Stocks ended their best quarter in nearly a decade on a positive note Friday after a key measure of inflation came in below expectations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) has risen 10.9% in 2019 and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) is up 12.9%.
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As for individual stocks, Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) made its debut as a public company today, and the merger between Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) and Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) got some votes of confidence.
Lyft gets off to a strong start
Shares of ridesharing specialist Lyft started trading today in one of the year's most anticipated initial public offerings. The stock rose 8.7% over the $72 offering price to end the session at $78.29.
Lyft offered 32,500,000 shares of common stock, plus an option to the underwriters for an additional 4,875,000 shares, and raised over $2.4 billion for the company. After the close today, the company is valued at over $27 billion.
Lyft took in $2.16 billion in revenue in 2018, more than twice as much as in the year before, but lost $911 million, or $3.83 per pro forma share. Active riders in Q4 2018 rose 48% to 18.6 million and revenue per rider grew 32% to $36.04.
The market is excited about Lyft's rapid growth. The company appears to be on a path to profitability, but investors are left to ponder whether Lyft has a competitive advantage over Uber, whose own IPO could be coming soon, and whether the fundamentals support such a hefty valuation.
Celgene's merger with Bristol-Myers Squibb just got more certain
A successful completion of the merger between Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene is looking more likely after independent proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis & Co. recommended that shareholders vote in favor of the deal. Shares of Celgene rose 7.9% to $94.34 on the news and those of Bristol-Myers fell 0.3% to $47.71.
Bristol-Myers and Celgene made headlines the first week of 2019 when they announced the cash-and-stock transaction worth $74 billion. The offer is $50 in cash and one share of Bristol-Myers for each Celgene share, as well a contingent value right worth $9 if three therapies in development are approved by set deadlines.
The deal was opposed by activist fund Starboard Value, and doubt about whether shareholders would approve the merger had resulted in Celgene's stock selling at a sizable discount to the offering price. Starboard withdrew its opposition in a press release today.
Even with the proxy service recommendations, the merger isn't completely certain yet. Earlier this week, the companies disclosed that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is reviewing their pipelines and marketed products for psoriasis. But given that Celgene is now trading within 4% of the offering price, the market finally seems convinced that the deal will go through.
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