36 Stocks Making Big M&A News and Rumors This Week

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to this week’s top mergers and acquisition news:

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Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN): Current price $255.38

All Things D says Amazon paid around $150 million for the books recommendation service Goodreads, but if “certain performance metrics are met,” the amount might be closer to $200 million. Earlier, Businessweek wrote about a self-described “overly simple, back-of-the-envelope estimate” of $1 billion. For its part, Amazon would not comment, but the company said prior to this that the deal should close in the second quarter.

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AMZN

Hess Corporation (NYSE:HES): Current price $71.69

On Monday, Hess announced that it had reached an agreement with OAO LUKOIL to divest 100 percent of its Russian subsidiary Samara-Nafta for a total amount of $2.05 billion. Based on its 90-percent stake in Samara-Nafta, total after-tax proceeds to Hess should to amount to about $1.8 billion. Output at Samara-Nafta in the Volga-Urals region of Russia is currently 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

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HES

General Electric Company (NYSE:GE): Current price $22.93

The financial services division of GE talked with Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) about purchasing its financing operation, but the discussions did not lead to a deal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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GE

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.  (NYSE:KKR): Current price $19.13

The firm has entered into exclusive discussions to acquire a majority of French fashion brands Maje, Sandro, and Claudie Pierlot, said sources to Reuters.

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KKR

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Ferro Corporation (NYSE:FOE): Closing price $6.75

On Monday, Ferro said it had finalized the sale of its pharmaceuticals division Pfanstiehl Laboratories to PLI Holdings, an affiliate of Med Opportunity Partners. The transaction was made up of a $16.9 million cash payment and an earn-out incentive payment of as much as $8 million, payable over two years based on attained earnings targets. Beyond that, the firm retained certain tax benefits of an estimated $5 million. In 2012, Ferro’s pharmaceuticals business generated segment income of $2.4 million.

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FOE

American Greetings Corporation (NYSE:AM): Closing price $18.17

The corporation announced Monday that it had reached a definitive agreement through which a newly organized entity owned by the Weiss Family, including its Chairman, Morry Weiss; Director and Chief Executive Zev Weiss; and Director, President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Weiss and related persons and entities, will purchase the company.  Through the terms, American Greetings Class A and Class B shareholders, excluding the Weiss Family and related entities, will receive $18.20 per share in cash, and, if declared by the board, one regular quarterly dividend of 15 cents per share declared and payable in a manner consistent with the company’s past practices.

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AM

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC): Closing price $20.94

Three sources have informed VentureBeat that Intel is in talks to acquire Omek Interactive, an Israeli gesture recognition and tracking tech firm. Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) are also said to be mulling a bid for the company, but one source said that a bidding war is not likely to develop.

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INTC

Gastar Exploration (NYSE: GST): Closing price $2.38

Gastar will acquire proven reserves and undeveloped leasehold interests in Kingfisher and Canadian counties in Oklahoma from Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK). It will repurchase its common shares from Chesapeake, resolving all litigation for $85 million. The transaction includes drilling rights in roughly 157,000 net acres adjacent to Gastar’s existing Mid-Continent acreage and approximately 2.8 million barrels of energy equivalent of proven reserves. The purchase should close on or before June 7, subject to the usual closing adjustments, and with a property purchase effective date of October 1, 2012.

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GST

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Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ): Current price $49.55

Management retirees of Verizon have won class certification status by a United States District Court Judge in Dallas in litigation connected with the sell-off of 41,000 ERISA protected pensions to The Prudential Insurance Company of America (NYSE: PRU) in exchange for providing Prudential with billions in Verizon retirees’ pension assets. Attorneys Curtis L. Kennedy of Denver and Robert E. Goodman, Jr., of Dallas are representing the class of retirees in connection with the support of the 128,000 member non-profit Association of BellTel Retirees. Retirees counsel contends that the transaction replaces retirees’ pensions with non-ERISA protected insurance annuities, thus stripping participants of the protections of federal law and causing “irreparable harm.”

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VZ


The NASDAQ OMX Group (NASDAQ:NDAQ): Current price $28.76

The Group will purchase the eSpeed platform from BGC Partners for a purchase price of $750 million in cash along with certain contingent issuance of stock that approximate certain tax benefits to NASDAQ OMX. eSpeed operates a fully executable central limit order book for electronic trading in United States Treasuries, giving NASDAQ OMX a strong entry point in the electronic fixed income business. The transaction should be accretive to earnings within the first twelve months after closing.

