Yesterday, Tower Group (NASDAQ:TWGP) received a letter stating "the SEC is conducting an investigation and attaching a subpoena for various documents." (8-K)
The company also discloses A.M. Best has downgraded Tower's debt ratings further into junk territory. Tower says its ratings "remain under review with developing implications pending the planned merger with ACP Re Ltd."
Among the takeaways: 1) Digital coupon distribution volume is up 31% Y/Y. 2) Redemptions have risen to 15% for print-at-home coupons, albeit while dropping slightly to 8.3% for paperless coupons. 3) Digital coupons now account for 12% of redemptions, compared with 49% for free standing inserts (FSIs).
Shares have recovered some of the huge losses they saw earlier in August after Coupons.com offered light revenue guidance and reported a Q/Q transaction drop.
Three days after American Airlines pulled its fares from Orbitz (OWW +3.5%), the online travel agency announces it has reached a deal to bring them back. The deal covers both American and merger partner US Airways.
Orbitz spiked shortly before the close on the news. Shares are up another 1% AH.
Stifel's Patrick Newton has launched coverage on Stratasys (SSYS +1.3%) at Buy, and ExOne (XONE -3.1%) at Hold. 3D Systems has also been launched at Buy, but isn't moving much in response.
Newton calls Stratasys his "favorite idea" in 3D printing (he's not alone), and thinks the company can deliver 30%+ annual growth. He talks up Stratasys' consumer market leadership (courtesy of MakerBot), and says its lack of a metal printer offering is its "only noticeable weakness" in the industrial space.
He thinks ExOne can deliver strong revenue and margin growth on the back of rising services/materials sales and growing demand for its binder jetting industrial printers. But like others, Newton has his doubts ExOne can hit management's forecast for 40%-50% sales growth, given recent results.
Stratasys took off 3 weeks ago thanks to a Q2 beat and guidance hike. Though still down YTD, the company has easily outperformed 3D printing peers in 2014.
A 33% FQ2 price cut for the Splunk Cloud machine data analytics platform (Amazon price cuts were passed on) appears to be paying off, says CLSA after taking stock of Splunk's (SPLK +19.4%) FQ2 beat and strong guidance. The firm thinks the cuts, along with the launch of an online sandbox for prospective buyers led to "an influx" of new entry-level clients in FQ2.
Cowen likes the fact term licenses (as opposed to perpetual licenses) made up 37% of license bookings, much better than the firm's 25% forecast and "indicative of an even stronger quarter than it initially appears." Pac Crest is pleased with CC remarks (transcript) about improving sales productivity (a recent concern) and strong government orders.
Morgan Stanley likes Splunk's top-line and customer growth, but remains worried about competition (rival Sumo Logic has been claiming strong growth) and notes management has hinted at further price cuts.
Analytics/data visualization software vendors Tableau (DATA +6.3%) and Qlik (QLIK +1.9%) are following Splunk higher.
Low expectations and a high short interest (11.9M shares as of Aug. 15) are proving a good mix for Veeva (VEEV +18.1%) following its FQ2 beat and guidance hike. Several firms have raised their targets.
Workday (WDAY +5.5%), which sold off yesterday (and took peers down with it) following its FQ2 report, is following Veeva higher. As are Veeva partner Salesforce (CRM +2.1%) and several other cloud software names. NOW +2.9%. CTCT +3.4%. JIVE +2.5%. CSOD +2%. ULTI +1.9%. MKTO +1.9%.
"We like [Veeva's] momentum with new products, the pace of customer deployments, and view the second-half guidance as likely conservative," says Deutsche (Buy).
Pac Crest (Outperform) likes the fact Veeva's billings and subscription revenue each rose over 60% Y/Y, and that its large deal activity also grew. It sees a $5B addressable market for life sciences CRM/content management software.
Shares of United Therapeutics (UTHR +23.1%) jump on 5x surge in volume after a court rules that Sandoz (NVS +0.3%) failed to prove that United's '007 and '117 Remodulin (treprostinil) patents are invalid and that United proved that Sandoz's ANDA will infringe on patent '117.
Remodulin accounted for almost 45% of United's 1H sales of $612.2M.
A report stating leading ad agency Publicis is close to a deal to acquire Criteo is providing a lift to fellow online ad retargeting firm Rocket Fuel (FUEL +3.6%).
The gains come in spite of a downgrade to Neutral from Citi, which cites industry challenges. Rocket Fuel cratered earlier in August after providing light guidance that was blamed on tighter control of client spend by agency trading desks, a shift among advertisers towards direct licensing, and industry concerns about ad inventory quality.
Take-Two (TTWO +4.1%) president Karl Slatoff says his company is weighing the pros and cons of bringing Grand Theft Auto to the big screen. He adds Take-Two doesn't think a weak box office showing would hurt the GTA game franchise.
Dan Houser, the co-founder of GTA developer Rockstar Games, also appears open to doing a GTA movie. However, he insists Rockstar would want to make the film on its own.
Benchmark's Mike Hickey thinks a GTA film makes sense, and that it could compel Activision (ATVI +0.3%), rumored to be hatching plans for its own movie studio, to acquire Take-Two.
Hickey calls an Activision/Take-Two deal a "no-brainer," given Take-Two's developer talent, IP, and low valuation. He notes Activision can lower its business volatility by staggering Rockstar, Bungie, and Blizzard releases, and that Take-Two could help offset World of Warcraft's ongoing decline and Skylanders competition from Disney.
Avago (AVGO +8.1%) has received a slew of target hikes after beating FQ3 estimates, reporting strong margins, and issuing healthy FQ4 guidance. RF component peers Skyworks (SWKS +1.6%), RF Micro (RFMD +4.5%), and TriQuint (TQNT +5.2%) are also higher.
"We believe Street continues to under-appreciate this self-help story where mgmt has a proven record of cutting costs, paying down debt, and executing on multiple secular growth cycles," says BofA/Merrill. Its FY14 and FY15 EPS forecasts have respectively been raised by 20% and 25%.
Credit Suisse: "Avago's leverage to structural growth drivers including content increases in the Industrials/autos end-mkts and accelerating demand for bandwidth, as well as, product cycles (4G/LTE wireless ramps at Apple and China) should allow the company to outperform peers." The diversification provided by the LSI deal is seen providing "further stability."
Morgan Stanley expresses "high conviction in management's ability to execute on driving LSI's [operating margin] from 17% to 30% over the next few years," given Avago has doubled its op. margin to 30% since its 2005 LBO.
On the CC (transcript), CEO Hock Tan mentioned wireless sales are expected to rise over 60% Q/Q thanks to "the ramp of a new phone model and a North American smartphone customer" (a clear iPhone 6 reference). Demand for FBAR filters and related products in 4G phones remains strong.
Wired infrastructure is expected to grow at a low-single digit rate (switch/router ASIC growth offsetting flat optical component demand), and enterprise storage is expected to see mid-single digit growth excluding the PLX acquisition.
"Sand is the new gold," as share prices surge for U.S. companies which supply sand to energy producers in response to the growing use of fracking to extract oil and natural gas from shale formations.
U.S. Silica (SLCA -0.4%), the biggest producer, has posted 52-week highs in nine of the past 10 trading sessions and has more than doubled YTD; Emerge Energy (EMES +0.9%) and Hi-Crush Partners (HCLP +2.7%) have posted respective YTD gains of 218% and 78%.
Demand for fracking sand next year will be 96% higher than in 2015, with shortages continuing for years, Morgan Stanley analyst Ole Storer predicts in raising his 12-month price target for SLCA to $80.
Publicis has said it's looking for smaller M&A targets after its planned merger with Omnicom was called off. Buying Criteo (a fellow French company) would allow Publicis to include a popular online ad retargeting platform on its list of advertiser services.
Video ad tech provider TubeMogul (TUBE +3.3%) is also rallying. Its shares blasted off earlier this week following a big Q2 beat.
An Android version of Nokia's (NOK +2.3%) Here mapping/navigation app has launched in beta. The app will be available exclusively on Samsung phones, courtesy of a licensing deal with the smartphone giant. A Here app is also launching for Samsung's Tizen OS.
Google Maps (pre-installed on phones running Google's version of Android) accounts for the lion's share of Android maps usage. Samsung has made a number of attempts to lower its huge dependence on Google's apps/services, but that has often proven easier said than done.
Nokia launched an iOS version of Here in 2012 following the Apple Maps backlash, but pulled the app last year, citing iOS 7's UI changes. The app was initially quite popular, but later plummeted on App Store leaderboards.
Last week, Nokia announced Here division chief Michael Halbherr is leaving. Bloomberg reported his departure is due to a strategy disagreement over whether Here should continue going after consumers.