Scotts Miracle-Gro dragged down by Bayer woes

Bayer drags Scotts Miracle-Gro down after Monsanto weed killer ruling

Scotts Miracle-Gro dragged down by Bayer woes, Stockwinners
Scotts Miracle-Gro dragged down by Bayer woes, Stockwinners

Shares of Bayer (BAYRY) trading in New York are sliding after the recently acquired Monsanto was ordered to pay $289M by a California court, who found it liable in a lawsuit alleging that the company’s Roundup caused cancer.

Commenting on the news, JPMorgan analyst Richard Vosser told investors that the selloff in the shares is “significantly overdone” as he sees the potential for the verdict to be overturned on appeal and for the damage amount to be greatly reduced.

Meanwhile, his peer at Bank of America Merrill Lynch argued that the ruling adds cloud over an important product for Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG).

ROUNDUP RULING

Last week, a jury found Monsanto, which was recently acquired by Bayer for $63B, liable in a lawsuit alleging that the company’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, including its Roundup brand, caused cancer.

The case against Monsanto is the first of more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the U.S.

The jury at San Francisco’s Superior Court of California found that Monsanto had failed to warn school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weed killers, and awarded Johnson $250M in punitive damages and about $39M in compensatory damages.

Monsanto, which plans to appeal the verdict, has denied that glyphosate causes cancer and has contended that decades of scientific studies have shown the chemical to be safe for human use.

SELLOFF ‘SIGNIFICANTLY OVERDONE’

In a research note to investors, JPMorgan’s Vosser said he views the selloff in shares of Bayer after a California jury ordered the company’s Monsanto unit to pay $289M for not warning of cancer risks posed by its weed killer, Roundup, as “significantly overdone.”

The analyst added that he sees the potential for the verdict to be overturned on appeal and for the damage amount to be greatly reduced. Overall, Vosser believes current share levels of Bayer provide a good long-term buying opportunity and reiterated an Overweight rating on the name.

RULING ‘ADDS CLOUD’ OVER IMPORTANT PRODUCT

Also commenting on the California court’s ruling, BofA/Merrill analyst Christopher Carey pointed out in a research note of his own that while the product is owned by Monsanto, Scotts Miracle-Gro is the exclusive distributor/marketer of consumer Roundup in the U.S. and Canada, with the brand on track to be about 15% to FY18 profit, but less in FY19 as a 3-year term for $20M annual payments from Monsanto ends in FY18.

Carey noted that he does not expect a ban of glyphosate, but argued that the court decision nevertheless “adds a cloud” over a product which is important for Scotts Miracle-Gro.

While any additional impact from Roundup is unclear, this adds another layer to risks, he contended, highlighting that the company already must overcome a number of headwinds in 2019.

The analyst reiterated an Underperform rating and $74 price target on Scotts Miracle-Gro’s shares. Meanwhile, his peer at SunTrust told investors that there is likely no legal risk to Scotts Miracle-Gro from Friday’s jury verdict in California.

As part of the master agreement between Scotts and Monsanto signed three years ago, Scotts is indemnified from any litigation relating to the Roundup/glyphosate issue, analyst William Chappell pointed out.

Further, the analyst noted that the company is not listed as a defendant in any of the cases filed against Monsanto.

Nevertheless, Chappell estimates that Roundup represents roughly 10% of Scotts’ EBITDA, and believes sales could be impacted over the long-term from these trials.

The analyst reiterated a Buy rating and $100 price target on Scotts Miracle-Gro’s shares.

PRICE ACTION

In Monday morning trading, shares of Bayer in New York have dropped over 10% to $23.75, while Scotts Miracle-Gro’s stock has slipped 2.25% to $73.65.


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Spark Therapeutics tumbles on hemophilia study

Spark says Phase 1/2 data for SPK-8011 shows a 97% reduction in ABR

Spark tumbles on hemophilia study , Stockwinners
Spark tumbles on hemophilia study , Stockwinners

 

Shares of Spark Therapeutics (ONCE) are sinking after the company announced preliminary Phase 1/2 data for its investigational gene therapy candidate SPK-8011 for hemophilia A. A dose response as demonstrated by FVIII expression ranged from 16% to 49%, with a mean of 30% post 12 weeks in five of the participants in the 2×1012 vg/kg cohort, Spark announced in its Q2 earnings release.

As of the July 13, 2018, data cutoff, 12 participants in the Phase 1/2 trial have received a single administration of investigational SPK-8011, including two at a dose of 5×1011 vector genomes /kg body weight, three at a dose of 1×1012 vg/kg and seven at a dose of 2×1012 vg/kg.

Across all participants, at all three doses, beginning four weeks after vector infusion, there has been a 97-percent reduction in annualized bleeding rate and a 97-percent reduction in annualized infusion rate.

