Coca-Cola to acquire Costa for $5.1B

Coca-Cola to acquire Costa in deal valued at $5.1B

Coca-Cola to acquire Costa for $5.1B, Stockwinners
Coca-Cola to acquire Costa for $5.1B, Stockwinners

Coca-Cola (KO) announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Costa Limited.

The acquisition of Costa from parent company Whitbread PLC is valued at $5.1B and will give Coca-Cola a strong coffee platform across parts of Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, with the opportunity for additional expansion.

Costa operations include a leading brand, nearly 4,000 retail outlets with highly trained baristas, a coffee vending operation, for-home coffee formats and Costa’s state-of-the-art roastery.

For Coca-Cola, the expected acquisition adds a scalable coffee platform with critical know-how and expertise in a fast-growing, on-trend category. Costa has a solid presence with Costa Express, which offers barista-quality coffee in a variety of on-the-go locations, including gas stations, movie theaters and travel hubs.

Costa, in various formats, has the potential for further expansion with customers across the Coca-Cola system. The acquisition will expand the existing Coca-Cola coffee lineup by adding another leading brand and platform. The portfolio already includes the market-leading Georgia brand in Japan, plus coffee products in many other countries.

The purchase price is approximately $5.1B.

Upon the closing, Coca-Cola will acquire all issued and outstanding shares of Costa Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Whitbread. This subsidiary contains all of the existing operating businesses of Costa.

Whitbread will be seeking shareholder approval for the transaction, which is expected to take place by mid-October.

The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust approvals in the European Union and China.

It is expected to close in the first half of 2019. Coca-Cola expects the transaction to be slightly accretive in the first full year, not taking into account any impact from purchase accounting.

For FY18, Costa generated revenue and EBITDA of roughly $1.7B in revenue and $312M in EBITDA.

Because Coca-Cola expects the transaction to close in the first half of 2019, there is no change to 2018 guidance.

The company’s long-term targets also remain unchanged.


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Yum China receives takeover offer

Yum China rises after reportedly spurning $46 per share takeover bid

Yum China receives takeover offer, Stockwinners
Yum China receives takeover offer, Stockwinners

Shares of Yum China (YUMC) are on the rise following a media report saying the company has rejected a buyout offer of $46 per share made by a consortium led by Hillhouse Capital.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg had reported that China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp., was part of the consortium bidding to take Yum China private.

BUYOUT OFFER REPORTEDLY REJECTED

Yum China has rejected a private buyout offer from a consortium of investors that valued the company at over $17B, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter.

An investor group led by Hillhouse Capital Group in recent months offered to take the restaurant operator private at $46 per share, but the all-cash offer was turned down by the company’s board in recent weeks, source told the publication.

Last month, The Information had reported that Hillhouse Capital was in talks to acquire Yum China. The company operates over 8,000 KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants across mainland China.

A takeover led by Hillhouse would assist the company in accelerating its efforts to implement high-tech initiatives in its brick-and-mortar stores in order to attract Chinese millennials, the report pointed out.

CHINA INVESTMENT PART OF CONSORTIUM

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp., was part of the consortium bidding to take Yum China private.

The sovereign fund and DCP Capital, an investment fund run by former KKR (KKR) executives, are considering a buyout of Yum China, which runs KFC and Pizza Hut outlets, along with Hillhouse Capital, the publication added. Yum China spun off from Yum! Brands (YUM) in 2016.

PRICE ACTION

In tuesday’s trading, shares of Yum China trading in New York are off their earlier highs, but are trading up 3.8% to $37.14.


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Zoe’s Kitchen sold for $300 million

Zoe’s Kitchen to be acquired by CAVA Group for $12.75 per share

Zoe's Kitchen sold for $300 million, Stockwinners
Zoe’s Kitchen sold for $300 million, Stockwinners

Zoe’s Kitchen (ZOES) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired in a transaction by privately held Cava Group, fast-growing Mediterranean culinary brand with 66 restaurants.

The combined companies will have 327 restaurants in 24 states throughout the U.S. Under the terms of the agreement, Zoes Kitchen shareholders will receive $12.75 in cash for each share of common stock they hold.

This represents a premium of approximately 33% to Zoes Kitchen’s closing share price on August 16, 2018 and a premium of approximately 33% to Zoes Kitchen 30-day volume weighted average price ended on August 16, 2018, and an enterprise value of approximately $300M.

The acquisition of Zoes Kitchen will be financed through a significant equity investment in CAVA led by Act III Holdings, the investment vehicle created by Ron Shaich, founder, chairman, and former CEO of Panera Bread, and funds advised by The Invus Group, with participation from existing investors SWaN & Legend Venture Partners and Revolution Growth.

After closing, Brett Schulman, current CEO of CAVA, will serve as CEO of the combined company and will work closely with the existing leadership teams at Zoes Kitchen and CAVA to oversee their growth and evolution.

Ron Shaich will serve as Chairman of the combined company.

Consummation of the merger is subject to certain closing conditions, including the adoption of the merger agreement by the holders of a majority of the Company’s outstanding common stock, and the expiration or early termination of all applicable waiting periods under the HSR Act.

CAVA has agreed to pay to the Company a $17M termination fee if the merger agreement is terminated under certain circumstances and the merger does not occur.

The parties expect the merger to close in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, the Company is permitted to actively solicit, for a 35-day period, alternative acquisition proposals from potential buyer and business combination candidates.

There can be no assurance that any superior proposals will be received during this solicitation process or that any alternative transaction providing for a superior proposal will be consummated.

Except as may be required by law, the Company does not intend to disclose any developments with respect to such a solicitation process unless and until the Company’s board of directors determines that it has received a superior proposal. The Company would be required to pay to CAVA an $8.5M termination fee if the Company terminates the merger agreement to accept a superior proposal under certain circumstances. T

he Company’s Board of Directors has determined that the merger agreement with CAVA is fair to and in the best interests of the Company and the holders of the Company’s common stock.

Zoes Kitchen also announced that it will not hold its previously scheduled second quarter 2018 earnings conference call and web simulcast on the morning of Friday, August 17 and will not issue a press release with second quarter 2018 financial results.

The Company expects to file its quarterly report with second quarter 2018 financial results on or before August 20, 2018.


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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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Tribune Media terminates merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast

Tribune Media terminates merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast, files suit

Tribune Media terminates merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast, Stockwinners
Tribune Media terminates merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast, Stockwinners

Tribune Media (TRCO) announced that it has terminated its merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI), and that it has filed a lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court against Sinclair for breach of contract.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for all losses incurred as a result of Sinclair’s material breaches of the Merger Agreement.

In the Merger Agreement, Sinclair committed to use its reasonable best efforts to obtain regulatory approval as promptly as possible, including agreeing in advance to divest stations in certain markets as necessary or advisable for regulatory approval.

Instead, in an effort to maintain control over stations it was obligated to sell, Sinclair engaged in unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations with the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission over regulatory requirements, refused to sell stations in the markets as required to obtain approval, and proposed aggressive divestment structures and related-party sales that were either rejected outright or posed a high risk of rejection and delay-all in derogation of Sinclair’s contractual obligations.

Ultimately, the FCC concluded unanimously that Sinclair may have misrepresented or omitted material facts in its applications in order to circumvent the FCC’s ownership rules and, accordingly, put the merger on indefinite hold while an administrative law judge determines whether Sinclair misled the FCC or acted with a lack of candor.

As elaborated in the complaint we filed earlier today, Sinclair’s entire course of conduct has been in blatant violation of the Merger Agreement and, but for Sinclair’s actions, the transaction could have closed long ago.

“In light of the FCC’s unanimous decision, referring the issue of Sinclair’s conduct for a hearing before an administrative law judge, our merger cannot be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever,” said Peter Kern, Tribune Media’s CEO.

“This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders. Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the Merger Agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable.”


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US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food for $1.8B

US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food group of Companies for $1.8B 

US Foods to acquire SGA's Food for $1.8B, Stockwinners
US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food for $1.8B, Stockwinners

US Foods (USFD) and Services Group of America announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which US Foods will acquire five operating companies collectively known as SGA’s Food Group of Companies, for $1.8B in cash.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by US Foods’ Board of Directors.

Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, SGA’s Food Group of Companies has combined 2017 net sales of $3.2B and approximately 3,400 employees.

SGA’s Food Group of Companies currently operates as five separate operating companies.

US Foods will finance the acquisition primarily with $1.5B in fully committed term loan financing from J.P. Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch and will fund the balance of the purchase price through its existing liquidity resources.

At the closing of the acquisition, US Foods’ pro forma net leverage is expected to be 4.1x.

Given the combined company’s strong cash flow generation, including synergies, US Foods expects to reduce net leverage to approximately 3.0x by the end of fiscal 2020. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

US Foods expects to achieve approximately $55M in annual run-rate cost synergies by the end of fiscal 2022, primarily driven by savings in distribution, procurement and administrative expenses.

The purchase price reflects a multiple of 12.5x SGA’s Food Group of Companies 2018E Adjusted EBITDA of $123 million, after taking into account the approximately $260 million estimated present value of cash tax benefits to be realized as a result of the acquisition. Including $55M in annual run-rate synergies, the price reflects a 2018E Adjusted EBITDA multiple of 8.6x.

Excluding amortization, the transaction is expected to become accretive to US Foods’ Adjusted EPS in the second full year following closing.

USFD closed at $40.60.


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The Philly Fed rises to 25.7 in July

The Philly Fed bounce to 25.7

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved

Bristol-Myers’ Opdivo approved for MSI-H/dMMR metastatic colorectal cancer

Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved, Stockwinners
Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved, Stockwinners

Bristol-Myers (BMY) announced Opdivo – nivolumab – 3 mg/kg plus low-dose Yervoy – ipilimumab – 1 mg/kg injections for intravenous use received approval from the FDA for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older with microsatellite instability high or mismatch repair deficient metastatic colorectal cancer that has progressed following treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin and irinotecan.

Approval for this indication has been granted under accelerated approval.

Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

The application was granted Priority Review and Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA.

Among the 82 patients who received prior treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin and irinotecan, 46% responded to treatment with Opdivo + Yervoy.

The percentage of these patients with a complete response was 3.7%, and the percentage of patients with a partial response was 43%.

Among these 38 responders, the median DOR was not reached; 89% of those patients had responses of six months or longer, and 21% had responses of 12 months or longer.

This trial is ongoing. Among all enrolled patients, 49% responded to treatment with Opdivo + Yervoy; 4.2% experienced a complete response, while 45% experienced a partial response.

Opdivo was discontinued in 13% of patients and delayed in 45% of patients due to an adverse reaction.

Serious adverse reactions occurred in 47% of patients.

The Opdivo + Yervoy combination is also approved in two other tumor types, advanced renal cell carcinoma and unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

Continued approval for these accelerated approval indications may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

BMY closed at $56.18.


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Alexion Pharmaceuticals presents results from ALXN1210

Alexion to present results from ALXN1210 Phase 3 study at EHA

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Alexion to present results from ALXN1210 Phase 3 study at EHA

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) announced that results from one of the two large Phase 3 studies of ALXN1210, the company’s investigational long-acting C5 complement inhibitor, in patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria were selected for presentation during the Late-Breaking Oral Session on Sunday, June 17, 2018 at the Annual Conference of the European Hematology Association in Stockholm, Sweden.

“We are very excited about EHA’s recognition of the robustness and importance of these data in complement inhibitor treatment-naive patients. We enrolled a very broad patient population, representative of patients with PNH in clinical practice, including patients with a history of aplastic anemia, and ‘classic’ PNH, as well as transfused and non-transfused patients,” said John Orloff, M.D., EVP and Head of Research & Development at Alexion.

“We look forward to discussing the data with leading hematologists in Europe at the conference later this week as part of our ambition to make ALXN1210 the new standard of care for patients with PNH.”

As previously announced, weight-optimized treatment every eight weeks with ALXN1210 demonstrated non-inferiority to treatment every two weeks with Soliris in complement inhibitor treatment-naive patients with PNH on the two co-primary endpoints and all four key secondary endpoints.

The numeric results for all these endpoints, including breakthrough hemolysis, favored ALXN1210 and are consistent with the immediate and complete C5 inhibition observed by the end of the first infusion of ALXN1210 and sustained throughout the entire 26-week treatment period.

The safety profile of ALXN1210, based on almost 180 patient years of experience, was similar to that of Soliris.

Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a chronic, progressive, debilitating, and potentially life-threatening ultra-rare blood disorder that can strike men and women of all races, backgrounds, and ages without warning, with an average age of onset in the early 30s.

PNH often goes unrecognized, with delays in diagnosis ranging from one to more than 10 years. In patients with PNH, chronic, uncontrolled activation of the complement system, a component of the body’s immune system, results in hemolysis (the destruction of red blood cells), which in turn can result in progressive anemia, fatigue, dark urine, and shortness of breath.

The most devastating consequence of chronic hemolysis is thrombosis (the formation of blood clots), which can damage vital organs and cause premature death.

Historically, it had been estimated that one in three patients with PNH did not survive more than five years from the time of diagnosis.

PNH is more common among patients with disorders of the bone marrow, including aplastic anemia (AA) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).9,10,11 In certain patients with thrombosis of unknown origin, PNH may be an underlying cause.

ALXN closed at $118.20.


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A.V. Homes sold for $963 million

Taylor Morrison to acquire A.V. Homes for $21.50 per share

A.V. Homes sold for $963 million, Stockwinners
A.V. Homes sold for $963 million

Taylor Morrison Home (TMHC) and AV Homes (AVHI) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Taylor Morrison will acquire all of the outstanding shares of AV Homes common stock at $21.50 per share in a cash and stock transaction valued, including outstanding AV Homes debt, at approximately $963M.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of both Taylor Morrison and AV Homes and will be submitted to the stockholders of AV Homes for approval.

The transaction is expected to close late in Q3 or early in Q4 and the closing is subject to customary closing conditions. TPG Capital, the holder of approximately 40% of AV Homes common stock, has agreed to vote all of its shares of AV Homes common stock in favor of the transaction.

Under the terms of the agreement, AV Homes stockholders will have the option to receive, at their election, consideration per share equal to $21.50 in cash, 0.9793 shares of Taylor Morrison Class A common stock or the combination of $12.64 in cash and 0.4034 shares of Taylor Morrison Class A common stock, subject to an overall proration of approximately 60% cash and 40% stock.

On a pro forma basis, AV Homes stockholders are expected to own up to approximately 10% of the combined company, subject to conversion mechanics applicable to holders of AV Homes’ convertible notes.

AVHI closed at $16.50.


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GE creates new company to develop unmanned traffic management

GE creates  AiRXOS to develop unmanned traffic management 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GE closed at $13.64.


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Barron’s is bullish on Ensco, bearish on Chipotle

Barron’s, the weekly publication owned by the Wall Street Journal, in its latest issue mentions several names:

Stockwinners offers Barron's review of Stockwinners offers stocks to buy, stocks to watch, upgrades, downgrades, earnings, Stocks to Buy On Margin
Stockwinners offers Barron’s review of stocks to buy, stocks to watch,

BULLISH   MENTIONS:

Investors should consider Ensco to benefit from oil-price surge.  Crude-oil prices are set to jump because President Donald Trump is likely to reintroduce harsh sanctions on Iran by mid-May and to benefit from the oil-price surge, investors should consider buying shares in Ensco (ESV), Simon Constable writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Other key oil stocks include EOG Resource (EOG), Transocean (RIG), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Halliburton (HAL), ConocoPhillips (COP) and Devon Energy (DVN), he adds.

Netflix may soon pass Disney in Market Value – Any week now, Netflix (NFLX) will surpass in market value Walt Disney (DIS) as investors cheer on the streaming service’s continued subscriber growth, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Investors who buy Disney shares now could have a long wait before they learn whether the streaming push will result in a rebounding price/earnings ratio, but that is where a diversified business model helps, Hough says.

BEARISH  MENTIONS

Chipotle results boosted by potentially short-lived dynamics – Brian Niccol, the new CEO at Chipotle Mexican Grill, got an “enormous” endorsement on Thursday, as shares of the restaurant chain soared 24%, Avi Salzman writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. But Salzman is still skeptical that investors should buy the rebound. The first-quarter report was boosted by several dynamics that could be short-lived, he argues, adding that even with those results, it is hard to “make a queso” for Chipotle tripling earnings.


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Abeona Therapeutics granted Orphan Drug Designation

Abeona Therapeutics granted Orphan Drug Designation for ABO-202 in Europe

Abeona Therapeutics granted Orphan Drug Designation, Stockwinners
Abeona Therapeutics granted Orphan Drug Designation, 

Abeona Therapeutics (ABEO) announced that the European Medicines Agency Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products has granted Orphan Drug Designation for Abeona’s gene therapy program ABO-202 for the treatment of subjects with neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, also known as Batten Disease, a fatal lysosomal storage disease that primarily affects the nervous system in children.

ABO-202 is an adeno-associated virus developed to introduce a functional copy of the CLN1 gene into cells in order to restore the enzyme activity that is needed to break down certain lipopigment proteins that are deficient in patients with CLN1 disease.

