Axsome shares soar on its depression drug

Axsome Therapeutics: AXS-05 achieves primary endpoint in Phase 3 trial, Shares jump 77%

Axsome Therapeutics (AXSM) announced that AXS-05, a novel, oral, investigational NMDA receptor antagonist with multimodal activity, met the primary endpoint and rapidly and significantly improved symptoms of depression in the GEMINI Phase 3 trial in major depressive disorder.

Axsome Therapeutics shares soar on its Gemini depression drug study, Stockwinners

The GEMINI study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center, U.S. trial, in which 327 adult patients with confirmed moderate to severe MDD were randomized to treatment with either AXS-05 or placebo once daily for the first 3 days and twice daily thereafter for a total of 6 weeks.

AXS-05 met the primary endpoint by demonstrating a highly statistically significant reduction in the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale total score compared to placebo at Week 6, with mean reductions from baseline of 16.6 points for AXS-05 and 11.9 points for placebo.

AXS-05 rapidly and durably improved depressive symptoms as compared to placebo with statistical significance on the MADRS total score demonstrated at Week 1, the earliest time point assessed, and at all time points thereafter.

Rates of remission from depression were statistically significantly greater for AXS-05 compared to placebo at Week 2 and at every time point thereafter, being achieved by 39.5% of AXS-05 patients compared to 17.3% of placebo patients at Week 6.

AXS-05 demonstrated rapid onset of action with statistically significant improvement as compared to placebo on numerous endpoints at Week 1, or only 4 days after the start of twice daily dosing.

Statistically significant improvements at Week 1 were observed for MADRS total score; Patient Global Impression-Improvement; Clinical Global Impression-Severity; Clinical Global Impression-Improvement; Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self-Rated; Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire-Short Form; and other endpoints.

On all secondary endpoints including the following, AXS-05 demonstrated statistically significant improvement at Week 6 compared to placebo, reflecting increasing treatment effects over time: clinical response on the MADRS total score; PGI-I; CGI-S; CGI-I; QIDS-SR-16; Sheehan Disability Scale; and Q-LES-Q-SF.

AXSM is up 77% to $82.66.

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Felix Energy sold for $2.5 billion

WPX Energy acquires Felix Energy for $2.5B

WPX Energy (WPX) “is taking another significant step in its commitment to delivering shareholder value” with the $2.5B purchase of Felix Energy, “one of the highest quality Delaware Basin operators.”

Felix has approximately 1,500 gross undeveloped locations in the eastern portion of the basin, with expected production of approximately 60 MBoe/d (70% oil) at the time of anticipated closing. WPX plans to implement a dividend post-closing, targeting approximately $0.10 per share on an annualized basis at initiation.

WPX buys Felix Energy for $2.5B, Stockwinners

WPX Energy, Inc., an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company, engages in the exploitation and development of unconventional properties in the United States. The company operates 657 wells and owns interests in 808 wells covering an area of approximately 130,000 net acres located in Delaware Basin, Texas and New Mexico; and operates 323 wells and owns interests in 87 wells that covers an area of approximately 85,087 net acres situated in the Williston Basin, North Dakota. 

Felix Energy sold for $2.5B, Stockwinners

The acquisition and dividend program follow other steps WPX took in 2019 to enhance its value proposition, including reducing net debt, executing attractive midstream monetizations, launching a share buyback program and generating free cash flow.

The purchase price consists of $900M cash, subject to closing adjustments, and $1.6B in WPX stock issued to the seller.

WPX plans to fund the cash portion through issuance of $900M of senior notes on an opportunistic basis.

WPX also has obtained committed financing from Barclays in connection with the transaction and has full access to a $1.5B revolving credit facility.

The stock consideration comprises approximately 153M WPX shares, which is based on the 10-day volume-weighted average price as of Dec. 13.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and approval by WPX shareholders. The parties anticipate closing the transaction early in the second quarter of 2020.

WPX’s board unanimously approved the transaction.

The acquisition is consistent with all of the tenets in WPX’s five-year vision for shareholders that the company introduced in November during its third-quarter report.

On a pro forma basis, WPX expects to generate significant free cash flow in 2020 at $50 oil.

Following the acquisition, cash flow per share, EPS, free cash flow per share, return on capital employed, and cash margins are all expected to increase.

