Investors unhappy with Bed Bath & Beyond

Investor group outlines strategic plan for Bed Bath & Beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles on competition. Stockwinners.com

Investor group outlines strategic plan for Bed Bath & Beyond , Stockwinners

Legion Partners Holdings, Macellum Advisors GP and Ancora Advisors released a presentation outlining the Investor Group’s Strategic Plan for Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY).

The group said, “The plan outlines the path forward to modernizing Bed Bath’s retail practices and delivering a significant earnings per share improvement which could drive $5.00 per share of annual earnings – a level that Bed Bath achieved just a few short years ago.

The Investor Group’s Strategic Plan includes the following highlights: Revamp executive management – recruiting a top-flight CEO to lead Bed Bath going forward and instill a world-class winning culture.

We plan to launch a search in the near term to address this key position. Reverse sales weakness – fixing the merchandise over-assortment problem through a detailed SKU rationalization process as well as developing a merchandise architecture that will better resonate with customers.

Making the in-store experience something that drives traffic to the stores will be a major priority.

Turn around Company culture – increase focus on employee training and education to improve motivation; empower employees to better use technology and improve customer experience.

Significantly expand gross margins – improve vendor relations and drive profits by establishing a direct sourcing strategy and private label program as well as fixing mix issues created by the Company’s shift to commoditized and lower margin products.

Implement cost cutting – conducting an extensive reassessment of the increases in expenses over the last five years, including the explosion of the Company’s advertising budget, seemingly endless array of initiatives that have failed to produce meaningful results and extensive use of consultants.

Improve inventory – increasing inventory turns which would result in a substantial release of cash tied up in slow moving goods. Fix capital allocation – reviewing all non-core businesses and assessing their value as part of the business or their potential value to other parties.

Excess cash created could be applied to share or debt repurchases, both of which are significantly accretive given discounted trading levels.

Lastly, the increase in capital expenditures will be addressed. Above all, the Investor Group’s director nominees have the relevant experience and commitment to execute on these priorities and hold management accountable for delivering results.”

BBBY last traded at $16.68

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Tesaro sold for $75 per share

Tesaro to be acquired by GSK for approx. $5.1B

 

Tesaro could be sold soon, Stockwinners
Tesaro sold for $75 per share, Stockwinners

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and TESARO (TSRO) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which GSK will acquire TESARO, an oncology-focused company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, for an aggregate cash consideration of approximately $5.1B.

The proposed transaction significantly strengthens GSK’s pharmaceutical business, accelerating the build of GSK’s pipeline and commercial capability in oncology. The acquisition price of $75 per share in cash represents a 110% premium to TESARO’s 30 day Volume Weighted Average Price of $35.67 and an aggregate consideration of approximately $5.1B including the assumption of TESARO’s net debt.

Zejula’s revenues in its current approved indication as second-line maintenance treatment for ovarian cancer were $166 million for the 9 months ended 30 September 2018.

GSK expects the acquisition of TESARO and associated R&D and commercial investments will impact Adjusted EPS for the first two years by mid to high single digit percentages, reducing thereafter with the acquisition expected to start to be accretive to Adjusted EPS by 2022. GSK’s guidance for full-year 2018 Adjusted EPS growth remains unchanged at 8 to 10% at CER.

GSK continues to expect to deliver on its previously published Group Outlooks to 2020, but following the acquisition of TESARO now expects Adjusted EPS growth at CER for the period 2016-2020 to be at the bottom end of the mid to high single digit percentage CAGR range.

GSK confirms no change to its current dividend policy and continues to expect to pay 80p in dividends for 2018. GSK expects to fund the acquisition from cash resources and drawing under a new acquisition facility.

Please click here and read our blog when we predicted this transaction.


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Altria to buy stake in Juul Labs

Altria, under pressure from FDA, said in talks to buy stake in Juul Labs

 

Altria to buy stake in Juul Labs, Stockwinners
Altria to buy stake in Juul Labs, Stockwinners

Following a report that Altria Group (MO) is in talks to take a “significant” stake in Juul Labs, an analyst said that an agreement could make strategic sense for the tobacco giant to gain exposure to a fast-growing product that poses a threat to its cigarette business.

