Investment Technology Group sold for $1 billion

ITG to be acquired by Virtu Financial for $30.30 per share in cash

Investment Technology Group sold for $1 billion, Stockwinners
Investment Technology Group sold for $1 billion, Stockwinners

Investment Technology Group (ITG) announced that it has reached a definitive agreement for Virtu Financial (VIRT) to acquire all outstanding shares of ITG’s Common Stock for $30.30 per share in cash.

Investment Technology Group, Inc. operates as a financial technology company in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Asia Pacific.

Virtu Financial, Inc.  provides market making and liquidity services through its proprietary, multi-asset, and multi-currency technology platform to the financial markets worldwide.

The price represents a premium of more than 40% over ITG’s average closing share price of $21.55 in the 30 days prior to news reports of a potential sale on October 4, 2018.

Minder Cheng, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said, “ITG has made tremendous progress in executing on its Strategic Operating Plan over the past two years, and the agreement with Virtu is a result of the dedicated efforts of our management team and employees.

After careful consideration, ITG’s Board of Directors determined that the proposal from Virtu, which provides an immediate and significant cash premium, offers the most value for ITG stockholders. The combination of Virtu and ITG will create an industry-leading financial technology franchise with true global capabilities and scale.” J.P. Morgan is serving as the financial advisor and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is providing legal counsel to ITG.


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L3 Technologies and Harris to merge

Harris, L3 Technologies to combine in merger of equals

L3 Technologies and Harris to merge, Stockwinners
L3 Technologies and Harris to merge, Stockwinners
L3 Technologies and Harris to merge, Stockwinners
L3 Technologies and Harris to merge, Stockwinners

Harris Corporation (HRS) and L3 Technologies (LLL) have agreed to combine in an all stock merger of equals.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, L3 shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 1.30 shares of Harris common stock for each share of L3 common stock, consistent with the 60-trading day average exchange ratio of the two companies.

Upon completion of the merger, Harris shareholders will own approximately 54% and L3 shareholders will own approximately 46% of the combined company on a fully diluted basis.

The combined company, L3 Harris Technologies, will be the 6th largest defense company in the U.S. and a top 10 defense company globally, with approximately 48,000 employees and customers in over 100 countries.

For calendar year 2018, the combined company is expected to generate net revenue of approximately $16B, EBIT of $2.4B and free cash flow of $1.9B.

The combination is expected to generate approximately $500M of annual gross pre-tax cost synergies, or $300M net of savings returned to customers, in year 3.

The savings will come from reducing direct and indirect spend, rationalizing footprint, consolidating corporate and segment headquarters, establishing a common shared services platform for IT and finance and reducing other overhead costs.

The company is expected to invest approximately $450M cash to achieve the synergies over the next 3 years.

The combined company will target $3B in free cash flow by year 3, driven by organic growth, cost synergies, working capital improvements and capital expenditure efficiencies. L3 Harris Technologies will be well capitalized with a strong balance sheet and a leverage ratio of 2.2 times net debt to trailing twelve months EBITDA.

The combined company will remain committed to maintaining an investment grade credit rating and a dividend payout consistent with each company’s current practice and deploying excess cash toward share repurchases, including up to $2B in share repurchases in the 12 months post-closing.

L3 Harris Technologies will be headquartered in Melbourne, Florida.

The combined company’s Board of Directors will have 12 members, consisting of six directors from each company. William Brown will serve as chairman and CEO, and Christopher Kubasik will serve as vice chairman, president and COO for the first two years following the closing of the transaction. For the third year, Brown will transition to executive chairman and Kubasik to CEO, after which Kubasik will become chairman and CEO.

The merger is expected to close in mid-calendar year 2019, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and approval by the shareholders of each company.


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GE fires CEO, Shares rise

GE shares jump after CEO Flannery ousted amid Power unit challenges

GE introduces new company AiRXOS, Stockwinners
GE fires CEO, Shares rise

Shares of GE (GE) are rising in pre-market trading after the shrinking conglomerate announced that H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. has been named Chairman and CEO, replacing John Flannery, effective immediately.

POWER WRITE-OFF

The company stated that while its businesses other than Power are “generally performing consistently with previous guidance,” the company will fall short of previously indicated guidance for free cash flow and EPS for 2018 due to weaker performance in the GE Power business.

GE expects to take a non-cash goodwill impairment charge related to the GE Power business that will likely be as much as the approximately $23B current goodwill balance for the business, GE added.

GE previously forecast FY18 EPS at the low end of its $1.00-$1.07 range. The current EPS consensus is 95c.

RECENT ANALYST CONCERNS

In a recent note to investors, RBC Capital analyst Deane Dray lowered his price target on GE shares to $13 from $15, stating that the company had yet to reach a point where bad news does not make the stock decline and arguing that the bottom had not yet been reached.

Last month, JPMorgan analyst Stephen Tusa lowered his price target for General Electric to $10 from $11 and kept an Underweight rating on the shares.

The analyst’s channel checks, which were confirmed by GE Power’s CEO, GE investor relations, suggested GE had experienced a failure in a first stage blade on an H-frame in one of its two initial marquee installations in the U.S., Colorado Bend. Further, Tusa said the problem was material enough for Exelon (EXC) to have shut the plant down, along with the “award winning” Wolf Hollow plant for precautionary measures.

There should no longer be any doubt that GE Power has company-specific issues, Tusa contended at the time, stating that his new price target assumed weaker results at GE Power and some franchise value impact.

PRICE ACTION

In Monday’s pre-market trading, GE shares are up $1.53, or 13.5%, to $12.82.


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L Brands drops after PINK CEO departs

L Brands slides after slashing earnings forecast, PINK brand CEO departure 

L Brands drops after PINK CEO departs, Stockwinners
L Brands drops after PINK CEO departs, Stockwinners

Shares of L Brands (LB) are sliding after the parent of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works reported better than expected quarterly earnings and revenue but lowered its profit outlook.

While Jefferies analyst Randal Konik reduced his price target for L Brands and recommended investors sell the shares, his peer at Citi argued that the guidance cut was expected and reiterated a Buy rating on the stock.

QUARTERLY RESULTS

Last night, L Brands reported second quarter adjusted earnings per share of 36c and revenue of $2.98B, both above the consensus of 34c and $2.93B, respectively.

The company also lowered its FY18 earnings per share view to $2.45-$2.70 from $2.70-$3.00, with consensus at $2.77.

Additionally, L Brands said second quarter consolidated same-store sales for Stores and Direct were up 3%, while same-store sales for the quarter at Victoria’s Secret were down 1% and up 10% at at Bath & Body Works.

Alongside quarterly results, the company announced that Denise Landman, CEO of Victoria’s Secret PINK, has made the decision to retire at the end of this year.

Pink CEO departs, Shares slide

Amy Hauk, currently president for merchandising and product development of Bath & Body Works, will replace Landman as CEO of Victoria’s Secret PINK.

JEFFERIES SAYS SELL SHARES

In a research note to investors this morning, Jefferies’ Konik lowered his price target for L Brands to $20 from $23 and recommended investors sell the shares.

The analyst argued that the company’s fiscal year earnings guidance cut is still not low enough, and sees PINK on “precipice of massive declines.” Further, the analyst thinks L Brands’ free cash flow guidance is too high as its net debt continues to grow.

The dividend is at risk in the medium-term and the company needs to save cash now “before the next recession,” Konik contended.

The analyst reiterated an Underperform rating on the stock.

Meanwhile, his peer at JPMorgan also lowered his price target for L Brands to $26 from $28.

While the stock was bracing for an earnings forecast reduction, the magnitude of management’s near-term third quarter cut was greater than expected, calling for break-even earnings at the low-end, the first time in more than a decade, analyst Matthew Boss contended.

He reiterated a Neutral rating on the shares. Voicing a similar opinion, Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow lowered his price target for L Brands to $30 from $42 and kept a Market Perform rating on the shares as the core Victoria’s Secret concept continues to struggle.

Pointing out that the second quarter results “raised a number of red flags,” including “severe” margin contraction, “bloated” inventory, Bath & Body Works returning to margin contraction and issues at PINK, Nomura Instinet analyst Simeon Siegel reiterated a Neutral rating and $31 price target on L Brands’ shares.

CITI SAYS RISK/REWARD STILL ATTRACTIVE

Still bullish on the stock, Citi analyst Paul Lejuez told investors that while the turnaround path for Victoria’s Secret “remains unclear,” the market expected last night’s fiscal 2018 guidance cut.

With a 7.5% dividend yield, the stock’s risk/reward is attractive, particularly given actions by management that suggest “they have more than enough liquidity to continue funding the dividend,” Lejuez argued.

The analyst reiterated a Buy rating on the shares and said he views the dividend as safe.

While lowering her price target for L Brands to $44 from $49, B. Riley FBR analyst Susan Anderson kept a Buy rating on the stock as she believes Bath & Body Works continues to excel and Victoria’s Secret remains a work in progress.

While weaker PINK performance is “disappointing,” the analyst believes management is taking steps to correct lounge performance as well as improve performance in lingerie.

Further, Anderson highlighted that L Brands reiterated its commitment to share repurchases and dividend, and reiterated that the company has substantial liquidity to fund the dividend and other expenditures.

PRICE ACTION

In Thursday’s trading, shares of L Brands have plunged over 12% to $28.50.


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Starwood Property Trust goes shopping

Starwood Property to acquire GE Capital Project Finance Debt Business for $2.56B

Starwood Property goes shopping, Stockwinners
Starwood Property goes shopping, Stockwinners

Starwood Property Trust (STWD) announced that the company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire GE Capital’s (GE) Energy Financial Services’ Project Finance Debt Business and loan portfolio for $2.56B, including $400M of unfunded loan commitments.

The acquired business will leverage the extensive experience of the company’s affiliate, Starwood Energy Group, which specializes in comparable energy infrastructure equity investments and has executed transactions with approximately $7B in asset value since its inception in 2005.

GE’s Energy Project Finance Debt Business includes a vertically integrated platform with a seasoned leadership team and 21 full-time employees across loan origination, underwriting, capital markets and asset management.

The Loan Portfolio consists of 51 senior loans secured by energy infrastructure real assets.

The company anticipates the transaction will be accretive to core earnings.

The company expects to finance the transaction with a new secured term loan facility from MUFG with an initial advance of approximately $1.7B and committed capacity for future funding obligations in the Loan Portfolio.

The company has ample available liquidity in addition to a $600M committed acquisition facility from Credit Suisse and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. to fund the balance of the purchase price.

The completion of the acquisition is subject to the satisfaction of a number of customary conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018.

STWD closed at $22.45. GE closed at $13.16.


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MoviePass raises prices

Helios and Matheson says MoviePass accelerating plan for profitability

MoviePass raises prices, Stockwinners
MoviePass raises prices, Stockwinners

MoviePass, a majority-owned subsidiary of Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), announced the implementation of several new measures aimed at accelerating the plan for profitability.

Through these new steps, the company believes it will be able to compress its timeline to reach profitability.

Approaching the one-year anniversary of introducing its standard $9.95 price point, the MoviePass community has grown to more than 3 million members and in turn has contributed to record box office growth, responsible for approximately 6 percent of the nation’s total box office sales in the first half of 2018.

In addition, MoviePass Ventures and MoviePass Films are contributing to the company’s ancillary revenue. The company has implemented several elements of a long-term growth plan to protect the existing community and set it up for future sustainable growth.

MoviePass has implemented several new cost-reduction and subscription revenue increase measures: Actions that have been implemented are currently cutting the monthly burn by 60%.

A future increase of the standard pricing plan to $14.95 per month within the next 30 days.

First Run Movies opening on 1,000+ Screens to be limited in their availability during the first two weeks, unless made available on a promotional basis, Implementation of additional tactics to prevent abuse of the MoviePass service.

As of Q3 and beyond, MoviePass is also generating incremental non-subscription revenue of approximately $4 to $6 per subscriber per quarter: Integration of MoviePass Ventures and MoviePass Films with our own original content allows us to gain revenue by owning the films through box office, streaming, DVD, retail, transactional sales e.g. Apple and Samsung, and international rights, etc.

Partnerships with 3rd party media inventory to increase scale and reach of marketing efforts driven by data. Continued rollout and refinement of the Peak Pricing program.

Creating strategic marketing partnerships and promotions with studios, content owners, and brands. Integration of Moviefone.Com to support the media buys of brands and studios.

In an effort to maintain the integrity of the MoviePass mission, to enhance discovery, and to drive attendance to smaller films and bolster the independent film community, MoviePass will begin to limit ticket availability to Blockbuster films. This change has already begun rolling out, with Mission Impossible 6 being the first film included in the measure.

This is a strategic move by the company to both limit cash burn and stay loyal to its mission to empower the smaller artistic film communities.

Major studios will continue to be able to partner with MoviePass to promote their first run films, seeding them with a valuable moviegoing audience.

HMNY is up 7 cents to $0.88.


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Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B

Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B

 

Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B, Stockwinners
Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B, Stockwinners

Synovus Financial Corp. (SNV) and FCB Financial Holdings, Inc. (FCB) jointly announced their entry into a definitive merger agreement under which Synovus will acquire FCB Financial Holdings, Inc., owner of Florida Community Bank.

The transaction is expected to close by the first quarter of 2019.

Following the closing, FCB will merge with Synovus Bank and operate under the Synovus brand, and FCB Financial Holdings President and CEO Kent Ellert will be executive vice president of Synovus and Florida market president.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, FCB shareholders will receive a fixed ratio of 1.055 shares of Synovus common stock for each common share of FCB in an all-stock transaction.

Based on Synovus’ closing share price on July 23, 2018, the transaction is valued at $58.15 per FCB share or $2.9 billion in aggregate.

Following completion of the merger, former FCB shareholders will own approximately 30% of the combined company. In addition, based on the exchange ratio, Synovus’ most recent quarterly dividend translates to a pro forma annualized dividend of $1.06 per FCB share.

The transaction is expected to be tax free to FCB shareholders. Synovus expects approximately $40 million in pretax synergies to be fully realized by 2020.

Excluding one-time charges, Synovus expects the acquisition to be approximately 6.5% accretive to earnings per common share in 2020 and to deliver strong returns on capital.

The transaction is expected to produce tangible book value per share dilution of 3.3% with an earnback period of less than two years.

The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by both companies’ Boards of Directors.

The merger is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Synovus and FCB Financial Holdings shareholders and approval by state and federal bank regulators. BofA Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC served as financial advisors to Synovus on this transaction, while Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Alston & Bird LLP served as legal advisors.

Sandler O’Neill + Partners L.P., Guggenheim Securities, LLC, and Evercore Group L.L.C. served as financial advisors to FCB Financial Holdings, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz served as legal advisor.


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Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge 

Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge 

Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge, Stockwinners
Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge, Stockwinners

Veritex Holdings (VBTX) and Green Bancorp (GNBC) jointly announced the entry into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Green and Green Bank, N.A. will merge with and into Veritex and Veritex Community Bank, respectively.

Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge, Stockwinners
Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge, Stockwinners

The transaction will create a leading Texas community bank, with 43 branches across Texas, ranking as the tenth largest Texas-based banking institution by deposit market share.

The combined franchise would have approximately $7.5B in assets, $5.6B in loans and $5.9B in deposits, based on the companies’ balance sheets as of June 30, 2018.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, upon completion of the merger, shareholders of Green will receive 0.79 shares of Veritex common stock for each share of Green common stock, valuing the transaction at approximately $1B, or $25.89 per Green share, based on the closing share price of Veritex of $32.77 on July 23, 2018.

Legacy Veritex and Green shareholders will collectively own approximately 45% and 55% of the combined company, respectively.

Upon completion of the merger, C. Malcolm Holland, current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Veritex, will continue to serve as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the combined company.

Terry Earley, current Chief Financial Officer of Green, will serve as Chief Financial Officer of the combined company, and Geoffrey Greenwade, current President of Green, will serve as the Houston President of the combined company.

