash following the acquisition of Tribune Media by Nexstar.

Under the terms of the agreements, TEGNA Inc. (TGNA) will acquire eleven stations in eight markets for $740M and The E.W. Scripps Company (SSP) will acquire eight stations in seven markets for $580M.

Separately, Nexstar remains engaged in active negotiations to divest two stations in Indianapolis, Indiana. On December 3, 2018, Nexstar and Tribune Media entered into a definitive merger agreement whereby Nexstar will acquire all outstanding shares of Tribune Media.

Nexstar agrees to acquire Tribune Media, Stockwinners
Nexstar agrees to sell stations from Tribune, Stockwinners

The planned divestiture of nineteen stations reflects Nexstar’s stated intention to divest certain television stations in order to comply with the FCC local and national television ownership rules and to obtain FCC and Department of Justice approval of the proposed Nexstar / Tribune Media transaction.

Nexstar intends to use the net proceeds from the divestitures to fund the Tribune acquisition and to reduce debt.

Given that the net proceeds from the divestitures exceed those initially estimated at the time the transaction was announced, Nexstar now estimates that net leverage at the closing of the transaction will be reduced to approximately 5.1x.

The planned divestiture of the nineteen stations is subject to FCC approval, other regulatory approvals, the closing of the Nexstar / Tribune Media transaction and other customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed on, or about the time of, the closing of the Nexstar / Tribune Media transaction, which is expected later this year.

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Economy expanded at a moderate rate

Fed’s Beige Book says “economic activity continued to expand”



Fed’s Beige Book says economic activity continued to expand , Stockwinners


Fed’s Beige Book: “economic activity continued to expand in late January and February,” said the report.

But 10 Districts noted “slight-to-moderate” growth, with Philly and St Louis reporting flat conditions. That’s the most tepid characterization in sometime, as the more normal description has been “moderate” to “modest.”

About half of the Districts said the shutdown weighed on some sectors, including consumer spending was mixed, but in part due to “harsh winter weather and higher costs of credit.”

Manufacturing generally strengthened but “numerous” contacts worries about weaker global growth, higher costs due to tariffs, and continued trade policy uncertainty.

The service sector increased at a modest-to-moderate pace. Also, residential construction activity was steady or slightly higher in most of the U.S., but home sales were generally lower.

There was little change in the employment outlook, with employment increasing in most Districts, with “modest-to-moderate gains in a majority of Districts and steady to slightly higher employment in the rest.

Labor markets remained tight for all skill levels.

Wages continued to increase for both low- and high-skilled positions, and a majority of Districts reported increases were moderate.

And for prices, they continued to increase at a modest-to-moderate pace, “with several Districts noting faster growth for input prices than selling prices. The ability to pass on higher input costs to consumers varied by region and industry.”

The report (prepared by KC Fed with data collected on or before February 25) is consistent with the FOMC’s outlook for slower growth with tame inflation.

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Ascendis Pharma reports positive data, shares jump

Phase 3 heiGHt trial met primary objective in children with pediatric growth hormone deficiency

Ascendis Pharma (ASND) announced positive top-line results from the phase 3 heiGHt Trial, a randomized, open-label, active-controlled trial that compared once-weekly TransCon Growth Hormone to a daily growth hormone in children with pediatric growth hormone deficiency.

Ascendis Pharma reports positive data, shares jump, Stockwinners

The trial met its primary objective, demonstrating that TransCon hGH was observed to be non-inferior and, additionally, superior to the daily hGH on the primary endpoint of annualized height velocity at 52 weeks.

In the primary analysis of the intent-to-treat population using ANCOVA, TransCon hGH demonstrated an AHV of 11.2 cm/year compared to 10.3 cm/year for the daily hGH.

The treatment difference was 0.86 cm/year with a 95% confidence interval of 0.22 to 1.50 cm/year.

The AHV for TransCon hGH was significantly greater than the daily hGH.

The AHV was greater for TransCon hGH than for the daily hGH at each visit, with the treatment difference reaching statistical significance from and including week 26 onward.

The incidence of poor responders was 4% and 11% in the TransCon hGH and daily hGH arms, respectively. All sensitivity analyses completed from the trial support the primary outcome, indicating the robustness of these results.

Results from the trial indicate that TransCon hGH was generally safe and well-tolerated, with adverse events consistent with the type and frequency observed with daily hGH therapy and comparable between arms of the trial.

