Stockwinners Portfolio returns 22.8% in 2022

S&P 500 declined 19.6% during the same period

The bear market of 2022 cost most investors dearly whereas Stockwinners readers were able to register double digit returns. Our experience in the past 24 years has taught us how to avoid pitfall of following crowds and Wall Street gurus. In fact, we stayed away from story stocks such Tesla (TSLA), Paypal Holdings (PYPL) and Meta Platform (META). We concentrated on small to medium cap stocks. These stocks typically do not have any exposure to overseas markets and are traded on their own fundamentals.

Russian invasion of Ukraine created unique trading opportunities for investors. The vicious invasion of Ukraine caused energy and commodity prices skyrocket thus offering opportunities in that space. In fact, one of our better performers on the year was EPAM System (EPAM). This software company has about 25 percent of its workforce located in the eastern European country. Those who bought the stock based on our recommendations were rewarded with a 23% return in two days.

Energy stocks were awakened with the invasion. Crude oil shot up to $106.50 from $70 per barrel. This price increase buoyed energy stocks. Amongst our better performers were shares of Par Pacific Holdings (PARR). The refiner shares gained fifteen percent following our recommendations.

Other commodity stocks that were featured in our portfolio included those involved in precious and rare minerals mining. Livent Corporation (LTHM) was one such name. The lithium miner was featured several times with solid returns. The returns were 14%, 12% and 18%. Sigma Lithium Corporation (SGML) was another name in the sector. It gained 14% following our recommendations.

Sierra Wireless, Inc. (SWIR) was another stock that came to our attention. The company provides device-to-cloud Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Shares were featured in August with success. Stock gained 18 percents in two weeks.

We featured put options (shorting the stock) on several names. One of the names featured was Open Text Corporation (OTEX). Put option on the name returned 325% in 17 days. The put was featured at $1.50 and it was closed 17 days later at $6.40. Another name that was featured several times was Carvana (CVNA). Shares of the used car retailer have fallen from $300 to $3.55.

A strong employment market created opportunity in placement companies. Cross Country Healthcare, Inc. (CCRN) was such name. The company places medical staff. Shares were featured in August and gained 18% in less than two weeks.

Our portfolio can be downloaded here. Additionally, one may download our selections for the past 18 years in a spreadsheet format.

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Kroger in talks to buy Albertsons

Kroger in talks to acquire Albertsons in all-cash deal, CNBC says

Kroger (KR) is in talks to buy Albertsons (ACI) in an all-cash deal that it hopes can be announced as soon as tomorrow morning, CNBC’s David Faber reported on-air, citing his sources. He could not learn of the deal price being discussed, Faber noted. Earlier, Bloomberg also reported earlier that Kroger is in discussions to merge with Albertsons.

Shares of Albertsons (ACI) are up $2.45, or 10%, to $28.12 after both CNBC and Bloomberg said the grocer is in talks to merge with industry peer Kroger (KR), whose shares are down about 1% to $45.53.

Kroger (KR) is in discussions to merger with Albertsons (ACI), Bloomberg’s Michelle Davis reports. According to people familiar with the matter, an agreement could be reached as soon as this week, but caution that no final decisions have been made.

Albertsons Companies, Inc. engages in the operation of food and drug stores in the United States. As of February 26, 2022, it operated 2,276 stores under various banners, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s, Star Market, United Supermarkets, Market Street, Haggen, Kings Food Markets, and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market; and 1,722 pharmacies, 1,317 in-store branded coffee shops, 402 adjacent fuel centers, 22 distribution centers, and 20 manufacturing facilities.

The Kroger Co. operates as a retailer in the United States. The company operates combination food and drug stores, multi-department stores, marketplace stores, and price impact warehouses. As of January 29, 2022, the company operated 2,726 supermarkets under various banner names in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

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ForgeRock sold for $2.3 billion

ForgeRock to be acquired by Thoma Bravo for $23.25 per share in cash

ForgeRock announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Thoma Bravo for $23.25 per share, in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $2.3B.

The offer represents a premium of approximately 53% over ForgeRock’s closing share price on October 10, the last full trading day prior to the transaction announcement, and a premium of approximately 44% over the volume weighted average price of ForgeRock stock for the 30 days ending October 10.

The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the ForgeRock board of directors, is currently expected to close in the first half of 2023, subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by ForgeRock’s shareholders and the receipt of required regulatory approvals.

