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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hormel Foods nears deal for Applegate Farms-sources, (NYSE: HRL)

Hormel Foods Corp is in late-stage talks to acquire Applegate Farms LLC, a privately held producer of organic hot dogs, bacon and sausages, to enhance its branded protein offerings, according to people familiar with the matter. A deal for Applegate Farms could be announced as early as next week and value the Bridgewater, New Jersey-based company at between $600 million and $1 billion, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is confidential.A representative for Applegate Farms could not be reached for comment. Hormel declined to comment.Private equity firm Swander Pace invested an undisclosed amount in Applegate Farms in 2009. The company was founded in 1987 by current CEO Stephen McDonnell.A sale of Applegate Farms would come amid a slew of merger activity for meat companies.

Hormel Foods Corporation is primarily engaged in the production of a variety of meat and food products and the marketing of those products throughout the United States and internationally. Shares of HRL traded higher by 0.45% or $0.24/share to $54.17. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $43.95 and as high as $55.40. On average, 857618 shares of HRL exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 849591.



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Hedge fund Glenview's Robbins lists McDonald's as a favorite pick, (NYSE: MCD)

Hedge fund manager Larry Robbins on Thursday called fast food restaurant McDonald's Corp a "uniquely interesting opportunity" thanks to a new chief executive and a board that he expects will become more focused over the coming months. Robbins, who runs the $11 billion Glenview Capital Management hedge fund and was ranked as 2013's best performing hedge fund manager, listed McDonald's as one of his portfolio's lesser-known favorite picks - placing it alongside his more-widely-discussed favorites Thermo Fisher, Monsanto and Flextronics.Robbins attends many conferences and talks often about his top picks. At the Harbor Investment Conference he joked that he's talked about everything.McDonald's operating characteristics are "subpar," he said, but he thinks Steve Easterbrook, who will take over the CEO role on March 1, is aware of this and will work on it.He also said that nominations for directors to McDonald's board can be made, which suggests that new members might join. "At a minimum, the board will be more focused," Robbins said.

McDonald?s Corporation (McDonald?s) franchises and operates McDonald?s restaurants in the global restaurant industry. Shares of MCD traded higher by 0.93% or $0.88/share to $95.09. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $87.62 and as high as $103.78. On average, 6961780 shares of MCD exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 7758534.



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Fed approves Simmons First National Corp bank mergers, (NASDAQ: FBMS), (NASDAQ: SFNC)

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Thursday said it had approved Simmons First National Corp's merger with Community First Bancshares Inc and its merger with Liberty Bancshares Inc. Through its merger with Community First, Pine Bluff, Arkansas-based Simmons will indirectly acquire First State Bank in Union City, Tennessee, the Fed said.

The First Bancshares, Inc. serve as a bank holding company for The First, A National Banking Association (The First) located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Shares of FBMS fell by 2.51% or $-0.3699/share to $14.38. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $13.74 and as high as $15.50. On average, 4313 shares of FBMS exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 48863.

Simmons First National Corporation is a multi-bank financial holding company. Shares of SFNC traded higher by 3.23% or $1.26/share to $40.29. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $33.05 and as high as $43.22. On average, 56910 shares of SFNC exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 131678.



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Apache slashing 2015 rig count, capex due to low oil prices, (NYSE: APA)

Apache Corp, one of the top U.S. shale oil producers, said on Thursday it would slash capital expenditures and its rig count in 2015, in response to the collapse of crude oil prices.The company, which reported a multibillion-dollar net loss but adjusted earnings that beat Wall Street's estimates, also said it would not divest its overseas businesses, with one possible exception.Crude oil prices, down about 50 percent since June, prompted Apache to cut its 2015 capital expenditures by 60 percent and slash its fleet of drilling rigs by 70 percent.On a conference call with investors, Chief Executive John Christmann also said the company is setting aide plans to sell or spin off its Egyptian and North Sea businesses, as they generate much-needed cash.

Apache Corporation (Apache) is an independent energy company, which explores for, develops, and produces natural gas, crude oil, and natural gas liquids. Shares of APA fell by 0.26% or $-0.17/share to $64.58. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $54.34 and as high as $104.57. On average, 5105970 shares of APA exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 7316079.



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UBS avoids liability for couple's soured sawmill investment, (NYSE: UBS)

UBS AG has avoided liability for a former broker's alleged move to steer a Seattle-based couple to purchase into a now-defuct sawmill after an arbitration panel found that the clients and their broker hid the investment from the bank. Donald and Eileen Bowman had sought more than $3 million in damages from UBS Financial Services Inc for allegedly failing to supervise the couple's now former broker, Ted Greene, according to an arbitration decision posted on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's (FINRA) website this week.But the three FINRA arbitrators disagreed with the Bowmans, ruling that the couple and Green had engaged in "deceptive strategies" to conceal their investment activities involving the sawmill from UBS, according to the Feb 9 ruling.The case is an example of challenges firms can face when brokers break industry rules by soliciting clients to buy investments that the firms themselves do not offer. Some investors try to recoup losses from such deals in arbitrations against brokers' firms, alleging shoddy supervision.The arbitrators found that UBS had a "robust compliance program" aimed at avoiding such situations, known as "selling away." But the couple made a big effort to conceal from the bank their investment in the now defunct factory that sawed logs to make boards in St. Helens, Oregon.

Shares of UBS traded higher by 2.6% or $0.43/share to $16.97. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $16.01 and as high as $18.26. On average, 1261140 shares of UBS exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 1232917.



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Sumitomo Mitsui Trust in talks to purchase Citi's Japanese credit card unit -Nikkei, (NYSE: C)

Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank is in exclusive talks with Citigroup Inc to purchase its credit card business in the country, the Nikkei reported, as the U.S. lender goes ahead with plans to exit consumer banking in the country. Sumitomo Mitsui Trust, part of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc, is eyeing to reach an agreement next month to buy the Citigroup unit, which offers Diners Club credit cards in Japan, the Nikkei reported. (s.nikkei.com/1zyzOuq)The Japanese bank expressed its interest in buying Citigroup's credit card business for more than 50 billion yen last fall, the Nikkei reported.Sumitomo Mitsui Trust is also reviewing its technical capabilities for a smooth transition of the business.Earlier, Shinsei Bank Ltd, department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd and credit card service provider JCB Co Ltd had jointly expressed interest in buying the credit card unit, the Nikkei reported in December.

Citigroup Inc. (Citigroup) is a global diversified financial services holding company whose businesses provide consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services and wealth management. Shares of C traded higher by 2.4% or $1.19/share to $50.87. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $45.18 and as high as $56.95. On average, 18984200 shares of C exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 17940644.



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