ASND is up $44.64 to $113.95.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Alethia Young raised her price target for Ascendis Pharma to $185 from $100 as she was “positively surprised” that the TransCon hGH study for growth hormone achieved a superior result on annualized growth velocity of .86cm.

The analyst thinks that the expectation had been non-inferiority with a slightly favorable numerical trend. Young also thinks safety was clean as well, which has been a challenge with other long acting growth hormones.

She would expect shares to trade up 50%-100% based on her model, and sees continued upside from shares as additional programs, such as TransCon PTH, achieve proof of concept and more candidates from the proprietary TransCon platform enter the clinic. The analyst reiterates an Overweight rating on the shares.

Growth hormone (GH) has been available for management of the short stature associated with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) for more than 60 years; recombinant DNA-derived human growth hormone (rhGH) has been available since 1985. While availability is no longer a problem, there still remains a number of difficulties with the diagnosis of GHD, resulting mainly from the lack of appropriate tools to make (or exclude) the diagnosis reliably.

The incidence of short stature associated with GHD has been estimated to be about 1:4000 to 1:10000 . It is the primary indication for GH treatment in childhood, which presently requires daily subcutaneous injections for the patient and substantial cost for the healthcare system. Based on these premises, it is clear that an accurate diagnosis is essential

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Verrica Pharmaceuticals reports positive data on its molluscum contagiosum drug

Verrica Pharmaceuticals presents results from Phase 3 clinical trials of VP-102

Verrica Pharmaceuticals reports positive data on its molluscum contagiosum drug, Stockwinners

Verrica Pharmaceuticals (VRCA) presented data from the company’s pivotal Phase 3 CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 trials of lead product candidate, VP-102, at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting being held in Washington, DC from March 1-5.

Both trials of VP-102 in patients with molluscum contagiosum successfully met their primary endpoints.

In each trial, a clinically and statistically significant proportion of patients treated with VP-102 demonstrated complete clearance of all treatable molluscum lesions in 12 weeks.

On average, molluscum can take approximately 13 months to resolve without treatment, and in some cases can remain unresolved for several years.

The two randomized, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled trials evaluated the efficacy of dermal application of VP-102 compared to placebo in subjects with molluscum.

In total, the trials enrolled 528 subjects two years of age and older with molluscum at 31 centers in the U.S. Subjects were treated once every 21 days with topical solution of 0.7% cantharidin for up to four applications.

Complete clearance of molluscum lesions was evaluated by assessment of the number of lesions at study visits over 12 weeks. Results from CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 showed 46% and 54% of subjects treated with VP-102, respectively, achieved complete clearance of all treatable molluscum lesions at the end of the trials versus 18% and 13% of subjects in the placebo groups.

By Day 84, VP-102 treated subjects had a 69% and 83% mean reduction in the number of molluscum lesions, a pre-specified endpoint, in CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 respectively, compared to a 20% increase and a 19% reduction for subjects on placebo. VP-102 was well-tolerated in both trials, with no serious adverse events reported in VP-102 treated subjects.

The most frequently reported adverse events were application site reactions that are well-known, reversible side effects related to the mechanism of action of cantharidin, a blistering agent, which is the active ingredient in VP-102.

There were no treatment-related serious adverse events reported in CAMP-1 or CAMP-2. Verrica previously announced topline results from both trials on January 3, 2019.

Based on the positive results, the company plans to submit a New Drug Application for VP-102 in the second half of 2019. If approved, VP-102 would be the first FDA-approved treatment for molluscum contagiosum.


Molluscum contagiosum is a relatively common viral infection of the skin, mainly in children, Stockwinners.com

VRCA closed at $12.11.

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Top Stories for weekend of February 22

U.S. extends trade talk deadline with China

As a result of these very… productive talks, I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1.

1. Using his Twitter account, President Donald Trump said that, “I am pleased to report that the U.S. has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues.

Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement. A very good weekend for U.S. & China!”

2. Kraft Heinz (KHC) has tapped investment bank Credit Suisse to review options for its Maxwell House coffee business, which could include a potential sale, CNBC’s Lauren Hirsch reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Based off valuations for other sales of consumer brands, a sale could fetch a price of at least $3B, sources said.

3. While investors are cheering indications of progress being made toward a resolution of trade issues between China and the U.S., the battle for tech supremacy between the two global superpowers shows few signs of abating, Reshma Kapadia wrote in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Global chip makers remain highly reliant on China, which makes just 30% of the chips it actually needs, the publication noted.