The board of directors of the combined company will consist of nine members, six from Veritex’s current board of directors and three from Green’s current board of directors.

Veritex expects this acquisition to be approximately 25% accretive to earnings per common share, excluding one-time charges.

The transaction is expected to produce approximately 12.0% tangible book value per share dilution at closing with an earnback period of approximately 2.8 years.

The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of both Veritex and Green.

The merger agreement contains customary representations and warranties and covenants by Veritex and Green. Closing is subject to customary approvals by regulatory authorities and the shareholders of both Veritex and Green, and is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2019.


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The Philly Fed rises to 25.7 in July

The Philly Fed bounce to 25.7

 

The Philly Fed rises to 25.7 in July , Stockwinners
The Philly Fed rises to 25.7 in July , Stockwinners

The Philly Fed bounce to 25.7 from a 19-month low of 19.9 in June and a 1-year high of 34.4 in May was accompanied by an ISM-adjusted Philly Fed rise to 59.7 from 59.4 in June and a 45-year high of 62.5 in May, versus the same 59.7 in April.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reports that regional manufacturing activity continued to expand in July. All the broad indicators remained positive, with the general activity and new orders indexes improving this month. The survey’s price indexes suggest widespread increases for purchased inputs, and more firms reported price increases for their own manufactured goods. Expectations for the next six months continued to moderate but remain positive overall.

Monday’s Empire State headline slipped to 22.6 in July from an 8-month high of 25.0 in June but a lower 20.1 in May, while the ISM-adjusted measure fell more sharply, to 54.6 from a 12-year high of 57.9 in June and 56.9 in May.

The U.S. state of New York has been known by many nicknames, most notably as the Empire State, adopted as late as the 19th century. This nickname has been incorporated into the names of several state buildings and events, and is commonly believed to refer to the state’s wealth and resources.

For later July surveys, analysts expect a Richmond Fed drop to 17.0 from 20.0, a Dallas Fed drop to 30.0 from 36.5, a Chicago PMI decline to 60.0 from 64.1 in June, an ISM drop to 59.0 from 60.2, and an ISM-NMI drop to 58.0 from 59.1

The mix should allow the ISM-adjusted average of the major surveys to slip back to 58 from the 59 cycle-high set in May and June, versus the same 58 readings in six of eight months through April.

Producer sentiment is enjoying a lift from fiscal stimulus, the mining and factory resurgence, and a stronger global economy that has translated to strength in trade in the face of limited capacity constraints and little near-term inflation risk.


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Arconic higher following report of private equity interest

Arconic higher following report of private equity interest

Arconic higher following report of private equity interest, Stockwinners
Arconic higher following report of private equity interest, Stockwinners

Shares of Arconic (ARNC) are rising following a report that the aluminum producer has received interest from private equity firms including Apollo Global Management (APO).

PE  INTEREST

Arconic has received takeover interest from private-equity firms, including Apollo Global, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

A deal for the aerospace parts maker, which currently has a market value of $8.3B, could be worth over $10B, but no buyout agreement is imminent, the report said.

The company, which also holds $6.4B in debt, has a tumultuous recent history, facing an activist investor campaign from Elliott Management after being separated from the aluminum business now known as Alcoa (AA) in 2016.

The campaign led to the resignation of former Arconic Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld and an overhaul of the company’s board.

In addition, the company came under scrutiny after investigators discovered its aluminum composite panels contributed to the spread of a fire last year at London’s Grenfell Tower that killed 80 people.

At the time, Arconic said it had no control over how its products were used in the building.

‘PLAUSIBLE LBO CANDIDATE’

Following the WSJ report, Morgan Stanley analyst Rajeev Lalwani said two things stand out to make Arconic a “plausible” leveraged buyout candidate: Its low EV/EBITDA multiple, which creates potentially favorable entry and exit points, and its cash flow profile, which has room for improvement.

The analyst stated that a more lean and efficient approach could support considerably better cash generation.

While the reported private equity interest “adds a level of intrigue,” Lalwani still believes headwinds within it rings and disks business, working capital and CapEx issues and volatility associated with aluminum prices will be the key driver of shares in the near-term.

