Dunkin is next now that Panera is gone!

Following #Panera Bread’s $PNRA recent announcement that Europe’s panera-bread-300x300#JAB Holding has agreed to acquire the company in a transaction valued at approximately $7.5B, market chatter has it that #Dunkin’ Brands $DNKN could be next. Maxim says “one of the strongest candidates” for a potential acquisition in the Quick Service restaurant space.

This comes a few days after #Longbow told investors the do not expect the company to be acquired anytime soon. Meanwhile, #RBC Capital upgraded Dunkin’ Donuts’ parent to Outperform, as the bank anticipates a “more profitable system.”

STRONG BUYOUT CANDIDATE: In a research note to investors this morning, Maxim’s Anderson said he still views Dunkin’ Brands as “one of the strongest candidates” for a potential acquisition in the Quick Service restaurant space, even after JAB Holdings’ deal for Panera takes it out of the running for now. Moreover, the analyst argued that he sees comp growth and geographic expansion opportunities for Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins in both the U.S. and overseas and sees a potentially lucrative licensing business for the company as an “increasingly important attribute.” Dunkin’ Brands’ best likelihood for M&A will come from a multinational, multi-concept franchise operator, such as #Yum! Brands $YUM , Anderson contended, adding that he believes the latter isdunkin seeking franchise-driven growth concepts to complement its existing brand portfolio. The analyst estimates a range of $70-$75 for a potential takeout, and assigns a 25% likelihood of a possible acquisition in the next 12 months. Anderson acknowledged that #McDonald’s $MCD has recently gained market share through beverage discounting, but noted that Dunkin’ Brands held its own during the quarter with limited menu price increases. He reiterated a Buy rating on the stock ahead of quarterly results and raised his price target on Dunkin’ to $64 from $61.

ACQUISITION ‘HIGHLY UNLIKELY’: Conversely, Longbow analyst Alton Stump told investors in a research on his own on Friday that he believes a takeout of Dunkin’ Brands is “highly unlikely” to happen anytime soon. While an acquisition of the company by either JAB or Restaurant Brands $QSR may make sense on the surface, Dunkin’ Brands’ all-franchised operating model is “not a good fit” for JAB and its leveraged balance sheet would likely steer Restaurant Brands away, the analyst argued. Furthermore, he noted that Dunkin’ Brands’ decelerating same-store sales and net unit growth fundamentals are likely hard for any potential acquirer, including private equity players, to ignore. In the absence of a takeout, the analyst believes the shares of Dunkin’ Brands contain substantial downside risk based on the company’s weakening core fundamentals and, therefore, reiterates an Underperform rating and $35 price target on the shares.

WHAT’S NOTABLE: This morning, RBC Capital’s Palmer upgraded Dunkin’ Brands to Outperform from Neutral and increased his price target on the shares to $64 from $54 based on his outlook for improving franchisee profitability and improved long-term unit and earnings per share growth. Additionally, the analyst told investors that he sees upside from potential cash back to shareholders, either through accelerated buybacks or a higher dividend payout. A “dramatic reduction” in menu items and heightened focus on core coffee could bolster franchisee profitability by as much as hundreds of basis points over the next year, he argued, adding that improving margins could enable a better commitment to national value platforms and deter menu price inflation.

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Intel Paid to Play!

#Intel $INTC agreed to make a $742M investment in software startup #Cloudera intc$CLDR for a 17% stake in March 2014, double the share price other investors paid, in part because “it would help guard against an acquisition of the startup by another company,” the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with Intel’s thinking.

The report follows Cloudera’s initial public offering which resulted in the worth of Intel’s investment decreasing to about $434M. “The resulting $4.1B valuation-compared with $1.8B earlier that month when venture investors bought in-was bound to scare away prospective buyers,” according to WSJ.

Cloudera CEO Tom Reilly said in an interview after the company’s IPO that the higher price Intel paid reflected the companies’ deep partnership.

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TESLA to build 4 additional Giga Factories to meet demand

TED organization has released highlights of Elon Musk’s appearance at the group’s conference Friday.tesla

Among statements, the #Tesla $TSLA CEO said the company is on track to complete a fully #autonomous cross-country drive by “November or December of this year.”

On Tesla’s semi truck project, Musk said the vehicle “can out-torque any diesel semi” while remaining nimble.

Turning to the company’s production plans, the CEO said Tesla plans to announce locations for an additional four #Gigafactories late this year.

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Dish Could be a winner, says Barcaly

Shares of #Dish $DISH are higher today after Barclays upgraded the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight, saying that the company “could emerge as a preferred partner” for “most” of the wireless carriers.Dish_network

DEAL POSSIBILITIES: #Sprint $S could combine with #T-Mobile $TMUS , and the combined entity could be forced to make a mobile virtual network available to a competitor, said Barclays.

Given the spectrum owned by Dish, the company could obtain a network from Sprint/T-Mobile and enter the wireless business, either on a wholesale or retail basis, Venkateshwar. believes. Dish could also combine with AT&T’s $T #DirecTV, the analyst stated. Such a transaction has been blocked by regulators in the past, but the competitive environment for video distribution has been altered significantly since then, according to the broker. #AT&T could use synergies to completely fund the deal, and the transaction would give the telecom giant “unprecedented scale in video,” wrote Venkateshwar. The analyst believes that #Verizon $VZ already faces tough competition and the pressure on it could intensify if Dish pursues one of the alternatives outlined above. Consequently, it may decide to try to buy Dish, according to Barclay.

VALUE HIGHLIGHTED: As carriers pursue Dish, the “strategic value” of its satellite business, which is under-appreciated by investors, will be “highlighted,” according to the analyst. The analyst raised his price target on Dish to $74 from $62.

WHAT’S NOTABLE: On April 25, The Wall Street Journal reported that Verizon had submitted a $104.64 per share offer for spectrum owner Straight Path $STRP , which has previously agreed to be acquired by AT&T for $95.63 per share. Straight Path has confirmed that its board determined that an “unsolicited offer from a multi-national telecommunications company” of $104.64 per share, reflecting an enterprise value of $1.8B, constitutes a “Superior Proposal” to the one accepted from AT&T, but did not name the rival bidder.

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Synchronoss Technologies shares sink

#cropped-527178_434502233267150_400064991_n.jpgSynchronoss Technologies $SNCR shares are down about 40% in premarket trading after the company’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer resign to “pursue other interests.” To make matters worse, the cloud computing company,   expects total revenue in the first quarter to come in $13 million to $14 million well below the company’s guidance, which was $173 million to $178 million.

The company also said it expects operating margins to come in below its guidance.

Video game makers boosted by continued shift to digital

Pacific Crest Securities resumed coverage of the interactive entertainment sector with a positive outlook. Fueled by higher digital distribution rates, the sector video-gameshould generate additional gross margin gains going forward, the analyst stated.

Additionally, the broker believes that companies in the sector should be able to use data they obtain from online users to improve their games and raise their monetization levels.

The analyst recommends investors own the shares of video game makers Electronic Arts $EA , #Activation Blizzard $ATVI and #Take-Two Interactive $TTWO , as he resumed coverage of all three stocks with Overweight ratings.

ELECTRONIC ARTS: Broker says that Electronic Arts’ “high value” games with “predictable” sales volumes should enable its revenue and margins to increase over time. Additionally, he believes that the company is poised to lower its development costs going forward. He placed a $112 price target on the stock.

ACTIVISION: The video game maker’s “tremendous” intellectual property and popular digital games leave it well-positioned to benefit from increased spending on digital, the broker stated. Moreover, the large audiences of its digital games should enable it to continue attracting more users and allow its profits to beat expectations, according to Wingren, who set a $60 price target on the stock.

TAKE-TWO: The success of the company’s Red Dead Redemption 2 game, along with the “sustainability” of its GTA Online and NBA 2K franchises should enable its earnings power to exceed “historical norms,” Wingren wrote. He set a $74 price target on the stock.

WHAT’S NOTABLE: Video game and hardware retailer GameStop $GME announced this morning that it has just received a limited supply of Nintendo’s $NTDOY popular Switch systems, which are “available immediately for customers in-store only and while supplies last.” The shift of physical games to more digital delivery has frequently been cited in the past as a risk for GameStop.

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S&P announces changes to its Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices will make the following changes to the S&P #MidCap 400 and S&P #SmallCap 600 indices effective prior to the open on Friday, April 28:

PBF Energy $PBF will replace Waddell & Reed Financial $WDR in the S&P MidCap 400, and Waddell & Reed Financial will replace Stillwater Mining $SWC in the S&P SmallCap 600.

