Online retailers fall on Amazon concerns

Online retailers slide as Amazon reportedly testing recommendation service

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Online retailers fall on Amazon concerns

 

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


WHAT’S NEW:

 

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

 

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

 

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

WHAT’S NOTABLE

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

PRICE ACTION

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


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Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B

Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B

 

Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B, Stockwinners
Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B, Stockwinners

Synovus Financial Corp. (SNV) and FCB Financial Holdings, Inc. (FCB) jointly announced their entry into a definitive merger agreement under which Synovus will acquire FCB Financial Holdings, Inc., owner of Florida Community Bank.

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

Following the closing, FCB will merge with Synovus Bank and operate under the Synovus brand, and FCB Financial Holdings President and CEO Kent Ellert will be executive vice president of Synovus and Florida market president.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, FCB shareholders will receive a fixed ratio of 1.055 shares of Synovus common stock for each common share of FCB in an all-stock transaction.

Based on Synovus’ closing share price on July 23, 2018, the transaction is valued at $58.15 per FCB share or $2.9 billion in aggregate.

Following completion of the merger, former FCB shareholders will own approximately 30% of the combined company. In addition, based on the exchange ratio, Synovus’ most recent quarterly dividend translates to a pro forma annualized dividend of $1.06 per FCB share.

The transaction is expected to be tax free to FCB shareholders. Synovus expects approximately $40 million in pretax synergies to be fully realized by 2020.

Excluding one-time charges, Synovus expects the acquisition to be approximately 6.5% accretive to earnings per common share in 2020 and to deliver strong returns on capital.

The transaction is expected to produce tangible book value per share dilution of 3.3% with an earnback period of less than two years.

The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by both companies’ Boards of Directors.

The merger is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Synovus and FCB Financial Holdings shareholders and approval by state and federal bank regulators. BofA Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC served as financial advisors to Synovus on this transaction, while Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Alston & Bird LLP served as legal advisors.

Sandler O’Neill + Partners L.P., Guggenheim Securities, LLC, and Evercore Group L.L.C. served as financial advisors to FCB Financial Holdings, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz served as legal advisor.


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The Philly Fed rises to 25.7 in July

The Philly Fed bounce to 25.7

 

The Philly Fed rises to 25.7 in July , Stockwinners
The Philly Fed rises to 25.7 in July , Stockwinners

The Philly Fed bounce to 25.7 from a 19-month low of 19.9 in June and a 1-year high of 34.4 in May was accompanied by an ISM-adjusted Philly Fed rise to 59.7 from 59.4 in June and a 45-year high of 62.5 in May, versus the same 59.7 in April.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reports that regional manufacturing activity continued to expand in July. All the broad indicators remained positive, with the general activity and new orders indexes improving this month. The survey’s price indexes suggest widespread increases for purchased inputs, and more firms reported price increases for their own manufactured goods. Expectations for the next six months continued to moderate but remain positive overall.

Monday’s Empire State headline slipped to 22.6 in July from an 8-month high of 25.0 in June but a lower 20.1 in May, while the ISM-adjusted measure fell more sharply, to 54.6 from a 12-year high of 57.9 in June and 56.9 in May.

The U.S. state of New York has been known by many nicknames, most notably as the Empire State, adopted as late as the 19th century. This nickname has been incorporated into the names of several state buildings and events, and is commonly believed to refer to the state’s wealth and resources.

For later July surveys, analysts expect a Richmond Fed drop to 17.0 from 20.0, a Dallas Fed drop to 30.0 from 36.5, a Chicago PMI decline to 60.0 from 64.1 in June, an ISM drop to 59.0 from 60.2, and an ISM-NMI drop to 58.0 from 59.1

The mix should allow the ISM-adjusted average of the major surveys to slip back to 58 from the 59 cycle-high set in May and June, versus the same 58 readings in six of eight months through April.

Producer sentiment is enjoying a lift from fiscal stimulus, the mining and factory resurgence, and a stronger global economy that has translated to strength in trade in the face of limited capacity constraints and little near-term inflation risk.


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Dropbox drops as Facebook mulls switch to Google

Dropbox drops as Facebook mulls switch to Google for cloud storage

Dropbox drops as Facebook mulls switch to Google, Stockwinners
Dropbox drops as Facebook mulls switch to Google, Stockwinners

Shares of Dropbox (DBX) fell in morning trading following a report that said Facebook (FB) is considering moving its cloud storage away from the file hosting service.

FACEBOOK CONSIDERING SWITCH

Facebook is considering switching to Google (GOOG, GOOGL) for email and productivity applications, The Information reported earlier, citing two people with knowledge of the discussions.

The move would be a setback for Microsoft (MSFT), whose applications Facebook currently uses. Facebook, which has about 27,000 employees, stopped using Google apps inside the company several years ago. Additionally, Facebook is also considering moving its cloud storage to Google from Dropbox, according to The Information.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Last month, Dropbox announced a new chapter in the evolution of Magic Pocket, its custom-built storage infrastructure, saying it is deploying Shingled Magnetic Recording, or SMR, drive technology to increase overall storage density, reduce the company’s physical data center footprint and provide significant cost savings without sacrificing performance or reliability.

Dropbox said at the time that it expects to have a quarter of its Magic Pocket infrastructure on SMR drive capacity by 2019. In its debut earnings report, Dropbox reported revenue of $316.3M, up 28% from the year-ago period.

PRICE ACTION

Shares of Dropbox are down about 4% to $31.03 in morning trading following the report.


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Market higher at midday

Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday as the S&P 500 rose above 2,800 for the first time since the middle of March.

Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday as the S&P 500 rose above 2,800, Stockwinners
Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday as the S&P 500 rose above 2,800, Stockwinners

The Dow has also been strong, though not much of that outperformance is due to JPMorgan (JPM) after the bank and several of its large peers kicked off earnings season with their reports this morning.

ECONOMIC EVENTS:

In the U.S., the June trade price report was mixed, with a weaker than expected 0.4% import price decline and a stronger than expected 0.3% increase in export prices.

The University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey was weaker than expected, falling 1.1 points to a 6-month low of 97.1 in the preliminary print for July. In Asia, China’s exports were strong in June, rising 11.3%, while imports fell a bit short of expectations with an increase of 14.1%.

COMPANY NEWS:

Shares of JPMorgan advanced fractionally after it started off this summer’s earnings season by reporting better than expected earnings for the second quarter. Of note, the bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon said he sees “good global economic growth, particularly in the U.S.”

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo (WFC) slipped 2% after reporting downbeat results for Q2, with the company noting in presentation slides that the third party review of customer accounts is “ongoing.”

Citi (C) shares also fell about 2% after its quarterly report, though the bank’s headline earnings for the quarter beat analysts’ estimates.

In addition, PNC Financial (PNC) reported better than expected results for the quarter and guided for third quarter net interest income to be up low-single digits…

Meanwhile, AT&T (T) was in focus after the U.S. Department of Justice said it plans to appeal the approval of the merger between AT&T and Time Warner. In an interview on CNBC this morning, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that he doesn’t know exactly what the government basis will be for an appeal and that the move by the DOJ “changes nothing”.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) dipped about 1% after a Missouri jury awarded $4.69B to 22 women who alleged that use of J&J’s talcum powder products caused their ovarian cancer. The jury award includes $550M in compensatory damages and $4.14B in punitive damages against the company. J&J responded by saying it “intends to pursue all available appellate remedies.”

MAJOR MOVERS:

Among the noteworthy gainers was Biocept (BIOC), which surged 58% after it announced a provider agreement with Alliance Global FZ.

Also higher was Achillion (ACHN), which gained 13% after it said it began dosing in its Phase 1 trial of ACH-5548. Among the notable losers was Gogo (GOGO), which fell 11%, reversing last night’s afterhours gains following the company’s announcement of a strategic review.

Also lower was Ingredion (INGR), which dropped 11% after it announced a $125M cost savings program, provided lower than expected Q2 guidance, and cut its outlook for fiscal 2018.

INDEXES:

Near midday, the Dow was up 93.18, or 0.37%, to 25,018.07, the Nasdaq was up 13.35, or 0.17%, to 7,837.26, and the S&P 500 was up 4.74, or 0.17%, to 2,803.03.


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Pfizer shares lower after talk with President prompts rollback

Pfizer under pressure after talk with President prompts rollback

Pfizer shares lower after talk with President prompts rollback, Stockwinners
Pfizer shares lower after talk with President prompts rollback, Stockwinners

After speaking with President Donald Trump, Pfizer (PFE) stated that it will roll back its July 1 price increases “to give the president an opportunity to work on his blueprint to strengthen the healthcare system and provide more access for patients.”

Additionally this morning, the company announced that it will reorganize into three units, separating its consumer health-care business, which the drugmaker has been trying to sell since last year, from its groups focused on “innovative” medicines” and “established” medicines.

PRICE ROLLBACK

In a statement provided to CNBC’s Meg Tirrell yesterday, Pfizer said it will roll back its July 1 price increases “to give the president an opportunity to work on his blueprint to strengthen the healthcare system and provide more access for patients.”

The company released the statement following an “extensive discussion” with President Trump. Pfizer said it will return such prices to their pre-July 1 levels as soon as technically possible, and the prices will remain in effect until the earlier of when the president’s blueprint goes into effect or the end of the year. In addition, the drug giant said that the price declines the company took as of July 1 will remain in effect.

This comes after President Trump called out the company and other drugmakers for raising prices.

In a tweet, Trump previously said Pfizer and peers “should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason,” accusing the company and industry of “merely taking advantage of the poor and others unable to defend themselves, while at the same time giving bargain basement prices to other countries in Europe and elsewhere.”

BUSINESS REORGANIZATION

This morning, Pfizer also announced it will organize the company into three businesses, namely a science-based Innovative Medicines business that will now include biosimilars and a new hospital business unit for anti-infectives and sterile injectables; an off-patent branded and generic Established Medicines business operating with substantial autonomy within Pfizer; and a Consumer Healthcare business.

These changes will be effective at the beginning of the company’s 2019 fiscal year, and are not expected to impact current capital allocation priorities or full-year 2018 financial guidance.

READ-THROUGH TO OTHERS IN THE SECTOR

Commenting on the events, Wells Fargo analyst David Maris told investors that drug stocks will not react favorably to this news, given the chilling effect this will likely have on others looking to take price increases.

Nonetheless, the analyst pointed out that the price increases taken in July are only small compared to other increases taken over the past year or several years, so the impact of the rollback to the healthcare system is insignificant in the big picture.

Maris also added that he believes the administration’s and other key legislators’ focus is not only on drug pricing, but on the overall supply chain and delivery system, including drug rebating, co-pay coupons, etc.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

According to Bloomberg, Gilead (GILD), Roche (RHHBY), Novo Nordisk (NVO) and Novartis (NVS) have all sent notices to California health plans rescinding or reducing previously announced price hikes in the wake of a new drug pricing transparency law that was enacted in the state.

The California measure, which is among the most aggressive efforts by states to rein in drug costs, is being challenged in court by the drug industry’s lobbying group, the report noted.

Other large cap pharmaceutical companies include AstraZeneca (AZN), Bristol-Myers (BMY), Eli Lilly (LLY), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Merck (MRK), and Sanofi (SNY).

PRICE ACTION

In morning trading, shares of Pfizer have dropped about 0.5% to $37.28.


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Spero Therapeutics higher on data

Spero says clinical data demonstrates SPR994 to be well-tolerated 

Spero Therapeutics higher on data, Stockwinners
Spero Therapeutics higher on data, Stockwinners

Spero Therapeutics (SPRO) reported positive results from an interim analysis of its ongoing single ascending dose and multiple ascending dose Phase 1 clinical trial of SPR994, its investigational oral carbapenem product candidate designed for the treatment of Gram-negative infections, in healthy volunteers.

The data demonstrate that SPR994 has a favorable safety, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile that supports the advancement of SPR994 to a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial at a 300 mg dose administered three times per day.

The Phase 1 clinical trial of SPR994 is assessing the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of orally administered SPR994.

Interim Phase 1 results from the SAD portion of the trial demonstrate SPR994 to be well tolerated at doses ranging from 100 mg to 900 mg daily, with linear human pharmacokinetics over the dose range tested.

The data also show that the mean free drug plasma concentrations of tebipenem, the active metabolite of SPR994, remained above the MIC90 for the relevant bacterial pathogens for greater than 50% of an 8-hour dosing interval, consistent with the targeted therapeutic range observed in Spero’s hollow fiber experiments.

The pharmacokinetic profile of SPR994 observed to date in both the SAD and MAD portions of the trial provides evidence supporting SPR994’s administration without regard to meals.

Urine concentration data support the use of SPR994 to treat cUTI, with peak urine concentrations 100-fold higher than maximum concentrations in plasma.

No serious adverse events have been reported in the Phase 1 clinical trial to date.

Oral administration of SPR994 has been well tolerated at all doses tested and results are consistent with available clinical and post-marketing data for Orapenem and other approved IV carbapenem antibiotics.

Orapenem is currently approved in Japan for the treatment of pediatric infections and has the same orally bioavailable active ingredient as SPR994.

To date, the Phase 1 clinical trial has enrolled 115 healthy adult volunteers into 14 SAD cohorts and 1 MAD cohort. The SAD portion of the Phase 1 clinical trial is evaluating formulations of SPR994 at single doses ranging from 100 mg to 900 mg daily.

The MAD portion of the trial is designed to assess the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of SPR994 administered orally to healthy volunteers for 14 days.

The initial MAD cohort received 300 mg of SPR994 administered three times per day and the MAD portion of the trial will continue to dose escalate to determine the maximum tolerated dose.

SPRO closed at $16.89, it last traded at $18.21.


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Cara reports positive top-line data from CR845

Cara reports ‘positive’ top-line data from Phase 2/3 trial of I.V. CR845

 

Cara reports positive top-line data from CR845, Stockwinners
Cara reports positive top-line data from CR845, Stockwinners

Cara Therapeutics (CARA) announced positive top-line data from the adaptive Phase 2/3 trial of I.V. CR845 in patients undergoing abdominal surgeries.

At the 1.0 mcg/kg dose, I.V. CR845 demonstrated statistically significant reductions in pain intensity compared to placebo at all pre-specified post-operative periods of 0-6 hours; 0-12 hours; 0-18 hours; and 0-24 hours.

Additionally, I.V. CR845 treatment resulted in statistically significant reductions in the incidence of post-operative nausea and vomiting over the 24-hour period post-surgery for both 0.5 and 1.0 mcg/kg doses.

The adaptive Phase 2/3 trial was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial designed to evaluate the analgesic efficacy and safety of two doses of I.V. CR845 versus placebo given at pre-specified intervals pre- and post-surgery in 444 patients undergoing abdominal surgery, composed of 228 patients who underwent ventral hernia surgery and 216 patients who completed a hysterectomy procedure.

Patients received a 2X loading dose of I.V. CR845 pre-surgery and four additional doses given at 0, 6, 12 and 18 hours after surgery. The primary endpoint was pain relief as measured by Area Under the Curve of the Numerical Rating Scale pain intensity scores collected over the first 24-hour period after the baseline dose post-surgery for all combined surgeries.

In addition to safety, the secondary endpoints included incidence of vomiting, improvement in impact scores of post-operative nausea and vomiting, reduction in use of rescue analgesic medication, as well as patient global assessment at 24 hours post baseline dose after surgery. I.V. CR845 achieved statistical significance for the primary endpoint of pain relief over 24 hours post-surgery with the 1.0 mcg/kg dose versus placebo and also demonstrated statistical significance across two additional pre-specified sensitivity analyses for pain relief for the same period post-surgery. The 0.5 mcg/kg dose did not achieve statistical significance over the 0-24 hour period.

In addition, improvement in pain AUC was statistically significant for both the 0.5 and 1.0 mcg/kg doses over 0 to 6 hours and 0 to 12 hours periods and also statistically significant for the 1.0 mcg/kg dose over the 0 to 18-hour period post-surgery.

At 6 and 24 hours after baseline dose post-surgery, there were statistically significant improvements in PONV impact scores with both doses of I.V. CR845 compared to placebo: 0.5 mcg/kg and 1.0 mcg/kg. There were statistically significant differences between placebo and both doses of CR845 with respect to the total use of anti-emetic medication over the first 24 hours post-surgery.

The percentage of patients who did not take any anti-emetic medication over 24 hours was 56% for placebo compared to 70% for CR845 0.5 mcg/kg and 81% for CR845 1.0 mcg/kg.

There was a 73% reduction in the incidence of patient-reported vomiting in the group receiving the 1.0 mcg/kg dose versus placebo. Although the 0.5 mcg/kg also showed reduction in vomiting, it did not reach statistical significance.

Both doses of I.V. CR845 exhibited numerical trends toward reduced use of rescue analgesic medication compared to placebo, but did not achieve statistical significance.

There was no significant effect, compared to placebo, on patient’s global assessment of medication for either dose of I.V. CR845 over the 24-hour period. Common adverse effects reported in the placebo and both I.V. CR845 groups were generally low and similar in incidence, and included nausea, constipation, vomiting, flatulence, headache and dyspepsia.

CARA closed at $16.44, it last traded at $22.25.


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Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks

Physical retailers rise, online retailers drop after Supreme Court tax ruling

Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners
Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners

Shares of brick-and-mortar retailers are rising, while shares of e-commerce firms are slipping, after the Supreme Court ruled that online retailers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where they have no physical presence.

SUPREME COURT RULING

On Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with the state of South Dakota in a fight it brought against Wayfair (W) to require a business that has no physical presence in the state to collect its sales tax.

Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners
Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 vote that a 1992 judgement in Quill Corporation v. North Dakota regarding the physical presence rule was “unsound and incorrect,” according to a judgement posted to the high court’s website.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, in writing for the majority opinion, said the Quill decision had distorted the economy and resulted in states losing annual tax revenues between $8B-$33B.

“Quill puts both local businesses and many interstate businesses with physical presence at a competitive disadvantage relative to remote sellers,” he wrote.

“Remote sellers can avoid the regulatory burdens of tax collection and can offer de facto lower prices caused by the widespread failure of consumers to pay the tax on their own.”

WHAT’S NOTABLE:

Following the ruling, industry trade organization National Retail Federation issued a statement saying,

“Retailers have been waiting for this day for more than two decades. The retail industry is changing, and the Supreme Court has acted correctly in recognizing that it’s time for outdated sales tax policies to change as well.

This ruling clears the way for a fair and level playing field where all retailers compete under the same sales tax rules whether they sell merchandise online, in-store or both.”

ANALYST COMMENTARY

KeyBanc analyst Edward Yruma called the ruling a negative for Wayfair, arguing that it may reduce some of the price differential that has helped it gain share from traditional peers.

The ruling is also a negative, but to a lesser degree, for eBay (EBAY) and Etsy (ETSY), said Yruma, who views the impact on those two as more related to compliance and implementation.

He adds that the news could be a modest positive for retailers of high-ticket and branded products, such as Best Buy (BBY), Home Depot (HD), Lowe’s (LOW), La-Z-Boy (LZB), Kirkland’s (KIRK), RH (RH) and Williams-Sonoma (WSM).

PRICE ACTION

At Thursday midday, Target (TGT) rose 1.8%, Walmart (WMT) was up 0.7%, Costco (COST) rose roughly 1.1% while Amazon (AMZN) was down 0.4%, Etsy dropped about 2.5%, eBay fell 1.4% and Wayfair (W) was down 1.2%.

In addition, Avalara (AVLR), a software company focused on automated tax compliance that recently held its initial public offering, gained 17.1%.


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Heron Therapeutics HTX-001 achieves primary endpoints

Heron Therapeutics HTX-001 achieves primary endpoints in Study 209, 211

Heron Therapeutics HTX-001 achieves primary endpoints, Stockwinners
Heron Therapeutics HTX-001 achieves primary endpoints, Stockwinners
Heron Therapeutics (HRTX) announced positive topline results from two completed Phase 2b studies of HTX-011: Study 209 and Study 211.
HTX-011 achieved the primary endpoints in both studies.
Study 209 was a randomized, placebo- and active-controlled, double-blind, Phase 2b clinical study in patients undergoing primary unilateral total knee arthroplasty to evaluate the analgesic efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics of HTX-011 locally administered into the surgical site.
Following a dose-escalation phase, 222 patients were randomized to receive: HTX-011 400 mg administered via instillation into the surgical site; HTX-011 400 mg administered via instillation into the surgical site with a low dose of ropivacaine injected into the posterior capsule (HTX-011 combination); bupivacaine 125 mg administered via multiple injections into the surgical site; and placebo.
Ropivacaine and bupivacaine are generically available standard-of-care local anesthetics used in the management of postoperative pain.
This study included a pre-specified hierarchical testing strategy for the primary and key secondary endpoints for the HTX-011 400 mg treatment groups. The primary endpoint was pain intensity as measured by the area under the curve, or AUC, from 0 to 48 hours post-surgery for HTX-011 compared to placebo.
The key secondary endpoint was pain intensity as measured by the AUC from 0 to 72 hours post-surgery for HTX-011 compared to placebo.
The primary and key secondary endpoints were achieved.
Study 211 was a randomized, placebo- and active-controlled, double-blind, Phase 2b dose-finding study in patients undergoing augmentation mammoplasty to evaluate the analgesic efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics of HTX-011 when administered by instillation into the surgical site or via ultrasound-guided lateral and medial pectoral nerve block before surgery.
The study consisted of three cohorts comparing HTX-011 nerve block to the standard dose of bupivacaine 50 mg, administered as a nerve block, and placebo, and a final cohort comparing both HTX-011 400 mg administered by instillation and HTX-011 400 mg administered as a nerve block to the same two control groups.
A total of 243 patients were enrolled.
The primary endpoint was pain intensity as measured by the AUC from 0 to 24 hours post-surgery compared to placebo. The primary endpoint of the study was achieved.
HRTX closed at $30.70. it last traded at $40.00


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Incyte says REACH1 trial met primary endpoint

Incyte says REACH1 trial met primary endpoint of ORR for Ruxolitinib

Incyte says REACH1 trial met primary endpoint, Stockwinners
Incyte says REACH1 trial met primary endpoint, Stockwinners

Incyte (INCY) announced positive topline results from its ongoing pivotal Phase 2 REACH1 trial evaluating ruxolitinib, or Jakafi, in combination with corticosteroids for the treatment of patients with steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease.

The study met its primary endpoint, demonstrating an overall response rate of 55% at Day 28.

In addition, the best overall response rate , the number of patients achieving a response at any time point during the study, was 73%.

The most common treatment-emergent adverse events of any grade were anemia, thrombocytopenia and neutropenia.

Based on these data from REACH1, Incyte plans to file a Supplemental New Drug Application for the approval of ruxolitinib for the treatment of steroid-refractory acute GVHD with the U.S. FDA during the third quarter of 2018.

“The results of the REACH1 study demonstrate the potential of ruxolitinib to meaningfully improve the outcomes of allogeneic transplant patients who develop steroid-refractory acute GVHD and further underscore the promise of JAK inhibition to advance the treatment of this potentially-devastating condition,” said Steven Stein, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Incyte.

“We look forward to sharing additional results from this study with the medical community, and to working with U.S. regulatory authorities to submit our supplementary new drug application seeking approval of ruxolitinib in this indication later this year.”

INCY closed at $73.43, it last traded at $74.65.


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Tesaro could be sold shortly

Analysts weigh in on Tesaro buyout value amid report of Roche interest 

 

Tesaro could be sold soon, Stockwinners
Tesaro could be sold soon, Stockwinners

According to a report by Intereconomia, Roche (RHHBY) is working with Citibank on a potential acquisition of Tesaro (TSRO).

While both companies are not commenting on the article, Citi analyst Robyn Karnauskas said Tesaro could be valued at $140-$213 per share in an M&A situation, while her peer at Suntrust sees a potential buyout value range of $109-$196.

INTERECONOMIA REPORT

Spanish media group Intereconomia reported that Roche, following its acquisition of Foundation Medicine (FMI) (see our blog here), is working with Citibank on a potential deal to buy Tesaro.

Earlier this month Tesaro entered into a clinical collaboration with Roche unit Genentech to evaluate the combination of the PD-L1 antibody atezolizumab.

Intereconomia, citing sources close to the situation, added that Roche could announce the acquisition of Tesaro in the coming days.

Tesaro said it does not “comment on market rumors,” while Roche gave a similar answer to Bloomberg.

TESARO TAKEOUT VALUE

In a research note to investors this morning, Citi’s Karnauskas said that her M&A analysis for Tesaro suggests the company could be valued at $140-$213 per share in a takeover scenario.

Karnauskas noted, however, that she does not assign any value to Zeluja expansion opportunities in platinum resistant ovarian cancer and metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer.

The analyst reiterated a Buy rating and $100 price target on Tesaro shares.

Meanwhile, SunTrust analyst Peter Lawson told investors that his takeover analysis suggests a potential buyout value of $153 per share for Tesaro, with a range of $109-$196.

The analyst argued that Intereconomia’s report could also be a potential positive for the biotechnology space, mainly Clovis Oncology (CLVS) and oncology peers.

Lawson reiterated a Buy rating and $150 price target on Tesaro’s shares.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday afternoon trading, shares of Tesaro have gained almost 15% to $45.92, while Roche’s stock has advanced over 2% to $27.11 and Clovis shares are up 5% to $48.10.


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Rent-A-Center sold for $1.365 billion

Rent-A-Center to be acquired by Vintage Capital for $15 per share in cash

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Rent-A-Center sold for $1.365 billion

Rent-A-Center (RCII) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Vintage Rodeo Parent, LLC, an affiliate of Vintage Capital Management, LLC, pursuant to which Vintage will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Rent-A-Center common stock for $15.00 per share in cash.

The transaction, which is not subject to a financing condition, and is expected to close by the end of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions including the receipt of stockholder and regulatory approvals, represents a total consideration of approximately $1.365B, including net debt.

Under the terms of the Merger Agreement, Rent-A-Center stockholders will receive $15.00 in cash for each share of Rent-A-Center common stock, which represents a premium of approximately 49 percent over the Company’s closing stock price on October 30, 2017, immediately prior to the announcement that the Company’s Board of Directors initiated a process to evaluate strategic and financial alternatives focused on maximizing stockholder value.

The Rent-A-Center Board has unanimously approved the transaction and recommends that stockholders vote in favor of the transaction.

Upon completion of the transaction, Rent-A-Center will become a privately held company and its common shares will no longer be listed on any public market.

“The Rent-A-Center Board, having just completed a comprehensive review of strategic and financial alternatives in consultation with outside legal and financial advisors, unanimously supports this transaction and is confident it maximizes value for stockholders while delivering a significant and immediate cash premium,” said Mitch Fadel, CEO of Rent-A-Center.

RCII closed at $12.03.


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Bluebird Bio reports data from Phase 1 HGB-206

Bluebird Bio reports interim data from Phase 1 HGB-206 study of LentiGlobin

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Bluebird Bio reports interim data from Phase 1 HGB-206 study of LentiGlobin

bluebird bio (BLUE) announced new interim data from the ongoing HGB-206 Phase 1 multicenter clinical study of LentiGlobin investigational gene therapy in patients with severe sickle cell disease will be presented in an oral presentation on Saturday, June 16 at the 23rd Congress of the European Hematology Association by Julie Kanter, M.D., Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.

“The consistent production of increased amounts of anti-sickling HbAT87Q in the Group C patients reflects the substantial positive impact of the changes introduced with the amended HGB-206 study protocol and refined manufacturing process.

All four Group C patients with greater than or equal to three months follow-up are making over 30 percent anti-sickling HbAT87Q.

The first patient treated, now with six months of follow-up, is producing over 60 percent anti-sickling HbAT87Q with a normal total hemoglobin level of 14.2 g/dL,” said David Davidson, M.D., chief medical officer, bluebird bio.

“The upward trajectory in Group C at these early time points suggests the potential for these patients to exceed the initially proposed therapeutic target of 30 percent anti-sickling HbAT87Q. We continue to define the development plan with regulatory authorities, and with further follow-up, we hope to see even higher levels of HbAT87Q, as well as sustained clinical benefit for patients.”

“The early data from Group C patients are very exciting and provide increasing confidence that LentiGlobin has the potential to deliver transformative benefit to patients. The longer-term data from patients treated earlier in the study show that levels of anti-sickling HbAT87Q in patients with SCD treated with LentiGlobin remain stable for at least two years,” said Dr. Kanter, a lead investigator of the HGB-206 study.

“Treatment options that can address the underlying cause of sickle cell disease are limited and LentiGlobin gene therapy has the potential to prevent or substantially reduce damaging symptoms associated with this debilitating disease.”

Separately, bluebird bio announced that new data from the completed Phase 1/2 Northstar (HGB-204) study in adolescents and adults with transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia and any genotype, and its ongoing, Phase 3 Northstar-2 (HGB-207) multicenter clinical study of LentiGlobin investigational gene therapy in patients with TDT and non-beta0/beta0 genotypes, will be presented in an oral session on June 16 at the 23rd Annual Congress of the European Hematology Association by Franco Locatelli, M.D., Ph.D., of the IRCCS Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesu of Rome, Italy.

“The maturing data from HGB-204 and HGB-207 suggest that one-time treatment with LentiGlobin may address the underlying genetic cause of TDT.

With our refined manufacturing process, the majority of patients with TDT and non-beta0/beta0 genotypes are transfusion-free and producing total hemoglobin at normal or near-normal levels,” said David Davidson, M.D., chief medical officer, bluebird bio.

“We are on track to submit a marketing authorization application in the European Union later this year, and we continue to work closely with clinical investigators and regulatory authorities to complete our ongoing clinical trials and bring this important treatment option to patients as soon as possible.”

“Consistently higher in vivo vector copy numbers and HbAT87Q hemoglobin levels in patients indicate that LentiGlobin manufacturing refinements have resulted in improved gene therapy characteristics and may enable sustained transfusion independence for a great majority of patients,” said Professor Locatelli, the lead investigator of the Northstar-2 study.

“Further, we are now seeing more than three years of data from the Northstar study indicating that LentiGlobin therapy may enable long-term transfusion independence in the majority of patients with non-beta0/beta0 genotypes.

These results hold the promise to change the natural history of many patients with this severe genetic disorder of hemoglobin production.”

BLUE closed at $197.00. It last traded at $204.65.


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Loxo Oncology shares higher on data

Loxo announces positive interim data from LOXO-292 dose escalation trial

Loxo Oncology presents positive data  at ASCO meeting

Loxo Oncology (LOXO) announced interim clinical data from the LOXO-292 global Phase 1 LIBRETTO-001 dose escalation trial.

LOXO-292 is an investigational, highly potent and selective RET inhibitor.

Resonance Energy Transfer (RET),  is a mechanism describing energy transfer between two chromophores.

These data are being presented at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

The LIBRETTO-001 Phase 1 trial contains a dose escalation phase and a dose expansion phase. The dose escalation phase follows a “3+3” design.

LOXO-292 is dosed orally in 28-day cycles. As dose cohorts are cleared, additional patients can enroll in these cleared cohorts.

Intra-patient dose escalation is also permitted as dose cohorts are cleared.

The primary endpoint of the trial is the determination of the maximum tolerated dose or recommended dose for further study.

Secondary endpoints include safety, overall response rate and duration of response. The dose expansion phase is designed to further characterize the overall response rate, durability of response, and safety of LOXO-292 in predefined groups of patients with activating RET alterations.

The data presented at ASCO were based on an April 2, 2018 data cut-off date.

Eighty-two total patients had been enrolled to eight dose escalation cohorts.

Pharmacokinetic analyses during the dose escalation demonstrated dose-dependent increases in LOXO-292 exposure with increasing dose.

Starting at the 40 mg BID dose and the 80 mg BID dose, respectively, LOXO-292 delivered sustained greater thanIC90 RET fusion and greater thanIC90 RET M918T-mutant target coverage, based on cell-based potencies.

Most treatment-emergent adverse events were Grade 1 in severity. The expansion cohorts of the LIBRETTO-001 trial are now open and enrolling at the 160 mg BID dose. This dose was selected for initial expansion based on its promising activity and tolerability profile.

Additional dose exploration above 160 mg BID is ongoing and patients enrolled to the expansion cohorts may dose escalate should a higher dose be advanced.

ANALYST COMMENTS

Citi analyst Yigal Nochomovitz raised his price target for Loxo Oncology to $235 saying the company is the “star of ASCO.” The analyst now believes LOXO-292 has advanced into an advantageous competitive position in RET fusions. He expects the shares to continue to trade up and keeps a Buy rating on Loxo.

Morgan Stanley analyst Matthew Harrison said he expects Loxo Oncology shares to trade near $200 in the wake of data on LOXO-292 presented at the ASCO meeting that he said “sets a high bar for competitors.” The data positions LOXO-292 to rapidly advance to registration, said Harrison, who raised his market share estimate for LOXO-292 to 70% from 60%, increased his LOXO-292 peak sales estimate to $1B from $700M, and lowered his risk-adjustment, all of which drove his price target on Loxo shares to $215 from $170. He maintains an Overweight rating on Loxo Oncology, which is up 13% to $210.50 in pre-market trading.

JMP Securities analyst Konstantinos Aprilakis said the Phase 1 study data presented on LOXO-292 in patients with RET-altered cancers at the ASCO meeting came in “far above expectations” with respect to both efficacy and safety. Citing the overall response rate in RET fusion cancers of 77%, Aprilakis called the efficacy data “exceedingly impressive” and increased his price target on Loxo Oncology to $221 from $182 following the presentation. Aprilakis maintains his Outperform rating on Loxo shares.


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