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   Strategies & Market TrendsSpeculating in Takeover Targets

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To: richardred who wrote (3671)6/14/2015 6:12:31 PM
From: richardred
   of 7058
Sales are up, but once again hedging did them in. Massimo Zanetti started trading on the Milan bourse on June 3 at an IPO price of 11.60 euros. They bought the heavenly coffee.
Message 28287688
Message 29716484

UPDATE 3-Coffee group Massimo Zanetti to use flotation cash for acquisitions

* First coffee maker to list in Italy

* To offer up to 35.6 percent to raise 192 mln euros

* Share offering starts Monday, runs to May 28

* Other Italian food companies could follow (Adds Italian food companies that could consider listing)

By Francesca Landini and Elisa Anzolin

MILAN, May 18 (Reuters) - Italian coffee maker Massimo Zanetti Beverage (MZB) plans to use proceeds from its stock market listing for acquisitions in a bid to turn the family-owned business into a stronger international player.

MZB, which last week priced its shares at between 11.60 euros and 15.75 euros apiece to value the company at up to 540 million euros ($613 million), said on Monday it was looking at two markets where it could invest the flotation proceeds.

"We are looking at potential acquisitions to expand in two countries where we feel we are not growing fast enough," Chairman and owner Massimo Zanetti said, adding he would target well-established brands.

Headquartered near Venice, MZB already owns more than 20 coffee brands around the world including Italy's market leader Segafredo Zanetti, Chock Full o'Nuts in the United States and Britain's Puccino's.

It generates 90 percent of its sales abroad.

The listing of up to 35.6 percent of MZB will make it the first coffee maker to join the Milan bourse, allowing it to pay in shares for acquisitions and smooth succession plans when the 67-year-old chairman retires, a person involved in the IPO said.

The person said the listing had been a difficult decision for Zanetti who felt "like giving his daughter away at the altar."

If fully underwritten, the float will reduce Zanetti's stake to 64 percent. He said he was ready for further reductions in his holding to fund acquisitions.

Many Italian entrepreneurs are loath to loosen their grip on a company they founded even if this puts a brake on growth.

MZB's domestic rivals Illy and Lavazza are both family-owned with no plans to open their companies to other shareholders. However, a successful MZB listing could encourage others in the food sector to go public, bankers said.

"I hope others will follow my lead," Zanetti said.

Dairy company Granarolo, organic honey maker Rigoni di Asiago and tomato pulp producer Mutti could consider listing on Milan's bourse in the next few years to help growth, top executives for the three firms said separately on Monday.

MZB, which had 2014 net revenue of 781 million euros, sells products ranging from mass-market packs to coffee pods and produces 120,000 tonnes of coffee a year. It plans to pay out between 25 and 30 percent of profits as dividends, top executives said.

Investors will be offered up to 11 million new and existing MZB shares. The debut on the Milan bourse is set for June 3.

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To: richardred who wrote (3965)6/15/2015 9:53:24 AM
From: richardred
   of 7058
The Mega Phone strikes again- Now Cramer changed his mind on Twitter.

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To: richardred who wrote (3954)6/16/2015 11:05:33 AM
From: Cautious_Optimist
   of 7058
Down another $1 this AM -- another $655M in market cap.

If TWTR management screws this champion pooch, I am going to put all my remaining savings into a Costco tent for moving beneath the freeway. (And a pitbull to protect my laptop and smartphone.)

This is one of the biggest wasted golden opportunities in history. Someone's gonna swallow them, the question now is if strategic acquirers will bid the price up now, or signal disinterest to gamble for a bargain.

Between my TWTR and F picks I'm feeling like Marshawn Lynch, after the Superbowl early this year.

This has been a very tough market - the vultures appear to be circling all portfolios.

When the Greek mess is resolved, and the dollar weakens some, I believe globalized investor money will return to the US market. They won't tell us when the rally is coming, nor give us inside info when an M&A is about to be announced.

So I remain cold and lonely on my positions, but still tweeting!

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To: Cautious_Optimist who wrote (3975)6/17/2015 12:31:32 AM
From: richardred
   of 7058
When a permanent CEO is found. A better picture should be painted. What's Eric Schmidt doing these days? Yahoo is under some pressure to..

P.S. Greece needs to contact Henry Winkler and do a reverse mortgage on the Parthenon & Acropolis.

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To: richardred who wrote (3967)6/18/2015 9:25:35 AM
From: richardred
1 Recommendation   of 7058
The big three ring circus names all being mentioned as Hypothetical TWTR acquirers. The latest being Microsoft.

3 Reasons Microsoft Should Acquire Twitter

By Louis Bedigian 1 hour ago


Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) might end up receiving more media attention for its CEO shakeup and potential sale than it has for any new features introduced this year.

The social media giant endured a tough quarter that appeared to set off a chain of events that may eventually lead to a merger. Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) are reportedly the most likely buyers, but analysts have also discussed the potential for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) to make an offer.

B. Riley analyst Sameet Sinha told Benzinga that Twitter is "too far away" from Apple's business for that merger to make sense.

"Twitter is advertiser-driven," Sinha explained. "Apple doesn't do much advertising."

Twitter expert Sean Udall told Benzinga that he would prefer that Twitter stays solo. He said that provides the "most upside leverage to the stock when the upside catalysts start hitting once again."

Related Link: Will Facebook And Twitter Takeover Google's Ad Business?

If a deal had to occur, Udall argues that Apple or Google would get the most out of Twitter while avoiding the potential Department of Justice issues that could prevent a merger with Google or Facebook. However, he did offer three key reasons why Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) should acquire Twitter:

1. Twitter 'Greatly Enhances Search' "It greatly enhances its search platform and development," said Udall, who serves as the CIO of Quantum Trading Strategies and is the author of The TechStrat Report. "In fact, it might be even more important."

Udall believes that a Twitter buy might even be necessary to "keep Bing relevant -- or even competitively viable -- long-term."

"I'm not just thinking about competition with Google here, but anticipating competition against a future Apple search product," he said.

2. Long-Term Revenue Growth Udall thinks Twitter could be a strong move to ignite another long-term revenue growth stream for Microsoft.

"In my view, Microsoft should be buying Twitter, buying more Big Data assets (SPLK, VRNS) and planning security purchases," he said. "Though buying security right now could result in yet another overpay. I'd advise waiting for a sector downturn and lower prices to go after."

3. It's Smarter Than Hoarding Cash At the bare minimum, Udall said it would be smarter for Microsoft to buy Twitter than to continue hoarding cash.

"Moreover, Microsoft needs to shake the spectre of formerly poor to very poor M&A," Udall added. "They either bought the wrong stuff and what they purchased (even the better assets), they greatly overpaid for. Twitter currently is on its heels -- it's trading at less than half the valuation it was the last time it traded here. Thus, doing a deal now would be [a] well-timed M&A and not the huge overpay of many historic deals."

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

See more from Benzinga

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To: richardred who wrote (3905)6/19/2015 9:45:05 AM
From: richardred
   of 7058
I never did like the Ralcorp acquisition.
Message 27353962

Activist Investor Jana Goes After ConAgra Write-downs on private-label business put packaged-food maker in fund’s cross hairs

An activist investor says ConAgra Foods Inc. ’s private-label business is choking the packaged-foods giant. Jana Partners LLC has built a 7.2% stake in ConAgra and is seeking to change its board, in a bid to turn around what the hedge fund said in a regulatory filing has been a disastrous deal: the company’s $5 billion purchase of private-label foods company Ralcorp.

ConAgra, whose brands include Slim Jim jerky, Snack Pack pudding and Hunt’s ketchup, said it plans to talk with Jana after it announces its fourth-quarter earnings on June 30.

“ConAgra Foods’ board of directors and management team are committed to acting in the best interests of all shareholders, and we welcome shareholder engagement,” the company said.

The deal with Ralcorp, struck in late 2012 after it had publicly rebuffed an earlier approach, was billed as a way to spur growth at ConAgra, which was struggling with older brands that were losing ground with consumers.

Coming out of the recession, the business of producing budget-friendly items for grocery stores to market under their own labels was growing faster than grocery sales overall.

But becoming the nation’s largest private-label manufacturer has been harder than ConAgra anticipated, and the business hasn’t lived up to the company’s expectations.

After ConAgra wrote down the value of the private-label unit by another $1.3 billion in March—bringing its total to about $2.2 billion—Jana began buying stock, trying to push the company to review its assets, cut costs and improve its operating performance, according to the hedge fund’s filing. Jana has proposed three board nominees to the company, including its founder, Barry Rosenstein, and former executives from General Mills Inc. and Nestlé SA.

The New York-based fund, which manages more than $11 billion in assets, has successfully advocated changes and pushed for board representation at several investments without a proxy fight in recent years.

But Jana said it is prepared to launch such a fight if it can’t reach a deal with the company.

ConAgra said Thursday it delayed a deadline for investors to nominate directors to July to give both sides time to talk.

The Omaha-based company, which has a market capitalization of about $16.6 billion, has acknowledged that the Ralcorp deal has been a disappointment.

Ralcorp’s sale was initially prompted by another activist hedge fund, Corvex Management LP, which publicly urged the company to sell itself in August 2012, three months before ConAgra agreed to buy it.

The private-brands business has “obviously been disappointing for all of us here at ConAgra,” Thomas McGough, head of the consumer-foods division, said on a conference call in March. “This has been more difficult and taken longer than we anticipated and planned.”

Analysts on that call peppered ConAgra executives with questions about its low margins and the private-label group’s results, while one expressed skepticism that the plans management proposed were enough.

“When I’m an outsider and I hear that one of the key differences will be faster graphics changes on packages, I’ll be honest, that doesn’t really excite me that much,” said Kenneth Goldman of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

ConAgra executives have said the private-label industry is still growing, and that Ralcorp simply had issues that turned out to be worse than ConAgra anticipated.

The industry, however, has become more competitive in recent years, as more food makers are offering to make private-label products to fill unused capacity at their factories as packaged food demand lags overall. Also, grocers are demanding higher quality for the same price, hurting manufacturers’ profitability. ConAgra experienced this when it had to lower Ralcorp’s prices to win back customers.

In April, ConAgra announced the head of the private label was leaving the company.

ConAgra’s new chief executive, Sean Connolly, who started that month, has said he will brief investors on his plans and strategy after he spends some time learning the company. Gary Rodkin, the former CEO who was responsible for the Ralcorp deal, promised to get the business on track before leaving earlier this year but couldn’t deliver.

For the quarter ended in February, ConAgra reported that sales fell 1.8% to $3.9 billion, with private-label sales dropping 4.7%. It had a $952.7 million loss in the quarter, largely because of the write-down, after earning $236.9 million a year earlier.

The stock has had a total return of 30% since the Ralcorp deal closed in January 2013, trailing the S&P 500’s 46% return over the same period. The stock rose 7% to $41.50 in after-hours trading Thursday.

Bernstein analysts last month recommended that ConAgra sell the private-label business sooner, rather than later, saying it could command a price of around $3.5 billion. It also suggested the company sell its commercial-foods business, which sells products to hotels, hospitals and other institutions, leaving only the traditional grocery business at ConAgra.

In Thursday’s filing, Jana said the company should review its various assets and its capital allocation. ConAgra has said it is focusing on reducing its debt levels before increasing its share repurchases or dividends.

For ConAgra’s board, Jana has lined up Brad Alford, the former CEO of Nestlé USA, and James A. Lawrence, a former CFO of General Mills and Unilever. It has also hired as a consultant Diane Dietz, the former head of private label at grocery-store chain Safeway Inc., where Jana successfully advocated for a sale of the company.

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From: richardred6/19/2015 9:54:45 AM
   of 7058
Hershey's growth is slowing. Maybe another acquisition is forthcoming. A now healthier snacks company, Synder/Lance just might fit the bill.

Message 29915476

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To: Cautious_Optimist who wrote (3975)6/20/2015 10:26:04 AM
From: richardred
   of 7058
TWTR Rumors are running rampant now. The latest hypothetical by Google. If you haven't noticed short interest is relatively light given the number of outstanding shares. It's also down from last month. That seems to go hand to hand with the latest story -
"It seems that everyone and their uncle is betting that Twitter will be bought by another firm,"s. From my memory and experience with the subject. In the distant past takeover rumors rarely lead to a near term takeouts. However over the last five years it seems some rumors are actually leading to nearer term deals. IMO TWTR would actually have a higher stock price on its own in time. However someone like Google would speed up their growth rates given their own infrastructure to which they can integrate in. I'm just guessing if a hypothetical near term deal does take place, it would only bring in around mid fifties stock price. However if a hypothetical bid did happen by one of the biggies. We just might have a good chance for a white knight in the wings. Who in the space would want to build a Twitter from Scratch given their head start and notoriety.

Biz Break: Twitter stock soars amid new products, takeover rumors
By Queenie Wong

Posted: 06/19/2015 03:30:35 PM PDT 0 Comments | Updated: about 18 hours ago

Today: Twitter's shares jumped more than 3 percent after renewed rumors that Google may purchase the company. Also: eBay sells its stake in Craigslist and Fitbit continues to climb.

The lead: Twitter shares climb as takeover rumors continue

Change is coming to Twitter, and Wall Street on Friday was happy about it.

A day after news broke that the social media company planned to release new features -- dubbed Project Lightning -- that could make following live events easier, Twitter's stock climbed 3.51 percent to $35.88 per share when the market closed.

FILE - This Nov. 4, 2013 file photo shows the sign outside of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. (Jeff Chiu/AP photo)

The new feature, which is expected to be released later this year, allows people on the site, even if they're not logged on, to see a collection of the best or relevant tweets about events in individual streams.

Rumors that Google could be interested in purchasing Twitter continued to fly, including one that the search giant thinks that the microblogging site is worth $100 billion.

"It seems that everyone and their uncle is betting that Twitter will be bought by another firm," Steven Place, founder of options analytics firm told Reuters on Thursday.

Twitter also announced Friday that it was testing new features that could make it easier for users to find products that they want to buy by better organizing these tweets and allowing brands to create their own collection of favorite things.
Meanwhile, analysts and investors continued to speculate about who will be Twitter's new permanent CEO.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and Square CEO, will take over for Dick Costolo on July 1 as the interim CEO.

Robert Peck, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, highlighted top five CEO candidates: Dorsey; Adam Bain, Twitter's president of Global Revenue; Flipboard CEO and founder Mike McCue; former Yahoo interim CEO Ross Levinsohn; and Neal Mohan, Google's Vice President of Display Advertising.

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To: richardred who wrote (3938)6/22/2015 9:45:15 AM
From: richardred
   of 7058
RE-ISSI The takeover battle for Integrated Silicon Solution started at 19.25. Each competing bid IMO is going up in non takeout blow bids. The risk arbs must be liking this one. Up some 20% from the initial bid and it's not over yet.

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To: richardred who wrote (3949)6/22/2015 9:58:57 AM
From: richardred
   of 7058
A merger Monday. 95 billion of deals on the table this morning. Cigna & Williams Partners both rejecting offers.

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