Circor receives $1.7B takeover offer

Crane proposes to acquire Circor for $45.00 per share in cash

Crane proposes to acquire Circor for $45.00 per share in cash, Stockwinners

Crane Co. (CR) announced that it has submitted a proposal to the Board of Directors of CIRCOR International (CIR) to acquire CIRCOR for $45 per share in cash.

CIRCOR International, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets engineered products and sub-systems worldwide. It operates through three segments: Energy, Aerospace and Defense, and Industrial. 

The proposal represents a 47% premium over yesterday’s closing price and a 37% and 51% premium over a three- and six-month volume weighted average share price, respectively.

This reflects an enterprise value of approximately $1.7B at a multiple of approximately 13.5x the last 12-month adjusted EBITDA. Crane Co. proposed the all-cash transaction to CIRCOR’s President and CEO Scott Buckhout on April 30, the terms of which were confirmed by a letter to the CIRCOR Board of Directors.

On May 13, the CIRCOR Board summarily rejected Crane Co.’s proposal with no offer of discussions or due diligence.

“While we had hoped to complete a transaction privately, the Board’s rejection of our proposal without comment or discussion led to our decision to make our proposal known to CIRCOR shareholders so they can express their views directly to the CIRCOR Board,” said Max Mitchell, Crane Co. President and CEO.

“Our proposal provides CIRCOR shareholders with attractive value and certainty compared to the continued uncertainty surrounding CIRCOR’s plans to improve operating performance.

Based on CIRCOR’s history of underperformance and inability to meet its own financial targets, we believe CIRCOR’s standalone plan is unlikely to generate value comparable to what we are proposing.”

Mitchell continued, “We believe that this business, which has great brands and products, has been meaningfully undermanaged for years.

This has resulted in a persistent decline in CIRCOR’s share price, making it the worst performer of the peers in the S&P Midcap Capital Goods Index since the end of 2013.

Based upon the strength of our disciplined operating approach, Crane Co. is well positioned to integrate CIRCOR’s businesses into our focused portfolio, realize operational synergies, and deliver long-term value to Crane shareholders.

Combining CIRCOR’s Fluid Handling, Aerospace and Defense assets with Crane’s portfolio of leading brands would create a stronger competitor with additional scale and growth potential.”

CIR +13.49 to $44.15.

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HP Enterprise to acquire Cray for $35 per share

HP Enterprise to acquire Cray in deal valued at $1.3B

HP Enterprise to buy Cray Research, Stockwinners

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Cray (CRAY) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which HPE will acquire Cray for $35.00 per share in cash, in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3B, net of cash.

Cray Inc. designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and services computing products for high-performance computing, data analytics, and AI markets. It operates through Supercomputing, Storage and Data Management, Maintenance and Support, and Engineering Services and Other segments. 

Cray sold to HPE for $1.3 billion, Stockwinners

“Bringing together HPE and Cray enables an enhanced financial profile for the combined company that includes several revenue growth opportunities and cost synergies.

The companies expect the combination to drive significant revenue growth opportunities by:

Capitalizing on the growing HPC segment of the market and Exascale opportunities; Enhancing HPE’s customer base with a complementary footprint in federal business and academia and the company’s ability to accelerate commercial supercomputing adoption; Introducing new offerings in AI / ML and HPC-as-a-service with HPE GreenLake; We also expect to deliver significant cost synergies through efficiencies and by leveraging proprietary Cray technology, like the Slingshot interconnect, to lower costs and improve product performance.”

As a result of the enhanced financial profiles of the combined companies, the deal is expected to be accretive to HPE non-GAAP operating profit and earnings in the first full year following the close.

As part of the transaction, HPE expects to incur one-time integration costs that will be absorbed within HPE’s FY20 free cash flow outlook of $1.9B-$2.1B that remains unchanged.

The transaction is expected to close by the first quarter of HPE’s fiscal year 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

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Artesyn Embedded Power sold for $400M

Advanced Energy to acquire Artesyn Embedded Power for $400M

Advanced Energy buys Artesyn Embedded for $400M, Stockwinners

Advanced Energy (AEIS) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Embedded Power business of Artesyn Embedded Technologies from Platinum Equity.

The total consideration for this transaction will be approximately $400M.

Strategic benefits of the deal include:

“Creates a premier global power conversion company with enabling critical power technologies and over $1.3B in annual revenue, based on 2018 combined historical results.

Strong strategic fit with complementary technologies, product portfolios and core competencies in highly engineered, application-specific power solutions for key OEMs in demanding applications.

Accelerates earnings growth with over $20M of expected annualized synergies, driving projected earnings accretion of over 80c per share in 18-24 months and targeting to reach long-term accretion of over $1.50 per share, on a non-GAAP basis.

Creates significant financial value with a purchase price of approximately 5x synergy-adjusted EBITDA, with a path to future margin expansion, additional cost savings and de-levering to create long-term shareholder value.”

Under the terms of the Share Purchase Agreement, based on a total base purchase price of $400M, Advanced Energy will pay approximately $364M in cash and assume approximately $36M of liabilities for Artesyn EP, subject to final adjustments to the valuation of such liabilities and adjustments to reflect working capital as of the closing.

AE expects to finance the transaction through a combination of existing cash and $350N of debt supported by commitments from its lenders. The transaction has been approved by the board of Advanced Energy.

The transaction, which is expected to close during the second half of 2019, is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of international regulatory approvals and completion of certain carve out activities involving Artesyn’s Embedded Computing and Consumer Products businesses.

AEIS +$4.38 to $52.84.

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Chesapeake Lodging sold for $2.7 billion

Park Hotels & Resorts announces $2.7B acquisition of Chesapeake Lodging

Park Hotels buys Chesapeake Lodging, Stockwinners

Park Hotels & Resorts (PK) and Chesapeake Lodging Trust (CHSP) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Park will acquire all the outstanding shares of Chesapeake in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $2.7B.

Upon completion of the merger, the combined company will have an estimated enterprise value of $12B, firmly solidifying Park’s position as the second largest lodging REIT while also advancing the company’s strategic goals of portfolio enhancement and diversification.

The transaction has been approved by the board of directors and board of trustees of Park and Chesapeake, respectively.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Chesapeake shareholders will receive $11.00 in cash and 0.628 of a share of Park common stock for each Chesapeake share.

The fixed exchange ratio represents an agreed upon price of $31.00 per share of Chesapeake shares of beneficial interest based on Park’s trailing 10-day volume weighted average price as of May 3.

Based on Park’s closing stock price on May 3, this represents $31.71 per share of aggregate value to Chesapeake shareholders and represents a premium of approximately 11% to Chesapeake’s trailing 10-day VWAP and approximately 8% to Chesapeake’s closing stock price on May 3.

Upon closing, Park stockholders and Chesapeake shareholders will own approximately 84% and 16% of the combined company, respectively.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of the approval of Chesapeake shareholders.

The companies currently expect the transaction to close in late third quarter or early fourth quarter.

Chesapeake Lodging Trust is a self-advised lodging real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on investments primarily in upper-upscale hotels in major business and convention markets and, on a selective basis, premium select-service hotels in urban settings or unique locations in the United States.

The Trust owns 20 hotels with an aggregate of 6,279 rooms in eight states and the District of Columbia.

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Lord Corporation sold for $3.7 billion

Parker-Hannifin to acquire LORD Corporation for $3.7B in cash

Parker Hannifin to buy Lord Corp., Stockwinners

Parker Hannifin (PH) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire LORD Corporation for approximately $3.675B in cash.

The transaction has been approved by the Board of Directors of each company and is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of applicable regulatory approvals.

LORD, headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, is a privately-held company founded in 1924 offering a broad array of advanced adhesives, coatings and specialty materials as well as vibration and motion control technologies.

Lord Corp. sold for $3.7 billion in cash, Stockwinners

LORD’s products are used in the aerospace, automotive and industrial markets. LORD has annual sales of approximately $1.1B and employs 3,100 team members across 17 manufacturing and 15 research and development facilities globally.

“This strategic transaction will reinforce our stated objective to invest in attractive margin, growth businesses, such as engineered materials, that accelerate us towards top-quartile financial performance,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO of Parker.

“LORD will significantly expand our materials science capabilities with complementary products, better positioning us to serve customers in growth industries and capitalize on emerging trends such as electrification and lightweighting.

Upon closing of the transaction, LORD will be combined with Parker’s Engineered Materials Group.

Parker plans to finance the transaction using new debt.

Following the completion of the transaction, Parker expects to maintain a high investment grade credit profile.

The transaction is not expected to impact Parker’s dividend payout target averaging approximately 30-35% of net income over a five-year period, while maintaining its record of annual dividend increases.

The transaction is expected to be completed within the next four to six months and is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of applicable regulatory approvals.

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Investors unhappy with Bed Bath & Beyond

Investor group outlines strategic plan for Bed Bath & Beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles on competition. Stockwinners.com

Investor group outlines strategic plan for Bed Bath & Beyond , Stockwinners

Legion Partners Holdings, Macellum Advisors GP and Ancora Advisors released a presentation outlining the Investor Group’s Strategic Plan for Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY).

The group said, “The plan outlines the path forward to modernizing Bed Bath’s retail practices and delivering a significant earnings per share improvement which could drive $5.00 per share of annual earnings – a level that Bed Bath achieved just a few short years ago.

The Investor Group’s Strategic Plan includes the following highlights: Revamp executive management – recruiting a top-flight CEO to lead Bed Bath going forward and instill a world-class winning culture.

We plan to launch a search in the near term to address this key position. Reverse sales weakness – fixing the merchandise over-assortment problem through a detailed SKU rationalization process as well as developing a merchandise architecture that will better resonate with customers.

Making the in-store experience something that drives traffic to the stores will be a major priority.

Turn around Company culture – increase focus on employee training and education to improve motivation; empower employees to better use technology and improve customer experience.

Significantly expand gross margins – improve vendor relations and drive profits by establishing a direct sourcing strategy and private label program as well as fixing mix issues created by the Company’s shift to commoditized and lower margin products.

Implement cost cutting – conducting an extensive reassessment of the increases in expenses over the last five years, including the explosion of the Company’s advertising budget, seemingly endless array of initiatives that have failed to produce meaningful results and extensive use of consultants.

Improve inventory – increasing inventory turns which would result in a substantial release of cash tied up in slow moving goods. Fix capital allocation – reviewing all non-core businesses and assessing their value as part of the business or their potential value to other parties.

Excess cash created could be applied to share or debt repurchases, both of which are significantly accretive given discounted trading levels.

Lastly, the increase in capital expenditures will be addressed. Above all, the Investor Group’s director nominees have the relevant experience and commitment to execute on these priorities and hold management accountable for delivering results.”

BBBY last traded at $16.68

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Mustang Bio soars on its gene therapy data

NEJM reports ‘medical breakthrough’ in Mustang Bio cell and gene therapy

Mustang Bio (MBIO) announced that the New England Journal of Medicine has published data from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the nation’s “leading hospital” for understanding, treating and curing childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Mustang Bio soars on its gene therapy data, Stockwinners

The data comes from a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of a lentiviral gene therapy for the treatment of newly diagnosed infants under two years old with XSCID, also referred to as SCID-X1 and commonly known as “bubble boy disease.”

Under a licensing agreement with St. Jude, Mustang will develop the lentiviral gene therapy for commercial use as MB-107.

The multi-center Phase 1/2 clinical trial is evaluating the safety and efficacy of a lentiviral vector to transfer a normal copy of the IL2RG gene to bone marrow stem cells in newly diagnosed infants under the age of two with XSCID, preceded by low exposure-targeted busulfan conditioning.

A total of 10 infants have received the therapy to date in this clinical trial. Among the data highlights, bone marrow harvest, busulfan conditioning and cell infusion were well tolerated.

In seven of the eight cases, normalization of naive T-cell and natural killer cell numbers occurred within three to four months after treatment, accompanied by vector marking in T, B, NK and myeloid cells and marrow progenitors.

All patients cleared previous infections and are growing normally. Seven of the eight infants treated have developed normal IgM levels to date.

Most patients were discharged from the hospital within one month.

Data Highlights:

  • Bone marrow harvest, busulfan conditioning and cell infusion were well tolerated.
  • In seven of the eight cases, normalization of CD3+, CD4+ and CD4+ naïve T-cell and natural killer (“NK”) cell numbers occurred within three to four months after treatment, accompanied by vector marking in T, B, NK and myeloid cells and marrow progenitors.
    • The eighth infant had insufficient T cells initially, but normalization of T cells occurred following an unconditioned boost of gene-corrected cells, and the patient is progressing favorably.
  • All patients cleared previous infections and are growing normally.
  • Seven of the eight infants treated have developed normal IgM levels to date.
    • Four of these seven infants have discontinued monthly infusions of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy to date.
    • Three of those four infants that discontinued monthly IVIG infusions have responded to vaccines to date.

MBIO closed at $2.66, it last traded at $8.91.

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Advanced Disposal sold for $4.9 billion

Waste Management to acquire Advanced Disposal Services for $33.15 per share

Advanced Disposal sold for $4.9B, Stockwinners

Waste Management (WM) and Advanced Disposal Services (ADSW) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which a subsidiary of Waste Management will acquire all outstanding shares of Advanced Disposal for $33.15 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of $4.9B when including approximately $1.9B of Advanced Disposal’s net debt.

The per share price represents a premium of 22.1% to Advanced Disposal’s closing share price as of April 12, the last trading day prior to today’s announcement, and a premium of 20.9% to Advanced Disposal’s 30-day volume weighted average price as of the same date.


Transaction to close by the first quarter of 2020, Stockwinners

The transaction is not subject to a financing condition. Waste Management intends to finance the transaction using a combination of bank debt and senior notes.

Advanced Disposal Services provides non-hazardous solid waste collection, transfer, recycling, and disposal services. The company is involved in the curbside collection of residential refuse from small carts or containers into collection vehicles for transport to a disposal/recycling site. The company serves approximately 2.8 million residential customers; 200,000 commercial and industrial customers; and 800 municipalities in the Southeast, Midwest, and Eastern regions of the United States, as well as the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

Following completion of the transaction, Waste Management expects to maintain a strong balance sheet and solid investment grade credit profile with a pro forma leverage ratio within the company’s long-term targeted net debt-to-EBITDA range of 2.75x to 3.0x.

The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is expected to close by the first quarter of 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by a majority of the holders of Advanced Disposal’s outstanding common shares.

In connection with the definitive agreement, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which owns approximately 19% of Advanced Disposal’s outstanding shares, has, under the terms of a voting agreement, agreed to vote its shares in favor of the transaction.

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Electronics for Imaging sold for $1.7 billion

Siris Capital affiliate to acquire Electronics for Imaging for $37.00 per share

Electronics for Imaging (EFII), or EFI, announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Siris Capital in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $1.7B.

EFI sold for $1.7 billion, Stockwinners

Electronics for Imaging, Inc. provides industrial format display graphics, corrugated packaging and display, textile, and ceramic tile decoration digital inkjet printers worldwide. Its Industrial Inkjet segment offers VUTEk format display graphics, Nozomi corrugated packaging and display, Reggiani textile, and Cretaprint ceramic tile decoration and building material industrial digital inkjet printers; digital ultra-violet curable, light emitting diode curable, ceramic, water-based, thermoforming, and specialty inks; various textile inks, including dye sublimation, pigmented, reactive dye, acid dye, pure disperse dye, and water-based dispersed printing inks, as well as coatings; digital inkjet printer parts; and professional services. 

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by EFI’s board, an affiliate of Siris will acquire all the outstanding common stock of EFI for $37.00 per share in cash.

The purchase price represents an approximately 45% premium over EFI’s 90-day volume-weighted average price ended on April 12. EFI may solicit alternative acquisition proposals from third parties during a “go-shop” period over the next 45 calendar days.

EFI will have the right to terminate the agreement to enter into a superior proposal subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement.

There is no guarantee that this process will result in a superior proposal and the agreement provides Siris with a customary right to attempt to match a superior proposal.

EFI does not intend to disclose developments with respect to the solicitation process unless and until it determines such disclosure is appropriate or is otherwise required.

EFI’s board has unanimously recommended that its shareholders adopt the agreement with Siris.

Subject to the go-shop, a special meeting of EFI’s shareholders will be held as soon as practicable following the filing of the definitive proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and subsequent mailing to shareholders.

Subject to the go-shop, the proposed transaction is expected to close by Q3 and is subject to approval by EFI’s shareholders, along with the satisfaction of customary closing conditions including antitrust regulatory approvals.

The transaction is not subject to any financing conditions. Upon completion of the acquisition, EFI will become wholly owned by an affiliate of Siris.

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Anadarko Petroleum sold for $50 billion

Chevron to acquire Anadarko for $65 per share or $33B


Anadarko sold for $50 billion, Stockwinners

Chevron Corporation (CVX) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Anadarko Petroleum (APC) to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Anadarko in a stock and cash transaction valued at $33B, or $65 per share.

Based on Chevron’s closing price on April 11, and under the terms of the agreement, Anadarko shareholders will receive 0.3869 shares of Chevron and $16.25 in cash for each Anadarko share.

Chevron sees synergies of $2 billion, Stockwinners

The total enterprise value of the transaction is $50B.

“The acquisition of Anadarko will significantly enhance Chevron’s already advantaged Upstream portfolio and further strengthen its leading positions in large, attractive shale, deepwater and natural gas resource basins.

Furthermore, Western Midstream Partners, LP (WES) is a successful midstream company whose assets are well aligned with the combined companies’ upstream positions, which should further enhance their economics and execution capabilities.”

Chevron’s Chairman and CEO Michael Wirth said, “This transaction builds strength on strength for Chevron. The combination of Anadarko’s premier, high-quality assets with our advantaged portfolio strengthens our leading position in the Permian, builds on our deepwater Gulf of Mexico capabilities and will grow our LNG business.

It creates attractive growth opportunities in areas that play to Chevron’s operational strengths and underscores our commitment to short-cycle, higher-return investments.

This transaction will unlock significant value for shareholders, generating anticipated annual run-rate synergies of approximately $2 billion, and will be accretive to free cash flow and earnings one year after close,” Wirth concluded.

“The strategic combination of Chevron and Anadarko will form a stronger and better company with world-class assets, people and opportunities,” said Anadarko Chairman and CEO Al Walker.

“I have tremendous respect for Mike and his leadership team and believe Chevron’s strategy, scale and operational capabilities will further accelerate the value of Anadarko’s assets.”

The acquisition consideration is structured as 75% stock and 25% cash, providing an overall value of $65 per share based on the closing price of Chevron (CVX) stock on April 11.

In aggregate, upon closing of the transaction, Chevron will issue approximately 200M shares of stock and pay approximately $8B in cash. Chevron will also assume estimated net debt of $15B.

Total enterprise value of $50B includes the assumption of net debt and book value of non-controlling interest.

The transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies and is expected to close in the second half of the year. The acquisition is subject to Anadarko (APC) shareholder approval. It is also subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Upon closing, the company will continue be led by Michael Wirth as chairman and CEO. Chevron will remain headquartered in San Ramon, California.

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Sorrento Therapeutics reports positive Parkinson’s disease study, shares rise

Sorrento Therapeutics announces top line results from Parkinson’s disease study


Sorrento Therapeutics announces top line results from Parkinson’s disease study, Stockwinners

Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE) announced top line results in a discovery study aimed at exploring potential benefits of resiniferatoxin in controlling neuro-inflammatory processes associated with Parkinson’s disease in a rodent model.

Many clinical and pathological studies have shown that the disease extends beyond the substantia nigra and involves non-dopaminergic neurotransmitter systems that mediate both motor and non-motor symptoms.

Several therapeutic strategies have been proposed to treat such symptoms. However, despite the significant morbidity associated with these symptoms, research into and drug development for these problems remain scarce.

Transient receptor potential vanilloid 1, or TRPV1, is involved in pain perception and is highly expressed in sensory neurons. TRPV1 is also present in the brain where it may play a role in modulating neuronal function, controlling motor behavior and regulating neuroinflammation.

TRPV1 receptors are considered an important modulator of basal ganglia functions, and pharmacological changes to cells expressing those receptors might lead to protective therapies in Parkinson-induced motor symptoms.

Intrathecal administration of RTX at 7 days after AAV-A53T resulted in improved motor function analyzed by fine motor kinematic analysis when compared to control mice administered with vehicle for RTX.

No significant adverse effects after RTX infusion were observed. However, no significant effects in dopamine and its metabolites levels in striatum were observed.

The findings demonstrated activity of intrathecal administration of RTX at the early intervention paradigm to rescue motor deficits in AAV-A53T model.

The lack of effect on dopamine levels suggest that behavioral recovery is driven by mechanisms other than direct protection of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons, including modulation of neuroinflammation and/or analgesic effect of RTX after IT delivery.

A provisional patent has been filed for non-dopaminergic therapeutic approach with resiniferatoxin for symptomatic relief of motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

The full results of the study will be released in publication in a scientific journal and presented at an upcoming neurosciences conference later this year.

Enabling preclinical work will continue with the goal of filing an IND by the end of the year. If results are confirmed, human clinical trials to start soon after. announces top line results from Parkinson’s disease study

Sorrento Therapeutics announced top line results in a discovery study aimed at exploring potential benefits of resiniferatoxin in controlling neuro-inflammatory processes associated with Parkinson’s disease in a rodent model.

Many clinical and pathological studies have shown that the disease extends beyond the substantia nigra and involves non-dopaminergic neurotransmitter systems that mediate both motor and non-motor symptoms.

Several therapeutic strategies have been proposed to treat such symptoms. However, despite the significant morbidity associated with these symptoms, research into and drug development for these problems remain scarce.

Transient receptor potential vanilloid 1, or TRPV1, is involved in pain perception and is highly expressed in sensory neurons.

TRPV1 is also present in the brain where it may play a role in modulating neuronal function, controlling motor behavior and regulating neuroinflammation. TRPV1 receptors are considered an important modulator of basal ganglia functions, and pharmacological changes to cells expressing those receptors might lead to protective therapies in Parkinson-induced motor symptoms.

Intrathecal administration of RTX at 7 days after AAV-A53T resulted in improved motor function analyzed by fine motor kinematic analysis when compared to control mice administered with vehicle for RTX.

No significant adverse effects after RTX infusion were observed. However, no significant effects in dopamine and its metabolites levels in striatum were observed.

The findings demonstrated activity of intrathecal administration of RTX at the early intervention paradigm to rescue motor deficits in AAV-A53T model.

The lack of effect on dopamine levels suggest that behavioral recovery is driven by mechanisms other than direct protection of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons, including modulation of neuroinflammation and/or analgesic effect of RTX after IT delivery.

A provisional patent has been filed for non-dopaminergic therapeutic approach with resiniferatoxin for symptomatic relief of motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. The full results of the study will be released in publication in a scientific journal and presented at an upcoming neurosciences conference later this year.

Enabling preclinical work will continue with the goal of filing an IND by the end of the year. If results are confirmed, human clinical trials to start soon after.

SRNE closed at $4.09.

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Rig counts rise in March

Baker Hughes announces March international rig count of 1,039, up 12

The international offshore rig count for April 2018 was 194. Stockwinners
The international offshore rig count rises in March, Stockwinners

Baker Hughes (BHGE) announced that the Baker Hughes international rig count for March 2019 was 1,039, up 12 from the 1,027 counted in February 2019, and up 67 from the 972 counted in March 2018.

The international offshore rig count for March 2019 was 247, down 3 from the 250 counted in February 2019, and up 62 from the 185 counted in February 2018.

The average U.S. rig count for March 2019 was 1,023, down 26 from the 1,049 counted in February 2019, and up 34 from the 989 counted in March 2018.

The average Canadian rig count for March 2019 was 151, down 79 from the 230 counted in February 2019, and down 67 from the 218 counted in March 2018.

The worldwide rig count for March 2019 was 2,213, down 93 from the 2,306 counted in February 2019, and up 34 from the 2,179 counted in March 2018.

Crude oil is up 2 cents to $62.12 per barrel.

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Zoosk sold for $255 million

Spark Networks to acquire Zoosk, sees adjusted EBITDA to exceed $50M in 2020

Spark Networks (LOV) announced its entry into a definitive agreement to acquire Zoosk.

Zoosk shareholders will receive $95 million in cash, Stockwinners

The combination will drive a meaningful increase in Spark’s scale, with over one million monthly paying subscribers across the two platforms. Spark expects the transaction to drive meaningful margin expansion in 2020 and beyond.

“Zoosk is one of the strongest dating apps in the North American market, which comprises half of the $5B global online dating opportunity,” said Jeronimo Folgueira, Chief Executive Officer of Spark Networks SE.

“Similarly, North America has been a key strategic market for Spark, and the focal point for our growth initiatives. Our deal with Zoosk creates the second largest online dating platform in North America and the second largest publicly-listed dating company in the world.

Spark buys Zoosk for $255 million, Stockwinners

Over the past 18 months, our management team has successfully integrated acquisitions and developed new brands. As a result of these efforts, our brand portfolio now includes SilverSingles, which continues to exceed our expectations, and the Christian Mingle, Jdate and JSwipe brands, which have all shown significant improvement since they were acquired in late 2017.

Our acquisition of Zoosk is the most transformative deal in our history, and we expect the transaction to immediately strengthen our position in the online dating market. With the increased scale that results from the combination, we see a clear path to profitability improvements and greater opportunity to invest in innovation and growth initiatives that will drive shareholder value.”

With the addition of Zoosk, Spark will more than double in size and the combined business will be considerably more valuable than the two stand-alone entities: Following the completion of its integration plans, Spark expects to drive significant Adjusted EBITDA margin expansion.

In 2020, Spark expects Adjusted EBITDA to exceed $50M. Under the terms of the agreement, Spark will acquire 100% of Zoosk’s shares with a combination of cash and stock valuing the company at approximately $255M based on the closing price of Spark Networks SE stock on March 20.

Spark will issue 12.98M American Depository Shares valued at approximately $150M based on the closing price of Spark Networks SE stock of $11.53 on March 20.

Additionally, Zoosk shareholders will receive net cash consideration of $95M at closing and $10M via a deferred cash payment in December 2020, which will be funded through a new $120M senior secured debt facility.

The transaction is expected to close early in the third quarter of 2019.

LOV closed at $11.90.

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Axovant higher on data

Axovant jumps following update on Tay-Sachs Disease gene therapy program

Axovant higher on gene data, Stockwinners

Shares of Axovant (AXGT) have surged higher today following the company’s report of three-month data from an investigator-initiated study administering investigational AXO-AAV-GM2 gene therapy in a patient with advanced infantile Tay-Sachs disease, a rare and fatal pediatric eurodegenerative genetic disorder.

Tay-Sachs disease (TSD) is a fatal genetic disorder, most commonly occurring in children, that results in progressive destruction of the nervous system. Tay-Sachs is caused by the absence of a vital enzyme called hexosaminidase-A (Hex-A). Without Hex-A, a fatty substance, or lipid, called GM2 ganglioside accumulates abnormally in cells, especially in the nerve cells of the brain. This ongoing accumulation causes progressive damage to the cells.

In children, the destructive process begins in the fetus early in pregnancy. However, a baby with Tay-Sachs disease appears normal until about six months of age when its development slows. By about two years of age, most children experience recurrent seizures and diminishing mental function. The infant gradually regresses, and is eventually unable to crawl, turn over, sit or reach out. Eventually, the child becomes blind, cognitively impaired, paralyzed and non-responsive. By the time a child with Tay-Sachs is three or four years old, the nervous system is so badly affected that death usually results by age five.

The study is evaluating a total dose of 1.0x 1014 vg of AXO-AAV-GM2 in a 30-month-old child with advanced infantile Tay-Sachs disease.

AXO-AAV-GM2 was administered into the cisterna magna and lumbar spinal canal only.

Due to the patient’s advanced disease, a co-delivered intrathalamic injection of AXO-AAV-GM2 was not administered.

Future patients in the program, who are expected to be treated earlier in their disease course, will receive AXO-AAV-GM2 co-delivered into the thalamus bilaterally as well as into the cisterna magna and spinal canal.

“AXO-AAV-GM2 was generally well-tolerated and no serious adverse events have been reported as of the 3-month visit. At 3 months, no clinically relevant laboratory abnormalities were observed following AXO-AAV-GM2 administration.

The patient’s clinical condition was stable from baseline to month 3 without clinical deterioration observed on neurological exam.

Furthermore, there was no significant deterioration in the condition from the pre-treatment magnetic resonance imaging of the brain at baseline to the post-treatment MRI at month 3,” the company announced in press release earlier this morning.

Additionally, Chardan has upgraded Axovant to Buy from Neutral following the data report.

In morning trading, Axovant shares are up 46c, or 31%, to $1.94.

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Verrica Pharmaceuticals reports positive data on its molluscum contagiosum drug

Verrica Pharmaceuticals presents results from Phase 3 clinical trials of VP-102

Verrica Pharmaceuticals reports positive data on its molluscum contagiosum drug, Stockwinners

Verrica Pharmaceuticals (VRCA) presented data from the company’s pivotal Phase 3 CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 trials of lead product candidate, VP-102, at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting being held in Washington, DC from March 1-5.

Both trials of VP-102 in patients with molluscum contagiosum successfully met their primary endpoints.

In each trial, a clinically and statistically significant proportion of patients treated with VP-102 demonstrated complete clearance of all treatable molluscum lesions in 12 weeks.

On average, molluscum can take approximately 13 months to resolve without treatment, and in some cases can remain unresolved for several years.

The two randomized, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled trials evaluated the efficacy of dermal application of VP-102 compared to placebo in subjects with molluscum.

In total, the trials enrolled 528 subjects two years of age and older with molluscum at 31 centers in the U.S. Subjects were treated once every 21 days with topical solution of 0.7% cantharidin for up to four applications.

Complete clearance of molluscum lesions was evaluated by assessment of the number of lesions at study visits over 12 weeks. Results from CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 showed 46% and 54% of subjects treated with VP-102, respectively, achieved complete clearance of all treatable molluscum lesions at the end of the trials versus 18% and 13% of subjects in the placebo groups.

By Day 84, VP-102 treated subjects had a 69% and 83% mean reduction in the number of molluscum lesions, a pre-specified endpoint, in CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 respectively, compared to a 20% increase and a 19% reduction for subjects on placebo. VP-102 was well-tolerated in both trials, with no serious adverse events reported in VP-102 treated subjects.

The most frequently reported adverse events were application site reactions that are well-known, reversible side effects related to the mechanism of action of cantharidin, a blistering agent, which is the active ingredient in VP-102.

There were no treatment-related serious adverse events reported in CAMP-1 or CAMP-2. Verrica previously announced topline results from both trials on January 3, 2019.

Based on the positive results, the company plans to submit a New Drug Application for VP-102 in the second half of 2019. If approved, VP-102 would be the first FDA-approved treatment for molluscum contagiosum.


Molluscum contagiosum is a relatively common viral infection of the skin, mainly in children, Stockwinners.com

VRCA closed at $12.11.

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