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A roundup of some of the North American equities making moves in both directions today

On the rise

Restaurant Brands International Inc. (QSR-T) rose 3.2 per cent on Monday after beating analysts’ estimates for quarterly results as the popularity of fried chicken sandwiches at Popeyes more than made up for an underwhelming performance at Burger King and Tim Hortons.

Tim Hortons aims to ‘refocus’ in year ahead after 2019 performance disappoints

Same-store sales at Popeyes jumped 34.4 per cent, surging past expectation of a 12.34-per-cent growth, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

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Popeyes brought back its hugely popular chicken sandwich last November, months after its launch in August led to shortages at many of its outlets and triggered a “chicken war” with Chick-fil-A on social media among diners.

The strong demand also prompted rival McDonald’s Corp to test its own chicken sandwich at some of its chains.

However, Tim Hortons remained a weak spot.

The coffee chain has struggled to attract diners amid intense competition from Starbucks Corp, Dunkin’ and other third-wave coffee shops.

L Brands Inc. (LB-N) climbed 2.4 per cent after a report the retailer was nearing a deal to sell Victoria’s Secret to New York-based private-equity firm Sycamore Partners.

CNBC said Sunday the parent company of the troubled lingerie label could announce a transaction this week,

Lithium Americas Corp. (LAC-T) jumped 18.6 per cent after China’s Ganfeng Lithium Co. said on Friday it will take control of an Argentina lithium project known as Cauchari-Olaroz, which it has been developing with the Vancouver-based company,

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The deal is expected to help Lithium Americas cut its debt and reduce exposure to recession-hit Argentina.

Shares of HP Inc. (HPQ-N) rose 0.8 per cent after Xerox Holdings Corp. (XRX-N) raised its takeover offer for the PC maker to US$24 per share from US$22 per share on Monday, following several rejections of its previous buyout offer.

The latest offer comprises US$18.40 in cash and 0.149 Xerox shares for each HP share, valuing the company at about US$35-billion.

The U.S. printer maker first made a US$33.5-billion cash-and-stock offer for HP, a company more than three times its size, in November. HP’s board had then rejected the offer, saying it significantly undervalued the company.

Xerox said last month it plans to nominate 11 independent candidates to HP’s board and that it had secured $24 billion in financing for the offer.

Xerox was down just over 1.3 per cent.

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Shopping centers owner Taubman Centers Inc. (TCO-N) surged 53.2 per cent as it agreed to be bought by larger peer Simon Property Group Inc. (SPG-N) in a deal valued at US$3.6-billion.

Simon will buy an 80-per-cent stake in the Taubman Realty Group (TRG) Ltd Partnership, the entity through which Taubman Centers conducts its business.

Taubman family will sell about one-third of its interest in TRG and remain a 20-per-cent partner in the firm, the companies said.

Simon’s cash offer of US$52.50 represents a premium of about 51 per cent to Taubman’s closing price on Friday.

Taubman’s stock has risen nearly 23 per cent since a media report on Feb. 4 said Simon was holding deal talks with the company.

Shares of Indianapolis-based Simon were 1.5 per cent higher.

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Mattel Inc. (MAT-Q) was up 1.4 per cent after it shut down two plants in Asia, as the toymaker reduces its manufacturing footprint to cut costs.

The company also plans to close its Mega Bloks factory in Montreal’s St-Laurent suburb in a move that will result in job losses for some 580 employees.

Schick razor maker’ Edgewell Personal Care Co. (EPC-N) increased 27.7 per cent after scrapping its debt-heavy US$1.37-billion deal for peer Harry’s Inc after the U.S. competition regulator sought to stop the deal.

The Federal Trade Commission earlier this month filed a lawsuit to block the acquisition, arguing it would harm competition in the U.S. shaving industry.

“We are disappointed by the FTC’s decision and continue to disagree with its position,” Chief Executive Officer Rod Little.

Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club, which was acquired by Unilever at reportedly five times its annual revenue in 2016, had challenged the dominance of Procter & Gamble Co’s Gillette razors with their online subscription models.

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On the decline

Apple Inc. (AAPL-Q) slipped 0.5 per cent as its supplier Foxconn struggled to fully resume its factories in China.

Foxconn, which is Apple’s biggest iPhone maker, won approval to resume production in the eastern central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, but only 10 per cent of the workforce has managed to return.

But the southern city of Shenzhen rejected a company request to resume work there.

Just Energy Group Inc. (JE-T) fell 23.9 per cent after it reported sales of $658.5-million in the third quarter ended Dec. 31 versus sales of $734.2-million in the quarter a year earlier. Analysts were expecting sales of $842-million in the more recent quarter.

Profit was $35.6-million versus a loss of $47.6-million a year earlier, the company said. Diluted earnings per share came in at 16 cents versus 25 cents a year ago.

Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY-N) dropped 0.6 per cent after experimental drugs from the U.S. pharmaceutical firm and Switzerland’s Roche failed to halt Alzheimer’s disease.

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Pursuit of an Alzheimer’s remedy, which would inevitably reap drugmakers billions of dollars, has been marked by more than 100 failures, although researchers still hope to tame a condition that affects nearly 6 million Americans, more than 40 million people worldwide, and which is growing more prevalent.

The study of Roche’s gantenerumab and Eli Lilly’s solanezumab spearheaded by Washington University in St. Louis focused on rare autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease, which is caused by gene mutations that follow generations of families.

Shares of Quebec-based drug developer Acasti Pharma Inc. (ACST-X) fell 26.5 per cent after it announced an investigation by an independent team of auditors is underway to examine “unexpected and inconsistent findings” that may have negatively impacted results reported in its late-stage trial, TRILOGY 1.

The trial was testing its drug CaPre, a highly purified concentrate derived from krill oil, being developed to treat severe hypertriglyceridemia, a condition that contributes to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and pancreatitis.

In a research report, Aegis Capital analyst Nathan Weinstein said: “While we’re disappointed that TRILOGY 2 results won’t be shared sooner, (e.g. prior to the conclusion of the TRILOGY 1 audit), we believe the company wants the audit results, and FDA feedback, in-hand before proceeding with an analysis of TRILOGY 2. On the positive side, Acasti continues to allude to an NDA path potentially remaining on the table, predicated on the results of the TRILOGY 1 audit and TRILOGY 2 achieving statistical significance. On the negative side, the delay to the unblinding of data from the trial could reasonably be expected to result in a slower timetable to commercialization(in the potential event that the audit of TRILOGY 1 and the results of TRILOGY2 are ultimately determined to merit an NDA filing for CaPre). We think that the market is largely discounting the possibility of eventual approval. Our price target and rating remain under review.”

With files from Terry Weber, Brenda Bouw, staff and wires

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