WPX also expects to continue its opportunistic share buybacks, to implement the previously mentioned dividend program, and to reduce its leverage to 1.0x by year-end 2021.

WPX based all of its transaction economics on $50 oil, with no assumptions for improvements in development costs or operating efficiencies. However, WPX believes significant upside exists by capturing synergies associated with scale.

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Synthorx sold for $2.5 billion

Sanofi to acquire Synthorx for $68 per share in cash

Sanofi (SNY) and Synthorx (THOR) entered into a definitive agreement under which Sanofi will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Synthorx for $68 per share in cash, which represents an aggregate equity value of approximately $2.5B, on a fully diluted basis.

Synthorx sold for $2.5 billion, Stockwinners

The transaction was unanimously approved by both the Sanofi and Synthorx boards.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Sanofi will commence a cash tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Synthorx common stock for $68 per share in cash.

The $68 per share acquisition price represents a 172% premium to Synthorx’s closing price on December 6.

Following the successful completion of the tender offer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sanofi will merge with Synthorx and the outstanding Synthorx shares not tendered in the tender offer will be converted into the right to receive the same $68 per share in cash paid in the tender offer.

The tender offer is expected to commence in December.

Sanofi plans to finance the transaction with cash on hand. Subject to the satisfaction or waiver of customary closing conditions, Sanofi expects to complete the acquisition in the first quarter of 2020.

“Synthorx’s Expanded Genetic Alphabet platform is expected to be a source for developing a differentiated therapeutic pipeline. Alone and in combination with other existing Sanofi platforms, including the Nanobody technology, it will enable the company to develop a wide range of novel biologics, including drug conjugates, protein fusions, and multi-specific biologics, with applications beyond oncology and extending to other therapeutic areas… The addition of THOR-707 and Synthorx’s other earlier-stage cytokine programs to Sanofi’s pipeline will enhance Sanofi’s position in oncology, and in immuno-oncology. We expect IL-2 to become a foundation of future IO-IO combinations as well as offering multiple combination opportunities with Sanofi’s clinical and pre-clinical oncology assets, including with PD-1, CD-38, and molecules that modulate effector T-cells and natural killer cells.”

THOR closed at $25.04, it last traded at $67.43. SNY closed at $46.03.

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Truck sales decline in November

Classes 5-8 truck orders soften in November amid trade and tariff worries

Truck sales downturn could be canary in the coal mine

There are eight classes of commercial motor vehicles in the United States, and they’re divided into three, more general categories: light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty. Commercial motor vehicles or trucks that operate on U.S. highways can be classified based on their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).

ACT Research said in an earlier report:

“Preliminary November data show that Classes 5-8 net order volumes were uniformly soft. Combined NA Classes 5-8 intake fell 15% m/m and 38% y/y in November on a nominal basis. Preliminary North America Class 8 net order data show the industry booked 17,500 units in November, down 20% from October, while Classes 5-7 orders fell 8% m/m, to 15,300 units.

Complete industry data for November, including final order numbers, will be published by ACT Research in mid-December.

Various Classes of Vehicles, Stockwinners

ACT’s State of the Industry:

Classes 5-8 report provides a monthly look at the current production, sales, and general state of the on-road heavy and medium duty commercial vehicle markets in North America. It differentiates market indicators by Class 5, Classes 6-7 chassis and Class 8 trucks and tractors, detailing measures such as backlog, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders, and retail sales.

Additionally, Class 5 and Classes 6-7 are segmented by trucks, buses, RVs, and step van configurations, while Class 8 is segmented by trucks and tractors with and without sleeper cabs.

This report includes a six-month industry build plan, backlog timing analysis, historical data from 1996 to the present in spreadsheet format, and a ready-to-use graph package.

A first-look at preliminary net orders is also published in conjunction with this report.

“Preliminary November data show that Class 8 net orders failed to sustain October’s encouraging start to the order season,” said Tim Denoyer, ACT’s Vice President and Senior Analyst.

