Plus, Simon Property Group is acquiring Taubman Centers for $3.6 billion, and Eli Lilly shares are down after a failed trial for its Alzheimer’s drug candidate.
Stocks traded in the green Monday morning with the Dow adding 110 points, or 0.4%, after dropping more than 100 points to start off the session. The S&P 500 added 0.4%, while the Nasdaq traded 0.6% higher.
Cases of the coronavirus have surged to more than 40,000 worldwide, while the death toll has risen to at least 910. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that WHO officials are concerned about new cases found in France and the U.K. in recent days that were transmitted without any travel history to China. “The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire, but for now it’s only a spark,” Ghebreyesus said during a press conference, adding in a tweet, “The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
The U.S. Justice Department announced this morning that it has indicted four members of China’s People’s Liberation Army for the 2017 cyberattack against credit ratings agency Equifax. According to Justice Department officials, Wu Zhi Yong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke, and Liu Lei committed espionage, wire fraud, and other digital crimes which led to the theft of personal information belonging to 147 million people. By naming these individuals, the Justice Department is finally confirming that China was behind the incident. “Today, we hold PLA hackers accountable for their criminal actions, and we remind the Chinese government that we have the capability to remove the internet’s cloak of anonymity and find the hackers that nation repeatedly deploys against us,” said U.S. Attorney General William Barr. “Unfortunately, the Equifax hack fits a disturbing and unacceptable pattern of state-sponsored computer intrusions and thefts by China and its citizens that have targeted personally identifiable information, trade secrets, and other confidential information.”
Xerox just raised its bid for HP Inc to $24 per share, valuing HP at $34.8 billion. Xerox offered HP $22 per share in November, but HP’s board of directors unanimously rejected the takeover proposal as it undervalued HP. The new bid consists of $18.40 in cash and 0.149 Xerox shares for each HP share, and Xerox said it intends to make a tender offer for all HP shares “on or around March 2.” “The value created by the synergies realized in a combination of Xerox and HP is incremental to any value that HP can create by revising its strategic plan or dramatically changing its capital allocation policy to incorporate additional share repurchases,” Xerox said in a press release. “Xerox’s offer provides HP stockholders with both significant, immediate cash value, and meaningful upside via equity ownership in the combined company.”
In other takeover news, Taubman Centers shares are up 53% this morning after the mall owner agreed to be bought by Simon Property Group in a deal valued at $3.6 billion. Taubman owns, manages, or leases 26 regional shopping malls in the U.S. and Asia. Simon, which is known for owning and operating top-tier shopping malls, said the deal should provide an immediate boost to its funds from operations, adding at least 3% on an annualized basis. “By joining together, we will enhance the ability of [Taubman Realty] to invest in innovative retail environments that create exciting shopping and entertainment experiences for consumers, immersive opportunities for retailers, and substantial new job prospects for local communities,” said Simon CEO and President David Simon in a press release. The deal is expected to close within six months.
Eli Lilly and Biogen shares have taken a hit this morning. Lilly said its solanezumab drug had failed in a trial of patients with dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease after the trial was determined not to have achieved its primary endpoint. Biogen shares were down on fears that regulators may see Lilly’s failure with solanezumab as a reason not to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s treatment, aducanumab, which failed in late-stage trials but was still submitted for approval anyway. “While Alzheimer’s has been an extremely difficult disease for successful drug development and we do not have any revenues for solanezumab in our Lilly model, we believe some investors had been cautiously optimistic on a positive outcome,” wrote Mizuho analyst Vamil Divan in a note.
Stocks We’re Watching
Synaptics Inc (NASDAQ: SYNA): Synaptics shares jumped nearly 21% on Friday after the human interface chip maker delivered an fiscal Q2 earnings and guidance beat. Synaptics reported net income of $19.8 million, or $0.58 per share, compared to analysts’ expectations for net income of $12.8 million, or $0.36 per share. “Our December quarter was better than expected due to unusually strong demand for our PC products and from our largest mobile customer during the holiday season,” said Synaptics CEO Michael Hurlston. “We had a record finish to calendar 2019 and continue to maintain a healthy backlog of $284 million entering the March quarter and expect that subsequent bookings, customer forecasts and product sell-in and sell-through patterns will result in revenue for the third quarter of fiscal 2020 to be in the range of $330 to $350 million,” added CFO Dean Butler.
Collegium Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: COLL): Shares of this specialty pharmaceutical company gained 26% on Friday after it announced an agreement to purchase the U.S. rights to Assertio Therapeutics’ Nucynta franchise for $375 million. Collegium Pharmaceuticals said the deal will be “financially transformative… We expect the acquisition to improve annual EBITDA and operating cash flows by more than $100M.” Collegium said the Nucynta franchise, which includes an extended-release and an immediate release formulation of the opioid tapentadol, is supported by patents which expire in mid-June 2025, with the potential for a six-month pediatric extension.
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