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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Liberty Tax revamps its operations

Liberty Tax to pursue new business model, offering $12 per share for all shares

Liberty Tax to revamp its operations, Stockwinners

Liberty Tax (TAXA), the parent company of Liberty Tax Service, last night announced that it has entered into definitive documentation with affiliates of Vintage Capital Management providing for a series of strategic transactions, including the acquisition by Liberty Tax of all of the outstanding equity interests in Buddy’s Newco, which operates substantially all of the Buddy’s Home Furnishings business.

Liberty Tax’s acquisition of Buddy’s was consummated concurrently with the execution of the definitive documentation.

“These transactions are intended as the first step in a strategic transformation of Liberty Tax.

Under the direction of its board of directors, Liberty Tax intends to evaluate the acquisition of or investment in other franchise-oriented or complementary businesses, including businesses that are not presently subject to franchising arrangements but that have the potential to be franchised in the future.

In recognition of the anticipated shift in its strategic direction, Liberty Tax intends to change its name to Franchise Group.

Liberty Tax will remain a publicly-traded company and intends to pursue a re-listing of its common stock on a national securities exchange,” the company said.

In addition, Liberty Tax intends to promptly commence a tender offer for any and all outstanding shares of common stock at a price of $12.00 per share in cash, representing an approximately 31.5% premium to the closing price of Liberty Tax on May 3, the day before the public announcement regarding a potential transaction between Liberty Tax and Vintage.

The tender offer will be financed through a combination of debt and equity financing. Concurrent with the closing of the acquisition of Buddy’s, Liberty Tax issued to an affiliate of Vintage approximately 2.083M shares of common stock in exchange for $25M in cash, representing a purchase price of $12.00 per share, and Buddy’s borrowed approximately $82M in cash.

Any excess financing proceeds that are not required to finance the tender offer will remain on the balance sheet of Liberty Tax or its subsidiaries.

An affiliate of Vintage has also entered into a binding commitment with Liberty Tax to purchase additional shares of common stock at a purchase price of $12.00 per share in the event that the net proceeds from the equity and debt financings referred to above are not sufficient to enable Liberty Tax to purchase all shares that are validly tendered and not withdrawn in the tender.

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Sotheby’s sold for $3.7 billion

Sotheby’s to be acquired in cash transaction valued at $3.7B

Sotheby’s to be acquired in cash transaction valued at $3.7B, Stockwinners

Sotheby’s (BID) announced that it has signed a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by BidFair USA, an entity wholly owned by media and telecom entrepreneur as well as art collector, Patrick Drahi.

Sotheby’s operates as an auctioneer of authenticated fine art, decorative art, jewelry, wine, and collectibles in the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, China, Switzerland, France, and internationally. The company operates in two segments, Agency and Finance. The Agency segment accepts property on consignment; and matches sellers to buyers through the auction or private sale process.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was approved by Sotheby’s Board of Directors, shareholders, including employee shareholders, will receive $57.00 in cash per share of Sotheby’s common stock in a transaction with an enterprise value of $3.7B.

The offer price represents a premium of 61% to Sotheby’s closing price on June 14, 2019, and a 56.3% premium to the company’s 30 trading-day volume weighted average share price.

The transaction would result in Sotheby’s returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Tad Smith, Sotheby’s CEO, said, “Patrick Drahi is one of the most well-regarded entrepreneurs in the world, and on behalf of everyone at Sotheby’s, I want to welcome him to the family. Known for his commitment to innovation and ingenuity, Patrick founded and leads some of the most successful telecommunications, media and digital companies in the world.

He has a long-term view and shares our brand vision for great client service and employing innovation to enhance the value of the company for clients and employees.

This acquisition will provide Sotheby’s with the opportunity to accelerate the successful program of growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment.

It positions us very well for our future and I strongly believe that the company will be in excellent hands for decades to come with Patrick as our owner.”

The closing of the deal is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory clearance and shareholder approvals, but is not subject to the availability of financing.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019 following shareholder approval. LionTree Advisors is serving as financial advisor to Sotheby’s in connection with the transaction, and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is serving as the company’s legal counsel.

BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley are acting as financial advisors to BidFair, BNP Paribas acted as sole financing provider, and Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Ropes & Gray International LLP are serving as its legal advisors.

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Altaba to dissolve itself

Altaba board approves plan of complete liquidation and dissolution

Altaba to dissolve itself, Stockwinners

Altaba (AABA) announced last night that the fund’s board of directors has approved the liquidation and dissolution of the fund pursuant to a plan of complete liquidation and dissolution, subject to stockholder approval.

Altaba Inc. is a non-diversified, closed-end management investment company based in New York City that was formed from the remains of Yahoo! Inc. after Verizon acquired Yahoo’s Internet business  The company that remained after the purchase changed its name to Altaba Inc. on June 16, 2017.

Verizon completed its acquisition of Yahoo!’s core internet business on June 13, 2017, and put the assets under a new subsidiary named Yahoo! Holdings within its newly created division, Oath.

The only Yahoo!-branded interest held by Altaba was its stake in the joint venture Yahoo! Japan but this stake has since been sold to SoftBank Group.

The fund intends to file a proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with respect to a special meeting of stockholders to seek stockholder approval of the liquidation and dissolution pursuant to the plan.

Altaba said the fund “has pursued a number of strategies with the goal of achieving its investment objective, including by repurchasing the shares, both in the open market and through an exchange offer of American Depository Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Limited (BABA) and cash for shares, the simplification of the fund through the disposition of assets other than its position in Alibaba and the resolution of certain actual and contingent liabilities, and through other means.

After carefully considering the risks, timing, viability and potential impact on the fund’s stockholders of additional strategies potentially available to the fund to achieve its investment objective, as well as the recommendation of management, and in consultation with the fund’s advisors, the board unanimously determined that the liquidation and dissolution pursuant to the plan is advisable and in the best interests of the fund and its stockholders.

” If the liquidation and dissolution pursuant to the plan is approved by the fund’s stockholders, the fund expects to sell or otherwise dispose of all of the remaining ordinary shares and ADSs of Alibaba held by the fund, other than Alibaba ADSs, if any, to be distributed in kind, and its equity interests in Excalibur IP, to the extent any such assets have not been sold or disposed of by the fund before the special meeting, Altaba stated.

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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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Retail Sales Plunged in December

U.S. retail sales dropped 1.2% in December with ex-autos plunging 1.8%.

Retail sales plunge in December, Stockwinners
Retail sales plunge in December, Stockwinners

November’s 0.2% headline gain was revised down to 0.1%, while the 0.2% ex-auto figure was unrevised after strong gains in October of 1.0% (revised from 1.1%) and 0.8% (revised from 1.0%), respectively.

Sales excluding autos, gas, and building materials tumbled 1.6% versus the prior 0.7% jump (revised from 0.6%). Motor vehicle sales climbed 1.0% after a 0.7% prior gain (revised from 0.2%).

Gas station sales declined 5.1% from -4.4% (revised from -2.3%). Food, beverage prices were down 0.4% compared to 0.1% previously (revised from 0.4%).

Building materials edged up 0.3% from -1.5% (revised from -0.3%). Furniture sales dropped 1.3% from 0.5% (revised from 1.2%).

Clothing sales fell 0.7% from 0.4% (revised from -0.2%). Nonstore retailers were down 3.9% from 2.8% (revised from 2.3%).

Miscellaneous sales crashed down 4.1% from 4.0% (revised from 0.4%). This is a very disappointing result and should knock yields and equities lower.

Some analysts blame the drop on the government shutdown while others are seeing a worrying consumers above the situation in Washington as the main reason.

Retailer Stocks to Watch: FIVE, OLLI, ULTA, and BOOT.

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Altria to buy stake in Juul Labs

Altria, under pressure from FDA, said in talks to buy stake in Juul Labs

 

Altria to buy stake in Juul Labs, Stockwinners
Altria to buy stake in Juul Labs, Stockwinners

Following a report that Altria Group (MO) is in talks to take a “significant” stake in Juul Labs, an analyst said that an agreement could make strategic sense for the tobacco giant to gain exposure to a fast-growing product that poses a threat to its cigarette business.

The Wall Street Journal said Altria is in talks to take a “significant” minority interest in Juul Labs, a controversial e-cigarette startup.

According to people familiar with the matter, any deal is likely several weeks away. Juul was last valued at $16B in a private fundraising round this summer.

Altria has an agreement with Philip Morris (PM) to market IQOS, subject to regulatory approval. Philip Morris is already selling it in 43 countries and has said it could get approved for the U.S. by the end of the year.

Juul has drawn criticism over its products’ popularity with teens.

Juul, whose products are sold online and in convenience stores, gas stations and vape shops, accounted for about three-quarters of the U.S. e-cigarette market in the four-week period ended November 17, according to the Wells Fargo analysis of Nielsen data.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans to place restrictions on sales of flavored e-cigarettes.

