RealPage sold for $10.2 billion

RealPage to be acquired by Thoma Bravo for $88.75 per share in cash

RealPage (RP) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Thoma Bravo, a private equity investment firm focused on the software and technology-enabled services sector, in an all-cash transaction that values RealPage at approximately $10.2B, including net debt.

Real Page sold for $10.2 billion

Under the terms of the agreement, RealPage stockholders will receive $88.75 in cash per share of RealPage common stock upon closing of the transaction.

The purchase price represents a premium of 30.8% over RealPage’s closing stock price of $67.83 on December 18, 2020, a premium of 36.5% over RealPage’s 30-day volume-weighted average share price through that date, and a premium of 27.8% over RealPage’s all-time high closing stock price of $69.47 on December 7.

The RealPage board has unanimously approved the agreement with Thoma Bravo and recommends that RealPage stockholders vote in favor of the transaction at the special meeting of RealPage stockholders to be called in connection with the transaction.

Thoma Bravo buys the real estate software company

Upon completion of the transaction, RealPage expects to continue operating under the leadership of chairman and CEO Steve Winn and the existing RealPage leadership team based in Richardson, Texas.

Closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions, including approval by the holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of RealPage common stock, expiration or early termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, and receipt of other required regulatory approvals.

A special meeting of RealPage stockholders will be held in early 2021, following the filing of a definitive proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Winn and certain affiliated entities, which collectively own approximately 10% of the outstanding shares of RealPage common stock, have entered into a voting agreement with Thoma Bravo pursuant to which they have agreed, among other things, to vote their shares of RealPage common stock in favor of the merger, and against any competing transaction, so long as, among other things, the RealPage board continues to recommend that RealPage stockholders vote in favor of the merger.

Consistent with the board’s commitment to maximizing stockholder value, under the terms of the definitive merger agreement, RealPage’s board and advisors may actively initiate, solicit and consider alternative acquisition proposals during a 45-day “go shop” period.

RealPage has the right to terminate the merger agreement to accept a superior proposal during the go-shop period, subject to the terms and conditions of the merger agreement.

There can be no assurances that this process will result in a superior proposal, and RealPage does not intend to disclose developments with respect to this solicitation process unless and until RealPage’s board makes a determination requiring further disclosure.

The parties expect the transaction to close in Q2 of 2021. Upon completion of the transaction, RealPage will become a privately held company, and its common stock will no longer be listed on the Nasdaq stock market.

RP closed at $67.83.

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Consolidation in digital healthcare continues!

GigCapital2 to combine with UpHealth, Cloudbreak Health in $1.35B merger

GigCapital2 (GIX) announced that it has entered into two separate definitive business combination agreements with each of UpHealth and Cloudbreak Health to form a combined entity that will create a publicly traded, global digital healthcare company.

Digital healthcare has become more prevalent during the pandemic

Upon the closing of the transaction, the combined company will be named UpHealth and will continue to be listed on the NYSE under the new ticker symbol (UPH).

Following the combination, UpHealth will be a global digital healthcare company serving an entire spectrum of healthcare needs and will be established in fast growing sectors of the digital health industry.

With its combinations, Upon closing the pending mergers and the combination with Cloudbreak, UpHealth will be organized across four capabilities at the intersection of population health management and telehealth: Integrated Care Management, Global Telehealth, Digital Pharmacy, and Tech-enabled Behavioral Health.

Following the consummation of the transactions, UpHealth will have agreements to deliver digital healthcare in more than 10 countries globally.

These various companies are expected to generate approximately $115M in revenue and over $13M of EBITDA in 2020 and following the combination, UpHealth expects to generate over $190M in revenue and $24M in EBITDA in 2021.

The business combinations were unanimously approved by the boards of directors of all parties, valuing the combined company at a combined pro forma enterprise value of approximately $1.35B.

The proposed business combinations are expected to be completed in Q1 2021, subject to, among other things, the approval by GigCapital2 stockholders, regulatory approvals, and the satisfaction or waiver of other customary closing conditions.

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BioMed Realty sold for $14.6 billion

Blackstone says BioMed Realty to be sold for $14.6B to investor group

Blackstone (BX) announced that Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII L.P. and co-investors have agreed to sell BioMed Realty for $14.6B to a group led by existing BioMed investors.

This is part of a new long-term, perpetual capital, core+ return strategy managed by Blackstone.

BioMed is the largest private owner of life science office buildings

BioMed is the largest private owner of life science office buildings in the United States with an 11.3 million square foot portfolio concentrated in the leading innovation markets including Boston/Cambridge, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle and Cambridge U.K.

Blackstone bought BioMed Realty for about $8B in 2016

In connection with the recapitalization, existing BioMed investors were offered the option to exit for cash or reinvest their proceeds from the sale.

The investment will generate $6.5 billion of cumulative profits for BREP VIII and BioMed co-investors. BREP VIII, an opportunistic Real Estate investment fund, and co-investors acquired BioMed in January 2016.

The recapitalization is expected to close within five business days of the conclusion of the “go-shop” process.

The Blackstone Group Inc. is an alternative asset management firm specializing in real estate, private equity, hedge fund solutions, credit, secondary funds of funds, public debt and equity and multi-asset class strategies.

The firm typically invests in early-stage companies. It also provide capital markets services. The real estate segment specializes in opportunistic, core+ investments as well as debt investment opportunities collateralized by commercial real estate, and stabilized income-oriented commercial real estate across North America, Europe and Asia.

BX closed at $55.40.

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Northview REIT sold for $4.8B

Northview REIT to be acquired by Starlight, KingSett for $36.25 per unit

Northview Apartment Real Estate Investment Trust (NPRUF) announced that it has entered into an arrangement agreement with affiliates of Starlight Group Property Holdings pursuant to which the Purchasers will acquire Northview, and the holders of Northview’s outstanding trust units will receive $36.25 per Unit in cash in a transaction valued at $4.8 billion including net debt.

Northview REIT sold for $4.8B, Stockwinners

Under the Arrangement Agreement, the Purchasers will acquire Northview, and the holders of Northview’s outstanding Units will receive $36.25 per Unit.

The Offer Price represents a total equity value of approximately $2.5 billion on a fully diluted basis and a total transaction value of approximately $4.8 billion including the assumption of net debt. The Transaction is not subject to a financing condition.

Unitholders will be able to elect to receive 100% of the Offer Price in the form of cash.

Starlight buys Northview REIT, Stockwinners

Alternatively, unitholders may elect to receive all or a portion of the Offer Price in units of a new, multi-residential fund that would own a geographically diverse portfolio of Northview properties located in six Canadian provinces and two territories.

The High Yield Fund will apply to list its units on a Canadian securities exchange concurrently with the close of the Transaction. The listing will be subject to the High Yield Fund fulfilling all of the initial listing requirements and conditions of the Exchange.

Further details with respect to the High Yield Fund will be provided in the management information circular to be mailed to Northview Unitholders. Elections to receive High Yield Fund units will be subject to proration.

All-Cash Elections will not be subject to proration. Unitholders not specifying an election will be deemed to have elected to receive the All-Cash Consideration.

Pursuant to the Arrangement Agreement, Northview has an initial 30-day go-shop period, beginning on February 19, 2020 and ending on March 20, 2020, during which it is permitted to actively solicit, evaluate and enter into negotiations with third parties that express an interest in acquiring Northview. Northview has the option to extend the Go-Shop Period by up to 30 days, in certain circumstances.

Mr. Daniel Drimmer, Chief Executive Officer and President of Starlight, has committed to vote the Units he beneficially owns, controls or directs in favour of, or tender his Units into, any all-cash superior proposal received during the Go-Shop Period, subject to certain terms and conditions, pursuant to a voting and support agreement.

The Arrangement Agreement also provides a two-tier termination fee structure such that if Northview is successful in completing a transaction pursuant to a superior proposal received during the Go-Shop Period, there will be a termination fee payable to the Purchasers of $37.7 million.

If a transaction is completed pursuant to a superior proposal received following the expiry of the Go-Shop Period, the Purchasers will be entitled to a termination fee of $88.0 million.

The Purchasers will have the right to match any superior proposals received either during or after the Go-Shop Period. The Transaction is structured as a statutory plan of arrangement under the Alberta Business Corporations Act.