ForgeRock, Inc. operates a digital identity platform to secure, manage, and govern the identities of customers, employees, partners, application programing interfaces (APIs), microservices, devices, and the Internet of things worldwide. It offers identity management products to automate onboarding/registration and progressive profiling, identity lifecycle and relationship management, identity provisioning and synchronization, user self-service, personalization, delegation, and privacy and consent management. 

Upon completion of the transaction, ForgeRock’s common stock will no longer be publicly listed and ForgeRock will become a privately held company.

FORG is up $7.38 to $22.53.

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Eisai reports positive Alzheimer data, shares jump!

Biogen/Eisai’s phase 3 trial of lecanemab in MCI meet primary endpoint

Eisai (ESALY) and Biogen (BIIB) “announced positive topline results from Eisai’s large global Phase 3 confirmatory Clarity AD clinical trial of lecanemab, an investigational anti-amyloid beta protofibril antibody for the treatment of mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, AD, and mild AD with confirmed presence of amyloid pathology in the brain.

#Lecanemab met the primary endpoint and all key secondary endpoints with highly statistically significant results.

#Eisai will discuss this data with regulatory authorities in the U.S., Japan and Europe with the aim to file for traditional approval in the US and for marketing authorization applications in Japan and Europe by the end of Eisai’s FY2022, which ends March 31, 2023.

Amyloid-related imaging abnormalities

Additionally, Eisai will present the Clarity AD study results on November 29, 2022, at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Congress, and publish the findings in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Lecanemab treatment met the primary endpoint and reduced clinical decline on the global cognitive and functional scale, CDR-SB, compared with placebo at 18 months by 27%, which represents a treatment difference in the score change of -0.45 in the analysis of Intent-to-treat population.

Starting as early as six months, across all time points, the treatment showed highly statistically significant changes in CDR-SB from baseline compared to placebo.

All key secondary endpoints were also met with highly statistically significant results compared with placebo.

Key secondary endpoints were the change from baseline at 18 months compared with placebo of treatment in amyloid levels in the brain measured by amyloid positron emission tomography, the AD Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale14, AD Composite Score and the AD Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living Scale for Mild Cognitive Impairment.”

ESALY last traded at $39.79. BIIB last traded at $197.50.

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Investor takes position in Disney, seeks changes

Third Point lays out case for Disney to spin off ESPN

Third Point’s Dan Loeb has sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek to outline recommendations.

ESPN

Third Point said, “ESPN is a great business that currently generates significant free cash flow, enabling the Company to pay down debt and increase strategic options down the line.

In addition, we realize ESPN content is part of the bundle being offered to subscribers of other products, both in Disney’s Linear and DTC businesses.

Despite these advantages, we believe that a strong case can be made that the ESPN business should be spun off to shareholders with an appropriate debt load that will alleviate leverage at the parent Company.

The important questions to ask before commencing a spinoff are: Will both companies be better off? Will the needs of customers be better served? Can any synergies that exist between the two companies be replicated by contractual arrangements? Will the transaction contribute to creating long-term value for Disney shareholders?

While acknowledging that broader capital structure considerations may be at issue, we believe that the answer to all four of these questions is affirmative.

Employees of ESPN could be compensated in a security directly tied to their performance.

ESPN would have greater flexibility to pursue business initiatives that may be more difficult as part of Disney, such as sports betting.

Customers of ESPN and sports leagues would be better served by a focused management team driving a leadership position in sports distribution. We believe that most arrangements between the two companies can be replicated contractually, in the way eBay spun PayPal while continuing to utilize the product to process payments.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek

Lastly, as a result of this transaction, both companies will attract shareholders seeking the respective qualities of each company, allowing the Disney parent multiple to expand as its earnings growth rate increases and the remaining business is no longer haunted by the specter of cord cutting. While I understand you have considered this idea in the past, we urge the Company to retain advisors to reassess the desirability of the transaction in the current environment, recognizing that a key determination would be the proforma capitalizations, cashflow and credit profile of both companies.”

HULU

Third Point said, “We believe that integrating Hulu directly into the Disney+ DTC platform will provide significant cost and revenue synergies, ultimately reigniting growth in the domestic market.

Daniel Loeb, Third Point

We urge the Company to make every attempt to acquire Comcast’s remaining minority stake prior to the contractual deadline in early 2024.