Given the aforementioned execution concerns, Lalwani kept an Equal Weight rating and $20 price target on Arconic shares.

‘VERY VIABLE LBO CANDIDATE’

Credit Suisse analyst Curt Woodworth said he views Arconic as a “very viable” leveraged buyout candidate given its “highly depressed” multiples, operational and financial mismanagement, and “very strong” positions in automotive and aerospace end markets.

The analyst believes the issues at Firth Rixson are “very fixable” as the company is a new entrant into the disks market and said Arconic could be worth $24-$26 per share in a buyout. Woodworth has an Outperform rating on the shares with a $28 price target.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

On Monday, Arconic announced it had signed a new long-term contract with Boeing (BA) to supply aluminum sheet and plate for all models produced by Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The multiyear contract, which extends and adds to the companies’ 2014 contract, is the largest to date and captures growth in the build rate increases of the Boeing 737 program.

PRICE ACTION

Arconic rose about 10%, or $1.73, to $19.12 in morning.


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Market higher at midday

Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday as the S&P 500 rose above 2,800 for the first time since the middle of March.

Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday as the S&P 500 rose above 2,800, Stockwinners
Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday as the S&P 500 rose above 2,800, Stockwinners

The Dow has also been strong, though not much of that outperformance is due to JPMorgan (JPM) after the bank and several of its large peers kicked off earnings season with their reports this morning.

ECONOMIC EVENTS:

In the U.S., the June trade price report was mixed, with a weaker than expected 0.4% import price decline and a stronger than expected 0.3% increase in export prices.

The University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey was weaker than expected, falling 1.1 points to a 6-month low of 97.1 in the preliminary print for July. In Asia, China’s exports were strong in June, rising 11.3%, while imports fell a bit short of expectations with an increase of 14.1%.

COMPANY NEWS:

Shares of JPMorgan advanced fractionally after it started off this summer’s earnings season by reporting better than expected earnings for the second quarter. Of note, the bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon said he sees “good global economic growth, particularly in the U.S.”

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo (WFC) slipped 2% after reporting downbeat results for Q2, with the company noting in presentation slides that the third party review of customer accounts is “ongoing.”

Citi (C) shares also fell about 2% after its quarterly report, though the bank’s headline earnings for the quarter beat analysts’ estimates.

In addition, PNC Financial (PNC) reported better than expected results for the quarter and guided for third quarter net interest income to be up low-single digits…

Meanwhile, AT&T (T) was in focus after the U.S. Department of Justice said it plans to appeal the approval of the merger between AT&T and Time Warner. In an interview on CNBC this morning, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that he doesn’t know exactly what the government basis will be for an appeal and that the move by the DOJ “changes nothing”.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) dipped about 1% after a Missouri jury awarded $4.69B to 22 women who alleged that use of J&J’s talcum powder products caused their ovarian cancer. The jury award includes $550M in compensatory damages and $4.14B in punitive damages against the company. J&J responded by saying it “intends to pursue all available appellate remedies.”

MAJOR MOVERS:

Among the noteworthy gainers was Biocept (BIOC), which surged 58% after it announced a provider agreement with Alliance Global FZ.

Also higher was Achillion (ACHN), which gained 13% after it said it began dosing in its Phase 1 trial of ACH-5548. Among the notable losers was Gogo (GOGO), which fell 11%, reversing last night’s afterhours gains following the company’s announcement of a strategic review.

Also lower was Ingredion (INGR), which dropped 11% after it announced a $125M cost savings program, provided lower than expected Q2 guidance, and cut its outlook for fiscal 2018.

INDEXES:

Near midday, the Dow was up 93.18, or 0.37%, to 25,018.07, the Nasdaq was up 13.35, or 0.17%, to 7,837.26, and the S&P 500 was up 4.74, or 0.17%, to 2,803.03.


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Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks

Physical retailers rise, online retailers drop after Supreme Court tax ruling

Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners
Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners

Shares of brick-and-mortar retailers are rising, while shares of e-commerce firms are slipping, after the Supreme Court ruled that online retailers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where they have no physical presence.

