Markets & Finance

Movers: Regions Financial, Freddie Mac, Google, Lehman, UAL, Sciele Pharma


Stocks in the news Tuesday

From Standard & Poor's Equity ResearchRegions Financial (RF) assumes from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) about $900 million in total deposits, including all uninsured deposits, of Integrity Bank. Federal regulators at close of business on Aug. 29 declared Integrity Bank insolvent and the FDIC was named receiver. Sandler O'Neill upgrades to hold from sell.

The New York Times reports that an idea has been quietly floating around Wall Street for several weeks: a merger of Freddie Mac (FRE) and Fannie Mae (FNM). Andrew Ross Sorkin says in his latest DealBook column that, while idea of such a move is a long-shot -- and not exactly a scintillating prospect -- economics are compelling. A merger, he says, would make the two struggling mortgage lenders too big to fail, would allow them to cut costs. Separately, FRE announces $3 billion 2-year reference note offering, $1 billion reopening of a 5-year reference note.

Google (GOOG) announces beta launch of its own web browser, Google Chrome. Also announces a new video application, Google Video. S&P reiterates hold.

State-owned Korea Development Bank reportedly confirms it is in talks with Lehman Brothers (LEH) over a possible joint investment in the firm with other Korean banks.

Goldman Sachs upgrades Lowe's Companies (LOW) to buy from neutral.

UAL Corp. (UAUA) is among airliners set to open higher as oil prices drop sharply on signs that the weakened Hurricane Gustav didn't do as much damage in the Gulf as originally feared.

Merck (MRK): WSJ reports from European Society of Cardiology annual conference in Munich that more details are expected from a study, disputed by some, that found an increased risk of cancer and deaths from cancer in patients taking the cholesterol drug Vytorin, compared with those given a placebo. Vytorin is marketed by in joint venture by Schering-Plough (SGP) and Merck.

Sciele Pharma (SCRX) agrees to be acquired by Shionogi & Co., Ltd. for total equity purchase price of about $1.1 billion, or $31 per share cash. There is no financing condition to the tender offer or subsequent merger.

International Shipholding (ISH) gets a $25.75 per share cash buyout proposal from Liberty Shipping Group LLC.

Conn's (CONN) says that, in advance of landfall of Hurricane Gustav, it closed its 6 stores in Louisiana and 4 stores in Southeast Texas, as well as its service and distribution operations in those markets, on Saturday, Aug. 30, and it expects to reopen most, if not all, of these locations today. Despite the closure of the stores, CONN estimates total product and service maintenance agreement sales increased by a low double-digit percentage and same-store sales were slightly positive for the month of August; notes these amounts are under review and subject to change.

Adolor (ADLR) announces that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has returned to the company worldwide rights related to Entereg for chronic opioid bowel dysfunction (OBD). GSK is retaining rights to Entereg for postoperative ileus (POI), and the companies will continue to collaborate on the development and commercialization of Entereg for POI in the United States.

W&T Offshore (WTI) announces that its revised exploration and development capital budget for 2008 is expected to be about $611 million, based on drilling up to 35 wells for the year. Notes this a reduction of the estimated well count it previously announced, which says is a result of equipment delays, revisions to non-operated drilling programs and further technical evaluation, including seismic information.

Broadpoint Securities Group (BPSG) agrees to buy American Technology Research Holdings Inc. BPSG will pay American Technology holders at closing $10 million in cash and issue 2.676 million shares of stock, subject to resale restrictions which will lapse ratably over the course of the three years following closing. Other terms include the grant of certain restricted shares, special bonus based on pre-tax profits, and an earn-out payment based on pre-tax profits through 2011.

Swift Energy (SFY) reports on the current impact from Hurricane Gustav, says it shut all fields in its South Louisiana area, moved all drilling rigs to safe harbor, and all personnel were safely evacuated by early afternoon on Sunday, Aug. 31. Notes production from these fields and SFY's other fields in the South Louisiana area will remain shut in until it can be determined that a field can safely be returned to operation.

Alpharma (ALO) announces that its New Drug Application (NDA) for Embeda (morphine sulfate extended-release with sequestered naltrexone hydrochloride) Capsules has been accepted and designated for priority review by the FDA. Separately, ALO says it adopted a limited duration shareholder rights plan in response to King Pharmaceutical's (KG) unsolicited offer to acquire ALO for $33 per share.

Eagle Test Systems (EGLT) agrees to be acquired by Teradyne (TER) in a $250 million deal. Terms: $15.65 cash per EGLT share.


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