We believe that it would even be prudent for Disney to pay a modest premium to accelerate the integration but are cognizant that the seller may have an unreasonable price expectation at this time while noting the seller has already made the decision to prematurely remove their own content from the platform. We know this is a priority for you and hope there is a deal to be had before Comcast is contractually obligated to do so in about 18 months.”

COST CUTTING

Third Point said, “Disney’s costs are among the highest in the industry, and we believe Disney significantly underearns relative to its potential. We urge the Company to embark on a cost cutting program that addresses both margins and the disposal of excess underperforming assets.”

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JetBlue buys Spirit Airlines

JetBlue to acquire Spirit at $33.50 per share in cash or $7.6B enterprise value

JetBlue Airways (JBLU) and Spirit Airlines (SAVE) announced that their boards of directors have approved a definitive merger agreement under which JetBlue will acquire Spirit for $33.50 per share in cash, including a prepayment of $2.50 per share in cash payable upon Spirit stockholders’ approval of the transaction and a ticking fee of $0.10 per month starting in January 2023 through closing, for an aggregate fully diluted equity value of $3.8B and an adjusted enterprise value of $7.6B.

The transaction consideration of $33.50 per share implies an aggregate fully diluted equity value of approximately $3.8 billion and an adjusted enterprise value of $7.6 billion.

JetBlue expects to achieve $600M-700M in net annual synergies once integration is complete, driven in large part by expanded customer offerings resulting from the greater breadth and depth of the combined network.

The combined company is projected to have annual revenues of approximately $11.9 billion based on 2019 revenues. JetBlue expects the transaction to be significantly accretive to earnings per share in the first full year following closing.

JetBlue expects to maintain balance sheet flexibility with post-transaction leverage of 3.0-3.5x, well inside historical levels, and to continue its deleveraging trajectory as it captures synergies.”

“The completion of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals and approval of Spirit’s stockholders.

The companies expect to conclude the regulatory process and close the transaction no later than the first half of 2024.

The four largest carriers control more than 80% of the market. Creating a low-fare, customer-centric challenger with size and scale is the best opportunity to disrupt legacy carrier pricing in the current landscape.

Even as the fifth-largest carrier, JetBlue, with Spirit, would have only 9% market share, compared to 13% for the fourth-largest airline and 23% for the largest carrier.

After the combination and with its committed upfront divestitures, the largest seat share a combined JetBlue-Spirit will have in any of its largest metro areas is 40%, compared to the 57-91% share legacy carriers have in their largest metro areas.

The airlines will continue to operate independently until after the transaction closes and their respective loyalty programs remain unchanged and customer accounts will not be affected in any way.

Following completion of the acquisition, the combined airline will be based in New York and be led by Robin Hayes. As previously announced, Spirit has terminated its prior merger agreement with Frontier. JetBlue has terminated its previously announced all-cash tender offer to acquire Spirit common stock.”

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Alleghany sold for $11.6 billion

Berkshire Hathaway to acquire Alleghany for $848.02 per share

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) and Alleghany (Y) jointly announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Berkshire Hathaway will acquire all outstanding Alleghany shares for $848.02 per share in cash.

Alleghany Corporation provides property and casualty reinsurance and insurance products in the United States and internationally. 

The transaction, which was unanimously approved by both boards of directors, represents a total equity value of approximately $11.6B.

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Buffett buys Alleghany

The acquisition price represents a multiple of 1.26 times Alleghany’s book value at December 31, 2021, a 29% premium to Alleghany’s average stock price over the last 30 days and a 16% premium to Alleghany’s 52-week high closing price.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022, subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Alleghany stockholders and receipt of regulatory approvals.

Alleghany will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway after closing.

Chairman Jefferson Kirby, who controls 2.5% of Alleghany common shares, intends to vote his shares for the transaction.

Under the terms of the definitive merger agreement, Alleghany may actively solicit and consider alternative acquisition proposals during a 25-day “go-shop” period.

Alleghany has the right to terminate the merger agreement to accept a superior proposal during the go-shop period, subject to the terms and conditions of the merger agreement.

There can be no assurances that the “go-shop” process will result in a superior proposal, and Alleghany does not intend to communicate developments regarding the process unless and until Alleghany’s board of directors makes a determination requiring further disclosure.

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Short Seller Targets Core Scientific

Culper Research short Core Scientific on ‘rigged deals,’ oversold businesses

In a recently published report titled “Core Scientific, Inc. (CORZ): Rigged Deals,” Culper Research says it is “short Core, as we think Core has wildly oversold both its mining and hosting businesses, which it cobbled together in a series of questionable transactions before dumping onto the public markets via SPAC.

Core’s acquired mining business, Blockcap, was formed in December 2020 with just $58.5 million, then flipped to Core for just 7 months later for $1.46 billion in connection with Core’s go-public.

We estimate Blockcap insiders made 20-25x their money.

On Monday, Core disclosed that its board waived the 180- day lockup on over 282 million shares, making them free to be dumped just 5 trading days from today.

We believe this shows insiders have abandoned any pretense of care for minority shareholders.”

“We think Core is no exception to what’s become a steady drumbeat of egregious projections made by many SPACs. We think both Core’s hosting business and its self-mining business have been wildly overhyped, and it’s no wonder that insiders can’t even wait 6 months to clamor for the exits,” the report reads.

“We also think Core has wildly overhyped the profitability of its self-mining business, where we estimate all-in breakeven costs of $41,723 per BTC (Bitcoin) vs. the Company’s SPAC claims of $2,700 just in power costs per BTC.

As such, we see Core as effectively using public markets to throw good money after bad while insiders set themselves up to dump billions worth of stock.”

In Thursday trading, shares of Core Scientific have dropped almost 3% to $7.50.

According to Wikipedia, being short in an asset means investing in such a way that the investor will profit if the value of the asset falls. This is the opposite of a more conventional “long” position, where the investor will profit if the value of the asset rises.

There are a number of ways of achieving a short position. The most fundamental method is “physical” selling short or short-selling, which involves borrowing assets (often securities such as shares or bonds) and selling them. The investor will later purchase the same number of the same type of securities in order to return them to the lender.

Core Scientific, Inc. (CORZ) last traded at $7.15.

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U.S. Ecology sold for $2.2 billion

Republic Services to acquire US Ecology for $48.00 per share in cash

Republic Services (RSG) and US Ecology (ECOL) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Republic Services will acquire all outstanding shares of US Ecology for $48 per share in cash, representing a total value of approximately $2.2B including net debt of approximately $0.7B.

US Ecology, Inc. provides environmental services to commercial and government entities in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, internationally. It operates through three segments: Waste Solutions, Field Services, and Energy Waste. It offers specialty waste management services, including treatment, disposal, beneficial re-use, and recycling of hazardous, non-hazardous, and other specialty waste at company-owned treatment, storage, and disposal facilities, as well as wastewater treatment services.

Republic Services, Inc. provides non-hazardous solid waste collection, transfer, disposal, recycling, and environmental services in the United States. 

The transaction is not subject to a financing condition.

Republic Services intends to finance the transaction using existing and new sources of debt.

Following completion of the transaction, Republic Services expects to maintain a strong balance sheet and solid investment-grade credit rating.

The company plans net debt-to-EBITDA, as defined in our credit agreement, to return back below 3x within 18 months of closing the transaction.

The transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to close by the end of the second quarter, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and approval by holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of US Ecology’s common stock.

ECOL is up $19.28 to $47.48. RSG is up 24 cents to $127.19.

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Frontier buys Spirit Airlines

Frontier, Spirit to combine in deal that implies $25.83 per Spirit share

Spirit Airlines (SAVE) and Frontier Group Holdings (ULCC) announced a definitive merger agreement under which the companies will combine, creating America’s most competitive ultra-low fare airline.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, Spirit equity holders will receive 1.9126 shares of Frontier plus $2.13 in cash for each existing Spirit share they own.

This implies a value of $25.83 per Spirit share at Frontier’s closing stock price of $12.39 on February 4, 2022, representing a premium of 19% over the February 4, 2022, closing price of Spirit, and a 26% premium based on the 30 trading-day volume-weighted average prices of Frontier and Spirit.

The transaction values Spirit at a fully diluted equity value of $2.9B, and a transaction value of $6.6B when accounting for the assumption of net debt and operating lease liabilities.

Upon closing of the transaction, existing Frontier equity holders will own approximately 51.5% and existing Spirit equity holders will own approximately 48.5% of the combined airline, on a fully diluted basis, providing both Frontier and Spirit equity holders with substantial upside potential.

Spirit Route Map

The Board of Directors for the new airline will be comprised of 12 directors (including the CEO), seven of whom will be named by Frontier and five of whom will be named by Spirit.

Bill Franke, CEO of the Indigo Partners, will be Chairman of the Board of the combined company.

Frontier Route Map

The merger is expected to close in the second half of 2022, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including completion of the regulatory review process and approval by Spirit stockholders.

Frontier’s controlling stockholder has approved the transaction and related issuance of shares of Frontier common stock upon signing of the merger agreement.

The combined company’s management team, branding and headquarters will be determined by a committee led by Franke prior to close.

Separately, Spirit reported Q4 revenue $987.56M, consensus $963.15M.

“Our fourth quarter 2021 results came in better-than-expected, despite the negative impact from Omicron-related flight disruptions, primarily due to very strong demand over the peak December holiday period. I want to thank the entire Spirit team for their professionalism and commitment to providing excellent service to our Guests,” said Ted Christie, Spirit’s president and CEO.

Ted Christie, Spirit’s president and CEO

Spirit Airlines is up 15.9%, or $3.46 to $25.20. Frontier Group is up 14 cents to $12.81.

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Cedar Fair receives take over offer!

Cedar Fair jumps after Bloomberg report of SeaWorld takeover bid

SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS) has offered to buy Cedar Fair (FUN) for around $3.4B or $60 per share, Bloomberg reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Cedar Fair owns and operates amusement and water parks, and complementary resort facilities in the United States and Canada. Its amusement parks include Cedar Point located on Lake Erie between Cleveland and Toledo in Sandusky, Ohio; Knott’s Berry Farm near Los Angeles, California; Canada’s Wonderland near Toronto, Ontario; Kings Island near Cincinnati, Ohio; Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina; Kings Dominion situated near Richmond, Virginia; California’s Great America located in Santa Clara, California; Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pennsylvania; Worlds of Fun located in Kansas City, Missouri; Valleyfair situated near Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Michigan’s Adventure situated near Muskegon, Michigan; Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort New Braunfels in New Braunfels, Texas; and Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston in Galveston, Texas. 

SeaWorld Entertainment operates as a theme park and entertainment company in the United States. The company operates SeaWorld theme parks in Orlando, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; and San Diego, California, as well as Busch Gardens theme parks in Tampa, Florida, and Williamsburg, Virginia. 

Cedar Fair Properties

The companies are working with advisers on the proposal and deliberations are ongoing, sources told Bloomberg.

It is unclear if the approach will lead to a transaction, they added.

Shares of SeaWorld are little changed at $59.29 following the report while Cedar Fair halted for volatility after jumping 11% to $55.59.

Six Flags Entertainment (SIX), which owns amusement parks like Cedar Fair, is up 5% to $41.60 following the report.

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Rail Traffic Slowed down in January

North American rail traffic dropped 17.4% in week ended January 8

The Association of American Railroads, AAR, reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 8.

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 440,761 carloads and intermodal units, down 16% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending January 8 were 210,020 carloads, down 10.6% compared with the same week in 2021, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 230,741 containers and trailers, down 20.4% compared to 2021.

For the first week of 2022, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 210,020 carloads, down 10.6% from the same point last year; and 230,741 intermodal units, down 20.4% from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first week of 2022 was 440,761 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 16% compared to last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending January 8, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 288,324 carloads, down 13% compared with the same week last year, and 298,984 intermodal units, down 21.2% compared with last year.

Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 587,308 carloads and intermodal units, down 17.4%.

North American rail volume for the first week of 2022 was 587,308 carloads and intermodal units, down 17.4% compared with 2021.

Publicly traded companies in the space include CSX (CSX), Canadian National (CNI), Canadian Pacific (CP), Kansas City Southern (KSU), Norfolk Southern (NSC), Union Pacific (UNP), FreightCar America (RAIL),Trinity Industries (TRN) and Greenbrier (GBX).

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Jazz Pharma. provides guidance, shares rise!

Jazz Pharmaceuticals announces $5B revenue target for 2025

Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) announced its Vision 2025 to deliver sustainable growth and enhanced value.

Vision 2025 includes the following expectations: 1) generating $5B in revenue in 2025; 2) approval of at least five additional novel products by the end of the decade; and 3) realizing a 5% adjusted operating margin improvement from 2021 to 2025, driven by operational excellence.

The company also confirmed that it expects to meet its previously announced 2021 revenue guidance range of $3.02B-$3.1B and its net product sales guidance for neuroscience and oncology.

Jazz ended 2021 demonstrating executional excellence across its business, including launching five key products in 2020 and 2021, integrating the GW Pharmaceuticals business, making progress towards its deleveraging target and initiating multiple potentially registrational clinical trials.

The company remains on track to deliver revenue diversification, with at least 65% of 2022 net product revenue from newly launched or acquired products, driving sustainable growth and enhanced shareholder value.

“Building on our track record of strong execution and guided by our patient-centric approach, Jazz is setting forth its Vision 2025 to deliver meaningful treatment options to patients, a great place to work for employees and significant value to shareholders,” said Bruce Cozadd, chairman and CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

“Jazz’s leadership in sleep and rare epilepsy with Xywav and Epidiolex, respectively, coupled with promising new oncology products like Zepzelca and Rylaze, have led to the rapid transformation of our revenue base.

We are further poised to enter new disease areas with serious unmet patient need and substantial market potential, including movement disorders and PTSD, with our mid-to late-stage assets nabiximols, suvecaltamide and JZP150.

We expect our continued operational excellence to drive a five-percentage point improvement in our adjusted operating margin from 2021 to 2025, and we are confident in our ability to continue to leverage strategic capital allocation to grow our business.”

In Monday’s trading shares of JAZZ are up $10.49 to $144.91.

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U.S. opposition leads to cancelation of merger

Aon plc, Willis Towers Watson mutually agree to terminate combination pact

Aon plc (AON) and Willis Towers Watson (WLTW) announced that the firms have agreed to terminate their business combination agreement and end litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The proposed combination was first announced on March 9, 2020.

“Despite regulatory momentum around the world, including the recent approval of our combination by the European Commission, we reached an impasse with the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Aon CEO Greg Case.

“The DOJ position overlooks that our complementary businesses operate across broad, competitive areas of the economy. We are confident that the combination would have accelerated our shared ability to innovate on behalf of clients, but the inability to secure an expedited resolution of the litigation brought us to this point.”

In connection with the termination of the business combination agreement, Aon will pay the $1B termination fee to Willis Towers Watson, Willis Towers Watson’s proposed scheme of arrangement has now lapsed, and both organizations will move forward independently.

Aon CEO Greg Case gives up on the merger, pays $1B breakup fee

Both firms will provide further financial updates and outlooks on their respective Q2 2021 earnings calls, which take place on July 30 for Aon and August 3 for Willis Towers Watson.

Aon plc, a professional services firm, provides advice and solutions to clients focused on risk, retirement, and health worldwide. AON is based in Ireland.

Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company operates as an advisory, broking, and solutions company worldwide. Willis is headquartered in London.

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Tribune to buy nineteen stations from Nexstar

Nexstar enters agreements to divest nineteen stations for $1.32B

Nexstar to sell 19 stations, Stockwinners

Nexstar Media Group (NXST) and Tribune Media Company (TRCO) announced that Nexstar has entered into definitive agreements to sell a total of nineteen stations in fifteen markets for an aggregate $1.32B in cash following the acquisition of Tribune Media by Nexstar.

Under the terms of the agreements, TEGNA Inc. (TGNA) will acquire eleven stations in eight markets for $740M and The E.W. Scripps Company (SSP) will acquire eight stations in seven markets for $580M.

Separately, Nexstar remains engaged in active negotiations to divest two stations in Indianapolis, Indiana. On December 3, 2018, Nexstar and Tribune Media entered into a definitive merger agreement whereby Nexstar will acquire all outstanding shares of Tribune Media.

Nexstar agrees to acquire Tribune Media, Stockwinners
Nexstar agrees to sell stations from Tribune, Stockwinners

The planned divestiture of nineteen stations reflects Nexstar’s stated intention to divest certain television stations in order to comply with the FCC local and national television ownership rules and to obtain FCC and Department of Justice approval of the proposed Nexstar / Tribune Media transaction.

Nexstar intends to use the net proceeds from the divestitures to fund the Tribune acquisition and to reduce debt.

Given that the net proceeds from the divestitures exceed those initially estimated at the time the transaction was announced, Nexstar now estimates that net leverage at the closing of the transaction will be reduced to approximately 5.1x.

The planned divestiture of the nineteen stations is subject to FCC approval, other regulatory approvals, the closing of the Nexstar / Tribune Media transaction and other customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed on, or about the time of, the closing of the Nexstar / Tribune Media transaction, which is expected later this year.

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