Takeda and Seattle Genetics Publish Positive Results on T-cell lymphoma

ADCETRIS is an antibody-drug conjugate directed to CD30 which is expressed on CTCL lesions in approximately 50 percent of patients with the disease

Based on the study results, Takeda plans to begin to submit data from the ALCANZA trial to regulatory agencies in its territories in 2017.

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#Takeda (TKPYY) and #SeattleGenetics (SGEN) announced that data from the randomized Phase 3 ALCANZA clinical trial evaluating ADCETRIS in patients with cutaneous T-cell #lymphoma were published in the journal #Lancet.

Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer. The two main forms of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Lymphoma occurs when cells of the immune system called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, grow and multiply uncontrollably. Cancerous lymphocytes can travel to many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, blood, or other organs, and form a mass called a tumor. The body has two main types of lymphocytes that can develop into lymphomas: B-lymphocytes (B-cells) and T-lymphocytes (T-cells).

Data were previously presented in an oral session at the 58th American Society of Hematology annual meeting in December 2016.

#ADCETRIS is an antibody-drug conjugate directed to CD30 which is expressed on CTCL lesions in approximately 50 percent of patients with the disease.

ADCETRIS is currently not approved for the treatment of CTCL.

ALCANZA is a randomized, open-label Phase 3 study designed to evaluate single-agent ADCETRIS versus a control arm of investigator’s choice of the standard of care therapies methotrexate or bexarotene, in patients with CD30-positive CTCL.

The manuscript highlights data from the trial which achieved its primary endpoint with the ADCETRIS treatment arm demonstrating a highly statistically significant improvement in the rate of objective response lasting at least four months (ORR4) versus the control arm as assessed by an independent review facility.

#ORR4, as assessed by Global Response Score, was 56.3 percent in the ADCETRIS arm compared to 12.5 percent in the control arm.

Key secondary endpoints specified in the protocol, including complete response rate, progression-free survival and reduction in the burden of symptoms during treatment (Skindex-29), were all highly statistically significant in favor of the ADCETRIS arm.

The safety profile associated with ADCETRIS from the ALCANZA trial was generally consistent with the existing prescribing information.

The most common adverse events of any grade include: peripheral neuropathy, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, alopecia, pruritis, pyrexia, decreased appetite and hypertriglyceridemia.

Based on the study results, Takeda plans to begin to submit data from the ALCANZA trial to regulatory agencies in its territories in 2017. The U.S. FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to ADCETRIS for the treatment of the most common subtypes of CTCL, mycosis fungoides and primary cutaneous anaplastic large cell lymphoma .

Seattle Genetics plans to submit these data as part of a supplemental Biologics License Application to the FDA in mid-2017. The ALCANZA trial received a Special Protocol Assessment agreement from the FDA and scientific advice from the European Medicines Agency.

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Rig Counts Continue to Rise

Domestic Rig Count now Exceeds that of International Rigs

The worldwide rig count for May 2017 was 1,935, up 18 from the 1,917 counted in April 2017, and up 530 from the 1,405 counted in May 2016

 

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Baker Hughes Incorporated ($BHI) announced today that the international rig count for May 2017 was 957, up 1 from the 956 counted in April 2017, and up 2 from the 955 counted in May 2016.

The international offshore rig count for May 2017 was 202, up 1 from the 201 counted in April 2017, and down 27 from the 229 counted in May 2016.

The average U.S. rig count for May 2017 was 893, up 40 from the 853 counted in April 2017, and up 485 from the 408 counted in May 2016.

The average Canadian rig count for May 2017 was 85, down 23 from the 108 counted in April 2017, and up 43 from the 42 counted in May 2016.

The worldwide rig count for May 2017 was 1,935, up 18 from the 1,917 counted in April 2017, and up 530 from the 1,405 counted in May 2016.

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West Texas Intermediate #WTI is down 29 cents to $47.91 per barrel. Brent is down 37 cents to $49.75 per barrel.

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Crude Oil Higher on Mixed Data

This week’s draw is the seventh week of draws in the last 10 weeks, with a total draw of almost 27 million over the last ten weeks

For the 2017 summer driving season (April–September), U.S. regular gasoline retail prices are forecast to average $2.46/gallon (gal), compared with $2.23/gal last summer

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Crude oil is higher following release of #API weekly inventory data. The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a draw of 4.62 million barrels in United States crude oil inventories, compared to analyst expectations of a draw of 3.5 million barrels for the week ending June 2.

This week’s draw is the seventh week of draws in the last 10 weeks, with a total draw of almost 27 million over the last ten weeks.

Gasoline inventories rose 4.08 million barrels last week, according to the API report. Distillate inventories also rose by 1.75 million barrels, while inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, site fell by 1.56 million barrels.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration report on oil inventories is due on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EDT. Please check Stockwinners Market Radar for the data.

EIA Lowers Brent Forecast

Energy Department’s the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its latest forecast for oil prices:

Reports Highlights
  • North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $50 per barrel in May, $2/b lower than the April average. EIA forecasts Brent spot prices to average $53/b in 2017 and $56/b in 2018. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices are forecast to average $2/b less than Brent prices in both 2017 and 2018. NYMEX contract values for September 2017 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending June 1 suggest that a range of $39/b to $64/b encompasses the market expectation for WTI prices in September 2017 at the 95% confidence level.
  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met on May 25 and announced an extension to voluntary production cuts through March 2018 that were originally set to end in June 2017. EIA forecasts OPEC crude oil production will average 32.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2017 and 32.8 million b/d in 2018.
  • U.S. crude oil production averaged an estimated 8.9 million b/d in 2016. U.S. crude oil production is forecast to average 9.3 million b/d in 2017 and 10.0 million b/d in 2018. The 2018 forecast exceeds the previous record level of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970.
  • For the 2017 summer driving season (April–September), U.S. regular gasoline retail prices are forecast to average $2.46/gallon (gal), compared with $2.23/gal last summer. The higher forecast gasoline price is primarily the result of a higher forecast crude oil price. The forecast annual average price for regular gasoline in 2017 is $2.38/gal.
  • EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas to fall from an average of 34% in 2016 to less than 32% in both 2017 and 2018 as a result of higher expected natural gas prices. Coal’s forecast generation share rises from 30% in 2016 to 31% in 2017 and 2018. Non-hydropower renewables are forecast to provide 9% of electricity generation in 2017 and nearly 10% in 2018. The generation share of hydropower is forecast to be nearly 8% in 2017 and 7% in 2018. The nuclear share of generation remains just under 20% in both 2017 and 2018.
  • Coal exports for the first quarter of 2017 were 58% higher than in the same quarter last year, with steam coal exports increasing by 6 million short tons (MMst). Coal producers that have completed bankruptcy reorganizations and companies that purchased bankrupt assets have increased both exports and production in 2017. EIA expects growth in coal exports to slow in the coming months, with exports for all of 2017 forecast at 72 MMst, 11 MMst (19%) above the 2016 level. The increase in coal exports contributes to an expected 8% increase in coal production in 2017.

WTI is up 60 cents to $48 per barrel, Brent is up 50 cents to $49.97 per barrel.

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Browsers Ad Blocking Moves Stocks

The ad-blocking feature, which could be switched on by default within Chrome, would filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide bad experiences for users as they move around the web

Large social media websites, including Facebook and Twitter, should benefit from new efforts by Apple and Google to prevent advertisers and publishers from tracking Internet users’ activities

 

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#Alphabet Inc.’s #Google is introducing an ad-blocking feature in the mobile and desktop versions of its popular Chrome web browser. The ad-blocking feature, which could be switched on by default within Chrome, would filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide bad experiences for users as they move around the web. Apple’s #Safari has announced a similar move.

Large social media websites, including Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR), should benefit from new efforts by Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) to prevent advertisers and publishers from tracking Internet users’ activities on their browsers, according to #MorganStanley. Amazon (AMZN) and digital game makers could also be boosted by the changes being made by Apple and Google, according to the firm’s analyst.

Conversely, the firm believes that retailers, small e-commerce companies, and online travel agencies could be hurt by the changes. The news is “not positive” for Criteo (CRTO), which tracks and analyzes users’ browsing behavior, Morgan Stanley added.

Other analysts, however, were more quicker to defend Criteo, with #JPMorgan, #Cowen, and Jefferies saying the stock’s decline yesterday in the wake of Apple’s announcement was overdone.

WINNERS:

The anti-tracking initiatives will make online platforms less attractive to advertisers in the shorter term, contended Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak. Over the longer term, however, the changes will make user data more valuable, boosting Facebook, Twitter and #Snap (SNAP), the analyst stated. Additionally, more advertisers could turn to #Amazon in an effort to connect with its user base, while digital game makers #Zynga (ZNGA) and #Activision (ATVI) could benefit from similar trends, according to Nowak.