He continued, “The freight market downturn worsened in the past month and uncertainty surrounding trade and tariffs continue to weigh on truck buyers’ psyches. With rising pressure on carrier profits from the combined impact of lower rates and the recent, rather sudden jump in insurance premia, recent events have not developed in the industry’s favor.” Denoyer concluded,

“While private fleets continue to add capacity on the retail end, the market is increasingly heeding for-hire price signals and the stage is being set to right-size the fleet, bringing it closer to equilibrium with the work to be done.”

Historically, Dow Jones Transports have sold off prior to the rest of the market. The .djt has turned bearish as is shown above.

Publicly traded companies in the space include ArcBest (ARCB), J.B. Hunt (JBHT), Knight-Swift (KNX), Old Dominion (ODFL), Swift Transportation (SWFT), Werner (WERN), Paccar (PCAR), Navistar (NAV)and Cummins (CMI).

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Audentes Therapeutics sold for $3 billion

Astellas to acquire Audentes for $60 per share in cash

Astellas Pharma (ALPMY) and Audentes Therapeutics (BOLD) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Astellas to acquire Audentes at a price of $60.00 per share in cash, representing a total equity value of approximately $3B.

Under the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Astellas and Audentes, Astellas will acquire Audentes through Asilomar Acquisition Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Astellas US Holding, Inc.

Gene Therapy pays off nicely for Audentes Therapeutics, Stockwinners

Asilomar will commence a tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock of Audentes, for a price of $60.00 per share in cash.

Promptly upon successful completion of the Tender Offer, Asilomar will be merged into Audentes, and any remaining shares of common stock of Audentes will be canceled and converted into the right to receive the same $60.00 per share price.

Astellas pays $3 billion for Audentes Therapeutics, Stockwinners

The board of directors of Audentes has resolved to recommend that Audentes stockholders tender their shares to Astellas. Consummation of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including US antitrust clearance and the tender of a majority of Audentes’ outstanding shares of common stock.

The offer price represents a premium of 110% to Audentes’ closing share price of $28.61 on December 2, 2019.

The all-cash transaction is valued at approximately $3B including the purchase of all common shares, options, restricted stock units and other securities.

The Tender Offer period is expected to commence in the next few weeks and to expire 20 business days after its commencement, unless otherwise extended.

If the Tender Offer conditions are not satisfied, Astellas may be required to extend the Tender Offer under certain circumstances. Astellas is still reviewing the impact of a consummation of the transaction on its financial results for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.

Audentes Therapeutics, Inc. focuses on developing and commercializing gene therapy products for patients living with serious, life-threatening rare diseases caused by single gene defects.

The company is developing AT132, which is in Phase I/II clinical studies for the treatment of X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM); AT342 that is in Phase I/II clinical studies to treat crigler-najjar syndrome; AT845, which is in preclinical studies for the treatment of pompe disease; and AT307 to treat CASQ2 subtype of catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia. 

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The Medicines Co. sold for $9.7B

Novartis to pay $85 per share in cash for each MDCO share

The Medicines Company (MDCO) announced that it has entered into definitive agreement in which Novartis (NVS) will acquire the company for $85 per share in an all-cash transaction, implying a fully diluted equity value of $9.7B.

Novartis to pay $85 per share in cash for each MDCO share, Stockwinners

The stock closed Friday down $1.21 to $68.55. See our previous blog post.

The purchase price represents a premium of approximately 45% to The Medicines Company’s closing share price of $58.65 on November 18, the last trading day prior to news reports of a potential transaction between The Medicines Company and Novartis.

Novartis receives positive CHMP opinion for Kymriah, Stockwinners
Novartis to pay $85 per share in cash for each MDCO share, Stockwinners , Stockwinners

The transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Novartis will commence a tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of The Medicines Company for $85 per share in cash.

Following the completion of the tender offer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Novartis will merge with The Medicines Company and shares of The Medicines Company that have not been tendered and purchased in the tender offer will be converted into the right to receive the same price per share.

Completion of the transaction is expected in Q1 of 2020, pending the successful completion of the tender offer and other customary closing conditions.

Until that time, The Medicines Company will continue to operate as a separate and independent company. The company expects to file regulatory submissions for inclisiran in the U.S. in Q4 of 2019 and in Europe in the first quarter of 2020.

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CRISPR Therapeutics sharply higher on gene editing data

Crispr, Vertex announce interim data from first two patients treated with CTX001

CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (VRTX) announced positive, interim data from the first two patients with severe hemoglobinopathies treated with the investigational CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing therapy CTX001 in ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trials.

