Pandora sold for $3.5 billion

Sirius XM to acquire Pandora in all-stock deal valued at about $3.5B

Pandora sold for $3.5 billion, Stockwinners
Pandora sold for $3.5 billion, Stockwinners

Sirius XM Holdings (SIRI) and Pandora Media (P) announced a definitive agreement under which SiriusXM will acquire Pandora in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $3.5B.

The combination creates the world’s largest audio entertainment company, with more than $7B in expected pro-forma revenue in 2018 and strong, long-term growth opportunities.

Pursuant to the agreement, the owners of the outstanding shares in Pandora that SiriusXM does not currently own will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 1.44 newly issued SiriusXM shares for each share of Pandora they hold.

Based on the 30-day volume-weighted average price of $7.04 per share of SiriusXM common stock, the implied price of Pandora common stock is $10.14 per share, representing a premium of 13.8% over a 30-day volume-weighted average price.

The transaction is expected to be tax-free to Pandora stockholders. SiriusXM currently owns convertible preferred stock in Pandora that represents a stake of approximately 15% on an as-converted basis.

The merger agreement provides for a “go-shop” provision under which Pandora and its Board of Directors may actively solicit, receive, evaluate and potentially enter negotiations with parties that offer alternative proposals following the execution date of the definitive agreement.

There can be no assurance this process will result in a superior proposal. Pandora does not intend to disclose developments about this process unless and until its Board of Directors has made a decision with respect to any potential superior proposal.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by both the independent directors of Pandora and by the board of directors of SiriusXM.

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


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Under Armour to cut global workforce by 3%

Under Armour rises after announcing 3% cut to global workforce

Stockwinners gives Stocks to Watch, Stocks to Buy, Stocks to Invest In, Stocks to buy on margin
Under Armour to cut global workforce by 3%

Shares of Under Armour (UA, UAA) are rising after the company provided an update on its restructuring plan and announced a roughly 3% cut to its workforce.

RESTRUCTURING PLAN

On Thursday, Under Armour announced an update to its 2018 restructuring plan and an approximately 3% cut to its global workforce.

Previously, the company expected to incur total estimated pre-tax restructuring and related charges of roughly $190M-$210M in connection with the plan but, following further evaluation, the company identified about $10M of cash severance charges related to the workforce reduction.

Accordingly, the company now expects approximately $200M-$220M of pre-tax restructuring and related charges to be incurred in 2018.

The reduction in workforce is expected to be completed by March 31, 2019 and represents the final component to the 2018 restructuring plan.

MANAGEMENT COMMENTS

“In our relentless pursuit of running a more operationally excellent company, we continue to make difficult decisions to ensure we are best positioned to succeed,” said Under Armour Chief Financial Officer David Bergman.

“This redesign will help simplify the organization for smarter, faster execution, capture additional cost efficiencies, and shift resources to drive greater operating leverage as we move into 2019 and beyond.”

GUIDANCE

Based on the operational efficiencies driven by the plan, the company now expects operating loss is to be approximately $60M versus the previous range of $50M-$60M. Excluding the impact of the restructuring plan, adjusted operating income is now expected to be $140M-$160M versus the prior expectation of $130M-$160M.

Excluding the impact of the restructuring efforts, adjusted earnings per share is now expected to be in the range of 16c-19c versus the previously expected range of 14c-19c. This compares to analyst estimates of 12c.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Last year, Under Armour approved a restructuring plan to better align its financial resources to support the company’s efforts as the consumer landscape shifts.

As part of the plan, Under Armour said it was cutting about 2% of its global workforce of 15,000 and streamlining “all aspects” of the organization to improve business operations.

On Tuesday, Matt Powell, Senior Industry Advisor, Sports at The NPD Group, stated in a LinkedIn post that “As expected, August was a disappointing month for sport footwear. Sales were down low singles in dollars and in units, yielding a flat performance in average selling price.”

Powell noted that Nike (NKE) brand sales grew in the very low singles on strong lifestyle results, Adidas (ADDYY) sales grew “only in the low singles digits,” Skechers (SKX) athletic improved “in the low singles” and Under Armour footwear “declined more than 25%” last month.

