Daily Archives: February 5, 2015

Pfizer's Hospira deal bets on price spike for specialty generics

Feb 5 (Reuters) – Pfizer Inc’s $15 billion deal to
buy Hospira Inc will allow the largest U.S. drugmaker to benefit
from specialty generic medicines that are commanding far higher
prices than traditional off-patent pills, industry investors and
analysts said.

High demand for many of its injectable sterile drugs,
including outright shortages in some cases, has allowed Hospira
to increase prices in recent years.

Pfizer said on Thursday it will be adding the
business to its unit of “global established products” – now
primarily a collection of conventional pills that have gone
off-patent and steadily lost value due to competition from cheap
generics.

The combination will make the established products unit a
more attractive play for investors should Pfizer eventually spin
it off or sell it, a decision expected in 2017.

“A lot of established products are diminishing assets,
whereas the generics business is growing nicely for specialty
injectables. The portfolio tends to be more durable,” said Kevin
Kendra, an analyst with Gabelli & Co, which holds Hospira
shares.

Pfizer said the $37 billion global market for sterile
injectables in 2013 will double to $70 billion by 2020. Such
products include cancer drugs delivered by infusion pump,
intravenous medicines, pre-filled syringes, bags and vials used
by hospitals.

They are harder, and more expensive, to manufacture with the
proper quality controls than traditional pills, and the number
of companies that specialize in their production has dropped
dramatically in recent years due to a wave of consolidation
among generics companies.

Hospira had a series of quality control problems beginning
in 2010 at its plant in North Carolina and later facilities in
India and elsewhere, since fixed, as well as several product
recalls, contributing to shortages.

“It hurt Hospira when they couldn’t supply, but now that
they’ve gotten their plants fixed up, they’re benefiting from
competitors’ own manufacturing issues,” Kendra said.

For the first nine months of 2014, Hospira sales grew more
than 14 percent to $3.34 billion. Pfizer’s established products
unit saw sales decline 9 percent in 2014 to $25.1 billion.

Pfizer can now vastly expand sales of the products it is
acquiring due to its global presence. Some analysts say that
will help justify the 39 percent premium it agreed to pay for
Hospira, which makes about 80 percent of its sales in the United
States.

“The combined company will leverage Pfizer’s global
commercial network to expand Hospira’s portfolio into Europe and
the emerging markets,” JP Morgan analyst Chris Schott said.

Pfizer’s manufacturing expertise could also boost confidence
in quality controls.

“Pfizer is one of the best sterile products manufacturers in
the industry, which should be comforting” to U.S. health
regulators, Suntrust Robinson Humphrey analyst John Boris said.

In fact, industry experts believe the Hospira deal bolsters
the case for separating the Pfizer established products business
soon.

“It would make that established products business that much
more attractive on a global basis with this addition of
Hospira’s revenue base,” said Len Yaffe, portfolio manager of
the StockDoc Partners healthcare fund that holds both Pfizer and
Hospira shares.

(Editing by Michele Gershberg, Bernard Orr)


Source: Newsjyoti Company affairs

RPT-UPDATE 1-Expedia 4th-qtr profit misses estimates, shares slide

(Repeats to fix first reference to CFO)

By Jeffrey Dastin

Feb 5 (Reuters) – Expedia Inc on Thursday posted a
fourth-quarter profit below analysts’ expectations and over 30
percent lower than the same quarter a year ago, due in part to
currency headwinds and heavy competition in China.

The travel services company’s shares slid more than 7
percent in extended trading.

Expedia, which recently slipped behind The Priceline Group
Inc to become the world’s second largest travel
services company by bookings, earned about $66.0 million last
quarter, or 50 cents per diluted share.

However, analysts had on average estimated the company would
earn $1.01 per share in the quarter, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S.

While Expedia has expanded rapidly with the acquisitions of
Travelocity last month and the Wotif Group in November 2014, the
company said it will take time to integrate Wotif, in
particular, and will not realize its full potential until after
the first half of 2015, when Expedia technology will power all
of its business.

“We’re now on cutting-edge technology platforms that will
enable us to really expand our global presence,” Chief Financial
Officer Mark Okerstrom said.

Meanwhile, its Chinese subsidiary eLong continued to suffer
from heavy competition in the region, while demand from European
travelers and others visiting the United States has slumped due
to a stronger dollar.

“We are expecting a deceleration in revenue growth in 2015
(from these) headwinds,” Okerstrom said during the company’s
earnings call, adding in an interview: “We are seeing impacts in
most regions that have had foreign exchange weakening.”

To be sure, a stronger U.S. dollar and lower fuel prices
have helped boost demand from U.S. consumers, Chief Executive
Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said during the earnings call. More
than 50 percent of Expedia’s revenue is generated from the
United States.

Volatile foreign exchange rates reduced Expedia’s cash and
equivalents by $79.4 million last quarter, the company reported.
Its currency hedging cost it more than $5 million, and the eLong
business saw a $27 million loss in adjusted earnings before
interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

Excluding eLong but including a negative foreign exchange
impact of 5 percent, the company said it expects its EBITDA to
grow between 10 percent and 15 percent in 2015.

Gross bookings in the fourth quarter grew 24 percent
year-over-year.

Expedia also said it will pay shareholders an 18-cent
dividend on March 26, worth about $23 million.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin; editing by Meredith Mazzilli, G
Crosse)


Source: Newsjyoti Company affairs

UPDATE 3-DuPont rebuffs Peltz demand for board seat as proxy battle nears

* Says would have considered Trian nominee but not full
slate

* Trian sticks to demand for Peltz addition to board

* Investor says move ‘draws a line in the sand’

(Adds comment from DuPont investor)

By Swetha Gopinath

Feb 5 (Reuters) – DuPont said on Thursday it rebuffed
an attempt by activist shareholder Trian Fund Management to put
its chief executive, Nelson Peltz, on the chemical maker’s
board, instead naming two of its own nominees as directors.

The move appears to set the stage for a proxy battle with
Trian, which is seeking board seats to turn up the pressure on
the company to break up and continued to insist that all four of
its nominees be added to the board.

DuPont said it remained open to a dialogue with Peltz and
would have considered a Trian nominee as a potential addition to
its board if the fund had agreed to withdraw its slate of
nominees.

“We are disappointed that you refused to consider any path
forward that did not involve putting you personally on the
board,” DuPont said in a letter to Peltz, according to a
regulatory filing.

Trian later responded by saying that while it respected the
records of “stockholder value creation” of DuPont’s latest board
nominees, Tyco International Plc Chairman Edward Breen
and former LyondellBasell Industries NV Chief Executive
James Gallogly, there was more to be done to unlock “significant
further value for shareholders.”

Specifically, it urged DuPont to acquiesce to the
appointment of its full slate of board nominees including Peltz
himself “based on their strong track records of value creation,
relevant operating expertise, and new and different
perspectives.”

Trian and investment funds it manages own 24.3 million
shares in the company formally known as E I du Pont de Nemours
and Co, equivalent to a 2.68 percent stake.

One large investor in Dupont said he was surprised at the
company’s resistance to a more thorough board shakeup as
happened at DuPont rival Dow Chemical Co, which recently
averted a proxy fight with Dan Loeb’s hedge fund, Third Point
LLC, by agreeing to add four independent directors to its board.

“This really draws a line in the sand that I think is hard
to go back from and I think it is likely to become more heated
between now and the shareholder meeting,” said the investor, who
wished to remain anonymous because he is not permitted to speak
to the media. “One of the things we will weigh in our analysis
is are both people being reasonable in their demands?”

DuPont has repeatedly rejected Peltz’s proposal that it
split itself, highlighting the benefits of keeping its units
together.

The company, however, is spinning off its performance
chemicals business, which makes materials such as Teflon and
represents nearly 20 percent of revenue.

DuPont said Breen and Gallogly, neither of whom were among
Trian’s nominees, are experienced in corporate restructuring.
Their appointment on Thursday keeps the number of directors
unchanged at 14.

Breen, who was CEO of Tyco from 2002 to 2012, oversaw two
break-ups of the company. Gallogly guided LyondellBasell out of
bankruptcy within a year.

The duo replace Curtis Crawford and Richard Brown, who will
initially serve as consultants to the performance chemicals
unit. Brown will serve as non-executive chairman after the
separation of the unit, named Chemours Co.

DuPont’s shares rose 3.1 percent to close at $76.00 in
afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, its highest
close in over 16 years.

(Additional reporting by Mike Stone and Jessica Toonkel in New
York; Editing by Don Sebastian, Savio D’Souza and Christian
Plumb)


Source: Newsjyoti Company affairs

Jordanian jets pound Islamic State as king comforts pilot's family

Jordan's King Abdullah offers his condolences to Safi al-Kasaesbeh, the father of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, at the headquarters of the family's clan in the city of Karak February 5, 2015.REUTERS/Petra News Agency


(Reuters) – Jordanian fighter jets pounded Islamic State hideouts in Syria on Thursday and then roared over the hometown of a pilot killed by the militants, while below them King Abdullah consoled the victim’s family.

An armed forces statement said tens of Jordanian fighter jets were deployed in the attacks, which destroyed ammunition depots and training camps run by the Islamic State. The attacks were “just the beginning”, it said.

Witnesses overheard the monarch telling the pilot’s father the planes were returning from the militant-held city of Raqqa. A security source told Reuters the strikes hit targets in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor and near Raqqa.

The show of force came two days after the ultra-hardline Islamic State released a video showing captured Jordanian pilot Mouath al-Kasaesbeh being burned alive in a cage as masked militants in camouflage uniforms looked on.

State television aired footage of fighter jets taking off to carry out the raids. Several men and women were shown writing Koranic verses and anti-Islamic State slogans on what appeared to be the bombs used in the attacks. It later broadcast the actual bombing, before the jets returned safely to Jordan.

U.S. aircraft joined the mission to provide intelligence, surveillance as well as reconnaissance and targeting support, a U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official also said the strikes focused on multiple targets around Raqqa.

Military commanders briefed King Abdullah after the missions about the details of the strikes, state television said.

The monarch has vowed to avenge Kasaesbeh’s killing and ordered commanders to prepare for a stepped-up military role in the U.S.-led coalition against the group. But many Jordanians fear being dragged into a conflict that could trigger a backlash by hardline militants inside the kingdom.

Jordan is a major U.S. ally in the fight against hardline Islamist groups, and hosted U.S. troops during operations that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It is home to hundreds of U.S. military trainers bolstering defences at the Syrian and Iraqi borders and is determined to keep the jihadists in Syria away from its frontiers.

“NO HUMANITY”

State television showed a sombre king sitting alongside the army chief and senior officials visiting the Kasaesbeh tribal family in Aya, a village some 100 km (60 miles) south of the capital Amman.

The king, wearing a traditional Arab head dress, was met by cheering crowds with cries of “Long Live his Majesty the King, Long Live the King” in traditional Bedouin chanting.

Thousands of Jordanians flocked to pay their respects. The region’s influential tribes form an important pillar of support for the Hashemite monarchy and supply the army and security forces with their manpower.

“You are a wise monarch. These criminals violated the rules of war in Islam and they have no humanity. Even humanity disowns them,” Safi Kasaesbeh, father of the pilot, told the king.

The Jordanian monarch has vowed that the pilot’s death, which has stirred nationalist fervour across the country, will bring severe retaliation against Islamic State.

Hours after the release of the video showing the pilot burning to death, the authorities executed two al Qaeda militants who had been on death row, including a woman who had tried to blow herself up in a suicide bombing and whose release had been demanded by Islamic State.

(Writing by Mariam Karouny and Sylvia Westall; Additional reporting by Phillip Stewart in Washington; Editing by Tom Heneghan and Mark Trevelyan)


Source: Newsjyoti World

UPDATE 2-RadioShack files for bankruptcy, sell up to 2,400 stores

(Adds comments from Sprint CEO; adds detail on RadioShack
bankruptcy filing)

By Nick Brown

Feb 5 (Reuters) – Electronics retailer RadioShack Corp
filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection on Thursday and
said it had a deal in place to sell as many as 2,400 stores to
an affiliate of hedge fund Standard General, its lender and
largest shareholder.

Wireless company Sprint Corp would operate as many as
1,750 of those stores under an agreement with Standard General,
Sprint said separately.

RadioShack’s bankruptcy, which has been expected for months,
follows 11 consecutive unprofitable quarters as the company has
failed to transform itself into a destination for mobile phone
buyers. But its sale agreement with Standard General could spare
it the fate most retailers suffer in Chapter 11, liquidation.

RadioShack said in a statement that the Standard General
affiliate, called General Wireless, will acquire between 1,500
and 2,400 of its more than 4,000 stores.

Sprint would occupy about one-third of each RadioShack
store, selling “mobile devices across Sprint`s brand portfolio
as well as RadioShack products, services and accessories,”
Sprint said in its statement.

Other potential buyers will also have the opportunity to bid
on RadioShack assets. Any deal will need approval by the U.S.
Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, so nothing is etched in stone.

Sprint’s chief executive, Marcelo Claure, in a statement
said the deal will “allow Sprint to grow branded distribution
quickly and cost effectively.”

In an interview with Reuters earlier on Thursday, Claure
said RadioShack had “incredible store locations,” and he was
keen to acquire some to cut down on long waits at Sprint’s
current stores. “Customers have to wait one or two hours to get
a phone and that’s not acceptable,” Claure said.

A spokesman for Standard General did not respond to a
request for comment.

RadioShack, which listed $1.2 billion of assets and $1.39
billion of debts in its Chapter 11 filing, said it also has an
agreement with a lender group led by DW Partners for a $285
million loan to operate while in bankruptcy.

OTHER RESTRUCTURING MOVES

The Standard General deal is only a piece of its
restructuring efforts. The company has a deal with liquidation
firm Hilco to shutter underperforming stores and said it has
already begun discussions with other potential buyers to acquire
the rest of its assets.

“These steps are the culmination of a thorough process
intended to drive maximum value for our stakeholders,”
RadioShack Chief Executive Joe Magnacca said in the statement.

The chain’s more than 1,000 dealer franchise stores, its
Mexican subsidiary and its Asian operations are not part of the
bankruptcy, it said.

Retailers that enter bankruptcy usually liquidate, in large
part because of rules under U.S. bankruptcy law that give them
precious little time to decide whether to keep or break leases.

Recent retailers that met their demise in bankruptcy include
Loehmann’s Inc and Borders Group, which were sold to liquidation
firms, and Coldwater Creek. RadioShack hopes to avoid the same
fate. It is being advised by law firm Jones Day, investment bank
Lazard, and financial advisers at Maeva and FTI.

The case is In Re: RadioShack Corp, Delaware Court, District
of Delaware, Case No: 15-bk-10197.

(Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer and Sruthi Ramakrishnan in
Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by
Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Cynthia Osterman)


Source: Newsjyoti Company affairs

U.S. college students focused on studies, not partying, survey says

(Reuters) – U.S. college freshmen these days are a serious lot. A survey released on Thursday said first-year students report spending a record low amount of time partying and socializing compared to previous generations and that many are highly focused on their education and planning for graduate studies.

The survey produced by the University of California, Los Angeles, which detailed students’ high school habits and their initial perspectives and experiences at college, also found the lowest self-reported rates of alcohol and cigarette use in 30 years among first-year students at four-year colleges and universities.

The 49th annual “American Freshman” study indicates the first-year college students, who grew up during an economic downturn, are working toward financial and educational success and appear less concerned with having a good time.

At the same time, students’ self-reported measure of emotional health dropped to 50.7 percent, the lowest recorded by the annual survey.

“It signals that students are taking their academics much more seriously in high school, and subsequently not providing a social outlet to release stress,” said Kevin Eagan, director of UCLA’s cooperative institutional research program, which conducted the survey.

Last year, 18 percent of students surveyed reported spending at least 16 hours a week socializing and more than 41 percent said they did not party at all.

That equated to a record low amount of time devoted to socializing and partying, the survey found. By comparison, in 1987 nearly 38 percent of students spent 16 hours or more socializing. Between 1987 and 2014, the share of students who partied for six hours or more per week plummeted from nearly 36 percent to under 9 percent.

What are freshmen doing with time not spent at parties? Studying.

Nearly 50 percent of freshmen reported they spent six hours or more per week studying in high school, compared to about 34 percent a decade before then. They also spent more time on social media.

In another sign they are sober about their future, the share of freshmen planning to earn a master’s degree was nearly 44 percent in 2014, compared to 28 percent in 1974. Eagan said it is probably because of their perception that the labor market is competitive, he said.

A record 82 percent of students considered it highly important to one day be financially well off.

The survey was based on responses from more than 153,000 students across the country, according to UCLA.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Grant McCool)


Source: Newsjyoti Lifestyle

Two dead in shooting at University of South Carolina's public health school

(Reuters) – Two people died in a shooting at the University of South Carolina’s public health school on Thursday in an apparent murder-suicide, state police said.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry told a news conference the shooting in a room inside the school appeared to involve only the two deceased.

“This has every indication of being a very isolated incident which appears to be a murder-suicide,” he said, adding it was never an active shooter situation.

He said the shooting took place in a room at the new public health research building at the university’s public health school in downtown Columbia, blocks from the state capitol building. Berry would not identify the weapon.

Authorities did not immediately release the identities of the two deceased. The bodies, which remained inside the school all afternoon, were removed about 6 p.m., Berry told Reuters.

A professor was shot dead, The State newspaper in Columbia reported, citing unnamed sources.

A call of shots fired came in to police around at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Berry said. The university issued an online alert warning people to stay indoors and seek safe shelter.

The alert was lifted about an hour later.

Classes in the public health school were canceled for the day, the university said on Twitter. The campus otherwise was operating under normal conditions, according to its website.

The State reported that all buildings at the university had been locked down and that Governor Nikki Haley cut a news conference short on Thursday because of security concerns.

(Writing by Letitia Stein; Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins and Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Will Dunham, Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)


Source: Newsjyoti US

UPDATE 1-Private equity-backed aluminum processor Aleris scraps IPO plan

(Adds background)

Feb 5 (Reuters) – Aluminum processor Aleris Corp IPO-ARS.N
filed on Thursday to withdraw its $500 million initial public
offering, nearly three years after postponing the listing due to
market conditions.

Cleveland, Ohio-based Aleris had planned to list 31.3
million shares in a price range of $15 to $17. At the upper end
of this range, the company would have been valued at about $1.8
billion.

The withdrawal is a blow to the private equity firms that
own Aleris. Oaktree Capital Management LP, a unit of Oaktree
Capital Group LLC, and Apollo Global Management
are among its biggest shareholders.

Apollo declined to comment on the withdrawal of the IPO
filing. Neither Aleris nor Oaktree were available for comment.

Aleris initially filed to list shares on the New York Stock
Exchange in April 2011.

When it postponed the offering a year later, Reuters
reported that investors might have been put off by its exposure
to China and its reliance on European auto makers, to which it
supplies recycled aluminum alloy. (reut.rs/1Kw3MWb)

Aleris filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009 as
a result of the global recession, allowing debt investors to
seize control from TPG Capital LP.

J.P. Morgan, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America
Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs were the underwriters of the
proposed offering.

(Reporting by Amrutha Gayathri in Bengaluru; Editing by Robin
Paxton)


Source: Newsjyoti Company affairs

Heavy fighting in Libya's Benghazi as army pushes to take port

(Reuters) – Clashes erupted in the center of Libya’s main eastern city Benghazi on Thursday as pro-government forces pushed to take the port district from Islamist militants, and seven soldiers were killed, witnesses and military officials said.

The fighting mirrors a wider struggle in the oil-producing North African state where two governments and parliaments, allied to rival armed groups, are vying for control almost four years after Muammar Gaddafi fell to an armed uprising.

Backed by forces led by General Khalifa Haftar, army special forces in mid-October launched an offensive against Islamists in Benghazi, expelling them from the airport area and from several camps the army had lost during the summer.

Army forces have since been trying to retake the port area and two other districts where pro-government forces say fighters from the militant Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group are holed up.

The port, the main gateway for food imports into eastern Libya, has had to close.

On Thursday morning, army vehicles advanced on the Corniche road toward the port gate and a nearby court building. Soldiers took over several government buildings such as a passport office, a state insurance and a state bank damaged in earlier fighting.

Around 25 soldiers were wounded, army sources said.

“The road to the port is under our control,” said Faraj al-Barassi, a military commander.

Heavy gunfire continued until late at night. The court is famous as the place where the 2011 uprising against Gaddafi started with peaceful protests against his jailing of many opponents.

Army forces in eastern Libya are loyal to internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, who was forced to leave the capital Tripoli in the west in August for the eastern city of Bayda when a group called Libya Dawn seized the capital.

The new rulers in Tripoli set up their own government and parliament, but these have not been recognized by the United Nations. Both sides have fought each other on several fronts.

Libya has failed to build up a national army and efficient state institutions since the end of Gaddafi’s one-man rule, and the country is now effectively dominated by former rebel brigades who have carved out competing fiefs.

(Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


Source: Newsjyoti World

Oil up over 4 percent on Libya raid, China easing; volatility seen

A man fills up his 1976 Chevy Nova with gasoline at a PDVSA gas station in Caracas January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

A man fills up his 1976 Chevy Nova with gasoline at a PDVSA gas station in Caracas January 12, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Jorge Silva


(Reuters) – Crude prices closed up more than 4 percent on Thursday as rising violence in producer Libya and an expected boost in oil demand from China’s central bank easing helped the market rebound from a sharp rout in the previous session.

Traders and analysts said they expect crude’s rollercoaster ride which began last Friday to continue as it tries to find a bottom to a seven-month selloff that took prices near six-year lows.

But many were pessimistic about a sustained rally, as record-high U.S. inventories rekindle worries about a glut.

“It is just a changing market sentiment as more and more players are starting to believe production cuts are coming in the U.S. and that will be enough to erase the surplus,” Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute, New York, said on the Reuters Global Oil Forum.

“I think there will be a lot of disappointment going forward for that view.”

In the physical crude market, top exporter Saudi Arabia cut March prices for its Asian customers while raising rates for European and U.S. buyers, sending mixed signals to futures traders.

Benchmark Brent crude futures settled up $2.41, or 4.5 percent, at $57.57 a barrel.

U.S. crude futures, also known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), finished up $2.03, or 4.2 percent, at $50.48.

Brent fell nearly 7 percent and WTI 9 percent on Wednesday after the U.S. government said crude stocks rose 6.3 million barrels last week to record highs above 413 million. The stockpile jump cut short a four-day rally that had sent crude prices up nearly 20 percent after a slump in the number of U.S. oil drilling rigs. [EIA/S]

In Thursday’s session, crude futures rose early, reacting to a raid on an oilfield in Libya by gunmen even though production was not affected. An attack on a tanker off Nigeria and monetary easing by China that could boost oil demand also provided support.

The rally accelerated towards noon, after oil services firm Genscape reported a 550,000 barrel build in crude stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for WTI in the four days since Jan. 30. Traders had expected above 1 million barrels.

The smaller-than-expected Cushing build sharply narrowed the discount in WTI’s front month to the second month. Brent premium’s to WTI widened to $6.09 a barrel at the settlement, its biggest since late September.

(Additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Singapore; Editing by William Hardy, Jason Neely, Meredith Mazzilli, Marguerita Choy, Cynthia Osterman and Diane Craft)


Source: Newsjyoti Reporter