AMC Theatres to open in July

AMC to reopen 450 U.S. theaters on July 15

Beginning July 15, AMC will resume operations of 450 U.S. theatres as part of a phased plan that is expected to bring the 600-plus U.S. theatre circuit to nearly full operation leading into the opening of MULAN on July 24 and TENET on July 31.

Adam Aron, CEO & President, AMC Theatres, said, “After a painful almost four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus, we are delighted to announce that movies are coming back to the big screen at AMC.

Our next 100 years of making smiles happen officially begin at approximately 450 theatres across the United States on July 15. I cannot emphasize enough how much care and attention to detail we have taken in developing AMC Safe & Clean, our absolute commitment to optimizing the health and safety of our theatres for our guests and associates.

Remember that there is a rumor that Amazon may buy AMC

Developed along with The Clorox Company, and current and former faculty of Harvard University’s School of Public Health, AMC Safe & Clean represents a comprehensive commitment with a broad array of tools being used in sanitizing our theatres.

Social distancing, reduced seat capacity, greatly intensified cleaning regimens, new employee health protocols, contactless ticketing and mobile food & beverage ordering are all part of AMC Safe & Clean.

So too is a new multimillion-dollar commitment to implementing high tech solutions in making AMC theatres safe, including deploying electrostatic sprayers, HEPA vacuums and upgraded MERV 13 ventilation filters.

All this is being put into motion because at AMC our single highest priority is the health and safety of our guests and associates. Both personally and professionally, I couldn’t be more excited for what this means for movie lovers.”

Disney’s Mulan to open July 24th

In the coming weeks, theatre teams will begin returning to their theatres for training on AMC’s new, enhanced cleaning and safety procedures.

AMC expects that almost all its 600-plus U.S. locations will be open and in operation for the launch of MULAN on July 24 and TENET on July 31.

The resumption of AMC operations may be adjusted if there are changes to the current theatrical release schedule, or as needed in response to local or regional conditions.

To facilitate proper social distancing within theatre auditoriums, AMC will approach seat capacity limitations in four distinct phases. But AMC will always follow all federal, state and local directives, including those that mandate a maximum capacity if lower than those envisioned in AMC’s four phases as now planned.

Tenet is scheduled for July 31 opening

The reopening schedule for specific theatres will be communicated in early July. During the weeks leading up to new major theatrical releases, AMC will be showing popular repertory titles made available from its studio partners. Those titles and ticket price information will be announced prior to reopening.

AMC closed at $5.63.

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The real star war begins

AMC to no longer play Universal movies in its U.S. theaters

AMC Theatres (AMC) sent a letter to Universal Studios (CMCSA) chairman Donna Langley, saying that, going forward, AMC will not license any Universal films in any of its 1,000 globally effective immediately.

AMC will no longer play Universal movies, Stockwinners

“For much of the past four and a half years, I have been in direct dialogue with Jeff Shell and Peter Levinsohn of Universal about the importance of a robust theatrical window to the viability of the motion picture exhibition industry,” the letter reads.

“Throughout that time, AMC has expressed a willingness to consider alternatives to the current windowing strategy common in our industry, where the aim of such alternatives is to improve both studio profitability and theater operator profitability.

Universal stated it only pursued a direct-to-home entertainment release for “Trolls World Tour” because theaters were closed and Universal was committed to a lucrative toy licensing deal. We had our doubts that this was wholly Universal’s motivations, as it has been a longstanding desire by Universal to go to the home day and date.

Nonetheless, we accepted this action as an exception to our longstanding business practices in these unprecedented times.”

AMC noted that Shell was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying that the success of “Trolls World Tour” demonstrated the viability of PVOD, and as soon as theaters reopen, the company expects to release movies on both theater and PVOD formats.

“Going forward, AMC will not license any Universal movies in any of our 1,000 theatres globally on these terms,” the letter said.

“Accordingly, we want to be absolutely clear, so that there is no ambiguity of any kind. AMC believes that with this proposed action to go to the home and theatres simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies.

