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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Dun & Bradstreet sold for $6.9 billion

Dun & Bradstreet to be acquired by investor group for $145 per share cash

Dun & Bradstreet sold for $6.9 billion, Stockwinners
Dun & Bradstreet sold for $6.9 billion, Stockwinners

Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by an investor group led by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings and funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P., along with a group of other distinguished investors.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by Dun & Bradstreet’s Board of Directors, Dun & Bradstreet shareholders will receive $145.00 in cash for each share of common stock they own, in a transaction valued at $6.9 billion including the assumption of $1.5 billion of Dun & Bradstreet’s net debt and net pension obligations.

The purchase price represents a premium of approximately 30% over Dun & Bradstreet’s closing share price of $111.63 on February 12, 2018, the last day of trading prior to Dun & Bradstreet’s announcement of a strategic review and an indication of its willingness to consider all options for value creation.

The transaction is expected to close within six months, subject to Dun & Bradstreet shareholder approval, regulatory clearances and other customary closing conditions.

The Dun & Bradstreet Board is unanimously recommending that shareholders vote to adopt the merger agreement at an upcoming special meeting of the shareholders.

Upon the completion of the transaction, Dun & Bradstreet will become a privately held company and shares of Dun & Bradstreet common stock will no longer be listed on any public market.

DNB closed at $122.80.


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BofI to acquire $3B of deposits from Nationwide Bank

BofI in pact to acquire $3B of deposits from Nationwide Bank, sees accretion

BofI to acquire $3B of deposits from Nationwide Bank, Stockwinners
BofI to acquire $3B of deposits from Nationwide Bank, Stockwinners

BofI Holding (BOFI), parent of BofI Federal Bank, announced that the Bank has signed a deposit purchase and assumption agreement with Nationwide Bank to acquire approximately $3B in deposits from Nationwide Bank, including $1B in checking, savings and money market accounts and $2B in time deposit accounts.

BofI and Nationwide Bank expect to receive regulatory approval and complete the deposit acquisition and transfer during the fourth quarter of 2018.

“We are excited to welcome Nationwide Bank’s nearly 100,000 deposit customers to BofI,” began Gregory Garrabrants, President and Chief Executive Officer of BofI Holding, Inc.

“Our track record of successfully completing similar transactions with Principal Bank and H&R Block provide us with a high degree of confidence that we will have a seamless transition.

We look forward to offering Nationwide Bank customers our full suite of consumer, commercial and small business banking products and services once the transaction closes.”

A deposit premium commensurate with the fair market value of the deposits purchased will be funded from excess capital at the Bank. The Company expects the transaction to be immediately accretive to earnings and tangible book value.

BOFI closed at $39.64.


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Shopify little changed after Q2 results

Analysts diverge on Shopify after quarterly results

Shopify little changed after Q2 results, Stockwinners
Shopify little changed after Q2 results, Stockwinners

Following the company’s second quarter results, Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson downgraded Shopify (SHOP) to Neutral saying the quarter was “not good enough” and the stock’s valuation fairly reflects current business trends.

Meanwhile, his peers at Baird and Canaccord both reiterated buy-equivalent ratings and raised their price targets on the shares following what they view as a “solid” quarter.

RESULTS

Shopify reported second quarter adjusted earnings per share of 2c and revenue of $245M, above consensus of (3c) and $234.64M, respectively.

GMV for the second quarter was $9.1B, an increase of 56% over the second quarter of 2017, and Gross Payments Volume, or “GPV,” grew to $3.6B.

The company said it sees third quarter revenues between $253M-$257M, third quarter GAAP operating loss in the range of $40M-$42M and adjusted operating loss in the range of $9M-$11M.

Additionally, Shopify said it expects FY18 revenues between $1.015B-$1.025B, FY18 GAAP operating loss in the range of $105M-$110M and adjusted operating profit in the range of $0-$5M.

PIPER MOVING TO THE SIDELINES

In a research note to investors, Piper Jaffray’s Olson downgraded Shopify to Neutral from Overweight and lowered his price target to $145 from $155 as he believes the stock’s current valuation adequately reflects the long-term growth story.

The analyst argued that the company’s second quarter was “good, but not good enough,” with monthly recurring revenue below investor expectations with a deceleration from 57% to 49% year-over-year growth between Q1 and Q2.

While Olson acknowledged that Shopify is performing well, the analyst told investors he believes this performance is mostly reflected in the shares’ valuation.

‘SOLID  QUARTER’

Still bullish on the name, Canaccord Genuity analyst David Hynes told investors to not let yesterday’s post-earnings selloff in shares of Shopify confuse them on the fundamentals.

The analyst believes this was another “solid” quarter for Shopify as the company grew its nearly $1B revenue run-rate at 62% in the quarter.

Further, Hynes pointed out that he does not believe Shopify’s growth is decelerating faster than expected or that merchant churn is “going to sneak up and bite” the company.

He continues to believe that Shopify is one of the best-positioned growth stories in application software, and is confident that this business will ultimately scale to material profits. Hynes reiterated a Buy rating on the shares, while raising his price target on the stock to $165 from $160.

Meanwhile, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian also raised his price target for Shopify to $165 from $150 and reiterated an Outperform rating on the shares. While acknowledging that slowing monthly recurring revenue growth, a new shelf filing and its third quarter loss guidance weighed on the shares, the analyst said that this was another “solid” quarter for the company.

Ramping Plus adoption, international expansion, and new Merchant Solutions features should continue to drive significant growth, he contended. Sebastian told investors that he continues to like Shopify based on the significant e-commerce growth opportunity and defensible market leadership position he sees being demonstrated in the second quarter results.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday morning trading, shares of Shopify were fractionally down to $137.60.


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MoviePass raises prices

Helios and Matheson says MoviePass accelerating plan for profitability

MoviePass raises prices, Stockwinners
MoviePass raises prices, Stockwinners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HMNY is up 7 cents to $0.88.


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US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food for $1.8B

US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food group of Companies for $1.8B 

US Foods to acquire SGA's Food for $1.8B, Stockwinners
US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food for $1.8B, Stockwinners

US Foods (USFD) and Services Group of America announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which US Foods will acquire five operating companies collectively known as SGA’s Food Group of Companies, for $1.8B in cash.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by US Foods’ Board of Directors.

Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, SGA’s Food Group of Companies has combined 2017 net sales of $3.2B and approximately 3,400 employees.

SGA’s Food Group of Companies currently operates as five separate operating companies.

US Foods will finance the acquisition primarily with $1.5B in fully committed term loan financing from J.P. Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch and will fund the balance of the purchase price through its existing liquidity resources.

At the closing of the acquisition, US Foods’ pro forma net leverage is expected to be 4.1x.

Given the combined company’s strong cash flow generation, including synergies, US Foods expects to reduce net leverage to approximately 3.0x by the end of fiscal 2020. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

US Foods expects to achieve approximately $55M in annual run-rate cost synergies by the end of fiscal 2022, primarily driven by savings in distribution, procurement and administrative expenses.

The purchase price reflects a multiple of 12.5x SGA’s Food Group of Companies 2018E Adjusted EBITDA of $123 million, after taking into account the approximately $260 million estimated present value of cash tax benefits to be realized as a result of the acquisition. Including $55M in annual run-rate synergies, the price reflects a 2018E Adjusted EBITDA multiple of 8.6x.

Excluding amortization, the transaction is expected to become accretive to US Foods’ Adjusted EPS in the second full year following closing.

USFD closed at $40.60.


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ResTORbio higher on data

ResTORbio announces ‘positive’ topline results in Phase 2b trial of RTB101

ResTORbio higher on data, Stockwinners
ResTORbio higher on data, Stockwinners

ResTORbio (TORC) announced positive topline results from its dose-ranging Phase 2b clinical trial that enrolled 652 elderly patients at increased risk of morbidity and mortality associated with respiratory tract infections.

In this trial, RTB101, an oral, selective, and potent inhibitor of target of rapamycin complex 1, demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful reduction in the percentage of patients with one or more laboratory-confirmed RTIs during the 16-week treatment period compared to placebo, the primary endpoint of the study, with the 10 mg once daily dose.

Greater TORC1 inhibition with RTB101 10 mg in combination with everolimus 0.1 mg did not meet the primary endpoint, suggesting that that less TORC1 inhibition with RTB101 10 mg once daily may have greater benefit in high-risk elderly patients.

The Phase 2b trial was a two-part, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted during the winter cold and flu season in the southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere.

Patients enrolled were those at increased risk of morbidity and mortality from RTIs including patients who were: 85 years of age or older, or 65 years of age or older with asthma, type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or current smokers.

The doses investigated in Part 1 were RTB101 5 mg and RTB101 10 mg once daily. The doses investigated in Part 2 were RTB101 10 mg once daily, RTB101 10 mg twice daily and RTB101 10 mg in combination with everolimus 0.1 mg once daily.

The following was observed in an analysis of the primary endpoint: A 30.6% decrease relative to placebo in the percentage of all patients treated with RTB101 10 mg once daily who developed one or more laboratory-confirmed RTs. A 20.6% decrease relative to placebo in the percentage of all patients treated with RTB101 5 mg once daily who developed one or more laboratory-confirmed RTIs.

No decrease relative to placebo in the percentage of patients treated with either RTB101 10 mg twice daily or the combination of RTB101 10 mg + everolimus 0.1 mg once daily who developed one or more laboratory-confirmed RTIs, suggesting that less TORC1 inhibition with RTB101 10 mg once daily may have greater benefit in high-risk elderly patients.

To better understand the activity observed in the RTB101 10 mg once daily cohort, a pre-specified analysis of each patient subgroup enrolled in the study was conducted.

The following decreases in the percentage of patients with laboratory-confirmed RTIs were observed in the RTB101 10 mg once daily cohort as compared to the placebo cohort: A 68.4% decrease in all asthma patients.

A 66.7% decrease in all patients 85 years of age and older. A 26.9% decrease in all T2DM patients.

No decrease was observed in either COPD patients or current smokers; a 42.0% decrease in all patients was observed when excluding patients with COPD and a 43.9% decrease in all patients was observed when excluding current smokers.

All doses were observed to be well-tolerated. Data from the RTB101 10 mg once daily cohort are as follows: Adverse events were balanced between the RTB101 10 mg once daily and placebo treatment groups. 4.5% of subjects in the RTB101 10 mg once daily cohort and 7.2% of subjects in the placebo cohort had a serious adverse event, none of which were considered related to study drug. 4.5% of subjects in the RTB101 10 mg once daily cohort and 6.1% of subjects in the placebo cohort discontinued study drug due to an AE.

All AEs were mild or moderate except for 11 severe AEs in the RTB101 10 mg once daily cohort and 22 severe AEs in the placebo cohort.

TORC closed at $9.01, it last traded at $24.49.


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 Apollo in talks to acquire LifePoint Health

Apollo in advanced discussions to acquire LifePoint Health

Apollo in advanced discussions to acquire LifePoint Health, Stockwinners
Apollo in advanced discussions to acquire LifePoint Health, Stockwinners

Apollo Global (APO) is in advanced talks to buy LifePoint Health (LPNT), two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The deal could value LifePoint at nearly $6B, including debt, the sources said, adding that Apollo plans to combine LifePoint with RegionalCare Hospital Partners, another regional hospital operator that it owns.

If the negotiations are completed successfully, a deal could be announced as early as next week, the sources said, cautioning that it was possible talks could fail at the last minute. The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Rural healthcare providers such as LifePoint have been challenged in recent years because their reliance on federal insurers such as Medicare and Medicaid has made them particularly vulnerable to changing reimbursement programs. In addition, hospital operating costs have been rising faster than reimbursement rate increases.

Apollo, which raised a $24.6 billion private equity fund last year, acquired RegionalCare in 2015, and merged it with another hospital operator, Capella Healthcare, in 2016.

It would be by far the biggest acquisition for Apollo this year. LifePoint currently has a market capitalization of $1.9 billion and long-term net debt of $2.9 billion.

LPNT closed at $47.90.


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 EU ruling against Google seen as win for Amazon, Apple

EU antitrust ruling against Google seen as win for Amazon, Apple

 

 EU ruling against Google seen as win for Amazon, Apple, Stockwinners
EU ruling against Google seen as win for Amazon, Apple, Stockwinners

The EU has hit Alphabet-owned Google (GOOG; GOOGL) with a record antitrust fine for abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system.

Commenting on the decision, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said he believes it to be a “pro-Amazon” (AMZN) ruling, benefiting the e-commerce giant and potentially Apple (AAPL) as well.

ANTITRUST FINE

The European Commission has fined Google EUR4.34B for breaching EU antitrust rules.

“Since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search. Google must now bring the conduct effectively to an end within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company,” the Commission stated.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in response to the European Commission competition decision, stated that “rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them.

Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less. We intend to appeal.”

‘PRO-AMAZON’ RULING:

In a research note to investors, Baird’s Sebastian argued that the European Commission’s ruling against Google is “a bit misguided,” but likely a “relatively minor inconvenience” in the short and medium terms.