Gene Editing shows promises in treating patients, Stockwinners

One patient with transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia received CTX001 in the first quarter of 2019 and data for this patient reflect nine months of safety and efficacy follow-up.

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Vertex and CRISPR report positive data, Stockwinners

One patient with severe sickle cell disease received CTX001 in mid-2019 and data for this patient reflect four months of safety and efficacy follow-up.

These studies are ongoing and patients will be followed for approximately two years following infusion.

Several additional patients have been enrolled and have had drug product manufactured across the two studies.

The patient with TDT has the beta0/IVS-I-110 genotype and required 16.5 transfusions per year before enrolling in the clinical study. The patient achieved neutrophil engraftment 33 days after CTX001 infusion and platelet engraftment 37 days after infusion.

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Two serious adverse events occurred, neither of which the principal investigator considered related to CTX001: pneumonia in the presence of neutropenia and veno-occlusive liver disease attributed to busulfan conditioning; both subsequently resolved.

At nine months after CTX001 infusion, the patient was transfusion independent and had total hemoglobin levels of 11.9 g/dL, 10.1 g/dL fetal hemoglobin, and 99.8% F-cells.

The patient with SCD experienced seven vaso-occlusive crises per year before enrolling in the clinical study. The patient achieved neutrophil and platelet engraftment 30 days after CTX001 infusion.

Three SAEs occurred, none of which the PI considered related to CTX001: sepsis in the presence of neutropenia, cholelithiasis, and abdominal pain, all of which resolved.

At four months after CTX001 infusion, the patient was free of VOCs and had total hemoglobin levels of 11.3 g/dL, 46.6% fetal hemoglobin, and 94.7% F-cells.

William Blair

The firm upgrades Crispr Therapeutics to Outperform after ‘impressive’ data .

William Blair analyst Raju Prasad upgraded Crispr Therapeutics to Outperform from Market Perform after the company presented initial results from the ongoing Phase I/II trials of CTX001 for the treatment of beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease.

The analyst says today’s data cut was “impressive” as it exceeds the 30% fetal hemoglobin threshold that he viewed as critical.

To date, Crispr has shown initial proof-of-concept in beta thalassemia and sickle cell that exceeded expectations and de-risks its wholly owned immuno-oncology platform, Prasad tells investors in a research note. Further, given the “optionality” of the CRISPR-Cas9 platform and potential cost-effectiveness when compared with lentiviral-based therapies, Crispr could be a potential takeout candidate, adds the analyst.

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Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs analyst Salveen Richter raised his 12-month price target for Crispr Therapeutics (CRSP) to $75 from $52 while keeping a Neutral rating on the shares.

The first clinical results from the ongoing CTX001 trial impress, Richter tells investors in a research note. The analyst, who cautions the data represents small patient numbers, is “highly encouraged” with the profile of CTX001 and sees today’s positive data as initial validation of Crispr’s ex-vivo gene editing platform.

Roth Capital

Roth Capital analyst Tony Butler raised his price target for Crispr Therapeutics to $100 from $65 and maintained a Buy rating after the company and partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) announced the first CTX001 early clinical data in two patients.

In a research note to investors, Butler says that though only two patients have been treated with CTX001, these data provide a hint that CRISPR-Cas9 could be curative for hemoglobinopathies, adding that gene-editing is “clearly not a fiction.”

The results utilizing gene-editing with CRISPR-Cas9 to create allogenic CAR-T cells against various cancers may also increase its probability of success based on successful editing in the CLIMB trials, he said.

Cantor Fitzgerald

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Alethia Young raised her price target for Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) to $229 from $217 after the company and partner Crispr Therapeutics (CRSP) announced the first CTX001 early clinical data in two patients.

The analyst finds the data “highly encouraging” and thinks this could be an “exciting pipeline program of focus for Vertex by this time next year.” She increased her probability of success for CTX001 to 20% from 10% and reiterates an Overweight rating on shares of Vertex.