The Wall Street Journal said Altria is in talks to take a “significant” minority interest in Juul Labs, a controversial e-cigarette startup.

According to people familiar with the matter, any deal is likely several weeks away. Juul was last valued at $16B in a private fundraising round this summer.

Altria has an agreement with Philip Morris (PM) to market IQOS, subject to regulatory approval. Philip Morris is already selling it in 43 countries and has said it could get approved for the U.S. by the end of the year.

Juul has drawn criticism over its products’ popularity with teens.

Juul, whose products are sold online and in convenience stores, gas stations and vape shops, accounted for about three-quarters of the U.S. e-cigarette market in the four-week period ended November 17, according to the Wells Fargo analysis of Nielsen data.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans to place restrictions on sales of flavored e-cigarettes.

Juul also said it would restrict sales of nearly all its flavored pods to the internet, and stop most social media promotion to combat youth vaping.

“More than 99% of all social media content related to JUUL Labs is generated through third-party users and accounts with no affiliation to our company. Nevertheless, we understand that many young people get their information from social media. To remove ourselves entirely from participation in the social conversation, we have decided to shut down our U.S.-based social media accounts on Facebook (FB) and Instagram. We have never used Snapchat (SNAP),” the company stated.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Following the FDA statement on the agency’s proposed steps against underage smoking, Altria General Counsel Murray Garnick said it “welcomed” the FDA’s efforts to address the underage use of e-vapor products and said it believes Congress should raise the legal age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21.

Last month, Altria said it would pull its pod-based e-vapor products from the market until approved by FDA.

The company said Nu Mark will remove MarkTen Elite and Apex by MarkTen pod-based products from the market “until these products receive a market order from the FDA or the youth issue is otherwise addressed,” and that for the remaining MarkTen and Green Smoke cig-a-like products, Nu Mark will sell only tobacco, menthol and mint varieties.

Nu Mark will discontinue the sale of all other flavor variants of our cig-a-like products until these products receive a market order from the FDA.

The FDA is also pursuing a ban on menthol cigarettes, which could remove nearly a third of the roughly 250B cigarettes sold annually in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal said.

A rule could take a year or more to finalize, the FDA said. The FDA concluded in 2013 that menthols are harder to quit and likely pose a greater health risk than regular cigarettes.

ANALYST COMMENTARY

Morgan Stanley analyst Pamela Kaufman said she has no knowledge of a potential deal between Altria and Juul but that taking such a stake could make strategic sense for Altria to gain exposure to a fast growing product that poses a threat to its cigarette business.

Altria does not have a robust reduced risk product portfolio and Juul’s e-cigs could significantly enhance its competitive position, stated Kaufman, who also believes Altria would likely be buying in at a lower valuation than the previously reported $15B given the FDA recently prohibited flavored pods sales in convenience stores.

 OTHERS TO WATCH

Publicly traded companies in the tobacco products space also include Philip Morris and British American Tobacco (BTI).


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Red Hat sold for $34 billion

 IBM to acquire Red Hat for $190 per share

Red Hat sold for $34 billion, Stockwinners
Red Hat sold for $34 billion, Stockwinners

IBM (IBM) and Red Hat (RHT) announced that the companies have reached a definitive agreement under which IBM will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for $190 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of approximately $34B.

With this acquisition, IBM will remain committed to Red Hat’s open governance, open source contributions, participation in the open source community and development model, and fostering its widespread developer ecosystem.

In addition, IBM and Red Hat will remain committed to the continued freedom of open source, via such efforts as Patent Promise, GPL Cooperation Commitment, the Open Invention Network and the LOT Network. IBM and Red Hat also will continue to build and enhance Red Hat partnerships, including those with major cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) Azure, Google (GOOG; GOOGL) Cloud, Alibaba (BABA) and more, in addition to the IBM Cloud.

At the same time, Red Hat will benefit from IBM’s hybrid cloud and enterprise IT scale in helping expand their open source technology portfolio to businesses globally.