Juul also said it would restrict sales of nearly all its flavored pods to the internet, and stop most social media promotion to combat youth vaping.

“More than 99% of all social media content related to JUUL Labs is generated through third-party users and accounts with no affiliation to our company. Nevertheless, we understand that many young people get their information from social media. To remove ourselves entirely from participation in the social conversation, we have decided to shut down our U.S.-based social media accounts on Facebook (FB) and Instagram. We have never used Snapchat (SNAP),” the company stated.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Following the FDA statement on the agency’s proposed steps against underage smoking, Altria General Counsel Murray Garnick said it “welcomed” the FDA’s efforts to address the underage use of e-vapor products and said it believes Congress should raise the legal age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21.

Last month, Altria said it would pull its pod-based e-vapor products from the market until approved by FDA.

The company said Nu Mark will remove MarkTen Elite and Apex by MarkTen pod-based products from the market “until these products receive a market order from the FDA or the youth issue is otherwise addressed,” and that for the remaining MarkTen and Green Smoke cig-a-like products, Nu Mark will sell only tobacco, menthol and mint varieties.

Nu Mark will discontinue the sale of all other flavor variants of our cig-a-like products until these products receive a market order from the FDA.

The FDA is also pursuing a ban on menthol cigarettes, which could remove nearly a third of the roughly 250B cigarettes sold annually in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal said.

A rule could take a year or more to finalize, the FDA said. The FDA concluded in 2013 that menthols are harder to quit and likely pose a greater health risk than regular cigarettes.

ANALYST COMMENTARY

Morgan Stanley analyst Pamela Kaufman said she has no knowledge of a potential deal between Altria and Juul but that taking such a stake could make strategic sense for Altria to gain exposure to a fast growing product that poses a threat to its cigarette business.

Altria does not have a robust reduced risk product portfolio and Juul’s e-cigs could significantly enhance its competitive position, stated Kaufman, who also believes Altria would likely be buying in at a lower valuation than the previously reported $15B given the FDA recently prohibited flavored pods sales in convenience stores.

 OTHERS TO WATCH

Publicly traded companies in the tobacco products space also include Philip Morris and British American Tobacco (BTI).


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Pareteum to acquire iPass

Pareteum to acquire iPass in all-stock transaction

Pareteum to acquire iPass, Stockwinners.com
Pareteum to acquire iPass, Stockwinners.com

Pareteum (TEUM) and iPass (IPAS) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Pareteum will acquire iPass in an all-stock transaction whereby iPass shareholders will receive 1.17 shares of Pareteum common stock in an exchange offer.

With this accretive acquisition, Pareteum expects to gain a strategic position with new marquee brands and new markets including the enterprise, airline, hospitality, retail and internet of things sectors.

Pareteum expects to strengthen its established intellectual property portfolio with the addition of over 40 U.S. and international patents.

With more than 500 expected new customers and a global network of over 68M Wi-Fi hot spots, coupled with proven connection management technology, location services and Wi-Fi performance data, Pareteum is now poised to take its global communications software solutions to every market vertical.

The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to Pareteum’s non-GAAP EPS and free cash ow after anticipated synergies.

Pareteum anticipates achieving more than $15 million in annual cost synergies with greater than $12 million of those expected to be realized in the rst full quarter of combined operations. Pareteum currently estimates approximately $2.0 million of GAAP earnings accretion and $5.5 million of non-GAAP earnings accretion in the rst full year after closing the transaction.

In addition, the acquisition will add new offices and talent in Silicon Valley, California and Bangalore, India, expanding Pareteum’s presence globally.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pareteum will commence an exchange offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of iPass common stock, offering 1.17 shares of Pareteum common stock in exchange for each share of iPass common stock tendered.

Upon satisfaction of the conditions to the exchange offer, and after the shares tendered in the exchange oer are accepted for payment, the agreement provides for the parties to effect, as promptly as practicable, a merger, which would not require a vote by iPass stockholders, and which would result in each share of iPass common stock not tendered in the exchange offer being converted into the right to receive 1.17 shares of Pareteum common stock.

The exchange offer is subject to customary conditions, including the tender of at least a majority of the outstanding shares of iPass common stock and certain regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the rst quarter of calendar year 2019.

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

Terms of the agreement were approved by the board of directors for both Pareteum and iPass.