Completion of the Transaction requires approval of at least 66 2/3% of the votes cast by unitholders and holders of special voting units, as well as the approval by a simple majority of votes cast by disinterested unitholders and holders of special voting units, excluding Starlight, its affiliates and any other unitholders required to be excluded under Multilateral Instrument 61-101 – Protection of Minority Security Holders in Special Transactions.

The Transaction is also subject to approval of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, regulatory approvals, consents and approvals from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and certain of Northview’s lenders and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

Northview expects to continue to pay a monthly distribution of $0.1358 per trust unit through closing of the Transaction. The Transaction is expected to close by Q3 of 2020.

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William Lyon Homes sold for $2.4B

Taylor Morrison to acquire William Lyon Homes for $21.45/share in cash and stock

Taylor Morrison Home (TMHC) and William Lyon Homes (WLH) announced they have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Taylor Morrison will acquire all of the outstanding shares of William Lyon Homes common stock for per share consideration of $2.50 in cash and 0.800 shares of Taylor Morrison common stock, implying a company value for William Lyon Homes of $21.45 per share or $2.4B including assumption of debt.

William Lyon Homes sold for $2.4B in stock, Stockwinners

The transaction consideration mix consists of approximately 90% Taylor Morrison stock and 10% cash.

Based on current trading, Taylor Morrison stockholders will own approximately 77% of the combined company while William Lyon Homes stockholders will own approximately 23%.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both Taylor Morrison and William Lyon Homes and will be submitted to the stockholders of William Lyon Homes for approval.

Taylor Morrison Home buys William Lyon Homes to expand its footprint, Stockwinners

William Lyon Homes designs, constructs, markets, and sells single-family detached and attached homes in California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Texas. It sells its homes primarily to entry-level, first-time move-up, and second-time move-up homebuyers. 

Taylor Morrison Home Corporation operates as a public homebuilder in the United States. The company designs, builds, and sells single-family and multi-family attached and detached homes; and develops lifestyle and master-planned communities. It operates under the Taylor Morrison and Darling Homes brand names in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina and Texas. 

The issuance of shares of Taylor Morrison common stock in the transaction will also be submitted to the stockholders of Taylor Morrison for approval.

The transaction is expected to close late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter of 2020 and the closing is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

William H. Lyon, executive chairman and chairman of the board and holder of approximately 42 percent of the voting power of William Lyon Homes common stock, has agreed to vote all of the shares of William Lyon Homes common stock controlled by him in support of the transaction.

“The strategic combination creates the nation’s fifth largest homebuilder based on the last 12 months of closings, and firmly places Taylor Morrison in a Top 5 position in 16 of the combined 23 markets with an estimated 14,200 closings for the pro forma combined company,” the companies stated.

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Liberty Property Trust sold for about $61 per share

Prologis to acquire Liberty Property for $12.6B

Prologis (PLD) and Liberty Property Trust (LPT) announced that the two companies have entered into a definitive merger agreement by which Prologis will acquire Liberty in an all-stock transaction, valued at approximately $12.6B, including the assumption of debt.

Prologis buys Liberty Property Trust, Stockwinners

The board of Prologis and the board of trustees of Liberty have each unanimously approved the transaction.

Warehouses and logistics facilities — Liberty’s specialty — have become a hot part of the real estate market as more shopping moves online and demand for the space increases. 

The acquisition gives Prologis a portfolio of 107 million square feet of logistics properties that’s owned or managed, as well as buildings under construction and land for future development. It also includes 4.9 million square feet of office space.

Prologis plans to dispose of approximately $3.5B of assets on a pro rata share basis. This includes $2.8B of non-strategic logistics properties and $700M of office properties.

This transaction is anticipated to create immediate cost synergies of approximately $120M from corporate general and administrative cost savings, operating leverage, lower interest expense and lease adjustments.

Initially, this transaction is expected to increase annual core funds from operations per share by 10c-12c. Upon stabilization of the acquired development assets, completion of the planned non-strategic asset sales and redeployment of the related proceeds, annual stabilized core FFO per share is forecasted to increase by an additional 4c per share for a total of 14c-16c.

Liberty holds mostly class A properties, Stockwinners

Further, there are future synergies with the potential to generate approximately $60M in annual savings, including $10M from revenue synergies and $50M from incremental development value creation.

“Liberty’s logistics assets are highly complementary to our U.S. portfolio, and this acquisition increases our holdings and growth potential in several key markets,” Prologis Chairman and Chief Executive Hamid R. Moghadam said in the statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Liberty shareholders will receive 0.675x of a Prologis share for each Liberty share they own.

The transaction, which is currently expected to close in Q1 of 2020, is subject to the approval of Liberty shareholders and other customary closing conditions.

Liberty shares have risen 21% this year, compared with the 55% jump in Prologis shares. 

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Federal Reserve cuts benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points

Fed Chair Powell says more rate cuts could be needed if economy weakens

The Federal Reserve voted to cut interest rates by a quarter-percentage point for the second time in as many months to cushion the economy against a global slowdown amplified by the U.S.-China trade war. While they left the door open to additional cuts, officials were split over the decision and the outlook for further reductions.

Voting for the today’s 25 basis point cut today were Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, John Williams, Michelle #Bowman, Lael #Brainard, Richard #Clarida, Charles #Evans, and Randal #Quarles. Voting against the action were James #Bullard, who preferred at the meeting to lower the target range for the federal funds rate to 1.5% to 1.75%, and Esther George and Eric Rosengren, who preferred to maintain the target range at 2% to 2.25%.

FOMC Chair Powell votes for rate cut., Stockwinners

The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in July indicates that the labor market remains strong and that economic activity has been rising at a moderate rate. Job gains have been solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Although household spending has been rising at a strong pace, business fixed investment and exports have weakened. On a 12-month basis, overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy are running below 2 percent. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed.”

Trade Negotiations

Fed Chair Powell said the Fed has to try to look through near-term volatility due to “complex” trade negotiations to react to the underlying economic situation. Powell said the central bank needs to be careful to not overreact but also to not underreact.

The Fed continues to see a strong labor market and reiterated that economic activity has been rising at a moderate rate. Job gains have been solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low.

Stockwinners.com

There was still a split between solid household spending, but weakening in business fixed investment and exports. Inflation is still running below 2%, while market-based measures of remain low. The Committee continued to appeal to implications of global developments for the economic outlook and low inflation as rationale for the easing.

More from Powell: this is a time of difficult judgments and disparate perspectives. The bulk of the FOMC is taking it meeting-by-meeting. He continues to believe it’s better to be proactive when adjusting policy, and when trouble is seen approaching on the horizon, you should steer away from it if possible. The Fed has repeatedly shifted policy to support the economy, showing the Fed’s willingness to to move based on an evolving risk picture. There’s real uncertainty around the effects of the trade policy. On the funding issues seen this week, Powell said analysts took appropriate actions to address the pressures. If there are additional pressures, analysts have the tools to address the funding pressures and analysts will not hesitate to use them. The Fed will be returning to the question of when to build the balance sheet. The level remains uncertain, however.

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Tenet to spin off its Conifer Health

Tenet concludes Conifer strategic review, to complete spin-off by end of 2Q21

Tenet Healthcare (THC) announced its intention to pursue a tax-free spin-off of its Conifer business as a separate, independent publicly traded company.

Tenet to spinoff Conifer Health in a tax free transaction, Stockwinners

The company expects to complete the spin-off by the end of the second quarter of 2021.

This announcement is the culmination of the Conifer strategic review process announced in December 2017.

Ronald A. Rittenmeyer, Executive Chairman and CEO, said, “After an extensive review of Conifer’s strategic alternatives, in which we evaluated multiple options for the business while simultaneously driving significant and sustainable improvements in performance, we are pleased to announce plans to spin off Conifer into a separate, publicly traded company.

This decision supports our longstanding objectives to maximize the value of Conifer, build on its strong growth potential and deliver the best outcome for Conifer and for Tenet shareholders.” Rittenmeyer continued, “Conifer has unmatched experience and scale in offering revenue cycle management solutions for healthcare providers and a proven track record of delivering high-touch, high-value services to clients.

Tenet to spin off Conifer Health, Stockwinners

Pursuing a tax-free spin-off is an important step forward in Conifer’s evolution, and we believe the business is well-positioned to capitalize on its growth opportunities as a standalone company.”

Rittenmeyer added, “We were pleased with Tenet’s performance in the second quarter, with Adjusted EBITDA comfortably within our Outlook range and consistent with consensus estimates.

Volume growth strengthened in our hospital business, with increases in both admissions and adjusted admissions. USPI also delivered favorable volume growth and Conifer had another strong quarter.

We remain excited about the future of our healthcare services offerings at our 65 hospitals and approximately 500 outpatient centers which will remain part of the Tenet enterprise.”

The separation process will include a thorough review of the necessary executive leadership changes, Board membership needs and key commercial milestones that Conifer must achieve in order to provide the optimal governance structures and business foundations for a successful public company.

Specific details about these actions and milestones will be made available in due course.

Among other things, the spin-off will be subject to finalization of the entity structure of the spun-off business, assurance that the separation will be tax-free to Tenet’s shareholders for U.S. federal income tax purposes, executing a restructured services agreement between Conifer and Tenet, finalization of Conifer’s capital structure, the effectiveness of appropriate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, final approval from the Tenet Board of Directors, and other customary conditions.

The spin-off will not require a vote by Tenet shareholders and is supported by Common Spirit which owns a minority interest in Conifer Health Solutions, LLC.

The transaction is being targeted for completion by the end of the second quarter of 2021, but there can be no assurance regarding the timeframe for completing the spin-off, the allocation of assets and liabilities between Tenet and Conifer, or that the spin-off will be completed at all.

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Vail Resorts buys Peak Resorts for $11.00 per share

The deal is valued about $170 million

Peak Resorts (SKIS) announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Vail Resorts, Inc. (MTN) pursuant to which Vail Resorts will acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of Peak Resorts for $11.00 per share in cash.

Vail Resorts to buy Peak Resorts, Stockwinners

The transaction represents a 116% premium to Peak Resorts’ closing stock price on July 19, 2019.

The transaction is expected to close in fall 2019 and is subject to certain conditions, including a vote of Peak Resorts shareholders and antitrust clearance.

Vail Resorts buys Peak Resorts, shares jump. Stockwinners

The transaction was approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies. Peak Resorts’ Board of Directors also recommends that the Company’s shareholders approve the transaction.

Moelis & Company LLC is serving as financial advisor to Peak Resorts. Perkins Coie LLP, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard P.C. and Armstrong Teasdale LLP are serving as legal counsel to Peak Resorts.

About the Companies

Peak Resorts, Inc. owns, operates, and leases day and overnight drive ski resorts in the United States. Its resorts activities and amenities include skiing, snowboarding, terrain parks, tubing, dining, lodging, equipment rentals and sales, ski and snowboard instruction, golf, zip lines, mountain coasters, mountain biking, hiking, paint ball, and other summer activities. It operates 17 ski resorts primarily located in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest.

Vail Resorts has been on a shopping spree, Stockwinners

Vail Resorts, Inc. operates mountain resorts and urban ski areas in the United States. The company operates through three segments: Mountain, Lodging, and Real Estate. The Mountain segment operates 11 mountain resorts, including Vail Mountain, Breckenridge Ski, Keystone, and Beaver Creek resorts in Colorado; Park City resort in Utah; Heavenly Mountain, Northstar, and Kirkwood Mountain resorts in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Whistler Blackcomb in Canada; Stowe Mountain resort in Vermont; and Perisher in Australia, as well as 3 urban ski areas, such as Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin, Afton Alps in Minnesota, and Mount Brighton in Michigan.

Vail Resorts expands its footprint by purchasing Peak Resorts, Stockwinners

Its resorts offer various winter and summer recreational activities. The Lodging segment owns and/or manages various luxury hotels and condominiums under the RockResorts brand, and other lodging properties; various condominiums located in proximity to the company’s mountain resorts; destination resorts; and golf courses, as well as offers resort ground transportation services. This segment operates approximately 5,400 owned and managed hotel and condominium units.

The Real Estate segment owns, develops, and sells real estate properties in and around the company’s resort communities. 

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Caesars Entertainment sold for $17.3 B

Eldorado Resorts to acquire Caesars for $12.75 per share, or about $17.3B

Eldorado Resorts to buy Caesars for $17.3B, Stockwinners

Eldorado Resorts (ERI) and Caesars Entertainment (CZR) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create the largest U.S. gaming company.

Caesars Entertainment sold for $17.3 billion, Stockwinners

Eldorado will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Caesars for a total value of $12.75 per share, consisting of $8.40 per share in cash consideration and 0.0899 shares of Eldorado common stock for each Caesars share of common stock based on Eldorado’s 30-calendar day volume weighted average price per share as of May 23, reflecting total consideration of approximately $17.3B, comprised of $7.2B in cash, approximately 77M Eldorado common shares and the assumption of Caesars outstanding net debt.

Caesars shareholders will be offered a consideration election mechanism that is subject to proration pursuant to the definitive merger agreement.

Giving effect to the transaction, Eldorado and Caesars shareholders will hold approximately 51% and 49% of the combined company’s outstanding shares, respectively.

Upon completion of the transaction the combined company will retain the Caesars name to capitalize on the value of the iconic global brand and its legacy of leadership in the global gaming industry.

The new company will continue to trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

The combined company’s Board of Directors will consist of 11 members, six of whom will come from Eldorado’s Board of Directors and five of whom will come from Caesars Board of Directors.

The transactions have been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of Eldorado, Caesars and VICI.

The Caesars transaction is subject to approval of the stockholders of Eldorado and Caesars, the approval of applicable gaming authorities, the expiration of the applicable Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to be consummated in the first half of 2020.


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Economy expanded at a moderate rate

Fed’s Beige Book says “economic activity continued to expand”



Fed’s Beige Book says economic activity continued to expand , Stockwinners


Fed’s Beige Book: “economic activity continued to expand in late January and February,” said the report.

But 10 Districts noted “slight-to-moderate” growth, with Philly and St Louis reporting flat conditions. That’s the most tepid characterization in sometime, as the more normal description has been “moderate” to “modest.”

About half of the Districts said the shutdown weighed on some sectors, including consumer spending was mixed, but in part due to “harsh winter weather and higher costs of credit.”

Manufacturing generally strengthened but “numerous” contacts worries about weaker global growth, higher costs due to tariffs, and continued trade policy uncertainty.

The service sector increased at a modest-to-moderate pace. Also, residential construction activity was steady or slightly higher in most of the U.S., but home sales were generally lower.

There was little change in the employment outlook, with employment increasing in most Districts, with “modest-to-moderate gains in a majority of Districts and steady to slightly higher employment in the rest.

Labor markets remained tight for all skill levels.

Wages continued to increase for both low- and high-skilled positions, and a majority of Districts reported increases were moderate.

And for prices, they continued to increase at a modest-to-moderate pace, “with several Districts noting faster growth for input prices than selling prices. The ability to pass on higher input costs to consumers varied by region and industry.”

The report (prepared by KC Fed with data collected on or before February 25) is consistent with the FOMC’s outlook for slower growth with tame inflation.

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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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L Brands drops after PINK CEO departs

L Brands slides after slashing earnings forecast, PINK brand CEO departure 

L Brands drops after PINK CEO departs, Stockwinners
L Brands drops after PINK CEO departs, Stockwinners

Shares of L Brands (LB) are sliding after the parent of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works reported better than expected quarterly earnings and revenue but lowered its profit outlook.

While Jefferies analyst Randal Konik reduced his price target for L Brands and recommended investors sell the shares, his peer at Citi argued that the guidance cut was expected and reiterated a Buy rating on the stock.

QUARTERLY RESULTS

Last night, L Brands reported second quarter adjusted earnings per share of 36c and revenue of $2.98B, both above the consensus of 34c and $2.93B, respectively.

The company also lowered its FY18 earnings per share view to $2.45-$2.70 from $2.70-$3.00, with consensus at $2.77.

Additionally, L Brands said second quarter consolidated same-store sales for Stores and Direct were up 3%, while same-store sales for the quarter at Victoria’s Secret were down 1% and up 10% at at Bath & Body Works.

Alongside quarterly results, the company announced that Denise Landman, CEO of Victoria’s Secret PINK, has made the decision to retire at the end of this year.

Pink CEO departs, Shares slide

Amy Hauk, currently president for merchandising and product development of Bath & Body Works, will replace Landman as CEO of Victoria’s Secret PINK.

JEFFERIES SAYS SELL SHARES

In a research note to investors this morning, Jefferies’ Konik lowered his price target for L Brands to $20 from $23 and recommended investors sell the shares.

The analyst argued that the company’s fiscal year earnings guidance cut is still not low enough, and sees PINK on “precipice of massive declines.” Further, the analyst thinks L Brands’ free cash flow guidance is too high as its net debt continues to grow.

The dividend is at risk in the medium-term and the company needs to save cash now “before the next recession,” Konik contended.

The analyst reiterated an Underperform rating on the stock.

Meanwhile, his peer at JPMorgan also lowered his price target for L Brands to $26 from $28.

While the stock was bracing for an earnings forecast reduction, the magnitude of management’s near-term third quarter cut was greater than expected, calling for break-even earnings at the low-end, the first time in more than a decade, analyst Matthew Boss contended.

He reiterated a Neutral rating on the shares. Voicing a similar opinion, Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow lowered his price target for L Brands to $30 from $42 and kept a Market Perform rating on the shares as the core Victoria’s Secret concept continues to struggle.

Pointing out that the second quarter results “raised a number of red flags,” including “severe” margin contraction, “bloated” inventory, Bath & Body Works returning to margin contraction and issues at PINK, Nomura Instinet analyst Simeon Siegel reiterated a Neutral rating and $31 price target on L Brands’ shares.

CITI SAYS RISK/REWARD STILL ATTRACTIVE

Still bullish on the stock, Citi analyst Paul Lejuez told investors that while the turnaround path for Victoria’s Secret “remains unclear,” the market expected last night’s fiscal 2018 guidance cut.

With a 7.5% dividend yield, the stock’s risk/reward is attractive, particularly given actions by management that suggest “they have more than enough liquidity to continue funding the dividend,” Lejuez argued.

The analyst reiterated a Buy rating on the shares and said he views the dividend as safe.

While lowering her price target for L Brands to $44 from $49, B. Riley FBR analyst Susan Anderson kept a Buy rating on the stock as she believes Bath & Body Works continues to excel and Victoria’s Secret remains a work in progress.

While weaker PINK performance is “disappointing,” the analyst believes management is taking steps to correct lounge performance as well as improve performance in lingerie.

Further, Anderson highlighted that L Brands reiterated its commitment to share repurchases and dividend, and reiterated that the company has substantial liquidity to fund the dividend and other expenditures.

PRICE ACTION

In Thursday’s trading, shares of L Brands have plunged over 12% to $28.50.


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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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Starwood Property Trust goes shopping

Starwood Property to acquire GE Capital Project Finance Debt Business for $2.56B

Starwood Property goes shopping, Stockwinners
Starwood Property goes shopping, Stockwinners

Starwood Property Trust (STWD) announced that the company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire GE Capital’s (GE) Energy Financial Services’ Project Finance Debt Business and loan portfolio for $2.56B, including $400M of unfunded loan commitments.

The acquired business will leverage the extensive experience of the company’s affiliate, Starwood Energy Group, which specializes in comparable energy infrastructure equity investments and has executed transactions with approximately $7B in asset value since its inception in 2005.

GE’s Energy Project Finance Debt Business includes a vertically integrated platform with a seasoned leadership team and 21 full-time employees across loan origination, underwriting, capital markets and asset management.

The Loan Portfolio consists of 51 senior loans secured by energy infrastructure real assets.

The company anticipates the transaction will be accretive to core earnings.

The company expects to finance the transaction with a new secured term loan facility from MUFG with an initial advance of approximately $1.7B and committed capacity for future funding obligations in the Loan Portfolio.

The company has ample available liquidity in addition to a $600M committed acquisition facility from Credit Suisse and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. to fund the balance of the purchase price.

The completion of the acquisition is subject to the satisfaction of a number of customary conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018.

STWD closed at $22.45. GE closed at $13.16.


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This article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility.