Cedar Fair receives take over offer!

Cedar Fair jumps after Bloomberg report of SeaWorld takeover bid

SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS) has offered to buy Cedar Fair (FUN) for around $3.4B or $60 per share, Bloomberg reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Cedar Fair owns and operates amusement and water parks, and complementary resort facilities in the United States and Canada. Its amusement parks include Cedar Point located on Lake Erie between Cleveland and Toledo in Sandusky, Ohio; Knott’s Berry Farm near Los Angeles, California; Canada’s Wonderland near Toronto, Ontario; Kings Island near Cincinnati, Ohio; Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina; Kings Dominion situated near Richmond, Virginia; California’s Great America located in Santa Clara, California; Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pennsylvania; Worlds of Fun located in Kansas City, Missouri; Valleyfair situated near Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Michigan’s Adventure situated near Muskegon, Michigan; Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort New Braunfels in New Braunfels, Texas; and Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston in Galveston, Texas. 

SeaWorld Entertainment operates as a theme park and entertainment company in the United States. The company operates SeaWorld theme parks in Orlando, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; and San Diego, California, as well as Busch Gardens theme parks in Tampa, Florida, and Williamsburg, Virginia. 

Cedar Fair Properties

The companies are working with advisers on the proposal and deliberations are ongoing, sources told Bloomberg.

It is unclear if the approach will lead to a transaction, they added.

Shares of SeaWorld are little changed at $59.29 following the report while Cedar Fair halted for volatility after jumping 11% to $55.59.

Six Flags Entertainment (SIX), which owns amusement parks like Cedar Fair, is up 5% to $41.60 following the report.

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Merger in the railroad space!

Canadian Pacific to buy Kansas City Southern in $29B deal

Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and Kansas City Southern (KSU) announced they have entered into a merger agreement, under which CP has agreed to acquire KCS in a stock and cash transaction representing an enterprise value of approximately $29B, which includes the assumption of $3.8B of outstanding KCS debt.

The transaction, which has the unanimous support of both boards of directors, values KCS at $275 per share, representing a 23% premium, based on the CP and KCS closing prices on March 19, 2021.

Following the closing into a voting trust, common shareholders of KCS will receive 0.489 of a CP share and $90 in cash for each KCS common share held.

Following final approval from the Surface Transportation Board, the transaction will combine the two railroads to create the first rail network connecting the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

Canadian Pacific Rails

Joining seamlessly in Kansas City, Mo., in America’s heartland, CP and KCS together will connect customers via single-network transportation offerings between points on CP’s system throughout Canada, the U.S. Midwest, and the U.S. Northeast and points on KCS’ system throughout Mexico and the South Central U.S.

While remaining the smallest of six U.S. Class 1 railroads by revenue, the combined company will be a much larger and more competitive network, operating approximately 20,000 miles of rail, employing close to 20,000 people and generating total revenues of approximately $8.7 billion based on 2020 actual revenues.

Combined Companies Rails

The combination is expected to be accretive to CP’s adjusted diluted EPS in the first full year following CP’s acquisition of control of KCS, and is expected to generate double-digit accretion upon the full realization of synergies thereafter.

To fund the stock consideration of the merger, CP will issue 44.5 million new shares.

The cash portion will be funded through a combination of cash-on-hand and raising approximately $8.6B in debt, for which financing has been committed.

As part of the merger, CP will assume approximately $3.8B of KCS’ outstanding debt.

Following the closing into trust, CP expects that its outstanding debt will be approximately $20.2B. Pro forma for the transaction, CP estimates its leverage ratio against 2021E street consensus EBITDA to be approximately 4.0-times with the assumption of KCS debt and issuance of new acquisition-related debt.

In order to manage this leverage effectively, CP will be temporarily suspending its normal course issuer bid program, and expects to produce approximately $7B of levered free cash flow over the next three years.

CP estimates its long-term leverage target of approximately 2.5x to be achieved within 36 months after closing into trust.

The combined company will remain committed to maintaining strong investment grade credit ratings while continuing to return capital for the benefit of shareholders.

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IMF warns of global slowdown

International Monetary Fund cuts global growth forecast

IMF cuts global growth forecast and warns that the rebound in global financial markets “appears disconnected from shifts in underlying economic prospects”.

The fund now expects global GDP to shrink -4.9% this year, from -3.0% expected in April.

For next year, the IMF sees a rebound of 5.4%, also lower than the 5.8% projected two months ago with downward revisions reflecting the deep scars from a larger than expected supply shock during lockdowns as well as a continued hit to demand from social distancing and other virus measures.

Orange color designates economic downgrades

The IMF warned that for nations struggling to control the spread of the virus a longer lockdown will also take a toll on growth.

“With the relentless spread of the pandemic, prospects of long lasting negative consequences for livelihoods, job security and inequality have grown more daunting”, according to the fund’s update to the World Economic Outlook.

Advanced economies are expected to lead the downdraft with a -8.0% rate, versus -6.1% in the prior forecast.

The outlook on the U.S. was downgraded to -8.0% from -5.9%.

The projection on the Euro Area was knocked down to -10.2% from -7.5%. The UK is also seen posting a -10.2% contraction versus -6.5% previously. Japan was revised to -5.8% from -5.2%.

Emerging market and developing economies are seen falling -3.0% versus -1.0% in the April forecast. China is expected to expand 1.0%, though down from the prior 1.2%.

The largest revision was seen with India where the prior 1.9% growth rate was revised to a -4.5% contraction. World trade volume is projected tumbling at a -11.9% pace this year, a downgrade from -11.0% previously, though is expected to bounce back to an 8.0% growth rate in 2021.

Consumer prices in Advanced economies is seen slowing to 0.3% versus the prior estimate of 0.5%, and is down from a 1.4% pace in 2019.

Several central bank officials have also tried to reign in optimism about the recovery as markets seem to run away with the recovery story.

India’s economy is expected to hit hard with Covid-19

Massive monetary and fiscal support may help to kick-start a rebound, but as ECB chief economist Lane warned today, it will take a long time to reach pre-crisis levels.

The Bank o Japan’s summary of opinion warned that a prolonged negative impact of virus developments on the economic outlook looks unavoidable. And China’s Beige Book expects a contraction for China’s economy this year. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut, announced a joint travel advisory.

All individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 into any of the three states must quarantine for 14 days, the governors announced.

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In the market for a used car? You are in luck

A Hertz bankruptcy will flood the market with used vehicles

If you are in the market for a used car, you are in luck. That is, if you have a place to drive to!

According to the Detroit Press, used car prices fell 34.4 percent in April alone. The paper offers solace to it’s readers by mentioning that  used car prices could go up soon due to a shortage of new cars caused by plant closures. The paper however, failed to mention the nearly half a million cars currently sitting ideal on Hertz car lots. With practically no one traveling these days, the need for rental cars has evaporated. Hertz (HTZ) and Avis-Budget (CAR) have suffered the most. Hertz has bigger problems than COVID-19 and that is it’s balance sheet.

There are several stories suggesting a Hertz bankruptcy is around the corner.

Hertz is near bankruptcy

According to Bloomberg, Hertz’s situation is a three-way standoff between Holders of Hertz’s asset-backed securities. They could delay pressuring Hertz to sell down its fleet for a short period of time, but they will need Hertz’s banks to promise to make them whole. The banks, in turn, may not want to take on such a risk, which requires them to bet that either the rental car business or used car prices return to some normal operating level.

A 2-year price chart of Hertz (HTZ), Stockwinners

Meanwhile, controlling shareholder Carl Icahn (IEP) holds a 39% equity stake in the rental company. Bloomberg says that he could put in more money to keep Hertz afloat, but this once again is dependent on a belief that the rental car business will recover to some extent in the very near future.

Carl Icahn

In a bankruptcy, Bloomberg notes, equity holders’ claims would be behind those of creditors, which is not an incentive for Icahn to put in more money at the moment.

Used car prices have fallen sharply due to Covid-19

A Hertz bankruptcy could flood the used car market with several hundred thousand cars, whose value is likely to take a substantial hit at a time when used car lots are already quite full and demand is low.

Companies now deliver used cars to your home for test drives

Bloomberg notes that used car prices dropped 11.4% from March to April, while sales were merely a quarter of pre-outbreak levels.

Meanwhile Hertz has started discounting its cars on its used car lots and Hertz Car Sales. In fact, you can pick up a car, and they will deliver it to your house for a test drive. We have seen discounts as high as 25% on some models.  The company carries brands like Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota and Nissan, to some luxury brands like Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz.

Cars are discounted by Hertz

One more footnote to this story: auto dealerships usually set their used car prices as a function of new car prices. With most of the domestic auto plants closed, price of new cars (2021 model year) will not be known anytime soon.

Companies in the space include: Copart (CPRT), CarMax (KMX), Carvana (CVNA), CarGurus (CARG), Penske (PAG). AutoNation (AN). 

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Vail Resorts buys Peak Resorts for $11.00 per share

The deal is valued about $170 million

Peak Resorts (SKIS) announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Vail Resorts, Inc. (MTN) pursuant to which Vail Resorts will acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of Peak Resorts for $11.00 per share in cash.

Vail Resorts to buy Peak Resorts, Stockwinners

The transaction represents a 116% premium to Peak Resorts’ closing stock price on July 19, 2019.

The transaction is expected to close in fall 2019 and is subject to certain conditions, including a vote of Peak Resorts shareholders and antitrust clearance.

Vail Resorts buys Peak Resorts, shares jump. Stockwinners

The transaction was approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies. Peak Resorts’ Board of Directors also recommends that the Company’s shareholders approve the transaction.

Moelis & Company LLC is serving as financial advisor to Peak Resorts. Perkins Coie LLP, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard P.C. and Armstrong Teasdale LLP are serving as legal counsel to Peak Resorts.

About the Companies

Peak Resorts, Inc. owns, operates, and leases day and overnight drive ski resorts in the United States. Its resorts activities and amenities include skiing, snowboarding, terrain parks, tubing, dining, lodging, equipment rentals and sales, ski and snowboard instruction, golf, zip lines, mountain coasters, mountain biking, hiking, paint ball, and other summer activities. It operates 17 ski resorts primarily located in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest.

Vail Resorts has been on a shopping spree, Stockwinners

Vail Resorts, Inc. operates mountain resorts and urban ski areas in the United States. The company operates through three segments: Mountain, Lodging, and Real Estate. The Mountain segment operates 11 mountain resorts, including Vail Mountain, Breckenridge Ski, Keystone, and Beaver Creek resorts in Colorado; Park City resort in Utah; Heavenly Mountain, Northstar, and Kirkwood Mountain resorts in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Whistler Blackcomb in Canada; Stowe Mountain resort in Vermont; and Perisher in Australia, as well as 3 urban ski areas, such as Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin, Afton Alps in Minnesota, and Mount Brighton in Michigan.

Vail Resorts expands its footprint by purchasing Peak Resorts, Stockwinners

Its resorts offer various winter and summer recreational activities. The Lodging segment owns and/or manages various luxury hotels and condominiums under the RockResorts brand, and other lodging properties; various condominiums located in proximity to the company’s mountain resorts; destination resorts; and golf courses, as well as offers resort ground transportation services. This segment operates approximately 5,400 owned and managed hotel and condominium units.

The Real Estate segment owns, develops, and sells real estate properties in and around the company’s resort communities. 

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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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Wyndham sells its European vacation business rental for $1.3B

Wyndham to sell European vacation rental business to Platinum Equity for $1.3B

 

Wyndham sells its European vacation rental for $1.3B. Stockwinners.com
Wyndham sells its European vacation rental for $1.3B

Wyndham (WYN) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of its European vacation rental business to Platinum Equity for approximately $1.3B.

In conjunction with the sale, the European vacation rental business has entered into a 20-year agreement under which it will pay a royalty fee of 1% of net revenue to Wyndham’s hotel business for the right to use the by Wyndham Vacation Rentals endorser brand.

The European vacation rentals operations will also participate as a redemption partner in the award-winning Wyndham Rewards loyalty program.

Wyndham’s industry-leading European vacation rental business is the largest manager of holiday rentals in Europe, with more than 110,000 units in over 600 destinations in more than 25 countries.

The business operates more than two dozen local brands, including cottages.com, James Villa Holidays, Landal GreenParks, Novasol and Hoseasons.

It generates approximately $750 million in annual revenue and approximately $130 million of EBITDA, including allocated costs.

Wyndham Worldwide originally announced its intent to explore strategic alternatives for its European rental brands in August 2017, in conjunction with the Company’s announcement of the planned separation of its hotel business from its vacation ownership and timeshare exchange businesses.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions including works council consultation.


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Changes to S&P MidCap 400, S&P SmallCap 600 indices

Changes to S&P MidCap 400, S&P SmallCap 600 indices

Stocks to buy, stocks to watch, upgrades, downgrades, earnings
Changes to S&P MidCap 400, S&P SmallCap 600 indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices will make the following changes to the S&P MidCap 400 and S&P SmallCap 600:

S&P SmallCap 600 constituent Boyd Gaming (BYD) will replace CalAtlantic Group (CAA) in the S&P MidCap 400, and Ring Energy (REI) will replace Boyd Gaming in the S&P SmallCap 600 effective prior to the open of trading on Tuesday, February 13.

S&P 500 constituent Lennar (LEN) is acquiring CalAtlantic Group in a deal expected to be completed on or about February 12 pending final approvals.

James River Group Holdings (JRVR) will replace Barracuda Networks (CUDA) in the S&P SmallCap 600 effective prior to the open of trading on Monday, February 12.

Thoma Bravo is acquiring Barracuda Networks in a deal expected to be completed on or about that date pending final conditions.

EVERTEC (EVTC) will replace Sucampo Pharmaceuticals (SCMP) in the S&P SmallCap 600 effective prior to the open of trading on Wednesday, February 14.

S&P 500 constituent Mallinckrodt (MNK) is acquiring Sucampo Pharmaceuticals in a deal expected to be completed on or about that date pending final conditions.


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CSX postpones investors conference

CSX postpones investor conference, announces share buyback

CSX postpones investor conference, announces share buyback. See Stockwinners.com

Following yesterday’s announcement of executive changes including naming Jim Foote as COO, CSX Corporation (CSX) is postponing its scheduled October 30th Investor Conference to a later date.

“Our team continues to build momentum and the addition of Jim increases my confidence in our ability to serve customers and deliver shareholder value,” said Hunter Harrison, president and CEO.

“I am more confident than ever in CSX’s ability to achieve industry leading operating and financial performance and look forward to showcasing our leadership team at a future date.”

CSX also announced the Board has authorized $1.5B in share repurchases, which builds on the $1.5B program recently completed.

“The Board’s action to expand the repurchase program demonstrates our confidence in CSX’s long term future and ability to generate substantial free cash flow,” said Harrison.

Citi Comments

Citi analyst Christian #Wetherbee believes the “surprising” postponement of CSX’s investor day will likely prompt concerns about CEO Hunter Harrison’s health and “potential disarray in the management ranks” following the replacement of two C-level executives Wednesday.

The analyst, however, believes the company needs more time for new COO Jim Foote to get familiar with operations in order to participate in the presentation.

Wetherbee expects the shares to face downward pressure in the short term, but thinks little incremental has changed at the company. He keeps a Buy rating on CSX with a $58 price target.

CSX closed at $52.92.


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Barron’s is bullish on GM, China Mobile

Barron’s, the weekly publication owned by the Wall Street Journal, in its latest issue mentions several names: 

Stockwinners offers Barron's review of Stockwinners offers stocks to buy, stocks to watch, upgrades, downgrades, earnings, Stocks to Buy On Margin

BULLISH  MENTIONS

Activision to continue earnings growth from in-game spending – Activision Blizzard (ATVI) started encouraging more in-game spending, getting users to pay for new weapons, new missions, and new virtual outfits within titles they owned and as a result its stock soared since the beginning of the year, Emily Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Smaller competitors have also ramped up recurring spending, with shares of Electronic Arts (EA) and Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO) also jumping in 2017, she notes. Bary adds game makers should continue to see strong earnings growth from in-game spending.

China Mobile looks cheap, but there may be a catch – China Mobile (CHL) has $60B of net cash, equal to 30% of its market shares, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. But many fear the Chinese government, which owns 73% of the company, will divert it to prop up other enterprises, he notes, adding that as a result the company’s shares have performed poorly in the last few years.

Cognizant is returning cash to investors – Cognizant (CTSH) is building a lucrative digital-consulting business, Resham Kapadia writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Meanwhile, the company’s shareholders could see a twofold payoff thanks to activist investor Elliott Management, which took a 4% stake last November, acquired three board seats, and pressed management to prioritize profit-margin expansion, the publication noted, adding that Cognizant will return $3.4B through 2018 via stock buybacks and dividends.

GM (GM) well-placed to make self-driving, battery-powered cars – In a follow-up story, Barron’s says General Motors has become an autonomously driven stock, climbing to $45 on chatter over GM being well-placed to make the self-driving, shared, battery-powered cars of the future. GM remains more than 60% cheaper than the S&P 500, the publication noted, adding that investors should hold out for more upside, and the 3.4% dividend yield.

BP, Royal Dutch Shell dividends look safe – Foreign companies tend to favor paying dividends over buying back stock, Lawrence Strauss writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. BP (BP), Enel, ING Group (ING), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A), TSMC (TSM) and WPP (WPPGY) dividends all look safe, Strauss notes, adding that with the exception of Royal Dutch Shell and BP, they are all expected to pay higher dividends in 2018 than in 2017.

Nvidia stock/options market disconnection an opportunity – While Nvidia (NVDA) is “red hot” in the stock market, it is “lukewarm” in the option market, which creates an “intriguing” opportunity, Steven Sears writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.

E-Commerce helping Wal-Mart ‘jump-start stalled revenue – While Wal-Mart (WMT) has played in online shopping since 2000, it got a boost a year ago with its $3.3B acquisition of Jet.com, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. As an e-Commerce player, Wal-Mart is growing faster than Amazon (AMZN) has in years, and shareholders will benefit, he adds.

BEARISH  MENTIONS

Costco shares still fell despite good quarter– Since Amazon (AMZN) announced its acquisition of Whole Foods, Costco (COST) has been “on the ropes,” Ben Levisohn writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. The retailer shares have dropped 12% since then, even as the company delivers earnings beats and same-store sales increases, he adds.

RH shares fully priced – Combined with July-quarter report, RH‘s shares (formerly known as Restoration Hardware) buyback has lifted its stock 146% this year and “squeezed those unwelcome guests called short sellers,” Bill Alpert writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. But now RH shares look fully priced, and is one of the most richly priced retailers around, he adds.

Gun shares look overvalued – Tragedies involving guns and political pronouncement about gun violence tend to move shares of publicly traded firearms companies, such as Sturm Ruger (RGR), American Outdoor Brands (AOBC) and Vista Outdoor (VSTO), Vito Racanelli writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. But with prospects dim for stricter gun control, an impetus for long-term sales growth is lacking, he notes, adding that the stocks look overvalued.


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Disney Tumbles on guidance, streaming service, and Irma

Disney slides after CEO comments on guidance, streaming service

This blog was updated with Disney World Closure Information

Disney to end Netflix distribution agreement in 2019. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar for details

During Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger said that he expects the company’s 2017 earnings per share to be roughly in line with last fiscal year, sending the stock into negative territory.

The executive also said Marvel and Star Wars will go exclusively to the company’s upcoming streaming service.

GUIDANCE

Disney CEO Bob Iger expects the company’s fiscal year 2017 earnings per share to be roughly in line with last fiscal year.

In 2016, Disney reported adjusted earnings per share of $5.72, according to Bloomberg data. The consensus estimate for 2017 prior to Iger’s comments today was for 2017 earnings per share of $5.88, according to First Call.

“I think you have to look at the year as being roughly in line with an EPS basis that we delivered in fiscal ’16, and that’s for a few reasons, some, by the way, very topical. We mentioned all the way at the beginning of the year the impact of the NBA, big growth in cost to ESPN on the rights front. We also did not have a big Star Wars movie. […]

HURRICANE  IRMA

In addition to that, we have had some impact already from Hurricane Irma. There, we’ve seen cancellations in Orlando, and we’ve also had to cancel three cruise itineraries and shorten a couple of others. Lastly, there will be some expense us in fiscal ’17 that are tied to the BAMTech acquisition,” the executive said during the media conference.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki6q5KaGqrA?rel=0&controls=0&w=560&h=315]

Walt Disney World to close from Saturday until Tuesday or later – Walt Disney World will begin closing its theme parks from Saturday September 9 and “hopes” to resume normal operations on Tuesday September 12, the company stated in an update on Hurricane Irma posted to its website. 

DISNEY STREAMING SERVICE

During the presentation, CEO Bob Iger also said that Marvel and Star Wars titles will go exclusively to the new Disney streaming platform, a service that is set to launch in late 2019.

“We’re going to launch it in late 2019. We’re doing that for two reasons. First of all, as we exit the Netflix (NFLX) output deal, we don’t get access to our theatrical release movies until the beginning of ’19.  Secondly, we wanted time to actually develop and build up original programming for the platform. So late ’19, we’ll launch a Disney-branded service.

It will have — it will be the output distributor for the theatrical release movies. […] We’ve now decided that we will put the Marvel and Star Wars movies on this app as well. So it will have the entire output of the studio: animation, live action, Disney including Pixar, Star Wars and all the Marvel films,” he explained.

Additionally, it will also have four to five original Disney series as well as three to four exclusive Disney movies. “We are going to make less costly movies that are going to be on our proprietary service,” he said.

ESPN

Discussing the company’s ESPN sports network, Iger pointed out that he expects its own streaming service to launch sometime in the Spring, and that ultimately each user will be able to choose the events and sports he wants to watch.

“We will launch with 10,000 live sporting events that are not currently on ESPN’s linear channels. And those will include Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, MLS, some other tenants and a lot of college in sports that we own the rights to already. […] It will be an ESPN app that exists today. Today, on that ESPN app, you can watch ESPN’s linear channels live authenticated. That will continue to exist. On top of that in the same app, you’ll be able to subscribe to, let’s call it, a plus service. You’ll be able to subscribe to significantly more sports programming than you get just through the linear channels. […] Over time, I think the way you have to look at this is this will be a sports marketplace platform.

You’ll be able to pick and choose over time what it is you want. It won’t necessarily be a one-size-fits-all. We may launch it that way, but the goal eventually is to create something that the sports fan can essentially use to design what their sports media experience can be,” Iger stated.

PRICE ACTION

On Thursday shares of Disney dropped about 4.4% to $97.06, while Netflix’s stock closed fractionally lower to $179.00.


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Travel Stocks Lower on Hurricane Irma

Cruise line operators slammed as Irma prepares to make landfall

Cruise Line Stocks tumble as Iram approaches Florida. See Stockwinners.com for details

Shares of cruise line operators are in focus amid concerns about the potential impact of Hurricane Irma on the cruise and travel industries, as well as the lingering effect of Hurricane Harvey.

HURRICANE IRMA

Hurricane Irma, which has intensified into a Category 5 storm, is forcing cruise operators to cancel or divert ships as it heads towards the Caribbean and the Florida coast.

The National Hurricane Center has said Irma is a “potentially catastrophic storm” with winds up to 185 miles an hour that will move toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later this week and then make its way toward Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Cuba before heading toward the Florida coast. Hurricane Harvey recently caused widespread damage when it hit the Houston area, with cruise operators rerouting some vessels and canceling other voyages to avoid the storm.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InwmRvzSG60?rel=0&controls=0&w=560&h=315]

IMPACT ON CRUISE OPERATORS

Cruise line operators are monitoring the storm, canceling voyages that haven’t left port and rerouting other ships to avoid stops at islands that may be affected.

According to reports, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) will bring its two Miami-based ships back home ahead of schedule to avoid the storm. Both the 2,004-passenger Norwegian Sky and 4,248-passenger Norwegian Escape will return to Miami from Caribbean trips on Thursday instead of Friday and Saturday, respectively. The cruise operator also canceled sailings of the ships that were scheduled to begin on Friday and Saturday.

Yesterday, Royal Caribbean (RCL) canceled two sailings of Port Canaveral and Miami-based vessels to the Bahamas scheduled to begin on Friday and is rerouting one ship to the west and evaluating other sailings to the Caribbean, Cuba and Bermuda.

Carnival (CCL, CUK) has rerouted four vessels from an Eastern Caribbean to a Western Caribbean itinerary for the week, with a spokeswoman saying “We are watching Irma closely, but we are not canceling any sailings as of now.”

ANALYST COMMENTARY

Morgan Stanley analyst Jamie Rollo said on Tuesday that cruise demand is “solid,” but softened “a little” in August from July due to adverse weather, terror attacks and a U.S. travel warning for parts of Mexico. The analyst thinks Carnival, which reports earnings on September 26, will guide to slower yields in Q4. The firm remains “relatively cautious” on cruise stocks, but raised its price target on Carnival to $61 from $59.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Airline stocks, including American Airlines (AAL), United Continental (UAL), Southwest Airlines (LUV) and Delta Air Lines (DAL) are also on hurricane watch, and will likely be canceling flights in the affected areas.

This morning, United CFO Andrew Levy said Hurricane Harvey was the “largest operational impact we’ve had in the company’s history” and lowered its third quarter pre-tax margin and PRASM guidance. American Airlines President Robert Isom said the company is “keeping an eye” on Irma.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday’s trading, shares of Norwegian are down about 1%, Carnival shares trading in New York are down 0.5% and Royal Caribbean is down 1.2%.


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Uber to name Expedia’s CEO as its new Boss

Expedia shares falls on reports Khosrowshahi will be offered Uber CEO position

Uber’s new CEO, Khosrowshahi comes with $200M price tag. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar for details.
Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is an Iranian immigrant.

Shares of Expedia (EXPE) fell on Monday after reports that CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is expected to be offered the position of Uber CEO. Today, Khosrowshahi confirmed he plans to accept the top job at the ride-hailing company.  Khosrowshahi, 48, is on the threshold of becoming one of the world’s most prominent CEOs.

WHAT’S NEW

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will be offered the CEO role at Uber, Recode reported this past weekend, citing sources. According to Kara Swisher, Khosrowshahi was the “truce” choice for Uber’s board, which has been facing infighting between ousted CEO Travis Kalanick and Benchmark, one of its major investors.

GE's Immelt May Become Uber CEO. See Stockwinners.com for more details

A COOL $200 MILLION

According to Bloomberg, Khosrowshahi, who spent 12 years as the CEO of Expedia, held unvested stock options in that company worth $184.4 million as of Friday’s close in New York. Companies (Uber) typically grant replacement awards to executives who must forfeit unvested equity when they leave before their employment terms have expired.

The ride-hailing company will likely also grant #Khosrowshahi additional compensation, such as an annual salary and stock awards that vest over several years to ensure he remains on the job. That could push his total price tag north of $200 million.

As a private company, Uber doesn’t have to divulge any pay information about its employees, but a few hints have leaked in the past months mostly due to a lawsuit with Google. Court documents show that Uber awarded 5.31 million shares, worth roughly $250 million, to Anthony Levandowski, a self-driving car engineer the company poached from Google last year.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

According to the #Recode report, former GE (GE) CEO Jeff Immelt withdrew his name from contention when it was clear he would not win the job. #Immelt said in a tweet, “I have decided not to pursue a leadership position at Uber. I have immense respect for the company & founders – Travis, Garrett and Ryan.”

The report also said HP Enterprise (HPE) CEO Meg Whitman had the upper hand in the race for Uber’s CEO role, but “also wanted a number of things — including less involvement by ousted Uber CEO Travis #Kalanick and more board control — that became too problematic for the directors.”

Whitman was again considered for the top position over the weekend, CNBC’s David #Faber reported. Last week, #Whitman reiterated her statement that she would not be Uber’s next CEO, telling The Wall Street Journal that “nothing has changed” since her July 27 tweets, when she stated “I am not going anywhere” and “Uber’s CEO will not be Meg Whitman.”

DILLER  COMMENTS

On August 28, Expedia Chairman and Senior Executive Barry #Diller circulated the following email to Expedia, Inc. employees: “As you probably know by now, Dara #Khosrowshahi has been asked to lead Uber. Nothing has been yet finalized, but having extensively discussed this with Dara I believe it is his intention to accept. I also know the struggle he has been having out of both his abiding enthusiasm for Expedia’s future as well as his loyalty to all of us. I know Dara would like to communicate now with all of you but I’ve asked him not to until this is fully resolved. If #Dara does leave us, it will be to my great regret but also my blessing – he’s devoted 12 great years to building this Company and if this is what he wants for his next adventure it will be with my best wishes. I say that because he deserves nothing less and I say that also because he will leave behind a tremendously talented corps of executives… We both will be back in touch very soon.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGwgk8VvcAk?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0&w=560&h=315]

ANALYST REACTION

SunTrust analyst Naved Khan said that the departure of Khosrowshani from Expedia would be “negative” because the CEO has played a role in Expedia’s success. However, #Khan added that the impact on #Expedia’s business would be “minimal,” given what he calls the company’s “deep and seasoned executive bench,” along with the autonomy of its business units. The analyst kept a $190 price target and a Buy rating on shares.

Cowen analyst Kevin #Kopelman had similar views, calling the move a “clear win” for the executive and for Uber and a “major loss” for Expedia. While he expects Expedia shares will likely suffer a selloff on the news, he said Expedia has a strong bench and believes the company is “in good hands” with Mark Okerstrom, who has been CFO and EVP of Operations since 2011. Kopelman has a $170 price target and an Outperform rating on Expedia shares.

JPMorgan analyst Doug #Anmuth believes the potential departure of Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will weigh on the company’s shares in the very near-term. The exit would come at a critical time for Expedia with its 2016 largely being spent on integrating the Orbitz and HomeAway acquisitions, Anmuth tells investors in a research note. He believes Expedia CFO and EVP of Operations Mark Okerstrom is the most likely candidate to take over as CEO. Okerstrom has been a “strong partner” to Khosrowshahi and would likely ensure a “smooth transition,” the analyst contended.

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PRICE ACTION

Expedia closed at $143.99. Shares have a 52-week trading range of $105.62 – $161.00. Shares have formed a bearish “flag” formation with a potential target of $120.


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