Upon closing of the acquisition, Red Hat will join IBM’s Hybrid Cloud team as a distinct unit, preserving the independence and neutrality of Red Hat’s open source development heritage and commitment, current product portfolio and go-to-market strategy, and unique development culture.

Red Hat will continue to be led by Jim Whitehurst and Red Hat’s current management team.

Jim #Whitehurst also will join IBM’s senior management team and report to Ginni #Rometty.

IBM intends to maintain Red Hat’s headquarters, facilities, brands and practices.

The acquisition will accelerate IBM’s revenue growth, gross margin and free cash flow within 12 months of closing.

It also will support a solid and growing dividend. The company will continue with a disciplined financial policy and is committed to maintaining strong investment grade credit ratings.

The company will target a leverage profile consistent with a mid to high single A credit rating. The company intends to suspend its share repurchase program in 2020 and 2021.

The company intends to close the transaction through a combination of cash and debt. The acquisition has been approved by the boards of directors of both IBM and Red Hat.

It is subject to Red Hat shareholder approval. It also is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. It is expected to close in the latter half of 2019.


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Incyte reports positive data

Incyte announces Phase 2b trial of ruxolitinib cream met primary endpoint

Incyte says REACH1 trial met primary endpoint, Stockwinners
Incyte reports positive data, Stockwinners

Incyte Corporation (INCY) announced positive results from its randomized, dose-ranging, vehicle- and active-controlled Phase 2b study evaluating ruxolitinib cream in patients with atopic dermatitis who are candidates for topical therapy.

The study, part of the True-AD clinical trial program, met its primary endpoint, demonstrating that ruxolitinib cream 1.5% administered twice daily significantly improved Eczema Area and Severity Index scores – a measurement of the extent and severity of AD – from baseline versus vehicle control at Week 4.

Additionally, treatment with ruxolitinib cream 1.5% BID resulted in a rapid and sustained reduction in itch versus vehicle, a key secondary endpoint.

These results were shared in an oral presentation today at the 27th European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology Congress in Paris, France.

Key study results included: Significantly improved EASI score in the ruxolitinib cream 1.5% BID arm versus vehicle at Week 4, the primary endpoint, and improvement in EASI score versus the active control, triamcinolone 0.1% cream, at Week 4, a secondary endpoint.

Significantly improved EASI scores in the ruxolitinib cream 1.5% BID arm versus vehicle at Weeks 2 and 8. Significantly greater changes in EASI score in the once daily ruxolitinib cream 1.5% and 0.5% arms versus vehicle at Week 4.

Significantly more Investigator’s Global Assessment responders – a measure of disease severity – in the ruxolitinib cream 1.5% BID arm versus vehicle at Week 4, and greater IGA response rates across other ruxolitinib arms versus vehicle.

Rapid and sustained reductions in itch numerical rating scale score observed as early as within two days from the initiation of therapy, and a more pronounced reduction in itch with ruxolitinib cream 1.5% BID and QD than with triamcinolone cream 0.1% BID.

Ruxolitinib cream was well-tolerated at all dosage strengths and was not associated with clinically-significant application site reactions.

All treatment-related adverse events were Grade 1 or Grade 2 in severity. Ruxolitinib cream is the first JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor to exhibit positive results as a topical monotherapy in the AD patient population.

Over-activity of the JAK signaling pathway has been shown to drive inflammation involved in the pathogenesis of AD.

These data support the planned initiation of a global, pivotal Phase 3 program, for which preparations are already underway.

INCY closed at $66.51.


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Integrated Device Technology sold for $6.7 billion

Renesas acquires Integrated Device for $49 per share or $6.7B

 

Integrated Device Technology sold for $6.7 billion, Stockwinners
Integrated Device Technology sold for $6.7 billion, Stockwinners

Renesas Electronics (RNECY) and Integrated Device Technology (IDTI) announced they have signed a definitive agreement under which Renesas will acquire IDT for $49.00 per share in an all-cash transaction representing an equity value of approximately $6.7B.

The stock closed yesterday down 58c to $42.08. Closing of the transaction is expected to occur in the first half of 2019, following approvals by IDT shareholders and the relevant regulatory authorities.

