Sprint Rises on Charter, Comcast Talk

The two-month exclusivity agreement puts any merger talks between Sprint and T-Mobile “on hold”

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Shares of Sprint (S) jumped Tuesday after the Wall Street Journal said the company is in exclusive talks with Charter (CHTR) and Comcast (CMCSA) on several possible transactions, putting its oft-rumored merger talks with T-Mobile (TMUS) on hold.

WSJ REVEALS CABLE TALKS

The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday that Sprint has entered exclusive talks with Charter and Comcast as the cable giants explore a deal to potentially boost their wireless offerings, according to its sources.

The two-month exclusivity agreement puts any merger talks between Sprint and T-Mobile “on hold,” the sources told the Journal.

Under one of the contemplated plans, the cable operators would invest in Sprint’s network in exchange for favorable terms for offering wireless service on its network, the sources said, adding that such a deal could involve an equity stake in Sprint.

The negotiations also include the possibility of the companies jointly acquiring Sprint, according to the Journal’s sources, though that idea was “thought to be the much less likely scenario.”

Any wireless resale deal wouldn’t preclude a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, some of the publication’s sources said. The report also noted that John Malone, whose Liberty Broadband is the largest investor in Charter, has been trying to persuade Comcast CEO Brian Roberts over the past year that the companies should jointly acquire a carrier such as Sprint, though Roberts — more interested in a resale deal — has been reluctant as of yet, according to sources.

CNBC DOWNPLAYS STAKE POSSIBILITY

Following the Wall Street Journal report, CNBC’s David Faber added that his sources indicated the talks are focused on a resale, or MVNO, deal and that an equity investment from either company is unlikely.

PREVIOUS M&A REMARKS

Speculation of a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile have swirled over the past several months, with company executives going as far as openly cheering the concept at recent investor events.

On June 8, T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter spoke about the “significant” synergy potential of a Sprint deal, which built on similar comments on May 18.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Handelsblatt reported as recently as June 20 that T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) was preparing to merge the company with Sprint.

JEFFERIES SEES T-MOBILE HURDLES

Jefferies analyst Mike McCormack writes that the Journal’s report is “not surprising” given the interest from cable companies in securing better resale terms, though an equity stake or outright acquisition of Sprint is “less likely” but not impossible in his view. Notably, the news “likely suggests major hurdles” in any talks between Sprint and T-Mobile, potentially reigniting speculation around a Dish (DISH)-T-Mobile tie-up should those negotiations collapse.

NOMURA SEES NEGATIVE FOR T-MOBILE

Nomura Instinet analyst Anthony DiClemente views a potential deal as positive for Charter and Comcast, and a negative for T-Mobile given investor anticipation of a synergy-rich merger with Sprint.

Joint ownership of a wireless carrier “has appeal” for the cable operators, but DiClemente believes Comcast currently prefers the resale approach for the inexpensive experimentation it allows.

Turning to T-Mobile, the analyst argues that a merger of the two carriers would offer more synergies than the cable companies, though he considers regulatory barriers “high” and says the probability of a deal “has likely declined.”

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Bank of America Ups Homebuilders

Homebuilders advance after Bank of America raises estimates, targets

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch increased its estimates for single-family housing starts and new home sales in 2018 and 2019.

As a result, the firm raised its estimates and price targets for multiple homebuilders while calling out D.R. Horton (DHI) and PulteGroup (PHM) as its favorite names in the sector.

ESTIMATES INCREASED:

Bank of America analyst John #Lovallo now expects single family housing starts and new home sales to rise 9% year-over-year in 2018, up from his previous forecast for 6% increases for both metrics. In 2019, he predicts that the metrics will increase about 8%, versus his previous forecast for 5% gains.

DEMAND/SUPPLY DRIVERS:

Homebuilders have said that demand has accelerated over the past six months, partly due to increased consumer confidence, an improved labor market, and the “return of the first-time home buyer,” according to Lovallo. Supply constraints should weaken “over the next few years” because builders are more confident and consequently more willing to build further from city centers, the analyst stated. Additionally, there are signs that the sector’s labor shortage is beginning to ease, while the potential reform of banking regulations could stimulate lending, Lovallo wrote. Finally, the analyst believes that “easing land entitlement burdens could reduce builder cost and increase available lot supply.”