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NDAQ

Westell Technologies (NASDAQ:WSTL): Current price $2.01

Westell has announced that the previously reported transaction to acquire Kentrox closed Monday. The acquisition agreement had been announced on March 18. Westell provides telecommunications equipment for wireline and wireless and home networks.

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WSTL

Nuance Communications (NASDAQ: NUAN): Current price $20.52

A recent 13G filing on hedge fund Carl Icahn disclosed a 9.27 percent, or 29,329,291 share, position in the company that he did not hold at the end of the quarter ending December 31, 2012.

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NUAN

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Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE: KMB): Current price $99.26

The company announced on Tuesday its purchase of the anesthesia business of Life-Tech, which is a medical device maker based in Texas. The acquisition is comprised of needles, catheters, and accessories associated with peripheral nerve block procedures. The newly-bought assets will become part of Kimberly-Clark’s Health Care division and will be added to K-C Health Care’s ON-Q array of products. Other business units of Life-Tech are not included in this transaction, the financials of which were not divulged.

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KMB

Obagi Medical Products (NASDAQ: OMPI): Current price $25.42

Obagi’s board has received a letter from Merz Pharma Group, which detailed its proposal to purchase all of the outstanding common stock of Obagi for $22 per share in cash. This offer represents a 58 percent premium to Obagi’s close on March 14, the last trading day prior to the disclosure on Obagi’s fourth quarter earnings call that the firm had engaged a financial advisor to help explore “all opportunities.”  Merz believes that its current offer is superior to that of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, which was tendered a few days before.

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OMPI

Newcastle Investment Corp. (NYSE:NCT): Current price $11.01

On Tuesday, Newcastle said it has acquired from HSBC Finance Corporation a 30-percent equity interest in a consumer loan portfolio having an unpaid principal balance of $4.2 billion as of December 31, 2012. Newcastle invested along with Springleaf Finance, a Fortress affiliate who will also be responsible for servicing the loans, and Blackstone Tactical Opportunities Advisors. The total purchase price for the portfolio is roughly $3 billion.

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NCT

Optimer Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:OPTR): Current price $14.57

Two knowledgeable sources say that the antibiotics maker which is currently examining a sale, has drawn interest from drug makers including GlaxoSmithKline and Astellas Pharma, causing the shares to jump the most in nearly five years. Optimer intends to fetch as much as $1 billion in a possible auction, according to the sources, who also divulged that the firm attracted interest from Cubist Pharmaceuticals  and AstraZeneca.

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OPTR

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Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ): Current price $49.55

In a Tuesday U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Exhibit 99 form, the company stated, “Verizon Communications Inc. notes the recent press speculation regarding a potential merger with or purchase by Verizon of Vodafone. As Verizon has said many times, it would be a willing purchaser of the 45 percent stake that Vodafone holds in Verizon Wireless. It does not, however, currently have any intention to merge with or make an offer for Vodafone, whether alone or in conjunction with others.”

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VZ

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX): Current price $57.81

Starbucks’ partner in Mexico, Alsea, said Tuesday that it has purchased sole ownership of Starbucks’ coffee business in there, with intentions to launch 50 stores per year for the next five years. The acquisition was financed with bank loans and the purchase price was not divulged. Alsea Chief Executive Fabian Gosselin commented in a release, “Obtaining 100 percent of the business in Mexico will allow us to extend the contract’s exclusivity, add profitability and value to Alsea’s consolidated results and thus obtain a better return on our investment.”

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SBUX

Rosetta Stone (NYSE:RST): Current price $15.43

Rosetta Stone has purchased Livemocha, an online language-learning community, in a cash transaction of $8.5 million. Featuring a robust and extensible cloud-based learning platform and a community in excess of 16 million Livemocha members, the acquisition steps ups Rosetta Stone’s transition to cloud-based learning solutions.

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RST


Biogen IDEC (NASDAQ: BIIB) Current price $193.30

The firm announced Tuesday that it has finalized its purchase of Elan Corporation’s interest in Tysabri (natalizumab) and has gained full strategic, commercial and decision-making rights to the drug. The transaction was originally reported on February 6. Chief Executiveeorge A. Scangos, Ph.D. said that “full ownership of Tysabri is an important step for Biogen Idec that further solidifies our leadership in MS.”

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BIIB

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Ocwen Financial Corporation (NYSE:OCN): Current price $36.73

The financial services holding firm announced Wednesday that it has finalized its acquisition of Liberty Home Equity Solutions from Genworth Financial. Liberty will continue to offer reverse mortgages through direct, wholesale and correspondent channels. Ocwen Chief Executive Ronald M. Faris commented that ”liberty is the industry leader in helping seniors secure their retirement with strong customer-service and superior quality. We believe this promising market offers enormous long-term growth potential, and this purchase positions Ocwen to capture that growth.”

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OCN

HSBC Holdings (NYSE:HBC): Current price $52.53

HSBC will divest its insurance units in Singapore, in a transaction valued at roughly $19.3 million, as part of its cost-reduction strategy of offloading non-core assets. The company said that its insurance unit in the city-state will sell the life insurance and medical insurance portfolios to AXA Life Insurance Singapore, which is that country’s number-two general insurer by revenue, according to AXA. The transaction should closed sometime in 2013.

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HBC

BP (NYSE:BP): Current price $41.52

The petro-giant has put its United States wind farm operation on the block, marking the continued pullback of oil majors from renewable energy investments, as oil and gas projects offer them better returns. BP has already divested or earmarked for sale about $38 billion worth of assets, in part to raise funds to pay for its 2010 Gulf oil spill liabilities, but to reposition itself as a smaller, leaner company as well, with a concentration on high-margin oil output and exploration. Reports indicate that the sale could bring a further $1.5 billion.

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BP

AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC): Current price $52.09

The firm will divest its contract packaging unit, AndersonBrecon, to an entity formed by affiliates of an investor group headed by Frazier Healthcare VI for the purpose of buying AndersonBrecon. The purchase price for the cash transaction is $308 million, subject to the usual adjustments for, among other things, the working capital of the business. The transaction should close in the third quarter of fiscal 2013, which ends June 30.

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ABC

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France Telecom (NYSE:FTE): Current price $10.08

The telecom has recruited Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise it on a potential initial public offering of EE, which is the United Kingdom’s biggest mobile operator, according to an inside source. At the same time, Deutsche Telekom is expected to hire JP Morgan for the sale, said multiple source, since the bank advised it in 2009 when the 50-50 joint venture with France Telecom was created. Both telecom groups refused comment on the future of EE on Thursday. In 201,2 they announced that they were conducting a “strategic review on the asset to consider different options, with an IPO as the preferred option.”

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FTE

Midstates Petroleum Company (NYSE: MPO): Current price $7.10

The firm announced Thursday that it will purchase producing properties along with developed and undeveloped acreage in the Anadarko Basin in Texas and Oklahoma for $620 million in cash, from Panther Energy and its partners Red Willow Mid-Continent and LINN Energy Holdings. Both Panther and Red Willow are subsidiaries of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Growth Fund. The main horizontal drilling targets include the Cleveland, Marmaton, Cottage Grove, and Tonkawa formations. The transaction was effective April 1 and closing should be on or about May 31, subject to customary closing conditions.

MPO

Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR): Current price $3.31

On Thursday, Clearwire’s biggest minority shareholder Crest Financial Limited, proposed to provide the former $240 million in financing via a convertible debt facility. The arrangement is described in a letter to Clearwire’s board and is superior to the financing provided by Sprint Nextel Corporation and created to free up Clearwire to search out alternatives to Sprint’s inadequate merger offer, according to Crest. The Crest proposal is similarly structured to the Sprint financing with Clearwire but is more favorable to Clearwire and its minority shareholders.

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CLWR

Mohawk Industries (NYSE: MHK): Current price $112.09

Mohawk has completed its purchase of the Marazzi Group for around $1.5 billion with a combination of cash and equity, putting the company in the leading position in worldwide ceramic tile. The Marazzi Group is a worldwide major in ceramic tile with global brand recognition and 2012 revenues of about $858 million.

MHK

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MetroPCS Communications (NYSE:PCS): Current price $11.23

Knowledgeable sources said Thursday that Deutsche Telekom is checking into improving the terms of a proposed merger of its T-Mobile USA business with MetroPCS Communications, as a last resort though which win over shareholders prior to a vote on the deal next week. The board of the  company is split over whether to sweeten the terms of the cash and share a deal to gain approval at a MetroPCS shareholder vote on April 12 and is hoping it could still avert any change, according to the sources.

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PCS

Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI): Current price $7.55

The telecom’s board will examine measures at a meeting next week to reinforce the firm’s mobile-phone unit, including potential mergers and acquisitions, said two inside sources, who added that one of the options that will be discussed at the April 11 gathering is a potential combination with Hutchison Whampoa’s wireless unit H3G SpA. While Telecom Italia might like to rid itself of a competitor, the company prefers not to spend cash, and offering stock would dilute investors’ interest.

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Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO): Current price $45.75

The mining company Rio Tinto has recruited Macquarie Group to search out a buyer for its majority interest in the Northparkes copper and gold mine in Australia, growing a list of assets for sale as it concentrates on reducing costs and reinforcing its balance sheet, according to inside sources on Thursday. At the end of 2012, Rio Tinto valued Northparkes at $405 million, and would probably expect a premium for an operation where enough resources remain in the ground for mining to continue for another decade.

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RIO

Sterling Bancorp (NYSE: STL): Current price $11.11

Provident New York Bancorp will buy Sterling in a transaction that was valued at $344 million when the deal was announced, but shares of both firms have moved higher since that point. Sterling shareholders will get 1.2625 shares of Provident common stock and should expect the purchase to close in the fourth quarter. Once accomplished, Provident shareholders will own 53 percent of the company, and Sterling shareholders the remaining 47 percent. Provident intends to use an $80 million debt offering to help pay for the deal and expects it to be accretive to its 2014 earnings per share.

STL

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Total (NYSE:TOT): Current price $48.25

On Friday, the French oil major reported that it will divest its regional gas pipeline network TIGF to a group comprising Italy’s Snam, which is a Singaporean sovereign fund, and the state-controlled power utility Electricité de France. Two months ago, Total announced that  it had selected the Snam-led group to sell its natural gas transportation unit in southwestern France in a deal that values it at $3.1 billion. Snam holds 45 percent in the consortium, with GIC and EDF owning 35 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

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TOT

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL): Current price $14.21

The Dell saga has been going on for weeks now, but the Blackstone Group and Michael Dell have not yet dealt definitively with a critical matter, according to a knowledgeable person, and that is the role he would play if the private-equity firm tops the bidding for the computer maker. Micheal Dell initiated talks with Blackstone after it submitted a proposal on March 22 to acquire the iconic company. At stake is Blackstone’s attempt to surpass the $24.4 billion leveraged-buyout offer led by Michael Dell and backed by Silver Lake Management which a special committee of Dell’s board endorsed on February 5. The source also related that Blackstone would rather win Michael Dell’s support for a counterbid through which he would invest a portion of the $4.5 billion he agreed to inject into the Silver Lake buyout.

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DELL

EnergySolutions (NYSE:ES): Current price $4.12

On Friday, the nuclear commercial services company reported that it has made an amendment to its definitive acquisition agreement with a subsidiary of Energy Capital Partners II. through the terms of the amended agreement, EnergySolutions’ shareholders will now receive $4.15 in cash for each share of common stock. The biggest beneficial institutional owner of the stock, Carlson Capital, had previously raised opposition to the purchase, but has now advised the firm that they intend to vote in favor of the transaction based on the amended terms.

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ES

 Sasol Limited (NYSE:SSL): Current price $43.60

The world’s biggest producer of motor fuels from coal, South Africa’s Sasol, now sees an exit from Papua New Guinea as its best move. Although it once hoped to develop a gas-to-liquids project there, buying up acreage near a number of large natural gas discoveries made by competitors. However, while seismic data shot over acreage in the western forelands region seemed promising, Sasol’s Awapa-1 exploration bore drilled in mid-2011 came up dry. Company spokesman Alex Anderson told The Wall Street Journal that “Sasol is considering divesting from Papua New Guinea. We are currently engaging interested parties.”

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SSL

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