AstraZeneca Owners Lobby for Pfizer Merger; Urban Outfitters' "Urban" Sales Sink

The three things you need to know on May 22.

May 21, 2014 at 11:00PM

After a slow start to the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) jumped a healthy 159 points Wednesday on some details on stimulus policies and big corporate earnings.

1. AstraZeneca shareholders lobby for Pfizer acquisition
So you're telling me there's a chance? Investors got excited about a merger between Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) Wednesday, even though AstraZeneca's board officially rejected the idea Monday. Major investors of the British pharmaceutical company urged the board to reconsider Wednesday, which helped the stock rebound from the fall it took following the rejection. 

Earlier in the month, Pfizer started bidding to acquire the big British drug company, and the "final offer" was $93 per share (a total of $120 billion for the whole company). The shares were just $62 in April, so Pfizer's offering a major shot of return for investors. But the board denied Pfizer on Monday and slammed the door shut.

Shareholders owning 8% of shares publicly urged the board to reconsider Pfizer's offer. If they approved the buyout, it would mean an immediate payout of $93 for shareholders (about 30% in cash, and the rest in shares of the new company). There's still a sliver of hope the board could flip-flop on its rejection, so the stock rose to $74 on the potential for a deal.

2. Fed "minutes" show stimulus shall continue
Want to know the Federal Reserve's thoughts? Then you'll enjoy the minutes from the central bank's policy-setting meeting last month. The deets from the get-together were released Wednesday, showing that Fed officials think the economy is still "gradually improving" and there's no need to change interest rate policies further right now.

The takeaway is that it may not seem like much, but it's enough to get investors giddy. Wall Street is a big fan of the Fed's monthly stimulus policy that keeps interest rates low to encourage borrowing. Although this "quantitative easing" stimulus plan has slowed down recently as the economy improved, investors were pumped to hear it will continue for a while longer.

3. Urban Outfitters stock out of style
Attention, all pseudo-hipsters: You aren't spending enough money at Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN). Shares of the chain store for purposefully torn clothing fell another 1.4% Wednesday after announcing that revenue rose nearly 6% to only $686.3 million, which was below Wall Street's expectations.

Was there anything cool about Urban's earnings? Yes -- everything that wasn't "Urban." Sales at the more casual Live Free chain owned by Urban rose 8%, while sales at the artsy Anthropologie popped 25% (just check the source of all the decor in your girlfriend's room and you'll find evidence of this). Those two popular brands helped Urban's overall sales gain 12%.

The takeaway is that the only Urban product that's facing serious rejection is Urban's own stores -- sales at Urban Outfitters' nationwide dropped 6%. And Urban management admits that its clothing has simply "missed fashion calls." For shareholders, that's a fashion faux pas.

As originally published on 

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4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

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Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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