The first two trial participants, who have been followed for greater than one year, have shown stable FVIII activity levels since reaching plateau for up to 66 weeks, with follow up ongoing.

Additionally, there is evidence of a dose-dependent increase in mean FVIII activity levels across the three dose cohorts.

Five of the participants in the 2×1012 vg/kg cohort have FVIII activity levels between 16 and 49 percent, with follow-up ranging from 12 to 30 weeks.

The mean FVIII activity for these five participants is 30 percent, based on average FVIII levels post-12 weeks after vector infusion. These five participants have reduced their overall ABR by 100 percent and reduced their overall AIR by 100 percent.

The other two participants in the 2×1012 vg/kg cohort had an immune response that caused their FVIII levels to decline to less than 5 percent. Clinically, both participants have moved from prophylactic to on-demand treatment and have seen meaningful reductions in their bleeding and infusion rates.

One of these participants did not rapidly respond to oral steroids and he elected to be admitted to the hospital to receive two intravenous methylprednisolone infusions rather than have the infusions on an outpatient basis.

The event was subsequently resolved. The admission to hospital for these infusions met the criteria for a serious adverse event.

Of note, across the study, seven of the 12 participants received a tapering course of oral steroids in response to an alanine aminotransferase elevation above patient baseline, declining FVIII levels and/or positive IFN-g enzyme-linked immunospots.

For these seven participants, steroids led to normalization of ALT and ELISPOTs.

For all but the two above mentioned 2×1012 vg/kg cohort participants, oral steroids led to stabilization of target FVIII levels. Based on the totality of the results to date, Spark Therapeutics intends to initiate a Phase 3 run-in study in the fourth quarter of 2018. Following completion of the run-in study, Phase 3 participants are expected to receive 2×1012 vg/kg of SPK-8011.

Additional details on the Phase 3 trial design will be determined following continued discussions with FDA and EMA, which are expected in the fourth quarter.

Finally, the company has successfully scaled-up its mammalian-based manufacturing process in suspension to a capacity level of 200 liters and amended its agreement with Brammer Bio to secure a dedicated manufacturing suite, both of which will enable Spark Therapeutics to meet supply needs for Phase 3 clinical development as well as expected commercial requirements.

ONCE closed at $77.61, it last traded at $56.00.


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Shopify little changed after Q2 results

Analysts diverge on Shopify after quarterly results

Shopify little changed after Q2 results, Stockwinners
Shopify little changed after Q2 results, Stockwinners

Following the company’s second quarter results, Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson downgraded Shopify (SHOP) to Neutral saying the quarter was “not good enough” and the stock’s valuation fairly reflects current business trends.

Meanwhile, his peers at Baird and Canaccord both reiterated buy-equivalent ratings and raised their price targets on the shares following what they view as a “solid” quarter.

RESULTS

Shopify reported second quarter adjusted earnings per share of 2c and revenue of $245M, above consensus of (3c) and $234.64M, respectively.

GMV for the second quarter was $9.1B, an increase of 56% over the second quarter of 2017, and Gross Payments Volume, or “GPV,” grew to $3.6B.

The company said it sees third quarter revenues between $253M-$257M, third quarter GAAP operating loss in the range of $40M-$42M and adjusted operating loss in the range of $9M-$11M.

Additionally, Shopify said it expects FY18 revenues between $1.015B-$1.025B, FY18 GAAP operating loss in the range of $105M-$110M and adjusted operating profit in the range of $0-$5M.

PIPER MOVING TO THE SIDELINES

In a research note to investors, Piper Jaffray’s Olson downgraded Shopify to Neutral from Overweight and lowered his price target to $145 from $155 as he believes the stock’s current valuation adequately reflects the long-term growth story.

The analyst argued that the company’s second quarter was “good, but not good enough,” with monthly recurring revenue below investor expectations with a deceleration from 57% to 49% year-over-year growth between Q1 and Q2.

While Olson acknowledged that Shopify is performing well, the analyst told investors he believes this performance is mostly reflected in the shares’ valuation.

‘SOLID  QUARTER’

Still bullish on the name, Canaccord Genuity analyst David Hynes told investors to not let yesterday’s post-earnings selloff in shares of Shopify confuse them on the fundamentals.

The analyst believes this was another “solid” quarter for Shopify as the company grew its nearly $1B revenue run-rate at 62% in the quarter.

Further, Hynes pointed out that he does not believe Shopify’s growth is decelerating faster than expected or that merchant churn is “going to sneak up and bite” the company.

He continues to believe that Shopify is one of the best-positioned growth stories in application software, and is confident that this business will ultimately scale to material profits. Hynes reiterated a Buy rating on the shares, while raising his price target on the stock to $165 from $160.