Sibanye Gold (SBGL) is acquiring Stillwater Mining in a deal expected to be completed soon pending final conditions. Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance $ARI will replace ZELTIQ Aesthetics $ZLTQ in the S&P SmallCap 600. S&P 100 and 500 constituent Allergan $AGN is acquiring #ZELTIQ Aesthetics in a deal expected to be completed on April 27 pending final conditions.

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Canadian Lumber to be Taxed 3%-24% Retroactively.

The #Trump administration plans to levy tariffs on Canadian exports of softwood lumber to the U.S., reports the Financial Times, citing statements from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.notcanadian

Ross said the U.S. would impose 3%-24% tariffs on five Canadian lumber exporters: West Fraser Mills, Canfor, JD Irving, Resolute FP Canada, and Tolko, the report says. “These duties will be applied retroactively, 90 days backward, because they were on notice that this was forthcoming and they didn’t change the practice of dumping subsidized lumber,” Ross added, according to the Financial Times.

Publicly traded companies in the space include #Rayonier $RYN , #Deltic Timber $DEL , #Weyerhaeuser $WY , #Norbord $OSB , and Universal Forest Products $UFPI .

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Wednesday’s Tax announcement likely to be only broad guidance and ideas

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday, “I think what you’re going to see on Wednesday is some specific governing principles, some guidance. Also some indication of what the rates are going to be. I don’t think you’re going to see something — and I don’t think anybody expects us to roll out — bill language on Wednesday. In fact, we don’t want to do that.

So what you’re going to see on Wednesday for the #FirstTime is: Here’s what our principles are, here’s some of the ideas that we like, some of the ideas we don’t like. Here’s some of the rates we’re talking about.”cropped-527178_434502233267150_400064991_n.jpg

Asked whether the #taxreform will be revenue neutral, #Mulvaney said, “I don’t think we’ve decided that part yet. Keep in mind, it’s a balancing act on that. You can either have a small tax cut that’s permanent, or a large tax cut that is short term. I don’t think we’ve decided yet, but you’ll know more on Wednesday.”

Questioned about his recent statement that he doesn’t expect a “real plan, specifics, meat on the bone” until June, Mulvaney responded, “I think that’s still probably fair. Again, we want to start working — and have already started working with the committees in the House and the Senate as we try to build some momentum.”

Bye Bye bebe!

The once high flying fashion maker bebe stores $bebe announced that it will close all of its stores.  The company disclosed in a regulatory filing Friday: “On April 18, #bebe stores entered into a Consulting Agreement with Great AmeBebe-Storesrican Group, an affiliate of #B.Riley & Co., the Company’s financial advisor, and Tiger Capital to, among other things, sell all merchandise and inventory owned by the Company and certain of its subsidiaries located in its existing retail stores and certain furnishings, trade fixtures, equipment and improvements to real property with respect to the Stores. We may incur a loss in connection with this sale of our merchandise and inventory, but we cannot estimate such loss at this time…

The Company currently anticipates that it will close all of the Stores by the end of May. The Company expects to recognize an impairment charge of approximately $20M, net of deferred rent and other credits, as a result of closing the Stores. This impairment charge will be recorded in the third and fourth quarters of fiscal year 2017.” The retailer is hoping that its online stores would bring life to its brand..

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President Comments Move Stocks!

Here is a re-cap of how President Trump’s comments moved stocks last week:

1. STEEL SECTOR: On Thursday, Donald Trump met with several steel company CEOs at the White House to discuss the state of the industry and the administration’s plans to crack down on steel dumping. Following the sit down, he signed a memorandum related to section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and said he has directed the Commerce Department to launch an investigation into whether or not foreign companies, particularly those from China, are dumping steel on the U.S. market. Publicly traded companies in the steel space include Steel Dynamics $STLD , AK Steel $AKS , U.S. Steel $X and Nucor $NUE .TrumpHouseLogo_FINAL-1

2. HOSPITALS: Earlier this week, hospital stocks were under pressure following reports of Health bill progress. CNBC tweeted, “NEW: If health care changes in MacArthur memo are in bill text, they’d get 18-20 new @freedomcaucus votes. Brings total to
25-30, per source.” Publicly traded companies in the space include Community Health $CYH , HCA Holdings $HCA LifePoint $LPNT , Tenet $THC and Universal Health $UHS .

