Stocks to Watch: Groupon, Netflix

Updated from 8:57 a.m. ET with information about Groupon, Netflix.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- These stocks were making headlines ahead of Monday's opening bell:

Groupon ( GRPN):

Shares of the daily deals site operator were slipping nearly 2% after The Wall Street Journal highlighted stock sales by some early backers of the company.

The Journal report said at least four Groupon investors who bought into the company ahead of its initial public offering at $20 per share in November 2011 "have sold or significantly pared back their holdings in recent months."

The stock was last quoted at $4.66, down 2%, on pre-market volume of nearly 85,000, according to


The streaming content and DVD-by-mail company said early Monday it's already reached the one-million subscriber mark in the United Kingdom and Ireland within seven months, faster than in any other territory where it's launched.

"This membership milestone is evidence that Netflix has rapidly gained popularity in the UK and Ireland," said Reed Hastings, the company's CEO, in a press release. "Our British and Irish members clearly enjoy the ability to instantly watch a large variety of TV shows and films streaming from Netflix on their favourite devices whenever they want."

Netflix shares closed Friday at $63.69, down nearly 70% in the past 52 weeks.

Coventry Health Care ( CVH):

Bethesda, Md.-based Coventry has agreed to be acquired by Aetna ( AET) in a transaction worth an estimated $7.3 billion, including debt assumption.

The cash and stock deal values Coventry shares at $42.08 each based on Friday's closing prices, a premium of $7.04, or roughly 20%, to their finish last week at $34.94.

Aetna, whose shares closed Friday at $38.04, said it plans to fund the cash portion of the deal through a combination of cash of hand and the issuance $2.5 billion of new debt and commercial paper. The company, which is headquartered in Hartford, Conn., expects the acquisition to add modestly to its operating earnings in 2013, then add 45 cents a share to earnings in 2014 and 90 cents a share to earnings in 2015.

The companies expect to close the deal, which is seen adding "nearly 4 million medical members and 1.5 million Medicare Part D members" to Aetna's existing 36.7 million member customer base, in mid-2013.

Best Buy ( BBY):

It was another busy news weekend for the Minneapolis-based consumer electronics retailer as the company said Sunday that Richard Schulze, founder and former chairman, had declined to participate in a due diligence process related to his efforts to take the company private.

"The terms of the proposal put forward to Mr. Schulze over the weekend are normal and customary when a public company is in discussions with a potential acquirer," Best Buy said in a press release. "The proposal would serve several purposes, many of which were designed to address the unique aspects of this situation and to conduct an orderly process."

Schulze has said he wants to form an investor group to pursue a purchase of all the Best Buy shares he doesn't already own for $24-$26 per share. Best Buy's board said it "believes it has insufficient information to make a reasonable conclusion with regard to Mr. Schulze's indication of interest, given the conditional nature of the proposal and Mr. Schulze's failure to date to disclose financing and equity partners." Best Buy shares closed Friday at $20.29.

In a statement issued early Monday, Schulze said he was "disappointed and surprised by the Best Buy Board's abrupt termination of our discussions." Schulze said the board had proposed an 18-month standstill, which he called "completely unacceptable in light of the fact that urgent change is needed at Best Buy and value is eroding further every day that change is not effected."

Best Buy also named Hubert Joly as chief executive officer on Monday morning. Joly has previously served in a similar role at Carlson, the parent company of restaurant chain TGI Friday's.

Best Buy is slated to report its fiscal second-quarter results on Tuesday, and the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for a profit of 31 cents a share in the July-ended period on revenue of $10.63 billion.


The company said late Friday that Robert Pedersen II, its founder, has resigned as chairman and CEO.

Randall Hales, ZAGG's chief operating officer, was named interim CEO of the Salt Lake City-based maker of accessories for mobile devices.

ZAGG said Pedersen will remain on its board, which plans to conduct a search for a permanent CEO. The company also reiterated its outlook for adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $56 million to $61 million on revenue of $256 million in 2012.

The stock closed Friday at $8.42, down more than 35% in the past 52 weeks.

Lowe's ( LOW):

The Mooresville, N.C.-based home improvement products retailer reported second-quarter earnings that missed Wall Street expectations and gave a below-consensus outlook for the full year.

The company reported a profit of $747 million, or 64 cents a share, for the three months ended August 3 on revenue of $14.25 billion with same-store sales down 0.4%. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for earnings of 70 cents a share on revenue of $14.46 billion.

"Our results fell short of our overall expectations," said Robert Niblock, Lowe's chairman, president and CEO. "However, I have confidence in our strategy and in our employees, and while we recognize the significant magnitude of change that we've asked the organization to absorb as we transform our business, we fully understand that we must improve our level of execution."

For the fiscal year ending in February, Lowe's sees earnings of $1.64 a share vs. Wall Street's current consensus view for a profit of $1.80 a share.

Lowe's shares closed Friday at $27.87.

McCormick ( MKC):

McCormick has agreed to acquire privately held Wuhan Asia-Pacific Condiments, a China-based maker of spices, seasoning blends and sauces, for roughly $141 million.

The deal, which is expected to close in mid-2013, is anticipated to boost earnings in 2014 and to be "fully accretive" to earnings in 2015, according to McCormick, which said Wuhan has annual sales of around $115 million.

Shares of McCormick closed Friday at $60.12, up more than 30% in the past year.

Inergy L.P. ( NRGY):

The Kansas City, Mo.-based natural gas storage company said its board has approved a $100 million buyback program of its partnership units.

"This unit repurchase program provides us an opportunity to show the confidence we have in the company and its valuation prospects," said John Sherman, the company's CEO, in a statement. "The Partnership's strong liquidity and low leverage profile allow us to pursue this strategy while maintaining our financial strength."

Inergy's units closed Friday at $19.71, down nearly 24% in the past year.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Michael Baron.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.