FOMC leaves rates unchanged near zero

Fed members project Federal funds rate near zero until end 2023 

There were some important shifts in the statement versus July’s, however, that further support the ZIRP posture.

Indeed, the Fed will “aim” for an inflation rate “moderately above 2% for some time so that inflation averages 2% over time and longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored at 2%.

The Fed reiterated from June that it will in coming months increase its holdings of Treasuries and MBS “to sustain smooth market functioning and help foster accommodative financial conditions.” There were two dissents. Kaplan approved of the current target range, but wanted to retain a “greater policy flexibility.” Kashkari wanted the statement to indicate the current target range on rates will be maintained until core inflation has reached 2% on a sustained basis. The Fed’s SEP reflected an improved outlook on 2020 growth, as expected.

FOMC Chief, Jerome Powell

The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement,

“The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. With inflation running persistently below this longer-run goal, the Committee will aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time so that inflation averages 2 percent over time and longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored at 2 percent. The Committee expects to maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy until these outcomes are achieved.

The Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time. In addition, over coming months the Federal Reserve will increase its holdings of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities at least at the current pace to sustain smooth market functioning and help foster accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses.”

Feds balance sheet ballons

The Fed released the economic projections of Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents under their individual assessments of projected appropriate monetary policy, which shows that the median projection for Federal funds rate is 0.1% for the end of 2020, the end of 2021, and the end of 2022. The group’s projections in June were also for a Federal funds rate of 0.1% at the end of 2020, the end of 2021 and the end of 2022. The Fed group has extended its projection out to 2023, and still sees a Federal funds rate of 0.1% at the end of 2023.

FOMC will continue to pump money into economy

FOMC Forecast revisions, released with the FOMC statement, show the huge boosts in the official 2020 GDP forecasts that analysts had assumed, followed by a more restrained 2021-23 bounce.

The jobless rate estimates were lowered by much more than expected across the forecast horizon, and inflation was boosted as expected.

The median Fed funds rates sit at 0.1% through 2023, though the range of estimates show expectations of hikes by some starting in 2022.

The 2020 GDP central tendency was boosted sharply to the -4.0% to -3.0% from the prior central tendency of -7.6% to -5.5%, versus our own -2.4% forecast.

Unemployment expected to stay high

Analysts saw a huge trimming the jobless rate central tendency to 7.0%-8.0% from 9.0%-10.0%, versus our own higher 8.2% figure. Analysts saw boosts in the PCE chain price central tendencies to 1.1%-1.3% from 0.6%-1.0% for the headline and to 1.3%-1.5% from 0.9%-1.1% for the core, versus our respective estimates of 1.2% and 1.6%.

The central tendency for the Fed funds rate rises to 0.1%-0.4% in 2023 after unanimous 0.1% figures in 2020 and 2021. The range rises to 0.1%-0.6% in 2022, and to 0.1%-1.4% in 2023. page for a table of assumptions for the Fed’s revised forecasts.

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Merck invests $1B in Seattle Genetics

Merck to acquire $1B equity stake in Seattle Genetics as part of collaborations

Seattle Genetics (SGEN) and Merck (MRK) announced two new strategic oncology collaborations.

The companies will globally develop and commercialize Seattle Genetics’ ladiratuzumab vedotin, an investigational antibody-drug conjugate, or ADC, targeting LIV-1, which is currently in phase 2 clinical trials for breast cancer and other solid tumors.

Merck presents results from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 study, Stockwinners
Merck bets heavily on Seattle Genetics, Stockwinners

The collaboration will pursue a broad joint development program evaluating ladiratuzumab vedotin as monotherapy and in combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy Keytruda in triple-negative breast cancer, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and other LIV-1-expressing solid tumors.

Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics will receive a $600M upfront payment and Merck will make a $1B equity investment in 5M shares of Seattle Genetics common stock at a price of $200 per share.

Seattle Genetics scores bug with Merck

In addition, Seattle Genetics is eligible for progress-dependent milestone payments of up to $2.6B.

Separately, Seattle Genetics has granted Merck an exclusive license to commercialize Tukysa, a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, for the treatment of HER2-positive cancers, in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Seattle Genetics will receive $125M from Merck as an upfront payment and is eligible for progress-dependent milestones of up to $65M.

Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics and Merck will collaborate and equally share costs on the global development of ladiratuzumab vedotin and other LIV-1-targeting ADCs.

Breast cancer drug Liv-1 is expected to do well

The companies have agreed to jointly develop and share future costs and profits for ladiratuzumab vedotin on a 50:50 basis worldwide. Merck will pay Seattle Genetics $600M upfront and make a $1B equity investment in 5M shares of Seattle Genetics common stock at a price of $200 per share.

In addition, Seattle Genetics will be eligible to receive up to $2.6B in milestone payments, including $850M in development milestones and $1.75B in sales milestones.

The companies will jointly develop and commercialize ladiratuzumab vedotin and equally share profits worldwide.

The companies will co-commercialize in the U.S. and Europe. Seattle Genetics will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in the U.S. and Canada, and will record sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Merck will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in Europe and in countries outside the U.S. and Canada, and will record sales in countries outside the U.S., Europe and Canada. Including the upfront payment, equity investment proceeds and potential milestone payments, Seattle Genetics is eligible to receive up to $4.2B.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck has been granted exclusive rights to commercialize Tukysa in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe. Seattle Genetics retains commercial rights and will record sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Merck will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in its territory, supported by the positive results from the HER2CLIMB clinical trial.

Merck will also co-fund a portion of the Tukysa global development plan, which encompasses several ongoing and planned trials across HER2-positive cancers, including breast, colorectal, gastric and other cancers set forth in a global product development plan.

Seattle Genetics will continue to lead ongoing Tukysa global development planning and operational execution.

Merck will solely fund and conduct country-specific clinical trials necessary to support anticipated regulatory applications in its territory.

Seattle Genetics will receive from Merck $125M as an upfront payment and is eligible to receive progress-dependent milestones of up to $65M. Seattle Genetics will also receive $85M in prepaid research and development payments to be applied to Merck’s global development funding obligations. In addition, Seattle Genetics would receive tiered royalties on sales of Tukysa in Merck’s territory.

SGEN is up 14.8% to $172.40. MRK is up 1.4% to $85.00.

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Arm Holdings sold for $40 billion

Nvidia to buy Arm Holdings from Softbank

Nvidia (NVDA) confirmed that it intends to buy chip design giant Arm Holdings for a total of up to $40 billion from existing owner SoftBank (SFTBY), which bought the company for $32 billion in 2016.

Arm Holdings chips power smart phones

SoftBank  will immediately receive $2 billion in cash for signing the deal. Then, it will receive another $10 billion in cash and $21.5 billion of stock in Nvidia at closing. That stake will be likely just a bit shy of 10% of the company.

Softbank bought Arm in 2016 for $32 billion

In addition, SoftBank is slated to earn $5 billion in a mix of cash and stock as a performance-based earn-out. Conditions or timing for that earn-out were not disclosed.

Nvidia buys Arm Holdings for $40 billion

Analysts’ Comments

Should Nvidia’s (NVDA) acquisition of SoftBank’s (SFTBY) ARM be allowed to proceed, it would create a “landscape-changing entity” that would combine two leading GPU and CPU architectures into a “single powerful ecosystem,” Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Seymore tells investors in a research note.

However, it this point that is likely to create the pushback from competitors and customers, says the analyst. Seymore questions whether ARM licensees would support an Nvidia acquisition saying “there could be a myriad of conflict of interest issues” whereby Nvidia could have access to competitor strategies and technologies in a variety of Nvidia-targeted markets. Seymore keeps a Hold rating on Nvidia shares.

Jefferies analyst Mark Lipacis raised the firm’s price target on Nvidia (NVDA) to $680 from $570 and keeps a Buy rating on the shares after the company announced an agreement to acquire ARM Holdings, subject to regulatory approvals. He views the deal as one that is “transformative” as it should position Nvidia to capture 80% of the ecosystem value in the data center and also unify the compute ecosystem between the edge and data center, Lipacis tells investors. Assuming the deal with Softbank (SFTBY) goes through, he thinks the merged company has a five-year EPS power of $50, said Lipacis, who also raised his “bull-case” target on Nvidia shares to $1,000.

RBC Capital analyst Mitch Steves keeps his Outperform rating on Nvidia (NVDA) after the company confirmed its acquisition of ARM Holdings last night, saying the transaction would be a positive if it can close amid the likely regulatory challenges to its completion. Steves adds that if the transaction closes, it would also be a “notable negative” for Intel (INTC), stating that Nvidia’s research and development funding would compete against Intel’s currently dominant x86 market share.

Wedbush analyst Matt Bryson made no change to his Outperform rating or $525 price target for Nvidia (NVDA) after the company and SoftBank (SFTBY) finalized an agreement whereby Nvidia will purchase ARM Holdings. While Bryson views the deal terms and expected synergies as favorable for Nvidia, the analyst believes it most likely will never be consummated unless the U.S./China relationship dynamic shifts considerably.

NVDA is up 5.8% to $514 while SFTBY is up 8.7% to $29.87.

