Caesars Entertainment sold for $17.3 B

Eldorado Resorts to acquire Caesars for $12.75 per share, or about $17.3B

Eldorado Resorts to buy Caesars for $17.3B, Stockwinners

Eldorado Resorts (ERI) and Caesars Entertainment (CZR) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create the largest U.S. gaming company.

Caesars Entertainment sold for $17.3 billion, Stockwinners

Eldorado will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Caesars for a total value of $12.75 per share, consisting of $8.40 per share in cash consideration and 0.0899 shares of Eldorado common stock for each Caesars share of common stock based on Eldorado’s 30-calendar day volume weighted average price per share as of May 23, reflecting total consideration of approximately $17.3B, comprised of $7.2B in cash, approximately 77M Eldorado common shares and the assumption of Caesars outstanding net debt.

Caesars shareholders will be offered a consideration election mechanism that is subject to proration pursuant to the definitive merger agreement.

Giving effect to the transaction, Eldorado and Caesars shareholders will hold approximately 51% and 49% of the combined company’s outstanding shares, respectively.

Upon completion of the transaction the combined company will retain the Caesars name to capitalize on the value of the iconic global brand and its legacy of leadership in the global gaming industry.

The new company will continue to trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

The combined company’s Board of Directors will consist of 11 members, six of whom will come from Eldorado’s Board of Directors and five of whom will come from Caesars Board of Directors.

The transactions have been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of Eldorado, Caesars and VICI.

The Caesars transaction is subject to approval of the stockholders of Eldorado and Caesars, the approval of applicable gaming authorities, the expiration of the applicable Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to be consummated in the first half of 2020.


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5G Service coming to Chicago and Minneapolis

Verizon discloses pricing for first 5G mobile service

Verizon brings 5G service to Chicago and Minneapolis, Stockwinners

Verizon (VZ) earlier said it will launch its 5G Ultra Wideband Network in Chicago and Minneapolis on April 11.

To coincide with this launch, Verizon is offering the new 5G moto mod, which is exclusive to Verizon. Beginning March 14, customers anywhere in the U.S. can pre-order the 5G moto mod.

Verizon said: “Select areas of Chicago and Minneapolis will be the first to experience Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband mobile service, and the company has plans to rapidly expand the coverage area.

Last month, Verizon announced that it intends to launch its 5G Ultra Wideband network in more than 30 U.S. cities in 2019.”

It added, “For a limited time, preorder the 5G moto mod for just $50 ($349.99 retail).

5G Antennas are the size of a large pizza, Stockwinners

Verizon postpaid customers with any Verizon unlimited plan, including Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited or Above Unlimited, get unlimited 5G data for $10 per month (with the first three months free).

To buy a 5G moto mod, customers must either have an active moto z3 on their account or purchase a moto z3 at the same time as the 5G moto mod.”

What is 5G?

Like the earlier generation 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile networks, 5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into a mosaic of small geographical areas called cells.

 Analog signals representing sounds and images are digitized in the phone, converted by an analog to digital converted transmitted as a stream of bits.

All the 5G wireless devices in a cell communicate by radio waves with a local antenna array and low power automated transceiver(transmitter and receiver) in the cell, over frequency channels assigned by the transceiver from a common pool of frequencies, which are reused in geographically separated cells.

The local antennas are connected with the telephone network and the Internet by a high bandwidth optical fiber or wireless backhaul connection. Like existing cellphones, when a user crosses from one cell to another, their mobile device is automatically “handed off” seamlessly to the antenna in the new cell.

Their major advantage is that 5G networks achieve much higher data rates than previous cellular networks, up to 10 Gbit/s; which is faster than current cable internet, and 100 times faster than the previous cellular technology, 4G LTE.

 Another advantage is lower network latency (faster response time), below 1 ms (millisecond), compared with 30 – 70 ms for 4G.[ Because of the higher data rates, 5G networks will serve not just cellphones but are also envisioned as a general home and office networking provider, competing with wired internet providers like cable. Previous cellular networks provided low data rate internet access suitable for cellphones, but a cell tower could not economically provide enough bandwidth to serve as a general internet provider for home computers.

5G networks achieve these higher data rates by using higher frequency radio waves, in or near the millimeter wave band from 30 to 300 GHz, whereas previous cellular networks used frequencies in the microwave band between 700 MHz and 3 GHz.

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WildHorse Resource sold for $3.977 billion

Chesapeake to buy WildHorse Resource in $3.977B cash and stock deal

WildHorse Resource sold for $3.977 billion, Stockwinners
WildHorse Resource sold for $3.977 billion, Stockwinners

Chesapeake Energy (CHK) and WildHorse Resource Development (WRD) today jointly announced that Chesapeake has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire WildHorse, an oil and gas company with operations in the Eagle Ford Shale and Austin Chalk formations in southeast Texas, in a transaction valued at approximately $3.977B, based on yesterday’s closing price, including the value of WildHorse’s net debt of $930M as of June 30, 2018.

At the election of each WildHorse common shareholder, the consideration will consist of either 5.989 shares of Chesapeake common stock or a combination of 5.336 shares of Chesapeake common stock and $3 in cash, in exchange for each share of WildHorse common stock.

The transaction was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of each company.

The deal is projected to double adjusted oil production by 2020 from stand-alone adjusted 2018 estimates, increasing to a projected range of 125,000 to 130,000 barrels of oil per day in 2019, and 160,000 to 170,000 bbls of oil per day in 2020; Chesapeake’s 2020 projected adjusted oil production mix is expected to increase to approximately 30% of total production, compared to approximately 19% today; Increases projected EBITDA per barrel of oil equivalent margin by approximately 35% in 2019 and by approximately 50% in 2020, based on current strip prices; $200M-$280M in projected average annual savings, totaling $1B-$1.5B by 2023, due to operational and capital efficiencies as a result of Chesapeake’s significant expertise with unconventional assets and technical and operational excellence; incremental savings through elimination of redundant corporate overhead, gathering, processing and transmission synergies and improved capital markets execution due to improved credit metrics.

Upon closing, Chesapeake shareholders will own approximately 55% of the combined company, and WildHorse shareholders will own approximately 45%, depending on the consideration elected.

Chesapeake expects to finance the cash portion of the WildHorse acquisition, which is expected to be between $275M and approximately $400M, through its revolving credit facility.

The transaction, which is subject to shareholder approvals from both companies and customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the first half of 2019.


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L3 Technologies and Harris to merge

Harris, L3 Technologies to combine in merger of equals

L3 Technologies and Harris to merge, Stockwinners
L3 Technologies and Harris to merge, Stockwinners

L3 Technologies and Harris to merge, Stockwinners
L3 Technologies and Harris to merge, Stockwinners

Harris Corporation (HRS) and L3 Technologies (LLL) have agreed to combine in an all stock merger of equals.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, L3 shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 1.30 shares of Harris common stock for each share of L3 common stock, consistent with the 60-trading day average exchange ratio of the two companies.

Upon completion of the merger, Harris shareholders will own approximately 54% and L3 shareholders will own approximately 46% of the combined company on a fully diluted basis.

The combined company, L3 Harris Technologies, will be the 6th largest defense company in the U.S. and a top 10 defense company globally, with approximately 48,000 employees and customers in over 100 countries.

For calendar year 2018, the combined company is expected to generate net revenue of approximately $16B, EBIT of $2.4B and free cash flow of $1.9B.

The combination is expected to generate approximately $500M of annual gross pre-tax cost synergies, or $300M net of savings returned to customers, in year 3.

The savings will come from reducing direct and indirect spend, rationalizing footprint, consolidating corporate and segment headquarters, establishing a common shared services platform for IT and finance and reducing other overhead costs.

The company is expected to invest approximately $450M cash to achieve the synergies over the next 3 years.

The combined company will target $3B in free cash flow by year 3, driven by organic growth, cost synergies, working capital improvements and capital expenditure efficiencies. L3 Harris Technologies will be well capitalized with a strong balance sheet and a leverage ratio of 2.2 times net debt to trailing twelve months EBITDA.

The combined company will remain committed to maintaining an investment grade credit rating and a dividend payout consistent with each company’s current practice and deploying excess cash toward share repurchases, including up to $2B in share repurchases in the 12 months post-closing.

L3 Harris Technologies will be headquartered in Melbourne, Florida.

The combined company’s Board of Directors will have 12 members, consisting of six directors from each company. William Brown will serve as chairman and CEO, and Christopher Kubasik will serve as vice chairman, president and COO for the first two years following the closing of the transaction. For the third year, Brown will transition to executive chairman and Kubasik to CEO, after which Kubasik will become chairman and CEO.

The merger is expected to close in mid-calendar year 2019, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and approval by the shareholders of each company.


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Engility Holdings sold for $2.5 billion

SAIC to acquire Engility in all-stock deal valued at $2.5B

Engility Holdings sold for $2.5 billion, Stockwinners
Engility Holdings sold for $2.5 billion, Stockwinners

SAIC (SAIC) and Engility Holdings (EGL) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which SAIC will acquire Engility in an all-stock transaction valued at $2.5B, $2.25B net of the present value of tax assets, creating the second largest independent technology integrator in government services with $6.5B of pro-forma last 12 months’ revenue.

The combination of these two complementary businesses will accelerate SAIC’s growth strategy into key markets, enhance its competitive position and provide significant financial benefits.

The transaction will create market sub-segment scale in strategic business areas of national interest, such as defense, federal civilian agencies, intelligence, and space.

In addition, it expands the capabilities of both companies, bringing additional systems engineering, mission, and IT capabilities to a broader base of customers.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Engility stockholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 0.450 shares of SAIC common stock for each share of Engility stock in an all-stock transaction.

Based on an SAIC per share closing price of $89.86 on September 7, 2018, the transaction is valued at $40.44 per share of Engility common stock or $2.5B in the aggregate, including the repayment of $900M in Engility’s debt.

SAIC has obtained a financing commitment letter from Citigroup Global Markets Inc. for a new seven-year senior secured $1.05B term loan facility under our existing credit agreement.

The proceeds will be used to repay Engility’s existing debt and associated fees. SAIC expects no immediate change to its quarterly cash dividend as a result of this transaction.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the fiscal fourth quarter ending February 1, 2019, following customary closing conditions, including regulatory and SAIC and Engility shareholder approvals.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by both boards.

The businesses will continue to operate separately until the transaction closes. The combined company will retain the SAIC name and continue to be headquartered in Reston, Virginia.

Following closing, Tony Moraco will continue as CEO and as an SAIC board member. SAIC will expand its board to include two additional members from Engility’s board.


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Biogen sharply higher on data

Eisai and Biogen announce positive results of the final analysis for BAN2401

Biogen sharply higher on data, Stockwinners
Biogen sharply higher on data, Stockwinners

Eisai (ESALY) and Biogen (BIIB) announced positive topline results from the Phase II study with BAN2401, an anti-amyloid beta protofibril antibody, in 856 patients with early Alzheimer’s disease.

The study achieved statistical significance on key predefined endpoints evaluating efficacy at 18 months on slowing progression in Alzheimer’s Disease Composite Score and on reduction of amyloid accumulated in the brain as measured using amyloid-PET. Topline results of the final analysis of the study demonstrated a statistically significant slowing of disease progression on the key clinical endpoint after 18 months of treatment in patients receiving the highest treatment dose as compared to placebo.

Results of amyloid PET analyses at 18 months, including reduction in amyloid PET standardized uptake value ratio and amyloid PET image visual read of subjects converting from positive to negative for amyloid in the brain, were also statistically significant at this dose. Dose-dependent changes from baseline were observed across the PET results and the clinical endpoints.

Further, the highest treatment dose of BAN2401 began to show statistically significant clinical benefit as measured by ADCOMS as early as 6 months including at 12 months. BAN2401 demonstrated an acceptable tolerability profile through 18 months of study drug administration.

The most common treatment emergent adverse events were infusion-related reactions and Amyloid Related Imaging Abnormalities. Infusion related reactions were mostly mild to moderate in severity. Incidence of ARIA-E was not more than 10% in any of the treatment arms, and less than 15% in patients with APOE4 at the highest dose per the study protocol safety and reporting procedures.

BIIB closed at $298.81, it last traded at $338. ESALY closed at $71.10.


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GE to spin off several divisions

  • GE Healthcare to become standalone company

  • GE plans to fully separate Baker Hughes

GE introduces new company AiRXOS, Stockwinners
GE to spin off several of its divisions

GE (GE) announced the results of its strategic review.

GE will focus on Aviation, Power and Renewable Energy, creating a simpler, stronger, leading high-tech Industrial company.

In addition to the pending combination of its Transportation business with Wabtec, GE plans to separate GE Healthcare into a standalone company, pursue an orderly separation from BHGE (BHGE) over the next two to three years, make its corporate structure leaner and substantially reduce debt.

GE’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the plans announced today.

GE is making fundamental changes to how it will run the company.

The new GE Operating System will result in a smaller corporate headquarters focused primarily on strategy, capital allocation, talent and governance.

It will result in better execution, increased speed and is expected to generate at least $500 million in corporate savings by the end of 2020.

Under the new GE Operating System, most resources and services traditionally held at the headquarters level will be realigned to the businesses. GE is targeting an Industrial net debt-to-EBITDA ratio of less than 2.5 times and a long-term A credit rating.

GE also plans to reduce Industrial net debt by approximately $25 billion by 2020 and maintain more than $15 billion of cash on the balance sheet.

GE expects to maintain its current quarterly dividend, subject to Board approval, until GE Healthcare is established as an independent entity.

At that time, the new GE Healthcare Board of Directors will determine GE Healthcare’s dividend policy, which GE expects to reflect healthcare industry practices.

Also at that time, the GE Board expects to adjust the GE dividend with a target dividend policy in line with industrial peers. Kieran Murphy, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, will continue to lead GE Healthcare as a standalone company, maintaining the GE brand.

GE expects to generate cash from the disposition of approximately 20% of its interest in the Healthcare business and to distribute the remaining 80% to GE shareholders through a tax-free distribution.

The structure, sequence and timing of these transactions will be determined and announced at a later date, but are expected to be completed over the next 12 to 18 months.

GE Healthcare will conduct business as usual throughout this process, continuing to serve its partners and customers.

GE plans to fully separate its 62.5% interest in BHGE in an orderly manner over the next two to three years. BHGE’s full stream offering brings together equipment, services and digital solutions to help its customers be more productive-a unique and powerful value proposition in a changing market.

The separation will provide BHGE with enhanced agility and the ability to focus on leading in the oil and gas industry.

Shares of the former DJIA component closed at $12.75.


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BAE Systems receives contract for submarines

BAE Systems receives contract for payload tubes for Virginia-class submarines 

BAE Systems receives contract for submarines, Stockwinners
BAE Systems receives contract for submarines

BAE Systems (BAESY) has received a contract to produce payload tubes for two of the U.S. Navy’s new Virginia-class submarines to support increased firepower on the Block V version of the attack subs.

Under the contract with General Dynamics Electric Boat, a builder of the Virginia class, BAE Systems will deliver two sets, each consisting of four tubes, for the Virginia Payload Modules on the SSN 804 and SSN 805.

The Virginia Payload Module extends the length of the Block V submarines over previous versions of the Virginia-class by adding an additional mid-body section to create more payload space for greater firepower.

Each large-diameter payload tube can store and launch up to seven Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The VPM offers exceptional flexibility as well for the integration of future payload types, such as unmanned systems or next-generation weapons.

BAE Systems, which is also providing payload tubes for the SSN 803 under a previously awarded VPM contract, has a long history of supporting the Navy’s submarine fleet as the leading provider of propulsors and other submarine systems.

The company was selected to provide propulsors, spare hardware, and tailcones for Block IV Virginia-class vessels and stands ready to provide the same support for the Block V subs.

Under this most recent contract, BAE Systems will also develop the processes and tooling necessary for the Block V payload tube production.

Work will be performed at the company’s facility in Louisville, Kentucky, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2020.

BAESY last traded at $35.39


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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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Carbon-free aluminum smelting process now a reality

Alcoa, Rio Tinto, Apple  announce ‘world’s first’ carbon-free aluminum smelting process 

carbon-free aluminum smelting process; Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process; 

Alcoa (AA) and Rio Tinto (RIO) announced what the companies called “a revolutionary process to make aluminum that produces oxygen and eliminates all direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process.”

carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners

To advance larger scale development and commercialization of the new process, Alcoa and Rio Tinto are forming Elysis, a joint venture company to further develop the new process with a technology package planned for sale beginning in 2024.

carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners

Apple (AAPL) is also investing in the venture. Apple said that its involvement with the new process started in 2015, when Apple engineers came across the new technology at Alcoa in Pittsburgh when looking for a cleaner way to mass-produce aluminum. They were able to get Rio Tinto on board, and three years later, the three companies have formed a joint venture.

Elysis, which will be headquartered in Montreal with a research facility in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, will develop and license the technology so it can be used to retrofit existing smelters or build new facilities. Canada and Quebec are each investing C$60M in Elysis.

The provincial government of Quebec will have a 3.5% equity stake in the joint venture with the remaining ownership split evenly between Alcoa and Rio Tinto. Apple is providing an investment of C$13M.

The company helped facilitate the collaboration between Alcoa and Rio Tinto on the carbon-free smelting process, and Apple has agreed to provide technical support to the JV partners.

Aluminum has been mass produced the same way since 1886, when it was pioneered by Alcoa’s founder, Charles Hall. The process involves applying a strong electrical current to alumina, which removes oxygen. Both Hall’s original experiments and today’s largest smelters use a carbon material that burns during the process, producing greenhouse gases.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will invest C$55M cash over the next three years and contribute specific intellectual property and patents.

The patent-protected technology, developed by Alcoa, is currently producing metal at the Alcoa Technical Center, near Pittsburgh in the United States, where the process has been operating at different scales since 2009.

The joint venture intends to invest up to C$40M in the United States, which would include funding to support the supply chain for the proprietary anode and cathode materials.


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Barron’s is bullish on Apple and Exxon

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

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

BULLISH   MENTIONS

Apple reaffirms position as tech’s ‘undisputed’ leader – In a follow-up story, Barron’s says that with its earnings report last week, Apple (AAPL) flexed its financial muscle and reaffirmed its position as “tech’s undisputed leader.” Fiscal second-quarter iPhone sales came in roughly as expected, while the company’s total profit was slightly ahead of estimates, the report notes, adding that Apple’s real surprise came from its updated buyback plans. Investors rewarded the company with its best five-day stretch in the stock market since October 2011, Barron’s says.

Apple raking in profits amid technology impasse – Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) has bought another 75M shares of Apple (AAPL), Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. While the current impasse for technology is going to continue to reduce new opportunities for Apple, for competitors such as Samsung (SSNLF) and suppliers like Qorvo (QRVO), there is enough wealth in the steady supply of what exists to keep investors like Buffett delighted with the cash flow, he contends. Milking it, at the moment, triumphs over innovation, Barron’s says.

Boeing eyeing ‘air supremacy’  – Boeing  (BA) announced last week that it would acquire KLX, whose products include airplane parts, as part of the aircraft manufacturer’s long-term plan to bolster its presence in parts, components, and services, Lawrence Strauss writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. This is a trend investors should keep an eye on, he contends.

Sarepta winning over investors – Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) has been winning over investors with rising sales of its drug to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy and a promising pipeline of drugs targeted at the fatal muscle-wasting disease, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Part of the optimism surrounding Sarepta is that it can bring to market two drugs similar to Exondys 51, which treats about 13% of DMD patients, he notes, adding that these drugs – casimersen and golodirsen – target mutations at other points on the dystrophin gene and could treat another 16% of DMD patients.

Exxon Mobil looks appealing – Demand for oil and natural gas is expected to be strong for decades and to capitalize on this growth, Exxon (XOM) has an ambitious plan to increase the company’s energy output by 25% and more than double earnings by 2025, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. At a share price of $77, Exxon looks “appealing,” he adds.

BEARISH  MENTIONS

Wolverine may face mounting cleanup costs – The Scotchgard chemicals that gave stain resistance to Wolverine’s Hush Puppies shoes have leached into wells and aquifers from rusting barrels of sludge and other factory waste scattered around Michigan’s Kent County, where Wolverine (WWW)  used the chemicals for about 50 years, Bill Alpert writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. The footwear firm has provided water filters to area homes and last year it set aside $35M to cover expected legal and remediation costs, but the question is whether $35M is enough, Barron’s notes.


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AbbVie to buyback $7.5 billion of its own shares

AbbVie commences self-tender offer for up to $7.5B of common stock

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AbbVie to buyback $7.5 billion of its own shares

AbbVie (ABBV) announced that it has commenced a modified “Dutch auction” tender offer to purchase for cash up to $7.5 B of its common stock at a price not less than $99.00 per share and not more than $114.00 per share.

AbbVie stockholders may tender all or a portion of their shares at a price specified by the tendering stockholder within this range.

When the tender offer expires, AbbVie will determine the lowest price within the range of prices specified above that allows AbbVie to purchase up to an aggregate of $7.5B of its common stock.

The tender offer and withdrawal rights will expire at midnight Eastern Time, at the end of the day on May 29, 2018, unless extended or terminated by AbbVie.

Tenders of shares must be made prior to the expiration of the tender offer and may be withdrawn at any time prior to the expiration of the tender offer. Morgan Stanley & Co. is acting as dealer manager, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is acting as legal advisor.

ABBV closed at $96.55. Shares have a 52-week trading range of $64.61 – $125.86.


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Barron’s is bullish on GM and Delta

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

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BULLISH   MENTIONS:

Delta, GM look cheap, with growth potential – While a solid start to earnings season helped push share prices higher earlier this week, some remain deeply discounted, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Despite Delta Air Lines’ (DAL) pessimistic valuation, consolidation has left only a handful of key players and the company faces less competition in key markets than some of its peers, the report adds. Additionally, Goodyear Tire (GT), General Motors (GM) and Lincoln National (LNC) also made the valuation cutoff, Hough says.

General Mills shares fall to ‘bargain territory.’  – General Mills (GIS) has fallen 27% so far this year and while the drop seems deserved because earnings growth has stalled, a closer look suggests sales trends are improving, thanks in part to new-product launches, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.

Cruise operators can offer ‘nice’ yields, solid dividend growth – Cruise operators, like Carnival (CCL), Royal Caribbean (RCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH), can offer nice yields and solid dividend growth, but economic downturns can pressure payouts, Lawrence Strauss writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Another option for investors looking for yield among cruise operators is Walt Disney (DIS), the report added. The entertainment company has a wide variety of holdings, and while its cruise business did not account for a large portion of its $55B of sales last year, it is not insignificant either.

Tech giants may make own custom chips to get edge on one another. – There has been a tension between the world’s largest tech companies- Alphabet (GOOG; GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Baidu (BIDU), and Alibaba (BABA)-and the chip companies they rely on, especially Intel (INTC) and Nvidia (NVDA), Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. While the giants buy massive quantities of Intel’s microprocessors, and Nvidia’s graphics chips, or GPUs, to power their data centers, they are also in an arms race to have the best artificial-intelligence-based machine-learning functions, the report noted, adding that there was always the possibility they may decide to buy fewer off-the-shelf parts and make their own custom chips to get an edge on one another.

 MPL valuations look cheap – Master limited partnerships’ valuations appear cheap, and U.S. energy production is thriving, lifting cash flows for pipeline firms, Darren Fonda writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. MLP, such as Enterprise Products Partners (EPD), Magellan Midstream Partners (MMP), MPLX (MPLX), Plains All American Pipeline (PAA), could reward investors with higher yields as cash flows rise, Fonda adds.

OTHER MENTIONS

Trump’s tweets politicize U.S. markets, Barron’s says – With President Donald Trump, both politics and business appear personal as he continues his tweets aimed at individual companies, Vito Racanelli writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Before and after the election, he consistently aimed arrows at Amazon.com (AMZN) and at the proposed acquisition of Time Warner (TWX) by AT&T (T), the report noted. The President is not alone in singling out companies, Racanelli points out, adding that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton also took issue with Mylan’s (MYL) price increases for its EpiPen. Maybe it is a sign of the times, but the rise of powerful social-media platforms is the key enabling factor, the report said.


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FDA approves Bydureon for use in T2D patients

AstraZeneca announces FDA approval of Bydureon for use in T2D patients

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FDA approves Bydureon for use in T2D patients

 

AstraZeneca (AZN) announced the FDA has approved BYDUREON for injectable suspension as an add-on therapy to basal insulin in adults with type 2 diabetes with inadequate glycemic control.

 

BYDUREON is approved for adults with T2D whose blood sugar remains uncontrolled on one or more antidiabetic medicines in addition to diet and exercise, to improve glycemic control.

 

The expanded use is based on results from the 28-week DURATION-7 study, which examined the effect of BYDUREON or placebo as add-on therapy to insulin glargine, with or without metformin, in adults with T2D.

 

Mean HbA1c was reduced by 0.9% in the BYDUREON group compared to 0.2% in the placebo group in patients with a mean baseline HbA1c of 8.5%.

 

Furthermore, 32.5% of patients in the BYDUREON group reached an HbA1c of less than 7.0% compared to 7.0% of patients in the placebo group.

 

There were no new safety findings in the DURATION-7 study.

 

Overall hypoglycemia was similar between the groups, with no reported major hypoglycemia.

 

In both arms, the same percentage of patients reported minor hypoglycemia. Like other GLP-1 receptor agonists, the risk of hypoglycemia is increased when BYDUREON is co-administered with insulin. Prescribers should consider lowering the dose of insulin when co-administering BYDUREON.


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Barron’s is bullish on Facebook, La-Z-Boy

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

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BULLISH   MENTIONS:

Barron’s lists potential takeover targets in cloud software – Shares of young cloud software companies like MongoDB (MDB) and SendGrid (SEND) have soared since the Nasdaq’s bottom on February 8, in part on speculation of a takeover, Barron’s Tiernan Ray contends. Takeover targets form a long list in addition to the aforementioned, and include Friday’s initial public offering Dropbox (DBX), Appian (APPN), Veeva Systems (VEEV), Atlassian (TEAM) and ServiceNow (NOW), Ray writes.

La-Z-Boy shares could rally 20% within a year or two – La-Z-Boy (LZB) shares currently trade at 13.8 times forecast earnings for the next 12 months, which is well below the small-cap Russell 2000 Index’s price/earnings ratio of 25, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index’s 17, and its own five-year average of 16.3 times forward earnings, writes Barron’s Brett Arend. He believes the stock, which closed Friday at $28.75, could merit a valuation of $36 per share, or roughly 20% higher, within a year or two “by simply getting back to its average five-year multiple.” Higher consumer spending, a new relationship to sell on Amazon.com (AMZN), and successful efforts to reach millennials could propel the shares even higher, Arend contends.

Time Warner shares look appealing with antitrust trial under way – Time Warner (TWX) investors face a “win-win” scenario with the antitrust trial for AT&T’s (T) proposed takeover now under way in Washington, Andrew Bary of Barron’s writes. Time Warner shares “look appealing, based on their underlying value and AT&T’s strong chances of winning,” Bary contends. He notes the stock closed Friday roughly $11 below the current value of AT&T’s cash and stock bid, worth $103.60 per share. The 12% deal spread is appealing with “many observers” believing AT&T and Time Warner will prevail over the U.S. government, according to Bary. He adds that while Time Warner shares could fall $5 if the government wins, some analysts think the stock will quickly recover to its current price of $92.57.

Interactive Brokers tops Barron’s list of best online brokers – Interactive Brokers (IBKR) sits atop Barron’s 23rd annual ranking of The Best Online Brokers. Interactive scored highly in trading experience, range of offerings, and portfolio analysis, Theresa Carey writes in a feature story for this weekend’s magazine. Interactive Brokers is followed by Fidelity, TD Ameritrade (AMTD), Charles Schwab (SCHW), TradeStation, Merrill Edge (BAC), E-Trade (ETFC) and tastyworks in Barron’s annual ranking.

Facebook may now be more tempting to investors – In its cover story titled “Facebook Comes Under Siege,” Barron’s says Facebook  (FB) shares may be more tempting to investors following last week’s 14% decline. With more than 2B users, however, Facebook is “almost certain” to not walk away unscathed as the top target for privacy concerns, Jon Swartz writes. Nonetheless, with nearly $42B in cash and investments, Facebook has the flexibility to diversify into other business lines, as it did with Instagram and WhatsApp, Swartz adds.


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