Stocks to Watch – Ironwood Pharmaceuticals

Ironwood IW-3718 Phase IIb trial meets primary endpoint

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Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD) announced positive top-line data from a Phase IIb clinical trial evaluating IW-3718 in adult patients with uncontrolled #gastroesophageal #reflux disease.

The trial met its primary endpoint, indicating that twice-daily, oral dosing of IW-3718 1500 mg plus a proton pump inhibitor significantly reduced heartburn severity in patients with uncontrolled GERD compared to patients treated with a PPI alone.

Further, more than half of patients treated with IW-3718 1500 mg plus a PPI achieved a clinically meaningful reduction in heartburn severity. IW-3718 1500 mg was well tolerated in the trial.

#Ironwood plans to have end of Phase II meetings with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after which the company expects to advance IW-3718 1500 mg into Phase III development in 2H18.

#IW-3718 is a novel formulation of a bile acid sequestrant designed to release in the stomach over an extended period of time, bind to bile that refluxes into the stomach, and potentially provide symptomatic relief in uncontrolled GERD.

Data from the Phase IIb trial showed a dose response across the primary and key secondary endpoints, with the most pronounced response observed at the highest dose of IW-3718 studied. Top-line data were as follows: Percent Change from Baseline to Week 8 in Weekly Heartburn Severity: patients treated with IW-3718 1500 mg plus a PPI showed a mean decrease of 58% from baseline in heartburn severity compared to 46% in patients treated with a PPI alone.

Clinically Meaningful Degree of Improvement in Weekly #Heartburn Severity: a 45% reduction in weekly heartburn severity was determined to be clinically meaningful for patients in this study based on patient-reported outcome measures.

Heartburn Responder: a heartburn responder was defined as a patient who experienced at least a 45% reduction from baseline in heartburn severity for at least four out of eight weeks, including at least one of the last two weeks. 52.9% of patients treated with IW-3718 1500 mg plus a PPI were heartburn responders, compared to 37.1% of patients treated with a PPI alone.

Percent Change from Baseline to Week 8 in Weekly Regurgitation Frequency: patients treated with IW-3718 1500 mg plus a PPI showed a mean decrease of 55.4% from baseline in regurgitation frequency compared to 37.9% in patients treated with a PPI alone. There were no treatment-related serious adverse events reported with IW-3718 1500 mg.

SIDE EFFECTS

The most common adverse event reported overall was constipation, which was reported in 7.4% of patients on IW-3718 1500 mg plus a PPI compared to 7.1% of patients on a PPI alone. All constipation adverse events reported were mild or moderate in severity.

Discontinuation rates due to adverse events were less than 5% and similar across treatment groups.

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Avista Sold for $5.3 Billion Cash

Avista acquired by Hydro One for $53 per share

 

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Hydro One Limited and and Avista Corp. (AVA) dustry-leading regulated utilities with over 230 years of collective operational experience as well as shared corporate cultures and values.

The combined entity will safely and reliably serve more than two million retail and industrial customers and hold assets throughout North America including Ontario, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

“This marks a proud moment for Canadian champions as we grow our business into a North American leader,” said Mayo Schmidt, President and CEO, Hydro One Limited.

“This transaction demonstrates the power and value of the transition into an investor-owned utility, by allowing for healthy expansion into new lines of regulated utility business and new jurisdictions, such as the U.S. Pacific Northwest which is experiencing customer and economic growth.”

“With a focus on operational excellence and building our earnings streams, we are positioned for long-term, sustainable growth,” said Schmidt.

“We are further accomplishing this goal by bringing together two companies with shared cultures and industry expertise to create a North American regulated utility leader. This combination means greater scale, diversity and financial flexibility.”

Hydro One has a uniquely strong track record consolidating electricity utilities. Since the IPO, Hydro One has also delivered on cost savings and efficiencies for shareholders and customers.

Through the company’s energy conservation programs, Hydro One has helped customers and municipalities save 700 GWh year-to-date.

“Since our initial public offering, we have significantly enhanced our current operations while exploring opportunities that extend and diversify our regulated assets,” said #MayoSchmidt.

“We constantly seek to deliver exceptional value to shareholders, customers, and the communities we serve through stable, increasing regulated returns, exceptional service, and community engagement.”

This strategic combination demonstrates the value of consolidation by bringing together two highly complementary platforms to create one of North America’s largest regulated utilities, meaningfully enhancing both shareholder and customer value.

In addition, over time, non-headcount efficiencies will be realized through collaboration and sharing of best practices on IT, innovation and supply chain purchasing, all of which will further enhance cost savings.

No workforce reductions are anticipated as a result of this transaction for either Avista or #HydroOne.

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Scripps, Discovery Deal Questioned by Analysts

Scripps, Discovery deal odds debated as reported talks boost media space

Shares of Scripps Networks (SNI) and Discovery Communications (DISCA) are on the rise following reports from both The Wall Street Journal and Reuters that the media companies are in talks to merge.

While research firm #Citi sees a deal as likely, Credit Suisse analyst Omar Sheikh believes the Journal’s initial report has “low credibility.”

MERGER TALKS

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal said that Discovery Communications is in discussions to merge with Scripps Networks. A similar report from Reuters added that Viacom (VIAB) also had held talks to buy Scripps.

CREDIT SUISSE QUESTIONS DEAL CHANCES

Commenting on the news, Credit Suisse’s #Sheikh told investors that he believes the Journal’s report “looks vague,” and his initial view is that it has “low credibility.”

Combining the two portfolios of unscripted cable networks has some industrial logic, but previously reported discussions between the companies probably came to nothing because the price and structure of a transaction could not be agreed upon, the analyst contended, adding that he struggles to see what might have changed now. Sheikh reiterated an Underperform rating and a $24 price target on Discovery’s shares.

BULLISH ON DEAL

Citi analyst Jason #Bazinet, on the other hand, told investors that he views the reports as “credible” and finds it likely that Discovery and Scripps Networks reach an agreement. Furthermore, Bazinet argued that the pressures on the traditional cable network ecosystem are acute enough and valuations are low enough that he can see merits to this potential combination. Assuming a 20% premium is offered to Scripps, a deal would likely be about 10% accretive to Discovery, Bazinet noted, citing his M&A math.

Meanwhile, #JPMorgan analyst Alexia #Quadrani said she sees both a strategic and financial rationale for a merger between Scripps Networks and Discovery Communications, pointing out that a combined company would have greater leverage with domestic distributors and advertisers. Discovery could also help Scripps with its international rollout, #Quadrani contended, adding that there is potential for cost and tax synergies.

However, she believes that with no terms mentioned in any of the press reports on the deal talks, it is difficult to evaluate any potential transaction. Further, the analyst noted that the speculation “may end up just being chatter” coming out of last week’s media executive conference in Sun Valley. Nonetheless, Quadrani believes the press reports should have a “very positive influence” on media stocks, which she noted have been out of favor. The analyst expects to see particular outperformance from heavily shorted media names such as AMC Networks (AMCX).

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday afternoon trading, shares of Scripps Networks have jumped almost 15% to $76.87, while Discovery Communications’ stock has gained 4% to $27.09 and AMC Networks is up 4% to $59.25.

Other media names, including 21st Century Fox (FOXA), Viacom and Disney (DIS), are also higher in afternoon trading.

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Apple Patents 911 Finger, Call for Help Discretely

Apple patents way to call 911 emergency with fingerprint without assailant knowing

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On Tuesday, the United States Patent and Trademark Office published a patent by Apple for a method to execute a command in an electronic device through a fingerprint.

PATENT

The patent abstract is as follows:

“A device has a touch processing module that processes touch screen input to determine if the manner in which the input was entered indicates that the user intends for execution of a particular command. In one embodiment, the module may acquire fingerprint data from the user’s input and analyze the data to determine if the input was entered with a particular finger or finger sequence.

In another embodiment, the module may also acquire timing data from the user’s entry of a plurality of inputs and analyze the timing data to determine if the touch screen input was entered with a particular timing or cadence. The module may also acquire force data from the user’s entry of a plurality of touch screen inputs and analyze the force data to determine to determine if the touch screen input was entered with a particular force.”

In other words Apple has invented a process for an individual to call 911 emergency secretly using your fingerprint.

Thus, in a situation where the device owner is forced to unlock or otherwise use his phone by an assailant, contacting emergency services in the conventional manner may not be practical. Accordingly, in conventional systems, a user is unable to comply with an assailant’s commands, while at the same time discreetly contacting emergency services.”

For example, the user may program the electronic device to recognize input entered with her pinky finger as a command to place a “911” call or otherwise contact emergency services.

In another example, the user may program the electronic device to recognize input entered with a particular sequence of fingers, such as pinky-ring-pinky, as a command to make an emergency call. Thus, regardless of what routine command the user is ostensibly entering, if the user enters the routine command with the predetermined finger or finger sequence, the user is also entering the predetermined command.

For example, a user may be ostensibly be unlocking her device, but by doing so with her predetermined “911 finger” she is also calling the police.”

It is doubtful that this feature will be available in the upcoming iPhone 8 model.

AAPL last traded at $151.15.


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Vertex Higher on its Cystic Fibrosis Drug

Vertex jumps after ‘wowing’ analysts with cystic fibrosis data

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Shares of Vertex (VRTX) are on the rise after the company reported positive data from Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies of three different triple combination regimens in people with cystic fibrosis who have one #F508del mutation and one minimal function mutation.

Reacting to the news, several Wall Street analysts upgraded the stock to buy-equivalent ratings and raised their price targets on the shares.

BUY VERTEX

In a research note to investors this morning, Janney Capital analyst Debjit Chattopadhyay upgraded Vertex to Buy, stating that the Phase 2 data for its three triple combination programs in CF were “significantly above the most optimistic expectations.”

The analyst argued that the quality of the data should allow Vertex to potentially accelerate commercialization under the “New FDA” and importantly sets the bar very high for competition. Citing its “potential dominance of CF,” Chattopadhyay said he thinks Vertex becomes the “most logical large-cap M&A target.”

Chattopadhyay was not the only analyst upgrading the stock this morning.

His peer at Cowen also upgraded Vertex to Outperform, saying efficacy data from its triple regimens showed “breakthrough-quality” results, and will very likely “dramatically” improve the quality of life and extend the life span of 80% of the 75K patients with CF worldwide.

Phil Nadeau pointed out that he expects a launch in 2021 and $10B in franchise sales in 2025. The analyst raised his price target on the shares to $200 as he sees a 10-year path of revenue growth for Vertex.

Meanwhile, Barclays analyst Geoff Meacham told investors that he thought the Phase 2 data in CF was an “unequivocal success and constitutes a major de-risking event.” Citing more confidence in the viability of the triple combo and the likely accelerated development path, the analyst upgraded Vertex to Overweight and raised his price target on the stock to $180.

Also this morning, Raymond James analyst Laura Chico upgraded Vertex to Outperform, with a $181 price target, citing the “compelling” efficacy data for its triple-combo CF regimens.

WOW: JPMorgan analyst Cory Kasimov began his research note with “Wow. Just wow,” following last night’s data release from Vertex.

To say that the initial results for Vertex’s triple combinations beat expectations would be an understatement, Kasimov told investors, adding that the data not only sets up well to reach a large majority of the CF patient population, but also greatly increases the competitive hurdle while also enhancing the scarcity value of the company. He raised his price target on the shares to $175 and reiterated an Overweight rating on the name.

Credit Suisse, Stifel, Citi and Piper Jaffray also raised their price targets on the stock following the data release.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Competitor Galapagos (GLPG) is sliding in morning trading following Vertex’s CF data announcement.