Universal owns some blockbuster franchises, Stockwinners

It assumes that we will meekly accept a reshaped view of how studios and exhibitors should interact, with zero concern on Universal’s part as to how its actions affect us. It also presumes that Universal in fact can have its cake and eat it too, that Universal film product can be released to the home and theatres at the same time, without modification to the current economic arrangements between us. It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice.

Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East. This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theatres reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat.

Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes.

Currently, with the press comment today, Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo. Hence, this immediate communication in response.”

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CBS and Viacom to merge

CBS, Viacom to combine in all-stock merger to create ViacomCBS

CBS Corp. (CBS) and Viacom (VIA, VIAB) announced they have entered into a definitive agreement to combine in an all-stock merger, creating a combined company with more than $28B in revenue.

The combined company, ViacomCBS, “will be a leading global, multiplatform, premium content company, with the assets, capabilities and scale to be one of the most important content producers and providers in the world,” the companies stated.

Viacom, an acronym of Video & Audio Communications to merge with CBS, Stockwinners

Bob Bakish, President and CEO, Viacom, will become President and Chief Executive Officer of the combined company.

Joe Ianniello, President and Acting CEO, CBS, will become Chairman and CEO of CBS and will oversee all CBS-branded assets in his new role.

CBS to merge with Viacom to compete with Disney, Netflix, Stockwinners

The merger agreement was approved by the boards of directors of both CBS and Viacom by unanimous vote of those present, upon the unanimous recommendations of the Special Committees of the CBS and Viacom Boards of Directors, respectively.

Existing CBS shareholders will own approximately 61% of the combined company and existing Viacom shareholders will own approximately 39% of the combined company on a fully diluted basis.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, each Viacom Class A voting share and Viacom Class B non-voting share will convert into 0.59625 of a Class A voting share and Class B non-voting share of CBS, respectively.

NAI, which holds approximately 78.9% and 79.8% of the Class A voting shares of CBS and Viacom, respectively, has agreed to deliver consents sufficient to assure approval of the transaction.

More than two-thirds of the CBS directors unaffiliated with NAI, and all of those unaffiliated directors who voted on the transaction, have approved the transaction, as required in order to permit NAI to consent to the transaction under the terms of the 2018 settlement agreement entered into among CBS, NAI and certain other parties thereto.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. It is expected to close by the 2019 calendar year end.

Sumner Redstone is the majority owner and chairman of the board of the National Amusements (NAI) theater chain. Through National Amusements, Redstone and his family are majority voting shareholders of CBS Corporation and Viacom (itself the parent company of Viacom Media Networks, BET Networks, and the film studio Paramount Pictures). Redstone was formerly the executive chairman of both CBS and Viacom. 

ANALYST COMMENTS

Bernstein

Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger downgraded CBS (CBS) to Underperform from Market Perform following the company’s confirmation earlier of a deal to combine in an all-stock merger with Viacom (VIAB). Any synergies produced “will pale in comparison” to inheriting Viacom’s structural problems, Juenger tells investors.

Imperial Capital

 Imperial Capital analyst David Miller lowered his price target for CBS (CBS) to $62 from $72. The analyst says that while this is generally consistent with where both names had been trading for the last 90 days, the ratio is below what he had been hoping for from the Viacom side, which was a ratio of 0.7. Nonetheless, Miller keeps an Outperform rating on shares of CBS.

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Netflix, a battle of bulls and bears!

Netflix lost more than $18 billion in market capitalization in 2 days

Disney loss having minimal impact on Netflix subscribers. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar to read more
Netflix subscribers grew less than expected. Stockwinners

On Wednesday, Netflix (NFLX) reported 2nd Quarter June 2019 earnings of $0.60 per share on revenue of $4.9 billion. The consensus earnings estimate was $0.56 per share on revenue of $4.9 billion. Revenue grew 26.0% on a year-over-year basis.

The company said in its shareholders letter it expects third quarter earnings of approximately $1.04 per share on revenue of approximately $5.25 billion. The current consensus earnings estimate is $1.04 per share on revenue of $5.25 billion for the quarter ending September 30, 2019.

Bears vs Bulls, Stockwinners

The company saw its first loss in US subscribers last quarter, and a 2.7 million paid customers added globally, nearly half of what was forecast.

