Brookdale Senior Living is For Sale!

Brookdale entered exclusive talks with China’s Zhonghong Zhuoye Group

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Zhonghong Zhuoye Group, which acquired a stake in SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS) last month, is in discussions to acquire Brookdale Senior Living (BKD), Reuters reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

The deal would be the largest takeover by a Chinese group in the U.S. senior care sector, and a test of the U.S. government’s openness to Chinese investments in healthcare services sectors, the report says.

Brookdale Senior Living Inc. owns and operates senior living communities in the United States. It operates through five segments: Retirement Centers, Assisted Living, CCRCs Rental, Brookdale Ancillary Services, and Management Services.

Brookdale entered exclusive talks with Zhonghong after the real estate and leisure group submitted a bid of roughly $3B, and after Brookdale drew offers from other parties that valued it at substantially below that, the report notes.

Brookdale has entered exclusive negotiations with Zhonghong after it made an offer of around $3 billion after receiving offers from other parties that valued it substantially below that, the people said on Tuesday.

BKD last traded at $14.49.

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Buy McDonald’s, Sell Sonic

Merrill Lynch raised McDonald’s price target to $175

Merrill Lynch downgraded Sonic two notches

 

Noting fast-food stocks have recently had a “strong run,” citing factors including fund flows out of retail stocks and into restaurants and positive sales trends in the category, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Gregory #Francfort raised price targets across the space.

However, he downgraded Sonic (SONC) to a sell-equivalent rating, citing the increasing aggressiveness of McDonald’s (MCD), which the analyst still views as a top pick.

SELL SONIC

Francfort downgraded Sonic two notches to Underperform from Buy but raised its price target to $30 from $27. The analyst said the downgrade is not a call on the quarter, as the company reports on June 22, and he sees limited downside to Q3 and Q4.

However, he notes shares are up 29% since March 21 and Francfort is concerned about 2018 earnings as McDonald’s is becoming more aggressive. He believes shares should trade at a discount to peers due to slower unit growth and higher capital intensity.

TOP PICK

Francfort continues to view McDonald’s as a top pick and sees further upside from aggressive value plans slated for early 2018 and unit economics.

The fast-food chain announced a 55% reimage contribution to support a value menu based around $1, $2 and $3 price points, which could encourage franchisees to co-invest in price aggressiveness, Francfort writes.

The analyst said McDonald’s is one of the few restaurant companies that can increase franchisee economics through lower price points and can get more aggressive than peers due to higher margins.

He added while unit growth for the chain is now negative, McDonald’s continues “to screen cheap” on a relative basis compared to other highly franchised restaurant stocks.

Francfort raised McDonald’s price target to $175 from $165 based on FY18 earnings and reiterated his Buy rating.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Other notable stocks in the fast-food space include Domino’s Pizza (DPS), Dunkin’ Brands (DNKN), Jack in the Box (JACK), Restaurant Brands International (QSR), Wendy’s (WEN) and Yum! Brands (YUM).

PRICE ACTION

Sonic rose 0.3% to $29.38, while McDonald’s gained 0.8% to $149.65.

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Mallinckrodt is In Play

Mallinckrodt continues to look at a range of strategic options to deliver shareholder value

Management detailed Mallinckrodt’s relationship with Express Scripts and explained that it is not strained

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After hosting Mallinckrodt’s CEO Mark Trudeau for an open Q&A session, Wells Fargo analyst David Maris says Mallinckrodt (MNK) continues to look at a range of strategic options to deliver shareholder value, and that all options, including going private, are on the table.

Mallinckrodt develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes branded and generic specialty pharmaceutical products and therapies in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and internationally.

Management did an “excellent job” in correcting the record following “erroneous” short-seller presentations, Maris tells investors in a research note.

Management detailed Mallinckrodt’s relationship with Express Scripts (ESRX) and explained that it is not strained, Maris writes.

The analyst notes Trudeau spoke with Express Scripts CEO Timothy Wentworth a week ago about the relationship and that it seems “solid and mutually positive,” despite recent negative comments about Acthar from the pharmacy benefit manager’s Chief Medical Officer.

Maris has an Outperform rating on Mallinckrodt with an $83.50 price target.

As the Wall Street Journal’s Charley Grant points out on Twitter, Mallinckrodt said last month at a conference that it is exploring options to drive shareholder value.