POTENTIAL LOSERS:

Based on the browser changes, small e-commerce companies such as eBay (EBAY) and Etsy (ETSY) could find it harder to compete against Amazon, while online travel companies may have to pay more to acquire customers, Nowak stated. The two major online travel companies are Priceline (PCLN) and Expedia (EXPE).

CRITEO OUTLOOK:

The changes announced by Apple and Google are “not positive” for #Criteo, Nowak warned. “It will be important to monitor” the company’s efforts to work around the changes and to increase its focus on advertising within apps, he wrote.

More upbeat on Criteo was #Jefferies analyst Brian Fitzgerald. Apple’s browser probably only accounts for less than 1.5% of Criteo’s revenue, and that percentage is “rapidly shrinking,” he stated. Noting that desktop ads only accounted for 37% of Criteo’s revenue in the last quarter of 2016, down from 53% in December 2015, the analyst says that Criteo “is already quickly mix-shifting away from desktop browsers and away from Safari specifically.” He recommended buying Criteo’s stock on weakness. Similarly, JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth does not expect Criteo’s results to be affected much by the changes being made by Apple and Google. He thinks that the decline in Criteo’s stock yesterday was overdone and kept an Overweight rating on the name.

Finally, Cowen analyst Thomas Champion says that Criteo’s exposure to Apple’s browser “seems limited,” so he believes that the risk to Criteo’s revenue should be “mitigated.”

Champion thinks that the decline in Criteo’s stock yesterday appeared to be overdone, and he reiterated an Outperform rating on the name.

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Amazon, the next Threat to Drug Prices

Wells Fargo said Amazon may be the next threat to drug pricing as the company’s move into the prescription pharmacy space could result in increased competition and increased pricing transparency

Although brand-name drugs comprise only 10% of all dispensed prescriptions in the United States, they account for 72% of drug spendingHttps://stockwinners.com/

Last month, #CNBC reported that #Amazon ( $AMZN ) is considering going into the prescription pharmacy business in the U.S. Now Wall Street analysts are questioning if the e-commerce giant has larger plans for the healthcare market.

One of the reasons drug prices are much higher in the United States compared to other industrialized countries is that the U.S. lacks a national healthcare system that directly negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry. Rather, most of the negotiations occur between the pharmaceutical companies and private insurers or vendors. The primary reason for increasing drug spending is the high price of branded products protected by market exclusivity provisions granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (rather than a national healthcare system.)

Although brand-name drugs comprise only 10% of all dispensed prescriptions in the United States, they account for 72% of drug spending. Between 2008 and 2015, prices for the most commonly used brand-name drugs increased 164%, far in excess of the consumer price index.

Although brand-name drugs account for the greatest increase in prescription drug expenditures, another area that has captured the attention of the public and of policy makers has been the sharp increase in the costs of some older generic drugs. In 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of pyrimethamine (Daraprim), a 63-year-old treatment for toxoplasmosis, by 5500%, from $13.50 to $750 a pill.22 The company was able to set the high price despite the absence of any patent protection because no other competing manufacturer was licensed to market the drug in the United States.  Significant increases in the prices of other older drugs include isoproterenol (2500%), nitroprusside (1700%), and digoxin (637%). Even though the prices of most generic drug products have remained stable between 2008 and 2015, those of almost 400
increased by more than 1000%.

Having made the above statements, it should be noted that there are a number of middle men before a patient’s prescription is received by the consumer. It is estimated that a 28% – 48% cost increase for a typical prescription, and that is where Amazon could come in.

PRICING THREAT:

Wells Fargo analyst David #Maris said Amazon may be the next threat to drug pricing as the company’s move into the prescription pharmacy space could result in increased competition and increased pricing transparency.

He added that a Wells Fargo survey of nearly 2,900 U.S. adults found that 54% of those polled said they would use or would probably use “Amazon Pharmacy,” indicating patients’ willingness to shift from local pharmacies. While the e-commerce giant has not confirmed its U.S. pharmacy interest, if it did enter the market Maris believes it could see fast adoption and “usher in a new age of price transparency.” He also wonders if pharmacy “may be just the beginning” and if Amazon eyes the “even larger prize” of fully integrated digital healthcare as telemedicine becomes more widely accepted. Maris said while little is known about Amazon’s plans, investors and companies should question the impacts of such a move now.