Longer-term, the analyst said he sees modest but not unexpected added risk from requirements to support forked versions of Android, and from the direct and/or indirect benefits of this ruling for Apple and Amazon. In practical terms, the EC is saying that Android users need to download the Google apps they want rather than have them pre-installed and implicitly instructs Google to make its apps available on forked-version of Android, even if those apps won’t work as well or as intended on modified operating systems, he contended.

Sebastian believes this ruling should have a limited direct impact on Google since it ostensibly does not force a change to the Google search algorithm and seems relatively straight-forward for Google to comply. However, the bigger issue may be the obvious benefits to Amazon and potentially Apple, he argued.

The analyst pointed out that while Amazon already generates about 50% of commerce and product-related searches, the EC will require Android users to take another step before they can access an alternative product search engine. Additionally, to force Google to support distribution of forked-versions of Android could directly benefit Amazon’s Fire devices, he highlighted.

Nonetheless, the analyst noted that the decision does not change his positive view on Alphabet and reiterated an Outperform rating and $1,300 price target on shares of Google’s parent company.

PRICE ACTION

In morning trading, Class A shares of Alphabet and Amazon are each fractionally lower. Meanwhile, Apple’s stock has dropped almost 1% to $190.12.


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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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Arconic higher following report of private equity interest

Arconic higher following report of private equity interest

Arconic higher following report of private equity interest, Stockwinners
Arconic higher following report of private equity interest, Stockwinners

Shares of Arconic (ARNC) are rising following a report that the aluminum producer has received interest from private equity firms including Apollo Global Management (APO).

PE  INTEREST

Arconic has received takeover interest from private-equity firms, including Apollo Global, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

A deal for the aerospace parts maker, which currently has a market value of $8.3B, could be worth over $10B, but no buyout agreement is imminent, the report said.

The company, which also holds $6.4B in debt, has a tumultuous recent history, facing an activist investor campaign from Elliott Management after being separated from the aluminum business now known as Alcoa (AA) in 2016.

The campaign led to the resignation of former Arconic Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld and an overhaul of the company’s board.

In addition, the company came under scrutiny after investigators discovered its aluminum composite panels contributed to the spread of a fire last year at London’s Grenfell Tower that killed 80 people.

At the time, Arconic said it had no control over how its products were used in the building.

‘PLAUSIBLE LBO CANDIDATE’

Following the WSJ report, Morgan Stanley analyst Rajeev Lalwani said two things stand out to make Arconic a “plausible” leveraged buyout candidate: Its low EV/EBITDA multiple, which creates potentially favorable entry and exit points, and its cash flow profile, which has room for improvement.

The analyst stated that a more lean and efficient approach could support considerably better cash generation.

While the reported private equity interest “adds a level of intrigue,” Lalwani still believes headwinds within it rings and disks business, working capital and CapEx issues and volatility associated with aluminum prices will be the key driver of shares in the near-term.

Given the aforementioned execution concerns, Lalwani kept an Equal Weight rating and $20 price target on Arconic shares.

‘VERY VIABLE LBO CANDIDATE’

Credit Suisse analyst Curt Woodworth said he views Arconic as a “very viable” leveraged buyout candidate given its “highly depressed” multiples, operational and financial mismanagement, and “very strong” positions in automotive and aerospace end markets.

The analyst believes the issues at Firth Rixson are “very fixable” as the company is a new entrant into the disks market and said Arconic could be worth $24-$26 per share in a buyout. Woodworth has an Outperform rating on the shares with a $28 price target.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

On Monday, Arconic announced it had signed a new long-term contract with Boeing (BA) to supply aluminum sheet and plate for all models produced by Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The multiyear contract, which extends and adds to the companies’ 2014 contract, is the largest to date and captures growth in the build rate increases of the Boeing 737 program.

PRICE ACTION

Arconic rose about 10%, or $1.73, to $19.12 in morning.


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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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Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved

Bristol-Myers’ Opdivo approved for MSI-H/dMMR metastatic colorectal cancer

Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved, Stockwinners
Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved, Stockwinners

Bristol-Myers (BMY) announced Opdivo – nivolumab – 3 mg/kg plus low-dose Yervoy – ipilimumab – 1 mg/kg injections for intravenous use received approval from the FDA for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older with microsatellite instability high or mismatch repair deficient metastatic colorectal cancer that has progressed following treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin and irinotecan.

Approval for this indication has been granted under accelerated approval.

Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

The application was granted Priority Review and Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA.

Among the 82 patients who received prior treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin and irinotecan, 46% responded to treatment with Opdivo + Yervoy.

The percentage of these patients with a complete response was 3.7%, and the percentage of patients with a partial response was 43%.