Competition

At the same time, the company is facing a steeper path than ever in the United States. Netflix lost subscribers this quarter for the first time in years, a combination of the price hike and a content loss. As the US market becomes oversaturated with streaming services — with WarnerMedia, Disney, and Apple all launching streaming services — the only way to ensure growth is going outside the United States. Netflix currently has 60 million paying domestic subscribers, and company believes they can get to 90 million, but the risk of market saturation is real, and raises difficult questions for the company’s content strategy.

BMO Capital

BMO Capital analyst Daniel Salmon lowered his price target on Netflix (NFLX) to $440 after its reported shortfall on subscriber addition in Q2, which he expects to “fuel the debate” about the company’s pricing power and the role of new content. Given the sequential decline in its U.S. markets and the approaching launch of Disney+ (DIS), the analyst contends that this may be a “more than just the usual” earnings-miss driven debate. Longer term however, Salmon believes that the company’s revenue trend remains on track, keeping his Outperform rating on the stock and recommending Netflix, Amazon (AMZN), and Disney as a “collective investment” in the global streaming race.

Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse analyst Douglas Mitchelson lowered his price target for Netflix to $440 from $450 after the company posted its worst subscriber miss ever, short by 2.3M net adds, while revenue was in line and EBIT well ahead. The analyst reiterates an Outperform rating on the shares.

Disney to end Netflix distribution agreement in 2019. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar for details
Disney ended Netflix distribution agreement this year. See Stockwinners.com

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank analyst Bryan Kraft views post-earnings selloff in shares of Netflix as a buying opportunity. The analyst keeps a Buy rating on the streaming service.

KeyBanc

KeyBanc analyst Andy Hargreaves says that despite soft Q2 results, he believes Netflix retains competitive advantages that should support excellent revenue and profit growth well into the future. The likely decline in the stock price improves the risk/reward, but increased confidence in the potential for upside to his estimates is likely needed for a more positive view of the shares, he contends. Hargreaves reiterates a Sector Weight rating on the shares.

WarnerMedia streaming service hurts Netflix, Stockwinners

JPMorgan

JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth to $425 from $450 while keeping an Overweight rating on the shares. The Q2 net adds miss was meaningful, but the company’s Q2 results are often volatile and this quarter contained a number of moving pieces, Anmuth tells investors in a research note. Netflix’s back half of the year content slate is strong and the company is seeing significantly better trends quarter-to-date, adds the analyst. History suggests that Q2 is a “difficult quarter from which to extrapolate NFLX’s trajectory,” says Anmuth.

Stifel

Stifel analyst Scott Devitt said Netflix shares may be range bound until the company reports Q3 earnings following its miss in Q2 on its domestic and international paid net sub add guidance. He believes management’s explanations for the current quarter miss “appear reasonable,” though Netflix “will have to prove, as it has done many times, that its value proposition remains one of the best,” Devitt tells investors in a post-earnings research note. Following last night’s report, Devitt lowered his price target on Netflix shares to $400 from $425 and keeps a Buy rating on the stock.

Wedbush

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter raised his price target for Netflix to $188 from $183, while reiterating an Underperform rating on the shares after the company reported quarterly results. The analyst expects content spending to trigger substantial cash burn for many years, and notwithstanding four Netflix price increases in the last five years, he notes that cash burn continues to grow. Content migration and price hikes could cause a deceleration in subscriber growth, and consistently negative free cash flow makes DCF valuation impossible, he adds.

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Tribune to buy nineteen stations from Nexstar

Nexstar enters agreements to divest nineteen stations for $1.32B

Nexstar to sell 19 stations, Stockwinners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MoviePass raises prices

Helios and Matheson says MoviePass accelerating plan for profitability

MoviePass raises prices, Stockwinners
MoviePass raises prices, Stockwinners

MoviePass, a majority-owned subsidiary of Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), announced the implementation of several new measures aimed at accelerating the plan for profitability.

Through these new steps, the company believes it will be able to compress its timeline to reach profitability.

Approaching the one-year anniversary of introducing its standard $9.95 price point, the MoviePass community has grown to more than 3 million members and in turn has contributed to record box office growth, responsible for approximately 6 percent of the nation’s total box office sales in the first half of 2018.

In addition, MoviePass Ventures and MoviePass Films are contributing to the company’s ancillary revenue. The company has implemented several elements of a long-term growth plan to protect the existing community and set it up for future sustainable growth.

MoviePass has implemented several new cost-reduction and subscription revenue increase measures: Actions that have been implemented are currently cutting the monthly burn by 60%.

A future increase of the standard pricing plan to $14.95 per month within the next 30 days.

First Run Movies opening on 1,000+ Screens to be limited in their availability during the first two weeks, unless made available on a promotional basis, Implementation of additional tactics to prevent abuse of the MoviePass service.

As of Q3 and beyond, MoviePass is also generating incremental non-subscription revenue of approximately $4 to $6 per subscriber per quarter: Integration of MoviePass Ventures and MoviePass Films with our own original content allows us to gain revenue by owning the films through box office, streaming, DVD, retail, transactional sales e.g. Apple and Samsung, and international rights, etc.

Partnerships with 3rd party media inventory to increase scale and reach of marketing efforts driven by data. Continued rollout and refinement of the Peak Pricing program.

Creating strategic marketing partnerships and promotions with studios, content owners, and brands. Integration of Moviefone.Com to support the media buys of brands and studios.

In an effort to maintain the integrity of the MoviePass mission, to enhance discovery, and to drive attendance to smaller films and bolster the independent film community, MoviePass will begin to limit ticket availability to Blockbuster films. This change has already begun rolling out, with Mission Impossible 6 being the first film included in the measure.

This is a strategic move by the company to both limit cash burn and stay loyal to its mission to empower the smaller artistic film communities.

Major studios will continue to be able to partner with MoviePass to promote their first run films, seeding them with a valuable moviegoing audience.

HMNY is up 7 cents to $0.88.


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21st Century Fox boosts it’s offer for Sky

21st Century Fox boosts offer for Sky to GBP 14 or $32.5B 

21st Century Fox boosts it's offer for Sky , Stockwinners
21st Century Fox boosts it’s offer for Sky , Stockwinners

21st Century Fox (FOXA) and the Independent Committee of Sky PLC (SKYAY) announced that they have reached agreement on an increased recommended pre-conditional cash offer for the fully diluted share capital of Sky which Fox and its affiliates do not already own at a price of GBP 14.00 for each Sky share.

The price of GBP 14.00 per Sky share represents an increase of approximately 12% to the Comcast (CMCSA) offer price of GBP 12.50 per Sky share announced on April 25, Fox says in a statement.

Under the terms of the increased offer, Sky shareholders will be entitled to receive for each Sky share GBP 14.00 in cash.

The increased price includes an amount in lieu of a final dividend in respect of the financial year ended June 30, 2018.

It is intended that the acquisition will be implemented by means of a scheme of arrangement under applicable U.K. law.

The Sky Independent Committee announced that it intends to unanimously recommend that the Sky shareholders unaffiliated with 21st Century Fox vote in favor of the scheme and take no action in relation to the Comcast offer.

Fox currently anticipates that the acquisition will complete in Q3 of 2018.

Fox added that the Sky acquisition is not a condition to completion of the Disney (DIS) transaction.

Completion of the Sky acquisition will not affect the amount or form of consideration that stockholders of 21st Century Fox receive in the Disney deal, it said.

“We strongly believe that a combined 21CF and Sky will be a powerful driver for the continued growth and vibrancy of the UK and broader global creative industries.

The enhanced scale and capabilities of the combination will enrich Sky’s ability to continue on its mission for years to come, especially at a time of dynamic change in our industry.

This transformative transaction will position Sky so that it can continue to compete within an environment that now includes some of the largest companies in the world, but none of whom have demonstrated the same local depth of investment and commitment to the UK and to Europe,” added Fox.


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Disney raises its offer for 21st Century Fox to $38 per share

Disney boosts offer for 21st Century Fox assets to $38 per share

Disney raises its offer for 21st Century Fox to $38 per share

Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA) announced that it has entered into an amended and restated merger agreement with Walt Disney (DIS) pursuant to which Disney has agreed to acquire for a price of $38 per 21CF share the same businesses Disney agreed to acquire under the previously announced merger agreement between 21CF and Disney.

This price represents a “significant increase” over the purchase price of approximately $28 per share included in the Disney merger agreement when it was announced in December 2017.

The amended and restated Disney merger agreement offers a package of consideration, flexibility and deal certainty enhancements that is superior to the proposal made by the Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) on June 13, Fox stated.

Under the amended and restated Disney merger agreement, Disney would acquire those businesses on substantially the same terms, except that, among other things, Disney’s offer allows 21CF stockholders to elect to receive their consideration, on a value equalized basis, in the form of cash or stock, subject to 50/50 proration.

The collar on the stock consideration will ensure that 21st Century Fox shareholders will receive a number of Disney shares equal to $38 in value if the average Disney stock price at closing is between $93.53 and $114.32.

In light of the revised terms contained in the amended and restated Disney Merger Agreement, 21CF’s board, after consultation with its outside legal counsel and financial advisors, has not concluded that the unsolicited proposal it received on June 13, 2018 from Comcast could reasonably be expected to result in a “Company Superior Proposal” under the Disney merger agreement.

However, the amended and restated Disney merger agreement contains no changes to the provisions relating to the company’s directors’ ability to evaluate a competing proposal.

As announced on May 30, 2018, 21CF has established a record date of May 29, 2018 and a meeting date of July 10, 2018, for a special meeting of its stockholders to, among other things, consider and vote on a proposal to adopt the Disney merger agreement.

21CF has determined to postpone its special meeting of stockholders to a future date in order to provide stockholders the opportunity to evaluate the terms of Disney’s revised proposal and other developments to date.

Once 21CF determines the new date for 21CF’s special meeting of stockholders, the date will be communicated to 21CF stockholders.


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Netflix and Comcast join forces

Netflix, Comcast announce expansion of Netflix-Xfinity packages 

Disney loss having minimal impact on Netflix subscribers. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar to read more
Netflix and Comcast join forces

Comcast (CMCSA) and Netflix (NFLX) announced an expansion of their partnership that will provide Comcast the ability to include a Netflix subscription in new and existing Xfinity packages.

In 2016, Comcast launched Netflix on the X1 platform, offering customers a fully integrated entertainment experience featuring voice control and seamless access to the Netflix service.

Netflix has quickly become one of the most popular voice searches and highly-viewed services on the platform; and among households watching Netflix on X1, X1 has quickly become the most used platform for Netflix viewing.

Comcast has integrated the Netflix service with the X1 user experience, enabling customers to easily browse and access the entire Netflix service, including TV shows, films, documentaries, stand-up comedy, kid’s titles and a catalog of Ultra HD 4K and HDR programming-alongside the live, on demand, DVR and web video from hundreds of networks, studios and digital brands available with their Xfinity TV subscription.

Comcast will launch a variety of initial offers this month that include a Netflix subscription. Offers and availability will vary by market and be open to new and existing customers.

Netflix-related billing will be handled directly by Comcast, giving customers one, simple monthly statement.


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Netflix introduces PIN protection, Shares jump

Netflix introduces PIN protection, enhancements for ‘informed’ viewing

Disney loss having minimal impact on Netflix subscribers. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar to read more
Netflix introduces PIN protection, enhancements for ‘informed’ viewing

Mike Hastings, a director of enhanced content at Netflix (NFLX), said in a blog post: “At Netflix, we offer a wide variety of series and films catering to an equally broad variety of tastes and sensibilities.

With that in mind, we are improving some long-standing Netflix features that provide members with the information and tools they need to make wise decisions about what’s right for themselves and for their families.

We’re rolling out these improvements across the many devices used by Netflix members, and across our global markets, in the coming months. The first change involves introducing a PIN parental control for individual movies and series to give parents and guardians more specific control over what children can watch on the service.

We understand that every family is different and that parents have differing perspectives on what they feel is appropriate to watch at different ages.

While we already provide PIN protection for all content at a particular maturity level for Netflix accounts, PIN protection for a specific series or film provides families with an additional tool to make decisions they are comfortable with.

In addition, we will also begin displaying more prominently the maturity level rating for a series or film once a member hits play on a title. While these maturity ratings are available in other parts of the experience, we want to ensure members are fully aware of the maturity level as they begin watching.

We are also continuing to explore ways to make this information more descriptive and easier for our members to understand with just a quick glance. One of the great benefits of internet TV is that it allows for amazing variety and provides viewers with complete control over their experience.

At Netflix, we are proud to create and deliver to our members a large catalog of compelling stories crossing many genres from all over the world, while also giving them great control over how and when to enjoy them.

These latest steps are part of our continuous efforts to keep members better informed, and more in control, of what they and their families choose to watch and enjoy on Netflix.”

NFLX is up $11.0 to $312.89.


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Barron’s is bullish on Netflix and Boeing

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:

Boeing not a sell just yet – Boeing  (BA) stock has come quite far, quite fast and the pace has only accelerated in 2018, but such a rapid rise could reflect an overly optimistic outlook for the airplane manufacturer that could be difficult to meet, Ben Levisohn writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Nonetheless, Boeing is not a sell just yet, he argues. While at first glance, betting on Boeing now seems like a risk, the stock can remain extended for a long time, Levisohn adds.

Netflix among likely candidates for an Apple purchase – Especially for tech companies, tax cuts will boost dividends, buybacks, and mergers and acquisitions, but tech usually has a hard time putting vast amounts of cash to work as it requires little R&D to produce huge amounts of revenue, Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. For example, Apple (AAPL) does not have many places to invest that will demonstrably boost financial results. Without the excuse that the cash is stuck overseas, pressure may grow for Apple to do something big, with Netflix (NFLX) as the most likely candidate for a purchase, he contends.

Still time to shop Walmart shares as company makes changes – In a follow-up story, Barron’s notes that some Walmart’s experiments, like curbside pickup for groceries, are getting solid results, and points out that late-year shopping was robust and corporate tax cuts have warmed investors to retailers. While high-income taxpayers will get larger cuts amid the new tax reform than low- and middle-income ones, those are more likely to spend the extra money, which bodes wells for Walmart, publication said, adding that Walmart continues making changes, such as paying one-time bonuses and closing 63 underperforming Sam’s Club locations.


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Box Office Battle for the New Year’s weekend

Box Office Battle: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi” wins New Year’s weekend

Box Office Battle: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'' wins New Year's weekend. Stockwinners.com
Box Office Battle: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi” wins New Year’s weekend

Disney (DIS) and Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has crossed the $1B mark at the global box office in a relatively strong New Year’s weekend in terms of moviegoing.

The film stayed atop the box office chart throughout the holidays, grossing another $52.7M from over 4,200 theaters for the three-day and $68.1M for the four-day holiday weekend. “The Last Jedi” received an A CinemaScore and got a 91% from Rotten Tomatoes.

BOX OFFICE RUNNERS-UP

Sony’s (SNE) “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” came in second, with the reboot grossing $50.4M domestically from 3,765 locations for the three days and an estimated four-day haul of $66.5M.

Behind it was Comcast’s (CMCSA; CMCSK) “Pitch Perfect 3,” earning $16.8M from 3,468 theaters for the three days and an estimated $21M for the four-day weekend.

21st Century Fox’s (FOXA) “The Greatest Showman” placed number four, with $15.6M from 3,316 theaters for the three days and a projected four-day gross of $20.8M.

Rounding out the top five, “Ferdinand” is projected a four-day weekend of $14.6M. Other publicly traded companies in filmmaking include Viacom (VIAB), Lionsgate (LGF.A), and Warner Bros. (TWX).


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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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T-Mobile to launch TV service

T-Mobile acquires TV tech company Layer3 TV, launch new TV service

T-Mobile to Launch TV Service - Stockwinners
T-Mobile to Launch TV Service

T-Mobile (TMUS) US resident and CEO John Legere unveiled the next phase in the Un-carrier’s mobile video strategy, announcing plans to launch a disruptive new TV service in 2018.

To fuel that, Legere also announced the Un-carrier has signed a definitive agreement to acquire TV technology innovator Layer3 TV, Inc. and will work with Layer3 TV’s leading technology and talent to create T-Mobile’s new TV service.

