Apple becomes Finisar’s Santa Clause

Apple awards Finisar $390M from Advanced Manufacturing Fund

Apple awards Finisar $390M from Advanced Manufacturing Fund. Stockwinners.com
Apple awards Finisar $390M from Advanced Manufacturing Fund.

Apple (AAPL) announced that Finisar (FNSR) will receive $390M from its $1B Advanced Manufacturing Fund.

“The award will enable Finisar to exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers.

Apple says that Finisar is going to work on both research & development and high-volume production of optical communications components. The most complicated components are the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) used in the iPhone X for Face ID, Animoji, Portrait mode and other face-mapping technologies.

But Finisar also works on proximity sensors including the ones in the AirPods.

And it’s quite easy to understand why Apple is investing in Finisar. There are simply not enough suppliers in this field today. In the fourth quarter of 2017 alone, the company will purchase 10 times more VCSEL wafers than the entire VCSEL production in the world during the fourth quarter of 2016. So Apple needs to foster production.

VCSELs power some of Apple’s most popular new features, including Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies made possible with the iPhone X TrueDepth camera, as well as the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods,” Apple said in a press release.

It added that Finisar will transform a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas, into the “high-tech VCSEL capital of the US.”

Apple’s award will create more than 500 high-skill jobs at the Sherman facility.

FNSR closed at $19.30. It last traded at $23.00.


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FDA approves OMIDRIA for use in pediatric patients

Omeros secures FDA approval of OMIDRIA for use in pediatric patients

Omeros jumps after detailing FDA meeting on IgA nephropathy program. See Stockwinners.com for details
Omeros secures FDA approval of OMIDRIA for use in pediatric patients
Omeros Corporation (OMER) announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Omeros’ supplemental new drug application following review of efficacy and safety data from a pediatric clinical trial, expanding the indication for OMIDRIA 1% / 0.3% to include use in pediatric patients.
OMIDRIA, used during cataract surgery or intraocular lens replacement, prevents intraoperative miosis and reduces postoperative pain.
FDA approved the sNDA for OMIDRIA under priority review.
The successful clinical trial was conducted in 78 pediatric patients randomized to either OMIDRIA or phenylephrine administered intraoperatively.
Together with the label expansion now including both pediatric and adult patients, FDA also granted OMIDRIA an additional six months of U.S. market exclusivity.
Under section 505A of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, this six-month extension of market exclusivity is attached to the term of the drug’s patents listed in FDA’s Orange Book.
OMER closed at $18.69. It last traded at $21.50.


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ANZ’s life insurance businesses sold for $2.14 billion

Zurich enters agreement to acquire ANZ’s life insurance businesses in Australia 

ANZ's life insurance businesses sold for $2.14B. See Stockwinners.com
ANZ’s life insurance businesses sold for $2.14B

Zurich Insurance Group (ZURVY) yesterday announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of ANZ’s (ANZBY) life insurance businesses, OnePath Life, in Australia for A$2.85B, or $2.14B.

Both parties expect the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, to be completed by the end of 2018.

The transaction price comprises A$1B of upfront reinsurance commissions, expected to be paid subject to regulatory approval in May 2018 with the remaining balance paid on completion.

The acquisition is expected to contribute to the Group’s profitability from day one, generating strong cash flows which will support future dividend growth.

The transaction will also increase the proportion of stable life protection-based earnings, reducing overall Group earnings volatility and increasing the proportion of life earnings remitted as cash back to the Group.

In view of these earnings benefits, Zurich expects to raise its current BOPAT ROE target by 50 basis points by 2019.

The transaction is also expected to increase the level of overall cash remittances over the 2017-2019 planning period by A$300M.

As part of the transaction, Zurich will enter into a 20-year distribution agreement with ANZ in Australia to distribute life insurance products through bank channels.

The acquisition is expected to be funded through a mixture of Zurich’s internal cash resources and senior debt, and is expected to reduce Zurich’s capital position only modestly.

ZURVY closed at $30. ANZBY closed at $21.53.


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Autoliv to spin off its electronics segment

Autoliv to spin off its electronics segment

Autoliv to split into two companies

Autoliv (LIV) announced that its Board of Directors has concluded its strategic review and decided to prepare for a spin-off of its Electronics business segment, creating a new, independent publicly traded company during the third quarter of 2018.

The analyses conducted under the strategic review concluded that the assumptions made at the time of the initial announcement in September 2017 to separate the company hold true.

Through the separation, additional value for shareholders and other stakeholders will be created by the ability to better address two distinct, growing markets with leading product offerings.

The spin-off will be by a payment of a dividend of the common stock of the new Electronics company on a pro rata basis to the holders of common shares of Autoliv as of a yet to be determined record date.

As part of the preparation for the spin-off, the Electronics business is expected to receive a cash injection from Autoliv, with the underlying objective of Autoliv to remain strong investment grade.

The intent is for the spin-off to be tax free to stockholders both in the US and Sweden.

A Form 10 registration statement for the transaction will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission during the first half of 2018.

It will include historical financial information for the Electronics business on a stand-alone basis for the fiscal years 2015-2017 and other details regarding the proposed spin-off.

After the spin-off, Autoliv’s current Passive Safety segment would continue to operate under the Autoliv name, with continued listings on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stockholm.

The Electronics business will assume a new company name to be announced at a later stage.

It is also expected to be listed in the United States and Sweden.

Both companies are to be headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden.

Forward looking full year 2018 indications for the stand-alone entities are expected to be given in connection with Autoliv’s Q4 2017 earnings release.

The spin-off is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2018 subject to market, regulatory and certain other conditions, including approval by Autoliv’s board of directors.

There can be no assurance regarding the ultimate timing of the spin-off or that the spin-off will ultimately occur. Further updates to the progress of the separation and stock market listing process will be provided in a timely manner.

LIV closed at $127.75. It last traded at $129.25.


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Canadian Solar receives go-private offer

Canadian Solar announces receipt of ‘go-private’ offer of $18.47 per share

canadian-solar receives going private offer. Stockwinners.com
Canadian Solar receives going private offer

Canadian Solar (CSIQ) announced that its board has received a preliminary, non-binding proposal letter, dated December 9, from its Chairman, President and CEO Shawn Qu, to acquire all of the outstanding common shares of the company not already beneficially owned by Dr. Qu and his wife, Hanbing Zhang, in a “going-private” transaction for cash consideration of $18.47 per common share.

The board has formed a special committee of independent and disinterested directors to consider the proposed transaction.

The company expects that the Special Committee will retain independent advisors, including independent legal and financial advisors, to assist it in this process.

“The Board cautions the Company’s shareholders and others considering trading in the Company’s securities that the Board has just received the Proposal Letter and has not had an opportunity to carefully review and evaluate the Proposed Transaction or make any decision with respect to the Company’s response to the Proposal Letter.

The Board also cautions that there can be no assurance that any definitive offer relating to the Proposed Transaction or any other transaction will be made by Dr. Qu or any other person, that any definitive agreement with respect to the Proposed Transaction or any other transaction will be executed or that the Proposed Transaction or any other transaction will be approved or consummated,” the company stated.

ANALYST COMMENTS

Coker Palmer analyst Brad Meikle believes the offer to take Canadian Solar private by its CEO and Founder “puts in a floor value for the company.” The analyst, however, believes Canadian Solar’s fair value is “significantly higher” than the $18.47 per share offer. If the company does end up going private, it will be at a “significantly” higher price than today’s offer, Meikle tells investors. The analyst notes his fair value estimate for Canadian Solar is $32 per share and his upside target is $45 per share.

CSIQ closed at $18.20.


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Sigma Designs sold for $282 million

Silicon Laboratories to acquire Sigma Designs for $7.05 per share

sigma design sold for $282M. Sockwinners.com
sigma design sold for $282M.

Shares of Sigma Designs (SIGM) jumped in morning trading after Silicon Laboratories (SLAB) agreed to acquire the company for about $282M.

The deal comes after Sigma reported weaker than expected quarterly results, and several months after an analyst speculated about a potential deal.