PRICE ACTION

Class A Under Armour shares rose 4.4% to $19.58 in morning trading.


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Cannabis stocks rise amid interest by Coca-Cola

Cannabis stocks rise amid interest by Coca-Cola, opportunities for Shopify

Cannabis stocks rise amid interest by Coca-Cola, Stockwinners
Cannabis stocks rise amid interest by Coca-Cola, Stockwinners

Shares of cannabis stocks are in focus following a report that Coca-Cola (KO) is in talks with Aurora Cannabis (ACBFF) as it eyes the cannabis industry and an analyst note from Keybanc which said Shopify (SHOP) has cannabis potential.

COCA-COLA EYES CANNABIS

Coca-Cola is monitoring the nascent cannabis drinks industry and is in talks with Canadian marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis to develop the drinks, Bloomberg reported Monday.

“We are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world,” Coca-Cola spokesman Kent Landers said. “The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time” Landers added.

The move comes as beverage makers are looking towards cannabis as soda consumption and traditional business slows.

Constellation Brands (STZ, STZ.B) previously announced it will spend $3.8B to increase its stake in Canadian marijuana producer Canopy Growth (CGC) and Molson Coors Brewing (TAP) is starting a joint venture with Quebec’s Hydropothecary to develop cannabis drinks.

In addition, Diageo (DEO) has been holding talks with at least three Canadian cannabis producers regarding a potential deal and Heineken’s (HEINY) Lagunitas label has launched a brand focused on non-alcoholic drinks infused with THC.

SHOPIFY MAY BENEFIT FROM CANNABIS SALES

KeyBanc analyst Monika Garb told investors in a research note on Monday that she is a buyer of Shopify, as the company has “ample” growth opportunities ahead.

She sees potential upside to her above-consensus estimates and expects that recreational sales of cannabis in Canada could be a general merchandise volume and revenue driver further benefiting Shopify’s business momentum.

The analyst said the company has been selected by several Canadian provinces to run their e-commerce sites and in-store point of sale solutions and has also signed deals with private cannabis producers and distributors, including Canopy Growth and Aurora.

Additionally, Garb says Shopify is the best positioned to benefit from growth in emerging brands, citing brands like Rebecca Minkoff and Kyle Cosmetics that already use Shopify. Garb maintained an Overweight rating and $182 price target on shares.

CANNABIS STOCKS

Publicly-traded companies in the space include Cronos Group (CRON), Canopy Growth, Tilray (TLRY), Cannabis Science (CBIS), Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR) and Aurora Cannabis.

PRICE ACTION:

Aurora Cannabis gained over 16% in Monday’s trading, while Tilray gained 7.3%.


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SodaStream sold for $3.2 billion

PepsiCo agrees to acquire SodaStream for $144 per share in cash

SodaStream sold for $3.2 billion, Stockwinners
SodaStream sold for $3.2 billion, Stockwinners

PepsiCo (PEP) and SodaStream (SODA) announced that they have entered into an agreement under which PepsiCo has agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of SodaStream for $144.00 per share in cash, which represents a 32% premium to the 30-day volume weighted average price.

PepsiCo’s strong distribution capabilities, global reach, R&D, design and marketing expertise, combined with SodaStream’s differentiated and unique product range will position SodaStream for further expansion and breakthrough innovation.

Under the terms of the agreement between PepsiCo and SodaStream, PepsiCo has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding shares of SodaStream International for $144.00 per share, in a transaction valued at $3.2B.

The transaction will be funded with PepsiCo’s cash on hand.

The acquisition has been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies.

The transaction is subject to a SodaStream shareholder vote, certain regulatory approvals and other customary conditions, and closing is expected by January 2019.

“SodaStream is highly complementary and incremental to our business, adding to our growing water portfolio, while catalyzing our ability to offer personalized in-home beverage solutions around the world,” said Ramon Laguarta, CEO-Elect and President, PepsiCo.

“From breakthrough innovations like Drinkfinity to beverage dispensing technologies like Spire for foodservice and Aquafina water stations for workplaces and colleges, PepsiCo is finding new ways to reach consumers beyond the bottle, and today’s announcement is fully in line with that strategy.”