Companies with revenue exposure to china include Qualcomm (QCOM), Micron (MU), Marvell Technology (MRVL), Broadcom (AVGO), NXP Semiconductors (NXPI), AMD (AMD), Maxim Integrated Devices (MXIM), Applied Materials (AMAT), Intel (INTC), Xilinx (XLNX), Skyworks (SWKS), Nvidia (NVDA), Analog Devices (ADI), Lam Research (LRCX), and KLA-Tencor (KLAC).

How to train your dragon top the box office, Stockwinners

4. Comcast (CMCSA; CMCSK) subsidiary Universal’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” won the weekend with a franchise-best launch of $55.5M from 4,259 theaters in North America, the top opening of the year so far. Overseas, the threequel earned another $34.7M from 53 market for a foreign total of $216.9M and $274.9M globally. The movie sports an audience grade of A and a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score.

5. Altria Group’s (MO) and WellCare Health (WCG) saw positive mentions in Barron’s, while Windstream (WIN) was mentioned cautiously.

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Achieve Life Sciences higher on smoking data

Achieve Life Sciences announces final data from cytisinicline study

Achieve Life Sciences (ACHV) announced final data from their Phase I/II multi-dose, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics, or PK/PD, clinical study of cytisinicline in smokers.

The study evaluated the repeat-dose PK and PD effects of 1.5 mg and 3 mg cytisinicline in 26 healthy volunteer smokers when administered over the standard 25-day course of treatment.

Smokers in the study had a mean age of 39 years, smoked on average 17.2 cigarettes a day, and were not required to quit smoking or have a predetermined quit date while on study.

All subjects had a significant and immediate reduction in cigarettes smoked within 2 days of initiating cytisinicline treatment.

By Day 26, subjects had an average 80% reduction in cigarettes smoked, 82% reduction in expired carbon monoxide, and 46% had stopped smoking.

The biochemically verified smoking cessation rates were 39% and 54% in the 1.5 mg and 3.0 mg cytisinicline treated groups, respectively.

The PK results indicated expected increases in plasma concentration between the standard 1.5 mg and higher 3.0 mg doses of cytisinicline with no evidence of drug accumulation.

Cytisinicline at either dose was well tolerated with only transient, mild-to-moderate headache as the most common adverse event, which was not treatment limiting. No adverse events were severe, serious, or led to withdrawal from the study.

Cindy Jacobs, CMO at Achieve commented, “Given the short 25-day treatment period, the abstinence rates observed are impressive, particularly since subjects were not required to commit to quitting and received minimal behavioral support during the study. These results continue to support our belief that cytisinicline could be a well-tolerated and effective potential treatment option for the millions of people who are battling nicotine addiction.”

ACHV closed at $1.81, it last traded at $2.88.

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Bristol-Myers comments on Celgene’s purchase

Bristol-Myers sees ‘meaningful financial benefits’ from Celgene transaction.

Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved, Stockwinners

Bristol Meyers Comments on Celgene purchase, Stockwinners

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) said an updated its investor presentation about the Celgene (CELG) transaction.

The company said, “The Celgene transaction is the natural next step in Bristol-Myers Squibb’s proven strategy that has consistently delivered results for over a decade.

Through a disciplined approach to driving innovation, focusing on high-value opportunities and sourcing innovation externally to complement its internal portfolio and pipeline, Bristol-Myers Squibb has generated consistently strong growth and increased its dividend for 10 consecutive years.

The combination with Celgene will create a leading biopharma with increased scale, while maintaining the same agility and a focus on delivering for patients in core disease areas of high-unmet medical need.

The pipeline of the combined company provides significant near-, medium- and long-term opportunities for value creation. Bristol-Myers Squibb is acquiring Celgene’s robust and complementary pipeline at an attractive price.

In addition to six expected near-term product launches representing more than $15B in revenue potential, the combination will greatly increase Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Phase I and II assets, which will provide the next set of registrational opportunities in core therapeutic areas.

With an expanded set of scientific platforms and research capabilities, Bristol-Myers Squibb will be well positioned to discover and develop highly innovative medicines and accelerate these new options to patients through one of the highest-performing commercial organizations in the industry.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is well positioned for 2025 and beyond with continued leadership across Oncology and a diversified portfolio of assets.

The combined company will have a broad, balanced and earlier life-cycle marketed portfolio with a significantly higher number of opportunities across multiple diseases to drive the growth of Bristol-Myers Squibb in the second half of the decade. These opportunities will support financial strength for continued investment and innovation.

The Celgene transaction is expected to generate meaningful financial benefits for all stockholders.

With more than $45B of expected free cash flow generation over the first three full years post-closing, the combination will enable rapid debt reduction to de-lever the balance sheet and strengthen Bristol-Myers Squibb’s credit profile.

Bristol-Myers Squibb expects to realize run-rate cost synergies of approximately $2.5B by 2022 from the combination, and the combined company is expected to grow revenue and EPS every year through 2025.”

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WalMart Earnings Outlook

Walmart (WMT) is scheduled to report results of its fourth quarter before the market open on Tuesday, February 19, with a conference call scheduled for 8:00 am EDT.

Wal-Mart reports next week. See Stockwinners.com for the report

What to watch for:

1. OUTLOOK: Walmart previously raised its fiscal 2019 EPS view to $4.90-$5.05 and narrowed its net sales view to up about 2%, but cut its EPS outlook at its investor meeting in October to $4.65-$4.80.

In its November earnings report, Walmart again raised its FY19 EPS outlook to $4.75-$4.85. The current Street forecast for FY19 EPS stands at $4.84 on revenue of $514.33B.

The company previously said it was moving to an annual guidance framework with its quarterly updates, and that while there may be fluctuations within the quarters, “we believe EPS growth will be relatively consistent across the year.”

Baird analyst Peter Benedict said he expects Walmart’s Q4 earnings to be solid, and expects guidance to remain intact, although he recognizes the uncertainty with Flipkart as the result of new regulations in India.

2. HOLIDAY SEASON:

Jet.com’s holiday weekend was “truly horrible,” with sales down 6% on Thanksgiving and Black Friday and a 39% plunge on Cyber Monday vs. last year, BuzzFeed News reported, citing data from market research firm Edison Trends.

According to the data, Target.com (TGT) sales increased 48% on Thanksgiving and Black Friday and 19% on Cyber Monday, Amazon (AMZN) increased by 25% on Black Friday and Thanksgiving and 17% on Cyber Monday, and Jet.com parent Walmart.com increased sales revenue by 23% on Thanksgiving and Black Friday and 32% on Cyber Monday.

In late December, Amazon said that it had a “record-breaking” holiday season with more items ordered worldwide than ever before. Amazon customers shopped at record levels from a wide selection of products across every department, it said.

3. COMPETITION:

Retailers like Walmart have been hurt by an increase in online shopping on sites like Amazon rather than at brick-and-mortar stores. Walmart is seeking to create a big ad business to rival that of Amazon, Bloomberg reported, adding that it has hired executives from NBC (CMCSA) and CBS (CBS) to help bolster its advertising business.

Walmart has also launched a private-label furniture brand, called MoDRN, which is “a direct hit to big furniture retailers” such as Wayfair (W) and Ikea and a challenge to rival Amazon, Erica Pandey wrote for Axios.

4. FLIPKART:

Bernstein analyst Brandon Fletcher said that India has been bandying about restrictive e-commerce regulations this past year, and finally pulled the trigger despite protestations from both Walmart and Amazon.

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

The new rules put a damper on 1P selling models, pricing discounts, supplier exclusives, and supplier shares of sales above 25%, all of which are important to both companies’ planned models.

While not significant to Walmart’s total revenues, the analyst believes it does put a damper on its long-term growth potential in the market through Flipkart and raises the question of where Walmart will make up that growth.

Morgan Stanley analyst Simeon Gutman said Flipkart’s losses will likely rise due to new e-commerce regulations in India and Walmart investors “can’t ignore Flipkart” as it once again becomes a bigger part of the retailer’s investment narrative.

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Levi’s coming to NYSE

Levi Strauss & Co. said in a regulatory filing that it intends to seek listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “LEVI” via an initial public offering.

Levis coming to NYSE – Stockwinners.com

“Today we design, market and sell products that include jeans, casual and dress pants, tops, shorts, skirts, jackets, footwear and related accessories for men, women and children around the world under our Levi’s, Dockers, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. and Denizen brands.

With $5.6 billion in net revenues and sales in more than 110 countries in fiscal year 2018, we are one of the world’s leading apparel companies, with the Levi’s brand having the highest brand awareness in the denim bottoms category globally,” the company disclosed.

The underwriters on the deal include Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Evercore, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Guggenheim, HSBC, Drexel Hamilton, Telsey Advisory and The Williams Capital Group.


Levi Strauss was founded in May 1853  when German immigrant Levi Strauss came from Bavaria, to San Francisco, California to open a west coast branch of his brothers’ New York dry goods business. 

Levi Strauss & Co. introduces its first bicycle pants in 1895. It took another 116 years for the company to come out with Levi’s® Commuter, a multi-functional performance product designed for the modern cyclist. When Levi Strauss passes away in September, his four nephews take over the business and carry out his numerous bequests to Bay Area charities serving children and the poor. On April 18, The San Francisco earthquake and fire destroy the headquarters and two factories of Levi Strauss & Co.

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Apptio sold for $1.94 billion

Apptio to be acquired by Vista Equity Partners for $38 per share 

Apptio sold for $1.94 billion, Stockwinners
Apptio sold for $1.94 billion, Stockwinners

Apptio (APTI) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Vista Equity Partners.

Apptio, Inc. provides cloud-based technology business management (TBM) solutions to enterprises. Its cloud-based platform and SaaS applications enable IT leaders to analyze, optimize, and plan technology investments, as well as to benchmark financial and operational performance against peers.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vista will acquire all outstanding shares of Apptio common stock for a total value of approximately $1.94B.

Apptio shareholders will receive $38.00 in cash per share, representing a 53% premium to the unaffected closing price as of November 9, 2018.

Apptio’s board unanimously approved the deal and recommended that stockholders vote their shares in favor of the transaction.

Apptio’s headquarters will remain in Bellevue, with regional offices across the U.S., EMEA and APAC.

Closing of the deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of Apptio shareholders and antitrust approval in the United States.

The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2019 and is not subject to a financing condition.

The merger agreement includes a 30 day “go-shop” period, which permits Apptio’s Board and advisors to actively initiate, solicit, encourage, and potentially enter negotiations with parties that make alternative acquisition proposals.

Apptio will have the right to terminate the merger agreement to enter into a superior proposal subject to the terms and conditions of the merger agreement.

There can be no assurance that this 30 day “go-shop” will result in a superior proposal, and Apptio does not intend to disclose developments with respect to the solicitation process unless and until the Board makes a determination requiring further disclosure.


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Finisar sold for $3.2 billion

II-VI to acquire Finisar for $26 per share in cash/stock deal

Finisar sold for $3.2 billion, Stockwinners
Finisar sold for $3.2 billion, Stockwinners

II-VI (IIVI) and Finisar (FNSR) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which II-VI will acquire Finisar in a cash and stock transaction with an equity value of approximately $3.2B.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, Finisar’s stockholders will receive, on a pro-rated basis, $15.60 per share in cash and 0.2218x shares of II-VI common stock, valued at $10.40 per share based on the closing price of II-VI’s common stock of $46.88 on November 8, 2018.

The transaction values Finisar at $26.00 per share, or approximately $3.2B in equity value and represents a premium of 37.7% to Finisar’s closing price on November 8, 2018. Finisar shareholders would own approximately 31% of the combined company.

The combination of II-VI and Finisar would unite two innovative, industry leaders with complementary capabilities and cultures to form a formidable industry leading photonics and compound semiconductor company capable of serving the broad set of fast growing markets of communications, consumer electronics, military, industrial processing lasers, automotive semiconductor equipment and life sciences.

Together, II-VI and Finisar will employ over 24,000 associates in 70 locations worldwide upon closing of the transaction. On a pro forma basis, the combined company had approximately $2.5B of annual revenue.

The combined broad base of talent, technology and manufacturing is expected to enhance the ability to better address near-to medium-term opportunities and accelerate revenue growth.

The combined company expects to realize $150M of run-rate cost synergies within 36 months of closing. Synergies are expected to be achieved from procurement savings, internal supply of materials and components, efficient research and development, consolidation of overlapping costs and sales and marketing efficiencies.

The transaction is expected to drive accretion in Non-GAAP earnings per share for the first full year post close of approximately 10% and more than double that thereafter.

II-VI intends to fund the cash consideration with a combination of cash on hand from the combined companies’ balance sheets and $2 billion in funded debt financing.

The transaction is expected to close in the middle of calendar year 2019, subject to approval by each company’s shareholders, antitrust regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.Upon closing of the transaction, Dr. Mattera will continue to serve as President and CEO of the combined company.

In addition, in connection with the closing of the transaction, three Finisar board members will be appointed to the II-VI board, which will be expanded to 11 directors.


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