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Dow Jones News: Walgreens Buyout Optimism Fades; IBM Building Financial Services Cloud

By Timothy Green - Nov 6, 2019 at 1:42PM

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A leveraged buyout of Walgreens looks like a long shot, and IBM pitches the financial services industry on cloud security.

After clinging to small gains Wednesday morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI -0.17% ) was down 0.13% at 12:45 p.m. EST. The news that an initial trade deal between the U.S. and China likely won't be signed until December may be responsible for the decline.

Pulling down the Dow was Walgreens Boots Alliance ( WBA 4.28% ). After surging on Tuesday on reports of a potential go-private deal, the stock faded on Wednesday as optimism seemed to wane. Meanwhile, shares of International Business Machines ( IBM 1.66% ) rose after the tech giant announced a new industry-specific public cloud platform.

Walgreens gives up gains

Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance soared on Tuesday after Reuters reported that the drugstore chain has been exploring going private via a deal with private equity firms. Any deal for Walgreens would likely be the largest leveraged buyout in history.

A Walgreens store.

Image source: Walgreens.

The stock gave up some of those gains on Wednesday as analysts sounded a pessimistic tone on the odds of such a massive deal. Jefferies sees the odds of a deal being low, and Wells Fargo put the odds below 50%. Shares of Walgreens were down 2.9%.

At its current market capitalization, Walgreen is valued at around $53 billion. Add in debt of nearly $17 billion, and the company has an enterprise value of roughly $70 billion. A go-private deal would undoubtedly require multiple private equity firms to be involved.

This development comes at a time when Walgreens is struggling to grow the bottom line. The company reported a decline in earnings for the fourth quarter of 2019 as it took charges related to the acceleration of its Transformational Cost Management Program. The program is expected to reduce annual costs by at least $1.8 billion by fiscal 2022, but total pre-tax charges are expected to be as high as $2.4 billion.

Even adjusted earnings per share, which backs out those charges, were down slightly despite billions of dollars of share buybacks knocking down the share count. The company expects adjusted earnings per share to be roughly flat in 2020, adjusted for currency.

A leveraged buyout of Walgreens isn't out of the question, but the size of the deal and the company's recent struggles likely make it a long shot.

IBM announces financial services cloud

Shares of IBM were beaten down after a mixed third-quarter report in October, but the stock regained a little of that lost ground on Wednesday. IBM stock was up 0.28% after the company announced a new public cloud platform aimed at financial services companies.

IBM, working with subsidiary Promontory Financial Group and Bank of America, is building a public cloud capable of handling the regulatory, compliance, security, and resiliency requirements of the financial services industry. Bank of America has committed to use the platform, which will be powered by IBM's broader public cloud platform, to host key applications and workloads.

"The financial services-ready public cloud can potentially enable Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers -- from the smallest FinTechs to more established vendors -- to focus on their core offerings to financial institutions with the controls for the platform put in place," reads IBM's press release.

IBM's announcement follows the massive Capital One breach earlier this year, which affected 100 million people. That incident involved a former Amazon Web Services employee accessing data stored on Amazon's servers. Amazon has said the theft wasn't caused by a breach or vulnerability in AWS.

IBM is entrenched in the financial services industry, with customer relationships that go back decades in some cases. With data security a top priority, the company's financial services cloud comes at the perfect time.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Stocks Mentioned

International Business Machines Corporation Stock Quote
International Business Machines Corporation
$118.84 (1.66%) $1.94
Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. Stock Quote
Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.
$46.53 (4.28%) $1.91
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
$34,580.08 (-0.17%) $-59.71

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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