Piper Jaffray

Piper Jaffray analyst Edward Tenthoff raised his price target for Crispr Therapeutics (CRSP) to $107 from $100 after the company and partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) reported first-ever CTX001 data on one beta thalassemia and one sickle cell disease patient. Tenthoff is “impressed by these early results showing potential curative effect and look for more patients and longer follow-up next year.” He reiterates an Overweight rating on Crispr Therapeutics.

CRSP is up $10 to $68.55. VRTX is up $5.07 to $215.07

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Medicines Co. is in play

Novartis holds talks about potential acquisition of Medicines Co

Medicines Co. (MDCO) has attracted takeover interest from companies including Novartis (NVS), which has been holding talks about a potential acquisition of the New Jersey-based company, Bloomberg’s Ed Hammond, Nabila Ahmed and Dinesh Nair report, citing people familiar with the matter.

Novartis is eyeing Medicines Co., Stockwinners

According to the people, Novartis is conducting due diligence on Medicines Co. Other potential acquirers have also expressed interest in buying Medicines Co., they add.

Novartis is looking for products to replace its out of patent products, Stockwinners

The Medicines Company focuses on developing therapeutics for the treatment of therosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The company is developing Inclisiran, an investigational RNA interference therapeutic that inhibits production of proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9, which controls LDL-cholesterol levels.

Novartis has historically had a strong cardiovascular drug franchise, but lost ground when Diovan, once a $6 billion-per-year seller, lost patent protection in 2012 and left the company without an immediate, innovative follow-up product.

Novartis Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan has relied on deals to sharpen the company’s focus on innovative drugs for cancer and rare diseases. The Basel, Switzerland-based company has announced close to $16 billion of acquisitions since he took over as CEO in February 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He has also spun off the Alcon Inc. eye-care division and ditched a stake in a consumer-health venture.

Baird’s Comments

Baird analyst Madhu Kumar said he has utter conviction that The Medicine’s Co. inclisiran can disrupt cholesterol therapy. The analyst cited its results from the ORION-9/10/11 trial which was released and supported his thesis. He said the remaining question is whether the company can find an acquirer or partner to help launch inclisiran.

Kumar reiterated his Outperform rating and $100 price target on The Medicine’s Co. shares.

JPMorgan’s Take

JPMorgan analyst Jessica Fye noted that Bloomberg is reporting that Novartis (NVS) and other potential acquirers have expressed interest in buying The Medicines Company (MDCO), adding that her talks with investors indicate that Novartis is viewed as the most likely buyer.

She further notes that Medicines Co. shares were trading above her standalone valuation at yesterday’s close, which she attributes to some anticipation of a deal, and that today’s move puts the stock in a price range greater than 40% above her standalone target.

Outside of Novartis, Fye also believes an acquirer could be a less expected company, but if only one company is interested they could try to “wait it out” to the point where investors might begin to worry that Medicines could have to take on the substantial inclisiran launch investment independently. However, if multiple players are interested, as Bloomberg suggests, she thinks “competitive tension” could lead to a near-term acquisition.

MDCO is up $12.35 to $71.00.

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BeiGene drug wins FDA approval for rare form of lymphoma

The FDA granted accelerated approval to the capsules for treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma, who have received at least one prior therapy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved BeiGene Ltd’s lymphoma drug, accepting the Chinese drugmaker’s strategy of largely using data from trials held outside the United States to file for approval.

FDA granted accelerated approval to the capsules for treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma
FDA granted approval to the capsules for treatment of aduls with mantle cell lymphoma, Stockwinners

The company tested the treatment, Brukinsa, in 118 patients with mantle cell lymphoma enrolled in two studies. About three-quarters were Asian, 21% Caucasian, and between 10% to 15% were from the United States, BeiGene said.

The FDA granted accelerated approval to the capsules for treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma, who have received at least one prior therapy.

Mantle cell lymphoma is a rare, aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer that most often affects men aged over 60. The company estimates between 3,000 and 4,000 new patients were diagnosed in the United States in 2015.

Last month, BeiGene (BGNE) and Amgen (AMGN) announced a global strategic oncology collaboration for the commercialization and development in China of Amgen’s XGEVA, KYPROLIS, and BLINCYTO, and the joint global development of 20 oncology assets in Amgen’s pipeline, with BeiGene responsible for development and commercialization in China.

In connection with the collaboration, Amgen said it will purchase a 20.5% stake in BeiGene for approximately $2.7B in cash at $174.85 per American Depositary Share, or ADS.

BGNE closed at $196.40.

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Tech Data sold for $5.4 billion

Tech Data to be acquired by Apollo Global for $130 per share in cash

Tech Data (TECD) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management (APO).

Tech Data is taken private at $130 per share, Stockwinners

Through the agreement, the affiliate of the Apollo Funds will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Tech Data common stock for $130 per share in a transaction with an enterprise value of approximately $5.4B.

Apollo buys Tech Data for $5.4B, Stockwinners

The purchase price represents a 24.5% premium to the unaffected 30-day volume weighted average closing share price of Tech Data’s common stock ended October 15, the last trading day prior to published market speculation regarding a potential transaction involving the company.

The Tech Data Board of Directors has unanimously approved the transaction and recommends that Tech Data shareholders vote in favor of the transaction.

The transaction is not subject to a financing condition and is expected to close in the first half of calendar year 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions including expiration or termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, foreign regulatory approvals and approval by the holders of a majority of the outstanding Tech Data shares.

Tech Data expects to hold a Special Meeting of Shareholders to consider and vote on the transaction agreement as soon as feasible after the mailing of the proxy statement to shareholders.

Consistent with the Board’s commitment to maximizing shareholder value, the terms of the agreement provide that Tech Data will be permitted to actively solicit alternative acquisition proposals from third parties during a “go-shop” period from the date of the agreement until December 9.

There is no guarantee that this process will result in a superior proposal. Following the close of the transaction, Rich Hume will continue to lead Tech Data as CEO, and the company will continue to be headquartered in Clearwater, Florida.

Tech Data will become a privately held company, and Tech Data’s common shares will no longer be publicly listed.

Tech Data Corporation operates as an IT distribution and solutions company. The company offers endpoint portfolio solutions, including personal computer systems, mobile phones and accessories, printers, peripherals, supplies, endpoint technology software, and consumer electronics. It also provides advanced portfolio solutions, such as data center technologies comprising storage, networking, servers, advanced technology software, and converged and hyper-converged infrastructure, as well as specialized solutions. 

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Esperion Therapeutics higher on cholesterol data

Esperion announces JAMA publication of results of Phase 3 study of bempedoic acid

Esperion Therapeutics (ESPR) announce that the results from the 779 patient, 52 week, Phase 3, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study of bempedoic acid were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Esperion announces 'positive' top-line results from bempedoic acid study, Stockwinners.com
Esperion announces ‘positive’ results from bempedoic acid study, Stockwinners

Bempedoic acid is being developed as a, convenient, once-daily, oral therapy for the treatment of patients with elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol added onto maximally tolerated statin therapy.

Bempedoic acid and the bempedoic acid 180 mg + ezetimibe 10 mg fixed dose combination tablets’ new drug applications are currently under regulatory review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the marketing authorisation applications are currently under centralized review by the European Medicines Agency.

Bempedoic acid in action, Stockwinners

Study 2 evaluated the long-term safety, tolerability and efficacy, of bempedoic acid 180 mg versus placebo in 779 patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and/or heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia inadequately controlled with current lipid-modifying therapies, added-on to maximally tolerated statin therapy, which may mean no statin at all.

The JAMA publication includes results from the primary efficacy endpoint of LDL-C lowering at 12-weeks and key secondary endpoints of safety and tolerability over 52-weeks, including that bempedoic acid: significantly lowered LDL-cholesterol by 17 percent on background maximally tolerated statin therapy at 12 weeks, and the effect was durable through 52-weeks; significantly lowered high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, an important marker of the underlying inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease, by 19 percent, and the effect was durable through 52-weeks; reduced hemoglobin A1c by 0.21% vs. placebo in patients with diabetes at 12 weeks, favorable glycemic control and less worsening of diabetes persisted over the 52-week treatment period.

The study showed overall adverse event rates comparable with placebo at 52 weeks, and the proportion of patients with reported serious adverse events was similar compared with placebo at 52 weeks; and showed adjudicated 3-component major adverse cardiac event rates of 2.7% with BA and 4.7% with placebo.

“The CLEAR Wisdom trial demonstrated that bempedoic acid provided additional LDL-cholesterol lowering in patients on background maximally tolerated statin therapy and had an overall adverse event profile that was comparable to placebo,” said Anne C. Goldberg MD, FACP, FAHA, FNLA, Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research at Washington University, St. Louis and lead study author.

ESPR +$2.42 to $41.14.

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Nektar Therapeutics is in focus

Nektar presents new clinical, preclinical data from immuno-oncology pipeline

Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced the presentation of five clinical and preclinical data abstracts focused on its immuno-oncology portfolio at the 2019 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Annual Meeting.

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Nektar Therapeutics is in focus, Stockwinners

New clinical results from the PIVOT-02 Phase 1/2 study were shared in an oral presentation titled, “Clinical activity of BEMPEG plus NIVO in previously untreated patients with metastatic melanoma: updated results from the Phase 1/2 PIVOT-02 Study” during the Combination Phase 1-2 Clinical Trials Session on Saturday, November 9th.

Additional preclinical data presented at the annual meeting highlighted NKTR-255, an IL-15 agonist discovered by Nektar.

The presentations demonstrated that NKTR-255 enhanced activity of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity against tumor cells in vitro, and that it also enhanced in vivo efficacy of ADCC-inducing antibodies in models of human solid tumors.

NKTR-255 is designed to engage the IL-15 pathway to stimulate and expand natural killer cells and promote the survival and expansion of memory CD8+ T cells without inducing suppressive regulatory T cells.

Nektar product pipeline, Stockwinners

NKTR-255 is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in patients with either relapsed or refractory Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or multiple myeloma.

“The data presented at this year’s SITC meeting continue to showcase the potential of our I-O portfolio, most notably our key IL-2 pathway program, bempeg, and our new IL-15 pathway program, NKTR-255,” said Jonathan Zalevsky, Ph.D., Chief Research & Development Officer at Nektar.

“The 18-month follow-up data presentation for the Stage IV melanoma patients in our PIVOT-02 study reinforces the promise of BEMPEG and NIVO to work synergistically to achieve a deepening of response over time, while maintaining a favorable safety and tolerability profile. We’re pleased that at this 18 month timepoint, 85% of patients who achieved responses have ongoing responses and median PFS has not yet been reached.”

Separately, Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced updated results from the first-in-human Phase 1a study of NKTR-358, a novel T regulatory cell stimulator in development for the treatment of autoimmune and other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Nektar reports new data, Stockwinners

The data, which were presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta, show that treatment with NKTR-358 led to a marked and selective dose-dependent expansion in the numbers and proliferative capacity of FoxP3+CD25bright Treg cells, and a measurable activation of Treg cells.

These data are a continuation of initial results reported at 2019 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in June 2019.

NKTR-358 is designed to treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions by correcting the immune system imbalance that results from reduced numbers and impaired function of immune-regulating Treg cells.

NKTR-358 works by targeting the interleukin-2 receptor complex to stimulate the proliferation and activation of Treg cells.

NKTR-358 was discovered by Nektar and is being co-developed and commercialized in partnership with Eli Lilly (LLY).

Eli Lilly announces Alimta label expanded by FDA, Stockwinners
Eli Lilly and Nektar report new data, Stockwinners

“We’re pleased to report that final results from our first-in-human Phase 1a study continue to support the positive safety and tolerability profile of NKTR-358, while reinforcing its selective and measurable impact on the numbers, expansion and activation of regulatory T cells or Tregs,” said Brian Kotzin, M.D., senior VP, Clinical Development and NKTR-358 Program Lead at Nektar.

“Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are marked by an imbalance in the body’s self-tolerance and self-regulatory immune pathways, and the ability of NKTR-358 to expand functional Tregs could help restore normal balance.

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Watch shares of ShockWave Medical

ShockWave Medical initiates study of coronary intravascular lithotripsy in Japan

Shockwave Medical (SWAV) announced that the company has initiated the DISRUPT CAD IV study of IVL in heavily calcified coronary arteries that is intended to support regulatory device approval in Japan.

Shockwave begins heart study in Japan, Stockwinners

The first CAD IV patient was enrolled earlier this week by the principal investigator of the study, Shigeru Saito, M.D., Director of Cardiology and Catheterization Laboratories and Vice President, Shonan Kamakura General Hospital.

DISRUPT CAD IV is a prospective, multicenter, single-arm study to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the Shockwave Coronary IVL System with the Shockwave C2 IVL Catheter in the treatment of de novo, calcified, stenotic, coronary arteries prior to stenting.

The study is expected to enroll up to 64 patients at 8 sites in Japan. Similar to the DISRUPT CAD III Study protocol, CAD IV will assess the absence of major adverse cardiac events within 30 days of the index procedure as the primary safety endpoint.

Shock Wave system, Stockwinners

The primary effectiveness endpoint is procedural success, defined as stent delivery with a residual stenosis less than 50 percent, and without in-hospital MACE.

Study enrollment is expected to be completed by June 2020, from which enrolled patients will be followed for two years. Coronary artery calcium physically impairs stent expansion and is perhaps the single most important predictor of early stent thrombosis and restenosis after stent procedures.ii, iii, iv Coronary IVL is a therapy designed to treat calcified artery blockages with sonic pressure waves historically used to treat patients with kidney stones.

The technology seeks to minimize trauma within the artery by delivering pulsatile sonic pressure waves locally to fracture both intimal and medial calcium in the artery wall but pass through surrounding soft vascular tissue in a safe manner.

Shockwave C2 Coronary IVL catheters are commercially available for the treatment of de novo coronary artery disease in Europe and other select countries; in Japan they are limited to investigational use within the DISRUPT CAD IV Study. In the United States they are limited to investigational use within the DISRUPT CAD III Study.

SWAV closed at $34.83.

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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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Epizyme jumps on $100M investment

Royalty Pharma to purchase future royalties on tazemetostat from Eisai

Royalty Pharma announced that it has agreed to pay $330M to purchase Eisai Co.’s (ESALY) royalties on future worldwide sales of tazemetostat, Epizyme’s (EPZM) lead investigational agent, outside of Japan, and made an equity investment in Epizyme of $100M, with options to invest up to an additional $100M in Epizyme common stock.

In addition, investment funds managed by Pharmakon Advisors agreed to provide $70M in senior-secured loans with the possibility to fund up to $370M over time.

Tazemetostat is a first-in-class, oral EZH2 inhibitor in clinical development for certain oncology indications, including epithelioid sarcoma and follicular lymphoma.

Epizyme receives a $100M investment, Stockwinners

Under a collaboration agreement between Epizyme and Eisai, Epizyme is responsible for the development and worldwide commercialization of tazemetostat (outside of Japan) and Eisai is responsible for the development and commercialization of tazemetostat in Japan.

As part of the agreement, Epizyme owes milestones and royalties on sales of tazemetostat outside of Japan to Eisai, and Eisai owes royalties on sales of tazemetostat in Japan to Epizyme.

Under the terms of its agreement with Eisai, Royalty Pharma has acquired Eisai’s future worldwide royalties on net sales by Epizyme of tazemetostat outside of Japan, for an upfront payment of $110M plus up to an additional $220M for the remainder of the royalty upon FDA approval of tazemetostat for certain indications.

Under the terms of its agreement with Epizyme, Royalty Pharma will make an upfront payment of $100M for shares of Epizyme common stock based on a price of $15 per share.

Royalty Pharma makes $100M investment in Epizyme, Stockwinners

Epizyme has an 18-month option to sell an additional $50M of its common stock to Royalty Pharma at then prevailing prices, not to exceed $20 per share, and Royalty Pharma has a three-year option to purchase an additional 2.5M shares of Epizyme common stock at $20 per share.

In addition, Royalty Pharma will make additional payments to Epizyme if annual net sales of tazemetostat outside of Japan exceed certain thresholds, and Epizyme has assigned to Royalty Pharma the future royalty streams on tazemetostat sales in Japan previously owed to Epizyme by Eisai.

Epizyme has also agreed to appoint a representative from Royalty Pharma to its board of directors. Under the terms of the loan agreement with Epizyme, investment funds managed by Pharmakon Advisors will fund $25M at closing and up to an additional $45M in two tranches.

In addition, the loan agreement contemplates the potential for an additional $300M, subject to mutual agreement of the parties. The loans will have a coupon of LIBOR + 7.75% and a 5-year maturity.

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