Renesas anticipates near- and long-term revenue growth from “expanded opportunities and access to fast-growing industries, and cost savings from a greater scale business platform to bring innovation and improvements” with an expected financial impact of approximately over $250M.

The transaction is expected to be accretive to Renesas’ non-GAAP gross margin and non-GAAP earnings per share by approximately 1.6%pts and 18%, respectively, immediately after closing.

Renesas plans to finance the transaction with cash reserves and approximately 679B yen of bank loans. Renesas does not intend to raise equity financing for this transaction. T

he companies said, “The acquisition combines two recognized leaders in embedded processors and analog mixed-signal semiconductors, each with unique strengths in delivering products to improve performance and efficiency in high-computing electronic systems. The boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction.”


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Navigators Group sold for $2.1 billion

Hartford Financial to acquire Navigators for $2.1B in cash 

Navigators Group sold for $2.1 billion, Stockwinners
Navigators Group sold for $2.1 billion, Stockwinners

The Navigators Group (NAVG) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by The Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG) in an all-cash transaction that values Navigators at approximately $2.1B.

Under the terms of the agreement, Navigators stockholders will receive $70.00 per share in cash upon the closing of the transaction.

The $70.00 per share offer price represents a multiple of 1.78 times Navigators’ fully diluted tangible book value per share as of June 30, 2018 and an 18.6% premium to the 90-trading-day average stock price.

The transaction, which was unanimously approved by Navigators’ Board of Directors, is subject to regulatory and stockholder approvals and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

Navigators expects to continue paying regular quarterly dividends consistent with past practice prior to closing.

Completion of the transaction is not subject to any financing conditions. Navigators’ founder, and shares controlled by other members of his family, which represent approximately 20% of total shares outstanding, have agreed to vote in support of Navigators’ transaction with The Hartford.

The agreement includes a “go-shop” provision designed to afford an opportunity for other potential acquirers to determine whether they are interested in proposing to acquire Navigators.

Accordingly, for 30 days Navigators will have an opportunity to solicit competing acquisition proposals. If the Board of Directors accepts a competing proposal during the “go-shop” period that The Hartford does not match, the successful competing bidder would pay a termination fee to The Hartford.

NAVG closed at $64.25.


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Tesla’s going private is questioned by analysts

Tesla consolidates as analysts debate if Musk should take carmaker private

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) jumped yesterday after CEO Elon Musk said he would like to see the company go private, but have since stepped into negative territory as analysts debate the idea.

 

https://stockwinners.com/blog/
Tesla’s going private is questioned by analysts, Stockwinners

While Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois believes going private “feels like the right thing to do,” his peer at Morgan Stanley questions the feasibility of Musk actually being able to achieve that goal.

TAKING TESLA PRIVATE

Yesterday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he is considering taking the electric carmaker private.

 

In an email to the company’s employees, the executive explained: “Earlier today, I announced that I’m considering taking Tesla private at a price of $420/share. […] As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders. Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term. Finally, as the most shorted stock in the history of the stock market, being public means that there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company.”

Tesla gets a boost from Bud. See Stockwinners.com
Tesla’s going private is questioned by analysts

Meanwhile, members of Tesla’s board said on Wednesday that they have “met several times over the last week” and are “taking the appropriate next steps to evaluate” Musk’s desire to take the company private. Their talks with Musk, which started last week, included “discussions as to how being private could better serve Tesla’s long-term interests, and also addressed the funding for this to occur,” the board members stated in a press release.

‘RIGHT THING TO DO’:

Commenting on the news, Jefferies’ Houchois told investors in a research note that the move “feels right” even if Musk is downplaying how supportive public markets have been. With Tesla unable to take on more debt, the analyst wonders who may fund the potential deal and end up as a new large shareholder. While the second quarter de-stressed the near-term outlook, Houchois pointed out that Tesla did not reassure about sustained demand for Model 3 at high prices and that profitability can support organic funding of investments in future products and manufacturing capacity.

He continues to think Tesla will need additional capital to fund these or risk being caught with a narrow and ageing product range within 2 years. Noting that his discounted cash flow fair value points to $300 per share, the analyst raised his price target on the stock to $360 from $250, “bridging the gap” to the $420 potential going private bid. The analyst reiterated a Hold rating on Tesla.

BUT WILL IT BE FEASIBLE?:

While Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas sympathizes with Elon Musk’s argument that Tesla could be better off as a private company, he questions the feasibility of the CEO actually being able to achieve that goal.
Taking the company private would assume either that the company is on the verge of generating self-sustaining cash flows or that it can tap into a range of strategic sources of capital not previously at its disposal, said Jonas, who sees strategic value at Tesla, but thinks the “LBO math required to support [a price of] $420 is extremely aggressive.”

Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics' Car of the Year
Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics’ Car of the Year

The benefits of being private are outweighed by the risks of added financial leverage, which could be even more strategically limiting, added Jonas, who reiterated an Equal Weight rating and a $291 price target on Tesla shares.
Meanwhile, his peer at JPMorgan raised his price target for Tesla to $308 from $195 to reflect the possibility of the company going private. However, analyst Ryan Brinkman told investors that he still believes that Tesla’s valuation based on fundamentals alone “is worth no more than $195” per share.
The analyst added that he is not as certain as CEO Elon Musk on Tesla going private, and assigns only a 50% probability to such a scenario, while reiterating an Underweight rating on the shares.

PRICE ACTION:

In Wednesday afternoon trading, shares of Tesla have dropped 1.6% to $373.63.


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Arconic higher following report of private equity interest

Arconic higher following report of private equity interest

Arconic higher following report of private equity interest, Stockwinners
Arconic higher following report of private equity interest, Stockwinners

Shares of Arconic (ARNC) are rising following a report that the aluminum producer has received interest from private equity firms including Apollo Global Management (APO).

PE  INTEREST

Arconic has received takeover interest from private-equity firms, including Apollo Global, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

A deal for the aerospace parts maker, which currently has a market value of $8.3B, could be worth over $10B, but no buyout agreement is imminent, the report said.

The company, which also holds $6.4B in debt, has a tumultuous recent history, facing an activist investor campaign from Elliott Management after being separated from the aluminum business now known as Alcoa (AA) in 2016.

The campaign led to the resignation of former Arconic Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld and an overhaul of the company’s board.

In addition, the company came under scrutiny after investigators discovered its aluminum composite panels contributed to the spread of a fire last year at London’s Grenfell Tower that killed 80 people.

At the time, Arconic said it had no control over how its products were used in the building.

‘PLAUSIBLE LBO CANDIDATE’

Following the WSJ report, Morgan Stanley analyst Rajeev Lalwani said two things stand out to make Arconic a “plausible” leveraged buyout candidate: Its low EV/EBITDA multiple, which creates potentially favorable entry and exit points, and its cash flow profile, which has room for improvement.

The analyst stated that a more lean and efficient approach could support considerably better cash generation.

While the reported private equity interest “adds a level of intrigue,” Lalwani still believes headwinds within it rings and disks business, working capital and CapEx issues and volatility associated with aluminum prices will be the key driver of shares in the near-term.

Given the aforementioned execution concerns, Lalwani kept an Equal Weight rating and $20 price target on Arconic shares.

‘VERY VIABLE LBO CANDIDATE’

Credit Suisse analyst Curt Woodworth said he views Arconic as a “very viable” leveraged buyout candidate given its “highly depressed” multiples, operational and financial mismanagement, and “very strong” positions in automotive and aerospace end markets.

The analyst believes the issues at Firth Rixson are “very fixable” as the company is a new entrant into the disks market and said Arconic could be worth $24-$26 per share in a buyout. Woodworth has an Outperform rating on the shares with a $28 price target.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

On Monday, Arconic announced it had signed a new long-term contract with Boeing (BA) to supply aluminum sheet and plate for all models produced by Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The multiyear contract, which extends and adds to the companies’ 2014 contract, is the largest to date and captures growth in the build rate increases of the Boeing 737 program.

PRICE ACTION

Arconic rose about 10%, or $1.73, to $19.12 in morning.


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ModSpace sold for $1.1 billion

Williams Scotsman to acquire ModSpace for approx. $1.1B

ModSpace sold for $1.1 billion, Stockwinners
ModSpace sold for $1.1 billion, Stockwinners

WillScot Corporation (WSC) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Modular Space Holdings, the parent holding company of Modular Space Corporation, for an enterprise value of approximately $1.1B. Williams Scotsman will indirectly acquire MS Holdings for a purchase price comprising $1,063,750,000 of cash consideration, 6,458,500 shares of WSC Class A common stock and warrants to purchase 10,000,000 shares of WSC Class A common stock at an exercise price of $15.50 per share, subject to customary adjustments.

The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in 3Q18.

ModSpace, a privately-owned provider of office trailers, portable storage units and modular buildings, had approximately $1.1B of total assets as of March 31, 2018.

ModSpace generated $453M of total revenue, $18M of net income and $106M of Adjusted EBITDA for the twelve months ended March 31, 2018. Once combined, Williams Scotsman will have over 160,000 modular space and portable storage units serving a diverse customer base from approximately 120 locations across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Williams Scotsman expects to capture $60M in annual cost synergies after integration, with approximately 80% of the forecast synergies expected to be realized on a full run-rate basis by the end of 2019.

Williams Scotsman also expects to benefit from the net operating tax loss carryforwards to be acquired in the transaction, and for the transaction to be accretive to earnings in 2019.

Williams Scotsman expects to expand its “Ready to Work” value proposition across the ModSpace fleet and customer base, a strategy that has driven double-digit organic Adjusted EBITDA growth in Williams Scotsman’s U.S. Modular segment in recent years and proven successful in Williams Scotsman’s acquisitions of Acton Mobile and Tyson Onsite.

Until the transaction closes, both companies will operate independently and execute on their respective strategic priorities. Williams Scotsman has secured committed financing to fund the transaction, which includes an amendment and expansion of its existing revolving ABL credit facility to $1.35B with an accordion feature allowing up to $1.8B of total capacity, a $280M secured bridge credit facility, and $320M unsecured bridge credit facility.

Williams Scotsman expects the permanent financing plan to include a combination of long-term debt and equity or equity-linked securities.

WSC closed at $12.15, it last traded at $14.10.


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Envision Healthcare sold for $9.9B

Envision Healthcare to be acquired by KKR for approximately $9.9B

 

Envision Healthcare sold for $9.9B, Stockwinners
Envision Healthcare sold for $9.9B, Stockwinners

Envision Healthcare (EVHC) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by global investment firm KKR (KKR) in an all-cash transaction for approximately $9.9B, including the assumption or repayment of debt.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by Envision’s Board of Directors, KKR will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Envision’s common stock for $46.00 per share in cash, representing a 32% premium to Envision’s volume-weighted average share price from November 1, 2017, the day immediately following the company’s first announcement that it was reviewing strategic alternatives.

The transaction price represents a multiple of 10.9x trailing 12 months Adjusted EBITDA and 10.1x 2018 anticipated Adjusted EBITDA.

The agreement represents the culmination of the Board’s comprehensive review of strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value.

During the last seven months, the Board, with the assistance of three independent financial advisors and legal counsel, examined a full range of options to generate shareholder value, including capital structure alternatives, potential acquisitions, portfolio optimization, a potential sale of the whole company, and continued operation as a standalone business.

The Board oversaw an extensive process that involved outreach to 25 potential buyers, including financial sponsors and strategic entities, and invited proposals for all or parts of the business.

After consideration of the opportunities, risks and uncertainties facing the company and the broader sector, as well as the alternatives available to the company, the Board determined that the KKR proposal presented the best opportunity to maximize value for shareholders.

The completion of the transaction, which is targeted for the fourth quarter of 2018, is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Envision intends to present the proposed transaction to its shareholders for approval at the company’s 2018 Annual Meeting, which will be scheduled as soon as practicable following the filing and review of proxy materials.

The company intends to hold its Annual Meeting no later than October 1, 2018.

Upon the completion of the transaction, Envision will become a private company, and its common stock will no longer be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. KKR will be making the investment primarily from its KKR Americas Fund XII.


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Loxo Oncology shares higher on data

Loxo announces positive interim data from LOXO-292 dose escalation trial

Loxo Oncology presents positive data  at ASCO meeting

Loxo Oncology (LOXO) announced interim clinical data from the LOXO-292 global Phase 1 LIBRETTO-001 dose escalation trial.

LOXO-292 is an investigational, highly potent and selective RET inhibitor.

Resonance Energy Transfer (RET),  is a mechanism describing energy transfer between two chromophores.

These data are being presented at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

The LIBRETTO-001 Phase 1 trial contains a dose escalation phase and a dose expansion phase. The dose escalation phase follows a “3+3” design.

LOXO-292 is dosed orally in 28-day cycles. As dose cohorts are cleared, additional patients can enroll in these cleared cohorts.

Intra-patient dose escalation is also permitted as dose cohorts are cleared.

The primary endpoint of the trial is the determination of the maximum tolerated dose or recommended dose for further study.

Secondary endpoints include safety, overall response rate and duration of response. The dose expansion phase is designed to further characterize the overall response rate, durability of response, and safety of LOXO-292 in predefined groups of patients with activating RET alterations.

The data presented at ASCO were based on an April 2, 2018 data cut-off date.

Eighty-two total patients had been enrolled to eight dose escalation cohorts.

Pharmacokinetic analyses during the dose escalation demonstrated dose-dependent increases in LOXO-292 exposure with increasing dose.

Starting at the 40 mg BID dose and the 80 mg BID dose, respectively, LOXO-292 delivered sustained greater thanIC90 RET fusion and greater thanIC90 RET M918T-mutant target coverage, based on cell-based potencies.

Most treatment-emergent adverse events were Grade 1 in severity. The expansion cohorts of the LIBRETTO-001 trial are now open and enrolling at the 160 mg BID dose. This dose was selected for initial expansion based on its promising activity and tolerability profile.

Additional dose exploration above 160 mg BID is ongoing and patients enrolled to the expansion cohorts may dose escalate should a higher dose be advanced.

ANALYST COMMENTS

Citi analyst Yigal Nochomovitz raised his price target for Loxo Oncology to $235 saying the company is the “star of ASCO.” The analyst now believes LOXO-292 has advanced into an advantageous competitive position in RET fusions. He expects the shares to continue to trade up and keeps a Buy rating on Loxo.

Morgan Stanley analyst Matthew Harrison said he expects Loxo Oncology shares to trade near $200 in the wake of data on LOXO-292 presented at the ASCO meeting that he said “sets a high bar for competitors.” The data positions LOXO-292 to rapidly advance to registration, said Harrison, who raised his market share estimate for LOXO-292 to 70% from 60%, increased his LOXO-292 peak sales estimate to $1B from $700M, and lowered his risk-adjustment, all of which drove his price target on Loxo shares to $215 from $170. He maintains an Overweight rating on Loxo Oncology, which is up 13% to $210.50 in pre-market trading.

JMP Securities analyst Konstantinos Aprilakis said the Phase 1 study data presented on LOXO-292 in patients with RET-altered cancers at the ASCO meeting came in “far above expectations” with respect to both efficacy and safety. Citing the overall response rate in RET fusion cancers of 77%, Aprilakis called the efficacy data “exceedingly impressive” and increased his price target on Loxo Oncology to $221 from $182 following the presentation. Aprilakis maintains his Outperform rating on Loxo shares.


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Exact Sciences higher on colon cancer screening

Cologuard maker jumps as colon cancer screening now recommended earlier

Cologuard maker jumps as colon cancer screening now recommended earlier , Stockwinners
Cologuard maker jumps as colon cancer screening now recommended earlier

Shares of Exact Sciences (EXAS) are on the rise after the American Cancer Society released an updated guideline for colorectal cancer screening, saying screening should begin at age 45 for people at average risk.

Previously, the guideline recommended screening begin at age 50 for people at average risk.

UPDATED GUIDELINE

The American Cancer Society released an updated guideline for colorectal cancer screening.

Among the major guideline changes, the new recommendations say screening should begin at age 45 for people at average risk. Previously, the guideline recommended screening begin at age 50 for people at average risk.

Additionally, the American Cancer Society also recommended that people who are in good health and with a life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75.

Recommendations for screening test options are also part of the guideline changes.

“There are some differences among the tests to consider, but the most important thing is to get screened, no matter which test you choose,” the American Cancer Society said in a statement, listing the differences between stool-based tests and visual exams.

LEERINK COMMENTS

After the American Cancer Society updated its guideline for colorectal cancer screening to recommend screening begin at age 45 for people at average risk, Leerink analyst Puneet Souda said this is “only directionally positive” for Exact Sciences.

#Souda said the ACS recommendation does not automatically translate into becoming a reality in clinical practice in the near-term, nor does it mean the USPSTF and NCCN automatically follow suit. Souda maintains an Outperform rating on Exact Sciences shares.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday’s trading, shares of Exact Sciences have gained over 8% to $56.96. The company sells stool-based test Cologuard, a noninvasive colorectal cancer screening test.


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Armo BioSciences sold for $1.6 billion

Eli Lilly to acquire Armo BioSciences for $50 per share

Armo BioSciences sold for $1.6 billion, Stockwinners
Armo BioSciences sold for $1.6 billion, Stockwinners

Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) and ARMO BioSciences (ARMO) announced a definitive agreement for Lilly to acquire ARMO for $50 per share, or approximately $1.6B, in an all-cash transaction.

ARMO BioSciences is a late-stage immuno-oncology company that is developing a pipeline of novel, proprietary product candidates designed to activate the immune system of cancer patients to recognize and eradicate tumors.

The acquisition will bolster Lilly’s immuno-oncology program through the addition of ARMO’s lead product candidate, pegilodecakin, a PEGylated IL-10 which has demonstrated clinical benefit as a single agent, and in combination with both chemotherapy and checkpoint inhibitor therapy, across several tumor types.

#Pegilodecakin is currently being studied in a Phase 3 clinical trial in pancreatic cancer, as well as earlier-Phase trials in lung and renal cell cancer, melanoma and other solid tumor types.

ARMO also has a number of other immuno-oncology product candidates in various stages of pre-clinical development.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lilly will promptly commence a tender offer to acquire all shares of ARMO BioSciences for a purchase price of $50 per share in cash, or approximately $1.6B.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals and the tender of a majority of the outstanding shares of ARMO’s common stock.

Very shortly after the closing of the tender offer, Lilly will acquire any shares of ARMO that are not tendered into the tender offer through a second-step merger at the tender offer price.

This transaction will be reflected in Lilly’s reported results and financial guidance according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and is subject to customary closing conditions.

There will be no change to Lilly’s 2018 non-GAAP earnings per share guidance as a result of this transaction.


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Apple announces new $100B buyback program, boosts dividend by 16%

Apple announces new $100B buyback program, boosts dividend by 16%

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Apple announces new $100B buyback program, boosts dividend by 16%

Apple (AAPL) said it will complete the execution of the previous $210B share repurchase authorization during fiscal Q3 and announced a new $100B buyback program.

Its board has declared a cash dividend of 73c per share of Apple’s common stock payable on May 17, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 14.

“Our business performed extremely well during the March quarter, as we grew earnings per share by 30 percent and generated over $15 billion in operating cash flow,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO.

“With the greater flexibility we now have from access to our global cash, we can more efficiently invest in our US operations and work toward a more optimal capital structure.

Given our confidence in Apple’s future, we are very happy to announce that our Board has approved a new $100 billion share repurchase authorization and a 16 percent increase in our quarterly dividend.”

Separately, Apple reported Q2 EPS $2.73, consensus $2.69 – Reported Q2 revenue $61.1B, consensus $60.98B.

Apple reported Q2 iPhone units 52.22M vs. 50.76M last year – Reported Q2 iPad units 9.11M vs. 8.92M last year. Reported Q2 Mac units 4.08M vs. 4.2M last year.

AAPL closed at $169.10.


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