Assembly Biosciences reports chronic hepatitis data, shares jump

Assembly Biosciences announces presentation of ABI-H0731, ABI-H2158 data

Assembly Biosciences (ASMB) announced that data on its lead HBV core inhibitor candidates, ABI-H0731 and ABI-H2158 for the treatment of chronic HBV will be featured in a late-breaking poster session during the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Annual Meeting.

Shares jump on hepatitis data, Stockwinners

A hepatitis B infection can result in either an acute infection or a chronic infection. When a person is first infected with the hepatitis B virus, it is called an “acute infection” (or a new infection). Most healthy adults that are infected do not have any symptoms and are able to get rid of the virus without any problems. Some adults are unable to get rid of the virus after six months and they are diagnosed as having a “chronic infection.”

Title: Continued Therapy with ABI-H0731+Nrtl Results in Sequential Reduction/Loss of HBV DNA, HBV RNA, HBeAg, HBcrAg and HBsAg in HBeAg-Positive Patients.

Abstract Summary: Final results from Phase 2a are reported for HBeAg+ patients with chronic HBV infection treated with 731+Nrtl for 24 weeks.

In Study 202, greater mean log10 declines in HBV DNA and RNA were achieved with 731+Nrtl versus entecavir alone.

In Study 201, the proportion of patients on 731+Nrtl versus Nrtl alone achieving DNA target not detected was 69% vs 0%, and the proportion of patients achieving RNA less than35 U/mL whose RNA was greater than or equal to35 U/mL at baseline was 52% vs 0% respectively.

In Study 211, there are 64 HBeAg+ patients currently on extended treatment beyond 24 weeks. Among the 27 HBeAg+ patients receiving 731+Nrtl in Study 201, 41% have now achieved DNA TND along with RNA less than35 U/mL and HBeAg less than1 IU/mL.

At their last time point, Study 202 patients now in Study 211 have demonstrated mean DNA and RNA declines of 6.1 and 3.0 logs, respectively, with observed mean log changes of greater than or equal to 0.6 for HBeAg, greater than 0.8 log for HBcrAg and greater than or equal to 0.4 log for HBsAg.

731 continues to exhibit a favorable safety and tolerability profile in patients treated for up to 1 year, with only mild/moderate adverse events and lab abnormalities, and only a single discontinuation due to a Grade 1 rash.

The combination of 731+NrtI results in faster and deeper declines in HBV DNA and RNA than NrtI alone, as well as subsequent declines in the surrogate markers of cccDNA predictive of cccDNA pool depletion, and HBsAg.

A Visual Guide to Hepatitis, Stockwinners

The emergent data supports the continued development of 731.

Abstract data are as of the time of submission; the poster is expected to include updated safety and efficacy results. Title: The Second-Generation Hepatitis B Virus Core Inhibitor ABI-H2158 is Associated with Potent Antiviral Activity in a 14-Day Monotherapy Study in HBeAg-positive Patients with Chronic Hepatitis B.

Abstract Summary: The Phase 1b study is enrolling sequential cohorts of 9 patients and each cohort will be randomized to receive 2158 or placebo QD for 14 days in a blinded manner.

Dosing in the 1st cohort has been completed. In patients receiving 2158, mean declines from Baseline to Day 15 in HBV DNA and RNA levels were 2.3 log10 and 2.1 log10 IU/mL respectively.

No serious AEs, dose limiting toxicities or premature discontinuations were reported.

Three patients reported a total of 5 mild, drug-related AEs that recovered without intervention; dizziness, fatigue, rash, headache and upper abdominal pain.

Treatment emergent laboratory abnormalities were infrequent, mild and transient, with no ALT elevations Grade greater than or equal to 1 in severity.

Day 14 plasma 2158 Cmax and AUC0-24hr were 3,390 ng/mL and 46,100 hr*ng/mL, respectively.