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D.R. Horton could be a “primary beneficiary” of labor market easing, given its “high volume and even-flow production strategy,” Lovallo wrote. Additionally, its consistent execution and solid exposure to entry-level buyers are positive, the analyst stated. Pulte’s valuation is below the average of large homebuilders, while its “solid return on equity and balanced capital” are positive, the analyst stated. Pulte’s orders could accelerate next year as it increases the number of communities that it builds, the analyst added.

TARGET INCREASES

Lovallo increased his price target on D.R. Horton to $42 from $41, on Pulte to $30 from $29, on Toll Brothers (TOL) to $46 from $43, on Meritage Homes (MTH) to $38 from $36, on KB Home (KBH) to $19 from $17, and on M.D.C. Holdings (MDC) to $27 from $24.

 

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Goldcorp to Buy Exeter Resource

Exeter Resource, Goldcorp enter agreement to proceed with acquisition

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Exeter Resource (XRA) has entered into an arrangement agreement with Goldcorp (GG) pursuant to which Goldcorp has agreed to acquire all common shares of Exeter not already owned by Goldcorp by way of a plan of arrangement.

The arrangement, which is subject to the approval of the holders of Exeter, will constitute the subsequent acquisition transaction proposed by Goldcorp in order to acquire all Exeter shares it did not acquire under its offer to purchase dated April 20.

Goldcorp currently owns a total of roughly 78M Exeter Shares, representing approximately 83.16% of issued and outstanding Exeter shares.

A special meeting of Exeter shareholders has been called for July 31 to consider, and if thought advisable, pass a special resolution in relation to the arrangement.

The consideration payable under the arrangement is the same as the consideration received by Exeter shareholders under the offer. Exeter shareholders will be entitled to receive 0.12 of a Goldcorp share for each Exeter share.

Closing of the arrangement is expected to take place on or about August 2. At that time, Exeter will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldcorp, the Exeter shares will be delisted, and Exeter will apply to cease to be a reporting issuer.

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Ameresco Selected by Chicago to Update City Lights

Amerseco selected by Chicago for Smart Street Lighting Project

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Ameresco receives contract from Chicago

Ameresco (AMRC) announced it has contracted with the City of Chicago for the city’s comprehensive Smart Street Lighting Project to modernize its infrastructure.

Working with Silver Spring Networks (SSNI), a networking platform and solutions provider for the Internet of Important Things, the project is believed to be the largest city-led wireless smart street light program in the U.S., and will connect more than 250,000 street light fixtures across Chicago.

The four-year modernization project is expected to transform Chicago’s street light system by replacing approximately 85% of the city’s existing street lights with smart LEDs.

The multi-phase project will commence this summer.

The new smart LED street lights will be owned and operated by the City of Chicago, supported by Silver Spring Networks’ managed services and its Streetlight.Vision Control and Management System software.

The new LED street lights are expected to consume between 50 and 75% less electricity than the city’s existing lighting infrastructure.

Silver Spring’s IPv6 platform will enable the City to remotely dim or brighten street lights as needed, as well as to remotely monitor street lights for proactive maintenance and faster repairs if failures do occur.

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FDA Grants Conatus’ IDN-7314 Orphan Drug Designation

Conatus (CNAT) granted orphan drug designation for IDN-7314 for treatment of PSC

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Conatus Pharmaceuticals (CNAT) announced that the U.S. FDA has granted Orphan Drug Designation to Conatus’ drug candidate IDN-7314 for the treatment of primary sclerosing cholangitis, a disease affecting bile ducts in the liver which can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.

The FDA’s Orphan Drug Designation program is intended to encourage the development of drugs and biologics that may provide benefit to patients suffering from rare diseases or conditions.

IDN-7314 is an orally active pan-caspase protease inhibitor designed to reduce the activity of enzymes that mediate inflammation and cell death, which has demonstrated reduction of relevant biomarkers in two preclinical models of PSC. One nonclinical model, the Mdr2-/- mouse model, is considered the current benchmark nonclinical model of PSC.

A new preclinical model, second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases-mimetic induced PSC in mice, has recently been reported that reproduces much of the phenotype of human PSC. IDN-7314 significantly improved biochemical indices of hepatic and biliary damage in these murine models of PSC, and these results suggest the involvement of caspases in the progression of PSC.

Other stocks to watch include: ICPT, INCY and AZN.

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Barron’s Is Bullish on Cigna, Red Hat

Barron’s is bullish on RHT, UTHR, ALXN, CI, AIZ, and NCR

Barron’s remains bearish on Foot Locker (FL)

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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:

Shares of NCR Corp. (NCR) could gain 30% in a year, Barron’s contends in a feature article. The publication argues that the cash-register company is a “rising software star with the discount valuation of a legacy hardware player,” and that NCR has opportunities to sell digital capabilities to retailers threatened by e-commerce leaders.

Assurant (AIZ) could double as investors reevaluate company.  Assurant is shifting toward a capital-light model, and some investors believe the stock could double in coming years as Wall Street begins to appreciate the company’s new focus on fee-based businesses, Barron’s contends in a feature article. In an interview with the publication, CEO Alan Colberg said Assurant is “on track for double-digit earnings-per-share growth this year.”

Alexion, United Therapeutics worth a look. After the recent jump in biotech stocks, Barron’s urges investors to look for companies that haven’t yet joined the rally, or that have unique reasons for potentially continuing higher. In a ‘Trader Extra’ column, Barron’s notes that a Credit Suisse screen of “fresh ideas” included Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) and United Therapeutics (UTHR), and the publication argues that both “could be attractive now” given the former’s now concluded sales investigation and the latter’s cheap valuation.

Red Hat may eke out double-digit returns.  Red Hat (RHT) investors shouldn’t take profits yet, as order momentum and Wall Street’s appetite for growth suggest the stock can “eke out” double-digit returns in the year ahead, Barron’s contends in a ‘Follow Up’ column. The publication cautions that “it’s a close call.”

Cigna could gain over 15% by end of next year.  The GOP healthcare plan looks like a boon for Cigna (CI) and other insurers, and the stock could gain more than 15% by the end of next year, Barron’s contends in a ‘Follow Up’ column. Passage of the plan is “far from certain,” but it proposes to remove taxes, inject funding into insurance markets, and ease requirements on how much insurers spend on health care, Barron’s explains. Cigna has taken a “cautious approach” to Obamacare, and the company seems to be “firing on all cylinders,” the publication adds.

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Rigs Counts Continue to Rise

Baker Hughes reports U.S. rig count up 8 to 941 rigs

This marks the 23rd straight week of increases

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Baker Hughes (BHI) reports that the U.S. rig count is up 8 rigs from last week to 941, with oil rigs up 11 to 758, gas rigs down 3 to 183.

 

The U.S. Rig Count is up 520 rigs from last year’s count of 421, with oil rigs up 428, gas rigs up 93, and miscellaneous rigs down 1 to 0.
The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is unchanged from last week at 22 and up 1 rig year over year.
The Canadian Rig Count is up 11 rigs from last week to 170, with oil rigs up 7 to 98 and gas rigs up 4 to 72.
The Canadian Rig Count is up 94 rigs from last year’s count of 76, with oil rigs up 62, gas rigs up 33, and miscellaneous rigs down 1 to 0.

 

This marks the 23rd straight week of increases, and comes despite oil prices having fallen below $43 bbl this week into bear market territory.

 

#WTI is on track for its worst 1H since the 1990s. WTI crude prices are presently down by 20.2% on the year-to-date.

 

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Box Office Battle for this Weekend

‘Transformers’ expected to top ‘Cars 3,’ ‘Wonder Woman’

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Viacom (VIA, VIAB) subsidiary Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight,” the fifth installment in the transforming robots series, is expected to open domestically at about $46M, after opening Wednesday to an estimated $15.7M, the lowest single-day opening for any film in the Transformers franchise, which hints at franchise fatigue.

Disney/Pixar’s (DIS) “Cars 3,” an animated film featuring anthropomorphic cars, is expected to take second place this weekend with a domestic gross of around $29M, after topping the box office in its opening weekend last week.

Time Warner’s (TWX) superhero flick “Wonder Woman,” starring Gal Gadot, is expected to take third place in its fourth weekend at theaters, earning an additional $28M-$29M, which would bring the domestic total for the film to $322M.