SUPREME COURT RULING

On Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with the state of South Dakota in a fight it brought against Wayfair (W) to require a business that has no physical presence in the state to collect its sales tax.

Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners
Supreme Court ruling moves retail stocks, Stockwinners

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 vote that a 1992 judgement in Quill Corporation v. North Dakota regarding the physical presence rule was “unsound and incorrect,” according to a judgement posted to the high court’s website.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, in writing for the majority opinion, said the Quill decision had distorted the economy and resulted in states losing annual tax revenues between $8B-$33B.

“Quill puts both local businesses and many interstate businesses with physical presence at a competitive disadvantage relative to remote sellers,” he wrote.

“Remote sellers can avoid the regulatory burdens of tax collection and can offer de facto lower prices caused by the widespread failure of consumers to pay the tax on their own.”

WHAT’S NOTABLE:

Following the ruling, industry trade organization National Retail Federation issued a statement saying,

“Retailers have been waiting for this day for more than two decades. The retail industry is changing, and the Supreme Court has acted correctly in recognizing that it’s time for outdated sales tax policies to change as well.

This ruling clears the way for a fair and level playing field where all retailers compete under the same sales tax rules whether they sell merchandise online, in-store or both.”

ANALYST COMMENTARY

KeyBanc analyst Edward Yruma called the ruling a negative for Wayfair, arguing that it may reduce some of the price differential that has helped it gain share from traditional peers.

The ruling is also a negative, but to a lesser degree, for eBay (EBAY) and Etsy (ETSY), said Yruma, who views the impact on those two as more related to compliance and implementation.

He adds that the news could be a modest positive for retailers of high-ticket and branded products, such as Best Buy (BBY), Home Depot (HD), Lowe’s (LOW), La-Z-Boy (LZB), Kirkland’s (KIRK), RH (RH) and Williams-Sonoma (WSM).

PRICE ACTION

At Thursday midday, Target (TGT) rose 1.8%, Walmart (WMT) was up 0.7%, Costco (COST) rose roughly 1.1% while Amazon (AMZN) was down 0.4%, Etsy dropped about 2.5%, eBay fell 1.4% and Wayfair (W) was down 1.2%.

In addition, Avalara (AVLR), a software company focused on automated tax compliance that recently held its initial public offering, gained 17.1%.


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Disney raises its offer for 21st Century Fox to $38 per share

Disney boosts offer for 21st Century Fox assets to $38 per share

Disney raises its offer for 21st Century Fox to $38 per share

Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA) announced that it has entered into an amended and restated merger agreement with Walt Disney (DIS) pursuant to which Disney has agreed to acquire for a price of $38 per 21CF share the same businesses Disney agreed to acquire under the previously announced merger agreement between 21CF and Disney.

This price represents a “significant increase” over the purchase price of approximately $28 per share included in the Disney merger agreement when it was announced in December 2017.

The amended and restated Disney merger agreement offers a package of consideration, flexibility and deal certainty enhancements that is superior to the proposal made by the Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) on June 13, Fox stated.

Under the amended and restated Disney merger agreement, Disney would acquire those businesses on substantially the same terms, except that, among other things, Disney’s offer allows 21CF stockholders to elect to receive their consideration, on a value equalized basis, in the form of cash or stock, subject to 50/50 proration.

The collar on the stock consideration will ensure that 21st Century Fox shareholders will receive a number of Disney shares equal to $38 in value if the average Disney stock price at closing is between $93.53 and $114.32.

In light of the revised terms contained in the amended and restated Disney Merger Agreement, 21CF’s board, after consultation with its outside legal counsel and financial advisors, has not concluded that the unsolicited proposal it received on June 13, 2018 from Comcast could reasonably be expected to result in a “Company Superior Proposal” under the Disney merger agreement.

However, the amended and restated Disney merger agreement contains no changes to the provisions relating to the company’s directors’ ability to evaluate a competing proposal.

As announced on May 30, 2018, 21CF has established a record date of May 29, 2018 and a meeting date of July 10, 2018, for a special meeting of its stockholders to, among other things, consider and vote on a proposal to adopt the Disney merger agreement.

