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February 19, 2013
Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday despite the day’s lone domestic economic report, the National Association of Home Builders' reading on builder confidence, being a disappointment. With a light weekly data calendar and earnings season largely over except for a few big names, like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), AIG (AIG), and Wal-Mart (WMT) that report this week, the next catalyst may need to come from Washington. On the political front, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles proposed a new plan for tax code changes and spending cuts, while President Obama campaigned for compromise as Democrats and Republicans remain far apart as "the sequester" deadline approaches... ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the NAHB Housing Market Index reading of 46.0 fell short of the forecast for a reading of 48.0. In Europe, the ZEW institute's index of German investor optimism rose to 48.2 points from 31.5 in January, beating analysts' expectations... COMPANY NEWS: OfficeMax (OMX) and Office Depot (ODP) both surged after the The Wall Street Journal said the companies are in advanced talks to merge. OfficeMax rose over 22% and Office Depot advanced nearly 15%, while their chief rival, Staples (SPLS), gained 11% after several research firms, including Citigroup and Jefferies, predicted that the company would benefit significantly if such a merger goes through and as "going private" chatter about the office retailer continues to circulate... Managed care stocks slid, led by Humana (HUM), after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced preliminary 2014 Medicare Advantage benchmark payment rates late Friday. Humana said it believes the preliminary base rates in the notice would result in a mid-single-digit decline in its benchmark payment rates and shares fell about 7%. A number of Humana's peers and other healthcare names fell also, including WellCare (WCG), UnitedHealth (UNH), Cigna (CI), Wellpoint (WLP), Aetna (AET) and DaVita (DVA)... MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB), which rose 19% after its earnings and revenue beat Street expectations. Also higher after its earnings report and guidance was Sealed Air (SEE), which jumped over 12%. Among the noteworthy losers was Digital Generation (DGIT), which fell 24% after the company reported its quarterly results and said its special committee concluded its review of strategic alternatives without recommending any transaction. Also lower after its earnings report were shares of Russian search engine company Yandex (YNDX), which declined nearly 12%... INDICES: Near noon, the Dow was up 52.13, or 0.37%, to 14,033.89; the Nasdaq was up 12.14, or 0.38%, to 3,204.17; and the S&P 500 was up 7.96, or 0.52%, to 1,527.75.
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September 24, 2015
14:56 EDTSPLS, ODPStaples volatility up on uncertainty of FTC approval of merger with Office Depot
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13:01 EDTCICigna, UT Medical Center expand network agreement for 2016
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10:17 EDTCICigna becomes first U.S. health insurer to sign UN Global Compact
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September 23, 2015
08:25 EDTSPLSVeidekke subsidiary to build commercial warehouse for Staples
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08:11 EDTCI, HUM, AETLeerink sees less political risk for Managed Care mergers after hearings
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07:04 EDTODP, SPLSJefferies still thinks Staples, Office Depot merger gets approved
Jefferies analyst Daniel Binder still expects the merger between Staples (SPLS) and Office Depot (ODP) to win regulatory approval after the New York Post reported yesterday that Deborah Feinstein, the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Competition head, is seeking to block the deal. Admitting he's in the minority, Binder says his work indicates that economic data for the deal "may not be damning," customer complaint activity is low and key industry player WB Mason is not in talks to be part of a solution for an FTC remedy requirement. The proposed merger could still get approved without a remedy requirement, the analyst told investors last night in a research note. He views the risk/reward on shares of Staples as favorable. The stock closed yesterday down 79c to $12.75. If approved, enthusiasm around deal synergies could push the stock to $20, Binder writes. If regulators deny the merger, the shares of Staples could trade between $11 and $12, the analyst adds.
05:20 EDTSPLSStocks with implied volatility movement; X SPLS
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September 22, 2015
20:02 EDTHUM, UNH, AET, CIClinton vows $250 cap on monthly drug costs in blast against biotechs, insurers
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton railed against biotech companies as well as health insurers at a community health care forum in Iowa on Tuesday. Clinton began her speech by praising the Affordable Care Act, but quickly noted that she wants to strengthen it due to what she called the rising cost of prescription drugs. She explained, "Our pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries deserve credit... [But] too often, these drugs cost a fortune. Now, sometimes there is a good reason for that. Scientific breakthroughs are often the result of major investment... so it may makes sense, for a short period of time, to have to charge a lot of money for a drug. But when a drug has no competition, when there aren't any other treatments that can do what it does, pharmaceutical companies can charge astronomical fees far beyond anything that it would take to recoup their investment, and far beyond what they charge consumers anywhere else in the world outside of America." Referencing the recent criticism against Turing Pharmaceuticals, Clinton went on to say that "pharmaceutical companies that acquire an existing affordable drug that people rely on, and then turn around and charge a fortune for it, [are just betting] on the fact that desperate people will find some way to pay for it." Preemptively responding to questions of whether greater regulation will dampen investment, Clinton commented that "some people worry that my proposals will threaten innovation, but I have designed a plan that will do exactly the opposite... Under my plan, drug companies that want to keep getting federal support will have to redirect more of their profits into meaningful investments in research and development." Clinton also criticized incremental drug improvements, saying that "too often, so-called new drugs are really old drugs that have just been tweaked a little bit, but then they're marketed as breakthrough drugs and they're sold for high prices." The Democratic candidate went on to condemn advertising in the drug industry, remarking that "I also want to tackle direct to consumer advertising... Other countries ban these ads because they are so often misleading. But at the very least, we shouldn't be encouraging them with corporate write-offs... Under my plan, we will instead use that taxpayer money to fund innovation... I would also like to make sure any ads the drug industry does run are approved by the FDA." Moving more broadly onto Medicaid and health insurers, Clinton stated, "I believe Medicare should be able to negotiate for lower prices for its members... I will require drug companies to provide higher rebates for prescription drugs to low income Medicare patients, just like they have to do for Medicaid patients... I think the insurance companies need to be put on notice." Providing more concrete details of her plan, Clinton concluded, "I will cap out of pocket drug costs for working families. You won't have to pay more than $250 a month for covered medications... Particularly for people who have a chronic illness. Also under my plan, you will be able to import cheaper drugs from other countries legally. If the medicine you need costs less in Canada, you should be able to buy it from Canada or any other country that meets our safety standards... I will also make sure we have more generics on the market [by boosting funding for] the FDA's office of generic drugs."
16:36 EDTSPLS, ODPOn The Fly: Top stock stories for Tuesday
Stocks on Wall Street began the session sharply lower and remained that way throughout the session. There was little in the way of buying as each of the major equity indexes slid over 1% and the market internals were decidedly negative. The auto industry and biotech sector were both notably weak, after the French government called for an investigation into the entire auto industry in the wake of the Volkswagen (VLKAY) emissions scandal and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton presented a plan to limit the cost of drugs for consumers. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the FHFA home price index rose 0.6% to 224.5 in July, which was better than the 0.4% rise that was expected. The Richmond Fed factory index fell to -5 in September, versus the reading of 2 that was expected. In Asia, the Asian Development Bank cut its growth forecast for the region, citing a weaker outlook for China and India and a delayed recovery in the world's advanced economies. The bank now sees the Chinese economy growing 6.8% this year and 6.7% next year, down from its previous forecasts of 7.2% and 7%, respectively. COMPANY NEWS: Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs (GS) Chairman and CEO, disclosed that he was diagnosed with lymphoma. "Fortunately, my form of lymphoma is highly curable and my doctors' and my own expectation is that I will be cured," Blankfein stated in an open letter that was shared by the bank... Bank of America (BAC) shareholders approved a proposal to ratify the 2014 amendments to the company's bylaws that permitted the board of directors to determine its leadership structure, meaning Brian Moynihan can retain his dual role as both Chairman and CEO... Shares of several fertilizer companies slid after Mosaic (MOS) announced it will reduce its potash production in response to current crop nutrient market conditions, primarily related to delayed fertilizer purchases in Brazil and North America. Shares of Mosaic finished the day down 7% at $33.87 following last night's announcement, while Potash (POT) fell 6.5% and Agrium (AGU) dropped 3.5%. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Ashland (ASH), which advanced $2.78, or 2.6%, to $108.50 after announcing it will proceed with a plan to separate into two independent, publicly traded companies. Also higher was Weatherford (WFT), which gained 90c, or 10.7%, to $9.31 after cancelling plans for a public share offering, after which research firms Jefferies and Iberia both reiterated Buy-equivalent ratings on the stock. Among the noteworthy losers were Office Depot (ODP) and Staples (SPLS), which declined a respective 4% and 5.8% after the New York Post quoted a source as saying the FTC may move to block their merger plan. Also lower was Groupon (GRPN), which slipped 2.2% to $4.08 after announcing plans to cut 1,100 jobs related primarily to its international operations. ConAgra (CAG), Carnival (CCL), and CarMax (KMX) fell 7%, 5.5%, and 4.65%, respectively, following their quarterly earnings reports. INDEXES: The Dow fell 179.72, or 1.09%, to 16,330.47, the Nasdaq lost 72.23, or 1.5%, to 4,756.72, and the S&P 500 dropped 24.23, or 1.23%, to 1,942.74.
14:52 EDTHUM, AETAetna plans to raise Humana wages after merger, Bloomberg says
Aetna (AET) CEO Mark Bertolini plans to raise wages to $16 per hour for about 10,000 low-wage Humana (HUM) employees if the prospective merger of the two companies goes through, reports Bloomberg, citing written testimony at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing. "Our hope is these initiatives will help reduce employee turnover," explained Bertolini. Reference Link
12:14 EDTSPLS, ODPOn The Fly: Top stock stories at midday
Stocks began the session deep in negative territory and have remained there throughout the morning. There has been little in the way of buying as the downward pressure in the market has not shown any sign of letting up. There is also little in the way of explanation as to why the market is so weak other than continued disappointment in the Fed's interest rate decision and the ongoing concern over China's economic growth. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the FHFA home price index rose 0.6% to 224.5 in July, which was better than the 0.4% rise that was expected. The Richmond Fed factory index fell to -5 in September, versus the reading of 2 that was expected. COMPANY NEWS: Shares of Groupon (GRPN) slumped 2.5% after the online and mobile deal provider said it plans to cut more than 1,000 jobs relating primarily to the company's international operations. The news is the latest in a recent run of job cut announcements, after HP Enterprise said last week that it expects 25,000-30,000 people to leave the company and Johnson Controls (JCI) recently announced plans to reduce its global salaried workforce by as many as 3,000 people... Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs (GS) chairman and CEO, disclosed that he was told by doctors that he has lymphoma. "Fortunately, my form of lymphoma is highly curable and my doctors' and my own expectation is that I will be cured," Blankfein stated in an open letter that was shared by the bank. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Weatherford (WFT), which rose 9.6% after stating that it has decided not to pursue its previously announced concurrent public offerings of ordinary shares of the company and mandatorily exchangeable subordinated notes. Also higher was Vascular Biogenics (VBLT), which gained 15% to around $9.30 per share after the stock was initiated with a Buy rating and $25 price target at Chardan. Among the noteworthy losers following their earnings reports were ConAgra (CAG) and Carnival (CCL), which each fell more than 5%, and Red Hat (RHT), which slid 2%. Also lower were shares of Staples (SPLS) and Office Depot (ODP), which fell 7% and 8%, respectively, after the New York Post said a top FTC regulator may be leaning toward recommending against approving their merger agreement. INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was down 263.77, or 1.6%, to 16,246.42, the Nasdaq was down 99.52, or 2.06%, to 4,729.44, and the S&P 500 was down 32.51, or 1.65%, to 1,934.46.
10:04 EDTSPLSStaples falls, levels to watch
An earlier story from the NY Post said that the FTC may block the Staples, Office Depot merger. Shares are down 4.5% to $12.93. At that price next support would be at $12.51, the August 24th low. Resistance is at $13.27, the session high.
08:44 EDTCICigna price target raised to $160 from $145 at Cowen
Cowen raised its price target on Cigna (CI) to $160 from $145 citing its accretion with Anthem (ANTM). The firm said they see limited downside if the deal does not go through and substantial upside if the deal does go through. Cowen reiterated its Outperform rating on Cigna shares.
08:37 EDTUNH, AET, CI, HUM, DVAAetna, Anthem CEOs set to testify to Senate committee, WSJ reports
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07:59 EDTDVADaVita to acquire The Everett Clinic
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07:47 EDTAETSenate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing
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06:19 EDTSPLS, ODPFTC may end Staples, Office Depot merger, NY Post reports
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September 21, 2015
17:17 EDTCICigna sees FY16 adjusted EPS $9.66, consensus 9.46
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17:13 EDTCICigna revises FY15 adjusted EPS view to $8.61, consensus $8.61
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05:09 EDTSPLSStocks with implied volatility movement; BMY SPLS
Stocks with implied volatility movement; Bristol-Myers (BMY) 39. Staples (SPLS) 50 according to iVolatility.
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