Meanwhile, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian also raised his price target for Shopify to $165 from $150 and reiterated an Outperform rating on the shares. While acknowledging that slowing monthly recurring revenue growth, a new shelf filing and its third quarter loss guidance weighed on the shares, the analyst said that this was another “solid” quarter for the company.

Ramping Plus adoption, international expansion, and new Merchant Solutions features should continue to drive significant growth, he contended. Sebastian told investors that he continues to like Shopify based on the significant e-commerce growth opportunity and defensible market leadership position he sees being demonstrated in the second quarter results.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday morning trading, shares of Shopify were fractionally down to $137.60.


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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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Oracle lower after losing business to Amazon, Microsoft

Oracle slides as JPMorgan cuts rating on business lost to Amazon, Microsoft

Oracle slides as JPMorgan cuts rating on business lost to Amazon, Microsoft , Stockwinners
Oracle slides as JPMorgan cuts rating on business lost to Amazon, Microsoft ,

Shares of Oracle (ORCL) are sliding after JPMorgan analyst Mark Murphy downgraded the stock to Neutral, citing negative results from a survey of Chief Information Officers about their spending.

The analyst noted that the survey showed spending contraction ahead as Oracle’s databases are being unplugged in favor of Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon (AMZN) databases.

SURVEY SAYS

In a research note this morning, JPMorgan’s Murphy downgraded Oracle to Neutral from Overweight as specific metrics in the firm’s large-scale CIO survey have arced over into negative territory.

The analyst told investors that while Oracle’s shares have risen from the $30s into the high $40s in the last 2 years, the company’s fundamental performance has remained inconsistent. Citing his survey of 154 CIOs, Murphy noted that Oracle received the largest number of indications for planned spending contraction this year, materially more than the second-worst company, which was IBM (IBM) with 25 indications of spending contraction.

Further, while ranking the top 8 or 9 mega-vendors in terms of who will be most critical and indispensable to CIOs’ IT environment in the future, Oracle only received 6.5% of votes, down from 11% in previous surveys, the analyst highlighted.

At the same time, Murphy pointed out that Amazon AWS improved from 9.5% of votes last year to 14.9% of votes this year, creating the appearance of a “sucking sound” out of Oracle and into AWS.

The company also ranked number 8 in terms of association with Digital Transformation projects, disappointing relative to its scale and lagging behind the likes of SAP (SAP), IBM, and Cisco (CSCO), he added, noting that despite Oracle’s efforts to build a Cloud presence, it rated no better than SAP in terms of association with Cloud Computing plans, and is nowhere close to the leaders Microsoft, Amazon, and Google (GOOGL; GOOG) in this respect. Oracle was mentioned by only 2% of the CIOs as the platform that will be “most integral” to their cloud computing plans, Murphy said.

Overall, the analyst questions where Oracle’s business and stock are heading in the next couple of years if the largest-scale CIO survey shows Oracle now has negative spending intentions, is lagging in Digital Transformation projects, is trailing in Cloud Computing plans, its databases are being unplugged in favor of Microsoft and Amazon databases, its applications are being unplugged in favor of Salesforce (CRM) and Workday (WDAY) applications, and customers are weary of its unpopular commercial tactics.

Murphy also lowered his price target on Oracle’s shares to $53 from $55.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

In a research note of his own, Nomura Instinet analyst Christopher Eberle lowered his price target for Oracle to $60 from $64 ahead of the company’s fourth quarter results on June 19.

The analyst trimmed his estimates to account for currency and expectations for more modest revenue acceleration in fiscal 2019. He remains optimistic, however, on Oracle’s transition and model growth reacceleration as the year progresses. Eberle reiterated a Buy rating on the shares.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday’s trading, shares of Oracle dropped almost 5% to $46.14.


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Esperion falls after drug failure

Esperion falls after Phase 3 study of bempedoic acid met primary endpoint

Esperion announces 'positive' top-line results from bempedoic acid study, Stockwinners.com
There were no clinically relevant differences between the bempedoic acid and placebo groups

Esperion (ESPR) announced top-line results from the second pivotal, Phase 3 study, the long-term safety study of bempedoic acid 180 mg, in this case evaluating the safety, tolerability and efficacy of bempedoic acid versus placebo in high-risk patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease who are inadequately controlled with current lipid-modifying therapies, including maximally tolerated statin therapy.

The study included 2,230 patients and met the primary endpoint of safety and tolerability and the key efficacy endpoint with on-treatment LDL-C lowering of an additional 20% at twelve weeks, the company said.

Patients treated with bempedoic acid also achieved a significant reduction of 22% in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, an important marker of the underlying inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease, Esperion added.

There were no clinically relevant differences between the bempedoic acid and placebo groups in the occurrence of adverse events with 78.5% and 78.7% respectively; or serious adverse events with 14.5% and 14.0% respectively, it added.