However, commenting on the news, H.C. Wainwright analyst Andrew Fein said the data may also be “encouraging” in a roundabout way for Galapagos and another smaller company exploring an add-on to a CF doublet combo, Proteostasis (PTI).

If increasing the dosing of the Vertex compounds does not differentiate them further in efficacy, then this consistency in benefit “may truly be a class phenomenon,” and similar results should be expected from any competitor add-on agent out there, he suggested.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday’s trading, shares of Vertex (VRTX) have gained about 22% to $161.26, while Galapagos and Proteostasis have dropped over 4% and 3%, respectively.

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RB Foods Sold for $4.2 Billion

McCormick to acquire RB Foods from Reckitt Benckiser for $4.2B

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McCormick (MKC) announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Reckitt Benckiser’s Food Division, RB Foods, from Reckitt Benckiser (RBGLY) for $4.2B, subject to certain customary purchase price adjustments.

The addition of Frank’s RedHot Hot Sauce, French’s Mustard and other iconic, market-leading products strengthens McCormick’s leadership in the attractive Condiments category and advances the company’s vision to Bring the Joy of Flavor to Life.

Combined pro forma 2017 annual net sales are expected to be approximately $5B with significant margin accretion.

McCormick will integrate RB Foods into its Consumer and Industrial segments and will retain the brand names of French’s, Frank’s RedHot and Cattlemen’s.

“The acquisition of RB Foods strengthens McCormick’s flavor leadership with the addition of the iconic #French’s and #Frank’s RedHot brands to our portfolio, which will become our number two and number three brands, respectively,” said Lawrence Kurzius, Chairman, President and CEO.

“RB Foods’ focus on creating products with simple, high-quality ingredients makes it a perfect match for McCormick as we continue to capitalize on the growing consumer interest in healthy, flavorful eating.

The addition of Frank’s RedHot Hot Sauce, the clear consumer favorite in an attractive and high-growth category, French’s Mustard and the other beloved products enables McCormick to become a one-stop shop for condiment, spice and seasoning needs, providing our customers and consumers with an even more diverse and complete flavor product offering.

RB Foods’ track record of creating market-leading products and its dedicated state-of-the-art manufacturing facility are a strong complementary fit that we expect will strengthen McCormick’s business opportunities as we expand our presence in condiments, a core category for the company in the U.S. and internationally.”

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Media Stocks to Watch

Discovery Communications, Scripps in talks to merge, WSJ reports

Discovery Communications (DISCA) is in discussions to merge with Scripps Networks (SNI), the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the situation.

Terms of the negotiations could not be learned, the Journal says.

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, Discovery has a market valuation of roughly $15B, while Scripps is valued at $8.8B, the report says.

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Lightower Sold for $7.1 Billion

Crown Castle to acquire Lightower for $7.1B in cash

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Crown Castle International Corp. (CCI) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire LTS Group Holdings, or #Lightower, from #Berkshire Partners, Pamlico Capital and other investors for approximately $7.1B in cash, representing approximately 13.5x expected adjusted EBITDA contribution during Crown Castle’s first full year of ownership.

Lightower owns or has rights to approximately 32,000 route miles of fiber located primarily in top metro markets in the Northeast, including Boston, New York and Philadelphia.

Lightower’s products include network and video transport, alternative access, nationwide long haul services, dark fiber, Ethernet, and cloud computing services. Lightower has built out access to over 22,000 service locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest including 275+ data centers and 7,000+ wireless towers

Following completion of the transaction, Crown Castle will own or have rights to approximately 60,000 route miles of fiber.

Crown Castle CEO Jay Brown said, “We expect the transaction to be immediately accretive to our AFFO per share and long-term dividend growth and, as a result, anticipate increasing our annual common stock dividend rate, subject to approval by our board of directors, between 15c and 20c per share following the closing of the transaction.”

Crown Castle International Corp., owns, operates, and leases shared wireless infrastructure in the United States and Australia. Th company is headquartered in Houston Texas.

CCI closed at $96.64.

