A roundup of what The Globe and Mail's market strategist Scott Barlow is reading this morning on the World Wide Web.
There's a ton of exciting merger and acquisition news this morning but I want to make sure that the New York Times' excoriation of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.'s business model did not get lost in the shuffle. The Times' profile compared Valeant as similar (if not quite as bad) to former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, now CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who was vilified for jacking up the price on a 65-year-old malaria treatment by 5,000 per cent. Investors in Valeant are looking a little nervous in the aftermath of the report; shares are down nearly 8 per cent in early morning trade.
Reporters Andrew Pollack and Sabrina Tavernise wrote:
"Valeant's habit of buying up existing drugs and raising prices aggressively, rather than trying to develop new drugs, has also drawn the ire of lawmakers and helped stoke public outrage against the growing trend of higher and higher drug prices imposed by big drug companies. This year alone, Valeant raised prices on its brand-name drugs an average of 66 per cent, according to a Deutsche Bank analysis, about five times as much as its closest industry peers."
"Valeant's Drug Price Strategy Enriches It, but Infuriates Patients and Lawmakers" – New York Times
Suncor Energy Inc.'s hostile, all-stock $4.3-billion bid for Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. is the big news of the day:
"The proposed deal for Canadian Oil Sands – the biggest partner in the Syncrude oil sands development in northern Alberta – reflects a trend towards consolidation in the struggling oil patch as the bigger, financially healthier companies eye acquisition opportunities…The deal represents a premium of 43 per cent to the closing price of Canadian Oil Sands stock Friday."
The times have changed in the oil patch, but I can point out that the closing of the last major deal – Repsol SA's acquisition of Talisman Energy Inc. – kicked off a significant, multi-month rally in domestic oil stocks.
"Suncor launches hostile $4.3-billion bid for Canadian Oil Sands" – Report on Business
"Suncor Formally Begins Offer for Canadian Oil Sands for $3.29 Billion" – Bloomberg
"Suncor Launches Unsolicited Offer for Canadian Oil Sands" – Wall Street Journal
"Suncor makes C$6.6bn bid for Canadian Oil Sands" – FastFT
Elsewhere on the major deal front, Potash Corp. stock is trading higher on news that the company has given up on its takeover bid for German competitor K+S AG:
"Potash Corp.'s cash offer had been rejected in July by K+S AG of Germany as too low. Since then, spot prices for potash in the U.S. have dropped while the Bloomberg Commodity Index of 22 raw materials is down 16 per cent from its peak this year in May."
"Potash Corp. Withdraws Bid to Acquire K+S as Markets Tumble" – Bloomberg
Global hedge funds are now extremely bearish on both natural gas and energy stocks. I'm not sure whether to take this as a warning sign, or a contrarian buy signal. It is not, however, good news that Saudi Arabia has reduced prices on weak demand:
"Saudi Arabian Oil Co. reduced its official selling price for Medium grade crude to Asia next month to a discount of $3.20 a barrel below the regional benchmark…'They needed to cut pricing to keep Saudi crude competitive with other grades,' Robin Mills, a Dubai-based analyst at Manaar Energy Consulting, said by phone. 'Demand has been a bit weaker, leading to the cuts.' "
"Saudi Aramco Cuts Crude to Asia, U.S. Amid Weak Demand" – Bloomberg
"When energy inventory snaps looks like this" – Kaminska, FT Alphaville
"Gas Bears Bathing in Shale Glut Raise Net Short Bets to Record" – Bloomberg
"Oil Bulls Lose Faith in Recovery as Russia Adds to Global Glut" – Bloomberg
I can't recommend this CNBC interview with Citi's Chief Strategist (and Canadian) Tobias Levkovich enough. Mr. Levkovich, while not ignoring global risks, outlines his bullish case for U.S. equities – panic sentiment is high, ex-energy corporate profits remain solid, and easier year-over-year growth comparables. His point about normalized financing costs is very, very important in my opinion.
"Market fears? Leave emotions out of it: Pro" – CNBC (video)
Tweet of the Day: Canada's on the list and much lower down than many politicians would have us believe, "@WEF What does income #inequality look like around the world? wef.ch/1VkfGx6 #economics @OECD pic.twitter.com/BUOUi7Bng1" – Twitter
Diversion: "The fascinating people and stories behind making Scotch whisky" – Gizmodo