Among these 38 responders, the median DOR was not reached; 89% of those patients had responses of six months or longer, and 21% had responses of 12 months or longer.

This trial is ongoing. Among all enrolled patients, 49% responded to treatment with Opdivo + Yervoy; 4.2% experienced a complete response, while 45% experienced a partial response.

Opdivo was discontinued in 13% of patients and delayed in 45% of patients due to an adverse reaction.

Serious adverse reactions occurred in 47% of patients.

The Opdivo + Yervoy combination is also approved in two other tumor types, advanced renal cell carcinoma and unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

Continued approval for these accelerated approval indications may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

BMY closed at $56.18.


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Xplore Technologies sold for $90 million

Zebra Technologies to acquire Xplore Technologies for $6.00 per share 

 

Xplore Technologies sold for $90 million, Stockwinners
Xplore Technologies sold for $90 million, Stockwinners

Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) and Xplore Technologies (XPLR) announced that their boards of directors have approved a definitive agreement in which Zebra will acquire all outstanding common stock of Xplore for $6.00 per share in cash.

Under the terms of the agreement, Zebra plans to implement the acquisition via a tender offer. Xplore has established a leading position as an innovative developer of semi-, fully- and ultra-rugged tablets, 2-in-1 laptops, and a range of performance matched accessories.

These products serve existing vertical markets for Zebra such as retail, manufacturing, transportation & logistics and healthcare, and provide an inroad into new markets including oil & gas, utility, government and public safety. Xplore generated revenue of $87M in the 12-month period ended March 31.

Zebra is effecting the acquisition through a public tender offer for 100% of the shares of Xplore.

In connection with the execution of the merger agreement, certain Xplore shareholders have entered into tender support agreements with Zebra pursuant to which they have agreed to tender their shares to Zebra’s offer.

The aggregate consideration of the transaction, including assumed indebtedness, is expected to be less than or equal to $90M.

Zebra expects to fund the transaction with a combination of cash on hand along with fully committed financing available under its credit facility. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in Q3.

XPLR closed at $4.12.


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Juniper Pharmaceuticals sold for $139.6 Million

Catalent agrees to acquire Juniper Pharmaceuticals for $11.50 per share 

Juniper Pharmaceuticals sold for $139.6 Million, Stockwinners
Juniper Pharmaceuticals sold for $139.6 Million, Stockwinners

Catalent (CTLT) announced that it has agreed to acquire Juniper Pharmaceuticals (JNP), including its Nottingham, U.K.-based Juniper Pharma Services division.

When combined with Catalent’s existing industry-leading drug development and manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. and Europe, the acquisition of Juniper will expand and strengthen Catalent’s offerings in formulation development, bioavailability solutions and clinical-scale oral dose manufacturing, and will complement its integrated global clinical and commercial supply network. Juniper’s nearly 150 employees have deep scientific expertise in formulation development, and supply, and will augment Catalent’s current portfolio of solid-state screening, preformulation, formulation, analytical, and bioavailability enhancement solutions, including development of spray-dried dispersions, with integrated development, analytical, and clinical manufacturing co-located in its Nottingham facility.

Catalent will continue to support Juniper’s CRINONE franchise marketed by Merck KGaA outside of the U.S.

Juniper’s Intravaginal Ring development pipeline was previously licensed to Dare Bioscience, and Catalent will not be involved in the further development of this program.

The acquisition of Juniper is subject to certain customary closing conditions, including that a majority of Juniper’s shares are tendered into the offer, and is expected to close in the first quarter of Catalent’s 2019 fiscal year, which began on July 1, 2018.

Like Catalent, Juniper has expertise in solid-state and preclinical formulation screening for lead-candidate selection, phase-appropriate dose-form development, and superior technologies for challenging molecules, which will strengthen and expand on Catalent’s OptiForm Solution Suite platform.

Juniper provides bioavailability enhancement solutions for the development of poorly soluble compounds, including nano-milling, spray drying, hot-melt extrusion, lipid-based drug delivery, and cGMP clinical manufacturing, including specialized facilities and controls for potent and controlled substances. Under its acquisition agreement with Juniper, a subsidiary of Catalent will promptly commence a tender offer to purchase all of Juniper’s shares for a price of $11.50, net to the seller in cash.

Following the conclusion of the tender offer, Catalent intends to complete the transaction by acquiring the remainder of the Juniper shares at the same price through a merger with a newly formed wholly owned subsidiary of Catalent.

JNP closed at $8.70. CTLT closed at $41.82.


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