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Stocks to Watch for Today-Homebuilders Down as Lumber Prices Spike

Homebuilder sentiment falls to eight month low as lumber prices spike

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Shares of U.S. homebuilders are all trading lower after a key metric for the group missed expectations.

HOME BUILDER SENTIMENT

The Housing Market Index ( #HMI ) is based on a monthly survey of #NAHB members designed to take the pulse of the single-family housing market. The survey asks respondents to rate market conditions for the sale of new homes at the present time and in the next six months as well as the traffic of prospective buyers of new homes.

Builder confidence for newly-built single-family homes dropped to its lowest level since before the Trump election. The confidence metric slipped two points in July to 64.

The HMI measure of current sales conditions has been at 70 or higher for eight straight months, indicating strong demand for new homes,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

“However, builders will need to manage some increasing supply-side costs to keep home prices competitive.” “Home builders are troubled due to the increasing costs of material, in particular lumber,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald. The situation is impacting housing affordability even as consumer interest purchasing a new home is strong.

CANADIAN LUMBER TARIFFS

In June, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross proposed new lumber tariffs adding to the previous tariffs proposed by the Trump administration on Canadian softwood lumber imported into the U.S. That type of lumber is used to build U.S. homes.

Back in June, NAHB Chair MacDonald said adding the new tariffs “to the proposed 20% countervailing lumber duty that the Trump administration slapped on imports of lumber this spring means that total tariffs would be a whopping 27%.”

Publicly traded companies in the space include Beazer Homes (BZH), D.R. Horton (DHI), Hovnanian (HOV), KB Home (KBH), Lennar (LEN), PulteGroup (PHM), and Toll Brothers (TOL). Shares of construction materials vendors are also lower, including Vulcan (VMC), Martin Marietta Materials (MLM), Eagle Materials (EXP), US Concrete Inc (USCR), and Beacon Roofing Supply (BECN).

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Chipotle Tumbles as Health Woes Continue

Chipotle Mexican Grill shuts Virginia restaurant down after reports of illnesses

Chipotle Mexican Grill spokesman Chris Arnold says the company is aware of a "small number" of illnesses linked to a store in Sterling, Virginia

Chipotle has shut down a location in Sterling, Virginia, after eight reports were made to the website iwaspoisoned.com stating that at least 13 customers fell sick after eating there from July 14-15, according to Business Insider.

The company’s executive director of food safety, Jim Marsden, told Business Insider: “We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

The reported symptoms are consistent with #norovirus. #Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle.”

Norovirus is different from E. coli, the bacteria that led to a widespread outbreak at Chipotle restaurants in 14 states two years ago.

Cases of norovirus stemming from restaurants can often involve a worker who failed to wash his or her hands after going to the bathroom.

The virus is highly contagious and causes symptoms like stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. It’s the most common cause of food-borne illnesses in the US with more than 21 million cases annually.

Chipotle (CMG) has dealt with norovirus cases in the past. In December 2015, nearly 120 Boston College students fell sick after a norovirus outbreak at a restaurant close to campus.

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Watch Nektar Therapeutics on its Opioid Painkiller

Nektar says NKTR-181 shows ‘significantly less abuse potential’ than oxycodone

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Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced topline results from an oral Human Abuse Potential study of #NKTR-181, an opioid analgesic that is the first full mu-opioid agonist molecule designed to provide potent pain relief without the high levels of euphoria that can lead to abuse and addiction with standard opioids.

The NKTR-181 HAP study was designed to confirm and assess the relative oral abuse potential of NKTR-181 at its maximum analgesic or therapeutic dose of 400 mg and at a supratherapeutic dose of 3 times to 12 times greater than its analgesic dose range of 100 mg to 400 mg compared to common therapeutic doses of a Schedule II opioid, oxycodone.

In the study, NKTR-181 400 mg had a significantly lower rating of peak liking compared to oxycodone 40 mg; NKTR-181 400 mg had a significantly lower rating of peak liking compared to oxycodone 60 mg; NKTR-181 600 mg had a significantly lower rating of peak liking compared to oxycodone 40 mg; NKTR-181 600 mg had a significantly lower rating of peak liking compared to oxycodone 60 mg; and NKTR-181 1200 mg had a significantly lower rating of peak drug liking compared to oxycodone 60 mg.

This dose was not statistically different from #oxycodone 40 mg, the company said.

Ivan #Gergel, Chief Medical Officer of Nektar, said, “It is clear from our new study results that NKTR-181 is highly differentiated in this respect from oxycodone, which is a choice drug of abuse.

Further, and critically important in the context of this public health emergency, NKTR-181’s less rewarding properties and strong analgesia are inherent to its novel molecular structure and independent of any abuse-deterrent formulation…We are committed to bringing this new pain treatment to patients and physicians as quickly as possible.”

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Stocks to Watch: Puma Biotechnology

Puma Biotechnology confirms FDA approval of NERLYNX for treatment of adult patients with early stage HER2-overexpressed/amplified breast cancer

 

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Puma Biotechnology announced that the U.S. FDA has approved #NERLYNX (neratinib), formerly known as #PB272, a once-daily oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor for the extended adjuvant treatment of adult patients with early stage HER2-overexpressed/amplified breast cancer, following adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy.

Puma expects neratinib to become commercially available in September 2017 and to be marketed as NERLYNX.

Puma Biotechnology said up to one in four patients experience recurrence after treatment, but studies of its drug showed a 34% reduction in recurrence.

“HER2-positive breast cancers are aggressive tumors and can spread to other parts of the body, making adjuvant therapy an important part of the treatment plan,” Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence.

“Now, these patients have an option after initial treatment that may help keep the cancer from coming back.”

See our previous blogs on Puma and its progress toward the approval.

STOCK PRICE

On May 11, 2017 when PBYI was trading at $30.75, Stockwinners predicted that Puma stock will double by the end of May.  PBYI closed at $86.10 on Monday. It has a 52-week trading range of $28.35 – $94.70.

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Stocks to Watch: Paratek Pharmaceuticals Study Meets EndPoint

Paratek study meets primary, secondary FDA, EMA efficacy endpoints

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Paratek Pharmaceuticals (PRTK) announced positive top-line results from a pivotal Phase 3 clinical study comparing its once-daily, oral investigational antibiotic, omadacycline, to twice-daily oral linezolid in the treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections.

The study met all of its primary and secondary endpoints required to support approval for this indication by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency.

This represents the third positive Phase 3 registration study of omadacycline.

“This successful study demonstrates the potential of an oral-only dosing regimen of omadacycline, which would enable treatment in the outpatient setting and potentially reduce the need for admission to the hospital,” said Michael Bigham, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Paratek.

“The utility of the oral only dosing regimen represents a significant potential benefit to patients and prescribers who are in need of new, effective oral agents to combat serious community-acquired infections.”

The pivotal Phase 3 clinical study known as #OASIS-2 evaluated the efficacy and safety of once-daily, oral-only omadacycline compared to twice-daily, oral-only linezolid in 735 adults with ABSSSI.

#Omadacycline met the FDA-specified primary endpoint of statistical non-inferiority in the modified intent-to-treat population compared to linezolid at the early clinical response 48 to 72 hours after the first dose of study drug.

The ECR rate for omadacycline was 87.5% compared to 82.5% for linezolid.

Additionally, omadacycline met statistical NI compared to linezolid for the EMA-specified co-primary endpoints at the post therapy evaluation, 7 to 14 days after completion of therapy in the mITT and the Clinically Evaluable populations.

Clinical success rates at PTE in the mITT population for the omadacycline and linezolid arms were 84.2% vs. 80.8%, respectively; and in the CE population were 97.9% vs. 95.5%, respectively.

Omadacycline demonstrated high clinical success rates for infections caused by the most common #ABSSSI pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

STOCK PRICE

PRTK last traded at $24.95. Stock has a 52-week trading range of $9.80 – $26.10.

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Stocks to Watch: Tesla Cheap or Expensive

Tesla stock low if you believe in company’s future, Elon Musk says

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In a recent tweet, clarifying earlier comments, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted:

“I should clarify: Tesla stock is obviously high based on past & present, but low if you believe in Tesla’s future. Place bets accordingly …”

Earlier in the day, according to CNBC, Musk said, “I’ve gone on the record several times that the stock price is higher than we have the right to deserve and that’s for sure true based on where we are today,” Musk told Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval at the National Governors Association summer meeting on Saturday.

According to media reports, Musk added when speaking at the meeting that Tesla’s current stock price reflects a “lot of optimism” adding that he has tried to bring expectations in line.

Musk noted that it has been “quite tough” to temper expectations in a euphoric environment.

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) dropped to an intraday low of $313.45 per share after his comments from the governor’s meeting but have regained some ground and are currently down 2.6% to $319.50 per share in afternoon trading.

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We believe TSLA shares will continue to be under pressure till they reach around $275-$285 level.

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Stocks to Watch – Beleaguered Signet Jewelers Names New CEO

Amid recent struggles and sexual harassment allegations, Signet Jewelers names new female CEO

 

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Shares of Signet Jewelers (SIG) are in focus in morning trading after the company said Chief Executive Officer Mark Light would be succeeded by named Virginia Drosos on August 1.

The appointment comes after the company reported quarterly earnings below expectations in May, disclosed the resignation of its COO, announced plans to outsource its credit portfolio and faced sexual harassment allegations.

CEO APPOINTMENT

Signet, the owner of Zale and Kay Jewelers, announced this morning that Mark Light, who has served as CEO of Signet since 2014, has decided to retire after more than 35 years with the company due to health reasons. Signet’s board of directors has appointed Virginia “Gina” Drosos, who has served as an independent director of the company’s board since 2012, as the company’s new CEO. Drosos has over 29 years of executive leadership experience in the beauty and consumer goods industries, most recently serving as president and CEO of Assurex Health, Signet said in a statement.

RECENT COO RESIGNATION, DISAPPOINTING EARNINGS AND OTHER WOES

Light’s departure follows the recent resignation of Chief Operating Officer Bryan Morgan due to violations of company policy “unrelated to financial matters.”

Additional details regarding Morgan’s resignation have not been reported. In January, Signet announced several senior organizational changes to drive growth, including promoting Morgan to COO from executive vice president, Supply Chain Management and Repair.

In May, Signet, which has been struggling with declining revenue over the past four quarters as demand for its jewelry has weakened, reported first quarter earnings that fell below analysts’ expectations. Light said at the time that Signet had a “very slow start” to the year as headwinds in the overall retail environment were exacerbated by a slowdown in jewelry spending and company-specific challenges.

Additionally, Signet announced plans to outsource its credit portfolio. The company has also said it would step up efforts to restore its reputation following allegations of sexual harassment at its Sterling Jewelers unit and diamond swapping allegations.

In May, Signet said it reached an agreement with the EEOC to resolve claims related to pay and promotion of female retail sales workers.

Signet has said allegations of sexual harassment have no merit, calling them “distorted and inaccurate.”

PEERS IN THE NEWS

Other publicly traded retailers of fine jewelry include Tiffany & Co (TIF), which in May reported quarterly sales that fell below analysts’ forecasts as well as a decline in comparable store sales.

Last week, Tiffany named Alessandro Bogliolo, who spent 16 years at Bulgari SpA and once served as that company’s COO, as its new CEO. Bogliolo is expected to take over as Tiffany’s CEO by October 2, the company said, and he will also join the company’s board.

The company increased the size of its board of directors earlier this year, adding three independent directors and ousted former CEO Frederic Cumenal in February following pressure from activist investor JANA Partners amid declining sales and profits.

PRICE ACTION

Signet (SIG) shares are down roughly 1.9% to $58.764 in Monday’s trading. Shares are down nearly 37% year-to-date.

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