Following a merger with the parent company of the Chuck E. Cheese brand, London-based Leo Holdings Corp. plans to rebrand itself and take the new company public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol “CEC.” The enterprise value of the combined company, which will be known as Chuck E. Cheese Brands Inc., is estimated at $1.4 billion.
Leo Holdings, which is self-described as a special purpose acquisition firm, has entered into a “definitive business combination agreement” with Queso Holdings Corp., which is the parent company of CEC Entertainment Inc., the owner, operator and leading franchisor of the family dining and entertainment brand Chuck E. Cheese.
The other principal in the merger agreement is Queso’s controlling stockholder, an entity owned by funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO), a publicly traded equity firm based in New York.
CEC Entertainment is based in the Dallas suburb of Irving and also owns, operates and franchises Peter Piper Pizza, a family dining concept.
As of year-end 2018, CEC Entertainment and its franchisees operated a system of 606 Chuck E. Cheese venues and 144 Peter Piper Pizza restaurants, with locations in 47 states and 14 foreign countries and territories. Nolan Bushnell, the founder of gaming console system Atari, opened the first Chuck E. Cheese location in Silicon Valley in 1977.
According to CEC Entertainment, the venue revenue mix among the 750 locations is 55 percent entertainment and merchandise and 45 percent food and beverage.
Pursuant to the merger agreement, Leo Holdings will acquire Queso Holdings and keep the leadership team of CEC Entertainment intact. After the close of the transaction, outside investors will purchase $100 million of common stock of Chuck E. Cheese Brands Inc. in a private placement. The new investment and the balance of the approximately $200 million in cash held in Leo’s existing trust account will be used to pay transaction expenses and deleverage the CEC Entertainment’s existing capital structure.
Existing shareholders including funds managed by majority shareholder Apollo expect to hold an approximately 51 percent stake in Chuck E. Cheese Brands Inc. upon completion of the transaction.
Citigroup Global Markets Inc. acted as financial advisor, capital markets advisor and private placement agent to Leo Holdings. Jefferies LLC acted as financial advisor and capital markets advisor to CEC Entertainment.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal counsel to Leo, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP acted as legal counsel to CEC Entertainment.
The boards of directors of both Leo and Queso have unanimously approved the proposed transaction. The parties expect that the transaction will close in the second quarter of this year.
Netflix (NFLX) reports earnings, lowers forecast
Netflix Inc. attracted a record number of paying subscribers in the first quarter of 2019, but may have accelerated profit growth that could have been spread throughout the year, and shares declined in after-hours trading Tuesday.
Netflix NFLX, -0.82% reported the addition of 9.6 million new paying subscribers in the first three months of the year, a record for a single quarter. The streaming-entertainment company reported earnings of $344 million, or 76 cents a share, up from 64 cents a share a year ago. Revenue for the quarter was $4.5 billion, up from $3.7 billion in the same period last year.
TimeNetflix Inc.Jun 18Aug 18Oct 18Dec 18Feb 19Apr 19
Analysts on average expected Netflix to report earnings of 58 cents a share on sales of $4.5 billion, according to FactSet. Analysts projected 8.06 million new paying subscribers, after Netflix said it expected to add 8.9 million paying subscribers. Investors focus much more on Netflix’s subscriber count than its financial performance, because it is more predictive of where Netflix’s finances are going, and is especially important amid new competition.
Netflix’s report arrives after two high-profile debuts of new rival streaming services from companies accomplished at attracting consumer eyeballs (and dollars): Apple Inc. AAPL, -0.08% and Walt Disney Co. DIS, -1.62% . In its previous earnings report, Netflix altered its quarterly view of the competition to note that it competes with much more than just other streaming services, though, and on Tuesday executives insisted there is plenty of growth available to multiple streaming services as more consumers move away from traditional television services.
“We don’t anticipate that these new entrants will materially affect our growth because the transition from linear to on-demand entertainment is so massive and because of the differing nature of our content offerings,” Netflix executives said in a letter to shareholders Tuesday.
Netflix also provided select viewership metrics on select content, as it began doing in the previous quarter. Netflix said that more than 52 million subscribers watched “Triple Frontier,” a big-budget action movie starring Ben Affleck, in its first four weeks of availability, and that the series “Umbrella Academy” was watched by 45 million member households in its first four weeks.
The company’s forecast for the second quarter was lighter than expected, though, both in profit and new subscribers. Netflix projected second-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share, which would be down from 85 cents a share a year ago and well lower than analysts’ estimates of 99 cents a share. Netflix expects 5 million new paying subscribers in the second quarter, while analysts were projecting 5.3 million on average, but Netflix executives said they “expect another year of record annual paid net adds in 2019,” which means topping 2018’s total of 28.6 million new paying subscribers.
The biggest deficit was in U.S. subscribers — netflix expects only 300,000 new paying subscribers in the U.S., while analysts were expecting more than double that total. Netflix is increasing prices in the U.S., and noted in its letter that price increases can lead to “some modest short-term churn effect.”
Some of the costs of running the business were shifted to later in the year as well, and there seems to be more potential concerns about costs for the rest of 2019.
“Operating margin of 10.2% exceeded our beginning-of-quarter expectation as some spending was shifted from Q1 to later in the year,” Netflix explained in the letter to investors, while maintaining a goal of a 13% operating margin for the full year.
Netflix increased its estimate for how much money it will spend this year, saying that it now expects its free-cash flow deficit to be around $3.5 billion, as it continues to pay for new content. Executives cited “higher cash taxes related to the change in our corporate structure and additional investments in real estate and other infrastructure.”
Netflix said it expects a higher effective tax rate this year, including a 48% rate in the second quarter, “due to one-time discrete events.”
Netflix shares closed 3% higher Tuesday, at $359.46, then declined to less than $350 in immediate late trading after the numbers were released, but later rebounded a bit to a loss of about 1.5%. The stock has increased 17.2% in the past year, as the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.05% has gained 8.5%.
Netflix Inc. shares fell $2.61 (-0.73%) in after-hours trading Tuesday. Year-to-date, NFLX has gained 34.30%, versus a 16.61% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.
NFLX currently has a StockNews.com POWR Rating of B (Buy), and is ranked #11 of 54 stocks in the Internet category.
PunchOut2Go Sponsors B2B Online: CEO Brady Behrman to Lead B2B…
PunchOut2Go, an eCommerce and eProcurement technology integration provider, today announced its sponsorship of B2B Online in Chicago, the leading US B2B eCommerce and digital marketing conference for manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers.
Brady Behrman, PunchOut2Go CEO and Co-Founder, will be at B2B Online to lead a session on Harnessing B2B Growth Opportunities with eProcurement to Make Purchasing Easier. The fastest growing B2B sales channel is eProcurement, up 37% year-over-year, surpassing direct B2B commerce. The session will reveal strategies and best practices that manufacturers and distributors can implement to make it easy and seamless for eProcurement customers to purchase from their organization.
Behrman will focus on the practical steps B2B sellers can take to improve integration between eCommerce applications and buyer eProcurement platforms, such as punchout catalogs, eInvoicing, and B2B order automation.
“A growing number of B2B buyers use eProcurement and enterprise resource planning platforms to take control of procurement and spending. They expect manufacturers and distributors to be integration-ready,” said Behrman. “Sellers that are unable to offer punchout catalogs, order automation, and other data interchange capabilities are less attractive to buyers who have invested in eProcurement.”
The PunchOut2Go team will be at B2B Online to meet manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers to talk about the technical and financial benefits of integration and B2B automation. Integration isn’t as challenging or expensive as it once was, and sellers who are ready to integrate can improve customer retention, increase sales, and reduce the cost of selling.
B2B Online is an unmissable opportunity to benefit from the experience and expertise of executives and professionals from across the B2B sales industry. The conference is dedicated to exploring the future of B2B sales, with a focus on digital innovation and customer experience.
B2B Online takes place on April 29 – May 1 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown in Chicago, IL.
PunchOut2Go is a global B2B technology integration and data translation company specializing in the integration of eCommerce applications, procurement platforms, and punchout catalog functionality. Helping simplify the B2B buying cycle by reducing integration complexities and rapidly deploying the right technology, PunchOut2Go’s cloud-based adaptable gateway solution integrates and automates punchout catalogs, electronic purchase orders, eInvoicing, and other B2B order automation integrations with 100% compatibility. Learn more at https://www.punchout2go.com/.
Barclays warns of ‘likely’ second-half slowdown for Sage
Analysts at Barclays have warned that a second-half slowdown for Sage Group PLC (LON:SGE) “seems likely”.
Sage, which makes accounting software for businesses, has seen its share price climb by almost a fifth this year after topping expectations with its first-quarter growth.
But Barclays’ number crunchers have warned that the first half benefits from easier comparatives, while things are expected to get a little tougher in the second half of the year.
“We think Q1 should not be viewed as an especially material data point in assessing the growth rate of the business over the coming couple of years,” read a note to clients.
“It is likely that the [cloud] transition will gather speed over the course of the year – a good thing – but that this will result in revenue growth moderating. This could be further exacerbated by tougher comps in the second half of the year.”
The analysts added: “We think an H2 slowdown is likely and that this could disappoint the market.
“We therefore remain ‘underweight’, albeit on an increased price target of 550p (from 495p), now based on 17x CY20E EPS (from 15x) to reflect increased market multiples.”
Sage shares were 0.1% higher at 702.8p on Friday morning – comfortably ahead of Barclays’ target.
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