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JP Morgan is positive on NY Times

NY Times rises on subscriber growth, Analyst Comments

JP Morgan is positive on NY Times, Stockwinners
JP Morgan is positive on NY Times, Stockwinners

Shares of New York Times (NYT) have jumped after the company reported better than expected third quarter results and strong subscriber growth.

Notably, the Times’ 203,000 total net new digital-only subscriptions represents the highest gain in digital subscribers in a quarter since the “Trump bump” in the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 after the presidential election.

Commenting on the announcement, JPMorgan analyst Alexia Quadrani told investors that she is “extremely encouraged” by the results and sees momentum continuing on digital subscriber additions.

QUARTERLY RESULTS

New York Times reported third quarter adjusted earnings per share of 15c and revenue $417.35M, both above consensus of 11c and $408.54M, respectively.

The number of digital subscribers showed a net increase of roughly 203,000, with 143,000 of those signing on for digital new products and the remainder paying for the company’s cooking and crossword features.

Operating profits rose 30% to $41.4M in the period.

Mark Thompson, president and CEO, said, “This was a strong third quarter for the company. […] We passed two significant milestones, and now have more than 3M digital-only subscriptions and more than 4M total subscriptions. We’re executing on our subscription-first strategy; this quarter, subscription revenues accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company’s revenues. We’re investing aggressively in our journalism, product and marketing and are seeing tangible results in our digital growth.

Turning to advertising, as expected, we are seeing a much stronger second half of the year. We had an exceptional third quarter with digital advertising up 17% and growth of 7% in total advertising.”

Responding to a question during its earnings conference call from JPMorgan’s Quadrani regarding potential subscription drivers, including stories that may have caused a spike in adds, the company highlighted the “important role” played by the $1 per week promotion.

NY Times also acknowledged that “there were some spikes” during the quarter related to specific stories, namely “the anonymous editorial, the story about family separation at the border and the one on the Trump family.”

MOMENTUM TO CONTINUE

In a post-earnings note, JPMorgan‘s Quadrani pointed out that NY Times reported third quarter earnings with revenue, adjusted operating profit, and EPS all ahead of consensus and her estimates.

Most notably, the analyst noted that digital subscriber net adds in the quarter were 203,000 compared to her 130,000 estimate, with the core news product adding 143,000 and digital other adding 60,000.

The 143,000 net adds for news compares to 68,000 in the second quarter, and is the best quarter for the company since the “Trump bump” driven first quarter of 2017, Quadrani contended.

Overall, the analyst said she is “extremely encouraged” by these results and sees momentum continuing on digital subscriber additions helped by the current elevated news cycle and the midterm elections. Quadrani has an Outperform rating on the shares.

FAILING’ NEW YORK TIMES

Last month, Trump criticized a NY Times investigation into his and his family’s use of “dubious tax schemes” over the years and the origins of his own wealth, calling the article an “old, boring and often told hit piece.”

In a tweet, the President said “The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before. They used the concept of “time value of money” in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me. Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call!”

This is not the first time Trump called the publication the “failing New York Times.”

Denouncing what he referred to as a “gutless editorial” posted by the New York Times in September, in which an unnamed administration official alleged that advisers to the President were intentionally attempting to thwart his misguided impulses from the inside, Trump tweeted: “Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”

PRICE ACTION

In Thursday’s trading, shares of New York Times gained 7.5% to $28.39.


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Musk’s tweet sends Tesla shares lower

Tesla slides after Elon Musk mocks SEC on Twitter

https://stockwinners.com/blog/
Musk’s tweet sends Tesla shares lower

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) dropped in Friday’s trading after Elon Musk, the company’s CEO, mocked the Securities and Exchange Commission in a tweet, calling the agency the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”

Last weekend Musk reached an agreement with the SEC to settle fraud charges, and that charge is currently pending approval from a federal judge.

MUSK MOCKS SEC

On Thursday, Musk tweeted, in apparent reference to the SEC, “Just want to [sic] that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!”

Musk’s tweet came just hours after Musk and the SEC were told by U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan, who must approve the deal, to explain why the settlement is “fair and reasonable” by October 11, Bloomberg reported.

Separately, Musk took aim at BlackRock (BLK) and other large fund managers for fueling short sellers.

Musk alleged in a tweet that BlackRock and other firms pocket “excessive profit from short lending while pretending to charge low rates for ‘passive’ index tracking.”

SEC SETTLEMENT

This past weekend, the SEC announced that Musk agreed to settle the securities fraud charge brought against him last week.

The settlement requires that Musk will step down as Tesla’s chairman and will be ineligible to be re-elected chairman for three years.

