Spotlight Stocks Generating 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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Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has sold the travel guide brand Frommer’s to its founder, Arthur Frommer. Mr. Frommer now owns the Frommer’s brand again and will license travel content from Google, who is keeping the Frommer’s brand content it acquired from publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc. (NYSE:JWA), according to Bloomberg. Google integrated the Frommer’s brand content with its services, joining a growing list of previously independent review and information services it has swallowed.

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Google acquired Frommer’s in August 2012, and it was reported last month that the company planned to stop publishing Frommer’s branded books, according to CNN. After purchasing from Google the brand rights that bear his name, Mr. Frommer spoke to the Associated Press, ”It’s a very happy time for me. We will be publishing the Frommer travel guides in ebook and print formats and will also be operating the travel site Frommers.com.” Frommer’s was founded in 1957 and jumped from publisher to publisher until finally being purchased by John Wiley & Sons in 2001. Wiley announced last year that it would start selling some of its assets to help refocus itself, and Google ended up buying the travel guide brand…

The acquisition of content from traditional, paper publishers is nothing new for the search behemoth. Google acquired Zagat Survey LLC–which publishes restaurant guides–in 2011 and integrated the Zagat content with Google+. Since Google powers the majority of Internet searches in the Western world, it has the advantage of being able to display its own content directly in search results. Targeted advertising is a huge part of Google’s business model and with so much valuable travel and review data available to it now, it is in a better position to compete against travel-focused sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.

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Google said in an emailed statement that, “We’re focused on providing high-quality local information to help people quickly discover and share great places, like a nearby restaurant or the perfect vacation destination. That’s why we’ve spent the last several months integrating the travel content we acquired from Wiley.” As is often the case now, acquirers want nothing to do with the brands or companies they buy, they just want the content. After all, what is a publisher worth without something to publish?

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Shaw Communications (NYSE:SJR): Current price $23.86

On Monday, Shaw said that it will acquire ENMAX Envision from ENMAX Corporation at a price of approximately $225 million. Envision is ENMAX Corporation’s high-speed data communications subsidiary, which runs one of Calgary’s biggest fibre-optic networks and specializes in providing large bandwidth solutions to firms that need a dedicated internet connection or to connect multiple locations over private networks.

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SJR

General Electric Company (NYSE:GE): Current price $23.45

GE’s planned acquisition of the pump maker Lufkin Industries  (NASDAQ:LUFK) at the industry’s most expensive price – $3.3 billion – is showcasing demand for oilfield equipment that primes  Weatherford International and Tesco Corp. as the next targets. The would-be buyer calculates that 94 percent of existing oil wells use so-called artificial-lift pumps to aid in drawing out the fuel, showing the need for the equipment made by Lufkin and its main rival, Weatherford. Oracle Investment Research believes that Weatherford, which holds 40 percent of the market for rod lifts, could also draw takeover interest.

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GE

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company (NYSE:KKR): Current price $19.56

KKR joins the investor group of Blackstone, Carlyle, TPG Capital and Temasek to offer over $12 billion for Life Technologies, according to a source. Private-equity titans Henry Kravis and Steven Schwarzman are partnering on what could likely be the biggest leveraged buyout in several years. Suitors must make “binding” offers by Tuesday for the laboratory equipment manufacturer. KKR declined comment, and Blackstone did not return calls.

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KKR

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The Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX): Current price $21.22

The private-equity investor the Blackstone Group and shopping center owner DDR Corp. are purchasing seven shopping centers from Regency Centers for over $300 million, according to inside sources, who could not at the time say which of the 348 locations in which Regency holds stakes were involved in the transaction, but they did know that the deal is valued at between $300 million to $400 million, and should close by the end of April. DDR is based in the Cleveland suburb of Beachwood and owns interests in 454 centers; in December, the firm bought the Carolina Pavilion shopping center in Charlotte from Blackstone for $106 million.

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BX

MetroPCS Communications (NYSE:PCS): Current price $11.52

Deutsche Telekom plans to offer a sweetened bid as soon as early Thursday for MetroPCS Communications, which the German telecom intends to merge with its T-Mobile USA division, said a knowledgeable source, who elaborated that the new terms will impose less debt on the unified entity and have lower interest rates on the loan than the previous offer. A fresh offer would come two days before MetroPCS shareholders are set to meet to vote on the original terms. Under the merger plan, Deutsche Telekom and MetroPCS would unify the fourth- and fifth-largest United States wireless carriers, helping them rival the  market leaders Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T).

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PCS

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (NYSE:POT): Current price $39.41

The new Chief Executive Stefan Borgas of Israel Chemicals has warned that Israel’s phosphate reserves are drying up and asked the government to grant the firm licenses to mine at a new site in the southern Negev desert. At a ceremony marking 20 years of trade in shares of ICL, which is a takeover target for Potash Corporation, Borgas said that the fertilizer producer’s phosphate activities at Rotem, in the Negev, are among the highest-cost operations in the world, and “to become competitive, we must reduce operating costs and increase volume significantly.”

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POT

Duke Energy Corporation (NYSE:DUK): Current price $72.94

Duke Energy’s commercial business division, Duke Energy Renewables, on Wednesday reported it has bought two commercial solar power projects near Twentynine Palms, California, from project developer SolarWorld, which is the biggest domestic solar manufacturer for more than 35 years. The twin projects, Highlander Solar 1 and 2, are in close proximity and will be managed as a single operation. It will collectively generate 21 megawatts of renewable energy, sufficient to power more than 4,000 average homes yearly.

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DUK

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Facebook (NASDAQ:FB): Current price $27.40

Facebook is continuing to make purchases that will help reinforce the strategy of building out a stronger role in mobile overall. TechCrunch has learned that in the lead-up to the debut last week of Facebook Home, the company seems to have quietly picked up Osmeta, which is a Mountain View-based mobile software startup, which thus far never launched a commercial product, and it is unclear right now if this is an acqui-hire or a tech deal as well.  TechCrunch is also reporting that a Facebook spokesperson has now confirmed the acquisition, without further comment.

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FB

American Realty Capital Properties (NASDAQ: ARCP): Current price $16.64

The company on Thursday said that it has withdrawn its proposal, valued at around $9.7 billion including assumption of debt, to purchase Cole Credit Property Trust III. The deal would have paid CCPT III’s stockholders $12.50 per share in cash, or not less than $13.59 per share in ARCP stock, and formed the biggest, best managed, highest quality publicly traded REIT in the net lease sector.

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ARCP

Avago Technologies Limited (NASDAQ:AVGO): Current price $34.91

Avago will acquire CyOptics, which is in Indium Phosphide optical chip and component technologies for the data communications and telecommunications markets, at a cash price of roughly $400 million. The buyer says that the acquisition of CyOptics will reinforce Avago’s fiber optics product portfolio for emerging 40- and 100-gigabyte enterprise and data center applications. Avago is a supplier of analog interface components for communications, industrial, and consumer applications.

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AVGO

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Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS): Current price $21.82

The buyout company Apax Partners and Morgan Stanley’s private equity unit are examining a sale of the insurance brokerage Hub International that could be valued at roughly $2 billion, according to two inside sources reporting this week. A potential sale of Hub would be six years after Apax and Morgan Stanley Principal Investments took it private for $1.8 billion, including $145 million of debt.

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MS

Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ:LIFE): Current price $68.17

Knowledgeable sources say that Life Technologies received takeover bids from a private-equity group including Blackstone, and from Thermo Fisher Scientific, for as much as $11.8 billion. The offers came in at $66 to $69 per share, said two of the people, and one source said that Life could pick a buyer as early as next week or decide against a sale, adding that Thermo Fisher can probably take out $300 million to $400 million in costs, the deal would be immediately accretive, and the firm’s shareholders are supportive of a deal.

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LIFE

M&T Bank Corporation (NYSE:MTB): Current price $100.14

On Friday, M&T and Hudson City Bancorp (NASDAQ: HCBK) announced that additional time will likely be needed to obtain a regulatory determination on the applications necessary to finalize their proposed merger. M&T filed its regulatory applications with its regulators in September, 2012, and has learned that the Federal Reserve has identified certain regulatory problems with the firm’s procedures, systems, and processes relating to its Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering compliance program. M&T has already begun a major initiative, including recruiting an outside consulting firm, intended to fully address the Federal Reserve’s worries.

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MTB

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