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Apple is building an autonomous car system

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is focusing on developing an autonomous car system

The iPhone maker had hired more than 1,000 engineers to work on Project Titan

 

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Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook said the company is focusing on developing an autonomous car system in his most detailed comments on the tech giant’s automotive plans after hiring roughly 1,000 engineers to work on ‘Project Titan,’ in 2014, Bloomberg reports, citing an interview with Cook.

The company, which originally sought to build its own self-driving car, is shifting its focus to the underlying technology as Alphabet’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Waymo unit has partnered with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) and Lyft to develop the technology and automakers from BMW (BMWYY) to General Motors (GM) seek to acquire autonomous vehicle startups.

The iPhone maker had hired more than 1,000 engineers to work on Project Titan, as the car team is known internally, after it started in 2014.  Apple secured a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles in April to test three self-driving sports-utility vehicles, photos of which emerged several weeks later.

A half-dozen vehicles had been surreptitiously testing the autonomous technology on public roads in and around the San Francisco Bay area for at least a year, according to someone familiar with Project Titan.

In December, Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, wrote a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealing the company’s interest in automotive technology. In the letter, Kenner wrote about the company’s excitement surrounding the potential for automated systems in fields like transportation.

Stocks to Watch

Shares to watch include: GOOG, TSLA, AAPL, INTC, and NVDA.

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U.S. Silica to Expand in West Texas

The $225M project will be funded from cash on hand and cash flow

The 3,200-acre site has over 30 years of reserves of fine grade 40/70 and 100 mesh sand

 

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U.S. Silica Holdings announced that its Board of Directors has approved the construction of a new, state-of-the-art frac sand mine and plant in West Texas to serve the rapidly-growing Permian Basin.

The new facility is expected to produce approximately 4M tons annually and is part of the company’s previously announced plan to add approximately 8M-10M tons of new Brownfield and Greenfield capacity to meet surging frac sand demand.

The $225M project will be funded from cash on hand and cash flow from operations and is expected to be supported by long-term supply contracts with leading oilfield companies, which include cash pre-payments.

Construction will begin immediately and initial production is scheduled for late in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The 3,200-acre site has over 30 years of reserves of fine grade 40/70 and 100 mesh sand with excellent physical properties.

“We believe we’ve selected one of the most advantaged sites in West Texas with good availability of water, easy access to Interstate 20 and a location that is equidistant to the hearts of both the Delaware and Midland Basins,” said Bryan Shinn, president and chief executive officer.

“Our focus is serving our customers.  Those customers told us clearly that they want more local sand supply in the Permian to support future well completions.  Their willingness to negotiate long-term supply agreements for this new capacity and to potentially commit their own capital to the project demonstrates the confidence they have in U.S. Silica and the tightness of the frac sand market now and in the future.”

Shinn added that the Company expects to enter into similar agreements for other capacity expansion projects currently underway.

Stocks to Watch

SLCA last tradad at $36.31. Hi-Crush Partners (HCLP) and Emerge Energy (EMES), and Smart Sand Inc. (SND).

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New Changes to S&P 400, 500, 600 Indices

S&P MidCap 400 constituent Everest Re (RE) will be added to the S&P 500

S&P SmallCap 600 constituent Pinnacle Financial Partners (PNFP) will replace Everest Re

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S&P Dow Jones Indices will make the following changes to the S&P 500, S&P MidCap 400 and S&P SmallCap 600 indices effective prior to the open of trading on Monday, June 19:

S&P MidCap 400 constituent Everest Re (RE) will replace Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN) in the S&P 500.

S&P SmallCap 600 constituent Pinnacle Financial Partners (PNFP) will replace Everest Re Group in the S&P MidCap 400, and Armada Hoffler Properties (AHH) will replace Pinnacle Financial Partners in the S&P SmallCap 600.

Reckitt Benckiser Group (RBGLY) is acquiring Mead Johnson Nutrition in a deal expected to be completed soon, pending final conditions.

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Coherus Biosciences Tumbles on FDA Decision

Coherus announced receipt of a “complete response letter” from the FDA, rejecting the company’s current application for CHS-1701

JPMorgan argues that the CRL “appears very much addressable”

COHERUS BIOSCIENCES LOGO

Biosimilar researcher #Coherus Biosciences (CHRS) announced this morning that the FDA rejected its current application for CHS-1701, which aims to mimic Amgen’s (AMGN) Neulasta.