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Walden University sold for $1.48B

Adtalem to acquire Walden University from Laureate Education for $1.48B in cash

Adtalem (ATGE) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Walden University, an online healthcare education provider, from Laureate Education (LAUR), Inc. for $1.48B in cash.

With the addition of Walden, Adtalem will become a national healthcare educator, providing workforce solutions to employers through learning modalities with academic outcomes.

By adding Walden to its existing healthcare portfolio, Adtalem said it is better positioned to increase the talent supply to address the rapidly growing and unmet demand for healthcare professionals in the U.S. and globally.

The combined companies will have 90,000 students

The combined organization will have 26 campuses across 15 states and four countries, 6,100 faculty members, and more than 90,000 students with 34% African American enrollees.

The company said, “The acquisition is expected to provide significant potential for growth and margin expansion through new and expanded offerings as well as revenue and cost synergies.

These financial benefits are expected to lead to substantial gross margin and EBITDA margin expansion, and robust cash flow generation to invest in its offerings while paying down debt.”

Adtalem expects to generate upside to revenue by providing new and complementary educational offerings, increased student acquisition and retention capabilities as well as enhanced scale and coverage that will allow for new partnerships with large-sized employer partners in the healthcare sector.

The company noted, “The purchase price represents a compelling, pre-synergy adjusted EBITDA multiple of 8.4x, and the transaction is expected to contribute significantly to Adtalem’s free cash flow and earnings per share, generating $60 million in incremental free cash flow excluding special items in year one and adding $0.75 in earnings per share from continuing operations excluding special items in year two as synergies begin to offset the dilutive effect of purchase price accounting.”

Walden Univ. Campus

Adtalem expects to generate annual cost savings of approximately $60M driven by increased efficiencies in marketing spend and back office operations. Approximately $30M of these cost savings are anticipated within 12 months of closing and the remainder within 24 months of closing.

Additionally, Adtalem expects that this acquisition will generate between 10% and 12% ROIC beginning in year one, significantly exceeding the company’s current WACC of approximately 8%.

Adtalem expects to fund the cash consideration through a combination of cash from its balance sheet and committed debt financing.

Adtalem expects to realize the full potential of the transaction while maintaining a strong balance sheet.

The transaction is expected to close in Q1 of FY22, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

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Virtusa sold for $2 billion

Virtusa to be acquired by BPEA for $51.35 per share in cash deal valued at $2B

Baring Private Equity Asia, or BPEA, and Virtusa (VRTU) announced the companies have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which funds affiliated with BPEA will acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of Virtusa for $51.35 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $2B.

Virtusa Corporation provides digital engineering and information technology (IT) outsourcing services primarily in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Virtusa sold for $2B

The companies said in a release, “The price per share to be paid in the transaction, which was unanimously approved by the Virtusa Board of Directors, represents a premium of approximately 27 percent to the closing price of Virtusa common stock on September 9, 2020, the last trading day prior to the transaction announcement, and premiums of approximately 29 percent and 46 percent to Virtusa’s volume-weighted average prices, or VWAP, for the last 30 and 60 trading days, respectively.

In addition, the price paid implies a valuation of 16.2x Firm Value / Last Twelve Months EBITDA as of June 30, 2020. On July 20, 2020, the Virtusa Board of Directors received an unsolicited proposal from an interested party to acquire Virtusa.

BPEA buys Virtusa for $2 billion

Following receipt of the offer, consistent with the Board’s fiduciary duties to maximize shareholder value, the Board authorized the Company and its financial advisors to engage with other potential strategic buyers and financial sponsors regarding a potential acquisition of Virtusa.

As part of this process, the Company signed non-disclosure agreements with five parties and engaged with two others.

After an independent review of the alternatives available, including the value creation opportunity through continued execution of the Company’s strategic plan, the Virtusa Board unanimously determined that the all-cash premium transaction with BPEA for $51.35 per share in cash maximizes value for Virtusa’s shareholders.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the first half of 2021, is subject to the approval of Virtusa’s shareholders, customary regulatory requirements, including approval from The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, and customary closing conditions.

The transaction is not subject to a financing condition.

The Orogen Group, which holds 108,000 shares of Virtusa Convertible Preferred Stock and whose CEO is Vikram Pandit, an independent member of the Board, has entered into a voting agreement under which it has agreed to vote all of Orogen’s Convertible Preferred Stock in favor of the transaction.

Orogen Group is a major shareholder of Virtusa

Orogen’s shares of preferred stock are convertible into 3,000,000 shares of Virtusa common stock and represent approximately 10 percent of the voting power in the Company.

The directors and executive officers of Virtusa have also entered into this voting agreement, and hold an additional approximate 5.7% of the voting power of the Company.”

VRTU closed at $40.50, last traded at $50.45.

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Intra-Cellular sharply higher on it’s Bipolar drug

Intra-Cellular says lumateperone 42 mg met primary endpoint in Study 402

Intra-Cellular Therapies (ITCI) announced positive topline results from its Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating lumateperone as adjunctive therapy to lithium or valproate in the treatment of major depressive episodes associated with Bipolar I or Bipolar II disorder.

Intra-Cellular sharply higher on its bi-polar drug

In Study 402, once daily lumateperone 42 mg met the primary endpoint for improvement in depression as measured by change from baseline versus placebo on the MADRS total score.

Lumateperone 42 mg also met the key secondary endpoint, the CGI-BP-S Depression Score.

The lower lumateperone dose, 28 mg, showed a trend for a dose-related improvement in symptoms of depression but the results did not reach statistical significance.

Lumateperone demonstrated a favorable safety profile and was generally well-tolerated in the trial.

Lumateperone was successful in treating bipolar disorders

The most commonly reported adverse events that were observed at a rate greater than or equal to 5% and at least twice the rate of placebo were somnolence, dizziness, and nausea.

Rates of akathisia, restlessness, extrapyramidal symptoms, and changes in weight were similar to placebo.

This trial, in conjunction with our previously reported positive Phase 3 monotherapy study, Study 404, forms the basis for our sNDA for the treatment of bipolar depression in patients with Bipolar I or II disorder as monotherapy and adjunctive therapy which we expect to submit to the FDA in late 2020 or early 2021.

Study 402 was conducted globally in five countries including in the U.S. A total of 529 patients with moderate to severe major depressive episodes associated with either Bipolar I or Bipolar II disorder were randomized 1:1:1 to lumateperone 42 mg, 28 mg or placebo, while being maintained on lithium or valproate as mood stabilizers.

Lumateperone 42 mg met the primary endpoint by demonstrating a statistically significant improvement compared to placebo at week 6, as measured by change from baseline on the MADRS total score.

In the intent-to-treat study population, the least squares mean reduction from baseline for lumateperone 42 mg was 16.9 points, versus 14.5 points for placebo. Lumateperone 42 mg also met the key secondary endpoint of statistically significant improvement on the CGI-BP-S Depression Score.

Lumateperone 28 mg showed a trend for a dose-related improvement in symptoms of depression.

Though not formally tested against placebo since it did not separate on the primary endpoint, lumateperone 28 mg demonstrated a statistically significant improvement versus placebo on the CGI-BP-S. Lumateperone was generally well-tolerated with a favorable safety profile in the trial.

Adverse events were mostly mild to moderate and similar to those seen in prior studies in bipolar depression and schizophrenia, with no new adverse events observed. These findings provide further evidence supporting lumateperone’s favorable safety and tolerability profile across different patient populations.

 Importantly, lumateperone was generally safe and well tolerated in the study, adds the analyst. Hazlett believes that if approved in this indication, lumateperone would be differentiated as a potential first-line treatment option in depressive episodes associated with both bipolar I and bipolar II disorders.

ITCI is up 76% to $32.51

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Altice USA to acquire Cogeco for $7.8B

Altice USA to acquire Cogeco, to sell Cogeco Canadian assets to Rogers

Altice USA (ATUS) announced that it has presented an offer to Cogeco, or CGO, and Cogeco Communications, or CCA, (CGEAF) to acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of Cogeco.

COGECO sold and broken into pieces

Cogeco Inc. is a Canadian telecommunications and media company. The company operates Cogeco Communications Inc. which is structured into three strategic business units; Cogeco Connexion, Atlantic Broadband, and Cogeco Media.

Altice USA buys Cogeco and sells parts to Roger Comm.

Altice USA has also entered into an arrangement to sell all the Canadian assets of Cogeco to the largest long-term shareholder of Cogeco, Rogers Communications (RCI), if its transaction with Cogeco is completed.

Upon completion of the overall transaction, Altice USA would own all the U.S. assets of Cogeco, namely Atlantic Broadband.

The aggregate all-cash consideration offered for all of the outstanding shares of CGO and CCA, including those owned by Rogers, is approximately $7.8B.

This includes approximately $3.6B to be paid by Altice USA for the U.S. assets: All the multiple voting shares of CGO are held in a company controlled by Mr. Louis Audet, the Executive Chairman of Cogeco, and members of the Audet family.

Given the position of the controlling shareholder, its support is necessary to complete a transaction, and as such the Altice USA offer includes a sizeable premium on those shares.

Altice USA ends up with Atlantic Broadband

Specifically, the offer includes $612M to the Audet family for their ownership interests, which include 100% of the multiple voting shares of CGO, or CGO MVS, and approximately 0.9% of total outstanding CGO subordinate voting shares, or CGO SVS.

The offer also includes C$106.53 per share for the remaining CGO SVS and C$134.22 per share for each CCA subordinate voting share, or CCA SVS.

These offer prices represent a significant premium of 30% to each stock’s 1-month volume weighted average price, or VWAP, on the Toronto Stock Exchange (the offer prices also represent a 36% premium for CGO SVS and 37% premium for CCA SVS to the August 31 closing prices).

This offer is in line with Altice USA’s previously stated objective to opportunistically grow through value-accretive acquisitions.

The acquisition of Atlantic Broadband, if consummated, would allow Altice USA to build on its success with prior cable acquisitions in the United States and expand its operations across 11 states on the east coast of the United States, adjacent to its existing Optimum and Suddenlink footprints.

Altice USA’s share repurchase and net leverage targets for 2020 remain unchanged from this transaction.”

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Walmart to partner with Microsoft on TikTok deal

Walmart backs TikTok U.S. partnership with Microsoft

Walmart (WMT), which was previously said to have been working with SoftBank (SFTBY) on a potential acquisition of TikTok’s U.S. business, has now confirmed its involvement in a potential TikTok deal in partnership with Microsoft (MSFT), according to CNBC’s Alex Sherman.

“The way TikTok has integrated e-commerce and advertising capabilities in other markets is a clear benefit to creators and users in those markets.

We believe a potential relationship with TikTok U.S. in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide Walmart with an important way for us to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses.

We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of U.S. TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of US government regulators,” a Walmart spokesperson told CNBC.

TikTok is nearing an agreement to sell its U.S., Canadian, Australian and New Zealand operations in a deal that could be announced as soon as next week, sources say. The deal is likely to be in the $25 billion to $30 billion range, sources say.

Earlier this week, TikTok filed a lawsuit against Trump Administration claiming that the Executive Order issued by the Administration on August 6, 2020 has the potential to strip the rights of that community without any evidence to justify such an extreme action, and without any due process.

WMT shares are up 5% on the news while MSFT is better by 3.5%.

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American Airlines to fire 19,000 employees

American Airlines plans to cut 19,000 jobs if federal aid lapses, cuts to take effect October 1

In a regulatory filing, American Airlines (AAL) said:

“In short, American’s team will have at least 40,000 fewer people working Oct. 1 than we had when we entered this pandemic. We have worked to mitigate as many involuntary reductions as possible through voluntary programs.

Company says it will have 40,000 less employees on October 1

Across the mainline and regional carriers, more than 12,500 of our colleagues have made the difficult decision to leave the company permanently through early out programs or retirement.

Another 11,000 team members have offered to be on a leave of absence in October.

These are important life decisions and we respect and greatly appreciate the sacrifice these team members have made, and continue to make, for American and their fellow team members.

The pandemic has hurt airline the most

Even with those sacrifices, approximately 19,000 of our team members will be involuntarily furloughed or separated from the company on Oct. 1, unless there is an extension of the PSP…

The one possibility of avoiding these involuntary reductions on Oct. 1 is a clean extension of the PSP. Led by your labor unions, with the support of the industry, we have generated enormous bipartisan support for such an extension.

The overwhelming majority of members of both the U.S. House and Senate appreciate that saving jobs in the airline industry through this crisis will mean a quicker economic recovery in the months and years ahead.

And that preserving these essential service jobs will also mean continued commercial air service to all communities, small and large. But, despite this broad bipartisan support, a PSP extension is tied up in a larger COVID-19 relief package, which our elected officials haven’t yet been able to negotiate.

So we must prepare for the possibility that our nation’s leadership will not be able to find a way to further support aviation professionals and the service we provide, especially to smaller communities.”

AAL is down $0.45 to $13.00.

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TikTok suing Trump Administration

TikTok suing Trump Administration over efforts to ban TikTok in U.S.

TikTok stated in a post to its corporate website:

“Today we are filing a complaint in federal court challenging the Administration’s efforts to ban TikTok in the US…

TikTok sues Trump Administration

Today, 100 million Americans turn to TikTok for entertainment, inspiration, and connection; countless creators rely on our platform to express their creativity, reach broad audiences, and generate income; our more than 1,500 employees across the US pour their hearts into building this platform every day, with 10,000 more jobs planned in California, Texas, New York, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington State; and

On August 6th, Trump issued an executive order giving TikTok 90 days to sell

many of the country’s leading brands are on TikTok to connect with consumers more authentically and directly than they can elsewhere.

Put simply, we have a thriving community and we are grateful – and responsible – to them.

The Executive Order issued by the Administration on August 6, 2020 has the potential to strip the rights of that community without any evidence to justify such an extreme action, and without any due process.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance

We strongly disagree with the Administration’s position that TikTok is a national security threat and we have articulated these objections previously.”

ByteDance has reportedly been making progress in talks with potential acquirers of the U.S. operations of the short video app, including Microsoft (MSFT) and Oracle (ORCL), media reports have indicated. Reports have also indicated that Twitter (TWTR) is exploring a bid for TikTok.

Other publicly traded companies in the social media space include Facebook (FB) and Snap (SNAP).

TikTok/Douyin is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based Internet technology company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. 

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Momenta Pharmaceuticals sold for $6.5B

Johnson & Johnson to acquire Momenta Pharmaceuticals for $52.50/shr

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Momenta Pharmaceuticals (MNTA) in an all cash transaction for approximately $6.5 billion.

The transaction will include full global rights to nipocalimab (M281), a clinically validated, potentially best-in-class anti-FcRn antibody.

Momenta sold for $6.5B, Stockwinners

Nipocalimab gives Janssen the “opportunity to reach significantly more patients by pursuing indications across many autoimmune diseases with substantial unmet medical need in maternal-fetal disorders, neuro-inflammatory disorders, rheumatology, dermatology and autoimmune hematology.

Nipocalimab recently received a rare pediatric disease designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Momenta’s expertise in FcRn mechanisms is especially important for nipocalimab as it supports and accelerates the development of a medicine designed to target a number of autoantibody-driven conditions across several of Janssen’s established therapeutic areas.

Janssen expects nipocalimab to contribute to its goals of achieving above-market growth over the mid and long term.

In addition to Momenta’s employees and lead asset nipocalimab, Janssen will acquire Momenta’s pipeline of clinical and preclinical assets.

Under the terms of the transaction, which was approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, Vigor Sub, Inc. (Merger Sub), a newly formed wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (the Company), will commence a tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Momenta for $52.50 per share.

The closing of the offer is conditioned on the tender of a majority of the outstanding shares of Momenta’s common stock on a fully diluted basis, as well as clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary closing conditions.

The merger will be effected as soon as practicable after the closing of the tender offer. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2020.

While the closing of the transaction is expected to be modestly dilutive, the Company is maintaining its current 2020 Adjusted EPSi guidance range.

Looking ahead, the costs associated with the development of Momenta’s portfolio are expected to be incremental to planned R&D investment levels over the next few years given the value creation potential of our current portfolio, and thus expect this incremental investment in R&D to have an EPS impact worth approximately 10c-15c in 2021.

Shares of MNTA are up 69% to $52.14 in morning trading. 

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Gilead submits New Drug Application for Covid-19 Treatment

Gilead submits NDA to FDA for Veklury for COVID-19 treatment

Gilead Sciences (GILD) announced that it has submitted a New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for  Veklury® (remdesivir), an investigational antiviral for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

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Gilead files for NDA for Veklury

#Veklury is currently available in the U.S. under an Emergency Use Authorization for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19.

The filing is the final tier of the rolling NDA submission that was initiated on April 8, 2020.

The filing is supported by data from two randomized, open-label, multi-center Phase 3 clinical studies of Veklury conducted by Gilead and the Phase 3 randomized, placebo-controlled study of Veklury conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

These studies demonstrated that treatment with Veklury led to faster time to recovery compared with placebo and that a 5-day or 10-day treatment duration led to similar clinical improvement.

Across studies, Veklury was generally well-tolerated in both the 5-day and 10-day treatment groups, with no new safety signals identified. Veklury has been approved by multiple regulatory authorities around the world, including in the European Union and Japan.

In countries where Veklury has not been approved, including the United States, Veklury is an investigational drug and the safety and efficacy of remdesivir have not been established.

Veklury has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any use.

In the United States, the FDA granted Veklury an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. This authorization is temporary and may be revoked, and it does not take the place of the formal new drug application submission, review and approval process.

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Direct Energy sold for $3.63 billion

NRG Energy to acquire Direct Energy from Centrica for $3.63B in cash

NRG Energy (NRG) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement with UK’s Centrica (CPYYY) under which NRG will acquire Direct Energy, a North American subsidiary of Centrica PLC for $3.63B in an all-cash transaction.

NRG Energy said in a release, “The transaction builds on NRG’s status as a growing, customer-driven integrated energy provider, adding more than three million retail customers across 50 states and Canada.

NRG goes shopping

The transaction on closing is expected to generate approximately $740M in annual run-rate Adjusted EBITDA, while enhancing free cash flow strength and stability and providing earnings diversification.

With operations in all 50 U.S. states and 6 Canadian provinces, Direct Energy is one of North America’s leading retail providers of electricity, natural gas, and home and business energy-related products and services.

Centrica sells Direct Energy

For NRG, the acquisition builds on and complements its integrated model, enabling better matching of power generation with customer demand.

It also broadens NRG’s presence into states and locales where it does not currently operate, supporting NRG’s objective to diversify its business.

The combination will deliver greater efficiencies and enable continued investment in NRG’s award-winning customer service, operational best practices and reliability.

Direct Energy fetches $3.63B

With NRG’s decades of participation in electricity markets throughout the U.S., NRG has broad insights into energy market dynamics and trends to inform innovative solutions and products for the combined company’s customers.

NRG will acquire Direct Energy for $3.63B in cash, subject to a working capital adjustment. Closing for the transaction is targeted by year end 2020.”

NRG Energy, Inc. operates as an energy company in the United States. It operates through Generation and Retail segments. The company is involved in the producing, selling, and delivering electricity and related products and services to 3.7 million residential, industrial, and commercial consumers. It generates electricity using natural gas, coal, oil, solar, nuclear, and battery storage. 

Direct Energy LP is a North American retailer of energy and energy services. The company was founded in Toronto in 1986 and now has more than four million customers in Canada and the United States. 

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U.S. orders 600M doses of Covid-19 vaccine candidate for $1.95B

Pfizer, BioNTech to supply U.S. government up to 600M doses of vaccine candidate

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and BioNTech SE (BNTX) announced the execution of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense to meet the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program goal to begin delivering 300 million doses of a vaccine for COVID-19 in 2021.

Pfizer to provide 600M doses of its vaccine candidate

Under the agreement, the U.S. government will receive 100 million doses of BNT162, the COVID-19 vaccine candidate jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, after Pfizer successfully manufactures and obtains approval or emergency use authorization from U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The U.S. government will pay the companies $1.95B upon the receipt of the first 100 million doses, following FDA authorization or approval. The U.S. government also can acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.

Americans will receive the vaccine for free consistent with U.S. government’s commitment for free access for COVID-19 vaccines. The BNT162 program is based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology and supported by Pfizer’s global vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities.

The BNT162 vaccine candidates are undergoing clinical studies and are not currently approved for distribution anywhere in the world. BioNTech is the market authorization holder worldwide and will hold all trademarks for the potential product.

Both collaborators are committed to developing these novel vaccines with pre-clinical and clinical data at the forefront of all their decision-making.

Covid19 vaccine path to defeat the virus

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine development program is evaluating at least four experimental vaccines, each of which represents a unique combination of messenger RNA format and target antigen.

On July 1st, Pfizer and BioNTech announced preliminary data from BNT162b1, the most advanced of the four mRNA formulations. The early data demonstrates that BNT162b1 is able to produce neutralizing antibodies in humans at or above the levels observed in the plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, and this was shown at relatively low dose levels.

Local reactions and systemic events were dose-dependent, generally mild to moderate, and transient. No serious adverse events were reported.

On July 20th, the companies announced early positive update from German Phase 1/2 COVID-19 vaccine study, including first T Cell response data.

Recently, two of the companies’ four investigational vaccine candidates received Fast Track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This designation was granted based on preliminary data from Phase 1/2 studies that are currently ongoing in the United States and Germany as well as animal immunogenicity studies.

Further data from the ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trials of the four vaccine candidates will enable the selection of a lead candidate and dose level for an anticipated large, global Phase 2b/3 safety and efficacy study that may begin as early as later this month, pending regulatory approval.

If the ongoing studies are successful, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be ready to seek Emergency Use Authorization or some form of regulatory approval as early as October 2020.

The companies currently expect to manufacture globally up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and potentially more than 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021, subject to final dose selection from their clinical trial.

In addition to engagements with governments, Pfizer and BioNTech have provided an expression of interest for possible supply to the COVAX Facility, a mechanism established by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and World Health Organization that aims to provide governments with early access to a large portfolio of COVID-19 candidate vaccines using a range of technology platforms, produced by multiple manufacturers across the world.

PFE closed at $36.69, last traded at $38.45. BNTX closed at $91.60, it last traded at $97.60.

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Lexicon shares jump on it’s type 2 diabetes drug

Lexicon says all four Phase 3 sotagliflozin studies met primary objectives

Lexicon Pharmaceuticals (LXRX) announced topline data from four Phase 3 sotagliflozin studies in type 2 diabetes: SOTA-MONO, SOTA-SU, SOTA-GLIM and SOTA-INS.

All four Phase 3 sotagliflozin studies met their primary objectives of lowering A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The observed safety profile of sotagliflozin in these studies was generally consistent with that of approved SGLT2 inhibitors.

Diarrhea, an event consistent with gastrointestinal SGLT1 inhibition, was generally more common on sotagliflozin than placebo, although it was not a meaningful cause of treatment discontinuation.

Genital mycotic infections were dose-related.

The absolute increase in the incidence of genital mycotic infections over placebo ranged from 0% to 3.7% in studies of the 200 mg dose and from 3.2% to 6.3% in studies of the 400 mg dose.

In one study, sotagliflozin showed less hypoglycemia than glimepiride, and in the other three studies, the incidences of hypoglycemia in patients on sotagliflozin were similar to those on placebo.

Lexicon does not intend to pursue any regulatory approvals of sotagliflozin for type 2 diabetes in the absence of a strategic partnership for the commercialization of sotagliflozin in such indication.

In the Phase 3, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled SOTA-MONO study, sotagliflozin 400 mg and 200 mg as monotherapy was tested for superiority versus placebo in reducing A1C after 26 weeks of treatment in patients with type 2 diabetes and inadequate glycemic control.

The study enrolled 142 patients on sotagliflozin 400 mg, 107 patients on sotagliflozin 200 mg and 150 patients on placebo. The study met its primary endpoint, demonstrating that sotagliflozin 400 mg and 200 mg significantly reduced A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes and inadequate glycemic control on diet and exercise alone.

Safety results were similar to those in other studies of sotagliflozin in type 2 diabetes, with similar incidences of hypoglycemia on sotagliflozin and placebo.

SOTA-SU was a 507-patient, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group, multicenter Phase 3 study that evaluated the efficacy and safety of sotagliflozin 400 mg added to a sulfonylurea, alone or in combination with metformin, in patients with type 2 diabetes who had inadequate glycemic control on a sulfonylurea or metformin alone.

The primary endpoint was the change in A1C from baseline to Week 26. Patients were followed for a total of 79 weeks. The study met its primary endpoint, demonstrating that sotagliflozin 400 mg significantly reduced A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes who were on sulfonylurea alone or in combination with metformin with inadequate glycemic control on a sulfonylurea or metformin alone at Week 26.

Importantly, A1C reduction persisted through 79 weeks. Safety results were similar to those in other studies of sotagliflozin in type 2 diabetes.

Mean estimated glomerular filtration rate was estimated at Week 79, and was similar for sotagliflozin and placebo. Despite the presence of sulfonylurea background therapy, the incidences of hypoglycemia were similar on sotagliflozin and placebo.

SOTA-GLIM was a 954-patient, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, active- and placebo-controlled, parallel group, multicenter Phase 3 study that evaluated the efficacy and safety of sotagliflozin 400 mg compared to glimepiride or placebo added to metformin in patients with type 2 diabetes who had inadequate glycemic control with metformin therapy.

The primary objective of the study was to demonstrate the non-inferiority of sotagliflozin 400 mg compared to glimepiride on A1C at Week 52.

Patients were followed for a total of 52 weeks. The study met its primary objective, as the change from baseline in A1C reduction to Week 52 was the same on sotagliflozin 400 mg and glimepiride, and the 95% confidence interval excluded the pre-specified margin of non-inferiority.

Safety results were similar to those in other studies of sotagliflozin in type 2 diabetes, with less hypoglycemia on sotagliflozin than glimepiride. SOTA-INS was a 571-patient, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group, multicenter, 52-week Phase 3 study that evaluated the efficacy and safety of sotagliflozin 400 mg and 200 mg or placebo in patients with type 2 diabetes who had inadequate glycemic control on basal insulin alone or in addition to oral antidiabetic agents.

The primary endpoint was a change in A1C from baseline to Week 18. Patients were followed for a total of 52 weeks. The study met its primary endpoint, demonstrating that sotagliflozin 400 mg and 200 mg significantly reduced A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes who had inadequate glycemic control on basal insulin alone or in addition to oral antidiabetic agents.

Importantly, A1C reduction persisted at the same magnitude at 52 weeks.

Safety results were similar to those in other studies of sotagliflozin in type 2 diabetes. Despite the presence of background insulin therapy, the incidences of hypoglycemia were similar on sotagliflozin and placebo.

LXRX closed at $2.10, last traded at $3.25.

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