21CF has determined to postpone its special meeting of stockholders to a future date in order to provide stockholders the opportunity to evaluate the terms of Disney’s revised proposal and other developments to date.

Once 21CF determines the new date for 21CF’s special meeting of stockholders, the date will be communicated to 21CF stockholders.


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Rockwell Automation to make $1B investment in PTC

Rockwell Automation to make $1B equity investment in PTC

Rockwell Automation to make $1B equity investment in PTC, Stockwinners
Rockwell Automation to make $1B equity investment in PTC

PTC (PTC) and Rockwell Automation (ROK) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for a strategic partnership that is expected to accelerate growth for both companies and enable them to be the partner of choice for customers around the world who want to transform their physical operations with digital technology.

As part of the partnership, Rockwell Automation will make a $1B equity investment in PTC, and Rockwell Automation’s Chairman and CEO, Blake Moret, will join PTC’s board of directors effective with the closing of the equity transaction.

Under the terms of the agreement relating to the equity investment, Rockwell Automation will make a $1 billion equity investment in PTC by acquiring 10,582,010 newly issued shares at a price of $94.50, representing an approximate 8.4% ownership interest in PTC based on PTC’s current outstanding shares pro forma for the share issuance to Rockwell Automation.

The price per share represents an 8.6% premium to PTC’s closing stock price on June 8, 2018, the last trading day prior to today’s announcement.

Rockwell Automation intends to fund the investment through a combination of cash on hand and commercial paper borrowings.

Rockwell Automation will account for its ownership interest in PTC as an Available for Sale security, reported at fair value.

As separately announced today, Rockwell Automation is increasing its share repurchase target for fiscal year 2018 to $1.5 billion.

This represents a $300 million increase to its previous plans to repurchase $1.2 billion of its stock in fiscal year 2018.

The investment transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, and is expected to close within 60 days.

PTC Inc. develops and delivers software products and solutions worldwide.


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GE creates new company to develop unmanned traffic management

GE creates  AiRXOS to develop unmanned traffic management 

GE introduces new company AiRXOS, Stockwinners
GE introduces new company AiRXOS

GE (GE) introduced AiRXOS a new company helping to accelerate the safe, efficient, scalable integration of air and ground space for manned and unmanned vehicles.

AiRXOS helps government agencies, regional aviation authorities and private sector operators manage and meet the increasing demand for sophisticated and safe Unmanned Aircraft Systems operations. AiRXOS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GE.

The Department of Transportation recently announced the UAS IPP to help government agencies, municipalities, regional aviation authorities and private sector operators manage and meet the increasing demand for sophisticated and safe UAS operations.

Of the ten pilot programs, AiRXOS was selected as a partner for three: The City of San Diego, the City of Memphis, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. AiRXOS will work with these program partners in safely demonstrating capabilities such as operations over urban settings, night operations, beyond visual line of sight, as well as developing overall UTM systems.

Drive Ohio’s UAS Center announced an investment of $5.9M for UTM research that will include both air and ground vehicles and will complement Drive Ohio’s current efforts for autonomous and connected vehicle testing along the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor. AiRXOS has been selected as a partner, along with Gryphon Sensors, CAL Analytics, and Ohio State University’s College of Engineering to implement a UTM solution for the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor. AiRXOS has also formed a collaboration with NUAIR Alliance for an unmanned testing and rating initiative that will combine NUAIR’s new National Unmanned Systems Testing and Rating capability with AiRXOS’ Autonomous Service Platform.

While NUSTAR will objectively measure UAS performance and test systems against industry consensus standards, AiRXOS will automate the processes used by commercial operators, pilots, organizations, and drone manufacturers to engage in commercial flight operations.

To support this effort, AiRXOS plans to open an office in the Syracuse, New York Tech Garden offices. To keep pace with innovation, NASA’s Technical Capability Level testing and the expansion of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability service program continue to move the industry forward.

AiRXOS is a TCL partner and has recently applied for a LAANC application in support of bringing a broad range of UAS operations safely to scale.

GE closed at $13.64.


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