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Zoe’s Kitchen sold for $300 million

Zoe’s Kitchen to be acquired by CAVA Group for $12.75 per share

Zoe's Kitchen sold for $300 million, Stockwinners
Zoe’s Kitchen sold for $300 million, Stockwinners

Zoe’s Kitchen (ZOES) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired in a transaction by privately held Cava Group, fast-growing Mediterranean culinary brand with 66 restaurants.

The combined companies will have 327 restaurants in 24 states throughout the U.S. Under the terms of the agreement, Zoes Kitchen shareholders will receive $12.75 in cash for each share of common stock they hold.

This represents a premium of approximately 33% to Zoes Kitchen’s closing share price on August 16, 2018 and a premium of approximately 33% to Zoes Kitchen 30-day volume weighted average price ended on August 16, 2018, and an enterprise value of approximately $300M.

The acquisition of Zoes Kitchen will be financed through a significant equity investment in CAVA led by Act III Holdings, the investment vehicle created by Ron Shaich, founder, chairman, and former CEO of Panera Bread, and funds advised by The Invus Group, with participation from existing investors SWaN & Legend Venture Partners and Revolution Growth.

After closing, Brett Schulman, current CEO of CAVA, will serve as CEO of the combined company and will work closely with the existing leadership teams at Zoes Kitchen and CAVA to oversee their growth and evolution.

Ron Shaich will serve as Chairman of the combined company.

Consummation of the merger is subject to certain closing conditions, including the adoption of the merger agreement by the holders of a majority of the Company’s outstanding common stock, and the expiration or early termination of all applicable waiting periods under the HSR Act.

CAVA has agreed to pay to the Company a $17M termination fee if the merger agreement is terminated under certain circumstances and the merger does not occur.

The parties expect the merger to close in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, the Company is permitted to actively solicit, for a 35-day period, alternative acquisition proposals from potential buyer and business combination candidates.

There can be no assurance that any superior proposals will be received during this solicitation process or that any alternative transaction providing for a superior proposal will be consummated.

Except as may be required by law, the Company does not intend to disclose any developments with respect to such a solicitation process unless and until the Company’s board of directors determines that it has received a superior proposal. The Company would be required to pay to CAVA an $8.5M termination fee if the Company terminates the merger agreement to accept a superior proposal under certain circumstances. T

he Company’s Board of Directors has determined that the merger agreement with CAVA is fair to and in the best interests of the Company and the holders of the Company’s common stock.

Zoes Kitchen also announced that it will not hold its previously scheduled second quarter 2018 earnings conference call and web simulcast on the morning of Friday, August 17 and will not issue a press release with second quarter 2018 financial results.

The Company expects to file its quarterly report with second quarter 2018 financial results on or before August 20, 2018.


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Starbucks receives $7.15 billion from Nestle

Nestle pays $7.15B to Starbucks for rights to sell packaged coffee, tea

Nestle pays $7.15B to Starbucks for rights to sell packaged coffee, Stockwinners
Nestle pays $7.15B to Starbucks for rights to sell packaged coffee,

Starbucks (SBUX) announced it will form a global coffee alliance with Nestle (NSRGY) to “accelerate and grow the global reach of Starbucks brands in Consumer Packaged Goods and Foodservice.”

It added, “With a shared commitment to ethical and sustainable sourcing of coffee, this alliance will transform, expand and elevate both the at-home and away-from-home coffee and related categories around the world.” As part of the alliance, Nestle will obtain the rights to market, sell, and distribute Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Starbucks Reserve, Teavana, Starbucks VIA and Torrefazione Italia packaged coffee and tea in all global at-home and away-from-home channels.

Nestle will pay Starbucks $7.15B in closing consideration, and Starbucks “will retain a significant stake as licensor and supplier of roast and ground and other products going forward.”

Additionally, the Starbucks brand portfolio will be represented on Nestle’s single-serve capsule systems.

The agreement is subject to customary regulatory approval and is expected to close this summer or early fall.

The agreement excludes ready-to-drink coffee, tea and juice products. Starbucks intends to use the after-tax proceeds from the up-front payment primarily to accelerate share buybacks and now expects to return approximately $20B in cash to shareholders in the form of share buybacks and dividends through fiscal year 2020.

Additionally, the transaction is expected to be earnings per share accretive by the end of fiscal year 2021 or sooner, with no change to the company’s currently stated long-term financial targets.


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21st Century Fox Says Thanks but Not Interested

 21st Century Fox rejected rival bid of $34.41 per share for assets

21st Century Fox Says Thanks but Not Interested, Stockwinners
21st Century Fox Says Thanks but Not Interested, Stockwinners

Disney (DIS) disclosed on Wednesday in a regulatory filing that on November 14, 2017, representatives of 21st Century Fox (FOXA) and “Party B” held discussions via conference call regarding a potential strategic transaction between the parties.

Party B, which Reuters reported last night to be Comcast (CMCSA), provided Fox a non-binding proposal to acquire the remaining company at a price of $34.41 per share payable in stock of Party B, subject to further discussions on the allocation of regulatory risk.

Disney’s filing further explained, “Representatives of Goldman Sachs and Centerview then discussed with the 21CF board the potential financial profiles of the surviving entities from potential strategic transactions with each of Party B and Disney.

In addition, representatives of Goldman Sachs discussed with the 21CF board illustrative financial implications of the potential strategic transactions as proposed by each of Disney and Party B, including illustrative future trading ranges for each of Disney and Party B on a pro forma basis, giving effect to the potential strategic transactions.

Goldman Sachs noted that the probability of Disney stock trading toward the higher ends of the range on a pro forma basis could be viewed as higher than such a likelihood for Party B.

Goldman Sachs also noted the higher likelihood for revenue synergies in a Disney transaction over and above the cost synergies assumed in the Goldman Sachs valuation analyses.

At the end of the meeting, the 21CF board directed management to cease discussions with Party B and focus on finalizing negotiations with Disney.”

On December 7, 2017, Fox’s Rupert Murdoch informed the Chairman and CEO of Party B that Fox would not enter into an exclusivity arrangement with Party B at this time and that Fox would suspend discussions while it pursued other opportunities, Disney’s filing states.


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Tropicana Entertainment sold for $1.85B

Eldorado Resorts to acquire Tropicana Entertainment in $1.85B transaction 

Tropicana Entertainment sold for $1.85B, Stockwinners
Tropicana Entertainment sold for $1.85B, 

Eldorado Resorts (ERI) announced that it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Tropicana Entertainment (TPCA) in a cash transaction that is valued at $1.85B.

The definitive agreement provides that Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI) will pay $1.21B, excluding taxes and expenses, for substantially all of Tropicana’s real estate and enter into a master lease with Eldorado for the acquired real estate and that Eldorado will fund the remaining $640M of cash consideration payable in the acquisition.

Tropicana Entertainment sold for $1.85B, Stockwinners.com
Tropicana Entertainment sold for $1.85B, 

 

The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to Eldorado’s free cash flow and diluted earnings per share, inclusive of identified expected cost synergies of approximately $40M in the first year following its completion and when giving effect to the lease transaction described below.

Pursuant to the transaction, GLPI is expected to acquire the real estate associated with the Tropicana property portfolio, except the MontBleu Casino Resort & Spa in South Lake Tahoe and the Tropicana Aruba Resort and Casino.

Following the acquisition of the real estate portfolio by GLPI, Eldorado will enter into a triple net master lease for the acquired properties with an initial term of 15 years, with renewals of up to 20 years at the Eldorado’s option.

The initial annual rent under the terms of the lease is expected to be approximately $110M.

Tropicana intends to dispose of Tropicana Aruba Resort and Casino prior to closing.

Eldorado’s net purchase price after the application of Tropicana’s expected net cash on hand and cash flow generated from operations through closing represents an estimated trailing twelve months EBITDA multiple of approximately 6.6x at closing.

Including the $40M of identified cost synergies, the purchase price multiple is expected to be below 5.0x.

The board of directors of each of Eldorado, GLPI and Tropicana approved the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of 2018, subject to receipt of required regulatory approvals and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

Eldorado intends to fund the transaction consideration of approximately $640M payable by Eldorado and repay debt outstanding under Tropicana’s credit facility with cash generated from its current operations, proceeds from pending asset sales, Tropicana’s cash on hand, cash flow generated from Tropicana operations through closing and $600M of committed debt financing from J.P. Morgan.


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Barron’s is bullish on Facebook, La-Z-Boy

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

Stockwinners offers Barron's review of Stockwinners offers stocks to buy, stocks to watch, upgrades, downgrades, earnings, Stocks to Buy On Margin
Stockwinners offers Barron’s review of stocks to buy

BULLISH   MENTIONS:

Barron’s lists potential takeover targets in cloud software – Shares of young cloud software companies like MongoDB (MDB) and SendGrid (SEND) have soared since the Nasdaq’s bottom on February 8, in part on speculation of a takeover, Barron’s Tiernan Ray contends. Takeover targets form a long list in addition to the aforementioned, and include Friday’s initial public offering Dropbox (DBX), Appian (APPN), Veeva Systems (VEEV), Atlassian (TEAM) and ServiceNow (NOW), Ray writes.

La-Z-Boy shares could rally 20% within a year or two – La-Z-Boy (LZB) shares currently trade at 13.8 times forecast earnings for the next 12 months, which is well below the small-cap Russell 2000 Index’s price/earnings ratio of 25, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index’s 17, and its own five-year average of 16.3 times forward earnings, writes Barron’s Brett Arend. He believes the stock, which closed Friday at $28.75, could merit a valuation of $36 per share, or roughly 20% higher, within a year or two “by simply getting back to its average five-year multiple.” Higher consumer spending, a new relationship to sell on Amazon.com (AMZN), and successful efforts to reach millennials could propel the shares even higher, Arend contends.

Time Warner shares look appealing with antitrust trial under way – Time Warner (TWX) investors face a “win-win” scenario with the antitrust trial for AT&T’s (T) proposed takeover now under way in Washington, Andrew Bary of Barron’s writes. Time Warner shares “look appealing, based on their underlying value and AT&T’s strong chances of winning,” Bary contends. He notes the stock closed Friday roughly $11 below the current value of AT&T’s cash and stock bid, worth $103.60 per share. The 12% deal spread is appealing with “many observers” believing AT&T and Time Warner will prevail over the U.S. government, according to Bary. He adds that while Time Warner shares could fall $5 if the government wins, some analysts think the stock will quickly recover to its current price of $92.57.

Interactive Brokers tops Barron’s list of best online brokers – Interactive Brokers (IBKR) sits atop Barron’s 23rd annual ranking of The Best Online Brokers. Interactive scored highly in trading experience, range of offerings, and portfolio analysis, Theresa Carey writes in a feature story for this weekend’s magazine. Interactive Brokers is followed by Fidelity, TD Ameritrade (AMTD), Charles Schwab (SCHW), TradeStation, Merrill Edge (BAC), E-Trade (ETFC) and tastyworks in Barron’s annual ranking.

Facebook may now be more tempting to investors – In its cover story titled “Facebook Comes Under Siege,” Barron’s says Facebook  (FB) shares may be more tempting to investors following last week’s 14% decline. With more than 2B users, however, Facebook is “almost certain” to not walk away unscathed as the top target for privacy concerns, Jon Swartz writes. Nonetheless, with nearly $42B in cash and investments, Facebook has the flexibility to diversify into other business lines, as it did with Instagram and WhatsApp, Swartz adds.


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Brunswick to spin-off fitness business

Brunswick announces plans to spin-off fitness business 

Brunswick to spin-off fitness business. Stockwinners.com
Brunswick to spin-off fitness business. 

Brunswick Corporation (BC) announced that its Board of Directors has authorized proceeding with a spin-off of its Fitness business.

Following the proposed transaction, the Fitness business will be an independent, standalone, publicly traded company, “FitnessCo”.

FitnessCo, which will be formally named at a later date, will continue to manufacture and sell its strength and cardiovascular equipment and game tables and accessories under the Life Fitness, Hammer Strength, Cybex, Indoor Cycling Group, SCIFIT and Brunswick Billiards brand names.

As an independent company, FitnessCo will be able to focus more sharply on driving product leadership, operational excellence and technology development to address evolving commercial fitness marketplace trends. FitnessCo sales revenue was $1.03B in 2017.

FitnessCo will remain headquartered in Rosemont, Illinois. Jaime Irick, current President of the Company’s Fitness division, will lead FitnessCo upon completion of the transaction.

Following the spin-off, Brunswick, comprised of the Marine Engine and Boat segments, will remain a global leader in recreational marine products.

The Marine Engine segment, which consists of Mercury Marine, manufactures and distributes a broad range of marine propulsion systems and related parts and accessories.

The Boat segment manufactures and distributes a range of recreational boats under 14 boat brand names including Boston Whaler, Bayliner, Lund, Lowe, Harris and others.

These businesses generated approximately $3.5B in sales in 2017.

The Brunswick marine portfolio will continue to deliver unique technology and solutions to boaters worldwide.

Mark Schwabero will continue to lead Brunswick following the spin-off. The Company will remain headquartered in Mettawa, Illinois, and will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BC.

BC closed at $57.20.


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Wyndham sells its European vacation business rental for $1.3B

Wyndham to sell European vacation rental business to Platinum Equity for $1.3B

 

Wyndham sells its European vacation rental for $1.3B. Stockwinners.com
Wyndham sells its European vacation rental for $1.3B

Wyndham (WYN) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of its European vacation rental business to Platinum Equity for approximately $1.3B.

In conjunction with the sale, the European vacation rental business has entered into a 20-year agreement under which it will pay a royalty fee of 1% of net revenue to Wyndham’s hotel business for the right to use the by Wyndham Vacation Rentals endorser brand.

The European vacation rentals operations will also participate as a redemption partner in the award-winning Wyndham Rewards loyalty program.

Wyndham’s industry-leading European vacation rental business is the largest manager of holiday rentals in Europe, with more than 110,000 units in over 600 destinations in more than 25 countries.

The business operates more than two dozen local brands, including cottages.com, James Villa Holidays, Landal GreenParks, Novasol and Hoseasons.

It generates approximately $750 million in annual revenue and approximately $130 million of EBITDA, including allocated costs.

Wyndham Worldwide originally announced its intent to explore strategic alternatives for its European rental brands in August 2017, in conjunction with the Company’s announcement of the planned separation of its hotel business from its vacation ownership and timeshare exchange businesses.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions including works council consultation.


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Lululemon CEO resigns over misconduct accusations

lululemon CEO Potdevin resigns over misconduct accusations 

Lululemon CEO resigns over misconduct accusations. Stockwinners.com
Lululemon CEO resigns over misconduct accusations

Shares of lululemon athletica (LULU) are in focus after the company announced the resignation of chief executive officer Laurent Potdevin for “conduct” issues.

CEO RESIGNATION

lululemon announced yesterday that Laurent Potdevin has resigned as CEO and member of the board of directors, effective immediately. Potdevin had served as CEO since January 2014.

lululemon expects all employees to exemplify the highest levels of integrity and respect for one another, and Potdevin “fell short of these standards of conduct,” the company said, adding that the board has begun a search for a new CEO.

“While this was a difficult and considered decision, the Board thanks Laurent for his work in strengthening the company and positioning it for the future,” said Glenn Murphy, executive chairman.

“Culture is at the core of lululemon, and it is the responsibility of leaders to set the right tone in our organization. Protecting the organization’s culture is one of the Board’s most important duties.”

Lululemon has promoted three members of its management team — Celeste Burgoyne, Stuart Haselden and Sun Choe — to oversee more day-to-day operations, marketing, e-commerce growth, product innovation and supply chain enhancements.

According to a Bloomberg report, Potdevin’s resignation was over misconduct that spanned a range of incidents involving multiple individuals. The misconduct was not related to finances or operations, the report noted.

GUIDANCE REAFFIRMED

In the wake of Potdevin’s resignation, lululemon looked to reassure investors by backing its fourth quarter guidance of earnings per share between $1.25-$1.27 and revenue of $905M-$915M, which compares to analysts’ estimates of $1.27 and $911.67M, respectively.

In addition, the company’s growth strategies remain on track to achieve $4B in revenue in 2020.

ANALYST COMMENTARY

Following the announcement, Jefferies analyst Randal Konik said the level of management turnover at lululemon during “this critical juncture in the company’s growth trajectory gives us some pause.”

The analyst sees better opportunities elsewhere given lululemon’s “high” valuation and “less plentiful” margin opportunity. He maintained a Hold rating on lululemon with a $72 price target.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank analyst Paul Trussell said that while he finds the circumstances of Potdevin’s resignation unfortunate, he has confidence in the remainder of lululemon’s management team, particularly Glenn Murphy.

The analyst recommended using any pullback in the shares as a buying opportunity and reiterated a Buy rating with a $95 price target. Citi analyst Paul Lejuez said he views the resignation as more of a positive for lululemon.

It presents the company with an opportunity to bring in a seasoned executive to take lululemon “to the next level,” the analyst said.

Lejeuz kept a Neutral rating on the shares with an $88 price target.

Additionally, KeyBanc analyst Edward Yruma said he views the departure negatively, and notes it comes after creative director Lee Holman’s departed in November.

The analyst believes Potdevin has been an integral part of the company’s stabilized performance in recent quarters.

Canaccord analyst Camilo Lyon said he does not see the departure as a major setback, but notes there is a level of uncertainty until the position is filled. Lyon reiterated his Hold rating and $75 price target.

Furthermore, Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger said it is likely that investors will speculate the top two contenders for the job are Murphy, executive chairman and ex-CEO of The Gap (GPS), and Stefan Larsson, the ex-CEO Ralph Lauren (RL). If lululemon picks either, Greenberger would expect the stock to react positively.

The analyst kept an Equal Weight rating and $73 price target on lululemon.

PRICE ACTION

lululemon is down 0.75% to $76.85.


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Wyndham acquires La Quinta hotel for $1.95B

Wyndham acquires La Quinta hotel for $1.95B

Wyndham acquires La Quinta hotel for $1.95B. Stockwinners.com
Wyndham acquires La Quinta hotel for $1.95B.

Wyndham Worldwide (WYN) and La Quinta (LQ) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Wyndham Worldwide will acquire La Quinta’s hotel franchise and hotel management businesses for $1.95B in cash.

The acquisition is expected to close in Q2 of 2018.

Under the terms of the agreement, stockholders of La Quinta will receive $8.40 per share in cash, approximately $1.0 billion in aggregate, and Wyndham Worldwide will repay approximately $715 million of La Quinta debt net of cash and set aside a reserve of $240 million for estimated taxes expected to be incurred in connection with the taxable spin-off of La Quinta’s owned real estate assets into CorePoint Lodging Inc.

Immediately prior to the sale of La Quinta to Wyndham Worldwide, La Quinta will spin off its owned real estate assets into a publicly-traded real estate investment trust, CorePoint Lodging. Wyndham’s Hotel Group is the world’s largest and most diverse hotel business based on number of properties.

With the acquisition of La Quinta’s asset-light, fee-for-service business consisting of nearly 900 managed and franchised hotels, Wyndham Hotel Group will span 21 brands and over 9,000 hotels across more than 75 countries.

The addition of La Quinta, one of the largest midscale brands in the industry, will build upon Wyndham Hotel Group’s strong midscale presence, expand its reach further into the fast-growing upper-midscale segment, and position Wyndham Hotel Group to be the preferred partner and accommodations provider of developers and guests.

The La Quinta Returns loyalty program, with its 13 million enrolled members, will be combined with the award-winning Wyndham Rewards program, with its 53 million enrolled members.

The transaction, which has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is expected to close upon the completion of the planned spin-off of La Quinta’s owned real estate assets into the separate entity.

Closing is subject to approval by La Quinta stockholders, regulatory and government approval and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

La Quinta also announced today that Keith A. Cline has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of CorePoint Lodging effective upon completion of the planned spin-off.

Wyndham Worldwide’s planned spin-off of Wyndham Hotel Group remains on track for an expected distribution in the second quarter of 2018.

LQ closed at $19.45. WYN closed at $117.13.


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Cannabis in California

Names to watch ahead of California marijuana legalization

Names to watch ahead of California marijuana legalization. Stockwinners.com
Names to watch ahead of California marijuana legalization

As recreational use of marijuana is set to become legal in California on the first day of the year, the space seems to be getting more and more attention, with a new marijuana ETF starting to trade this week and Constellation Brands (STZ) taking a stake in a Canadian medical marijuana producer earlier this year.

CANNABIS IN CALIFORNIA

For people residing in California, the New Year means they will able to buy recreational marijuana as it is set to become legal in the state starting January 1, a date that dispensaries and consumers have had in their sights on since Proposition 64 made it the official opening of the adult-use market in California.

In keeping with state rules, retailers will be able to sell or deliver cannabis between 6am and 10pm.

NAMES TO WATCH

Among the publicly traded names in the space is Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR), a REIT that owns dispensary properties.

Last year, NYSE became the first major exchange to list a cannabis company with its acceptance of Innovative Industrial Properties’ initial public offering.

Constellation Brands seems to also be interested in the blossoming cannabis industry as the company bought a minority stake in a Canadian medicinal marijuana producer.

In October, Constellation announced it paid C$245M for a 9.9% interest in Canopy Growth, a Canadian provider of medicinal cannabis products.

Constellation, which is looking to develop cannabis products that don’t contain alcohol, does not expect to sell products in the U.S. before marijuana is nationally legalized but may begin to sell products in Canada, where such products are expected to be legalized by 2019.

Earlier this week, ETF Managers Group announced that MJX, the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, was live and available for trading on the NYSE Arca.

This fund is one of the first of its kind available to U.S. investors and is designed to replicate the Prime Alternative Harvest Index, which tracks companies likely to benefit from the increasing global acceptance of various uses of the cannabis plant.

This includes treatments from innovative medicinal breakthroughs involving the plant’s unique properties.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday’s trading, shares of Constellation Brands are fractionally down to $224.95, while Innovative Industrial Properties is up nearly 5% to $27.24.


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Helios and Matheson jumps as MoviePass exceeds estimates

Helios and Matheson jumps as MoviePass tops 1M subscribers 

Helios and Matheson jumps as MoviePass exceeds initial projections

Shares of Helios and Matheson (HMNY) jumped in afternoon trading after the company said its MoviePass theater subscription services surpassed 1M paying monthly subscribers this month.

MOVIEPASS EXCEEDS 1M MONTHLY SUBSCRIBERS

Helios and Matheson, a majority owner of MoviePass, said this morning that the subscriber base for the movie theater subscription service surpassed 1M paying monthly subscribers, compared to more than 600,000 as of October 18 and approximately 20,000 as of August 14, the day before MoviePass announced its new $9.95 per month subscription price.

In a statement, the company said MoviePass has increased its subscriber base by over 6,500% since the introduction of the $9.95 per month pricing model.

MoviePass shifted to the lower price subscription model on August 15, and noted today that it has reached the 1M subscriber mark in less time than Netflix (NFLX) or Hulu (DIS, CMCSA, CMCSK, FOX, FOXA).

MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said:

“Our focus on creating the best movie theater subscription service experience for our subscribers has propelled our growth to date. We believe that growth will continue as we further develop our application, improve customer service, enhance exhibitor relations and fill movie theater seats for incredible films to be released in the future.”

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Helios and Matheson announced plans in November to raise its stake in MoviePass from the 53.71% it held in October. After MoviePass dropped its subscription price to $9.95, analysts predicted the service would hit 1M subscribers by the end of the year.

In October, MoviePass said its continued growth trajectory “exceeded MoviePass’ initial projections, and now MoviePass projects that it will acquire at least 3.1 million additional paying subscribers through August 18, 2018, exceeding its previous estimate of 2.5 million subscribers.

“Earlier this month, MoviePass and streaming service Fandor partnered with Costco (COST) to offer a one-year subscription plan for a flat fee of $89.99.

CITRON CAUTIOUS

Citron Research has expressed cautious comments on Helios and Matheson, saying in October that the stock will “trade back to $20…You might like product but $1+bill it isn’t. Giving away $1 for .90 no biz.” Helios and Matheson has also been mentioned cautiously by TheStreetSweeper.

PRICE ACTION

Shares of Helios and Matheson are up about 5% in Wednesday’s trading to $6.51.


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