FDA panel approves Aimmune Therapeutics’ peanut allergy treatment

FDA Panel approves peanut allergy treatment, Stockwinners

A Food and Drug Administration panel voted 8-1 in favor of the benefits of Aimmune Therapeutics’ (AIMT) peanut allergy treatment outweigh the risks. The panel also voted 8-1 in favor of the drug’s safety. The body of independent advisers voted 7-2 in favor of effectiveness.

If approved, Palforzia could come with a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS. A REMS includes special steps a physician must take when prescribing a medication to limit serious side effects.

Side effects are key when it comes to Palforzia. In a key study, 11.6% of patients who received the peanut allergy treatment dropped out due to side effects vs. 2.4% of patients who took a placebo. Further, Palforzia patients needed emergency allergy shots more frequently.

Peanut allergy is expected to be a $3.9B market by 2027, Stockwinners

The advisory committee vote is not binding, but is a recommendation to the full FDA.

Peanut allergies are the leading cause of death from food-induced allergic reactions in the United States but a lack of approved preventive treatments has left patients and caregivers desperate for options.

Palforzia, previously known as AR101, is an oral immunotherapy consisting of fixed doses of powdered peanut that is sprinkled over food daily.

While it does not aim to cure peanut allergy, the treatment’s clinical trials have shown that patients consuming small doses of the substance to which they are allergic become desensitized over time, reducing the likelihood or severity of a reaction to it.

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If approved, Palforzia is expected to have a black box warning, the FDA’s harshest, and strict restrictions requiring the therapy to be administered in a certified facility.

Aimmune expects to win approval for use of Palforzia in patients aged 4 to 17 and said it is considering a list price range of between $3,000 and $20,000 a year.

Analyst Comments

Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Raymond kept an Overweight rating and $60 price target on Aimmune after an FDA’s Allergenic Products Advisory Committee, or APAC, voted in favor of the company’s AR101 peanut allergy drug on both efficacy and safety.

The analyst said, after the vote, he “increasingly likes the chances for Palforzia approval by late January 2020 (if not sooner).” Raymond noted that the stock is likely to open sharply higher on Monday as there is a 30% short interest in Aimmune, and said he is a buyer on the open as he sees “a lot of room to go.”

AIMT last traded at $24.67.

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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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Kraft Heinz shares tumble 28 percent

Kraft Heinz says SEC probing procurement accounting policies

The company (KHC) said in a filing it received a subpoena in October 2018 from the SEC associated with an investigation into the company’s procurement area, more specifically the company’s accounting policies, procedures, and internal controls related to its procurement function, including, but not limited to, agreements, side agreements, and changes or modifications to its agreements with its vendors.

Kraft Heinz shares tumble 28% on SEC investigation, Dividends cut, Stockwinners

Kraft Heinz confirms quarterly dividend cut to 40c from 62.5c per share

The Board of Directors of The Kraft Heinz Company declared a regular quarterly dividend of 40c per share of common stock payable on March 22 to stockholders of record as of March 8.

This represents a reduction of 22.5c from the company’s previous quarterly dividend of 62.5c.

“We believe this action will help us accelerate our deleveraging plan, provide us strategic advantage through a stronger balance sheet, support commercial investments and set a payout level that can both grow over time and accommodate additional divestitures.

By doing this we can improve our growth and returns over time,” said Kraft Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees.

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Buffett loses $4.4billion on Friday, See Stockwinners

Warren’s Loss

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owned 325,634,818 shares of Kraft Heinz as of Dec. 31, according to the latest 13-F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That represented about 26.7% of the shares outstanding, while the value of the holding was just under 8% of Berkshire’s total equity holdings.

If Berkshire’s stake remained intact, it would be worth about $4.4 billion less than it was the day before. And you thought you had a bad day in the market?!?

Berkshire’s stake in Kraft Heinz has been the same since the third quarter of 2015, according to SEC filings.

Before that, filings showed ownership of just 192,666 shares of Kraft Foods Group Inc. and 578,000 shares of Mondelez.

Since Sept. 30, 2015, the stock has now plummeted 50.9%. That indicates Berkshire’s investment has lost $11.7 billion in principal value since then, including an $11.3 billion loss in 2018 alone.

KHC is down 28% to $34.75.

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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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Sonic sold for $2.3 billion

Sonic to be acquired by Inspire Brands for $43.50 per share in $2.3B deal

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Sonic sold for $2.3 billion, Stockwinners

Sonic (SONC) and Inspire Brands announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Inspire will acquire Sonic for $43.50 per share in cash in a transaction valued at approximately $2.3B including the assumption of Sonic’s net debt.

Inspire is a multi-brand restaurant company whose portfolio includes more than 4,700 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Rusty Taco locations worldwide.

Following the completion of the transaction, Sonic will be a privately-held subsidiary of Inspire and will continue to be operated as an independent brand.

The agreement, which has been unanimously approved by Sonic’s board, represents a premium of approximately 19% per share to Sonic’s closing stock price on September 24, 2018 and a premium of approximately 21% to Sonic’s 30-day volume-weighted average price.

The transaction is subject to the approval of Sonic shareholders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including applicable regulatory approvals, and will close by the end of the year.


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General Mills North America sales decline

General Mills plunges after reporting North America sales decline

General Mills North America sales decline, Stockwinners
General Mills North America sales decline, Stockwinners

Shares of General Mills (GIS) sunk in late morning trading after the company reported quarterly results, including net sales for its North America Retail segment that fell 2% from the year-ago period.

QUARTERLY RESULTS AND GUIDANCE

General Mills reported first quarter adjusted earnings per share of 71c, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of 63c, while sales of $4.1B were essentially in line with the consensus forecast.

However, the company said net sales in North America, its biggest region, fell 2% to $2.39B, with net sales down 4% in U.S. Snacks and down 2% each in U.S. Meals & Baking and U.S. Yogurt.

General Mills said its pet-food division reported sales of $343.4M, up 14% on a pro forma basis. General Mills acquired Blue Buffalo earlier this year for $8B, and said its net interest expense was $134M in the quarter, primarily driven by financing related to the acquisition.

Looking ahead, General Mills reaffirmed fiscal 2019 targets, including adjusted EPS flat to down 3% from the base $3.11 earned in fiscal 2018, organic net sales flat to up 1%, net sales up 9%-10% including the impact of the Blue Buffalo deal and constant currency adjusted operating profit up 6%-9% from the base of $2.6B reported in FY18.

EXECUTIVE COMMENTARY

In a statement, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Harmening commented that FY19 is “off to a good start” and said the Blue Buffalo transition is “progressing well.”

General Mills expects double-digit top and bottom-line growth for the Blue Buffalo business this year, excluding acquisition-related charges. On its quarterly earnings conference call, CFO Donal Mulligan said he expects price/mix to improve as the year unfolds, and that operating margins will be down “somewhat” for the year.

He also thinks there will be “a little bit more pressure” on gross margin from where the company originally expected.

For the year, General Mills expects input cost inflation will be 5% of cost of goods, one point above FY18 levels.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Peers trading lower on Tuesday include Kraft Heinz (KHC), Campbell Soup (CPB) and J.M. Smucker (SJM).


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Coca-Cola to acquire Costa for $5.1B

Coca-Cola to acquire Costa in deal valued at $5.1B

Coca-Cola to acquire Costa for $5.1B, Stockwinners
Coca-Cola to acquire Costa for $5.1B, Stockwinners

Coca-Cola (KO) announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Costa Limited.

The acquisition of Costa from parent company Whitbread PLC is valued at $5.1B and will give Coca-Cola a strong coffee platform across parts of Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, with the opportunity for additional expansion.

Costa operations include a leading brand, nearly 4,000 retail outlets with highly trained baristas, a coffee vending operation, for-home coffee formats and Costa’s state-of-the-art roastery.

For Coca-Cola, the expected acquisition adds a scalable coffee platform with critical know-how and expertise in a fast-growing, on-trend category. Costa has a solid presence with Costa Express, which offers barista-quality coffee in a variety of on-the-go locations, including gas stations, movie theaters and travel hubs.

Costa, in various formats, has the potential for further expansion with customers across the Coca-Cola system. The acquisition will expand the existing Coca-Cola coffee lineup by adding another leading brand and platform. The portfolio already includes the market-leading Georgia brand in Japan, plus coffee products in many other countries.

The purchase price is approximately $5.1B.

Upon the closing, Coca-Cola will acquire all issued and outstanding shares of Costa Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Whitbread. This subsidiary contains all of the existing operating businesses of Costa.

Whitbread will be seeking shareholder approval for the transaction, which is expected to take place by mid-October.

The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust approvals in the European Union and China.

It is expected to close in the first half of 2019. Coca-Cola expects the transaction to be slightly accretive in the first full year, not taking into account any impact from purchase accounting.

For FY18, Costa generated revenue and EBITDA of roughly $1.7B in revenue and $312M in EBITDA.

Because Coca-Cola expects the transaction to close in the first half of 2019, there is no change to 2018 guidance.

The company’s long-term targets also remain unchanged.


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Yum China receives takeover offer

Yum China rises after reportedly spurning $46 per share takeover bid

Yum China receives takeover offer, Stockwinners
Yum China receives takeover offer, Stockwinners

Shares of Yum China (YUMC) are on the rise following a media report saying the company has rejected a buyout offer of $46 per share made by a consortium led by Hillhouse Capital.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg had reported that China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp., was part of the consortium bidding to take Yum China private.

BUYOUT OFFER REPORTEDLY REJECTED

Yum China has rejected a private buyout offer from a consortium of investors that valued the company at over $17B, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter.

An investor group led by Hillhouse Capital Group in recent months offered to take the restaurant operator private at $46 per share, but the all-cash offer was turned down by the company’s board in recent weeks, source told the publication.

Last month, The Information had reported that Hillhouse Capital was in talks to acquire Yum China. The company operates over 8,000 KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants across mainland China.

A takeover led by Hillhouse would assist the company in accelerating its efforts to implement high-tech initiatives in its brick-and-mortar stores in order to attract Chinese millennials, the report pointed out.

CHINA INVESTMENT PART OF CONSORTIUM

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp., was part of the consortium bidding to take Yum China private.

The sovereign fund and DCP Capital, an investment fund run by former KKR (KKR) executives, are considering a buyout of Yum China, which runs KFC and Pizza Hut outlets, along with Hillhouse Capital, the publication added. Yum China spun off from Yum! Brands (YUM) in 2016.

PRICE ACTION

In tuesday’s trading, shares of Yum China trading in New York are off their earlier highs, but are trading up 3.8% to $37.14.


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Keystone Foods sold for $2.16B

Tyson Foods to acquire Keystone Foods for $2.16B 

Keystone Foods sold for $2.16B, Stockwinners
Keystone Foods sold for $2.16B, Stockwinners

Tyson Food (TSN) announced it has reached a definitive agreement to buy the Keystone Foods business from Marfrig Global Foods for $2.16B in cash.

The acquisition of Keystone, a major supplier to the growing global foodservice industry, is Tyson Foods’ latest investment in furtherance of its growth strategy and expansion of its protein capabilities.

Headquartered in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Keystone supplies chicken, beef, fish and pork to some of the quick-service restaurant chains, as well as retail and convenience store channels.

Its product portfolio includes chicken nuggets, wings and tenders; beef patties; and breaded fish fillets.

The acquisition includes six processing plants and an innovation center in the U.S. with locations in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It also includes eight plants and three innovation centers in China, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia.

Keystone, which employs approximately 11,000 people, generated annual revenue of $2.5B and adjusted EBITDA of $211M in the last 12 months ending June 30, excluding non-controlling interest and other adjustments.

During the same period, the company generated approximately 65% of its revenue from U.S.-based production and the remaining 35% from its Asia Pacific plants.

The acquisition will be funded through a combination of existing liquidity and proceeds from the issuance of new debt. Initial leverage metrics are expected to be well within levels appropriate for the company’s existing investment-grade credit ratings.

The company plans to use its cash flows to pay down debt to continue to support its credit ratings and to strengthen its balance sheet.The transaction, which has been approved by Tyson Foods’ board of directors, is expected to close in mid-fiscal 2019. It is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.


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Scotts Miracle-Gro dragged down by Bayer woes

Bayer drags Scotts Miracle-Gro down after Monsanto weed killer ruling

Scotts Miracle-Gro dragged down by Bayer woes, Stockwinners
Scotts Miracle-Gro dragged down by Bayer woes, Stockwinners

Shares of Bayer (BAYRY) trading in New York are sliding after the recently acquired Monsanto was ordered to pay $289M by a California court, who found it liable in a lawsuit alleging that the company’s Roundup caused cancer.

Commenting on the news, JPMorgan analyst Richard Vosser told investors that the selloff in the shares is “significantly overdone” as he sees the potential for the verdict to be overturned on appeal and for the damage amount to be greatly reduced.

Meanwhile, his peer at Bank of America Merrill Lynch argued that the ruling adds cloud over an important product for Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG).

ROUNDUP RULING

Last week, a jury found Monsanto, which was recently acquired by Bayer for $63B, liable in a lawsuit alleging that the company’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, including its Roundup brand, caused cancer.

The case against Monsanto is the first of more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the U.S.

The jury at San Francisco’s Superior Court of California found that Monsanto had failed to warn school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weed killers, and awarded Johnson $250M in punitive damages and about $39M in compensatory damages.

Monsanto, which plans to appeal the verdict, has denied that glyphosate causes cancer and has contended that decades of scientific studies have shown the chemical to be safe for human use.

SELLOFF ‘SIGNIFICANTLY OVERDONE’

In a research note to investors, JPMorgan’s Vosser said he views the selloff in shares of Bayer after a California jury ordered the company’s Monsanto unit to pay $289M for not warning of cancer risks posed by its weed killer, Roundup, as “significantly overdone.”

The analyst added that he sees the potential for the verdict to be overturned on appeal and for the damage amount to be greatly reduced. Overall, Vosser believes current share levels of Bayer provide a good long-term buying opportunity and reiterated an Overweight rating on the name.

RULING ‘ADDS CLOUD’ OVER IMPORTANT PRODUCT

Also commenting on the California court’s ruling, BofA/Merrill analyst Christopher Carey pointed out in a research note of his own that while the product is owned by Monsanto, Scotts Miracle-Gro is the exclusive distributor/marketer of consumer Roundup in the U.S. and Canada, with the brand on track to be about 15% to FY18 profit, but less in FY19 as a 3-year term for $20M annual payments from Monsanto ends in FY18.

Carey noted that he does not expect a ban of glyphosate, but argued that the court decision nevertheless “adds a cloud” over a product which is important for Scotts Miracle-Gro.

While any additional impact from Roundup is unclear, this adds another layer to risks, he contended, highlighting that the company already must overcome a number of headwinds in 2019.

The analyst reiterated an Underperform rating and $74 price target on Scotts Miracle-Gro’s shares. Meanwhile, his peer at SunTrust told investors that there is likely no legal risk to Scotts Miracle-Gro from Friday’s jury verdict in California.

As part of the master agreement between Scotts and Monsanto signed three years ago, Scotts is indemnified from any litigation relating to the Roundup/glyphosate issue, analyst William Chappell pointed out.

Further, the analyst noted that the company is not listed as a defendant in any of the cases filed against Monsanto.

Nevertheless, Chappell estimates that Roundup represents roughly 10% of Scotts’ EBITDA, and believes sales could be impacted over the long-term from these trials.

The analyst reiterated a Buy rating and $100 price target on Scotts Miracle-Gro’s shares.

PRICE ACTION

In Monday morning trading, shares of Bayer in New York have dropped over 10% to $23.75, while Scotts Miracle-Gro’s stock has slipped 2.25% to $73.65.


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US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food for $1.8B

US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food group of Companies for $1.8B 

US Foods to acquire SGA's Food for $1.8B, Stockwinners
US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food for $1.8B, Stockwinners

US Foods (USFD) and Services Group of America announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which US Foods will acquire five operating companies collectively known as SGA’s Food Group of Companies, for $1.8B in cash.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by US Foods’ Board of Directors.

Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, SGA’s Food Group of Companies has combined 2017 net sales of $3.2B and approximately 3,400 employees.

SGA’s Food Group of Companies currently operates as five separate operating companies.

US Foods will finance the acquisition primarily with $1.5B in fully committed term loan financing from J.P. Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch and will fund the balance of the purchase price through its existing liquidity resources.

At the closing of the acquisition, US Foods’ pro forma net leverage is expected to be 4.1x.

Given the combined company’s strong cash flow generation, including synergies, US Foods expects to reduce net leverage to approximately 3.0x by the end of fiscal 2020. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

US Foods expects to achieve approximately $55M in annual run-rate cost synergies by the end of fiscal 2022, primarily driven by savings in distribution, procurement and administrative expenses.

The purchase price reflects a multiple of 12.5x SGA’s Food Group of Companies 2018E Adjusted EBITDA of $123 million, after taking into account the approximately $260 million estimated present value of cash tax benefits to be realized as a result of the acquisition. Including $55M in annual run-rate synergies, the price reflects a 2018E Adjusted EBITDA multiple of 8.6x.

Excluding amortization, the transaction is expected to become accretive to US Foods’ Adjusted EPS in the second full year following closing.

USFD closed at $40.60.


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Pinnacle Foods sold for $10.9B in cash

Conagra Brands to acquire Pinnacle Foods for $10.9B in cash  and stock

 

Pinnacle Foods sold for $10.9B in cash , Stockwinners

Conagra Brands (CAG) and Pinnacle Foods (PF) announced that their boards of directors have unanimously approved a definitive agreement under which Conagra Brands will acquire all outstanding shares of Pinnacle Foods in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $10.9B, including Pinnacle Foods’ outstanding net debt.

Under the terms of the transaction, Pinnacle Foods shareholders will receive $43.11 per share in cash and 0.6494 shares of Conagra Brands common stock for each share of Pinnacle Foods held.

The implied price of $68.00 per Pinnacle Foods share is based on the volume-weighted average price of Conagra Brands’ stock for the five days ended June 21, 2018.

The purchase price reflects an adjusted EBITDA multiple of 15.8x, based on Pinnacle Foods’ estimated fiscal year 2018 results excluding synergies, and 12.1x adjusted EBITDA including run-rate cost synergies.

The combination of two growing portfolios of iconic brands will serve as a catalyst to accelerate value creation for shareholders.

The transaction will enhance Conagra Brands’ multi-year transformation plan and expand its presence and capabilities in its most strategic categories, including frozen foods and snacks.

With annual net sales in excess of $3B, Pinnacle Foods’ portfolio of frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable products includes such well-known brands as Birds Eye, Duncan Hines, Earth Balance, EVOL, Erin’s, Gardein, Glutino, Hawaiian Kettle Style Potato Chips, Hungry-Man, Log Cabin, Tim’s Cascade Snacks, Udi’s, Vlasic and Wish-Bone, among others.

Based on both companies’ latest fiscal year results, pro forma net sales would have been approximately $11B.

Under the terms of the agreement, each share of Pinnacle Foods common stock will be converted into the right to receive $43.11 per share in cash and 0.6494 shares of Conagra Brands common stock.

Conagra Brands has secured $9B in fully committed bridge financing from affiliates of Goldman Sachs Group (GS).

The $10.9B purchase price is expected to be financed with $3B of Conagra Brands equity issued to Pinnacle Foods shareholders and $7.9B in cash consideration funded with $7.3B of transaction debt and approximately $600M of incremental cash proceeds from a public equity offering and/or divestitures.

On a pro forma basis, Pinnacle Foods shareholders are expected to own approximately 16% of the combined company, assuming issuance of the incremental equity to the public.

Following the transaction, Conagra Brands’ pro forma net debt-to-EBITDA ratio is expected to be approximately 5.0x. Conagra Brands is committed to maintaining a solid investment grade credit rating and targeting a debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 3.5x.

Conagra Brands intends to maintain its quarterly dividend at the current annual rate of $0.85 per share during fiscal 2019.

In the future, it expects modest dividend increases while it focuses on deleveraging, subject to the approval of its board of directors.

The company also plans to repurchase shares under its authorized program only at times and in amounts as is consistent with the prioritization of achieving its leverage targets.

Pinnacle Foods will continue to pay its quarterly dividend at the current annual rate of $1.30 per share until the transaction is completed. The transaction is expected to close by the end of calendar 2018, subject to the approval of Pinnacle Foods shareholders, the receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.


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Changes to the S&P 400, 500, 600 indices

S&P announces changes to S&P 400, 500, 600 indices

Stocks to buy, stocks to watch, upgrades, downgrades, earningsS&P Dow Jones Indices will make the following index adjustments to the S&P 500, S&P MidCap 400 and S&P SmallCap 600 to ensure each index more appropriately represents its market capitalization range.

The changes will be effective prior to the open on Monday, March 19 to coincide with the March rebalance.

All companies moving to the S&P 500 have total market capitalizations above $12B.

All companies moving to the S&P MidCap 400 and S&P SmallCap 600 are more appropriate for those indices.

S&P MidCap 400 constituents Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO) and SVB Financial Group (SIVB) will switch places with Signet Jewelers (SIG) and Patterson Companies (PDCO) respectively in the S&P 500.

S&P SmallCap 600 constituent Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) will replace Chesapeake Energy (CHK) in the S&P 500, Chesapeake Energy will replace Dean Foods (DF) in the S&P MidCap 400, and Dean Foods will replace Nektar Therapeutics in the S&P SmallCap 600.

S&P SmallCap 600 constituents Cantel Medical (CMD) and ICU Medical (ICUI) will switch places with Avon Products (AVP) and Owens & Minor (OMI) in the S&P MidCap 400.


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Blue Buffalo sold for $8 billion

General Mills acquires Blue Buffalo Pet Products for $40.00 a share in cash

Blue Buffalo sold for $8 billion. Stockwinners.com
Blue Buffalo sold for $8 billion

 

General Mills (GIS) and Blue Buffalo Pet Products (BUFF) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which General Mills will acquire Blue Buffalo for $40.00 per share in cash, representing an enterprise value of approximately $8B.

 

The transaction establishes General Mills as the leader in the U.S. Wholesome Natural pet food category, the fastest growing portion of the overall pet food market, and accelerates its portfolio reshaping strategy.

 

The $30 billion U.S. pet food market is generating consistent 3-4% growth and is highly attractive for retailers based on continued market growth, premiumization and subscription-like purchase patterns that drive traffic and repeat purchases.

 

Blue Buffalo is the leader in the fastest-growing Wholesome Natural category with double-digit growth over each of the last three years. The Wholesome Natural market represents approximately 10% of the pet food market in volume and approximately 20% in value.

 

Based on the strong consumer tailwinds, the Wholesome Natural market is poised to continue to grow, propelling BLUE’s growth.

 

General Mills’ scale and decades of experience will support greater effectiveness and efficiency for Blue Buffalo across key business areas, including: sales, marketing, advertising, supply chain, R&D, innovation, and environmental stewardship.

 

These capabilities are expected to contribute to meaningful revenue synergies over time, in addition to $50 million in anticipated cost savings opportunities.

The transaction will be immediately accretive to General Mills (GIS) net sales growth and operating margin profile, and is expected to be neutral to cash EPS in fiscal 2019 and accretive in fiscal 2020.


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Fogo De Chao sold for $560 million

Fogo De Chao to be acquired by Rhone for $15.75 per share in cash

Fogo De Chao to be acquired by Rhone for $15.75 per share in cash. Stockwinners.com
Fogo De Chao to be acquired by Rhone for $15.75 per share in cash.

Fogo de Chao (FOGO) announced an agreement to be acquired by investment entities affiliated with Rhone Capital.

Under the terms of the agreement, Rhone will acquire the Company in an all cash transaction valued at $560M.

The Company’s stockholders will receive $15.75 per share, representing a 25.5% premium to the closing share price of the Company’s shares on February 16, 2018.

The transaction is the result of a comprehensive strategic alternatives review process taken by the Company’s Board of Directors.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by Fogo’s Board of Directors. Funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. and certain of Fogo’s directors and executive officers, which collectively hold more than 60 percent of Fogo’s shares, have approved the transaction by written consent.

The acquisition is expected to be completed during the second calendar quarter of 2018, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.


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