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July 2017

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Sarepta Therapeutics has acquired the rights for Utrophin modulation from Summit

Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:SRPT) has effectively expanded the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy treatment pipeline in Europe, after it struck a mutual collaboration and licensing deal with Summit Therapeutics. According to the agreement, Sarepta will now have full control over research and development of Utrophin modulation treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Chad Messer, analyst at Needham and Company, sees the development as a large positive for Sarepta and believes it will further strengthen the product portfolio of Sarepta in the DMD market.

The Utrophin modulation treatment is clinically undergoing phase 2 trials and has been submitted to European Medicines Agency by Summit under the name of “Ezutromid”. The analyst notes that Utrophin is currently the highest potential drug for the treatment of DMD, a part of which is due to Utrophin’s very similar structure to that of Dystrophin gene mutations, which is the primary cause of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. According to pre-clinical studies, Utrophin has had a very positive impact on muscle performance of the patients and is very likely to be approved following the clinical trials.

To sum it up, the analyst believes that Sarepta has played the right move by acquiring the license for utrophin modulation in Europe. The price tag of $40M upfront is well deserved, despite the fact that Ezutromid is yet to be approved. According to Mr. Messer’s estimates, Ezutromid is going to be approved during the first half of 2019. Furthermore, the agreement is also a beginning of collaboration between the two companies and will surely accelerate the research and development efforts at both the companies.

Needham and Company has chosen to reaffirm its price target of $81 along with its buy rating. The analyst opinion for Sarepta has six buy, five outperform and three hold ratings. The stock currently trades at a price of $62.16, after having declined by 0.30% in the current session.

Why Freeport-McMoRan would continue to rally in futureAsset Sales Present Upside To InvestmentFocusing to Lower Debt BurdenConclusion

Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) stock continues to boost investor confidence as it has soared by 73.34% Year-to-Date (YTD). The past five days have shown sluggish performance as the stock declined by 6.35%, but we expect significant upside potential inherent in the stock due to asset sales.

Freeport reported a net loss in the quarter for period ending March 2016 of $4.2 billion, or $3.35 per share, after net charges adjustment of $4 billion, a loss totaled to $197 million or $0.16 per share. The loss was predicted by analysts covering the stock but earnings surpassed analysts’ expectation by $0.02.

Asset Sales Present Upside To Investment

Freeport had mentioned earlier that it would incur asset sales to boost liquidity. It also mentioned that earnings from asset sales would be used to downsize its debt burden and hence prepare the company for long term growth.

First of all, Freeport is in agreement to dispose its 13% stake in Morenci Mine, which could provide the company with liquidity of worth $1 billion. The stake had provided the company $115 million of Earnings before Interest Tax and Depreciation (EBITDA) last year, and is expected to close during 2Q this year.

Further details about asset sales are highlighted in slide below:

The company further mentioned that it is advancing in discussions on additional transactions and expects additional progress in better interest of shareholders by this quarter.

This would mean disposing off assets which no longer fit with overall portfolio, and would also enhance its financial health.

Focusing to Lower Debt Burden

On Year-over-Year (YoY) basis, Freeport’s debt burden has increased from $20.3 billion to $20.8 billion. This would mean higher interest costs associated to fund debt obligations. But positive aspect is that the management has been actively involved in agreements which would enable to lower its debt burden.

The asset sales mentioned above would help a lot to lower its debt and as further asset sales are expected, its debt burden would be further trimmed. Also, by paying off debt, its interest liabilities would be reduced and hence, strengthen the company.

Freeport has to pay $0.03 billion for its debt maturing this year, and $1.6 billion the next year. With assets sales, this appears to be no problem and its short term liabilities could be easily paid off.

Conclusion

Asset sales are a double sword, as it would provide liquidity but would also lower future sales revenue. But in case of Freeport, debt is of considerable importance as it has hampered its performance in the past, so asset sales would provide considerable financial breathing space to the company.

 

The Country Caller examines into the whisper numbers for Microsoft and United Continental ahead of their respective earnings report scheduled today

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is going to report its fourth quarter earnings for the fiscal year 2016, today after the closing bell. Looking into the whisper numbers, it is expected for the technology giant to miss the Street on bottom line, while a top line beat is anticipated on the other hand. Meanwhile, United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL), which will report its second quarter earnings today, is anticipated to miss the Street on both top and bottom lines. The whisper numbers for both the companies are discussed as follows.

Microsoft Corporation

According to the consensus, Microsoft will report $0.58 in EPS for the fourth quarter. The company reported $0.62 in EPS for the same quarter last year, while for the third quarter also, Microsoft reported $0.62 in EPS, which reflects that a 6.45% annual decline is expected in earnings. As of earningswhisper.com estimate, the company would beat the Street on bottom line by 4 cents.

As of FactSet, the consensus expects revenue to come in at $22.14, while the Estimize estimate suggests a top line beat as they have estimated $22.203 billion in revenue. The $423 billion company reported $22.2 billion in sales for the same quarter last year, which indicates that the consensus expects a 0.2% annual decline in sales. For the previous quarter, Microsoft reported $22.1 billion in sales.

United Continental

According to FactSet data, the consensus expects $2.56 in EPS for United Airline’s Q2. In contrast, earningwhispers.com expects $2.47 in EPS, which hints toward a bottom line miss in earnings. For the previous quarter, UAL reported $1.23 in EPS. This figure suggests that the consensus is expecting 108.13% quarter over quarter growth in UAL earnings. For the same period last year, UAL reported earnings of $3.14, thus a 18.47% year over year decline is expected in earnings this time.

On the top line, United Airlines is expected to report $9.9 billion in revenue, as of FactSet. While Estimize suggests a top line miss in sales as it has estimated $9.36 billion in revenue. For 1QFY16, UAL reported sales of $8.2 billion, while for the same quarter last year, the company reported $9.9 billion in sales. This indicates that the consensus is anticipating revenue growth, 13.41% sequentially and 5.25%, annually

Alphabet’s Google Home will now be able to control Belkin’s line-up of WeMo products that will also work with Google Assistant

Following Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) debut of Google Home speaker in October, it is apparent that the tech giant is taking all measures to ramp up on its offerings right before the holiday season. CNET reports that the Bluetooth device along with the company’s digital assistant, Google Assistant, can now control Belkin’s line-up of WeMo devices.

With the company’s announcement of its expansion of smart-home platform Weave, it is apparent that Google Home is aiming to be the epitome of a smart home controller in the subsequent future. Since the trend of using virtual assistants and smart speaker has risen rapidly, we believe that the latest tweak will help the search giant promote its device right before the start of New Year.

After Google introduced Weave—a language created to connect smart devices together in 2015—the company has extended it to support its Google Assistant as well. With its fresh launch, Google Home could currently only control Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue, and IFTTT smart devices. Now, Weave’s expansion will eventually enable it to connect with smart-devices from Belkin, Lifx, Honeywell, Wink, TP-Link, and First Alert.

Through this, it is evident that the company is hoping to compete with Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker, the Amazon Echo. After the retail giant rolled out with the device in 2014, Echo has proven to be a unique asset to help users build up on their smart-homes. Powered by the e-commerce titan’s virtual assistant, Alexa, the Echo speaker can control a range of smart devices and third-party services.

Some of these “skills” include ordering pizza from Dominos, booking an Uber, getting medical feedback, controlling smart-locks, playing music, and much more. Amazon’s decision to launch the Alexa Skills Kit has been a vital step in Echo’s success. Now with almost 3,200 skills, it is evident that the retail giant’s speaker has set a high standard for competitors such as Google Home. However, considering that Google has just newly launched the device and does not have the same head start as the online retailer, we believe that the tech giant has immense potential to over-throw the Echo at some point in the distant future.

Sell-Side Firm Jefferies explains data from ChannelAdvisor’s May Update

ChannelAdvisor’s Same Store Sales (SSS) report for the month of May reflected mixed results, with quite deceleration for Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), nice and sequential acceleration for Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), and slight improvement for eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY.) The report once again highlighted that SSS growth for Amazon was in line, or slightly better than overall eCommerce growth, in a period when eBay lagged behind slightly. According to report from ChannelAdvisor, Google Shopping’s SSS increased by over 42% on Year-over-Year (yoY) basis in May, as compared to above 34% YoY growth in April and 42% YoY growth in March.

However, PLAs conversion rates for Google declined again in month of May, this was declined for the sixth consecutive month. The decline comes as Google continues to test different configurations of Google Shopping ad unit such as increasingly showing more products in its ad units.

For Amazon, ChannelAdvisor is of the view that SSS for third party sellers of Amazon grew slightly by above 12% on YoY basis in the month of May, slightly lower than growth of 13% on YoY basis in April and around 15% in March. This was already much lower than US eCommerce growth in April and March of above 20% and 16% on YoY basis, respectively as per comScore.

For eBay, ChannelAdvisor stated that SSS growth for eBay merchants totaled to above 2.8% YoY growth in May as compared to decline of 0.6% back in April and 0.2% in March. Moreover, it also mentioned that eBay’s Sales growth in fixed price format remained negative by around 2.2% YoY basis in May, which was much lower than decline of 4.8% YoY in April and decline of 5.8% YoY in March, and was significantly below overall eCommerce growth.

Tesla Nordic countries manager, Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen, says that the second-generation Roadster will be different, faster, and bigger than the original one

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has been working on the next generation Roadster for an estimated launch in 2019. CEO Elon Musk said that the company is reserving the ‘Maximum Plaid’ mode for the new Tesla Roadster, which is an extension to its existing performance mode, ‘Ludicrous.’

Although there has not been much about the Tesla’s first electric vehicle (EV), whose production has been discontinued, an official of the automaker recently disclosed a few additional details regarding the upcoming, revamped sport car.

Electrek reported (via IDG.se) Tesla Manager of Nordic Countries, Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen, gave a speech in Gothenburg, Sweden, giving information about the 2019 Tesla Roadster.

Mr. Bardenfleth-Hansen said in a statement: “We would have loved to build more, but if no one other than you would be listening right now, then I’d probably tell you that we will manufacture it again. It will look a little different, a little faster, and a little bigger.”

The company built 2,500 units of the Roadster in from 2008 to 2012 in partnership with Lotus and it was based on the British automaker’s gliders. Thus, it was not actually built from scratch like the Model S and Model X. The upcoming Roadster will likely be manufactured on Tesla’s third-generation platform, similar to the Model 3.

Last year, Tesla introduced the ‘Roadster 3.0 Battery Upgrade’ for $5,000, allowing existing owners to store 40% more energy boost its range by more than 35% compared to the offerings of the original Roadster. The automaker is also working on a retrofit for the sports car. The upgrade was offered to Roadster owners as a token of gratitude for supporting the company in its early days.

BMW plans to roll out an electric sports car, named BMW i8 Roadster, by 2018 which will be taking on Tesla Roadster when it hits the road in the following year.

Facebook’s notifications tab could soon become your hub for all information

Facebook Inc. (NASDSAQ: FB) has rolled-out weather and sports updates to several users on both Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS and Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android, the two major mobile OS platforms.

The notification tab currently holds updates related to close friends, Pages that you’ve liked, and interaction on posts. In the similar vein, users can receive updates about weather, scores of their favorite sports teams, as well as notifications about events happening around them. The latest rumored update could see Facebook evolving into a platform which could prove to encompass all your need for information and updates of the things you care about, all in one place.

First of these changes is weather updates. Users would receive an initial greeting and weather card with basic updates on their News Feed, accompanied by a link to more detailed information. In the accompanying link, users would then be able to view detailed temperature, humidity, and other related information for the rest of the day.

The new notifications and updates would be subject to manipulation according to each user’s needs, similar to the way notifications are tailored for each user. If you would want, you could even turn the updates off. For example, an avid sports fan would love to receive notifications to keep him updated about his teams, but he might not care about what restaurants have opened nearby or which art gallery is hosting an exhibition.

The changes have rolled out to users with no similar geographical or social similarities, proof that a slow, deliberate testing process is underway before widespread application of the latest features. We’ll update the site with more news as soon as we get more word on the subject.

Patch bring many fixes and optimizations

Bethesda officials took to social media to share their excitement about the new update coming to consoles for the studio’s flagship title, Fallout 4. The update, which was earlier released on PCs, went through a modest testing phase after which developers optimized it for console play.

Overall, the patch improves stability in Fallout 4, offering players a much more optimized experience, whether you are indoors or outside. Zooming in with your weapon no longer causes massive stutters and players can confidently do so through adverse weather conditions. Several game related bugs have been addressed, ones not necessarily related to missions, but that still impact gameplay. Furthermore, instances in which certain quest completions or items would grant perks and skills have been reviewed and now offer the correct amount of stat gain to players. Here is a detailed list of changes.

The late release plan on consoles is a part of Bethesda’s Beta Update program which allows for testing on PC before it can be ported to consoles. Given how easy it is to digitally deliver content these days, this approach has allowed for updates to deliver more fixes, more often and some players even get to partake in the entire process.

Update 1.4 also brings a host of new items to decorate your Settlement with. Themed items from Super Mutants, Raiders and more options for regular looking decorations have been added to the Workshop options menu. Ultimately, the decorations only add a sense of apocalyptic belonging but definitely make for some great screenshots.

While the updates delivered to Fallout 4 have mainly addressed improvements and fixes, it seems that the fans are left wanting more. While the story for Fallout 4 finished a while back, now we merely get to hear about it when a fan creates a hilarious mod or achieves victory without ever leaving their Settlement. The fact remains that Bethesda can be doing so much with it and after the official mod workshop hits the market later this year, the fans will be able to as well.

There are new details to play with

Following an accidental leak in the morning, Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) was forced to ultimately release the debut trailer of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare ahead of schedule. While the trailer showcases sensual visuals for this year’s new installment, making the promise of deep space battles, the very same debut trailer also contains around twenty seconds of footage taken from the remastered version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Merely a rumor until now, the publisher has not only officially confirmed its existence through today’s trailer, but has also just given away additional information through a press release. Titled Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, development is being led by an Activision subsidiary called Raven Software. While the 2007 original was made by Infinity Ward and it is still involved with production, the main reigns are in the hands of the new studio.   

The remastered version is going to bring the entire single-player campaign from the original, as well as the multiplayer portion with ten maps; of which, the publisher has so far confirmed the inclusion of Backlot, Crash and Crossfire. Apart from this, there are no other details to share.

Against all hopes, the remastered version is simply… a remastered game with improved visuals. There were many hopes riding on bringing the multiplayer portion back with a big bang, seeing the developer add more features and maps, fixes and other stability/performance improvements for online play. Infinity Ward, however, does not seem too interested in the prospect of that, refusing to even clarify if the game will be available for sale by itself.  

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is scheduled to release on November 4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is going to accompany that same release date for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. It’s going to be available in three different editions, where in each it is being bundled together with Infinite Warfare.