SIMPLY AMAZON‘: In addition, #Maxim analyst Tom Forte said that as consumers increasingly interact with Amazon in physical locations, “Amazon.com will become simply Amazon.” He analyzed 18 market opportunities, including 14 that Amazon is already pursuing and four – credit, gas stations, pharmacy, and travel – that are new. Among them, he identified ten categories where the global total addressable market exceeds $1T, which included the pharmacy space. Forte said he believes Amazon’s potential expansion into the pharmacy market could serve as a driver of sustained revenue growth and its delivery initiatives, such as Prime Now, make it well-positioned for entry. Given Amazon’s opportunity to drive incremental sales growth and “further disrupt the retail sector,” Forte raised his price target on AMZN to $1,300 from $1,075 and keeps a Buy rating on the name.

WHAT TO WATCH:

Publicly traded large-cap pharmaceuticals companies include AstraZeneca (AZN), Bristol-Myers (BMY), Eli Lilly (LLY), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Merck (MRK), Novartis (NVS), Pfizer (PFE), Roche (RHHBY) and Sanofi (SNY). Publicly traded retail pharmacy operators include CVS Health (CVS), Walgreens (WBA), Fred’s (FRED) and Rite Aid (RAD).

PRICE ACTION: Amazon rose 0.1% to $1,012.35 in Tuesday trading. The stock is just dollars away from its recently-reached all-time high of $1,016.50.

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Shares of bluebird bio Jump on ASCO Presentation

bluebird bio, and Celgene presented data on bb2121, their investigational anti-BCMA CAR T cell therapy for multiple myeloma

Leerink says bluebird bio’s bb2121 dose-escalation data in multiple myeloma is among the most impressive early data sets he’s seen

 

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American Society of Clinical Oncology’s #ASCO Annual Meeting is taking place June 2 to June 6 in Chicago. Several pharmaceutical firms and biotechnology companies are presenting their new drugs and/or present progress on the status of their drugs under development. bluebird bio $BLUE is one of the presenters.

#bluebird bio (BLUE) is a clinical-stage company developing potentially transformative gene therapies for severe genetic diseases and T cell-based immunotherapies. The company’s objective is to develop and bring to market the most advanced products based on the transformative potential of gene therapy to provide patients hope for a better life in the face of limited or no long-term safe and effective treatment options.

bluebird bio, and Celgene Corporation (CELG) announced that updated results from the ongoing CRB-401 Phase 1 clinical study of bb2121, an investigational anti-BCMA CAR T cell therapy, in 18 patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

The objective of this Phase 1 dose-escalation study is to evaluate safety and efficacy of bb2121 and determine a recommended Phase 2 dose. bluebird bio and Celgene are jointly developing bb2121.

As of the May 4, 2017, 21 patients had been enrolled and dosed in four dose cohorts. All 21 dosed patients were evaluable for safety, and 18 patients have undergone their first multiple myeloma tumor restaging and were evaluable for efficacy. This study has enrolled patients at seven sites in the U.S., with an anticipated total enrollment of up to 50 patients.

Patients received a conditioning regimen of cyclophosphamide and fludarabine, followed by an infusion of bb2121 anti-BCMA CAR T cells. The CAR T cells were produced from each patient’s own blood cells, which were modified using a lentiviral vector encoding the anti-BCMA CAR.

“It is impressive to see objective responses in all patients treated at dose levels of 150 x 106 CAR+ T cells or higher in such a heavily pretreated population, including those with high tumor burden. We are encouraged by the duration and depth of responses, and pleased that the safety profile remains readily manageable,” said David Davidson, M.D., chief medical officer, bluebird bio.

Analysts Reaction

#BMO Capital upgraded bluebird bio to Outperform from Market Perform. Analyst Matthew Luchini says that a trial of the company’s bb2121 drug showed that its efficacy is “compelling,” while its safety is “generally clean.” Raised his price target to $108 from $83.

#SunTrust analyst Edward Nash says that the data for the Phase I trial of bluebird’s bb2121 in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.was “impressive.” He says that the drug’s efficacy was “robust,” while its safety appears to be “manageable.” The analyst keeps a $108 price target and Buy rating on the stock.

#Leerink analyst Michael Schmidt says bluebird bio’s (BLUE) bb2121 dose-escalation data in multiple myeloma is among the most impressive early data sets he’s seen in the #CAR-T space to date. The data sets a high bar for the competition, which includes #Juno Therapeutics (JUNO), #Kite Pharma (KITE) and #Novartis (NVS), Schmidt tells investors in a research note. Being one year ahead of the competition provides bluebird and Celgene (CELG) with an ideal position in multiple myeloma, the analyst adds. He keeps an Outperform rating on bluebird shares with a $100 price target.

Price Action

BLUE last traded at $102.92, up 13% on the day. It has a 52-week trading range of $36.62 – $104.90.

CELG last traded at $116.83, down one percent on the day.   It has a 52-week trading range of $94.42 – $127.64.

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Signet Problems Continue

COO resigned on June 2 due to violations of company policy “unrelated to financial matters”

Signet last month reached an agreement with the EEOC to resolve claims related to pay and promotion of female retail sales workers

 

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Shares of #Signet Jewelers (SIG) are in focus  after the company said in a regulatory filing that its chief operations officer had resigned due to violations of company policy.
Signet, the owner of #Zale and Kay Jewelers, last month reported quarterly earnings below expectations and announced plans to outsource its credit portfolio.

COO RESIGNATION:

Signet Jewelers said yesterday in a regulatory filing that COO Bryan Morgan resigned on June 2 due to violations of company policy “unrelated to financial matters.” The filing did not contain further details about the circumstances of Morgan’s resignation. In January, Signet announced several senior organizational changes to drive growth, including promoting Morgan to COO from executive vice president, Supply Chain Management and Repair.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Last month, Signet reported first quarter earnings that fell below analysts’ expectations. CEO Mark Light said the company had a “very slow start” to the year as headwinds in the overall retail environment were exacerbated by a slowdown in jewelry spending and company-specific challenges.

Light said same-store sales improved sequentially when normalized for Mother’s Day and backed fiscal 2018 EPS guidance of $7.00-$7.40 and comp sales down low-to-mid single digits.

In conjunction with its earnings report, Signet said it would sell $1B of prime only credit quality accounts receivable to Alliance Data (ADS) and form a seven-year partnership with Progressive Leasing, a subsidiary of Aaron’s, Inc. (AAN). As part of the second phase of the strategic outsourcing of the in-house credit program, Signet said it plans to fully outsource its secondary credit programs, including the sale of the remaining receivables on its balance sheet, as well as funding for new non-prime account originations.

Light said the moves are expected to unlock “significant value.”

Signet shares are down about 44% year-to-date as the jeweler deals with declining sales.

The company has said it would step up efforts to restore its reputation following allegations of sexual harassment at its Sterling Jewelers unit and diamond swapping allegations.

Signet last month said it reached an agreement with the #EEOC to resolve claims related to pay and promotion of female retail sales workers. Signet has said allegations of sexual harassment have no merit, calling them “distorted and inaccurate.”

PRICE ACTION: Signet Jewelers is down about 1% in pre-market trading. The stock has a 52-week trading range of $46.09 – $101.46. We expect shares to revisit their lows of the year.

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Albany Molecular Is For Sale

PE Firm Carlyle Group is in talks to purchase Albany Molecular

Albany Molecular $AMRI is a contract research and manufacturing company

 

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Albany Molecular Research $AMRI is a contract research and manufacturing company. The Company operates through Discovery and Development Services (DDS), Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), Drug Product (DP) and Fine Chemicals (FC) segments.

Reuters reports that private equity firms GTCR LLC and Carlyle Group LP $CG are in talks to team up and jointly acquire Albany Molecular. Negotiations are ongoing, and there is no certainty that the talks will lead to Albany Molecular Research being taken private, the report said.

Drug manufacturers are under pressure to lower drug costs and that has created M&A activities in the sector. Other stocks in the sector that might be looked as potential take over targets include: #Cambrex Corporation $CBM , Charles River Labs. $CRL , Emergent Biosolutions $EBS . TESARO $TSRO , the oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company, recently announced that it is shopping itself.

AMRI last traded at $19.91.

The Carlyle Group L.P.  $CG is a diversified multi-product global alternative asset management firm. The Company operates in four segments: Corporate Private Equity (CPE), Real Assets, Global Market Strategies (GMS) and Investment Solutions. Corporate Private Equity advises its buyout and growth capital funds, which pursue various corporate investments of different sizes and growth potentials.

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DexCom Rallies on Apple Decision

Apple begins supporting Dexom’s glucose monitoring sensor

Previously Apple Watch only supported 3rd party Apps through iPhone

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#DexCom $DXCM is a medical device company. It focuses on the design, development, and commercialization of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems in the United States and internationally. The company offers its systems for ambulatory use by people with diabetes; and for use by healthcare providers in the hospital for the treatment of patients with and without diabetes.

The company reported a loss of $0.49 per share in Q1 of 2017,  six cents better than the Consensus Estimate. Total revenue grew to $142 million, reflecting an increase of 22.4% from $116 million in the year-ago quarter. However, the figure was two million below the estimates. Since the report, shares have been under pressure due to the mixed report. To add to its woes, market chatter had it that Apple will offer its glucose monitoring system.

At Apple’s annual developer conference currently underway, the company’s vice-president of technology Kevin Lynch said that Apple $AAPL will release a new bluetooth API for Apple Watch, its fitness-tracking gadget. Users would be able to link their Apple watch to a glucose sensor from DexCom. Previously, developers building health sensors would need to communicate with the iPhone over Bluetooth — but not with Apple Watch.

Health developers say this is a promising sign that Apple will open up new pathways for them to create their own interchangeable watch bands laden with health sensors. Health startups are already building watch bands, which use sophisticated sensors to track health conditions.

PRICE ACTION:

DXCM last traded at $71.15, up more than 5 percentage points on the day. It has a 52-weeks trading range of $57.68 to $96.38.

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Athenahealh Could Be in Play!

Citi says can’t rule out athenahealth sale with Elliott involved

potential acquirers of athenahealth include tech companies aiming to build a healthcare presence

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#Citi analyst Garen #Sarafia raised his price target on #athenahealh $ATHN saying Elliot Associates’ recently disclosed stake in the company reinforces his favorable view and likely provides a support level for shares.

Additionally, a sale of the company “cannot be ruled out” given the activist investor’s track record, Sarafia argues.

BACKGROUND:

On May 18, Elliott Associates, Elliott International and #EICA disclosed in a regulatory filing that they collectively have combined economic exposure in athenahealth of approximately 9.2% of the common stock outstanding.

Elliott said it may “consider, explore and/or develop plans and/or make proposals” to athenahealth and intends to communicate with the company’s management and board “about a broad range of operational and strategic matters.”

CITI UPS TARGET

Sarafia raised his price target for athenahealth to $163 from $128 citing Elliott’s involvement, pointing out that in the investors’ engagement in nearly 40 campaigns since 2013, slightly over half of which resulted in a sale.

As a result, he believes potential #M&A scenarios “cannot be ruled out.” The analyst said potential acquirers of athenahealth would include tech companies aiming to build a healthcare presence, including #IBM $IBM , which has made several recent acquisitions to bolster its healthcare network. He added that #Aetna $AET ) and #UnitedHealth $UNH , through its Optum business, may also be potential suitors, although UnitedHealth is currently under agreement to use #Allscripts $MDRX software.

Sarafia added more distant possibilities include healthcare tech companies #Cerner $CERN or privately-held Epic. He, however, believes a “collaborative engagement to unlock sustainable value” is a likely scenario over an acquisition, citing the company’s history of engagement with large shareholders.

In addition, Sarafia said the activist stake will make operational improvements at the company a high priority, with a renewed focus on core strengths, potential cost-cutting in general and administrative expenses and possibly research and development, and increased free cash flow. He keeps a Buy rating on the shares.

PRICE ACTION: In Monday trading, athenahealth rose nearly 1% to $139.30. The stock has a 52-week trading range of $90.11 – $142.40.

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Gigamon is For Sale

Gigamon makes software that is installed in large data centers to boost the flow of traffic

Elliott Management owns 15% of shares and has encouraged firm to sell

 

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After activist investor Elliott Associates recently reported a roughly 15% economic exposure in shares of #Gigamon $GIMO and encouraged the company to undertake a strategic review process, the software maker has begun working with Goldman Sachs $GS to talk with companies and private equity firms interested in acquiring it, according to Reuters.

Gigamon Inc. develops and delivers solution that delivers visibility and control of data-in-motion traversing enterprise, federal, and service provider networks in the United States, rest of Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific. The company offers traffic intelligence applications that provide controls for traffic selection, forwarding, manipulation, modification, de-duplication, SSL decryption, correlation, sampling, and generation of flow records.

Gigamon could attract interest from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), F5 Networks (FFIV) and PE firm Thoma Bravo, which previously bought Riverbed Technology, according to the report.

Needham analyst Alex Henderson estimated that a fair value for Gigamon is in the $50-$55 range.

Elliott has succeeded in pushing many technology companies to sell themselves in recent years, including Mentor Graphics, LifeLock Inc and Qlik Technologies.

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D.R. Horton to acquire 75% of Forestar Group

D.R. Horton to acquire 75% of Forestar Group for $16.25 per share cash

Forestar would remain a public company to ensure continued access to capital

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D.R. Horton (DHI) announced that the company has submitted a proposal to the Board of Directors of Forestar Group (FOR) to acquire 75% of the currently outstanding shares of Forestar for $16.25 per share in cash.

The $16.25 per share value represents a 14% premium over the purchase price to be paid to the Forestar stockholders pursuant to the existing merger agreement between Forestar and affiliates of Starwood Capital Group.

#Forestar Group Inc. operates as a real estate company. The company engages in the acquisition, entitlement, development, and sale of real estate, primarily residential and mixed-use communities. It also sells commercial tracts; residential lots primarily to homebuilders; undeveloped land through its retail sales programs, as well as operates commercial real estate and income producing properties, such as a hotel and multifamily properties.

Under the proposed transaction, Forestar would remain a public company to ensure continued access to capital to support the increasing scale of the business. D.R. Horton believes continuing Forestar stockholders will have the opportunity to participate in significant value creation through a strategic relationship with D.R. Horton that would help Forestar grow organically into the leading residential land development company in the United States, selling developed residential lots to #D.R.Horton and other #homebuilders.

Forestar would be led by new executive chairman Donald Tomnitz, who served as CEO of D.R. Horton for over 15 years, and a strong management team that is expected to include Forestar’s experienced professionals.

The transaction would be effected through a merger of a newly formed, wholly owned subsidiary of D.R. Horton with Forestar. The Merger would have a cash election feature in which Forestar stockholders would have the right to elect, for each share of common stock held, either to receive $16.25 per share in cash as merger consideration, or to retain such share of the surviving entity. Cash and stock elections will be prorated, as appropriate, such that 75% of the shares of Forestar common stock outstanding before the Merger are converted into the $16.25 per share cash consideration.

Following the Merger, D.R. Horton would own 75% of the outstanding Forestar Successor shares, and existing stockholders would own 25% of the outstanding Forestar Successor shares. Forestar would remain a public company, and its common stock will trade on the NYSE. D.R. Horton has the cash and other immediately available capital to fund the approximately $520M investment.

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Wonder Woman does Wonders at the Box Office

‘Wonder Woman’ wins weekend with $100.5M debut

“Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie,” disappoints with $23.5M debut

 

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#TimeWarner’s ($TWX) “Wonder Woman” earned $100.5M in its U.S. debut over the June 4 weekend, matching expectations for at least $100M. The latest entry in the DC Comics cinematic universe received an A in audience polls from #CinemaScore, holds a critics rating of 93% on #RottenTomatoes — significantly higher than the 27% of its most immediate predecessor, 2016’s “Batman v Superman” — and was produced with a reported budget of $149M. In foreign markets, the Gal Gadot-led film took $122.5M.

BOX OFFICE RUNNERS-UP

“Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie,” distributed by Fox (FOX) and produced by Comcast’s (CMCSA) DreamWorks, opened at $23.5M versus estimates of $28M. The animated children’s film was scored B+ in audience polls and holds an 86% critics rating.

Taking third place, Disney’s (DIS) “Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” grossed $21.6M, representing a second-weekend drop of more than 65%. Internationally, the fifth installment in the fantasy adventure series continued its strong showing with receipts of $74M.

Rounding out the top five, Disney’s “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2” added $9.7M for a global cumulative total of $817M while Viacom’s (VIA) “Baywatch” earned $8.5M. Other publicly traded companies in filmmaking include Lionsgate (LGF.A) and Sony (SNE).

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TG Therapeutics’ Leukemia Drug Proves Effective

Adding TG-1101 to ibrutinib increased the number of patients with bone marrow confirmed CR’s, MRD negativity

The combination was well tolerated; the addition of TG-1101 did not appear to alter the safety profile of ibrutinib monotherapy

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American Society of Clinical Oncology’s #ASCO Annual Meeting is taking place June 2 to June 6 in Chicago. Several pharmaceutical firms and biotechnology companies are presenting their new drugs and/or present progress on the status of their drugs under development. TG Therapeutics is one of those companies.

#TG Therapeutics $TGTX announced positive results from its Phase 3 $GENUINE trial of #TG-1101 plus ibrutinib in patients with previously treated high risk Chronic #Lymphocytic #Leukemia.
The trial was powered to show a statistically significant improvement in ORR of 30%, with a minimal absolute detectable difference between the two arms of approximately 20%. The trial met its primary endpoint, demonstrating a statistically significant improvement in Overall Response Rate, as assessed by blinded independent central radiology and hematology review by iwCLL criteria, compared to ibrutinib alone in both the Intent to Treat population and Treated population.
The combination was well tolerated and, apart from infusion related reactions, the addition of TG-1101 did not appear to alter the safety profile of ibrutinib monotherapy.
#Neutropenia, occurring in 9% of patients, was the most commonly reported Grade 3/4 Adverse Event in the combination arm, followed by infusion related reactions and #anemia, each reported in 5% of patients.
Neutropenia or #neutropaenia, is an abnormally low concentration of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) in the blood. Neutrophils make up the majority of circulating white blood cells and serve as the primary defense against infections by destroying bacteria, bacterial fragments and immunoglobulin-bound viruses in the blood.  Patients with neutropenia are more susceptible to bacterial infections and, without prompt medical attention, the condition may become life-threatening.
Notably, the majority of infusion related reactions were Grade 1 or 2 in severity, with only 5% Grade 3/4 IRR observed. Median follow-up for this study was approximately 11.4 months.
In addition to the improvements in ORR, CR and MRD-negativity, a trend in improvement of Progression Free Survival was observed in the combination arm of TG-1101 plus ibrutinib as compared to ibrutinib alone.
“In addition to increasing the overall number of patients that responded to treatment with ibrutinib, adding TG-1101 to ibrutinib increased the number of patients with bone marrow confirmed CR’s, MRD negativity in peripheral blood, deepened nodal responses, and resulted in fewer patients progressing on therapy. Collectively, we see the consistent pattern of enhanced benefit as providing a compelling case for combining TG-1101 with ibrutinib in these hard to treat patients with high-risk CLL. We look forward to sharing these data with the FDA later this year to discuss filing for accelerated approval,” the company noted.

Other stocks to watch in the group: $INCY, $TSRO, $AZN, $AMGN

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Merck’s Breast Cancer Drug Proves Effective

The NYU’s Langone Medical Center announced that Merck’s pembrolizumab has been found to be effective in patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer

The most common side effects in both patient populations were fatigue and nausea

 

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American Society of Clinical Oncology’s #ASCO Annual Meeting is taking place June 2 to June 6 in Chicago. Several pharmaceutical firms and biotechnology companies are presenting their new drugs and/or present progress on the status of their drugs under development. Merck is one of those companies.

The New York University’s Langone Medical Center announced that #Merck’s #pembrolizumab has been found to be effective in patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer, according to an international clinical trial led by the center.

The trial investigated the drug in two separate cohorts of patients: Cohort A, which included 170 patients with heavily pretreated metastatic triple negative breast cancer regardless of PD-L1 expression, and Cohort B, which included 52 patients with PD-L1-positive tumors who received it as first-line therapy.

In #Cohort A, pembrolizumab shrunk tumors by more than 30 percent in eight of 170 patients, or five percent, and stabilized the disease in 35, or 21 percent, of those previously treated for mTNBC. Of the eight who experienced tumor reduction, all of them lived at least another year. The remaining patients in this cohort had a lower chance of survival.

In Cohort B-those who received pembrolizumab as first-line therapy-12 of 52 patients, or 23 percent, saw tumors shrink by more than 30 percent, while the disease was stabilized in nine of them, or 17 percent.

Study presenter Sylvia Adams pointed out that Cohort A is the first phase II study of an immunotherapy for triple negative breast cancer to be reported and represents the largest cohort of patients with mTNBC treated with immunotherapy to date.

“The goals of Cohort B, for which survival data are not yet complete, were, primarily, to prove pembrolizumab’s safety and, secondarily, to explore its efficacy as a first-line treatment. Both goals appear to have been met,” the center said.

Merck $MRK funded this clinical trial.

Pembrolizumab, marketed under the name #Keytruda, was well tolerated by both cohorts at a 200mg dose every three weeks, according to study results.

Only 12 percent of patients in Cohort A experienced severe side effects and only eight percent experienced them in Cohort B.

The most common side effects in both patient populations were fatigue and nausea. Although side effects led to discontinuation of treatment in seven patients from Cohort A, no patients in Cohort B discontinued treatment due to adverse side effects.

Other stocks to watch in the group: $INCY, $TSRO, $PBYI, $AMGN

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The article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility.