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Belo, Carnival, Roche, Amgen and AbbVie highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – July 8, 2013 – Zacks Equity Research highlights Belo (BLC-Free Report) as the Bull of the Day and Carnival (CCL-Free Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on the Roche (RHHBY-Free Report), Amgen (AMGN-Free Report) and AbbVie (ABBV-Free Report).

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Belo (BLC-Free Report) might seem like an odd Bull of the Day bull of the day being that it has agreed to be acquired by (merge with) Gannet Inc, Zacks Rank #3.  Even so, I thought it was important to dig a little deeper into this deal and determine if Belo (soon Gannet) can remain a strong force in our world’s changing media landscape and if Belo or GCI is worth your time.

I also consider it vital to clarify the deal and perhaps explain why Belo is trading above its purchase price of $13.75 as many retail investors may be piling into a stock that has a firm ceiling that it would be able to climb above.

Gannett will acquire all outstanding shares of Belo for $13.75 per share in cash, or approximately $1.5 billion, plus the assumption of $715 million in existing debt for an enterprise value of approximately $2.2 billion.

According to a recent press release by Gannett, the combination of Belo and Gannet will create a broadcast "Super Group," catapulting Gannett into the nation's fourth-largest owner of major network affiliates reaching nearly a third of all U.S. households.

After the deal is complete, Gannett's broadcast portfolio will almost double from 23 to 43 stations, including stations to be serviced by Gannett through shared services or similar sharing arrangements. Gannett's new broadcast segment will have greater geographic and revenue diversity, with 21 stations in the top 25 markets and will become the #1 CBS affiliate group, the #4 ABC affiliate group, and will expand its already #1 NBC affiliate group position.

Bear of the Day:

Just when you thought the airlines had it tough with regulations and fuel prices, consider the cruise industry that’s not only fighting for business after several recent high profile disasters, but is also a slave to the skyrocketing costs of fuel and whims of the leisure travel business.

Annual fuel bills for cruise lines like Carnival (CCL-Free Report) (Zacks Rank #5) can easily add up to hundreds of millions of dollars as their ships can consume tens of thousands of gallons of fuel on any given cruise. The price of intermediate fuel oil, which most cruise ships use, has risen almost in sync with crude oil forcing many lines to take evasive action like augmenting routes for efficiency and even high performance hull coatings that reduce drag in the water.

But with the odds stacked against them and consumers strained around the globe, it might be rough seas for Carnival’s earnings.

Less than a week ago, a man fell to his death aboard one of Carnival’s newer ships, the Carnival Magic.  A week before, a 12 year old boy was air-lifted after an accident on another ship.  Then just yesterday, the Carnival Conquest was diverted from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama as a tug-boat capsized (unrelated), closing a 10-mile stretch of the Mississippi.

All of these incidents can cost Carnival big money in direct or indirect repercussions.

Additional content:

Priority Review for Roche Candidate

Roche (RHHBY-Free Report)’s Biologics License Application (:BLA) for oncology candidate obinutuzumab (GA101) was recently accepted by the US Food and Drug Administration (:FDA) for priority review.

The company is looking to get obinutuzumab approved for the treatment of patients suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (:CLL).

The application was primarily based on final stage 1 data from a phase III trial, CLL11 wherein it was observed that obinutuzumab plus chlorambucil achieved a statistically significant reduction of 86% in the risk of disease worsening or death.

The study was being conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of obinutuzumab plus chlorambucil (standard chemotherapy) or Roche’s MabThera/Rituxan plus chlorambucil vis-à-vis only chlorambucil in patients suffering from CLL.

A final decision is expected by Dec 20, 2013. We note that the FDA granted ‘Breakthrough Therapy Designation’ to obinutuzumab in May 2013 following the release of positive data from the CLL11 trial.

This designation should speed up the development and review of the candidate. Roche is also looking to get the candidate approved in the EU where a marketing application was submitted to the European Medicines Agency (:EMA) in Apr 2013.

The successful development of obinutuzumab would help Roche replace revenues that may be lost to biosimilar versions of Rituxan once they enter the market.

We note that companies like Amgen (AMGN-Free Report) are working on biosimilar versions of Rituxan.

Rituxan is approved for the treatment of CLL. Rituxan was one of the best selling drugs for Roche in 2012 with sales of CHF 6.7 billion, up 9% year over year.

We remind investors that Roche has another pipeline candidate, RG7601, which is being developed for the treatment of relapsed/refractory (R/R) CLL and R/R non-Hodgkin lymphoma (:NHL) in collaboration with AbbVie (ABBV-Free Report).

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