The stock fell heavily on the news, but Wall Street analysts argued that issues raised by the FDA appear resolvable.

BACKGROUND:

Coherus Biosciences is a developer of “biosimilars” — nearly identical copies of original biologic drugs — whose product pipeline includes CHS-1701, a biosimilar of Amgen’s Neulasta, and CHS-1420, a biosimilar of AbbVie’s (ABBV) Humira.

FDA REJECTION:

Early Monday, Coherus announced receipt of a “complete response letter” from the FDA, rejecting the company’s current application for CHS-1701.

According to Coherus, the letter primarily focused on a request “for a reanalysis of a subset of subject samples with a revised immunogenicity assay, and requests for certain additional manufacturing related process information. The FDA did not request a clinical study to be performed in oncology patients.”

COMPANY SEES ONE-YEAR TIMELINE:

On a conference call this morning, Coherus executives outlined a roughly one-year timeline for potential approval, stating: “We anticipate that we will need a Type 1 meeting… FDA scheduling guidance is 30 days for such meetings. We believe that we can generate responses to the CRL within six months… The agency can take up to six months to evaluate resubmission.”

REDUCED CASH PLANS:

Coherus also announced during its call this morning that “we have developed a revised financial plan for 2H17 which calls for an average use of cash of $40M per quarter… which is a significant reduction from 1H.

Further, we project quarterly cash use of $30M-$35M per quarter for 1H18… We believe we can operate at this rate into 2H18 or until product approval.”

NOT WORST CASE

Keeping an Outperform rating and $38 target on Coherus, Credit Suisse analyst Alethia Young says the news isn’t a worst case scenario and that she is “cautiously optimistic” on timelines. Understanding how long the requested reanalysis will take is key, she says, and her conversations today with Coherus revealed a “high degree” of management confidence in running an analysis that would ultimately lead to FDA conversations in about six months. Young highlights that the CRL didn’t identify “major issues” like misguided trials or manufacturing problems, but she reiterates her view that shares could trade to $12-$15 on the event. Approval remains the key positive catalyst for Coherus and that driver is now likely shifted until mid-2018 or the second half of next year, the analyst contends, adding that shares could be range bound until further clarity on the reanalysis. For Amgen, Young says today’s news is positive, as she doesn’t expect another biosimilar competitor until perhaps 2019 at the earliest.

COWEN SAYS NO ISSUES WITH DRUG:

Cowen analyst Ken Cacciatore says the CRL issues “appears resolvable” with a total delay of likely one year. The rejection didn’t seem to raise any specific criticism of CHS-1701 and instead reflected FDA desire to use the most advanced testing possible. It is likely, says Cacciatore, that the agency concluded during other recent reviews that a stricter test should be used and that it is now “asking everyone” to adopt enhanced standards. While unfortunate for Coherus, the FDA is “likely just being complete and thorough,” the analyst argues. Accounting for the company’s expectations for a one-year delay, Cacciatore says Coherus is now “on track” for possible 2H18 approval and launch.

OVERREACTION:

JPMorgan’s Chris Schott argues that the CRL “appears very much addressable,” and continues to believe CHS-1701 will be one of — if not the — first Neulasta biosimilar. Today’s selloff is an overreaction, the analyst says, calling Coherus an “attractive” pure play in biosimilars with upside to $30-plus given 2018 approval for 1701.

PRICE ACTION:

Shares of Coherus are down 25.5% to $15.38 in afternoon trading, while Amgen is up 0.25%.

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Senator Warren Calls for Investigation of TransDigm

Warren is seeking information on how the company prices parts for which it is the sole supplier to the government

She is the third law maker who has called for investigation of TransDigm

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Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Defense urging an investigation into TransDigm’s pricing model following similar requests by other U.S. representatives, CNBC reports, citing the letter.

“As a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, I have also been monitoring reports that suggest TransDigm WorldWide has used a variety of tactics to avoid sharing cost information with the government for parts for which it is the sole source supplier…These reports further show that TransDigm has unreasonably raised prices on many parts shortly after completing acquisitions of the companies that produce them,” she wrote.

TransDigm Group (TDG) designs, produces, and supplies aircraft components in the United States. The company’s Power & Control segment provides mechanical/electro-mechanical actuators and controls, ignition systems and engine technology, specialized pumps and valves, power conditioning devices, specialized AC/DC electric motors and generators, databus and power controls, hoists, winches and lifting devices, and cargo loading and handling systems.