3. TECH COMPANIES: According to a news report by Recode, tech companies such as Amazon $AMZN , Apple $AAPL , Facebook $FB , Google $GOOG; $GOOGL , and Microsoft $MSFT have focused some of their lobbying sums in Washington over the past three months on fighting President Trump, as he looked toward major changes to the U.S. tax code and placed new restriction on foreign immigrants. Both issues are present on many companies’ first quarter lobbying reports, the publication notes.

4. HUMANA: On Friday, Jefferies downgraded Humana $HUM to Hold and lowered his price target on the shares to $221 from $237. The analyst told investors that he views the shares as expensive and pointed out that 2018 premium growth under President Trump is lower than 2017 under Obama. Events that would enhance Medicare Advantage decidedly above Medicaid and Commercial “are not blossoming,” Windley contended.

5. FINANCE-RELATED EXECUTIVE ORDERS: President Trump signed two finance-related executive orders on Friday aimed at unwinding regulations put into place after the financial crisis. The directives target “living wills” that banks must formulate to show how they would be broken up it there is danger of failure. Alongside banking measures, the administration is ordering a review on rules regarding inversions. Publicly traded money center banks include Bank of America $BAC , Citi $C , Goldman Sachs $GS , JPMorgan $JPM , Morgan Stanley $MS , U.S. Bancorp $USB and Wells Fargo $WFC .

6. TAX REFORM: On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during the International Finance Washington Policy Summit that the Trump administration is close to bringing forward “major tax reform.” The following day, Trump told Associated Press that he will unveil a tax plan next week that includes “massive” tax cut for individuals and businesses.

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GM ceases operations in Venezuela

General Motors #Venezolana $GM is forced to cease operations in Venezuela after 60 years due to seizure of its assets. On Wednesday, GMV’s plant was unexpectedly taken by the public authorities, preventing normal operations.gm-logo

In addition, other assets of the company, such as vehicles, have been illegally taken from its facilities. The seizure was granted and enforced in total disregard of GMV’s right to due process, causing irreparable damage to the company, its 2,678 workers, its 79 dealers, and to its suppliers.

As a consequence, GMV announces the immediate cessation of its operations in the country, and ensures payment of the employees’ separation benefits arising from the termination of the employment relationships due to causes beyond the parties’ control. GMV strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities and will vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights. The company is confident that justice will eventually be served, and looks forward to continue leading the Venezuelan market. In the meantime, GMV, through its dealers, will continue to provide aftermarket service and parts for its customers.

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POTUS calls for steel probe!

The White House published President Trump’s request today for an investigation into steel imports. The document states: “As imports of #steel to the United States continue to rise, an examination of foreign practices is urgently needed… President Donald J. #Trump is taking action to ensure America’s steel industry comes first, in addition to his Buy American and Hire American policies.panel-okays-20-provisional-safeguard-duty-on-steel-products

Today, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum prioritizing an investigation initiated by the Secretary of Commerce into whether steel imports threaten to impair the national security… By law the investigation must be concluded and a report submitted within 270 days. If the report concludes that steel imports threaten to impair the national security, and the President concurs, he may take several actions, including #tariffs.”

Publicly traded companies in the steel space include Steel Dynamics $STLD , AK Steel $AKS , U.S. Steel $X and Nucor $NUE $ZEUS

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$ARWR Arrowhead presents ARC-520, ARC-521 data at International Liver Congress

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Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals presented clinical data from a Phase 2 study of ARC-520 and a Phase 1/2 study of ARC-521, the company’s prior generation investigatory medicines that were being studied for the treatment of chronic #hepatitis B virus infection, at The International Liver Congress 2017, the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver.

The studies show that RNAi interference as a mechanism can rapidly and significantly reduce HBV viral antigens.

In addition, #RNAi appears to synergize with current standard-of-care nucleotide and nucleoside analogues to rapidly lower serum levels of HBV DNA. Arrowhead is currently developing ARO-HBV, a follow-on product candidate that utilizes the company’s next generation, proprietary subcutaneously administered delivery vehicle, as a potentially curative therapy for patients with chronic hepatitis B infection.

Another stock to watch $ICPT

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