People love their TV, but they hate their TV providers. And worse, they have no real choice but to simply take it – the crappy customer service, clunky technology and outrageous bills loaded with fees! That’s where we come in. We’re gonna fix the pain points and bring real choice to consumers across the country,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile.

“It only makes sense for the Un-carrier to do to TV what we’re doing to wireless: change it for good! Personally, I can’t wait to start fighting for consumers here!”

T-Mobile added: “Currently, Layer3 TV delivers a product that seamlessly integrates the best of television, streaming online video content and social media and is available in five cities across the US. With Layer3 TV’s leading technology and talented team, T-Mobile plans to launch its own disruptive new TV service next year, tapping into the amazing content available from creators today to disrupt legacy cable and satellite TV’s distribution model.

The Un-carrier’s new TV service will take full advantage of T-Mobile’s nationwide retail presence, top-rated brand and award-winning sales and customer care organizations.”

Legere also said that services like Netflix (NFLX) are “absolutely booming.” Says TV service plans part of long-term Un-carrier strategy for video and mobile entertainment. Says legacy TV model “utterly broken,” looks like wireless from a few years ago. Legere expects the Layer3 deal to close in the next few weeks.

TMUS is up 82 cents to $64.30.


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DOJ to block AT&T and Time Warner’s merger

Analysts cut Time Warner, AT&T targets following DOJ lawsuit

Time Warner Name to Become History, See Stockwinners.com Market Radar

Following the news that the U.S. Department of Justice is suing to block AT&T (T) and Time Warner’s (TWX) merger deal, several Wall Street analysts lowered their price targets for both names.
Nonetheless, Baird analyst William Power argued that he sees the merits of the antitrust case favoring AT&T.

DOJ LAWSUIT

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it is suing to block the deal agreed to between AT&T and Time Warner.
Commenting on the news, AT&T’s Senior Executive VP and General Counsel David McAtee II said the DOJ lawsuit is “a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent.”
He added: “Vertical mergers like this one are routinely approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market.
We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently. […] Fortunately, the Department of Justice doesn’t have the final say in this matter. Rather, it bears the burden of proving to the U.S. District Court that the transaction violates the law. We are confident that the Court will reject the Government’s claims and permit this merger under longstanding legal precedent.”

PRICE CUTS

In light of the news that the DOJ will be suing to block the merger, Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker lowered her price target for Time Warner to $84 from $100 to reflect its standalone value.
Looking at Time Warner purely on fundamentals, the analyst told investors that she is not totally sure 2018 estimates are accurate given that the company has given no sense of trends for next year.
While #Ryvicker acknowledged that many investors have asked what Time Warner is worth, she does not think anyone steps in for it. The analyst reiterated a Market Perform rating on Time Warner’s shares.
Her peer at Barclays also cut his price target for Time Warner to $92 from $107.
Analyst Kannan #Venkateshwar argued that the DOJ move “in effect goes against almost 40 years of judicial commentary and action and, therefore, is quite unprecedented.”
Based on past DOJ frameworks, the analyst believes it may be tough for it to establish competitive harm, but the companies are likely in a 4-6 month period of litigation that should delay not only the closing of the deal but may also “chill other M&A activity across the space.”
Absent a deal, Venkateshwar estimates Time Warner could trade at $77 per share.
Meanwhile, Nomura Instinet analyst Jeffrey Kvaal lowered his price target for AT&T shares to $42 from $45 as he considers shares on fundamentals, while noting that he did not cut his target post the third quarter video miss given the pending deal.
Nonetheless, Kvaal told investors he believes the shares have “room to run” with or without Time Warner.

CASE MERITS FAVOR AT&T

Commenting on the lawsuit, Baird analyst William Power argued that the merger deal may be delayed, but is not dead.
The analyst argued that with Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG; GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) now media forces, including in original content, he finds it difficult to believe that AT&T will be able to significantly raise pricing for the Turner properties or HBO and risk driving away current partners.
Ultimately, Power believes the merits of the case favor AT&T. The analyst reiterated an Outperform rating and $42 price target on AT&T shares.

PRICE ACTION

In Tuesday’s trading, shares of Time Warner have gained over 1% to $88.79 while AT&T is fractionally down to $34.42 per share.


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