Warren’s call for a probe into the aerospace component supplier follows similar requests from U.S. Representatives Ro Khanna and Tim Ryan.

“I look forward to working with your office, and the Department of Defense to ensure that our service members continue to receive the best made equipment while also ensuring that taxpayers continue to receive fair value,” wrote Warren to the Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis.

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CIM Commercial declares special dividend

CIM Commercial Trust declares $1.98 cash dividend

CIM Commercial bought $576 million of its shares

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#CIM Commercial Trust Corporation $CMCT announced that it has repurchased in a privately negotiated transaction 26,181,818 shares of its common stock from a fund managed by an affiliate of CIM Group, the manager of CMCT.

The aggregate purchase price was $576,000,000, or $22 per share.

In order for all common shareholders to participate in the economic benefit of the share repurchase in an equitable manner, CMCT’s Board of Directors has declared a special cash dividend of $1.98 per common share.

The amount of the special cash dividend per common share was calculated based on the spread between $22.00, the repurchase price, and the volume-weighted average price per common share for the 20 trailing trading days through June 9, 2017 of $15.82 per common share.

The dividend will be paid on June 27, 2017 to common shareholders of record as of June 20, 2017. The Fund has informed CMCT that it waived its right to receive this special cash dividend on the common shares that it owns. The repurchase and special cash dividend are part of CMCT’s previously stated goal of focusing on increasing the net asset value and cash flow per share of common shares while providing liquidity to common shareholders at prices reflecting the underlying fundamentals of CMCT’s portfolio.

In conjunction with the share repurchase and declaration of the $1.98 per share special cash dividend, CMCT has adjusted its recurring quarterly common dividend to conform with the dividend program of its public REIT peers, which we believe have distributed 40% to 50% of funds from operations and 2.0% to 2.5% of consensus net asset value estimates on an annual basis.

Accordingly, the Board today declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.125 per common share, representing approximately 45% of 2017 Q1 FFO and, on an annualized basis, 2.1% of net asset value.

CMCT closed at $15.55. Shares have a 52-week trading range of $14.54 to $19.29.

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CooperVision lens reduces progression of myopia

CooperVision 1-day soft contact lens reduced the rate of progression of juvenile-onset myopia

Adolescents who are myopic (nearsighted) typically have “progressive myopia”

 

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The British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference ended on Sunday in Liverpool England. Among companies presenting at the conference were Cooper Companies.

Cooper Companies subsidiary CooperVision announced Saturday that “a pioneering contact lens therapy has considerable potential to impact the rising prevalence of myopia in children, according to highly-anticipated study outcomes presented today at the British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference.”

At the conference, CooperVision reviewed three-year results from the clinical trial assessing a specially-designed, dual-focus myopia control 1-day soft contact lens in reducing the rate of progression of juvenile-onset myopia.

Adolescents who are myopic (nearsighted) typically have “progressive myopia” — that is, their nearsightedness becomes progressively greater over time. If left uncontrolled, myopia results in a higher incidence of complications such as retinal tears and detachments, glaucoma, cataracts, and a reduced quality of life.

Three-year findings indicated that use of the dual-focus contact lens was effective in slowing myopia progression 59% as measured by mean cycloplegic spherical equivalent and 52% as measured by mean axial elongation of the eye when compared to the children in the control group wearing a single vision 1-day contact lens.

Three-year results indicated the dual focus lens was well accepted by children, and did not affect their daily activities. Children in both the test and control groups had a higher satisfaction with contact lenses over spectacles.

Parents of study participants also had a very positive response, noting their children could mostly manage their lens wear independently.

“No other prospective randomized controlled study has offered conclusive data for such a high degree of continued efficacy in myopia management using a 1-day soft contact lens over three years,” the company remarked.

COO closed at $237.43. Shares have a 52-week trading range of $158.73 to $243.88.

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Novo Nordisk reports data on Xultophy

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The 77th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association is underway in San Diego, CA from June 9-13, 2017.

Xultophy 100/3.6 demonstrated similar A1C reductions with significantly lower rates of hypoglycemia and a decrease in weight in adults with type 2 diabetes compared to treatment with basal-bolus therapy

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The 77th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association is underway in San Diego, CA from June 9-13, 2017.


Novo Nordisk announced Saturday that new results from the phase 3b DUAL VII clinical trial showed that Xultophy 100/3.6 demonstrated similar A1C reductions with significantly lower rates of hypoglycemia and a decrease in weight in adults with type 2 diabetes compared to treatment with basal-bolus therapy.

 

In DUAL VII, Xultophy 100/3.6 demonstrated non-inferiority in lowering A1C when compared to insulin glargine U100 in combination with insulin aspart.

 

The objective of non-inferiority trials is to compare a novel treatment to an active treatment with a view of demonstrating that it is not clinically worse with regards to a specified endpoint.

 

Those treated with #Xultophy 100/3.6 versus basal-bolus therapy also: Reached similar glycemic targets; demonstrated an 89% reduction in severe or blood glucose confirmed symptomatic hypoglycemic events and a 92% reduction for nocturnal severe or blood glucose confirmed symptomatic hypoglycemic events; experienced a weight reduction of 0.93 kg compared with a weight gain of 2.64 kg for people treated with the basal-bolus regimen; achieved glycemic control with no hypoglycemic episodes and no weight gain in the last 12 weeks.

 

A basal-bolus routine involves taking a longer acting form of insulin to keep blood glucose levels stable through periods of fasting and separate injections of shorter acting insulin to prevent rises in blood glucose levels resulting from meals.

 

Furthermore, patients treated with Xultophy 100/3.6 required a lower daily insulin dose compared with the basal-bolus treatment group — 40 units vs 84 units.

 

Adverse events were similar across both treatment groups. The safety profile of Xultophy 100/3.6 in DUAL VII was generally consistent with previous Xultophy 100/3.6 clinical trials.


NVO closed at $42.84. It has a 52-week trading range of $30.89 to $57.41.

 

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Barron’s is bullish on Chevron, Apple

Apple’s (AAPL) smart speaker is a “turning point” for personal technology

Comerica (CMA), SVB Financial (SIVB) and Zions Bancorp (ZION) are among banks that “should continue to benefit” from near-term rate hikes

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Barron’s, the weekly publication owned by the Wall Street Journal, in its latest issue is bullish on several names. They include:

The unveil of Apple’s (AAPL) smart speaker is a “turning point” for personal technology and possibly for the company itself, Barron’s contends in a ‘Technology Trader’ column. The product and its array of “enticing” audio tech shows that Apple continues to innovate, the publication says, while cautioning that some observers see Apple’s arguably lackluster Siri digital assistant as a “giant hole” in the product as compared to competing offerings from Amazon (AMZN) and Alphabet (GOOG).

Shares of ATM-maker Diebold (DBD) could return 25%-40% over the next two years, Barron’s contends in a feature article. The company should lift EPS to at least $3 through 2020 as it realizes cost cuts and synergies from its acquisition of Wincor Nixdorf, the publication says. Additionally, while cash is sometimes called a declining medium amid the proliferation of online payment platforms, Diebold CEO Andy Mattes tells Barron’s that such pessimism is countered by the 5%-6% annual growth rate of paper notes in circulation.

Lam Research (LRCX) could gain 20% in a year, Barron’s contends in a feature article. The publication argues that as memory chip usage in cars, home appliances, and other machines increases — and China ramps its catch-up efforts in the space — investors should buy the industry’s “arms dealers;” that is, the companies that manufacture etching and lithography equipment. Barron’s names both Lam Research and Applied Materials (AMAT), but favors Lam Research.

Banks

Comerica (CMA), SVB Financial (SIVB) and Zions Bancorp (ZION) are among banks that “should continue to benefit” from near-term rate hikes, Barron’s contends in a feature article. The publication explains that most banks haven’t paid depositors more despite the start of rate hikes in late 2015, a trend which is expected to continue with the likely hike in June, which means higher profits for the banks. Small and mid-market names with significant depositor bases, good balance sheets, and many commercial customers will gain the most from the trend, Barron’s says, leading it to recommend the above-mentioned banks.

Energy Stocks

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Certain North American energy names “look attractive,” including Chevron (CVX), EOG Resources (EOG), Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ) and Noble Energy (NBL), Barron’s contends in a feature article. The sector “could be near a bottom” after dipping on the recent surprise gain in crude inventories, the publication adds.

Regeneron (REGN) appears expensive against short-term profit expectations, but the stock still looks good for growth investors given the company’s “long-term ability to generate more attempts at hit drugs than do peers,” Barron’s contends in a ‘Follow Up’ column.

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