Discontinuations due to AEs were 10.9% and 7.1%, respectively for the bempedoic acid and placebo groups; discontinuations due to muscle-related AEs were 2.2% and 1.9%, respectively, in the bempedoic acid and placebo groups.

“In this study, the largest in our Phase 3 program, bempedoic acid was observed to be safe and well tolerated over a 52-week period, while providing clinically and statistically significant LDL-cholesterol lowering and reductions in hsCRP when added on to maximally tolerated statin therapy,” said Tim Mayleben, CEO of Esperion.

“In the coming months, results from our three remaining pivotal Phase 3 studies are expected to further validate the safety, efficacy and tolerability profile of bempedoic acid and the bempedoic acid / ezetimibe combination pill, definitively establishing these once-daily oral therapies as convenient and complementary to existing treatments for the 13 million people in the U.S. with ASCVD who live with elevated levels of LDL-cholesterol despite taking maximally-tolerated lipid-modifying therapy and remain at high risk for further cardiovascular disease or events, including heart attack and stroke.”

Esperion shares in premarket trading are down 27% to $52.40.


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Generic drug makers tumble on pricing

Generic drug makers under pressure following Aceto, Novartis news

Generic drug makers tumble on pricing, Stockwinners
Generic drug makers tumble on pricing

On Wednesday, Aceto (ACET) withdrew its guidance, citing the continued intense competitive and pricing pressures in the generic industry.

On Thursday, Novartis (NVS) reported that net sales at its generic unit Sandoz dropped 4% in the quarter.

Following both announcements, Wells Fargo analyst Davis #Maris told investors that he is not ready to call the bottom in generics pricing and sees a negative read-through for companies with large U.S. commodity generic exposure, such as Teva (TEVA) and Mylan (MYL).

Generic drug makers tumble on pricing, Stockwinners
Generic drug makers tumble on pricing, Stockwinners

GUIDANCE SUSPENSION, DIVIDEND REDUCTION

Last night, Aceto’s chairman Al Eilender said, “Given continued headwinds in the generics market, the Board has taken decisive action by bolstering the company’s senior leadership, engaging in proactive discussions with its secured lenders, and initiating a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.

” Strategic alternatives to be considered may include the sale of a key business segment, a merger or other business combination with another party, continuing as a standalone entity or other potential alternatives.

The company’s Board also anticipates a significant reduction of its dividend going forward and announced the appointment of Rebecca Roof as Interim CFO and the resignation of CFO Edward Borkowski, who has decided to pursue another opportunity.

Additionally, Aceto said that, in light of the persistent adverse conditions in the generics market, it is negotiating with its bank lenders a waiver of its credit agreement with respect to its total net leverage and debt service coverage financial covenants in the fiscal third quarter, and that the financial guidance issued on February 1, should no longer be relied upon.

The company also anticipates recording non-cash intangible asset impairment charges, including goodwill, in the range of $230M-$260M on certain currently marketed and pipeline generic products as a result of continued intense competitive and pricing pressures.

NOVARTIS RESULTS

This morning, Novartis reported first quarter core earnings per share of $1.28 and revenue of $12.69B, with consensus at $1.29 and $12.57B, respectively. The company also announced Sandoz net sales of $2.5B in the first quarter as 6 percentage points of price erosion, mainly in the U.S., were partly offset by volume growth of 2 percentage points. U.S. sales declined 18% mainly due to continued competitive pressure, the company added.

NEGATIVE READ-THROUGH

In a research note this morning, Wells Fargo’s Maris told investors that he thinks Aceto and Sandoz’s news show that the data continues to be negative for U.S. generic industry pricing. He sees a negative read-through for companies with large U.S. commodity generic exposure, such as Teva and Mylan.

Further, the analyst noted that he is not yet ready to call the bottom in generics pricing and believes those that have are “premature.”

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Citing a rapid degradation of the company’s asset-light business model in the wake of continued pressures for commoditized generics, Canaccord analyst Dewey Steadman downgraded Aceto two notches to Sell from Buy.

The company’s core human health business has been under significant pressure and has been unable to swiftly adapt to market conditions, he added. The analyst also lowered his price target on the shares to $2 from $10.

PRICE ACTION

In Thursday’s trading, shares of Aceto have plunged almost 62% to $2.85, while Novartis’ stock has dropped about 3% to $79.25. Also lower, shares of Teva and Mylan have slipped 2.5% and 0.25%, respectively.


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Goldman says sell Pepsi, buy Coca Cola

Goldman swaps sell call on Coca-Cola to PepsiCo on growth outlook

Goldman says sell Pepsi, buy Coca Cola, Stockwinners
Goldman says sell Pepsi, buy Coca Cola

In a research note to investors on the beverage space, Goldman Sachs analyst Judy #Hong upgraded Coca-Cola (KO) to Neutral and downgraded PepsiCo (PEP) to Sell.

While the analyst sees an improving organic sales growth outlook for Coca-Cola, Hong sees potential for continued softer North American Beverage volumes to weigh on PepsiCo’s organic sales growth.

BEVERAGE SPACE

Within the Staples sector, beverage valuations look most elevated, while food stocks appear oversold on consensus estimates, Goldman Sachs’ Hong told investors in a research note.

The analyst sees the beverage group’s premium valuation as mostly justified given industry characteristics that are more attractive versus secularly challenged U.S. center store food companies.

Goldman says sell Pepsi, buy Coca Cola, Stockwinners.com
Goldman says sell Pepsi, buy Coca Cola,

Beverages have more channel diversification and are less reliant on food grocers, beverage categories tend to have low level of private label penetration and a greater level of market/brand concentration also allows for higher pricing power, she contended.

Hong believes all these dynamics should drive higher top-line growth and more insulated margin structure for beverage companies compared to food companies in the U.S. over the next 12 months.

Additionally, the analyst pointed out that she sees “a few relevant trends” across the beverage theme playing out thus far in 2018, namely relative convenience store underperformance, comparative alcohol slowdown, and improvement in emerging markets benefiting multinationals, particularly in Latin America.

SWAPPING COCA-COLA, PEPSICO

Goldman Sachs’ Judy Hong upgraded Coca-Cola to Neutral from Sell, while trimming her price target on the shares to $46 from $47.

The analyst told investors that she sees an improving organic sales growth outlook, a “cleaner base” post-refranchising, and better visibility on its margin and earnings targets.

Hong believes Coca-Cola is “one of the rare” over 4% organic growth mega-cap stories, and now has increased confidence in its organic sales growth outlook.

Additionally, Hong noted that she now views fundamentals as warranting a relative premium given Coca-Cola’s positioning as a beneficiary of moderating foreign exchange impact, improving emerging markets growth, and higher margins post-refranchising.

Meanwhile, the analyst downgraded PepsiCo to Sell from Neutral and lowered her price target on the shares to $110 from $118, citing the potential for continued softer North American Beverage volumes to weigh on organic sales growth and present modest downside risk to gross margins.

While the analyst does not expect Pepsi shares to be “a material absolute underperformer,” she does see scope for it to underperform other beverage names over the next 12 months given muted fundamentals and lack of clear catalysts. Both top-line and margin gains are likely to be harder to come by for PepsiCo’s North America beverage business as multi-year tailwinds to volume are no longer driving growth while c-store underperformance is creating a drag, she contended.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Goldman’s Hong also upgraded Coca-Cola European Partners (CCE) to Buy, as she believes muted sentiment in the context of sugar tax implementation in the UK and France provides a compelling opportunity, and downgraded Molson Coors (TAP) to Neutral, predicting that weaker than expected beer volumes will drive cuts to consensus estimates. The analyst reiterated a Buy rating on Monster Beverage (MNST).

PRICE ACTION

In Tuesday’s trading, shares of Coca-Cola are fractionally up to $44.79, while PepsiCo’s stock dropped over 1% to $108.41.


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Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles after guidance

Raymond James  says sell Bed Bath & Beyond after guidance

Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles after guidance, Stockwinners
Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles after guidance,

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) are sliding after the company announced better than expected fourth quarter results but issued a weaker 2018 forecast.

Following the news, several Wall Street analysts cut their price targets on the stock, while Raymond James analyst Beryl Bugatch downgraded Bed Bath & Beyond to Underperform, a sell-equivalent rating.

RESULTS

Last night, Bed Bath & Beyond reported fourth quarter earnings per share of $1.48 and revenue of approximately $3.7B, both above consensus of $1.39 and $3.68B, respectively.

However, the company also said that it sees FY18 EPS in a low-to-mid $2 range, with consensus at $2.76.

Additionally, Bed Bath & Beyond outlined its “roadmap for continuing the evolution of its foundational structure” with the goals of: growing its comparable sales, which it expects to begin in fiscal 2018; moderating the declines in its operating profit and net earnings per diluted share, in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019; and growing its net earnings per diluted share by fiscal 2020.

SELL, SAYS RAYMOND JAMES

In a post-earnings note, Raymond James’ Bugatch downgraded Bed Bath & Beyond to Underperform from Market Perform.

The analyst noted that the company’s management announced multiple initiatives ranging from new store concepts to new organizational structures, to new investments in technology that will come at a cost, as underscored by management’s view for continuing operating profit declines in FY18 and FY19.

Despite the array of initiatives announced, a key issue for the analyst is that the fleet of over 1,000 legacy Bed Bath & Beyond stores continue to deliver in-store mid-single-digit comparable sales declines.

Bugatch argued that it is “Beyond” him that management did not cite a remodeling of its flagship store base that he finds “increasingly unattractive” due to being dated, cluttered and crowded.

Without some underlying growth in management generated earnings over the next two years, shareholder value is likely to erode further, he added. Nonetheless, Bugatch pointed out that at its current valuation, Bed Bath may attract activist interest.

TARGETS CUT

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley analyst Simeon Gutman lowered his price target for Bed Bath & Beyond to $16 from $20 as he is not convinced its revenue will respond to the company’s initiatives.

The analyst told investors that beyond a lift from the Babies R’ Us bankruptcy, it is hard for him to see how the company can drive positive same-store sales without the aid of promotions.

Gutman reiterated an Underweight rating on the shares.

His peer at JPMorgan also lowered his price target for Bed Bath & Beyond to $16 from $18.

Analyst Christopher Horvers noted that the company’s negative comparable sales in Q4 and over the past two quarters are “particularly disappointing” as is the acceleration in gross margin declines. The analyst also kept an Underweight rating on the shares.

Additionally, Wedbush analyst Seth Basham, Credit Suisse’s Seth Sigman, and Loop Capital’s Anthony Chukumba all lowered their price targets on the name to $18, $20 and $18, respectively, while reiterating neutral-equivalent ratings.

PRICE ACTION

In Thursday’s trading, shares of Bed Bath & Beyond dropped over 19% to $17.39.


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Alkermes lower following FDA action

Alkermes announces FDA Refusal to File letter received for ALKS 5461

Alkermes announces FDA Refusal to File letter received for ALKS 5461. Stockwinners
Alkermes announces FDA Refusal to File letter received for ALKS 5461.

Alkermes (ALKS) announced that it received a Refusal to File letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding its New Drug Application for ALKS 5461, a once-daily, oral investigational medicine with a novel mechanism of action for the adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder in patients with an inadequate response to standard antidepressant therapies.

Upon its preliminary review, the FDA has taken the position that it is unable to complete a substantive review of the regulatory package, based on insufficient evidence of overall effectiveness for the proposed indication, and that additional well-controlled clinical trials are needed prior to the resubmission of the NDA for ALKS 5461.

In addition, FDA has requested the conduct of a bioavailability study to generate additional bridging data between ALKS 5461 and the reference listed drug, buprenorphine.

Alkermes said it strongly disagrees with the FDA’s conclusions and plans to appeal the FDA’s decision.

The company intends to seek immediate guidance, including requesting a Type A meeting with the FDA, to determine appropriate next steps and what additional information may be required to resubmit the NDA.

Alkermes is evaluating the impact of this update on its previously-issued financial guidance for 2018; any update will be provided in its first quarter 2018 financial results disclosures.

Alkermes CEO Richard Pops said: “We strongly believe that the clinical development program, including data from more than 1,500 patients with MDD, provides substantial evidence of ALKS 5461’s consistent antidepressant activity and a favorable benefit-risk profile.”

PRICE ACTION

ALKS closed at $57.96, it last traded at $47.00.

Shares of Intra-Cellular Therapies (ITCI) are down 9%, or $1.92, to $19.13 in premarket trading. STAT’s Adam Feuerstein tweeted following the Alkermes news, “Anyone confident in $ITCI now? I wouldn’t be.”

Intra-Cellular on March announced that it had a “positive” pre-New Drug Application meeting with the FDA regarding lumateperone for the treatment of schizophrenia.

At the meeting, the company and the FDA agreed on the proposed content and timing of a rolling NDA submission. The company plans to complete its NDA submission by mid-2018.


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Volkswagen to buy back diesel cars amid German bans

Volkswagen offers to buy back diesel cars amid German bans

Volkswagen offers to buy back diesel cars amid German bans. Stockwinners.com
Volkswagen offers to buy back diesel cars amid German bans.

The Volkswagen (VLKAY) brand is starting a diesel campaign for its customers in Germany in April.

The new Germany Guarantee gives the buyers of new and year-old vehicles with diesel engines purchased from a Volkswagen dealership additional security and will keep them on the road in the event of a driving ban.

The Volkswagen Group’s successful environmental incentive has already taken some 170,000 old diesel vehicles from the road since August 2017 and replaced them with efficient and clean current models.

Approximately 120,000 of these customers have chosen a Volkswagen brand model.

The Volkswagen brand continues its effort to rejuvenate the vehicle population by offering the diesel environmental incentive with the purchase of a new diesel vehicle beginning in April.

Volkswagen’s new Germany Guarantee is free of charge and will apply to the purchase of a new or a year-old car with a diesel engine from a Volkswagen dealership from 1 April throughout 2018.

It is valid for three years from the date of purchase and offers customers who would be affected by possible driving restrictions at their home or working address the opportunity to exchange vehicles.

The affected customer will receive an offer that the participating Volkswagen dealership will buy back the original model for the current value determined by the independent institution, Deutsche Automobil Treuhand, if the customer then buys from the same dealership a new or year-old vehicle which would not be affected by driving restrictions.

The participating Volkswagen dealership will give the customer a model-dependent trade-in premium with a maximum value corresponding to the previous environmental incentive. The vehicle exchange will be dealt with the involved Volkswagen Partner and in addition via Volkswagen’s digital ecosystem at volkswagen-we.de.

The Volkswagen brand has already taken some 120,000 old diesel vehicles with Euro 1 through Euro 4 emissions standards from the road since August 2017 with its successful environmental incentive, thus making a substantial contribution to improving the air quality of German cities.

Therefore, the measure will be continued as a diesel environmental incentive for new diesel vehicles until 30 June 2018.

The previous model-dependent premiums will continue unchanged.

VLKAY closed at $38.63.


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Universal Display, other Apple suppliers fall as company to develop own screens

Universal Display, other Apple suppliers fall as company to develop own screens 

Universal Display, other Apple suppliers fall as company to develop own screens . Stockwinners.com
Universal Display, other Apple suppliers fall as company to develop own screens .

Shares of organic light-emitting diode technology maker Universal Display (OLED) and other suppliers are down in morning trading amid speculation Apple (AAPL) is producing its own device displays for the first time.

APPLE DEVELOPING DISPLAYS

Apple has been quietly designing and producing limited quantities of its own MicroLED device screens for the first time “for testing purposes” using a manufacturing facility near its headquarters, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The move by the company, which is significantly investing in the development of the next-generation MicroLED screens that aim to make devices slimmer and less of a drain on power, could potentially hurt a range of suppliers in the long-term, from screen makers like Samsung (SSNLF), Japan Display, Sharp (SHCAY) and LG Display (LPL) to companies like Synaptics (SYNA) and Universal Display, according to the report.

The MicroLED screens are much more difficult to produce than organic light-emitting diode screens and customers will likely have to wait a few years before the technology is released.

Apple is planning to make the new displays available first in future Apple Watch devices, but it is unlikely the screens will reach an iPhone for at least three to five years.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

LG Display is expected to start supplying some of the OLED displays for Apple’s iPhone X, shipping as many as 60M displays for the smartphone starting in June, CNBC reported in December.

At the time of the report, discussions between Apple and LG Display were ongoing and LG said, “Regarding the OLED supply deal for Apple’s iPhone X, nothing has been set in detail.

When anything is confirmed in detail, we will announce it.” Apple has previously used Samsung as its exclusive supplier of OLED panels for iPhones.

PRICE ACTION

In Monday’s trading, shares of Universal Display dropped 10.1% to $111.52. Meanwhile, shares of LG Display trading in New York were down 1.2% to $12.92, Sharp fell 2.2% to $8.05 and Synaptics dropped 1% to $47.35.


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Stitch Fix shares could unravel at the seam

Stitch Fix drops after earnings,  analyst sees lock-up bringing pressure

Stitch Fix drops after earnings. Stockwinners.com
Stitch Fix drops after earnings

Shares of Stitch Fix (SFIX) dropped in Tuesday morning trading following the company’s quarterly earnings report.

The personal shopping and clothing provider saw revenue come in above the Wall Street consensus and posted a 31% year-over-year increase in active clients.

Following the earnings report, an analyst at JPMorgan estimated that about 31M shares will be released from lock-up on Wednesday, which could create near-term weakness.

EARNINGS AND GUIDANCE

After the market close on Monday, Stitch Fix reported second quarter adjusted earnings per share of 7c, slightly exceeding analysts’ 6c consensus, though its EPS including items was 2c. Revenue for the quarter of $295.5M beat the $291.24M consensus and Stitch Fix said it grew active clients to 2.5M, an increase of 588,000 and 31% year-over-year.

Looking ahead, Stitch Fix forecast third quarter revenue of $300M-$310M, at the high end of analysts’ $300.29M consensus, and fiscal 2018 revenue of $1.19B-$1.22B, against the Street consensus of $1.2B.

On its quarterly earnings conference call, Stitch Fix said its net revenue per active client for the 12 months ended January 27 was $437, a decrease of 3.9% vs. last year.

The company commented, “This decline was primarily driven by our continued and growing strategic expansion into Men’s and lower price point merchandise. Although our male clients on average have a lower purchase frequency, which dilutes our overall net revenue per active client, we continue to be pleased with the revenue contribution and profitable unit economics of the Men’s category.

Similarly, we’ve been encouraged by our ability to serve lower price point clients effectively and plan to further penetrate this market.”

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Stitch Fix’s quarterly earnings report was its second as a public company.

The company’s IPO in November was overshadowed by the disappointing IPO of another subscription service, Blue Apron (APRN), as well as a threat from Amazon’s (AMZN) Prime Wardrobe and Nordstrom’s (JWN) Trunk Club.

Stitch Fix, which debuted at $15 per share, has seen its shares gain over 50% since November.

ANALYST COMMENTARY

In a research note to investors, JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth estimated that about 31M Stitch Fix shares will be released from lock-up before the market open on Wednesday, March 14, which could create near-term weakness.

#Anmuth explained that Stitch Fix’s IPO held a price-triggered lock-up agreement where 35% of the locked-up shares become eligible for release beginning 90 days after the IPO if certain criteria are met, including shares closing 25% or more above the IPO price on 10 out of 15 consecutive trading days and if the company is not in its trading black-out period.

The analyst noted that Stitch Fix qualified for the price and reporting threshold last month, but since this occurred during its black-out period, shares do not qualify for release until one day post-earnings.

While Anmuth remains confident in Stitch Fix’s market opportunity and ability to stabilize growth, he thinks growth will become more challenging as the company has passed the period of heavy viral growth and margin compression is likely through fiscal 2019.

The analyst has a Neutral rating and $26 price target.

PRICE ACTION

Shares of Stitch Fix are down 2% to $24 in Tuesday’s trading.


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CHMP recommends against use of Pfizer’s SUTENT

Pfizer says CHMP recommends against expanding use of SUTENT

CHMP recommends against use of Pfizer’s SUTENT

Pfizer (PFE) announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency has recommended against expanding use of SUTENT to include the adjuvant treatment of adult patients at a high risk of recurrent renal cell carcinoma following nephrectomy.

The #CHMP’s recommendation is not binding but will now be taken into consideration by the European Commission.

There is currently no approved adjuvant treatment option available for patients with non-metastatic RCC at high risk for recurrence in the European Union.

In the U.S., #SUTENT is approved for the adjuvant treatment of adult patients at high risk of recurrent RCC following nephrectomy. On November 16, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an expanded indication for SUTENT as the first treatment for adult patients at high risk of recurrence following nephrectomy.

The FDA expanded indication was based on results from the S-TRAC trial, a multicenter, international, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 3 trial of SUTENT versus placebo in 615 patients with clear cell histology and high risk of recurrence following nephrectomy.

The results were published by The New England Journal of Medicine in October 2016.

PFE closed at $35.74.


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Lionsgate slides on downgrade

Lionsgate slides as analyst cuts rating on competitive, cost concerns

Lionsgate falls on downgrade. Stockwinners.com
Lionsgate falls on downgrade.

Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger downgraded Lionsgate (LGF.B) to Market Perform this morning, putting some pressure on the shares.

The analyst argued that competitive investment from rival premium and Subscription Video On Demand, or SVOD, services has gotten much more intense, while also pointing to increased programming investment at Starz.

MOVING TO THE SIDELINES

In a research note this morning, Bernstein’s Juenger downgraded Lionsgate to Market Perform from Outperform and lowered his price target on Class B shares to $30 from $35.

The analyst told investors that he believes competitive investment from rival premium and SVOD services has gotten much more intense, and noted that increased programming investment at Starz is a necessary but recurring cost of doing business, which means the normalized growth rate for Starz has to be lower.

#Juenger added that while Lionsgate likes to tell investors they offer higher-than-average growth at lower-than-average risk, he sees, at best, average growth, with higher-than-average risk.

Further, M&A is always possible, but if discussions were on-going or imminent, the company would not choose to increase investment, lower guidance, and reinstate a dividend, the analyst contended.

NEAR-TERM UPSIDE MUTED

Last week, Barrington analyst James Goss lowered his price target for Lionsgate to $34 from $40, while reiterating an Outperform rating on the stock.

The analyst noted that with the company’s repositioning its film slate under new leadership, and increasing its investment in programming for Starz, Lionsgate sees more muted growth in 2019, with a significant ramp in 2020. While Goss expects near-term upside to be muted, he believes the Starz service will be a more attractive offering in the “shifting media landscape,” which should provide further opportunities for long-term growth.

INDUSTRY CONSOLIDATION

According to a report by CNBC earlier this month, Comcast (CMCSA) could consider topping Disney’s (DIS) bid for 21st Century Fox (FOXA) if regulators approve AT&T’s (T) acquisition of Time Warner (TWX).

While no decision has been made by Comcast, Disney is already considering responses in case Comcast makes a run at Fox, the report added.

On December 14, Disney and 21st Century Fox announced they had entered into a definitive pact under which Disney will acquire 21st Century Fox, including the company’s Film and Television studios, along with cable and international TV businesses, for approximately $52.4B in stock.

As part of the deal, Fox will spin off Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News, Fox Business, FS1, FS2, and Big Ten Network to its shareholders.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday’s trading, Class B shares of Lionsgate had dropped over 1% to $26.90.


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