BACKGROUND

In a June 7 note, Benchmark analyst Gary #Mobley speculated that Sigma Designs could be a “prime acquisition target” for Silicon Labs or MaxLinear (MXL) if it shed assets to become a pure play IoT chip/cloud infrastructure.

Mobley said if Sigma was not acquired, but was able to raise $100M by selling non-core, non-IoT businesses, Sigma could make additional acquisitions to strengthen its IoT focus.

ACQUISITION ANNOUNCEMENT

After the market close on Thursday, Silicon Labs announced that it will buy Sigma Designs for $282M, or $7.05 per share in a cash transaction.

The deal, which is subject to certain closing conditions, is expected to close in the first calendar quarter of 2018. Key to the deal is Sigma’s Z-Wave IoT technology for smart home solutions, and Silicon Labs CEO Tyson Tuttle commented that

“By adding Z-Wave technology to Silicon Labs’ connectivity portfolio, we will be better positioned to serve this fast-growing market.”

Silicon Labs intends to work in collaboration with the Z-Wave Alliance to drive adoption and development of Z-Wave technology, it said.

In the event the closing conditions are not met, Sigma said it will sell its Z-Wave business to Silicon Labs for $240M.

In addition, Sigma said it plans to divest or wind down its Smart TV business, and is in active discussions with prospective buyers to divest its Media Connectivity business. Separately, Sigma Designs reported a third quarter loss per share of (25c) on revenue of $33.9M, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of (15c) and $38.55, respectively.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

In July, Sigma Designs said it had engaged Deutsche Bank as a financial advisor to explore strategic alternatives, including continuing with its restructuring plans, selling or spinning off certain products or the sale of the company.

In October, the company announced major restructuring activities to streamline the Connected Smart TV Platforms business and accelerate a return to profitability. As a result, Sigma said it planned to cut 200-250 jobs.

REACTION:

Weighing in on the acquisition announcement, Benchmark’s Mobley downgraded Sigma Designs this morning to Hold from Buy, telling investors that the 26% takeover premium from Silicon Labs is a good deal for shareholders. Sigma shares were also downgraded to Hold from Buy at Craig-Hallum and Lake Street.

Craig-Hallum’s Richard Shannon called the deal a “disappointing outcome,” as he thought the sum of the parts would be closer to $9 per share. He does not see a better price, as he thinks the deal was “well-shopped.”

Lake Street’s Jaeson Schmidt said he is “not surprised” by the news following Sigma’s exploration of strategic alternatives. He sees little risk to getting the deal done.

PRICE ACTION:

Sigma Designs is up nearly 23% in morning trading to $6.88, while Silicon Laboratories is up about 0.33% to $90.50.

OTHERS TO WATCH:

MaxLinear, a company that had been rumored to be a potential suitor for Sigma, is up 1.5% to $25.37 in Friday’s trading.


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Toshiba and Western Digital near a deal

Toshiba, Western Digital reach agreement in principle on chip unit

Western Digital and Toshiba reach an agreement. See Stockwinners.com
Western Digital and Toshiba reach an agreement.

Toshiba (TOSBF) and Western Digital (WDC) have reached an agreement in principle on the sale of Toshiba’s chip unit sale, Reuters reports, citing sources familiar with discussions.

The two sides intend to have a final deal in place next week.

Under the settlement, Western Digital will drop its arbitration claims that allowed it to block the sale of the chip unit to consortium led by Bain Capital. In exchange, Toshiba would grant Western Digital investment rights in a new advanced memory chip production line that will start next year.

The board of the embattled Japanese conglomerate approved a framework for a settlement on Wednesday, one of the sources said.

The potential for Western Digital – Toshiba’s partner in its main semiconductor plant and jilted suitor in the auction – to block a deal has been seen as the main obstacle to the planned sale of the unit to a Bain Capital-led consortium.

The settlement under discussion calls for Western Digital to drop arbitration claims seeking to stop the sale in exchange for Toshiba allowing it to invest in a new production line for advanced flash memory chips that is slated to start next year, two sources said.

Toshiba was forced to put the unit – the world’s no. 2 producer of NAND chips – on the block to cover billions of dollars in liabilities arising from its now bankrupt U.S. nuclear power unit Westinghouse.

The deal with the Bain-led consortium will, however, see it reinvest in the unit and together with Hoya Corp, a maker of parts for chip devices, Japanese firms will hold more than 50 percent of the business – an important wish of the Japanese government.

As part of the planned settlement, Toshiba and Western Digital would extend existing agreements for their chip joint ventures in Yokkaichi, central Japan, one of the sources said. The current agreements are set to start expiring from 2021.

Western Digital, one of world’s leading makers of hard disk drives, paid some $16 billion last year to acquire SanDisk, Toshiba’s chip joint venture partner since 2000.

With data storage key to most next-generation technologies from artificial intelligence and autonomous driving to the Internet of Things, NAND chips have only grown in importance and Western Digital has been desperate to keep the business out of the hands of rival chipmakers.

WDC closed at $78.35.


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Tesla gets a boost from Budweiser

Anheuser-Busch reserves 40 Tesla all-electric Semi trucks

Tesla gets a boost from Bud. See Stockwinners.com
Tesla gets a boost from Bud.

Anheuser-Busch (BUD), parent company of Budweiser, has reserved 40 of Tesla’s (TSLA) all-electric Semi trucks and plans to use the trucks for shipments to wholesalers within 200 miles of its brewery locations, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Anheuser-Busch hasn’t yet decided whether to buy the Semi vehicles outright or lease them, James Sembrot, the company’s senior director of logistics strategy, says. The Semi will be available in 2019.

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Tesla gets a boost from Budweiser – Stockwinners.com

The vehicles would be deployed among the brewer’s so-called dedicated fleets of about 750 trucks, which bear the company’s branding but are owned and managed by outside carriers.

Anheuser-Busch hasn’t yet decided whether to buy the vehicles outright or lease them, said James Sembrot, the company’s senior director of logistics strategy. It could also ask one of its dedicated carriers to buy or lease the trucks. The Semi won’t be available until 2019.

“We put the reservations down so we can prioritize our place in line,” Mr. Sembrot said. “We don’t know who the carrier is going to be in two to three years when these things are actually produced.”

He declined to discuss the cost for the reservation, which he said was placed before the Semi’s debut in California last month. Tesla had set deposits at $5,000 at the time of the November announcement but has since raised the amount to $20,000. Tesla expects the trucks to list for $150,000 to $200,000; a new diesel-powered heavy-duty truck can sell for $150,000.

OTHER  ORDERS

According to a Bloomberg report, the Michigan-based grocery chain Meijer, Inc. placed deposits on four of the new trucks at $5,000 apiece.

Meijer fleet manager Dan Scherer told Bloomberg’s Dana Hull: “Electricity is cheaper fuel than diesel, and you are less dependent on the spot-pricing of fossil fuel.”

Wal-Mart issued the following statement: “We have a long history of testing new technology – including alternative-fuel trucks – and we are excited to be among the first to pilot this new heavy-duty electric vehicle. We believe we can learn how this technology performs within our supply chain, as well as how it could help us meet some of our long-term sustainability goals, such as lowering emissions.”

Wal-Mart says has pre-ordered 10 units of Tesla’s new heavy-duty electric vehicle for Wal-Mart Canada.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services (JBHT) announced that it placed a reservation to purchase multiple Tesla (TSLA) Semi tractors to be manufactured by Tesla.

J.B. Hunt plans to deploy electric tractors to its Intermodal and Dedicated Contract Services divisions to support operations on the West Coast.

TSLA shares are up $3.04 to $316.10.


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Seattle Genetics presents breast cancer data

Seattle Genetics presents updated Phase 1 data for SGN-LIV1A 

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Seattle Genetics presents updated Phase 1 data for SGN-LIV1A

Seattle Genetics (SGEN) announced updated data from an ongoing phase 1 clinical trial evaluating ladiratuzumab vedotin in patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer at the 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, taking place December 5-9, 2017.

Ladiratuzumab vedotin is an investigational antibody-drug conjugate designed to deliver a potent and clinically validated cell-killing agent, monomethyl auristatin E, to cancer cells which express the protein LIV-1.

LIV-1 is expressed on multiple solid tumors including breast, prostate, melanoma, ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancers.

A total of 81 patients with LIV-1-expressing metastatic breast cancer were treated with ladiratuzumab vedotin monotherapy given every three weeks.

Patients enrolled in the study had received a median of four prior systemic metastatic therapies. Of these patients, 63 were diagnosed with TNBC and 18 had hormone receptor-positive / human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative breast cancer.

At the completion of dose escalation at doses ranging from 0.5 to 2.8 milligrams per kilogram, TNBC expansion cohorts were opened at 2.0 and 2.5 mg/kg to further evaluate safety and antitumor activity of ladiratuzumab vedotin in metastatic TNBC patients.

Based on efficacy and safety, the recommended dose is 2.5 mg/kg with a maximum dose of 200 mg per cycle.

Key findings in this heavily pre-treated patient population were presented by Dr. Jennifer Specht, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and include: Among the 60 efficacy-evaluable patients with metastatic TNBC, the objective response rate (ORR) was 25 percent, representing all partial responses.

The clinical benefit rate was 28 percent. CBR is defined as patients achieving complete response or PR of any duration, plus patients achieving stable disease lasting at least 24 weeks. Of the 17 efficacy-evaluable patients treated at the recommended dose, 29 percent achieved an objective response, and the CBR was 29 percent.

The median progression-free survival and median duration of response for patients treated across all dose levels were 11 weeks and 13.3 weeks, respectively. In 19 patients treated at the recommended dose, the median PFS was 12.1 weeks, and the median DOR was 17.4 weeks.

SGEN closed at $56.75.


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Sage Therapeutics soars on its depression drug

Sage Therapeutics reports ‘positive’ results from Phase 2 trial of SAGE-217

Sage Therapeutics announces results from Sage-217

Sage Therapeutics (SAGE) announced positive top-line results from the Phase 2, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of SAGE-217 in the treatment of 89 adult patients with moderate to severe major depressive disorder.

In the trial, treatment for 14 days with SAGE-217 was associated with a statistically significant mean reduction in the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression 17-Item total score from baseline to Day 15 (the time of the primary endpoint) of 17.6 points for SAGE-217, compared to 10.7 for placebo (less than 0.0001).

Statistically significant improvements were observed in the HAM-D compared to placebo by the morning following the first dose through Week 4 and the effects of SAGE-217 remained numerically greater than placebo through the end of follow-up at Week 6. At Day 15, 64 percent of patients who received SAGE-217 achieved remission, defined as a score of 7 or less on the HAM-D scale, compared with 23 percent of patients who received placebo (p=0.0005).

Other secondary endpoints were all similarly highly significant at Day 15 (less than or equal to 0.002). SAGE-217 was generally well-tolerated with no serious or severe adverse events; the most common adverse events in the SAGE-217 group were headache, dizziness, nausea, and somnolence.

A low rate of discontinuations due to AEs was reported; overall reports of AEs were similar between drug (53%) and placebo (46%), with a safety profile consistent with that seen in earlier trials. SAGE-217 was granted Fast Track Designation by the U.S. FDA in May 2017.

PRICE ACTION

SAGE has a 52-weeks trading range of $44.55 – $100.50. Shares closed at $91.90. It last traded at $145 in pre-market trading.


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DaVita sold or $4.9 billion

Optum to acquire DaVita Medical Group for approximately $4.9B in cash

 Optum to acquire DaVita Medical Group for approximately $4.9B in cash. See Stockwinners.com
Optum to acquire DaVita Medical Group for approximately $4.9B in cash

Optum, part of UnitedHealth Group (UNH), and DaVita Medical Group, a subsidiary of DaVita (DVA), are combining.

The agreement, entered into on December 5, calls for Optum to acquire DaVita Medical Group for approximately $4.9B in cash.

The transaction is expected to close in 2018 and is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

Following the transaction, DaVita Medical Group will become part of Optum’s OptumCare division, which works with more than 80 health plans to serve millions of consumers annually through 30,000 affiliated physicians and hundreds of care facilities.

DaVita’s medical unit had been a significant drag on the company’s financial performance in recent quarters.

The company said it would use the proceeds from the sale for stock buybacks after the deal closes next year, and to repay debt.

Joe Mello, COO of DaVita Medical Group, will continue in a leadership role in the combined entity, as will the DaVita Medical Group leadership team.

DaVita plans to use the proceeds from the transaction for significant stock repurchases over the one to two years following the closing of the transaction, as well as to repay debt and for general corporate purposes.

DVA closed at $60.93. It last traded at $68.29.


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Better Botox is coming

Revance says RT002 met primary, secondary endpoints in SAKURA trials

Better Botox coming. See Stockwinners.com
Better Botox coming

Revance Therapeutics (RVNC) announced its next-generation neuromodulator Daxibotulinumtoxin for Injection, or RT002, delivered “positive” top-line results in alleviating moderate-to-severe glabellar lines in two pivotal SAKURA Phase 3 trials.

RT002 appeared generally safe and well-tolerated in both studies. If approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Revance believes RT002 would be the first neuromodulator with a long-acting duration of six months.

Marketed neuromodulators have demonstrated duration of three to four months in treating glabellar lines.

Both SAKURA 1 and SAKURA 2 met the primary composite endpoint by delivering highly statistically significant improvement against placebo in reducing the severity of glabellar lines, i.e., the frown lines or wrinkles between the brows.

The percent of RT002-treated patients who had none or mild wrinkles and achieved at least a two-point improvement from baseline on both validated physician and patient assessments were 73.6 percent in SAKURA 1 and 74.0 percent in SAKURA 2 compared to placebo at Week 4.

Also at that time point, 88 percent of RT002-treated patients in SAKURA 1 and 91 percent of RT002 patients in SAKURA 2 said they were very satisfied or satisfied with their treatment experience.

All secondary endpoints measuring reduction in severity of glabellar lines with RT002 compared to placebo were highly statistically significant at every time point evaluated to 24 weeks.

On an additional key secondary endpoint, median duration for patients treated with RT002 to return to baseline wrinkle severity was nearly 27 weeks as assessed by both physicians and patients.

In addition to SAKURA 1 and SAKURA 2, a long-term safety trial, SAKURA 3, is fully enrolled and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2018.

Assuming successful completion of SAKURA 3, the company plans to submit a Biologics License Application in the first half of 2019 and, pending approval by the FDA, launch RT002 in the U.S. in 2020.

Shares of Allergan (AGN) are sliding in pre-market trading following the news. If approved by the U.S. FDA, Revance believes RT002 would be the first neuromodulator with a long-acting duration of six months, the company said. The company plans to submit a Biologics License Application in the first half of 2019 and, pending approval by the FDA, launch RT002 in the U.S. in 2020, it added.

RVNC closed at $26.00, it last traded at $33.75.


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Pfizer may buy Bristol-Myers

Senate tax bill raises odds of Pfizer buying Bristol-Myers, says Citi

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Pfizer may buy Bristol-Myers

The Senate tax bill, which lowers the cost of bringing cash back home from outside the U.S., increases the probability of the “often-discussed” potential acquisition of Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) by Pfizer (PFE), Citi analyst Andrew Baum tells investors in a research note.

The analyst points out that Pfizer has repeatedly underscored the importance of tax reform both from a competitive angle as well as from a merger perspective.

Further, the analyst says that while Roche’s (RHHBY) IMpower 150 Tecentriq lung cancer data in Geneva will take center stage this week, Bristol-Myers should benefit from two recent positive developments.

The FDA’s and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ recommendation of Tumor Mutational Burden testing for lung cancer and other tumors will likely materially accelerate adoption and create more favorable reimbursement, Baum writes in a research note partially titled “Stars Converging for BMY.”

The analyst keeps a Buy rating on Bristol shares with a $72 price target. BMY closed at $62.47. PFE ended at $36.06.

On a separate front,  Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s blockbuster drug Opdivo had a stunning effect on a lung-cancer patient treated at a Paris hospital: it drained hard-to-reach reservoirs of his HIV infection, too.  The 51-year-old man, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1995, had a “drastic and sustained decrease” in the reservoir of cells where the virus hides to evade existing therapies, researchers wrote in a letter published in the journal Annals of Oncology.

Note that Bristol has a market cap of $102 billion while Pfizer’s market cap is $215 billion.


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Ford to launch 50 new vehicles in China

Ford confirms plans to launch 50 new vehicles in China by 2025

Ford to launch 50 new vehicles in China. See Stockwinners.com
Ford to launch 50 new vehicles in China.

“China is not only the largest car market in the world, it’s also at the heart of electric vehicle and SUV growth and the mobility movement,” said Bill Ford.

“The progress we have achieved in China is just the start. We now have a chance to expand our presence in China and deliver even more for customers, our partners and society.” Added Hackett: ”

Ford’s (F) aspiration is to become the world’s most trusted mobility company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world.

We are very excited to see this vision come to life in China.”

To enable future growth in China, Ford will contain structural cost in the region throughout 2018, aiming to generate greater efficiencies, become more operationally fit and deliver additional value to shareholders.

Even as the team works to streamline, Ford plans to grow its China revenue by 50 percent by 2025 versus 2017 and is focusing its business expansion on three areas: even more smart, connected vehicles; closer connections to Chinese customers, and a streamlined business structure.

The company plans to offer more than 50 new Ford and Lincoln vehicles in China by 2025.

The expanded product portfolio will reflect an even stronger emphasis on SUVs – with eight all-new utilities, along with more electric vehicles.

The company will launch at least 15 new electrified vehicles from Ford and Lincoln. And the new Zotye-Ford joint venture will deliver a separate range of affordable all-electric under a new brand, pending regulatory approvals.

Plus, by the end of 2019, 100 percent of new Ford and Lincoln-badged vehicles in China will be connected through either embedded modems or plug-in devices.

Company leaders also are working on broader infrastructure opportunities to improve future mobility experiences.

In 2019, the company starts producing five additional Ford and Lincoln models in China for Chinese customers, including a new Lincoln premium SUV, and the company’s first global fully electric small SUV.

Ford is strengthening ties with its joint venture partners Changan and Jiangling in 2018, establishing one distribution services division responsible for the marketing, sales and services associated with all Ford vehicles sold in China.

The new distribution services division will seek to offer a simplified, improved and consistent customer experience for all Ford customers in China.

Ford (F) closed at $12.63.


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CVS to buy Aetna for $77 billion

Aetna sold for $275 per share in cash and stocks

CVS offers $275 per share for Aetna.  

VS Health (CVS) and Aetna (AET) announced the execution of a definitive merger agreement under which CVS Health will acquire all outstanding shares of Aetna for a combination of cash and stock.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Aetna shareholders will receive $145 per share in cash and 0.8378 CVS Health shares for each Aetna share. The transaction values Aetna at approximately $207 per share or approximately $69B. Including the assumption of Aetna’s debt, the total value of the transaction is $77B.

If approved, the mega-merger would create a giant consumer health care company with a familiar presence in thousands of communities. Aetna chief executive Mark T. Bertolini described the vision in an interview as “creating a new front door for health care in America.”

CVS would provide a broad range of health services to Aetna’s 22 million medical members at its nationwide network of pharmacies and walk-in clinics, and further decrease the drug store titan’s reliance on the retail sales that have faced increasing competition.

“You can imagine a world where health care is better designed around the people who use it, which is one of the challenges we have today,” CVS chief executive Larry J. Merlo said in an interview. As part of the deal, Bertolini would join the CVS board and Aetna would be run as a standalone business unit.

The deal is likely to set off even more mergers in the health-care industry, which has been undergoing consolidation and faces potential new competition from Amazon.

It could position Aetna to be more competitive with UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest insurer, which has already expanded  beyond its core business into pharmacy care services, clinics and surgery care centers and health care data.

CVS closed at $75.12. AET closed at $181.31.


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