Additionally, Tesla will appoint two new independent directors to its board and both the CEO and company will each pay $20M penalties to settle allegations that Musk misled investors in August by tweeting that he was considering taking Tesla private and had secured funding for the effort.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Musk’s misleading tweets caused Tesla’s stock price to jump by over 6% on August 7, and led to “significant market disruption.”

Additionally, the SEC is requiring that Musk get approval from the company’s lawyer before tweeting anymore company news, which reports had said could clamp down on Musk’s “headline-grabbing, unpredictable approach to promoting Tesla’s brand.”

Recode’s Teddy Schleifer reported via Twitter after the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission” tweet that the SEC agreement on Musk’s tweets “does not take effect for 90 days from the settlement date, per source. So he still has ~80 days to tweet whatever he wants.”

The SEC declined to comment on Musk’s tweet, Schleifer said.

Additionally, Fox Business Network’s Charlie Gasparino also tweeted, saying that the “@SEC_Enforcement continues to investigate @Tesla over possible misstatements on production/profitability targets-sources focus is on stated targets for Model 3/co profitability.

SEC sources say case is tougher case than @elonmusk ‘funding secured’ tweet.”

PRICE ACTION

In Friday morning trading, shares of Tesla are down 4.2% to $270.17.


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J.C. Penney names new CEO, Shares rise

J.C. Penney spikes after naming former Joann Stores chief as new CEO

Retail selloff continues with J.C. Penney report. See Stockwinners.com for details.
J.C. Penney names new CEO, Shares rise

Shares of J.C. Penney (JCP) surged in Wednesday’s pre-market trading after the company named Jill Soltau as its new chief executive officer.

The CEO role has been vacant since the resignation of Marvin Ellison earlier this year to become the CEO of Lowe’s (LOW).

J.C. PENNEY GETS ITS CEO

On Tuesday after the market close, J.C. Penney said that Jill Soltau, the former president and CEO of fabric and crafts retailer Joann Stores, will become its next CEO.

Her appointment is effective on October 15.

In a statement, J.C. Penney director and chairman of the search committee Paul Brown said “Jill stood out from the start among an incredibly strong slate of candidates,” adding that “As we looked for the right person to lead this iconic company, we wanted someone with rich apparel and merchandising experience and found Jill to be an ideal fit.”

Former CEO Marvin Ellison left the company in May to become CEO of Lowe’s, and the CEO role at J.C. Penney has been vacant ever since.

Additionally, last week, J.C. Penney announced the resignation of CFO Jeffrey Davis to pursue another opportunity. His departure was effective October 1.

As J.C. Penney looks for Davis’ replacement, the company said Jerry Murray, senior VP of finance, will serve as interim CFO.

The retailer said it will consider both internal and external candidates to replace Davis, who has been CFO since July 24, 2017.

This summer, Chief Customer Officer Joe McFarland quit after less than a year to become executive vice president, stores, at Lowe’s.

Following Ellison’s departure, J.C. Penney created an “Office of the CEO,” comprised of Davis, McFarland, Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer Therace Risch and EVP of Supply Chain Mike Robbins. Just two of those executives are still working at J.C. Penney.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Mall-based retailers, including J.C. Penney, have been hurt by the increasing popularity of fast-fashion retailers like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M, as well as an increasing shift by shoppers to purchase online on sites like Amazon (AMZN).

J.C. Penney has struggled more than some of its peers, including Nordstrom (JWN) and Macy’s (M), and in August, cut its outlook for fiscal 2018 as it continued to deal with too much inventory.

ANALYST COMMENTARY

In a research note to investors, Piper Jaffray analyst Erinn Murphy said Soltau has “direct insights” on J.C. Penney’s core consumer given the overlap of the consumer base in her prior roles as Joann Stores CEO, but remains sidelined on shares due to her longer-term view on department store retailing and her belief that J.C. Penney is still in the process of “right-sizing” its inventory.

Murphy has a Neutral rating and $1.50 price target on the shares.

PRICE ACTION

In pre-market trading, shares of J.C. Penney are up nearly 13% to $1.76.


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Online retailers fall on Amazon concerns

Online retailers slide as Amazon reportedly testing recommendation service

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Online retailers fall on Amazon concerns

 

Shares of several retailers and online personal shopping services are slipping in afternoon trading after CNBC reported that Amazon (AMZN) is testing a new on-site recommendation service known as Scout.