Results from the initial 100 mg low dose of ABI-H2158 cohort demonstrated potent antiviral activity, a favourable safety profile when administered for 14 days, and support once daily dosing in CHB patients.

Assurance IQ sold for $2.35 billion

Prudential acquires Assurance IQ for $2.35B plus additional earnout up to $1.5B

Prudential Financial (PRU) announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Assurance IQ, “a profitable, fast-growing direct-to-consumer platform that transforms the buying experience for individuals seeking personalized health and financial wellness solutions.”

Prudential Financial (PRU) announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Assurance IQ, "a profitable, fast-growing direct-to-consumer platform that transforms the buying experience for individuals seeking personalized health and financial wellness solutions."
Prudential pays $2.35 B for Assurance. Stockwinners

Terms of the acquisition include a total upfront consideration of $2.35 billion, plus an additional earnout of up to $1.15 billion in cash and equity, contingent upon Assurance achieving multi-year growth objectives.

Under the terms of the agreement, Assurance will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Prudential under the U.S. Businesses division.

Prudential buys Assurance IQ for $2.5B, Stockwinners

Assurance co-founders Michael Rowell and Michael Paulus will continue to focus on the growth of Assurance.

Rowell will remain CEO of Assurance and report to Andrew Sullivan, who will assume the role of executive vice president and head of U.S. Businesses as of December 1.

Paulus will remain president of Assurance.

The acquisition is expected to be modestly accretive to EPS and ROE starting in 2020.

In addition to enhancing the growth of Prudential’s financial wellness businesses, the acquisition is expected to generate cost savings of $50 million to $100 million, in addition to the $500 million of expected margin expansion by 2022 discussed at Prudential’s June Investor Day.

Prudential plans to use a combination of its current cash, debt financing and equity to fund the acquisition, which is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2019. Prudential’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the transaction.

Prudential’s Board of Directors has authorized a $500 million increase to its share repurchase authorization for calendar year 2019.

As a result, the share repurchase authorization for the full year 2019 is $2.5 billion.

As of June 30, Prudential had repurchased $1.0 billion of shares of its common stock under this authorization.

Prudential expects to fully utilize this increased share repurchase authorization by the end of 2019.

PRU +$2.21 to $81.85

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Toronto’s WSP Global buys Ecology & Environment

Ecology & Environment to be acquired by WSP Global for $65.1M

Ecology and Environment announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with WSP Global, pursuant to which WSP will acquire E & E for cash.

EEI sold for $65.1M, Stockwinners

E & E has approximately 775 employees, predominantly in offices across the United States, with an additional presence in Latin America. With its US operations representing approximately 80% of its 2018 $US 73.5 million in net revenues, E & E’s portfolio includes work on the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan, Climate Change Adaptation Planning in San Mateo County, California, and work on large federal programs with agencies including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Navy.

Under the terms of the agreement, E & E’s shareholders will receive $15.00 in cash, and a special dividend of up to 50c, for each share of Class A and Class B common stock they own. The special dividend is conditioned on and will be paid following the completion of the transaction and is subject to downward adjustment in certain circumstances.

WSP buys EEI for $65.1 M.

Under the terms of the Agreement, the merger consideration is approximately $US65.1 million in the aggregate, including a special dividend of approximately $US 2.2 million.

The merger agreement and the transaction have been unanimously approved by E & E’s Board of Directors.

In addition, E & E’s founders Frank Silvestro, Ronald Frank and Gerald Strobel, a trust affiliated with E & E’s late founder Gerhard Neumaier, each member of E & E’s Board of Directors and affiliates of Mill Road Capital have all signed voting agreements in support of the transaction.

The merger consideration, together with the special dividend of up to 50c, represents a premium of approximately 52.9% over E & E’s closing share price of $10.14 on August 27, 2019.

The merger agreement provides for a “go-shop” period of 30 days, during which E & E – with the assistance of Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated – will contact and potentially enter into negotiations with, and provide due diligence access to, third parties that offer potentially superior proposals to the proposed transaction with WSP.

E & E will have the right to terminate the merger agreement to enter into a superior proposal subject to the conditions and procedures specified in the merger agreement.

There can be no assurance this process will result in a superior proposal. E & E does not intend to disclose developments about this process unless and until the Board has made a decision with respect to any potential superior proposal.

The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of E & E’s shareholders and applicable regulatory approvals.

The parties are targeting a closing in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2019, subject to receipt of applicable regulatory approvals.

Alexandre L’Heureux, President and Chief Executive Officer of WSP, said, “We are pleased by the opportunity to have E & E join WSP, as we share a similar culture and strategy, centered around employees and clients. This Acquisition, which is in line with our 2019-2021 Global Strategic Plan, will enable us to increase both our Strategic Advisory Services offering and our presence in the United States, most particularly the US governmental sector. E & E, which is recognized for its expertise in environment, has built experience in sectors and services that WSP had targeted for growth, including environmental impact assessment, emergency planning and management, as well as site restoration.”

EEI is up $5.05 to $15.05.

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Allergan sold for $63 billion

AbbVie to acquire Allergan in cash, stock deal valued around $63B

Watch Allergan into better botox data. See Stockwinners.com
Allergan sold for $63 billion, Stockwinners

AbbVie (ABBV) and Allergan (AGN) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive transaction agreement under which AbbVie will acquire Allergan in a cash and stock transaction for a transaction equity value of approximately $63B, based on the closing price of AbbVie’s common stock of $78.45 on June 24.

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Abbvie to pay $63B to buy Allergan, Stockwinners

Upon completion of the transaction, AbbVie will continue to be incorporated in Delaware as AbbVie Inc. and have its principal executive offices in North Chicago, IL.

AbbVie will continue to be led by Richard Gonzalez as chairman and CEO.

Two members of Allergan’s board, including chairman and CEO, Brent Saunders, will join AbbVie’s board upon completion of the transaction.

Under the terms of the Transaction Agreement, Allergan Shareholders will receive 0.8660 AbbVie Shares and $120.30 in cash for each Allergan Share that they hold, for a total consideration of $188.24 per Allergan Share.

The transaction represents a 45% premium to the closing price of Allergan’s Shares on June 24.

AbbVie anticipates that the Acquisition will provide annual pre-tax synergies and other cost reductions of at least $2B in year three while leaving investments in key growth franchises untouched.

Botox is one of Allergan’s leading products, Stockwinners

The synergies and other cost reductions will be a result of optimizing the research and early stage portfolio, and reducing overlapping R&D resources, driving efficiencies in SG&A, including sales and marketing and central support function costs, and eliminating redundancies in manufacturing and supply chain, and leveraging procurement spend.

The synergies estimate excludes any potential revenue synergies.

AbbVie is expected to generate significant annual operating cash flow, which will support a debt reduction target of $15B to $18B before the end of 2021, while also enabling a continued commitment to Baa2/BBB or better credit rating and continued dividend growth.

It is expected that, immediately after the closing of the Acquisition, AbbVie Shareholders will own approximately 83% of AbbVie on a fully diluted basis and the Allergan Shareholders will own approximately 17% of AbbVie on a fully diluted basis.

PIPER COMMENTS

Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Raymond said his first reaction to the deal could be summed up with the phrase “two turkeys don’t make an eagle,” but he is “willing to listen” despite his skepticism about the transaction.

Though he cannot say he is “excited at the prospect of AbbVie entering the field of medical aesthetics,” EPS accretion of 10% in year one and over 20% at peak, and the potential for meaningful deleveraging and cost cutting, has his attention, Raymond said. He keeps a Neutral rating on AbbVie based on his initial reaction to the deal announcement.

Humira is AbbVie’s blockbuster drug, Stockwinners

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo analyst David #Maris said he views the deal as a good alternative for Allergan versus the current share price, but he is not convinced its a better long term alternative given the eventual biosimilar threat to Abbvie’s blockbuster drug Humira.

With that said, Maris tells investors that “deals at such premiums are rarely killed because of a bad strategic fit or longer -term value outlook in the absence of other bidders.” Though he would not completely rule out an activist investor disrupting the deal, he thinks it is unlikely given there has been a strategic review of the company for some time. Maris, who said he thinks the deal could go through, keeps an Outperform rating on Allergan shares.

Leerink 

SVB Leerink analyst Marc Goodman is not surprise that one of the large pharma companies has made a bid on Allergan (AGN) given the multi-year stock weakness.

Juvederm is another one of Allergan’s top selling products. Stockwinners

However, he believes a $188 price is “too low,” as he “can’t believe that Allergan is not being taken out at least at $200,” which “begs the question” whether this was a process or is AbbVie (ABBV) “opportunistically pursuing a wounded stock.” If it is the latter, Goodman believes this bid could initiate others to pursue Allergan as well. He has an Outperform rating on Allegan’s shares.

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Sotheby’s sold for $3.7 billion

Sotheby’s to be acquired in cash transaction valued at $3.7B

Sotheby’s to be acquired in cash transaction valued at $3.7B, Stockwinners

Sotheby’s (BID) announced that it has signed a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by BidFair USA, an entity wholly owned by media and telecom entrepreneur as well as art collector, Patrick Drahi.

Sotheby’s operates as an auctioneer of authenticated fine art, decorative art, jewelry, wine, and collectibles in the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, China, Switzerland, France, and internationally. The company operates in two segments, Agency and Finance. The Agency segment accepts property on consignment; and matches sellers to buyers through the auction or private sale process.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was approved by Sotheby’s Board of Directors, shareholders, including employee shareholders, will receive $57.00 in cash per share of Sotheby’s common stock in a transaction with an enterprise value of $3.7B.

The offer price represents a premium of 61% to Sotheby’s closing price on June 14, 2019, and a 56.3% premium to the company’s 30 trading-day volume weighted average share price.

The transaction would result in Sotheby’s returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Tad Smith, Sotheby’s CEO, said, “Patrick Drahi is one of the most well-regarded entrepreneurs in the world, and on behalf of everyone at Sotheby’s, I want to welcome him to the family. Known for his commitment to innovation and ingenuity, Patrick founded and leads some of the most successful telecommunications, media and digital companies in the world.

He has a long-term view and shares our brand vision for great client service and employing innovation to enhance the value of the company for clients and employees.

This acquisition will provide Sotheby’s with the opportunity to accelerate the successful program of growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment.

It positions us very well for our future and I strongly believe that the company will be in excellent hands for decades to come with Patrick as our owner.”

The closing of the deal is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory clearance and shareholder approvals, but is not subject to the availability of financing.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019 following shareholder approval. LionTree Advisors is serving as financial advisor to Sotheby’s in connection with the transaction, and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is serving as the company’s legal counsel.

BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley are acting as financial advisors to BidFair, BNP Paribas acted as sole financing provider, and Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Ropes & Gray International LLP are serving as its legal advisors.

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Barnes & Noble sold for $683M

Barnes & Noble to be acquired by Elliott for $6.50 per share in all cash deal

Barnes & Noble sold for $683M, Stockwinners

Barnes & Noble (BKS) announces that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by funds advised by Elliott Advisors for $6.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $683M, including the assumption of debt.

Barnes & Noble has faced continued pressure from Amazon and independent booksellers. Its shares had fallen roughly 25% year to date before the news leak. Within the past five years, Barnes & Noble has lost more than $1 billion in market value.

Elliott’s acquisition of Barnes & Noble, the largest retail bookseller in the United States, follows its June 2018 acquisition of Waterstones, the largest retail bookseller in the United Kingdom.

James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, will assume also the role of CEO of Barnes & Noble following the completion of the transaction and will be based in New York.

The $6.50 per share purchase price represents a 43% premium to the 10-day volume weighted average closing share price of Barnes & Noble’s common stock ended June 5, the day before rumors of a potential transaction were reported in the media.

As a private company, Barnes & Noble will likely be more free to make the changes and investment that can be unwieldy under a public spotlight. Part of the bookseller’s turnaround plan has included closing some of its more than 600 stores across the U.S. and relocating to smaller spaces that receive a fresh and modern look. The company has said its prototype stores encourage shoppers to buy books online or from a tablet.

The retailer has shown small signs of upturn. In March, it reported that over the holidays, sales at locations open for at least a year during the quarter rose 1.1 percent — its best quarterly performance in three years. As of January, it had $15 million in cash and cash equivalents.

The announced transaction with Elliott is the culmination of an extensive Strategic Alternative Review conducted by the Special Committee of the Barnes & Noble board, which was announced on October 3, 2018.

The board of Barnes & Noble unanimously approved the transaction and recommend the transaction to Barnes & Noble shareholders.

Leonard #Riggio, the Founder and Chairman of Barnes & Noble, has also entered into a voting agreement in support of the transaction.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory and stockholder approval, and is expected to close in Q3.

The merger agreement provides for the acquisition to be consummated through a merger structure. However, the parties expect to amend the agreement to utilize a tender offer structure, which is expected to reduce the time to closing by a number of weeks.

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Fiat Chrysler propose to merge with Renault

Fiat Chrysler proposes to 50/50 merger agreement with Renault

Chinese automakers weigh bids for FCA. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar for details
Fiat Chrysler propose to merge with Renault, Stockwinners

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCAU) announced that it has delivered a non-binding letter to the board of Renault (RNLSY) proposing a combination of their respective businesses as a 50/50 merger.

The FCA proposal follows initial operational discussions between the two companies to identify products and geographies where they could collaborate.

Fiat Chrysler propose to merge with Renault, Stockwinners

Fiat said, “These discussions made clear that broader collaboration through a combination would substantially improve capital efficiency and the speed of product development. The case for combination is also strengthened by the need to take bold decisions to capture at scale the opportunities created by the transformation of the auto industry in areas like connectivity, electrification and autonomous driving…The combined business would sell approximately 8.7 million vehicles annually, would be a world leader in EV technologies, premium brands, SUVs, pickup trucks and light commercial vehicles and would have a broader and more balanced global presence than either company on a standalone basis.”

Under the terms of the proposal, shareholders in each company would receive an equivalent equity stake in the combined company.

The combination would be carried out as a merger transaction under a Dutch parent company.

The board of the combined entity would initially be composed of 11 members, with the majority being independent and with equal representation of four members each for both FCA and Groupe Renault, as well as one nominee from Nissan.

Further, there would be no carryover of existing double voting rights.

However, all shareholders would have the opportunity to earn loyalty voting rights from the completion of the transaction under a loyalty voting program.

The parent company would be listed on the Borsa Italiana, Euronext and the New York Stock Exchange. Before the transaction is closed, to mitigate the disparity in equity market values, Fiat said its shareholders would also receive a dividend of EUR $2.5B.

In addition, prior to closing, there would be a distribution of Comau’s shares to Fiat’s shareholders or an incremental EUR $250M dividend if the Comau spin-off does not occur.

The combination is expected to deliver in excess of EUR $5B of annual run rate synergies, incremental to existing Alliance synergies.

Renault’s Response

Renault announced that its board met today to examine the proposal received from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) regarding a potential 50/50 merger between Renault S.A. and Fiat.

Renault said, “After careful review of the terms of FCA’s friendly proposal, the Board of Directors decided to study with interest the opportunity of such a business combination, comforting Groupe Renault’s manufacturing footprint and creating additional value for the Alliance.

A further communication will be issued in due course to inform the market of the results of these discussions, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”

FCAU closed at $12.85. RNLSY closed at $11.18.

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Circor receives $1.7B takeover offer

Crane proposes to acquire Circor for $45.00 per share in cash

Crane proposes to acquire Circor for $45.00 per share in cash, Stockwinners

Crane Co. (CR) announced that it has submitted a proposal to the Board of Directors of CIRCOR International (CIR) to acquire CIRCOR for $45 per share in cash.

CIRCOR International, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets engineered products and sub-systems worldwide. It operates through three segments: Energy, Aerospace and Defense, and Industrial. 

The proposal represents a 47% premium over yesterday’s closing price and a 37% and 51% premium over a three- and six-month volume weighted average share price, respectively.

This reflects an enterprise value of approximately $1.7B at a multiple of approximately 13.5x the last 12-month adjusted EBITDA. Crane Co. proposed the all-cash transaction to CIRCOR’s President and CEO Scott Buckhout on April 30, the terms of which were confirmed by a letter to the CIRCOR Board of Directors.

On May 13, the CIRCOR Board summarily rejected Crane Co.’s proposal with no offer of discussions or due diligence.

“While we had hoped to complete a transaction privately, the Board’s rejection of our proposal without comment or discussion led to our decision to make our proposal known to CIRCOR shareholders so they can express their views directly to the CIRCOR Board,” said Max Mitchell, Crane Co. President and CEO.

“Our proposal provides CIRCOR shareholders with attractive value and certainty compared to the continued uncertainty surrounding CIRCOR’s plans to improve operating performance.

Based on CIRCOR’s history of underperformance and inability to meet its own financial targets, we believe CIRCOR’s standalone plan is unlikely to generate value comparable to what we are proposing.”

Mitchell continued, “We believe that this business, which has great brands and products, has been meaningfully undermanaged for years.

This has resulted in a persistent decline in CIRCOR’s share price, making it the worst performer of the peers in the S&P Midcap Capital Goods Index since the end of 2013.

Based upon the strength of our disciplined operating approach, Crane Co. is well positioned to integrate CIRCOR’s businesses into our focused portfolio, realize operational synergies, and deliver long-term value to Crane shareholders.

Combining CIRCOR’s Fluid Handling, Aerospace and Defense assets with Crane’s portfolio of leading brands would create a stronger competitor with additional scale and growth potential.”

CIR +13.49 to $44.15.

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Chesapeake Lodging sold for $2.7 billion

Park Hotels & Resorts announces $2.7B acquisition of Chesapeake Lodging

Park Hotels buys Chesapeake Lodging, Stockwinners

Park Hotels & Resorts (PK) and Chesapeake Lodging Trust (CHSP) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Park will acquire all the outstanding shares of Chesapeake in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $2.7B.

Upon completion of the merger, the combined company will have an estimated enterprise value of $12B, firmly solidifying Park’s position as the second largest lodging REIT while also advancing the company’s strategic goals of portfolio enhancement and diversification.

The transaction has been approved by the board of directors and board of trustees of Park and Chesapeake, respectively.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Chesapeake shareholders will receive $11.00 in cash and 0.628 of a share of Park common stock for each Chesapeake share.

The fixed exchange ratio represents an agreed upon price of $31.00 per share of Chesapeake shares of beneficial interest based on Park’s trailing 10-day volume weighted average price as of May 3.

Based on Park’s closing stock price on May 3, this represents $31.71 per share of aggregate value to Chesapeake shareholders and represents a premium of approximately 11% to Chesapeake’s trailing 10-day VWAP and approximately 8% to Chesapeake’s closing stock price on May 3.

Upon closing, Park stockholders and Chesapeake shareholders will own approximately 84% and 16% of the combined company, respectively.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of the approval of Chesapeake shareholders.

The companies currently expect the transaction to close in late third quarter or early fourth quarter.

Chesapeake Lodging Trust is a self-advised lodging real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on investments primarily in upper-upscale hotels in major business and convention markets and, on a selective basis, premium select-service hotels in urban settings or unique locations in the United States.

The Trust owns 20 hotels with an aggregate of 6,279 rooms in eight states and the District of Columbia.

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Barron’s is bullish on Allergan and Gaps

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

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Barron’s is bullish on Gaps

BULLISH   MENTIONS:

Allergan shares could rise 20% or more– New competition to Allergan’s top product, Botox, and the loss of patent exclusivity for its second biggest, the dry-eye treatment Restasis, have left investors with “worry lines,” Vito Racanelli writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.

However, Racanelli says concerns are way overdone as the company’s pipeline of new drugs should eventually replace the lost revenue from products going off patent. The shares could rise 20% or more, to $200-$225 by the end of 2019, Barron’s adds.

Old Navy may lift Gap (GPS) by 25% – Old Navy is enjoying fast sales growth and plump profit margins but is trapped inside a Gap, a name that has been an investor turnoff, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.

Old Navy contributes close to half of company sales and within two years could generate three-quarters of profits, and yet Gap shares trade at just 12 times projected earnings for the next four quarters, which is one sign Gap could have plenty of upside left – perhaps 25% or more over the coming year, he adds. GPS closed at $31.74.

CAUTIOUS MENTIONS:

Broadcom Plan B looks complicated – After Broadcom’s (AVGO) bid for Qualcomm (QCOM) ended last week after President Trump blocked it on grounds of national security, the Wall Street now wants to know what the former will try to buy as plan B, Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. The two most heavily speculated-about targets are Xilinx (XLNX) and Micron Technology (MU), he notes, adding that several others are conceivable, including Microchip Technology (MCHP), Marvell Technology Group (MRVL), Maxim Integrated Products (MXIM), and Analog Devices (ADI). However, with nearly $18B in 2017 revenue, Broadcom is big enough to make finding targets that matter challenging, he contends.

Goldman Sachs’ next CEO will have to fix trading– In a follow-up story, Barron’s notes that Goldman Sachs (GS) was once known for its trading prowess but has recently humbled by a trading slump. The bank has created something of a hedge with its apparent choice of successor, David Solomon, a lender and investment banker but not a trader, the report says. If a long-awaited trading rebound materializes in the quarters ahead, CEO Lloyd Blankfein can hand over the keys with a grin, but if not, the Solomon era could see Goldman reduce exposure to trading, Barron’s points out.


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Corcept sinks after Teva submits application to sell Korlym

Corcept sinks after Teva submits application to sell Korlym in U.S. 

Corcept sinks after Teva submits application to sell Korlym. Stockwinners.com
Corcept sinks after Teva submits application to sell Korlym

Corcept Therapeutics (CORT) announced in a regulatory filing that it received a Paragraph IV Notice Letter advising that Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) submitted an Abbreviated New Drug Application to the FDA seeking authorization to manufacture, use or sell a generic version of Korlym in the United States.

KORLYM is a prescription medicine used to treat high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) caused by high cortisol levels in the blood (hypercortisolism) in adults with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome who have type 2 diabetes mellitus or glucose intolerance and have failed surgery or cannot have surgery.

Korlym is a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist that is indicated to control hyperglycemia associated with Cushing’s syndrome, a rare, debilitating endocrine disorder. Cushing’s syndrome is caused by prolonged exposure to elevated levels of glucocorticoids (hypercortisolism). The potent metabolic effects of excess cortisol influence many tissues and body systems, and patients often have many problems, including diabetes, obesity, muscle wasting, depression, cognitive difficulties, and psychosis.

The Notice Letter contains Paragraph IV certifications against certain of Corcept’s patents related to Korlym, the company points out. The Notice Letter also alleges that the Korlym patents, the ‘348 patent with an expiration date in August 2028 and the ‘495 patent with an expiration date in August 2036, will not be infringed by Teva’s proposed product, are invalid and/or are unenforceable.

“The Company intends to vigorously defend its extensive intellectual property rights related to Korlym,” Corcept stated.


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Barron’s is bullish on Netflix and Boeing

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

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BULLISH MENTIONS:

Boeing not a sell just yet – Boeing  (BA) stock has come quite far, quite fast and the pace has only accelerated in 2018, but such a rapid rise could reflect an overly optimistic outlook for the airplane manufacturer that could be difficult to meet, Ben Levisohn writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Nonetheless, Boeing is not a sell just yet, he argues. While at first glance, betting on Boeing now seems like a risk, the stock can remain extended for a long time, Levisohn adds.

Netflix among likely candidates for an Apple purchase – Especially for tech companies, tax cuts will boost dividends, buybacks, and mergers and acquisitions, but tech usually has a hard time putting vast amounts of cash to work as it requires little R&D to produce huge amounts of revenue, Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. For example, Apple (AAPL) does not have many places to invest that will demonstrably boost financial results. Without the excuse that the cash is stuck overseas, pressure may grow for Apple to do something big, with Netflix (NFLX) as the most likely candidate for a purchase, he contends.

Still time to shop Walmart shares as company makes changes – In a follow-up story, Barron’s notes that some Walmart’s experiments, like curbside pickup for groceries, are getting solid results, and points out that late-year shopping was robust and corporate tax cuts have warmed investors to retailers. While high-income taxpayers will get larger cuts amid the new tax reform than low- and middle-income ones, those are more likely to spend the extra money, which bodes wells for Walmart, publication said, adding that Walmart continues making changes, such as paying one-time bonuses and closing 63 underperforming Sam’s Club locations.


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Barron’s is Bullish on Volkswagen, Bearish on Netflix

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

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BULLISH MENTIONS

Dick’s Sporting seen as ‘bargain in retail’s wreckage’ – Value investors should warm up to Dick’s Sporting (DKS), Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. While it could be a potential victim of Amazon.com (AMZN) in the long term, weaker sports chains will throw in the towel in the near term, creating cut-rate competition for Dick’s, he notes. Investors who get the timing right on Dick’s stock can profit, Barron’s says.

General Dynamics can still go higher – In a follow-up story, Barron’s writes that General Dynamics (GD) has returned more than 35%, to $198, and it is still valued below its peers. Nonetheless, the stock can go higher as it stands to benefit from new planes, military contracts, and more defense spending, the publication says.

Microsoft could rise 20% in a year – Microsoft (MSFT) has been shifting its decades-old products to the cloud and has shown it can transform itself without injuring its profit margins, Bill Alpert writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Additionally, the company has a “vibrant” computer-game franchise, he notes, adding that the company’s shares could rise 20% or more in a year.

Volkswagen could jump 50% – Volkswagen (VLKAY) looks inexpensive, thanks to improving operating performance, the high value of its luxury brands, a lucrative Chinese joint venture, and an attractive truck business, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Bulls argue that the company’s shares are worth over 50% more of their current price, he notes, adding that one tantalizing idea is a breakup of the company.

BEARISH MENTIONS

Netflix could drop more than 50% – Netflix’s (NFLX) shares could drop more than 50% as Disney (DIS) goes its own way and Amazon (AMZN) looms, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Meanwhile, Facebook (FB) has launched a video service with niche shows covering sports, cooking and more, he points out.

Investors trapped in Teva can use options to get back some money – Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) has recently reported weak earnings, offered dour financial guidance, and cut its dividend by 75%, which are reason to dump the stock, Steven Sears writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. However, some investors are trapped in the rubble, he notes, adding that investors trapped in the stock can use options to get back some of their money.

United Technologies’ $140/share for Rockwell Collins not a bargain – In a follow-up story, Barron’s writes that reports have surfaced that United Technologies (UTX) is considering buying Rockwell Collins (COL), a move that would strengthen the conglomerate’s portfolio as a supplier to aircraft manufacturers in areas like seats, galleys, and cockpit systems. Some analysts think the price would be $140 a share for Rockwell’s stock, which would be no bargain, the publication says.


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This article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility.