Zosano reports positive migraine data, Shares jump

Zosano says Qtrypta long-term study shows ‘well-tolerated safety profile’

Zosano says Qtrypta long-term study shows 'well-tolerated safety profile', See Stockwinners for more

Zosano says Qtrypta long-term study shows ‘well-tolerated safety profile’ , Stockwinners

Zosano Pharma (ZSAN) announced earlier today the completion of the second and final goal of the long-term safety study for Qtrypta, in which patients treated migraine attacks over a one year period.

“The long-term data generated in this trial reinforced the well-tolerated safety profile and strong efficacy results previously reported in the six-month dosing portion of this safety study and in the randomized Phase 2/3 ZOTRIP pivotal study,” the company said in a statement.

Throughout the clinical program, over 5,800 migraine attacks have been treated with Qtrypta to date, it added.

The Qtrypta long-term safety trial is an open-label study evaluating the safety of the 3.8 mg dose of intracutaneous zolmitriptan in adults with migraine who have historically experienced at least two migraine attacks per month.

The study evaluated over 150 adults with migraine disease for six months, and more than 50 patients for a year at 31 sites in the U.S.

Of more than 5,800 migraines treated, investigators reported 832 adverse events, of which 298 were reported as application site reactions and 161 were reported as triptan related adverse events.

Observational efficacy parameters continued to demonstrate a rate of pain freedom at two hours following patch application of approximately 44% and most bothersome symptom freedom of approximately 68%, while pain relief at two hours was reported at 81% of migraine attacks treated, said Zosano.

The company expects to file an New Drug Application for Qtrypta in the fourth quarter of 2019.

ZSAN is up 95% to $4.41.

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Apptio sold for $1.94 billion

Apptio to be acquired by Vista Equity Partners for $38 per share 

Apptio sold for $1.94 billion, Stockwinners
Apptio sold for $1.94 billion, Stockwinners

Apptio (APTI) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Vista Equity Partners.

Apptio, Inc. provides cloud-based technology business management (TBM) solutions to enterprises. Its cloud-based platform and SaaS applications enable IT leaders to analyze, optimize, and plan technology investments, as well as to benchmark financial and operational performance against peers.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vista will acquire all outstanding shares of Apptio common stock for a total value of approximately $1.94B.

Apptio shareholders will receive $38.00 in cash per share, representing a 53% premium to the unaffected closing price as of November 9, 2018.

Apptio’s board unanimously approved the deal and recommended that stockholders vote their shares in favor of the transaction.

Apptio’s headquarters will remain in Bellevue, with regional offices across the U.S., EMEA and APAC.

Closing of the deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of Apptio shareholders and antitrust approval in the United States.

The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2019 and is not subject to a financing condition.

The merger agreement includes a 30 day “go-shop” period, which permits Apptio’s Board and advisors to actively initiate, solicit, encourage, and potentially enter negotiations with parties that make alternative acquisition proposals.

Apptio will have the right to terminate the merger agreement to enter into a superior proposal subject to the terms and conditions of the merger agreement.

There can be no assurance that this 30 day “go-shop” will result in a superior proposal, and Apptio does not intend to disclose developments with respect to the solicitation process unless and until the Board makes a determination requiring further disclosure.


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LSC Communications sold for $1.4 billion

Quad/Graphics to acquire LSC Communications in all-stock deal valued at $1.4B

LSC Communications sold for $1.4 billion, Stockwinners
LSC Communications sold for $1.4 billion, Stockwinners

Quad/Graphics (QUAD) and LSC Communications (LKSD) announced that their boards of directors have approved a definitive agreement whereby Quad will acquire LSC Communications in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $1.4B, including the refinancing of LSC Communications’ debt.

As of September 30, 2018, the combined company would have had annual revenue of approximately $8B.

The deal is expected to close in mid-2019, and be accretive to earnings, excluding non-recurring integration costs.

Net synergies are expected to be approximately $135M, and will be achieved in less than two years and result in substantial additional Free Cash Flow generation.

Under the terms of the agreement, LSC Communications shareholders will receive 0.625 shares of Quad Class A common stock for each LSC Communications share they own, representing approximately 29 percent total economic ownership of the combined company and approximately 11 percent of the vote of the combined company.

Based on the closing share prices of both companies on October 30, 2018, the merger consideration represents a premium of 34 percent to LSC Communications shareholders.

Quad shareholders will continue to own Class A and Class B shares, representing approximately 71 percent total economic ownership of the combined company and approximately 89 percent total voting power of the combined company.

The transaction supports Quad’s long-term strategic vision by preserving the Quadracci Family leadership and voting control in the company. Quad expects the transaction to be accretive to earnings, excluding non-recurring integration costs.

Net synergies are expected to be approximately $135 million, and will be achieved in less than two years, through the elimination of duplicative functions, capacity rationalization, greater operational efficiencies and greater efficiencies in supply chain management that will also benefit our clients.

Joel Quadracci will be Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the combined company.

Quad will expand its board of directors to include two members from LSC Communications’ existing board.

The transaction is expected to close in mid-2019, subject to approval by Quad and LSC Communications shareholders, regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

The Quadracci Family Voting Trust, holder of approximately 64 percent of the voting power of Quad’s outstanding common stock, has entered into a voting agreement with LSC Communications pursuant to which it will vote in favor of the issuance of shares in connection with the transaction.


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Online retailers fall on Amazon concerns

Online retailers slide as Amazon reportedly testing recommendation service

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Online retailers fall on Amazon concerns

 

Shares of several retailers and online personal shopping services are slipping in afternoon trading after CNBC reported that Amazon (AMZN) is testing a new on-site recommendation service known as Scout.


WHAT’S NEW:

 

CNBC reported that Amazon is testing a new service called Scout, a shopping site for consumers who don’t know specifically what they want to buy but are willing to take some automated recommendations.

 

Scout asks shoppers to like or dislike a product and responds by showing other products based on user responses, according to CNBC.

 

Scout is currently available for home furniture, kitchen and dining products, women’s shoes, home decor, patio furniture, lighting and bedding, with more categories coming soon.
“This is a new way to shop, allowing customers to browse millions of items and quickly refine the selection based solely on visual attributes,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “
Amazon uses imagery from across its robust selection to extract thousands of visual attributes for showing customers a variety of items so they can select their preferences as they go.”

WHAT’S NOTABLE

The CNBC report noted that Amazon is utilizing machine learning technology to address one of the major criticisms of its service, namely that it’s a great place to buy things but not a great place to browse.
While Amazon is easily the biggest U.S. e-commerce company, e-retailers such as Stitch Fix (SFIX) and Walmart’s (WMT) Bonobos provide a more personalized experience and have given social media services such as Instagram (FB) and Pinterest more room to use their large collections of data in turning their networks into fledgling commerce sites, CNBC said.

PRICE ACTION

Following the news, Wayfair (W) slipped 4.3%, Williams-Sonoma (WSM) fell 1.9%, Stitch Fix dropped nearly 9%, and Steven Madden (SHOO) slid 1.3%. Meanwhile, Amazon (AMZN) shares are 1.5% lower in Wednesday afternoon trading.


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K2M Group sold for $1.4B

Stryker to acquire K2M Group for $27.50 per share

K2M Group sold for $1.4B , Stockwinners
K2M Group sold for $1.4B , Stockwinners

Stryker (SYK) announced a definitive merger agreement to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of common stock of K2M Group (KTWO) for $27.50 per share, or a total equity value of approximately $1.4B.

The combined business will have a competitive portfolio across Stryker’s Spine product categories and leverage a more powerful commercial engine.

With the addition of K2M’s proven product portfolio, consistent track record of execution and robust pipeline, Stryker Spine’s business will be well-positioned to sustain innovation and provide its customers and employees with proven products.

Upon closing of the transaction, it is expected that Eric Major will serve as President of Stryker’s Spine division and lead the combined business in its continued growth and innovation.

Bradley Paddock, the current President of Stryker’s Spine division, will assist with transitioning his responsibilities to Major while also supporting the integration efforts.

The acquisition of K2M is expected to close late in the fourth quarter of this year and is expected to have an immaterial dilutive impact to Stryker’s net EPS and adjusted net EPS in 2018.

There is no change to Stryker’s previously announced expected adjusted net EPS for the full year, which is a range of $7.22-$7.27.

For 2019, and beyond, Stryker reaffirms its previously stated long-term financial goals for sales, operating margins and adjusted net EPS.


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Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B

Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B

 

Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B, Stockwinners
Synovus to acquire FCB Financial for $2.9B, Stockwinners

Synovus Financial Corp. (SNV) and FCB Financial Holdings, Inc. (FCB) jointly announced their entry into a definitive merger agreement under which Synovus will acquire FCB Financial Holdings, Inc., owner of Florida Community Bank.

The transaction is expected to close by the first quarter of 2019.

Following the closing, FCB will merge with Synovus Bank and operate under the Synovus brand, and FCB Financial Holdings President and CEO Kent Ellert will be executive vice president of Synovus and Florida market president.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, FCB shareholders will receive a fixed ratio of 1.055 shares of Synovus common stock for each common share of FCB in an all-stock transaction.

Based on Synovus’ closing share price on July 23, 2018, the transaction is valued at $58.15 per FCB share or $2.9 billion in aggregate.

Following completion of the merger, former FCB shareholders will own approximately 30% of the combined company. In addition, based on the exchange ratio, Synovus’ most recent quarterly dividend translates to a pro forma annualized dividend of $1.06 per FCB share.

The transaction is expected to be tax free to FCB shareholders. Synovus expects approximately $40 million in pretax synergies to be fully realized by 2020.

Excluding one-time charges, Synovus expects the acquisition to be approximately 6.5% accretive to earnings per common share in 2020 and to deliver strong returns on capital.

The transaction is expected to produce tangible book value per share dilution of 3.3% with an earnback period of less than two years.

The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by both companies’ Boards of Directors.

The merger is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Synovus and FCB Financial Holdings shareholders and approval by state and federal bank regulators. BofA Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC served as financial advisors to Synovus on this transaction, while Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Alston & Bird LLP served as legal advisors.

Sandler O’Neill + Partners L.P., Guggenheim Securities, LLC, and Evercore Group L.L.C. served as financial advisors to FCB Financial Holdings, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz served as legal advisor.


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Celgene announces positive breast cancer data

Celgene announces IMpassion130 study meets co-primary endpoint of PFS

Celgene announces positive breast cancer data, Stockwinners
Celgene announces positive breast cancer data, Stockwinners

Celgene (CELG) announced that the Phase III IMpassion130 study met its co-primary endpoint of progression-free survival, or PFS.

This is the first phase III study to demonstrate a statistically significant PFS improvement in first-line metastatic or unresectable locally advanced triple negative breast cancer, or TNBC, a type of breast cancer with high unmet need.

Results demonstrated that the investigational combination of Tecentriq plus Abraxane compared to Abraxane monotherapy, as an initial treatment, significantly reduced the risk of disease worsening or death in patients with metastatic or unresectable locally advanced TNBC in the intention-to-treat and PD-L1 positive populations.

Overall survival is encouraging in the PD-L1 positive population at this interim analysis, and follow up will continue until the next planned analysis.

Safety in the Tecentriq plus Abraxane arm appeared consistent with the known safety profiles of the individual medicines, and no new safety signals were identified with the combination.

ABRAXANE is a microtubule inhibitor indicated for the treatment of:

Metastatic breast cancer, after failure of combination chemotherapy
for metastatic disease or relapse within 6 months of adjuvant
chemotherapy. Prior therapy should have included an anthracycline
unless clinically contraindicated.
• Locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC),
as first-line treatment in combination with carboplatin, in patients who
are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation therapy.
• Metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas as first-line treatment, in
combination with gemcitabine.

TECENTRIQ is a prescription medicine used to treat:

A type of bladder and urinary tract cancer called urothelial carcinoma.

  • TECENTRIQ may be used when your bladder cancer:
    • has spread or cannot be removed by surgery, and
    • you are not able to take chemotherapy that contains a medicine called cisplatin, or
    • you have tried chemotherapy that contains platinum, and it did not work or is no longer working.

CELG closed at $83.85.


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Pinnacle Foods sold for $10.9B in cash

Conagra Brands to acquire Pinnacle Foods for $10.9B in cash  and stock

 

Pinnacle Foods sold for $10.9B in cash , Stockwinners

Conagra Brands (CAG) and Pinnacle Foods (PF) announced that their boards of directors have unanimously approved a definitive agreement under which Conagra Brands will acquire all outstanding shares of Pinnacle Foods in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $10.9B, including Pinnacle Foods’ outstanding net debt.

Under the terms of the transaction, Pinnacle Foods shareholders will receive $43.11 per share in cash and 0.6494 shares of Conagra Brands common stock for each share of Pinnacle Foods held.

The implied price of $68.00 per Pinnacle Foods share is based on the volume-weighted average price of Conagra Brands’ stock for the five days ended June 21, 2018.

The purchase price reflects an adjusted EBITDA multiple of 15.8x, based on Pinnacle Foods’ estimated fiscal year 2018 results excluding synergies, and 12.1x adjusted EBITDA including run-rate cost synergies.

The combination of two growing portfolios of iconic brands will serve as a catalyst to accelerate value creation for shareholders.

The transaction will enhance Conagra Brands’ multi-year transformation plan and expand its presence and capabilities in its most strategic categories, including frozen foods and snacks.

With annual net sales in excess of $3B, Pinnacle Foods’ portfolio of frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable products includes such well-known brands as Birds Eye, Duncan Hines, Earth Balance, EVOL, Erin’s, Gardein, Glutino, Hawaiian Kettle Style Potato Chips, Hungry-Man, Log Cabin, Tim’s Cascade Snacks, Udi’s, Vlasic and Wish-Bone, among others.

Based on both companies’ latest fiscal year results, pro forma net sales would have been approximately $11B.

Under the terms of the agreement, each share of Pinnacle Foods common stock will be converted into the right to receive $43.11 per share in cash and 0.6494 shares of Conagra Brands common stock.

Conagra Brands has secured $9B in fully committed bridge financing from affiliates of Goldman Sachs Group (GS).

The $10.9B purchase price is expected to be financed with $3B of Conagra Brands equity issued to Pinnacle Foods shareholders and $7.9B in cash consideration funded with $7.3B of transaction debt and approximately $600M of incremental cash proceeds from a public equity offering and/or divestitures.

On a pro forma basis, Pinnacle Foods shareholders are expected to own approximately 16% of the combined company, assuming issuance of the incremental equity to the public.

Following the transaction, Conagra Brands’ pro forma net debt-to-EBITDA ratio is expected to be approximately 5.0x. Conagra Brands is committed to maintaining a solid investment grade credit rating and targeting a debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 3.5x.

Conagra Brands intends to maintain its quarterly dividend at the current annual rate of $0.85 per share during fiscal 2019.

In the future, it expects modest dividend increases while it focuses on deleveraging, subject to the approval of its board of directors.

The company also plans to repurchase shares under its authorized program only at times and in amounts as is consistent with the prioritization of achieving its leverage targets.

Pinnacle Foods will continue to pay its quarterly dividend at the current annual rate of $1.30 per share until the transaction is completed. The transaction is expected to close by the end of calendar 2018, subject to the approval of Pinnacle Foods shareholders, the receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.


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Merck says KEYTRUDA demonstrated long-term survival benefit

Merck says KEYTRUDA demonstrated long-term survival benefit

Merck says KEYTRUDA demonstrated long-term survival benefit, Stockwinners
Merck says KEYTRUDA demonstrated long-term survival benefit

Merck (MRK) announced long-term efficacy data from the Phase 3 KEYNOTE-006 study and the melanoma cohort of the Phase 1b KEYNOTE-001 study investigating KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in patients with advanced melanoma.

KEYTRUDA is not chemotherapy or radiation therapy—it is an immunotherapy and it works with patient’s immune system to help fight certain cancers. KEYTRUDA can cause immune system to attack normal organs and tissues in any area of your body and can affect the way they work.

A new analysis from KEYNOTE-006 demonstrated durable efficacy benefits among patients who completed two years of KEYTRUDA treatment, combined with updated overall survival results across both studies, confirming anti-tumor activity in advanced melanoma patients.

At a median follow-up of 20.3 months after completion of KEYTRUDA in KEYNOTE-006, 86 percent of patients remained progression-free, the co-primary endpoint for the study.

For the primary endpoint of OS in KEYNOTE-006, the four-year OS rate was 41.7 percent in the pooled KEYTRUDA arms vs. 34.1 percent in the ipilimumab arm; in treatment-naive patients, OS rates were 44.3 percent in the pooled KEYTRUDA arms and 36.4 percent in the ipilimumab arm.

In KEYNOTE-001, the five-year OS rate, a secondary endpoint for the study, was 34 percent in all patients and 41 percent in treatment-naive patients.

The safety profile of KEYTRUDA in both studies was consistent with what has been seen in previous trials among patients with advanced melanoma.

KEYNOTE-006 is a global, open-label, randomized, pivotal, Phase 3 study evaluating KEYTRUDA compared to ipilimumab in patients with unresectable stage III or IV melanoma who had either not been treated previously or who had received a prior targeted therapy for BRAF-mutation positive melanoma/ The study randomized 834 patients to receive KEYTRUDA 10 mg/kg every three weeks, KEYTRUDA 10 mg/kg every two weeks, or four cycles of ipilimumab 3 mg/kg every three weeks.

Treatment continued until unacceptable toxicity or disease progression; patients without disease progression could be treated for up to 24 months.

Upon disease progression, eligible patients could receive an additional one year of KEYTRUDA. The co-primary endpoints were progression-free survival and OS; secondary endpoints were overall response rate, duration of response and safety, with an exploratory analysis for health-related quality of life.

With a median follow-up of 45.9 months, the four-year OS rate was 41.7 percent in the pooled KEYTRUDA arms and 34.1 percent in the ipilimumab arm; investigator-reported ORR was 42 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Median DOR was not reached for KEYTRUDA or ipilimumab; 62 percent of patients in the KEYTRUDA arms and 59 percent of patients in the ipilimumab arm had a response lasting greater than or equal to 42 months.

In treatment-naive patients, the four-year OS rates were 44.3 percent in the pooled KEYTRUDA arms and 36.4 percent in the ipilimumab arm; ORR was 47 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Median DOR was not reached for KEYTRUDA or ipilimumab; 65 percent of patients in the KEYTRUDA arms and 68 percent of patients in the ipilimumab arm had a response lasting greater than or equal to 42 months. Per study protocol, 18.5 percent of patients completed two years of KEYTRUDA.

With a median follow-up of 20.3 months 86 percent of patients remained progression-free. Eight patients received second-course KEYTRUDA; three discontinued treatment. Among the eight patients, there was one complete response and three partial responses; three patients had stable disease, while the remaining patient had progressive disease.

KEYNOTE-001 is a Phase 1b multicenter, open-label, multi-cohort trial evaluating KEYTRUDA in various advanced cancers, including 655 patients with advanced melanoma. Patients in the melanoma cohorts received 2 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg of KEYTRUDA every three weeks or 10 mg/kg of KEYTRUDA every two weeks until unacceptable toxicity or disease progression.

The primary endpoint was confirmed ORR. The secondary endpoints included PFS, OS and DOR. After median follow-up of 55 months, 35 patients remained on KEYTRUDA therapy.

The investigator-reported ORR, the primary endpoint for KEYNOTE-001, was 41 percent in all patients and 52 percent in treatment-naive patients.

The estimated five-year OS rate was 34 percent in all patients and 41 percent in treatment naive patients. Median OS was 23.8 months in all patients and 38.6 months in treatment-naive patients. Median PFS was 8.3 months and 16.9 months in all patients and treatment-naive patients, respectively. Median DOR was not reached in all responders and in treatment-naive patients; 73 percent of all responses and 82 percent of treatment-naive responses were ongoing at data cut-off.

The longest response observed in all patients was ongoing at 66 months.

The safety profile of KEYTRUDA was consistent with what has been seen in previously reported studies among patients with advanced melanoma. Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 86 percent of patients including 17 percent with grade 3-4 and eight percent who discontinued.

Twelve percent of patients experienced a serious TRAE including five percent who discontinued treatment. Immune-mediated adverse events and infusion reactions were reported in 23 percent of patients.

Most cases of immune-related adverse events, including hypothyroidism and pneumonitis, were grade 1 or 2. Hypothyroidism was the most commonly reported immune-mediated adverse event, followed by pneumonitis, colitis and skin disorders.

MRK closed at $60.56. It last traded at $61.65.


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SoftBank to invest $2.25B in GM

SoftBank Vision Fund to invest $2.25B in GM Cruise 

 

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SoftBank Vision Fund to invest $2.25B in GM Cruise 

General Motors (GM) announced that the SoftBank Vision Fund will invest $2.25B in GM Cruise Holdings, further strengthening the company’s plans to commercialize AV technology at large scale.

GM will also invest $1.1B in GM Cruise upon closing of the transaction.

“Our Cruise and GM teams together have made tremendous progress over the last two years,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.

“Teaming up with SoftBank adds an additional strong partner as we pursue our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”

“GM has made significant progress toward realizing the dream of completely automated driving to dramatically reduce fatalities, emissions and congestion,” said Michael Ronen, managing partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers.

“The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stack gives it a unique competitive advantage. We are very impressed by the advances made by the Cruise and GM teams, and are thrilled to help them lead a historic transformation of the automobile industry.”

The SoftBank Vision Fund investment will be made in two tranches.

At the closing of the transaction, the Vision Fund will invest the first tranche of $900M. At the time that Cruise AVs are ready for commercial deployment, the Vision Fund will complete the second tranche of $1.35B, subject to regulatory approval.

Together, this will result in the SoftBank Vision Fund owning a 19.6-percent equity stake in GM Cruise and will afford GM increased flexibility with respect to capital allocation.

The GM and SoftBank Vision Fund investments are expected to provide the capital necessary to reach commercialization at scale beginning in 2019.

GM (GM) Chairman and CEO Mary Barra confirmed the automaker’s plans to launch an autonomous ride-hailing vehicle in 2019.

President Dan Ammann noted that talks with SoftBank occurred over the course of several months. He said GM wasn’t looking for a partner, but found one that was “uniquely aligned” with it.

Ammann added that the Cruise team has grown to over 800 since the acquisition two years ago. He said the decision to report GM Cruise as a standalone segment is intended to enhance transparency around this part of the business.

ANALYST COMMENTS

Evercore ISI analyst George Galliers upgraded General Motors (GM) to Outperform from In Line after SoftBank’s (SFTBF) Vision Fund agreed to invest in the company’s Cruise autonomous driving unit in a deal that values the unit at $11.5B.

Galliers said he had been assigning no value to the Cruise assets before the announcement.

Under his new sum-of-the-parts valuation, Galliers applies a 6.0x multiple on GM’s core, attributes a value of about $8 per share for the Cruise assets and about 60c per share for GM’s stake in Lyft before applying a 25% discount to both of the latter. He raised his price target on GM shares to $50 from $47.


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Walmart to pay $16B for about 77% in India’s Flipkart

Walmart to pay about $16B for initial stake of about 77% in India’s Flipkart

Walmart to pay about $16B for initial stake of about 77% in India's Flipkart, Stockwinners
Walmart to pay about $16B for initial stake of about 77% in India’s Flipkart, Stockwinners

Walmart (WMT) announced it has signed definitive agreements to become the largest shareholder in Flipkart Group.

The investment will help accelerate Flipkart’s customer-focused mission to transform commerce in India through technology and underscores Walmart’s commitment to sustained job creation and investment in India, the company said.

Subject to regulatory approval in India, Walmart will pay approximately $16B for an initial stake of approximately 77% in Flipkart, formally Flipkart Private Limited.

The remainder of the business will be held by some of Flipkart’s existing shareholders, including Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, Tencent Holdings (TCEHY), Tiger Global Management and Microsoft (MSFT).

While the immediate focus will be on serving customers and growing the business, Walmart supports Flipkart’s ambition to transition into a publicly-listed, majority-owned subsidiary in the future.

While Walmart and Flipkart will leverage the combined strengths of both companies, they will maintain distinct brands and operating structures.

Currently, Walmart India operates 21 Best Price cash-and-carry stores and one fulfillment center in 19 cities across nine states in India, with more than 95 percent of sourcing coming from India, aiding suppliers, creating skilled jobs and contributing to local economies across the country.

Krish Iyer, president and chief executive officer of Walmart India, will continue to lead that part of the business.


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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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Elliott Management discloses 10.3% stake in Commvault

Elliott says intends to nominate four candidates to Commvault board

Elliott says intends to nominate four candidates to Commvault board. Stockwinners
Elliott  to nominate four candidates to Commvault board. Stockwinners

Elliott Management Corporation, which manages funds that collectively own 10.3% of common stock and economic equivalents of Commvault Systems (CVLT), released a letter announcing its intention to nominate four candidates to the Commvault Board.

In addition, the letter outlined a path forward for Commvault to create significant shareholder value through fundamental improvements in the company’s execution, operations, capital allocation and governance.

Elliott stated in the letter that it is looking forward to constructive engagement with the company and optimistic about developing a mutually supported path forward. Elliott’s board nominees include Martha Bejar, Wendy Lane, John McCormack and Chuck Morgan.

PRICE  ACTION

CVLT stock was last up over 9.6% to $62.70. At that price next resistance is at $64.60, the 52-week high.


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Gebr. Knauf offers to acquire USG for $42 per share

Gebr. Knauf offers to acquire USG for $42 per share

 Gebr. Knauf offers to acquire USG for $42 per share. Stockwinners.com
Gebr. Knauf offers to acquire USG for $42 per share.

In a regulatory filing, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) disclosed that from time to time, beginning many years ago, executives of Gebr. Knauf Verwaltungsgesellschaft KG, or “Gebr. Knauf,” have contacted Berkshire’s Chief Executive Officer to describe the Knauf Entities’ potential and conditional interest in a transaction with USG.

Most recently, the Knauf Entities furnished Berkshire a copy of a letter from Gebr. Knauf to USG dated March 15, 2018 in which Gebr. Knauf submitted an indicative and non-binding proposal for the acquisition of 100% of the outstanding shares of Common Stock of USG at $42.00 per share.

“On March 23, 2018 Berkshire’s CEO and another Berkshire executive held a telephonic discussion with two executives of the Knauf Entities and three representatives of one of the advisors of the Knauf Entities, during which Berkshire proposed to grant to the Knauf Entities an option to purchase all of the Berkshire Entities’ shares of Common Stock of USG, subject to legal review.

Such option would be exercisable only in connection with the consummation of a purchase by the Knauf Entities of all of the outstanding shares of Common Stock of USG that the Knauf Entities did not already own, at a price of not less than $42.00 per share, subject to and in accordance with applicable law and contractual restrictions.

The option exercise price per share was proposed by Berkshire to be the price per share paid to such other holders of Common Stock of USG by the Knauf Entities, less the option purchase price of $2.00 per share to be paid to the Berkshire Entities upon entering into a definitive option agreement.

The option would have a term of approximately 6 months.

The Knauf Entities have not responded to this proposal, and the Reporting Persons do not know whether the Knauf Entities will pursue further discussion with Berkshire of the proposed option or will make an offer to purchase shares of Common Stock of USG.

Berkshire has not agreed to support any plan or proposal by the Knauf Entities with respect to the Common Stock of USG, and there are no agreements, written or otherwise, between the Reporting Persons and the Knauf Entities.”

USG closed at $33.51.


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Tesla drops as executives leave

Tesla drops as second executive departs in less than a week

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Tesla drops as executives leave

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) dropped in Wednesday trading following a report that said a top financial executive is leaving the company, the second executive departure in less than a week at the electric car maker.

LATEST EXECUTIVE DEPARTURE

Susan Repo, Tesla’s corporate treasurer and VP of finance who joined the company in 2013, has departed the company to take on a CFO position at another firm, Bloomberg reported last night, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Repo’s departure comes less than a week after Tesla Chief Accounting Officer Eric Branderiz left the company for “personal reasons,” Tesla disclosed on March 7.

The departures of Repo and Branderiz are the latest in a string of executive departures at Tesla over the last 12 months.

In addition to Repo and Branderiz, Tesla has also lost Jon McNeill, president of global sales and service, who left the company in February to become Lyft’s COO.

The company also lost former CFO Jason Wheeler in 2017. Other departures include Chris Lattner, who left after leading Tesla’s Autopilot engineering team for less than six months, Lyndon and Peter Rive, Kurt Kelty and and Diarmuid O’Connell.

Model 3 Tesla

TESLA UNDER PRESSURE

Tesla is expected to report production and deliveries results for its Model 3 Sedan, which has faced challenges including quality issues and a production halt.

Elon Musk, the company’s CEO, has delayed manufacturing goals several times for Model 3. Reuters said last week that Tesla had to temporarily suspend Model 3 factory lines in February to “improve automation” and “increase production rates.”

Additionally, Green Car Reports said on March 9 that the quality of the 2018 Tesla Model 3 is “terrible,” and that the build quality was “the worst we have seen on any new car from any maker over the last 10 years.”

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Tesla shareholders are expected to vote whether to approve CEO Musk’s $2.6B pay package, which the board recommends and proxy firms ISS and Glass Lewis do not, at a meeting of shareholders on March 21.

Musk has said that he will not accept the package unless the company reaches a market cap of $650B.

VOLKSWAGEN CHALLENGE

Tesla is also facing challenges from other automakers in the electric car space, including Volkswagen (VLKAY), which said it will equip 16 factories to produce electric vehicles by the end of 2022, compared with three currently.

As of next year, the group plans to roll out a new battery-powered model “virtually every month,” CEO Mathias Mueller said.

“When the technology and the price are right, customers are ready to change over. With the I.D. family, we will take the lead in the electric movement,” Volkswagen executive Herbert Diess said yesterday.

PRICE ACTION

Tesla dropped 2.2% to $334.42 in Wednesday’s trading.


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