Lionsgate’s (LGF.A, LGF.B) Tupac biography “All Eyez on Me” is expected to earn an additional $9M-$10M domestically, after opening last weekend with $26.4M.

Other publicly traded companies in filmmaking include 21st Century Fox (FOX, FOXA), Comcast (CMCSA, CMCSK), and Sony (SNE).

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FDA Approves Portola Pharmaceuticals’ Bevyxxa

Portola Pharmaceuticals announces FDA approval of Bevyxxa, Shares rise 45%

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#Portola Pharmaceuticals (PTLA) announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved #Bevyxxa, which it said is “the first and only” anticoagulant for hospital and extended duration prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism, or #VTE, in adult patients hospitalized for an acute medical illness who are at risk for thromboembolic complications due to moderate or severe restricted mobility and other risk factors for VTE.

The drug, BevyxXa, known also as betrixaban, is the first oral treatment and first extended duration treatment for this patient population, the company said.

Roughly 200,000 people in the United States develop deep vein #thrombosis each year, with about 40,000 of them dying of pulmonary embolism, caused when a blood clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs, blocking blood flow, the company said.

The timeline on which Portola expects to launch Bevyxxa is between August and November 2017.

During this period, Portola will complete salesforce hiring and training, drug manufacturing validation and inventory buildup, the company said.

BevyxXa was tested using a novel clinical trial strategy designed to test a series of subgroups before testing the broader patient population. It first tested the highest risk patients. Then it tested a lower risk group, and finally the overall patient population.

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Siris Capital Offers $18 a Share for Synchronoss

Synchronoss surges after Siris Capital offers to Acquire Company for $18/share

SNCR receives a $18 per share offer. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar

Shares of Synchronoss have jumped after the company disclosed in a regulatory filing that Siris Capital Group delivered a letter to the company indicating that they believe they could be in a position to acquire the company in an all-cash acquisition at $18.00 per share of common stock, subject to completion of customary due diligence, including a review of outstanding shareholder litigation and the company’s financial statements, as well as the negotiation and execution of a transaction agreement acceptable to the company and Siris.

Synchronoss Technologies, Inc. provides cloud solutions and software-based activation for connected devices worldwide.

Siris, which holds a roughly 13% stake in Synchronoss, stated in its letter:

“We believe that we would be able to complete due diligence, obtain satisfactory financing commitments, and negotiate and sign a definitive agreement within six weeks from the date on which Synchronoss provides a fully-populated data room. We have engaged legal counsel and are prepared to engage financial and accounting advisors to assist us in this potential transaction. In order to commit the time and resources necessary to proceed on this expedited timeframe, we would request a limited period of exclusivity.”

Synchronoss shares have been heavily shorted and are getting a ‘short-squeeze’ today. As of May 31, a total of 7,678,091 shares have been shorted giving the stock a 4.8 days to cover. SNCR has a 52-week trading range of $10.11 to $49.94. SNCR last traded at $16.39, up 34% on the day!

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Glencore Raises Offer for Rio Tinto’s Coal & Allied

Glencore raises offer for Rio Tinto’s Coal & Allied to $2.675B plus royalties

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Glencore (GLNCY) announced that it has submitted an improved irrevocable binding offer to acquire Rio Tinto’s (RIO) 100% interest in Coal & Allied Industries Limited for $2.675B cash plus a coal price linked royalty.

All cash is payable in full immediately upon completion. Glencore’s offer is at least $225M greater than Yancoal’s proposal, the company stated.

The Glencore offer remains conditional only on approval from China, Korea, Taiwan and Australia. Japanese regulatory approval to acquire C&A has already been obtained. “Demonstrating our confidence in securing all approvals, Glencore’s Offer is supported by a $225M deposit which will be forfeited if the transaction does not complete as a result of a failure to obtain a regulatory approval.

Glencore believes that it will obtain all regulatory approvals in a timely manner and that its offer fully compensates Rio Tinto for any potential delays beyond Yancoal’s expected completion date as announced by Rio Tinto,” the company said.

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AVEO Oncology’s FOTIVDA Receives Europe’s Pre Approval for Renal Cell Carcinoma

AVEO Oncology reports positive CHMP opinion for tivozanib as RCC treatment

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AVEO Oncology (AVEO) announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, the scientific committee of the European Medicines Agency, has recommended #FOTIVDA for approval as a treatment for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma.

The #CHMP’s recommendation is now referred to the European Commission.

The EC, which typically adheres to the recommendation of the CHMP, but is not obligated to do so, is expected to make its final decision in about 67 days.

If approved by the EC, marketing authorization for tivozanib will be granted in all 28 countries of the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. EUSA Pharma, a specialty pharmaceutical company with a focus on oncology and oncology supportive care, is the European licensee for tivozanib.

Under the terms of their December 2015 agreement, EUSA Pharma has agreed to pay AVEO up to $394M in future research and development funding and milestone payments, assuming successful achievement of specified development, regulatory and commercialization objectives, as well as a tiered royalty ranging from a low double-digit up to mid-twenty percent on net sales of tivozanib in the agreement’s territories.

Thirty percent of milestone and royalty payments received by AVEO, excluding research and development funding, are due to Kyowa Hakko Kirin as a sublicensing fee in Europe.

In the United States, the royalty obligation to KHK ranges from the low- to mid-teens on net sales.

AVEO says, “If the European Commission grants marketing approval for #tivozanib, it would trigger a $4 million research and development reimbursement payment from EUSA, and AVEO will also be eligible for up to $12M in additional milestones from EUSA based on member state reimbursement and regulatory approvals.

These payments would add significant resources to our balance sheet as we work toward the anticipated readout of our U.S. pivotal trial in third-line RCC, the TIVO-3 trial, in the first quarter of 2018.”

AVEO closed at $0.72. Shares are up 50% in pre-market trading.


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Cara Therapeutics Sharply Higher on FDA Action

FDA has granted Breakthrough Therapy designation to I.V. CR845 for the treatment of moderate-to-severe uremic pruritus in chronic kidney disease patients undergoing hemodialysis

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Cara Therapeutics announced that the FDA has granted Breakthrough Therapy designation to I.V. CR845 for the treatment of moderate-to-severe uremic pruritus in chronic kidney disease patients undergoing hemodialysis.

Cara Therapeutics, Inc. (CARA) is a biopharmaceutical company. The company is focused on developing and commercializing new chemical entities designed to alleviate pain and pruritus by selectively targeting peripheral kappa opioid receptors.

“The FDA’s decision to grant Breakthrough Therapy designation is recognition of both the significant unmet medical need among CKD patients with UP and the potential of I.V. CR845 to address it,” said Derek Chalmers, Ph.D., D.Sc., President and Chief Executive Officer of Cara Therapeutics.

“We have already initiated our Phase 3 program and look forward to working closely with the FDA to bring this potential new treatment option to hemodialysis patients as quickly as possible.”

Breakthrough Therapy designation is granted to expedite the development and review process for new therapies addressing serious or life-threatening conditions, where preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug candidate may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints.

CARA closed at $24.25. Shares are up $2 in pre-market trading.

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FDA Grants Thermo Fisher Pre-Market Approval for Oncomine Test

Thermo Fisher says FDA grants premarket approval for Oncomine Dx Target Test that simultaneously screens tumor samples for three FDA-approved therapies for non-small cell lung cancer

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Thermo Fisher ( $TMO ) announced that the FDA has granted premarket approval for its #Oncomine Dx Target Test, which the company called the first next-generation sequencing-based test that simultaneously screens tumor samples for biomarkers associated with three FDA-approved therapies for non-small cell lung cancer.

LabCorp’s ( $LH ) Diagnostics and Covance Businesses, NeoGenomics (NEO) Laboratories, and Cancer Genetics (CGIX) are among the first laboratories that will offer the Oncomine Dx Target Test as a service to oncologists, Thermo Fisher said.

All tests will be run on Thermo Fisher’s Ion PGM Dx System, which received FDA 510k clearance in parallel for use on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue samples.

Thermo Fisher developed the Oncomine Dx Target Test in collaboration with Novartis (NVS) and Pfizer (PFE).

“This first iteration of the test is just the beginning since the diagnostic claims of the Oncomine Dx Target Test may be expanded in the future based on the existing panel.

Thermo Fisher has entered into discussions with several pharmaceutical companies looking to use the panel for FDA-approved targeted therapy applications beyond lung cancer,” the company noted.

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