WHAT’S NEW:

 

CNBC reported that Amazon is testing a new service called Scout, a shopping site for consumers who don’t know specifically what they want to buy but are willing to take some automated recommendations.

 

Scout asks shoppers to like or dislike a product and responds by showing other products based on user responses, according to CNBC.

 

Scout is currently available for home furniture, kitchen and dining products, women’s shoes, home decor, patio furniture, lighting and bedding, with more categories coming soon.
“This is a new way to shop, allowing customers to browse millions of items and quickly refine the selection based solely on visual attributes,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “
Amazon uses imagery from across its robust selection to extract thousands of visual attributes for showing customers a variety of items so they can select their preferences as they go.”

WHAT’S NOTABLE

The CNBC report noted that Amazon is utilizing machine learning technology to address one of the major criticisms of its service, namely that it’s a great place to buy things but not a great place to browse.
While Amazon is easily the biggest U.S. e-commerce company, e-retailers such as Stitch Fix (SFIX) and Walmart’s (WMT) Bonobos provide a more personalized experience and have given social media services such as Instagram (FB) and Pinterest more room to use their large collections of data in turning their networks into fledgling commerce sites, CNBC said.

PRICE ACTION

Following the news, Wayfair (W) slipped 4.3%, Williams-Sonoma (WSM) fell 1.9%, Stitch Fix dropped nearly 9%, and Steven Madden (SHOO) slid 1.3%. Meanwhile, Amazon (AMZN) shares are 1.5% lower in Wednesday afternoon trading.


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Shopify little changed after Q2 results

Analysts diverge on Shopify after quarterly results

Shopify little changed after Q2 results, Stockwinners
Shopify little changed after Q2 results, Stockwinners

Following the company’s second quarter results, Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson downgraded Shopify (SHOP) to Neutral saying the quarter was “not good enough” and the stock’s valuation fairly reflects current business trends.

Meanwhile, his peers at Baird and Canaccord both reiterated buy-equivalent ratings and raised their price targets on the shares following what they view as a “solid” quarter.

RESULTS

Shopify reported second quarter adjusted earnings per share of 2c and revenue of $245M, above consensus of (3c) and $234.64M, respectively.

GMV for the second quarter was $9.1B, an increase of 56% over the second quarter of 2017, and Gross Payments Volume, or “GPV,” grew to $3.6B.

The company said it sees third quarter revenues between $253M-$257M, third quarter GAAP operating loss in the range of $40M-$42M and adjusted operating loss in the range of $9M-$11M.

Additionally, Shopify said it expects FY18 revenues between $1.015B-$1.025B, FY18 GAAP operating loss in the range of $105M-$110M and adjusted operating profit in the range of $0-$5M.

PIPER MOVING TO THE SIDELINES

In a research note to investors, Piper Jaffray’s Olson downgraded Shopify to Neutral from Overweight and lowered his price target to $145 from $155 as he believes the stock’s current valuation adequately reflects the long-term growth story.

The analyst argued that the company’s second quarter was “good, but not good enough,” with monthly recurring revenue below investor expectations with a deceleration from 57% to 49% year-over-year growth between Q1 and Q2.

While Olson acknowledged that Shopify is performing well, the analyst told investors he believes this performance is mostly reflected in the shares’ valuation.

‘SOLID  QUARTER’

Still bullish on the name, Canaccord Genuity analyst David Hynes told investors to not let yesterday’s post-earnings selloff in shares of Shopify confuse them on the fundamentals.

The analyst believes this was another “solid” quarter for Shopify as the company grew its nearly $1B revenue run-rate at 62% in the quarter.

Further, Hynes pointed out that he does not believe Shopify’s growth is decelerating faster than expected or that merchant churn is “going to sneak up and bite” the company.

He continues to believe that Shopify is one of the best-positioned growth stories in application software, and is confident that this business will ultimately scale to material profits. Hynes reiterated a Buy rating on the shares, while raising his price target on the stock to $165 from $160.

Meanwhile, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian also raised his price target for Shopify to $165 from $150 and reiterated an Outperform rating on the shares. While acknowledging that slowing monthly recurring revenue growth, a new shelf filing and its third quarter loss guidance weighed on the shares, the analyst said that this was another “solid” quarter for the company.

Ramping Plus adoption, international expansion, and new Merchant Solutions features should continue to drive significant growth, he contended. Sebastian told investors that he continues to like Shopify based on the significant e-commerce growth opportunity and defensible market leadership position he sees being demonstrated in the second quarter results.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday morning trading, shares of Shopify were fractionally down to $137.60.


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