Batten Disease, a fatal lysosomal storage disease that primarily affects the nervous system in children, Stockwinners
Batten Disease, a fatal lysosomal storage disease that primarily affects the nervous system in children

ABO-202 is anticipated to enter clinical trials in 2018. ABO-202 has been granted Orphan Drug and Rare Pediatric Disease Designations from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Preclinical data from the program were recently presented at the WORLDSymposium held in San Diego and an update will be presented at the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy later this year.

Key findings reported included: The data demonstrate that a single intravenous, single intrathecal or combination therapy utilizing both administration routes of a self-complementary adeno-associated virus encoding the human CLN1 gene to CLN1 mice significantly increased their survival, improved behavior and reduced motor deficits.

Higher doses further improved these observations, suggesting that methods increasing total CNS exposure may be beneficial and provided some survival and behavioral benefit to symptomatic mice.

A combination approach delivering ABO-202 by both intravenous and intrathecal routes of administration further increased survival efficacy and improved potential treatment options for older animals with advanced disease manifestations.

ABEO closed at $20.05.


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New tariff road kills: Acacia, Lumentum and Oclaro

Acacia, Oclaro plunge after U.S. bans sales to China’s ZTE

Lumentum to acquire Oclaro for $1.8B. Stockwinners.com
Oclaro tumbles on tariffs

Shares of several optical networking component providers – including Acacia Communications (ACIA), Oclaro (OCLR) and Lumentum (LITE) – are sliding after the U.S. Department of Commerce reportedly banned U.S. companies from selling components to Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp. (ZTCOY).

Acacia Comms tumbles, Stockwinners.com
Acacia Comms tumbles, Stockwinners.com

Loop Capital analyst James Kisner previously has noted that China’s ZTE announced it was raising $2.1B to fund the development and deployment of 5G wireless networks, which he read as a positive sign for optical component vendors. Oclaro (OCLR) and Acacia Communications (ACIA) have notable exposure to ZTE, Kisner pointed out, adding that he expected most optical component makers to benefit from 5G deployment in China.

In Monday’s trading following the news of the ZTE sales ban, Acacia shares have fallen over 18%, Oclaro has dropped 7.5% and Lumentum is down 8%.


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Tenneco to buy Federal-Mogul for $5.4 billion

Tenneco to buy Federal-Mogul from Icahn in deal valued at $5.4B

Tenneco to buy Federal-Mogul, Stockwinners
Tenneco to buy Federal-Mogul

Tenneco (TEN) will acquire Federal-Mogul (IEP) for $5.4 billion through a combination of $800 million in cash, 5.7 million shares of Tenneco Class A common stock, 23.8 million shares of Non-Voting Class B common stock and assumption of debt.

Under the agreement, Tenneco can reduce the number of shares of Class B Non-Voting common stock by up to 7.3 million shares and increase the cash consideration proportionately at the closing.

Tenneco has put in place committed debt financing to fund the transaction, which will replace Tenneco’s existing senior credit facilities and certain senior facilities at Federal-Mogul.

Upon closing, Tenneco expects a pro forma net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio of approximately 3x.

The company is targeting a net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio of approximately 2.5x by the end of 2019.

Tenneco expects that the transaction will generate significant value for shareholders. Upon completion of the acquisition, Tenneco will operate the combined businesses under a structure designed to begin concurrently the successful integration of Tenneco and Federal-Mogul and the separation of the aftermarket & ride performance and the powertrain technology companies.

“The strategic combination of Tenneco’s Ride Performance business with Federal-Mogul’s Motorparts business will establish a global aftermarket leader with an impressive portfolio of some of the strongest brands in the aftermarket including Monroe, Walker, Wagner, Champion, Fel-Pro and MOOG.

The powertrain technology company will be one of the largest pure play powertrain suppliers through the combination of Tenneco’s Clean Air product line and Federal Mogul’s Powertrain business, bringing together market leaders with reputations for innovation in meeting the changing needs of customers.

The combined business will offer a robust portfolio of products and systems solutions – from the engine to the tailpipe – to improve engine performance and meet tightening criteria pollutant regulations and fuel economy standards.

With its global scale, the company will drive content growth due to the demand for improved engine performance, tightening emissions regulations, light vehicle hybridization and expanded market opportunities with commercial truck and off-highway customers.”

TEN closed at $55.55. IEP closed at $59.69.


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